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Subsequently, in the Order7 dated December 12, 1975, the CFI stated that when the

G.R. No. 161220 July 30, 2008 Intestate Estate hearing was called on that date, respondent Gloria and her brother,
oppositor Francisco, together with their respective counsels, appeared; that Atty. Yray,
SPOUSES GORGONIO BENATIRO and COLUMBA CUYOS-BENATIRO Francisco’s counsel, manifested that the parties had come to an agreement to settle the
substituted by their heirs, namely: Isabelita, Renato, Rosadelia and Gorgonio, case amicably; that both counsels suggested that the Clerk of Court, Atty. Andres C.
Jr., surnamed Benatiro, and SPOUSES RENATO C. BENATIRO and ROSIE M. Taneo (Atty. Taneo), be appointed to act as Commissioner to effect the agreement of
BENATIRO, Respondents, the parties and to prepare the project of partition for the approval of the court. In the
vs. same Order, the Court of First Instance (CFI) appointed Atty. Taneo and ordered him
HEIRS OF EVARISTO CUYOS, namely: Gloria Cuyos-Talian, Patrocenia Cuyos- to make a project of partition within 30 days from December 12, 1975 for submission
Mijares, Numeriano Cuyos, and Enrique Cuyos, represented by their attorney- and approval of the court.
in-fact, Salud Cuyos, Respondents.
In his Commissioner's Report8 dated July 29, 1976, Atty. Taneo stated that he issued
DECISION subpoenae supplemented by telegrams to all the heirs to cause their appearance on
February 28 and 29, 1976 in Tapilon, Daanbantayan, Cebu, where the properties are
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: located, for a conference or meeting to arrive at an agreement; that out of the nine
heirs, only respondents Gloria, Salud and Enrique Cuyos failed to attend; that per
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court filed return of the service, these three heirs could not be located in their respective given
by petitioners seeking to annul the Decision1 dated July 18, 2003 of the Court of Appeals addresses; that since some of the heirs present resided outside the province of Cebu,
(CA) and its Resolution2 dated November 13, 2003 denying petitioners’ motion for they decided to go ahead with the scheduled meeting.
reconsideration issued in CA-G.R. SP No. 65630.3
Atty. Taneo declared in his Report that the heirs who were present:
Spouses Evaristo Cuyos and Agatona Arrogante Cuyos were blessed with nine children,
namely: Francisco, Victoria, Columba, Lope, Salud, Gloria, Patrocenia, Numeriano, and 1. Agreed to consider all income of the properties of the estate during the time
Enrique. On August 28, 1966, Evaristo died leaving six parcels of land located in that Francisco Cuyos, one of the heirs, was administering the properties of the
Tapilon, Daanbantayan, Cebu covered by Tax Declaration (TD) Nos. 000725, 000728, estate (without appointment from the Court) as having been properly and
000729, 000730, 000731, 000732, all under the name of Agatona Arrogante. duly accounted for.

On July 13, 1971, one of the heirs, Gloria Cuyos-Talian (respondent Gloria) represented 2. Agreed to consider all income of the properties of the estate during the
by Atty. Victor Elliot Lepiten (Atty. Lepiten), filed before the Court of First Instance administration of Gloria Cuyos Talian, (duly appointed by the Court) also one
(CFI) now Regional Trial Court (RTC), Cebu, Branch XI, a petition 4 for Letters of of the heirs as having been properly and duly accounted for.
Administration, docketed as Special Proceeding (SP) No. 24-BN entitled "In the Matter
of the Intestate Estate of Evaristo Cuyos, Gloria Cuyos-Talian, petitioner." The petition 3. Agreed to consider all motions filed in this proceedings demanding an
was opposed by Gloria’s brother, Francisco, who was represented by Atty. Jesus Yray accounting from Francisco Cuyos and Gloria Cuyos Talian, as having been
(Atty. Yray). withdrawn.

In the hearing held on January 30, 1973, both parties together with their respective 4. Agreed not to partition the properties of the estate but instead agreed to
counsels appeared. Both counsels manifested that the parties had come to an first sell it for the sum of ₱40,000.00 subject to the condition that should any
agreement to settle their case. The trial court on even date issued an Order5 appointing of the heirs would be in a position to buy the properties of the estate, the rest
Gloria as administratrix of the estate. The dispositive portion reads: of the eight (8) heirs will just receive only Four Thousand Pesos (₱4,000.00)
each.
WHEREFORE, letters of administration of the estate of the late Evaristo Cuyos and
including the undivided half accruing to his spouse Agatona Arrogante who recently 5. Agreed to equally divide the administration expenses to be deducted from
died is hereby issued in favor of Mrs. Gloria Cuyos Talian who may qualify as such their respective share of ₱4,000.00.9
administratrix after posting a nominal bond of ₱1,000.00.6
The Report further stated that Columba Cuyos-Benatiro (Columba), one of the heirs,
informed all those present in the conference of her desire to buy the properties of the
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estate, to which everybody present agreed, and considered her the buyer. Atty. Taneo Respondents filed a complaint against petitioner Gorgonio Benatiro before the
explained that the delay in the submission of the Report was due to the request of Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems (COSLAP) of the Department of
respondent Gloria that she be given enough time to make some consultations on what Justice, which on June 13, 2000 dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.14
was already agreed upon by the majority of the heirs; that it was only on July 11, 1976
that the letter of respondent Gloria was handed to Atty. Taneo, with the information Salud Cuyos brought the matter for conciliation and mediation at the barangay level,
that respondent Gloria was amenable to what had been agreed upon, provided she be but was unsuccessful.15
given the sum of ₱5,570.00 as her share of the estate, since one of properties of the
estate was mortgaged to her in order to defray their father's hospitalization. On July 16, 2001, Salud Cuyos, for herself and in representation 16 of the other heirs of
Evaristo Cuyos, namely: Gloria, Patrocenia, Numeriano,17 and Enrique, filed with the
Quoting the Commissioner’s Report, the CFI issued the assailed Order10 dated CA a petition for annulment of the Order dated December 16, 1976 of the CFI of Cebu,
December 16, 1976, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: Branch XI, in SP No. 24-BN under Rule 47 of the Rules of Court. They alleged that the
CFI Order dated December 16, 1976 was null and void and of no effect, the same being
WHEREFORE, finding the terms and conditions agreed upon by the heirs to be in based on a Commissioner's Report, which was patently false and irregular; that such
order, the same being not contrary to law, said compromise agreement as embodied in report practically deprived them of due process in claiming their share of their father's
the report of the commissioner is hereby approved. The Court hereby orders the estate; that Patrocenia Cuyos-Mijares executed an affidavit, as well as the unnotarized
Administratrix to execute the deed of sale covering all the properties of the estate in statement of Gloria stating that no meeting ever took place for the purpose of
favor of Columba Cuyos Benatiro after the payment to her of the sum of ₱36,000.00. discussing how to dispose of the estate of their parents and that they never received
The said sum of money shall remain in custodia legis, but after all the claims and any payment from the supposed sale of their share in the inheritance; that the report
administration expenses and the estate taxes shall have been paid for, the remainder was done in close confederacy with their co-heir Columba, who stood to be benefited
shall, upon order of the Court, be divided equally among the heirs. 11 by the Commissioner's recommendation, should the same be approved by the probate
court; that since the report was a falsity, any order proceeding therefrom was invalid;
The CFI disapproved the claim of respondent Gloria for the sum of ₱5,570.00, as the that the issuance of the certificates of titles in favor of respondents were tainted with
same had been allegedly disregarded by the heirs present during the conference. fraud and irregularity, since the CFI which issued the assailed order did not appear to
have been furnished a copy of the Deed of Absolute Sale; that the CFI was not
In an Order12 dated January 11, 1978, the CFI appointed Lope Cuyos (Cuyos) as the new in custodia legis of the consideration of the sale, as directed in its Order so that it could
administrator of the estate, purportedly on the basis of the motion to relieve divide the remainder of the consideration equally among the heirs after paying all the
respondent Gloria, as it appeared that she was already residing in Central Luzon and administration expenses and estate taxes; that the intestate case had not yet been
her absence was detrimental to the early termination of the proceedings. terminated as the last order found relative to the case was the appointment of Lope as
administrator vice Gloria; that they never received their corresponding share in the
On May 25, 1979, administrator Cuyos executed a Deed of Absolute Sale13 over the six inheritance; and that the act of petitioners in manifest connivance with administrator
parcels of land constituting the intestate estate of the late Evaristo Cuyos in favor of Lope amounted to a denial of their right to the property without due process of law,
Columba for a consideration of the sum of ₱36,000.00. thus, clearly showing that extrinsic fraud caused them to be deprived of their property.

Sometime in February 1998, the heirs of Evaristo Cuyos, namely: Gloria Cuyos-Talian, Herein petitioners contend that respondents' allegation that they discovered the
Patrocenia Cuyos-Mijares, Numeriano Cuyos and Enrique Cuyos, represented by their assailed order dated December 16, 1976 only in February 1998 was preposterous, as
attorney-in-fact, Salud Cuyos (respondents), allegedly learned that Tax Declaration respondents were represented by counsel in the intestate proceedings; thus, notice of
Nos. 000725, 000728, 000729, 000730, 000731 and 000732, which were all in the name of Order to counsel was notice to client; that this was only a ploy so that they could claim
their late mother Agatona Arrogante, were canceled and new Tax Declaration Nos., that they filed the petition for annulment within the statutory period of four (4) years;
namely, 20-14129, 20-14130, 20-141131, 20-14132, 2014133 and 20-14134, were issued in that they have been in possession of the six parcels of land since May 25, 1979 when the
Columba’s name; and that later on, Original Certificates of Titles covering the estate of same was sold to them pursuant to the assailed Order in the intestate proceedings; that
Evaristo Cuyos were issued in favor of Columba; that some of these parcels of land were no extrinsic fraud attended the issuance of the assailed order; that Numeriano executed
subsequently transferred to the names of spouses Renato C. Benatiro and Rosie M. an affidavit in which he attested to having received his share of the sale proceeds on
Benatiro, son and daughter-in-law, respectively, of petitioners Gorgonio and Columba, May 18, 1988; that respondents were estopped from assailing the Order dated December
for which transfer certificates of title were subsequently issued; that they subsequently 16, 1976, as it had already attained the status of finality.
discovered the existence of the assailed CFI Order dated December 16, 1976 and the
Deed of Absolute Sale dated May 25, 1979.
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On July 18, 2003, the CA granted the petition and annulled the CFI order, the defective, since the compromise agreement which served as the basis of the Deed of
dispositive portion of which reads: Absolute Sale was void and had no legal effect.

FOR ALL THE FOREGOING REASONS, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The CA elaborated that there was no showing that Columba paid the sum of ₱36,000.00
Accordingly, the Order issued by the Court of First Instance of Cebu Branch XI dated to the administrator as consideration for the sale, except for the testimony of
December 16, 1976 as well as the Certificates of Title issued in the name of Columba Numeriano Cuyos admitting that he received his share of the proceeds but without
Cuyos-Benatiro and the subsequent transfer of these Titles in the name of spouses indicating the exact amount that he received; that even so, such alleged payment was
Renato and Rosie Benatiro are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Further, SP Proc. incomplete and was not in compliance with the trial court’s order for the administratix
Case No. 24-BN is hereby ordered reopened and proceedings thereon be continued.18 to execute the deed of sale covering all properties of the estate in favor of Columba
Cuyos-Benatiro after the payment to the administratrix of the sum of ₱36,000.00; that
The CA declared that the ultimate fact that was needed to be established was the said sum of money shall remain in custodia legis, but after all the claims and
veracity and truthfulness of the Commissioner’s Report, which was used by the trial administration expenses and the estate taxes shall have been paid for, the remainder
court as its basis for issuing the assailed Order. The CA held that to arrive at an shall, upon order of the Court, be divided equally among the heirs.
agreement, there was a need for all the concerned parties to be present in the
conference; however, such was not the scenario since in their separate sworn Moreover, the CA found that the copy of the Deed of Sale was not even furnished the
statements, the compulsory heirs of the decedent attested to the fact that no meeting trial court nor was said money placed under custodia legis as agreed upon; that the
or conference ever happened among them; that although under Section 3(m), Rule 133 Certification dated December 9, 1998 issued by the Clerk of Court of Cebu indicated
on the Rules of Evidence, there is a presumption of regularity in the performance of an that the case had not yet been terminated and that the last Order in the special
official duty, the same may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence to prove proceeding was the appointment of Lope Cuyos as the new administrator of the estate;
the contrary. thus, the transfer of the parcels of land, which included the execution of the Deed of
Absolute Sale, cancellation of Tax Declarations and the issuance of new Tax
The CA noted some particulars that led it to conclude that the conference was not held Declarations and Transfer Certificates of Title, all in favor of petitioners, were tainted
accordingly, to wit: (1) the Commissioner’s Report never mentioned the names of the with fraud. Consequently, the CA concluded that the compromise agreement, the
heirs who were present in the alleged conference but only the names of those who were certificates of title and the transfers made by petitioners through fraud cannot be made
absent, when the names of those who were present were equally essential, if not even a legal basis of their ownership over the properties, since to do so would result in
more important, than the names of those who were absent; (2) the Report also failed to enriching them at the expense of the respondents; and that it was also evident that the
include any proof of conformity to the agreement from the attendees, such as letting fraud attendant in this case was one of extrinsic fraud, since respondents were denied
them sign the report to signify their consent as regards the agreed mechanisms for the the opportunity to fully litigate their case because of the scheme utilized by petitioners
estate’s settlement; (3) there was lack or absence of physical evidence attached to the to assert their claim.
report indicating that the respondents were indeed properly notified about the
scheduled conference. The CA then concluded that due to the absence of the Hence, herein petition raising the following issues:
respondents' consent, the legal existence of the compromise agreement did not stand
on a firm ground. Whether or not annulment of order under Rule 47 of the Rules of Court was a proper
remedy where the aggrieved party had other appropriate remedies, such as new trial,
The CA further observed that although it appeared that notice of the report was given appeal, or petition for relief, which they failed to take through their own fault.
to Atty. Lepiten and Atty. Yray, lawyers of Gloria and Francisco Cuyos, respectively, the
same cannot be taken as notice to the other heirs of Evaristo Cuyos; that a lawyer’s Whether or not the Court of Appeals misapprehended the facts when it annulled the 24
authority to compromise cannot be simply presumed, since what was required was the year old Commissioner's Report of the Clerk of Court - an official act which enjoys a
special authority to compromise on behalf of his client; that a compromise agreement strong presumption of regularity - based merely on belated allegations of irregularities
entered into by a person not duly authorized to do so by the principal is void and has in the performance of said official act.
no legal effect, citing Quiban v. Butalid;19 that being a void compromise agreement, the
assailed Order had no legal effect. Whether or not upon the facts as found by the Court of Appeals in this case, extrinsic
fraud existed which is a sufficient ground to annul the lower court's order under Rule
Thus, the CA ruled that the Certificates of Titles obtained by herein petitioners were 47 of the Rules of Court. 20
procured fraudulently; that the initial transfer of the properties to Columba Cuyos-
Benatiro by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Lope Cuyos was clearly
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Subsequent to the filing of their petition, petitioners filed a Manifestation that they practiced on him by the prevailing party.28 Fraud is regarded as extrinsic where it
were in possession of affidavits of waiver and desistance executed by the heirs of Lope prevents a party from having a trial or from presenting his entire case to the court, or
Cuyos21 and respondent Patrocenia Cuyos-Mijares22 on February 17, 2004 and December where it operates upon matters pertaining not to the judgment itself but to the manner
17, 2004, respectively. In both affidavits, the affiants stated that they had no more in which it is procured. The overriding consideration when extrinsic fraud is alleged is
interest in prosecuting/defending the case involving the settlement of the estate, since that the fraudulent scheme of the prevailing litigant prevented a party from having his
the subject estate properties had been bought by their late sister Columba, and they day in court. 29
had already received their share of the purchase price. Another heir, respondent
Numeriano Cuyos, had also earlier executed an Affidavit23 dated December 13, 2001, While we find that the CA correctly annulled the CFI Order dated December 16, 1976,
stating that the subject estate was sold to Columba and that she had already received we find that it should be annulled not on the ground of extrinsic fraud, as there is no
her share of the purchase price on May 18, 1988. In addition, Numeriano had issued a sufficient evidence to hold Atty. Taneo or any of the heirs guilty of fraud, but on the
certification24 dated May 18, 1988, which was not refuted by any of the parties, that he ground that the assailed order is void for lack of due process.
had already received ₱4,000.00 in payment of his share, which could be the reason why
he refused to sign the Special Power of Attorney supposedly in favor of Salud Cuyos for Clerk of Court Taneo was appointed to act as Commissioner to effect the agreement of
the filing of the petition with the CA. the heirs and to prepare the project of partition for submission and approval of the
court. Thus, it was incumbent upon Atty. Taneo to set a time and place for the first
The issue for resolution is whether the CA committed a reversible error in annulling meeting of the heirs. In his Commissioner’s Report, Atty. Taneo stated that he caused
the CFI Order dated December 16, 1976, which approved the Commissioner’s Report the appearance of all the heirs of Evaristo Cuyos and Agatona Arrogante Cuyos in the
embodying the alleged compromise agreement entered into by the heirs of Evaristo and place, where the subject properties were located for settlement, by sending them
Agatona Arrogante Cuyos. subpoenae supplemented by telegrams for them to attend the conference scheduled on
February 28 to 29, 1976. It was also alleged that out of the nine heirs, only six attended
We rule in the negative. the conference; however, as the CA aptly found, the Commissioner did not state the
names of those present, but only those heirs who failed to attend the conference,
The remedy of annulment of judgment is extraordinary in character 25 and will not so namely: respondents Gloria, Salud and Enrique who, as stated in the Report, based on
easily and readily lend itself to abuse by parties aggrieved by final judgments. Sections 1 the return of service, could not be located in their respective given addresses.
and 2 of Rule 47 impose strict conditions for recourse to it, viz.:
However, there is nothing in the records that would establish that the alleged
Section 1. Coverage. — This Rule shall govern the annulment by the Court of Appeals of subpoenae, supplemented by telegrams, for the heirs to appear in the scheduled
judgments or final orders and resolutions in civil actions of Regional Trial Courts for conference were indeed sent to the heirs. In fact, respondent Patrocenia Cuyos-Mijares,
which the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate one of the heirs, who was presumably present in the conference, as she was not
remedies are no longer available through no fault of the petitioner. mentioned as among those absent, had executed an affidavit30 dated December 8, 1998
attesting, to the fact that she was not called to a meeting nor was there any telegram or
Section 2. Grounds for annulment. — The annulment may be based only on the grounds notice of any meeting received by her. While Patrocenia had executed on December 17,
of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. 2004 an Affidavit of Waiver and Desistance31 regarding this case, it was only for the
reason that the subject estate properties had been bought by their late sister Columba,
Extrinsic fraud shall not be a valid ground if it was availed of, or could have been and that she had already received her corresponding share of the purchase price, but
availed of, in a motion for new trial or petition for relief. there was nothing in the affidavit that retracted her previous statement that she was
not called to a meeting. Respondent Gloria also made an unnotarized statement32 that
Although Section 2 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court provides that annulment of a final there was no meeting held. Thus, the veracity of Atty. Taneo’s holding of a conference
judgment or order of an RTC may be based "only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and with the heirs was doubtful.
lack of jurisdiction," jurisprudence recognizes denial of due process as additional
.ground therefor.26 Moreover, there was no evidence showing that the heirs indeed convened for the
purpose of arriving at an agreement regarding the estate properties, since they were not
An action to annul a final judgment on the ground of fraud will lie only if the fraud is even required to sign anything to show their attendance of the alleged meeting. In fact,
extrinsic or collateral in character.27 Extrinsic fraud exists when there is a fraudulent act the Commissioner's Report, which embodied the alleged agreement of the heirs, did
committed by the prevailing party outside of the trial of the case, whereby the defeated not bear the signatures of the alleged attendees to show their consent and conformity
party was prevented from presenting fully his side of the case by fraud or deception thereto.
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It bears stressing that the purpose of the conference was for the heirs to arrive at a creditors and was never intended to deprive heirs of their lawful participation in the
compromise agreement over the estate of Evaristo Cuyos. Thus, it was imperative that decedent's estate. In this connection, the records of the present case confirm that
all the heirs must be present in the conference and be heard to afford them the respondents never signed either of the settlement documents, having discovered their
opportunity to protect their interests. Considering that no separate instrument of existence only shortly before the filing of the present complaint. Following Rule 74,
conveyance was executed among the heirs embodying their alleged agreement, it was these extrajudicial settlements do not bind respondents, and the partition made
necessary that the Report be signed by the heirs to prove that a conference among the without their knowledge and consent is invalid insofar as they are
heirs was indeed held, and that they conformed to the agreement stated in the Report. concerned36 (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioners point out that the Commissioner was an officer of the court and a Applying the above-mentioned case by analogy, what matters is whether the heirs were
disinterested party and that, under Rule 133, Section 3(m) of the Rules on Evidence, indeed notified before the compromise agreement was arrived at, which was not
there is a presumption that official duty has been regularly performed. established, and not whether they were notified of the Commissioner's Report
embodying the alleged agreement afterwards.
While, under the general rule, it is to be presumed that everything done by an officer in
connection with the performance of an official act in the line of his duty was legally We also find nothing in the records that would show that the heirs were called to a
done, such presumption may be overcome by evidence to the contrary. We find the hearing to validate the Report. The CFI adopted and approved the Report despite the
instances mentioned by the CA, such as absence of the names of the persons present in absence of the signatures of all the heirs showing conformity thereto. The CFI adopted
the conference, absence of the signatures of the heirs in the Commissioner's Report, as the Report despite the statement therein that only six out of the nine heirs attended the
well as absence of evidence showing that respondents were notified of the conference, conference, thus, effectively depriving the other heirs of their chance to be heard. The
to be competent proofs of irregularity that rebut the presumption. CFI's action was tantamount to a violation of the constitutional guarantee that no
person shall be deprived of property without due process of law. We find that the
Thus, we find no reversible error committed by the CA in ruling that the conference assailed Order dated December 16, 1976, which approved a void Commissioner's
was not held accordingly and in annulling the assailed order of the CFI. Report, is a void judgment for lack of due process.

Petitioners attached a Certification33 dated August 7, 2003 issued by the Officer In We are not persuaded by petitioners’ contentions that all the parties in the intestate
Charge (OIC), Branch Clerk of Court of the RTC, Branch 11, to show that copies of the estate proceedings in the trial court were duly represented by respective counsels,
Commissioner’s Report were sent to all the heirs, except Salud and Enrique, as well as namely, Atty. Lepiten for petitioners-heirs and Atty. Yray for the oppositors-heirs; that
to Attys. Lepiten and Yray as enumerated in the Notice found at the lower portion of when the heirs agreed to settle the case amicably, they manifested such intention
the Report with the accompanying registry receipts.34 through their lawyers, as stated in the Order dated January 30, 1973; that an heir in the
settlement of the estate of a deceased person need not hire his own lawyer, because his
In Cua v. Vargas,35 in which the issue was whether heirs were deemed constructively interest in the estate is represented by the judicial administrator who retains the
notified of and bound by an extra-judicial settlement and partition of the estate, services of a counsel; that a judicial administrator is the legal representative not only of
regardless of their failure to participate therein, when the extra-judicial settlement and the estate but also of the heirs, legatees, and creditors whose interest he represents;
partition has been duly published, we held: that when the trial court issued the assailed Order dated December 16, 1976 approving
the Commissioner's Report, the parties’ lawyers were duly served said copies of the
The procedure outlined in Section 1 of Rule 74 is an ex parte proceeding. The Order on December 21, 1976 as shown by the Certification 37 dated August 7, 2003 of the
rule plainly states, however, that persons who do not participate or had no RTC OIC, Clerk of Court; that notices to lawyers should be considered notices to the
notice of an extrajudicial settlement will not be bound thereby. It contemplates clients, since, if a party is represented by counsel, service of notices of orders and
a notice that has been sent out or issued before any deed of settlement and/or pleadings shall be made upon the lawyer; that upon receipt of such order by counsels,
partition is agreed upon (i.e., a notice calling all interested parties to participate any one of the respondents could have taken the appropriate remedy such as a motion
in the said deed of extrajudicial settlement and partition), and not after such an for reconsideration, a motion for new trial or a petition for relief under Rule 38 at the
agreement has already been executed as what happened in the instant case with proper time, but they failed to do so without giving any cogent reason for such failure.
the publication of the first deed of extrajudicial settlement among heirs.
While the trial court's order approving the Commissioner’s Report was received by
The publication of the settlement does not constitute constructive notice to the heirs Attys. Yray and Lepiten, they were the lawyers of Gloria and Francisco, respectively, but
who had no knowledge or did not take part in it because the same was notice after the not the lawyers of the other heirs. As can be seen from the pleadings filed before the
fact of execution. The requirement of publication is geared for the protection of probate court, Atty. Lepiten was Gloria’s counsel when she filed her Petition for letters
Page 5 of 46
of administration, while Atty. Yray was Francisco’s lawyer when he filed his opposition We find no merit in petitioners' claim that respondents are barred from assailing the
to the petition for letters of administration and his Motion to Order administrarix judgment after the lapse of 24 years from its finality on ground of laches and estoppel.
Gloria to render an accounting and for the partition of the estate. Thus, the other heirs
who were not represented by counsel were not given any notice of the judgment Section 3, Rule 47 of the Rules of Court provides that an action for annulment of
approving the compromise. It was only sometime in February 1998 that respondents judgment based on extrinsic fraud must be filed within four years from its discovery
learned that the tax declarations covering the parcels of land, which were all in the and, if based on lack of jurisdiction, before it is barred by laches or estoppel.
name of their late mother Agatona Arrogante, were canceled; and new Tax Declarations
were issued in Columba’s name, and Original Certificates of Titles were subsequently The principle of laches or "stale demands" ordains that the failure or neglect, for an
issued in favor of Columba. Thus, they could not have taken an appeal or other unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which by exercising due
remedies. diligence could or should have been done earlier, or the negligence or omission to
assert a right within a reasonable time, warrants a presumption that the party entitled
Considering that the assailed Order is a void judgment for lack of due process of law, it to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.42
is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right or of any obligation.38
There is no absolute rule as to what constitutes laches or staleness of demand; each
In Nazareno v. Court of Appeals,39 we stated the consequences of a void judgment, thus: case is to be determined according to its particular circumstances.43 The question of
laches is addressed to the sound discretion of the court and, being an equitable
A void judgment never acquires finality. Hence, while admittedly, the petitioner in doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable considerations. It cannot be used to
the case at bar failed to appeal timely the aforementioned decision of the Municipal defeat justice or perpetrate fraud and injustice. It is the better rule that courts, under
Trial Court of Naic, Cavite, it cannot be deemed to have become final and executory. In the principle of equity, will not be guided or bound strictly by the statute of limitations
contemplation of law, that void decision is deemed non-existent. Thus, there was no or the doctrine of laches when to be so, a manifest wrong or injustice would result.44
effective or operative judgment to appeal from. In Metropolitan Waterworks &
Sewerage System vs. Sison, this Court held that: In this case, respondents learned of the assailed order only sometime in February 1998
and filed the petition for annulment of judgment in 2001. Moreover, we find that
x x x [A] void judgment is not entitled to the respect accorded to a valid judgment, but respondents' right to due process is the paramount consideration in annulling the
may be entirely disregarded or declared inoperative by any tribunal in which effect is assailed order. It bears stressing that an action to declare the nullity of a void judgment
sought to be given to it. It is attended by none of the consequences of a valid does not prescribe.45
adjudication. It has no legal or binding effect or efficacy for any purpose or at any place.
It cannot affect, impair or create rights. It is not entitled to enforcement and is, Finally, considering that the assailed CFI judgment is void, it has no legal and binding
ordinarily, no protection to those who seek to enforce. All proceedings founded on the effect, force or efficacy for any purpose. In contemplation of law, it is non-existent.
void judgment are themselves regarded as invalid. In other words, a void judgment is Hence, the execution of the Deed of Sale by Lope in favor of Columba pursuant to said
regarded as a nullity, and the situation is the same as it would be if there were no void judgment, the issuance of titles pursuant to said Deed of Sale, and the subsequent
judgment. It, accordingly, leaves the parties litigants in the same position they were in transfers are void ab initio. No reversible error was thus committed by the CA in
before the trial. annulling the judgment.

Thus, a void judgment is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right nor of WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Decision dated July 18, 2003 and
any obligation. All acts performed pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have Resolution dated November 13, 2003 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. The
no legal effect. Hence, it can never become final and any writ of execution based on it is Regional Trial Court, Branch XI, Cebu and the Heirs of Evaristo Cuyos
void: "x x x it may be said to be a lawless thing which can be treated as an outlaw and are DIRECTED to proceed with SP Proceedings Case No. 24-BN for the settlement of
slain at sight, or ignored wherever and whenever it exhibits its head."40 (Emphasis the Estate of Evaristo Cuyos.
supplied)
No costs.
The CFI's order being null and void, it may be assailed anytime, collaterally or in a
direct action or by resisting such judgment or final order in any action or proceeding SO ORDERED.
whenever it is invoked, unless barred by laches.41 Consequently, the compromise
agreement and the Order approving it must be declared null and void and set aside.

Page 6 of 46
Efren S.J. Fernando, Zosimo S.J. Fernando, Jr. and Ma. Teresa (petitioners) and the
Register of Deeds of Morong, Rizal. The complaint alleged among other things:

6. Under date of January 23, 1998, defendants FERNANDO et al, without the knowledge
G.R. No. 166393 June 18, 2009 and consent of all the other surviving heirs of the deceased spouses QUITERIO SAN
JOSE and ANTONINA ESPIRITU SANTO, including herein plaintiffs, executed a Deed
of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate Among Heirs with Waiver of Rights making it
CRISTINA F. REILLO, LEONOR F. PUSO, ADELIA F. ROCAMORA, SOFRONIO S.J.
appear therein that they are the "legitimate descendants and sole heirs of QUITERIO
FERNANDO, EFREN S.J. FERNANDO, ZOSIMO S.J. FERNANDO, JR., and MA.
SAN JOSE and ANTONINA ESPIRITU SANTO"; and adjudicating among themselves,
TERESA F. PIÑON, Petitioners,
the subject parcel of land.
vs.
GALICANO E.S. SAN JOSE, represented by his Attorneys-in-Fact, ANNALISA S.J.
RUIZ and RODELIO S. SAN JOSE, VICTORIA S.J. REDONGO, CATALINA S.J. DEL 6.1 In the same document, defendants ZOSIMO SR., CRISTINA, LEONOR, ADELIA,
ROSARIO and MARIBETH S.J. CORTEZ, collectively known as the HEIRS OF SOFRONIO, EFREN and ZOSIMO JR., waived all their rights, participation and
QUITERIO SAN JOSE and ANTONINA ESPIRITU SANTO, Respondents. interests over the subject parcel of land in favor of their co-defendant MA. TERESA F.
PIÑON (a.k.a MA. TERESA S.J. FERNANDO).
DECISION
xxxx
PERALTA, J.:
7. On the strength of the said falsified Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate,
defendant MA. TERESA PIÑON (a.k.a MA. TERESA S.J. FERNANDO) succeeded in
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari is the Decision 1 dated August 31, 2004
causing the cancellation of TCT No. 458396 in the name of SPS. QUITERIO SAN JOSE
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 69261 which affirmed the Order dated
and ANTONINA ESPIRITU SANTO and the issuance of a new Transfer Certificate of
May 9, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Morong, Rizal, Branch 78, granting
Title in her name only, to the extreme prejudice of all the other heirs of the deceased
the motion for judgment on the pleadings and the motion to dismiss counter petition
SPS. QUITERIO SAN JOSE and ANTONINA ESPIRITU SANTO, specifically, the herein
for partition filed by respondents in Civil Case No. 99-1148-M. Also questioned is the
plaintiffs who were deprived of their lawful participation over the subject parcel of
CA Resolution2 dated December 14, 2004 denying petitioners’ motion for
land.
reconsideration.
7.1 Thus, on July 6, 1999, Transfer Certificate of Title No. M-94400 was issued in the
Spouses Quiterio San Jose (Quiterio) and Antonina Espiritu Santo (Antonina) were the
name of defendant MA. TERESA S.J. FERNANDO.
original registered owners of a parcel of land located in E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue,
Teresa, Rizal covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 458396 of the Register
of Deeds of Rizal. The said parcel of land is now registered in the name of Ma. Teresa F. xxxx
Piñon (Teresa) under TCT No. M-94400.
8. As a result, the herein plaintiffs and the other surviving heirs of the deceased spouses
Quiterio and Antonina had five children, namely, Virginia, Virgilio, Galicano, Victoria QUITERIO SAN JOSE and ANTONINA ESPIRITU SANTO, who are legally entitled to
and Catalina. Antonina died on July 1, 1970, while Quiterio died on October 19, 1976. inherit from the latter’s respective estates, in accordance with the laws of intestate
Virginia and Virgilio are also now deceased. Virginia was survived by her husband succession, have been duly deprived of their respective rights, interests and
Zosimo Fernando, Sr. (Zosimo Sr.) and their seven children, while Virgilio was survived participation over the subject parcel of land.
by his wife Julita Gonzales and children, among whom is Maribeth S.J. Cortez
(Maribeth). 8.1 Thus, there is sufficient ground to annul the subject Deed of Extrajudicial
Settlement of Estate Among Heirs with Waiver of Rights dated January 23, 1998, and all
On October 26, 1999, Galicano, represented by his children and attorneys-in-fact, other documents issued on the strength thereof, particularly Transfer Certificate of
Annalisa S.J. Ruiz and Rodegelio San Jose, Victoria, Catalina, and Maribeth Title No. M-94400.4
(respondents) filed with the RTC a Complaint3 for annulment of title, annulment of
deed of extra-judicial settlement, partition and damages against Zosimo Sr. and his
children Cristina F. Reillo, Leonor F. Puso, Adelia F. Rocamora, Sofronio S.J. Fernando,

Page 7 of 46
It was also alleged that respondents filed a complaint before the Lupong Tagapamayapa SO ORDERED.
of their Barangay which issued the required certification to file action for failure of the
parties to settle the matter amicably. The RTC found that, based on the allegations contained in the pleadings filed by the
parties, petitioners misrepresented themselves when they alleged in the Deed of
Petitioners filed their Answer with Counter-Petition and with Compulsory Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate Among Heirs with Waiver of Rights that they are the
Counterclaim5 denying that the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate Among Heirs sole heirs of the deceased spouses Quiterio and Antonina; that petitioners prayed for a
with Waiver of Rights which was the basis of the issuance of TCT No. M-94400, was counter-petition for partition involving several parcels of land left by the deceased
falsified and that the settlement was made and implemented in accordance with law. spouses Quiterio and Antonina which bolstered respondents’ claim that petitioners
They admitted that the deceased spouses Quiterio and Antonina had five children; that falsified the Extrajudicial Settlement which became the basis for the issuance of TCT
the subject property was not the only property of spouses Quiterio and Antonina and No. M-94400 in Ma. Teresa’s name; thus, a ground to annul the Deed of Extrajudicial
submitted in their counter-petition for partition the list of the other 12 parcels of land Settlement and the title.1awphi1 The RTC did not consider as filed petitioners’ Counter-
of the deceased spouses Quiterio and Antonina that petitioners alleged are in Petition for Partition since they did not pay the corresponding docket fees.
respondents’ possession and control.
Petitioners filed their Motion for Reconsideration, which the RTC denied in an
On January 18, 2000, respondents filed a Motion for Judgment on the Order12 dated August 29, 2000.
Pleadings6 alleging that: (1) the denials made by petitioners in their answer were in the
form of negative pregnant; (2) petitioners failed to state the basis that the questioned Dissatisfied, petitioners filed an appeal with the CA. After the parties filed their
document was not falsified; (3) they failed to specifically deny the allegations in the respective briefs, the case was submitted for decision.
complaint that petitioners committed misrepresentations by stating that they are the
sole heirs and legitimate descendants of Quiterio and Antonina; and (4) by making On August 31, 2004, the CA rendered its assailed Decision affirming the May 9, 2000
reference to their allegations in their counter-petition for partition to support their Order of the RTC.
denials, petitioners impliedly admitted that they are not the sole heirs of Quiterio and
Antonina. The CA found that, while the subject matter of respondents’ complaint was the nullity
of the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate among Heirs with Waiver of Rights
Respondents filed a Reply to Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim7 with a motion to that resulted in the issuance of TCT No. M-94400 in Ma. Teresa’s name, petitioners
dismiss the counter-petition for partition on the ground that petitioners failed to pay included in their Answer a Counter-Petition for Partition involving 12 other parcels of
the required docket fees for their counter-petition for partition. Petitioners filed their land of spouses Quiterio and Antonina which was in the nature of a permissive
Rejoinder8 without tackling the issue of non-payment of docket fees. counterclaim; that petitioners, being the plaintiffs in the counter-petition for partition,
must pay the docket fees otherwise the court will not acquire jurisdiction over the case.
On February 4, 2000, petitioners filed their Comment9 to respondents’ motion for The CA ruled that petitioners cannot pass the blame to the RTC for their omission to
judgment on the pleading and prayed that the instant action be decided on the basis of pay the docket fees.
the pleadings with the exception of respondents’ unverified Reply. Petitioners also filed
an Opposition to the motion to dismiss the counter-petition for partition. The CA affirmed the RTC’s judgment on the pleadings since petitioners admitted that
the deceased spouses Quiterio and Antonina had five children which included herein
On May 9, 2000, the RTC rendered its Order,10 the dispositive portion of which reads: plaintiffs; thus, petitioners misrepresented themselves when they stated in the Deed of
Extrajudicial Settlement that they are the legitimate descendants and sole heirs of the
1. The Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate Among Heirs with Waiver of Rights, deceased spouses Quiterio and Antonina; that the deed is null and void on such ground
dated January 23, 1998 and Transfer Certificate of Title No. M-94400 in the since respondents were deprived of their rightful share in the subject property and
name of Ma. Teresa S.J. Fernando are declared null and void; petitioners cannot transfer the property in favor of Ma. Teresa without respondents’
consent; that TCT No. M-94400 must be cancelled for lack of basis. The CA affirmed
2. The Register of Deeds of Rizal, Morong Branch, is directed to cancel TCT the RTC’s Order of partition of the subject property in accordance with the rules on
No. 94400; and intestate succession in the absence of a will.

3. The Heirs of Quiterio San Jose and Antonina Espiritu Santo is (sic) directed Petitioners filed the instant petition for review on certiorari raising the following
to partition the subject parcel of land covered by TCT No. M-458396 in assignment of errors, to wit:
accordance with the law of intestate succession.11
Page 8 of 46
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT GIVING DUE COURSE TO THE Where a motion for judgment on the pleadings is filed, the essential question is
APPEAL OF THE DEFENDANTS (HEREIN PETITIONERS) AND IN whether there are issues generated by the pleadings. In a proper case for judgment on
EVENTUALLY UPHOLDING THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF ORIGIN, the pleadings, there is no ostensible issue at all because of the failure of the defending
CONSIDERING THAT SUCH RULING WILL RESULT TO MULTIPLICITY OF party’s answer to raise an issue.14 The answer would fail to tender an issue, of course, if
SUITS BETWEEN THE SAME PARTIES AND IN VIOLATION OF THE it does not deny the material allegations in the complaint or admits said material
CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTY OF DUE PROCESS OF LAW & PROPERTY allegations of the adverse party’s pleadings by confessing the truthfulness thereof
AND PROPERTY RIGHTS. and/or omitting to deal with them at all.15

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT VACATING THE ORDER OF THE In this case, respondents’ principal action was for the annulment of the Deed of
TRIAL COURT IN PARTITIONING THE ESTATE WITHOUT PUBLICATION Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate Among Heirs with Waiver of Rights executed by
AS REQUIRED BY RULE 74 AND 76 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL petitioners and annulment of title on the ground that petitioners stated in the said
PROCEDURE. 13 Deed that they are the legitimate descendants and sole heirs of the spouses Quiterio
and Antonina. Although petitioners denied in their Answer that the Deed was falsified,
Petitioners contend that in their Comment to respondents’ motion for judgment on the they, however, admitted respondents’ allegation that spouses Quiterio and Antonina
pleadings, they stated that they will not oppose the same provided that their Answer had 5 children, thus, supporting respondents’ claim that petitioners are not the sole
with Counter-Petition for Partition and Rejoinder will be taken into consideration in heirs of the deceased spouses. Petitioners’ denial/admission in his Answer to the
deciding the case; however, the RTC decided the case on the basis alone of complaint should be considered in its entirety and not truncated parts. Considering
respondents’ complaint; that the Answer stated that the deed was not a falsified that petitioners already admitted that respondents Galicano, Victoria, Catalina and
document and was made and implemented in accordance with law, thus, it was Maribeth are the children and grandchild, respectively, of the spouses Quiterio and
sufficient enough to tender an issue and was very far from admitting the material Antonina, who were the original registered owners of the subject property, and thus
allegations of respondents’ complaint. excluding respondents from the deed of settlement of the subject property, there is no
more genuine issue between the parties generated by the pleadings, thus, the RTC
Petitioners also fault the RTC for disregarding their claim for partition of the other committed no reversible error in rendering the judgment on the pleadings.
parcels of land owned by the deceased spouses Quiterio and Antonina for their failure
to pay the court docket fees when the RTC could have simply directed petitioners to A deed of extrajudicial partition executed without including some of the heirs, who had
pay the same; and that this error if not corrected will result to multiplicity of suits. no knowledge of and consent to the same, is fraudulent and vicious. 16 The deed of
settlement made by petitioners was invalid because it excluded respondents who were
Petitioners argue that the RTC erred in ordering the partition of the subject property as entitled to equal shares in the subject property. Under the rule, no extrajudicial
it violates the basic law on intestate succession that the heirs should be named and settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had
qualified through a formal petition for intestate succession whereby blood relationship no notice thereof.17 Thus, the RTC correctly annulled the Deed of Extrajudicial
should be established first by the claiming heirs before they shall be entitled to receive Settlement of Estate Among Heirs with Waiver of Rights dated January 23, 1998 and
from the estate of the deceased; that the order of partition was rendered without TCT No. M-94400 in the name of Ma. Teresa S.J. Fernando issued pursuant to such
jurisdiction for lack of publication as required under Rules 74 and 76 of the Rules of deed.
Civil Procedure for testate or intestate succession.
Petitioners’ claim that had there been a trial, they could have presented testamentary
We find no merit in the petition. and documentary evidence that the subject land is the inheritance of their deceased
mother from her deceased parents, deserves scant consideration. A perusal of
The CA committed no reversible error in affirming the judgment on the pleadings petitioners’ Answer, as well as their Rejoinder, never raised such a defense. In fact,
rendered by the RTC. nowhere in the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement Among Heirs with Waiver of Rights
executed by petitioners was there a statement that the subject property was inherited
Section 1, Rule 34 of the Rules of Court, states: by petitioners’ mother Virginia from her deceased parents Quiterio and Antonina.
Notably, petitioners never opposed respondents’ motion for judgment on the pleadings.
SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. – Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or
otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party’s pleading, the court We also find no merit in petitioners’ contention that the Counter-Petition for Partition
may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. x x x. in their Answer was in the nature of a compulsory counterclaim which does not require
the payment of docket fees.
Page 9 of 46
A counterclaim is any claim which a defending party may have against an opposing They did not even ask the trial court for time within which to pay the docket fees for
party.18 It may either be permissive or compulsory. It is permissive if it does not arise their petition. When the trial court ruled to dismiss the petition of the defendants-
out of or is not necessarily connected with the subject matter of the opposing party’s appellants, the latter did not, in their motion for reconsideration, ask the trial court to
claim.19 A permissive counterclaim is essentially an independent claim that may be filed reconsider the dismissal of their petition by paying the required docket fees, neither
separately in another case. did they ask for time within which to pay their docket fees. In other words, the trial
court could have issued an order allowing the defendants-appellants a period to pay the
A counterclaim is compulsory when its object arises out of or is necessarily connected docket fees for their petition if the defendants-appellants made such manifestation.
with the transaction or occurrence constituting the subject matter of the opposing What is apparent from the factual circumstances of the case is that the defendants-
party’s claim and does not require for its adjudication the presence of third parties of appellants have been neglectful in complying with this positive duty imposed upon
whom the court cannot acquire jurisdiction.20 Unlike permissive counterclaims, them by law as plaintiffs of the counter petition for partition. Because of their omission
compulsory counterclaims should be set up in the same action; otherwise, they would to comply with their duty, no grave error was committed by the trial court in
be barred forever. dismissing the defendants-appellants’ counter petition for partition. 21

Respondents’ action was for the annulment of the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement, Petitioners argue that with the dismissal of their Counter-Petition for Partition, the
title and partition of the property subject of the Deed. On the other hand, in the partition of the other parcels of land owned by the deceased spouses Quiterio and
Counter-Petition filed by petitioners in their Answer to respondents’ complaint, they Antonina will result to multiplicity of suits.
were asking for the partition and accounting of the other 12 parcels of land of the
deceased spouses Quiterio and Antonina, which are entirely different from the subject We are not persuaded.
matter of the respondents’ action. Petitioners’ claim does not arise out of or is
necessarily connected with the action for the Annulment of the Deed of Extrajudicial Significantly, in petitioners’ Answer with Counter-Petition for Partition, they
Settlement of the property covered by TCT No. 458396. Thus, payment of docket fees is enumerated 12 other parcels of land owned by the deceased spouses Quiterio and
necessary before the RTC could acquire jurisdiction over petitioners’ petition for Antonina. They alleged that some of these properties had already been disposed of by
partition.1avvphi1 respondents and some are still generating income under the control and administration
of respondents, and these properties should be collated back by respondents to be
Petitioners, however, argue that the RTC could have simply issued a directive ordering partitioned by all the heirs of the deceased spouses. It bears stressing that the action
them to pay the docket fees, for its non-payment should not result in the automatic filed by respondents in the RTC was an ordinary civil action for annulment of title,
dismissal of the case. annulment of the deed of extrajudicial settlement and partition of a parcel of land now
covered by TCT No. M-94400; hence, the authority of the court is limited to the
We find apropos the disquisition of the CA on this matter, thus: property described in the pleading. The RTC cannot order the collation and partition of
the other properties which were not included in the partition that was the subject
The rule regarding the payment of docket fees upon the filing of the initiatory pleading matter of the respondents’ action for annulment. Thus, a separate proceeding is indeed
is not without exception. It has been held that if the filing of the initiatory pleading is proper for the partition of the estate of the deceased spouses Quiterio and Antonina.
not accompanied by payment of docket fees, the court may allow payment of the fee
within reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or Finally, petitioners contend that the RTC erred when it ordered the heirs of Quiterio
reglementary period. and Antonina to partition the subject parcel of land covered by TCT No. 458396 in
accordance with the laws of intestate succession; that the RTC violated the requirement
It is apparent from the arguments of the defendants-appellants that they are blaming of publication under Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 74 and Section 3 of Rule 76 of the Rules of
the trial court for their omission to pay the docket fees. It is, however, our opinion that Court.
the defendants-appellants cannot pass on to the trial court the performance of a
positive duty imposed upon them by the law. It should be noted that their omission to We do not agree.
file the docket fees was raised as one of the grounds to dismiss the counter petition for
partition. The defendants-appellants opposed the said motion without, however, We find the ruling of the CA on the matter of the RTC’s order of partition of land
offering an answer to the said ground raised by the plaintiffs-appellees. In fact, during subject of the annulled deed of extrajudicial settlement worth quoting, thus:
the period the motion was being heard by the trial court, the defendants–appellants
never paid the docket fees for their petition so that it could have at least brought to the Considering that the subject document and the corresponding title were canceled, the
attention of the trial court their payment of the docket fees although belatedly done. logical consequence is that the property in dispute, which was the subject of the
Page 10 of 46
extrajudicial settlement, reverted back to the estate of its original owners, the deceased HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ADELAIDA RAMOS and LAZARO E.
spouses Quiterio and Antonina San Jose. Since, it was admitted that all the parties to MENESES, respodents.
the instant suit are legal heirs of the deceased spouses, they owned the subject property
in common. It is a basic rule that any act which is intended to put an end to indivision Godofredo V. Magbiray for petitioners.
among co-heirs or co-owners is deemed to be a partition. Therefore, there was no
reversible error committed by the trial court in ordering the partition of the subject Joselito Lim for private respondents.
property. We find nothing wrong with such ruling considering that the trial court
ordered the partition of the subject property in accordance with the rules on intestate
succession. The trial court found the property to be originally owned by the deceased
spouses Quiterio and Antonina San Jose and, in the absence of a will left by the REGALADO, J.:
deceased spouses, it must be partitioned in accordance with the rules on intestate
succession.22
The instant petition for review on certiorari impugns the decision of the Court of
Appeals dated October 7, 1975, 1which affirmed in toto the decision of the Court of First
As the RTC nullified the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate Among Heirs with Instance of Tarlac in Civil Case No. 4168, entitled "Adelaida Ramos, et al. vs. Oscar D.
Waiver of Rights executed by petitioners and the title issued in accordance therewith, Ramos, et al.," holding that the contracts between the parties are not ventas con pacto
the order of partition of the land subject of the settlement in accordance with the laws de retro but are equitable mortgages.
on intestate succession is proper as respondents’ action filed in the RTC and
respondents’ prayer in their complaint asked for the partition of the subject property in
Sometime in January 1959, private respondent Adelaida Ramos borrowed from her
accordance with intestate succession. The applicable law is Section 1, Rule 69 of the
brother, petitioner Oscar D. Ramos, the amounts of P 5,000.00 and P 9,000.00 in
Rules of Court, which deals with action for partition, to wit:
connection with her business transaction with one Flor Ramiro, Fred Naboa and Atty.
Ruperto Sarandi involving the recovery of a parcel of land in Tenejeros, Malabon. The
SECTION 1. Complaint in action for partition of real estate. — A person having the right said amount was used to finance the trip to Hawaii of Ramiro, Naboa and Atty. Sarandi.
to compel the partition of real estate may do so as provided in this Rule, setting forth in As security for said loan, private respondent Adelaida Ramos executed in favor of
his complaint the nature and extent of his title and an adequate description of the real petitioners two (2) deeds of conditional sale dated May 27, 1959 and August 30, 1959, of
estate of which partition is demanded and joining as defendants all other persons her rights, shares, interests and participation respectively over Lot No. 4033 covered by
interested in the property. Original Certificate of Title No. 5125 registered in the name of their parents, Valente
Ramos and Margarita Denoga, now deceased; 2 and Lot No. 4221 covered by Transfer
And, under this law, there is no requirement for publication. Certificate of Title No. 10788 then registered in the names of Socorro Ramos, Josefina
Ramos and Adelaida Ramos, 3 said properties being of the Cadastral Survey of Paniqui,
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision dated August 31, 2004 and Tarlac.
the Resolution dated December 14, 2004, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
69261, are AFFIRMED. Upon the failure of said private respondent as vendor a retro to exercise her right of
repurchase within the redemption period, aforenamed petitioner filed a petition for
SO ORDERED. consolidation and approval of the conditional sale of Lot No. 4033 in Special
Proceedings No. 5174, entitled "Intestate Estate of the late Margarita Denoga," 4 and a
petition for approval of the pacto de retro sale of Lot No. 4221 in the former Court of
First Instance of Tarlac acting as a cadastral court. 5 On January 22, 1960, the said
probate court issued an order with the following disposition:

WHEREFORE, the deed of CONDITIONAL SALE executed on May


27, 1959, by Adelaida Ramos in favor of spouses Oscar D. Ramos and
G.R. No. 42108 December 29, 1989 Luz Agudo, conveying to the latter by way of pacto de retro sale
whatever rights and interests the former may have in Lot No. 4033 of
the Cadastral Survey of Paniqui, which deed of conditional sale is
OSCAR D. RAMOS and LUZ AGUDO, petitioners,
known as Document No. 14, Page 26, Book VI, Series of 1959, of the
vs.
notarial register of Notary Public Jose P. Sibal, is hereby approved. 6
Page 11 of 46
The cadastral Court also issued a similar order dated April 18, 1960, the dispositive WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
portion of which reads:
1) Denying defendants' motion to dismiss of
WHEREFORE, by way of granting the petition, the Court orders the February 23, 1970;
consolidation of ownership and dominion in petitioners-spouses
Oscar D. Ramos and Luz Agudo over the rights, shares and interests 2) Declaring Exhibits 'B', 'B-I' and 'G' as loan
of Adelaida Ramos in Lot No. 4221 of the Cadastral Survey of Paniqui, transaction secured by real estate mortgages;
Tarlac, which the latter sold to the former under a pacto de retro sale
executed in a public instrument known as Document No. 22, Page 3) Annulling and setting aside Exhibits 'D', 'D-l', 'I',
28, Book No. VI. Series of 1959, of the Notarial Registry of Notary 'I-l' and 'I-2';
Public Jose P. Sibal but which she failed to repurchase within the
period specified in said Document. 7 4) Ordering plaintiffs, jointly and severally to pay
(within ninety [90] days from receipt of a copy of
Private respondents had been and remained in possession of these properties until this judgment) defendants the sum of P 5,000.00
sometime in 1964 when petitioner took possession thereof. specified in Exhibit 'B', with interest thereon at the
legal rate from November 28, 1959 until full
On February 28, 1968, private respondent filed Civil Case No. 4168 with the then Court payment together with the sum of P 9,308.00
of First Instance of Tarlac for declaration of nullity of orders, reformation of specified in Exhibit 'G' with interest thereon at the
instrument, recovery of possession with preliminary injunction and damages. The legal rate from December 1, 1959 until full
complaint therein alleged that the deeds of conditional sale, dated May 27, 1959 and payment, and in default of such payment, let the
August 30, 1959, are mere mortgages and were vitiated by misrepresentation, fraud and properties mortgaged under Exhibits 'B', 'B-1' and
undue influence and that the orders dated January 22, 1960 and April 18, 1960, 'G' be sold to realize the mortgage debt and costs;
respectively issued by the probate and cadastral courts, were null and void for lack of and
jurisdiction. Petitioners, in their answer to the complaint, specifically deny the
allegations of fraud and misrepresentation and interposed as defense the fact that the 5) Dismissing defendants' counter-claim.
questioned conditional sales of May 27, 1959 and August 30, 1959 were voluntarily
executed by private respondent Adelaida Ramos and truly expressed the intention of With costs against defendants. 10
the parties; that the action, if any, has long prescribed; that the questioned orders of
January 22, 1960 and April 18, 1960, approving the consolidation of ownership of the On June 14, 1971, petitioners appealed said decision to the Court of Appeals which, on
lands in question in favor of petitioner were within the jurisdiction of the lower court, October 7, 1975; affirmed in all respects the judgment of the trial court. Petitioners'
in its capacity as a probate court insofar as Lot No. 4033 is concerned, and acting as a motion for reconsideration of said decision was denied on November 27, 1975. 11
cadastral court with respect to Lot No. 4221; and that said lands subject of the
conditional sales were in custodia legis in connection with the settlement of the
On January 8, 1976, petitioners filed the petition at bar anchored on the following
properties of the late Margarita Denoga, the predecessor in interest of both petitioners
assignments of errors:
and private respondents.
1. The Hon. Court of Appeals erred in not applying
On January 7, 1970, the court below issued a pre-trial order to the effect that petitioners
the correct provisions of law interpreting the
admit the genuineness and due execution of the promissory notes marked as Exhibits
conditional sales dated May 27, 1959 and August
"F" and "F-1 " and that the principal triable issue is whether or not the documents
30, 1959, Exhibits 'B' and 'G' as equitable
purporting to be deeds of conditional sale, marked as Exhibits "B", "B-1" and "G" were in
mortgages.
fact intended to be equitable mortgages. 8 In its order dated February 17, 1971, the trial
court also declared: "Both parties agreed and manifested in open court the principal
2. That as a consequence of its ruling that the
obligation in the transaction reflected in Exhibits 'B' and 'B-l' and 'G' is one of loan. The
conditional sales, Exhibits 'B' and 'G', are equitable
parties differ, however, on the nature of the security described therein. 9
mortgages, the Hon. Court of Appeals erred in
ordering the reformation of the same.
On May 17, 1971, the court a quo rendered a decision the decretal part of which reads:
Page 12 of 46
3. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in The Court of Appeals, in holding that the two (2) deeds purporting to be pacto de
holding that the order dated January 22, 1960, retro sale contracts are equitable mortgages, relied on the following factual findings of
Exhibit C or 2, and the order dated April 18, 1960, the trial court, to wit:
Exhibit H or 6, issued by the probate court in Sp.
Proc. No. 5174 and by the cadastral court in Several undisputed circumstances persuade this Court (that) the
G.L.R.O. Rec. No. 395, respectively, are null and questioned deeds should be construed as equitable mortgages as
void for lack of jurisdiction. contemplated in Article 1602 of the Civil Code, namely: (1) plaintiff
vendor remained in possession until 1964 of the properties she
4. The Hon. Court of Appeals erred in not allegedly sold in 1959 to defendants; (2) the sums representing the
applying the applicable provisions of law on the alleged purchase price were actually advanced to plaintiff by way of
prescription of action and in not dismissing the loans, as expressly admitted by the parties at the hearing of February
complaint filed in the lower court. 12 17, 1971, reflected in an Order of the same date: and (3) the properties
allegedly purchased by defendant Oscar Ramos and his wife have
We find the petition devoid of merit. never been declared for taxation purposes in their names. Exhibits K,
K-1, L and L-1. 13
Article 1602 of the Civil Code provides:
Even if we indulge the petitioners in their contention that they are justified in not
The contract shall be presumed to be an equitable mortgage, in any taking possession of the lots considering that what were allegedly sold to them were
of the following cases: only the rights, shares, interests and participation of private respondent Adelaida
Ramos in the said lots which were under administration, 14 however, such fact will not
(1) When the price of a sale with right to justify a reversal of the conclusion reached by respondent court that the purported
repurchase is unusually inadequate; deeds of sale con pacto de retro are equitable mortgages. Such a conclusion is
buttressed by the other circumstances catalogued by respondent court especially the
(2) When the vendor remains in possession as undisputed fact that the two deeds were executed by reason of the loan extended by
lessee or otherwise; petitioner Oscar Ramos to private respondent Adelaida Ramos and that the purchase
price stated therein was the amount of the loan itself.
(3) When upon or after the expiration of the right
to repurchase another instrument extending the The above-stated circumstances are more than sufficient to show that the true
period of redemption or granting a new period is intention of the parties is that the transaction shall secure the payment of said debt
executed; and, therefore, shall be presumed to be an equitable mortgage under Paragraph 6 of
Article 1602 hereinbefore quoted. Settled is the rule that to create the presumption
enunciated by Article 1602, the existence of one circumstance is enough.15 The said
(4) When the purchaser retains for himself a part
article expressly provides therefor "in any of the following cases," hence the existence of
of the purchase price;
any of the circumstances enumerated therein, not a concurrence nor an overwhelming
number of such circumstances, suffices to give rise to the presumption that the
(5) When the vendor binds himself to pay the
contract with the right of repurchase is an equitable mortgage. As aptly stated by the
taxes on the thing sold;
Court of Appeals:

(6) In any other case where it may be fairly


Thus, it may be fairly inferred that the real intention of the parties is
inferred that the real intention of the parties is
that the transactions in question were entered into to secure the
that the transaction shall secure the payment of a
payment of the loan and not to sell the property (Article 1602, Civil
debt or the performance of any other obligation.
Code). Under Article 1603 of the Civil Code it is provided that 'in case
of doubt, a contract purporting to be a sale with right to repurchase
In any of the foregoing cases, any money, fruits or other benefit to be shall be construed as an equitable mortgage' in this case, we have no
received by the vendee as rent or otherwise shall be considered as doubt that the transaction between the parties is that of a loan
interest which shall be subject to the usury laws. secured by said properties by way of mortgage. Hence, we find that
Page 13 of 46
Exhibits B and G do not reflect the true and real intention of the A reading of the order of the probate court will show that it is merely an approval of the
parties and should accordingly be reformed and construed as deed of conditional sale dated May 27, 1959 executed by petitioner Adelaida Ramos in
equitable mortgages. 16 favor of petitioners. There is nothing in said order providing for the consolidation of
ownership over the lots allegedly sold to petitioners nor was the issue of the validity of
Equally puerile is the other contention of petitioners that respondent court erred in not said contract discussed or resolved therein. "To give approval" means in its essential
applying the exclusionary parol evidence rule in ascertaining the true intendment of and most obvious meaning, to confirm, ratify, sanction or consent to some act or thing
the contracting parties. The present case falls squarely under one of the exceptions to done by another. 22 The approval of the probate court of the conditional sale is not a
said rule as provided in then Section 7 of Rule 130, thus: conclusive determination of the intrinsic or extrinsic validity of the contract but a mere
recognition of the right of private respondent Adelaida Ramos as an heir, to dispose of
xxx xxx xxx her rights and interests over her inheritance even before partition. 23 As held in Duran,
et al., vs. Duran 24 the approval by the settlement court of the assignment pendente lite,
(a) Where a mistake or imperfection of the writing made by one heir in favor of the other during the course of the settlement proceedings,
or its failure to express the true intent and is not deemed final until the estate is closed and said order can still be vacated, hence
agreement of the parties, or the validity of the the assigning heir remains an interested person in the proceeding even after said
agreement is put in issue by the pleadings;17 approval.

xxx xxx xxx Moreover, the probate jurisdiction of the former court of first instance or the present
regional trial court relates only to matters having to do with the settlement of the
Moreover, it is a well entrenched principle in the interpretation of contracts that if the estate and probate of wills of deceased persons, and the appointment and removal of
terms thereof are clear and leave no doubt as to the intention of the contracting parties administrators, executors, guardians and trustees. Subject to settled exceptions not
the literal meaning of the stipulation shall control but when the words appear to be present in this case, the law does not extend the jurisdiction of a probate court to the
contrary to the evident intention of the parties, the latter shall prevail over the former.18 determination of questions of ownership that arise during the proceeding. The parties
concerned may choose to bring a separate action as a matter of convenience in the
preparation or presentation of evidence. 25 Obviously, the approval by the probate court
The admission of parol testimony to prove that a deed, absolute in form, was in fact
of the conditional sale was without prejudice to the filing of the proper action for
given and accepted as a mortgage does not violate the rule against the admission of oral
consolidation of ownership and/or reformation of instrument in the proper court
evidence to vary or contradict the terms of a written instrument.19 Sales with a right to
within the statutory period of prescription.
repurchase, as defined by the Civil Code, are not favored. We will not construe
instruments to be sales with a right to repurchase, with the stringent and onerous
effects which follow, unless the terms of the document and the surrounding The same jurisdictional flaw obtains in the order of consolidation issued by the
circumstances require it. Whenever, under the terms of the writing, any other cadastral court. The court of first instance or the regional trial court, acting as cadastral
construction can fairly and reasonably be made, such construction will be adopted and court, acts with limited competence. It has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of an
the contract will be construed as a mere loan unless the court can see that, if enforced action for consolidation of ownership, much less to issue an order to that effect, such
according to its terms, it is not an unconscionable one. 20 action must have been filed in the former court of first instance, now in the regional
trial court, in the exercise of its general jurisdiction. That remedy, and the procedure
therefor, is now governed by Rule 64 of the Rules of Court as a special civil action
On the faces thereof, the contracts purport to be sales with pacto de retro; however,
cognizable by the regional trial court in the exercise of original general jurisdiction.
since the same were actually executed in consideration of the aforesaid loans said
contracts are indubitably equitable mortgages. The rule is firmly settled that whenever
it is clearly shown that a deed of sale with pacto de retro, regular on its face, is given as Antecedent thereto, Article 1607 of the Civil Code provided for consolidation as follows:
security for a loan, it must be regarded as an equitable mortgage. 21
In case of real property, the consolidation of ownership in the vendee
With respect to the orders dated January 22, 1960 and April 18, 1960, issued by the by virtue of the failure of the vendor to comply with the provisions of
Court below acting as a probate court and cadastral court, respectively, the same could article 1616 shall not be recorded in the Registry of Property without
not preclude the institution of the case now under review. a judicial order, after the vendor has been duly heard.

Hence in Crisologo, et al. vs. Centeno, et al., 26 we ruled that said Article 1607
contemplates a contentious proceeding wherein the vendor a retro must be named
Page 14 of 46
respondent in the caption and title of the petition for consolidation of ownership and provisions contained in articles 1859 and 1858 of the present Civil
duly summoned and heard. An order granting the vendee's petition for consolidation of Code which respectively prohibit the creditor from appropriating the
ownership, without the vendor a retro being named as respondent, summoned and things given in pledge or mortgage and ordering that said things be
heard, is a patent nullity for want of jurisdiction of the court over the person of the sold or alienated when the principal obligation becomes due, are
latter. circumvented.

The questioned order of consolidation issued by the cadastral court, being void for lack Furthermore, it is well-known that the practice in these so-called
of jurisdiction, is in contemplation of law non-existent and may be wholly disregarded. contracts of sale with pacto de retro is to draw up another contract
Such judgment may be assailed any time, either directly or collaterally, by means of a purporting to be a lease of the property to the supposed vendor, who
separate action or by resisting such judgment in any action or proceeding whenever it pays in money or in crops a so-called rent. It is, however, no secret to
is invoked. 27 It is not necessary to take any step to vacate or avoid a void judgment; it anyone that this simulated rent is in truth and in fact interest on the
may simply be ignored. 28 money loaned. In many instances, the interest is usurious. Thus, the
usury law is also circumvented.
On the issue of prescription, in addition to what has been said, the present case, having
been filed on February 28, 1960, approximately seven (7) years from the execution of It is high time these transgressions of the law were stopped. It is
the questioned deeds, was seasonably instituted. The prescriptive period for actions believed by the Commission that the plan submitted for the solution
based upon a written contract and for reformation is ten (10) years under Article 1144 of of the problem will meet with the approval of an enlightened public
the Civil Code. Such right to reformation is expressly recognized in Article 1365 of the opinion, and in general, of everyone moved by a sense of justice.
same code. 29
During the deliberations of the Commission the question arose as to
Article 1602 of the Civil Code is designed primarily to curtail the evils brought about by whether the contract of purchase with pacto de retro should be
contracts of sale with right of repurchase, such as the circumvention of the laws against abolished and forbidden. On first impression, this should be done,
usury and pactum commissorium.30 In the present case before us, to rule otherwise but there is every reason to fear that in such a case the usurious
would contravene the legislative intent to accord the vendor a retro maximum money-lenders would demand of the borrowers that, although the
safeguards for the protection of his legal rights under the true agreement of the parties. real agreement is one of loan secured with a mortgage, the
The judicial experience in cases of this nature and the rationale for the remedial instrument to be signed should purport to be an absolute sale of the
legislation are worth reiterating, considering that such nefarious practices still persist: property involved. Should this happen, the problem would become
aggravated. Moreover, it must be admitted that there are some cases
It must be admitted that there are some cases where the parties where the parties really intend a sale with right to repurchase.
really intend a sale with right to repurchase. Although such cases are Although such cases are rare, still the freedom of contract must be
rare, still the freedom of contract must be maintained and respected. maintained and respected. Therefore, the contract under
Therefore, the contract under consideration is preserved, but with consideration is preserved in the Project of Civil Code, but with
adequate safeguards and restrictions. adequate safeguards and restrictions. 31

One of the gravest problems that must be solved is that raised by the WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed decision of the
contract of sale with right of repurchase or pacto de retro. The evils Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.
arising from this contract have festered like a sore on the body
politic. ... SO ORDERED.

xxx xxx xxx

It is a matter of common knowledge that in practically all of the so-


called contracts of sale with right of repurchase, the real intention of
the parties is that the pretended purchase-price is money loaned,
and in order to secure the payment of the loan a contract purporting
to be a sale with pacto de retro is drawn up. It is thus that the
Page 15 of 46
G.R. No. 188921 April 18, 2012 3. A parcel of land identified as Lot 3-E of Subdivision Plan Psd-67995 situated
in Barrio Pogon-lomboy, Mangatarem, Pangasinan, containing an area of one
LEO C. ROMERO and DAVID AMANDO C. ROMERO, Petitioners, thousand square meters under Declaration of
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, AURORA C. ROMERO and VITTORIO C. Real Property No. 407 and TCT No. 77224 in the names of Spouses Dante Y.
ROMERO, Respondents. Romero and Aurora Cruz-Romero.

DECISION 4. A parcel of land identified as Lot 3-H of Subdivision Plan Psd-67995


situated in Barrio Pogon-lomboy, Mangatarem, Pangasinan, containing an
SERENO, J.: area of one thousand square meters under Declaration of Real Property No.
406, and TCT No. 77225 in the name of Spouses Dante Y. Romero and Aurora
This is a Petition filed under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, praying for Cruz-Romero.
the reversal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated 14 April 2009 and the
subsequent Resolution2 dated 21 July 2009. 5. A parcel of land identified as Lot 3815-A of Subdivision Plan Psd-227224
situated in Barrio Pogon-lomboy, Mangatarem, Pangasinan, containing an
The Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the Petition for Certiorari filed by petitioners area of four hundred ninety-four square meters under TCT No. 113514 in the
which alleged grave abuse of discretion in the Resolutions dated 14 December 2007 and name of Aurora Cruz vda. de Romero.
29 January 2008 issued by Judge Maria Susana T. Baua in her capacity as presiding
judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lingayen, Pangasinan. The said Resolutions 6. A parcel of land located in Barangay Burgos, Mangatarem, Pangasinan,
dismissed petitioners’ complaint against private respondents Aurora C. Romero and containing an area of more or less three hundred seventy-nine square meters
Vittorio C. Romero. under Declaration of Real Property No. 16136. It is not yet registered under Act
496 or the Old Spanish Mortgage Law, but registrable under Act 3344 as
Petitioners allege that upon their father’s death on 18 October 1974, their mother, amended. The improvement thereon, a building classified as a warehouse, is
respondent Aurora Romero, was appointed as legal guardian who held several real and covered by Declaration of Real Property No. 16136 A.
personal properties in trust for her children.3 Since that year until the present, she
continues to be the administrator of the properties, businesses, and investments 7. A parcel of land located in Brgy. Burgos, Mangatarem, Pangasinan,
comprising the estate of her late husband. containing an area of more or less two hundred four square meters under
Declaration of Real Property No. 16139. It is not yet registered under Act 496
Sometime in 2006, petitioners Leo and Amando discovered that several Deeds of Sale or Act 3344 as amended. The improvement thereon is covered by Declaration
were registered over parcels of land that are purportedly conjugal properties of their of Real Property No. 16140.
parents. These included the following real and personal properties:
8. A parcel of land located in Brgy. Pogon-lomboy, Mangatarem, Pangasinan,
1. A parcel of land identified as Lot 3-G of Subdivision Plan Psd-67995 situated containing an area of more or less eleven thousand six hundred forty-six
in Barrio Pogon-lomboy, Mangatarem, Pangasinan, containing an area of one square meters under Declaration of Real Property No. 724 and TCT No. 284241
thousand square meters under Declaration of Real Property No. 16142 and in the name of Aurora P. Cruz vda. de Romero.
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 290013 in the name of Vittorio C.
Romero. A warehouse stands on the lot, covered by Declaration of Real 9. A parcel of land located in Brgy. Pogon-lomboy, Mangatarem, Pangasinan,
Property No. 16142. containing an area of more or less one thousand two hundred fifty-six square
meters under Declaration of Real Property No. 725 and TCT No. 284242 in the
2. A parcel of land identified as Lot 3-D of Subdivision Plan Psd-67995 situated name of Aurora P. Cruz vda. de Romero.4
in Barrio Pogon-lomboy, Mangatarem, Pangasinan, containing an area of one
thousand square meters under Declaration of Real Property No. 405, and TCT Petitioners claim that sometime in August of 2005, their brother Vittorio – through
No. 77223 in the name of Spouses Dante Y. Romero and Aurora Cruz-Romero. fraud, misrepresentation and duress – succeeded in registering the above-mentioned
properties in his name through of Deeds of Sale executed by their mother,
Aurora.5 Vittorio allegedly employed force and threat upon her, and even administered

Page 16 of 46
drugs that rendered her weak and vulnerable. Thus, Aurora signed the Deeds of Sale Petitioners now come to us on a Rule 45 Petition, arguing that the probate court may
without reading or knowing their contents. rule on issues pertaining to title over property only in a provisional capacity. They
assert that the CA erred in dismissing their appeal, just because the intestate
On 18 December 2006, petitioners filed a Complaint for Annulment of Sale, proceeding has not yet terminated. Petitioners, as heirs, are purportedly allowed to
Nullification of Title, and Conveyance of Title (Amended)6 against private respondents exercise their option of filing a separate civil action in order to protect their interests.
Aurora C. Romero and Vittorio C. Romero. Respondents filed their Answer, arguing
that the properties in question were acquired long after the death of their father, Judge Thus, the singular issue in the case at bar is whether or not petitioners in this case may
Dante Romero; hence, the properties cannot be considered conjugal. They allege that file a separate civil action for annulment of sale and reconveyance of title, despite the
the lots covered by TCT Nos. 290010, 290011, 113514, and Tax Declaration Nos. 16136 and pendency of the settlement proceedings for the estate of the late Judge Dante Y.
11639 were paraphernal properties of Aurora which she had mortgaged. Vittorio Romero.
purportedly had to shell out substantial amounts in order to redeem them. The lots
covered by TCT Nos. 77223, 77224, and 77225 were sold by Aurora herself as attorney- Ruling of the Court
in-fact of her children on 23 November 2006, since her authority to do so had never
been revoked or modified. The probate court has jurisdiction to determine the issues in the present case

On 14 December 2007, the RTC rendered its Resolution dismissing petitioners’ Petitioners assert that the jurisdiction of the RTC sitting as a probate or intestate court
complaint, stating thus: relates only to matters having to do with the settlement of the estate of deceased
persons or the appointment of executors, but does not extend to the determination of
xxx(T)he case under Special Proceedings No. 5185 remains pending in that no questions of ownership that arise during the proceedings.10 They cite Ongsingco v.
distribution of the assets of the estate of the late Dante Y. Romero, nor a partition, has Tan,11Baybayan v. Aquino12 and several cases which state that when questions arise as to
been effected among his compulsory heirs. Thus, the contending claims of plaintiffs ownership of property alleged to be part of the estate of a deceased person, but claimed
and defendants in this case could not be adjudicated nor passed upon by this Court by some other person to be his property, not by virtue of any right of inheritance from
without first getting a definitive pronouncement from the intestate court as to the the deceased but by title adverse to that of the deceased and his estate, the intestate
share of each of the heirs of the late Dante Y. Romero in his estate. court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate these questions. Petitioners conclude that the
issue of ownership of the properties enumerated in their Petition and included in the
Even the claim of defendant Aurora C. Romero that some of the properties being inventory submitted by respondent Aurora Romero to the intestate court, must be
claimed by plaintiffs in this case are her own, the same being paraphernal, is an issue determined in a separate civil action to resolve title.13
which must be taken up and established in the intestate proceedings.7 (Emphasis
supplied.) The rulings in Ongsingco and Baybayan are wholly inapplicable, as they both arose out
of facts different from those in the case at bar. Baybayan involved a summary
The RTC denied their Motion for Reconsideration, citing Section 3, Rule 87 of the Rules settlement for the estate of the decedent, in which a parcel of land representing the
of Court which bars an heir or a devisee from maintaining an action to recover the title share of decedent’s nephews and nieces was already covered by a TCT under the name
or possession of lands until such lands have actually been assigned. The court ruled of a third party. To defeat the writ of partition issued by the probate court, the third
that "plaintiffs must first cause the termination of Special Proceedings No. 5185 to its party, petitioners Baybayan et al., had to file a separate civil action for quieting of their
logical conclusion before this case could be entertained by the Court."8 title and for damages. The issue before the Court then devolved upon the propriety of
the probate court’s order to amend the Complaint for quieting of title before the
Alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in rendering the said regular court. More importantly, Baybayan pertained to a civil action involving third
Resolutions, petitioners filed for certiorari under Rule 65 with the CA. On 14 April 2009, parties who were not heirs, and not privy to the intestate proceedings in the probate
the CA rendered the assailed judgment dismissing the Petition, ruling that the court. The present action was instituted precisely by heirs of Judge Romero, against
properties involved in this case are part of the estate left to the heirs of Judge Romero, their brother, who is also an heir, and their mother, who is the administrator of the
the partition of which is already subject of an intestate proceeding filed on 6 January estate.
1976 in the then Court of First Instance (CFI).9 The CA based its judgment on the
findings of the RTC that the inventory of the estate of Judge Romero submitted to the In Coca v. Borromeo,14 this Court allowed the probate court to provisionally pass upon
CFI included the same parties, properties, rights and interests as in the case before it. the issue of title, precisely because the only interested parties are all heirs to the estate,
subject of the proceeding, viz:

Page 17 of 46
It should be clarified that whether a particular matter should be resolved by the Court To this same effect are rulings in various states of the United States.
of First Instance in the exercise of its general jurisdiction or of its limited probate
jurisdiction is in reality not a jurisdictional question. In essence, it is a procedural * * * That the probate court is without jurisdiction to try the title to property as
question involving a mode of practice "which may be waived." between the representatives of an estate and strangers thereto is too well established by
the authorities to require argument.
As a general rule, the question as to title to property should not be passed upon in the
testate or intestate proceeding. That question should be ventilated in a separate action. There is also authority abroad that where the court is without jurisdiction to determine
That general rule has qualifications or exceptions justified by expediency and questions of title, as for example, as between the estate and persons claiming adversely,
convenience. its orders and judgments relating to the sale do not render the issue of title res
judicata.17 (Citations omitted, emphasis supplied.)
Thus, the probate court may provisionally pass upon in an intestate or testate
proceeding the question of inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of a piece of In any case, there is no merit to petitioners’ claim that the issues raised in the case at
property without prejudice to its final determination in a separate action. bar pertain to title and ownership and therefore need to be ventilated in a separate civil
action. The issue before the court is not really one of title or ownership, but the
Although generally, a probate court may not decide a question of title or ownership, yet determination of which particular properties should be included in the inventory of the
if the interested parties are all heirs, or the question is one of collation or advancement, estate. In Civil Case No. 18757, the RTC has listed the properties alleged by petitioners
or the parties consent to the assumption of jurisdiction by the probate court and the to have been conjugal properties of their parents and, therefore, part of the estate that
rights of third parties are not impaired, then the probate court is competent to decide was illegally sold to the respondent. Some of these real properties identified seem to be
the question of ownership. the same real properties that form part of the inventory of the estate in the intestate
proceedings.18
We hold that the instant case may be treated as an exception to the general rule that
questions of title should be ventilated in a separate action. Not only do petitioners assert their legal interest as compulsory heirs, they also seek to
be the owners, pro indiviso, of the said properties. To anchor their claim, they argue
Here, the probate court had already received evidence on the ownership of the twelve- that the properties are conjugal in nature and hence form part of their inheritance. For
hectare portion during the hearing of the motion for its exclusion from (the) inventory. his defense, Vittorio contends that the lots are the paraphernal properties of Aurora
The only interested parties are the heirs who have all appeared in the intestate that she had mortgaged, and that Vittorio subsequently redeemed.
proceeding.15 (Citations omitted.)
In Bernardo v. Court of Appeals,19 the Supreme Court declared that the determination
While it is true that a probate court’s determination of ownership over properties of whether a property is conjugal or paraphernal for purposes of inclusion in the
which may form part of the estate is not final or ultimate in nature, this rule is inventory of the estate rests with the probate court:
applicable only as between the representatives of the estate and strangers thereto.
Indeed, as early as Bacquial v. Amihan,16 the court stated thus: xxx (T)he jurisdiction to try controversies between heirs of a deceased person regarding
the ownership of properties alleged to belong to his estate, has been recognized to be
xxx The rulings of this court have always been to the effect that in the special vested in probate courts. This is so because the purpose of an administration
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person, persons not heirs, proceeding is the liquidation of the estate and distribution of the residue among the
intervening therein to protect their interests are allowed to do so protect the same, but heirs and legatees. Liquidation means determination of all the assets of the estate and
not for a decision on their action. In the case of In re Estate of the deceased Paulina payment of all the debts and expenses.Thereafter, distribution is made of the
Vasquez Vda. de Garcia, Teresa Garcia vs. Luisa Garcia, et al., 67 Phil., 353, this court decedent's liquidated estate among the persons entitled to succeed him. The
held: proceeding is in the nature of an action of partition, in which each party is required to
bring into the mass whatever community property he has in his possession. To this
A court which takes cognizance of testate or intestate proceedings has power and end, and as a necessary corollary, the interested parties may introduce proofs relative to
jurisdiction to determine whether or not the properties included therein or excluded the ownership of the properties in dispute. All the heirs who take part in the
therefrom belong prima facie to the deceased, although such a determination is not distribution of the decedent's estate are before the court, and subject to the jurisdiction
final or ultimate in nature, and without prejudice to the right of interested parties, in a thereof, in all matters and incidents necessary to the complete settlement of such
proper action, to raise the question on the ownership or existence of the right or credit. estate, so long as no interests of third parties are affected.

Page 18 of 46
In the case now before us, the matter in controversy is the question of ownership of In the case of Dillena vs. Court of Appeals, this Court made a pronouncement that it is
certain of the properties involved — whether they belong to the conjugal partnership within the jurisdiction of the probate court to approve the sale of properties of a
or to the husband exclusively. This is a matter properly within the jurisdiction of the deceased person by his prospective heirs before final adjudication. Hence, it is error to
probate court which necessarily has to liquidate the conjugal partnership in order to say that this matter should be threshed out in a separate action.
determine the estate of the decedent which is to be distributed among his heirs who
are all parties to the proceedings.20 xxx (Emphasis supplied.) The Court further elaborated that although the Rules of Court do not specifically state
that the sale of an immovable property belonging to an estate of a decedent, in a special
In the present case, petitioners assume that the properties subject of the allegedly proceeding, should be made with the approval of the court, this authority is necessarily
illegal sale are conjugal and constitute part of their share in the estate. To date, there included in its capacity as a probate court.22
has been no final inventory of the estate or final order adjudicating the shares of the
heirs. Thus, only the probate court can competently rule on whether the properties are Again, petitioners do not pose issues pertaining to title or ownership. They are, in
conjugal and form part of the estate. It is only the probate court that can liquidate the effect, questioning the validity of the sales made by the administrator, an issue that can
conjugal partnership and distribute the same to the heirs, after the debts of the estate only be properly threshed out by the probate court. Paragraph 13 of petitioners’
have been paid. Complaint alleges as follows:

Section 3, Rule 87 bars petitioners from filing the present action 13. The purported transfers and sales executed by Defendant Aurora C. Romero to and
in favor of Defendant Vittorio C. Romero are nullities since all were simulated, entered
Petitioners next contend that even if the probate court has the power to rule on their into without the intent and volition of Defendant Aurora C. Romero, attended by force,
Complaint, the submission of the issues in this case to the probate court is merely intimidation, duress and fraud and not supported with any valid or sufficient
optional, and not mandatory upon them. Hence, they argue, they still have the right to consideration and with the sole depraved intentions of depriving the other compulsory
bring these issues in a separate civil action, if they so choose. They argue further that heirs of the late Judge Dante Y. Romero of their rightful share in the estate.23 (Emphasis
Section 3, Rule 87 of the Revised Rules of Court is not applicable to the present case. omitted.)

The said provision states that: Indeed, implicit in the requirement for judicial approval of sales of property under
administration is the recognition that the probate court has the power to rescind or
Sec. 3. Heir may not sue until share assigned. – When an executor or administrator is nullify the disposition of a property under administration that was effected without its
appointed and assumes the trust, no action to recover the title or possession of lands or authority.24 That petitioners have the prerogative of choosing where to file their action
for damages done to such lands shall be maintained against him by an heir or devisee for nullification – whether with the probate court or the regular court – is erroneous. As
until there is an order of the court assigning such lands to such heir or devisee or until held in Marcos, II v. Court of Appeals:
the time allowed for paying debts has expired.
xxx (T)he authority of the Regional Trial Court, sitting, albeit with limited jurisdiction,
Petitioners believe that the above rule is subject to certain exceptions. They invoke the as a probate court over the estate of deceased individual, is not a trifling thing. The
doctrine that while heirs have no standing in court to sue for the recovery of property court's jurisdiction, once invoked, and made effective, cannot be treated with
of the estate represented by an administrator, these heirs may maintain such action if indifference nor should it be ignored with impunity by the very parties invoking its
the administrator is unwilling to bring the suit, or has allegedly participated in the act authority.
complained of.
In testament to this, it has been held that it is within the jurisdiction of the probate
On this contention, petitioners’ theory must again fail. There is nothing on the record court to approve the sale of properties of a deceased person by his prospective heirs
that would prove that Aurora defied the orders of the probate court or entered into sale before final adjudication; to determine who are the heirs of the decedent; the
agreements in violation of her trust. In fact, petitioners are really accusing a co-heir, recognition of a natural child; the status of a woman claiming to be the legal wife of the
their brother Vittorio, of having acquired certain properties which they allege to be decedent; the legality of disinheritance of an heir by the testator; and to pass upon the
properties of their parents. validity of a waiver of hereditary rights.25(Citations omitted.)

Even if we assume the property to be conjugal and thus, part of the estate, Aurora Thus, the validity of the sales made by Aurora, allegedly orchestrated by petitioners’ co-
Romero’s acts as the administrator of the estate are subject to the sole jurisdiction of heir, Vittorio, can only be determined by the probate court, because it is the probate
the probate court. In Acebedo v. Abesamis,21 the Court stated: court which is empowered to identify the nature of the property, and that has
Page 19 of 46
jurisdiction over Aurora’s actions and dispositions as administrator. In Peñaverde v.
Peñaverde,26 the Court even adjudged the petitioners guilty of forum-shopping for filing
a separate civil action despite the pendency of the said petitioners’ own case seeking G.R. No. 198680 July 8, 2013
that letters of administration be granted to them. Similar to the case at bar, the
petitioners in Peñaverde also sought the annulment of titles in the name of their co- HEIRS OF MAGDALENO YPON, NAMELY, ALVARO YPON, ERUDITA Y. BARON,
heir: CICERO YPON, WILSON YPON, VICTOR YPON, AND HINIDINO Y.
PEÑALOSA, PETITIONERS,
The two cases filed by petitioners are: (1) Sp. Proc. No. Q-94-19471, which seeks letters vs.
of administration for the estate of Mariano Peñaverde; and (2) Civil Case No. Q-95- GAUDIOSO PONTERAS RICAFORTE A.K.A. "GAUDIOSO E. YPON," AND THE
24711, which seeks the annulment of the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication executed by REGISTER OF DEEDS OF TOLEDO CITY, RESPONDENTS.
Mariano Peñaverde and the annulment of titles in his name as well as the reopening of
the distribution of his estate. RESOLUTION

Evidently, in filing Sp. Proc. No. Q-94-19471, petitioners sought to share in the estate of PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
Mariano, specifically the subject land previously owned in common by Mariano and his
wife, Victorina.This is also what they hoped to obtain in filing Civil Case No. Q-95- This is a direct recourse to the Court from the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City,
24711. Branch 59 (RTC), through a petition for review on certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules
of Court, raising a pure question of law. In particular, petitioners assail the July 27,
Indeed, a petition for letters of administration has for its object the ultimate 20112 and August 31, 20113 Orders of the RTC, dismissing Civil Case No. T-2246 for lack
distribution and partition of a decedent's estate. This is also manifestly sought in Civil of cause of action.
Case No. Q-95-24711, which precisely calls for the "Reopening of Distribution of Estate"
of Mariano Peñaverde. In both cases, petitioners would have to prove their right to The Facts
inherit from the estate of Mariano Peñaverde, albeit indirectly, as heirs of Mariano's
wife, Victorina.1âwphi1 On July 29, 2010, petitioners, together with some of their cousins,4 filed a complaint for
Cancellation of Title and Reconveyance with Damages (subject complaint) against
Under the circumstances, petitioners are indeed guilty of forum-shopping. respondent Gaudioso Ponteras Ricaforte a.k.a. "Gaudioso E. Ypon" (Gaudioso),
docketed as Civil Case No. T-2246.5 In their complaint, they alleged that Magdaleno
xxx xxx xxx Ypon (Magdaleno) died intestate and childless on June 28, 1968, leaving behind Lot
Nos. 2-AA, 2-C, 2-F, and 2-J which were then covered by Transfer Certificates of Title
In the case at bar, it cannot be denied that the parties to Sp. Proc. No. Q-94-19471 and (TCT) Nos. T-44 and T-77-A.6 Claiming to be the sole heir of Magdaleno, Gaudioso
Civil Case No. Q-95-24711 are identical. There is also no question that the rights executed an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and caused the cancellation of the
asserted by petitioners in both cases are identical, i.e., the right of succession to the aforementioned certificates of title, leading to their subsequent transfer in his name
estate of their aunt, Victorina, wife of Mariano. Likewise, the reliefs prayed for --- to under TCT Nos. T-2637 and T-2638,7 to the prejudice of petitioners who are
obtain their share in the estate of Mariano --- are the same, such relief being founded Magdaleno’s collateral relatives and successors-in-interest.8
on the same facts ---their relationship to Mariano's deceased wife, Victorina.27
In his Answer, Gaudioso alleged that he is the lawful son of Magdaleno as evidenced by:
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED. As the properties herein are already (a) his certificate of Live Birth; (b) two (2) letters from Polytechnic School; and (c) a
subject of an intestate proceeding filed on 6 January 1976, the 14 April 2009 judgment of certified true copy of his passport.9 Further, by way of affirmative defense, he claimed
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 104025 finding no grave abuse of discretion on that: (a) petitioners have no cause of action against him; (b) the complaint fails to state
the part of the RTC is AFFIRMED. a cause of action; and (c) the case is not prosecuted by the real parties-in-interest, as
there is no showing that the petitioners have been judicially declared as Magdaleno’s
SO ORDERED. lawful heirs.10

The RTC Ruling

Page 20 of 46
On July 27, 2011, the RTC issued the assailed July 27, 2011 Order, 11 finding that the made in the proper special proceeding for such purpose, and not in an ordinary suit for
subject complaint failed to state a cause of action against Gaudioso. It observed that recovery of ownership and/or possession, as in this case:
while the plaintiffs therein had established their relationship with Magdaleno in a
previous special proceeding for the issuance of letters of administration,12 this did not Jurisprudence dictates that the determination of who are the legal heirs of the deceased
mean that they could already be considered as the decedent’s compulsory heirs. Quite must be made in the proper special proceedings in court, and not in an ordinary suit for
the contrary, Gaudioso satisfactorily established the fact that he is Magdaleno’s son – recovery of ownership and possession of property.1âwphi1 This must take precedence
and hence, his compulsory heir – through the documentary evidence he submitted over the action for recovery of possession and ownership. The Court has consistently
which consisted of: (a) a marriage contract between Magdaleno and Epegenia ruled that the trial court cannot make a declaration of heirship in the civil action for
Evangelista; (b) a Certificate of Live Birth; (c) a Letter dated February 19, 1960; and (d) a the reason that such a declaration can only be made in a special proceeding. Under
passport.13 Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court, a civil action is defined as one by
which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the
The plaintiffs therein filed a motion for reconsideration which was, however, denied on prevention or redress of a wrong while a special proceeding is a remedy by which a
August 31, 2011 due to the counsel’s failure to state the date on which his Mandatory party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact. It is then decisively clear
Continuing Legal Education Certificate of Compliance was issued.14 that the declaration of heirship can be made only in a special proceeding inasmuch as
the petitioners here are seeking the establishment of a status or right.
Aggrieved, petitioners, who were among the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. T-2246,15 sought
direct recourse to the Court through the instant petition. In the early case of Litam, et al. v. Rivera, this Court ruled that the declaration of
heirship must be made in a special proceeding, and not in an independent civil action.
The Issue Before the Court This doctrine was reiterated in Solivio v. Court of Appeals x x x:

The core of the present controversy revolves around the issue of whether or not the In the more recent case of Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, the Court reiterated its
RTC’s dismissal of the case on the ground that the subject complaint failed to state a ruling that matters relating to the rights of filiation and heirship must be ventilated in
cause of action was proper. the proper probate court in a special proceeding instituted precisely for the purpose of
determining such rights. Citing the case of Agapay v. Palang, this Court held that the
The Court’s Ruling status of an illegitimate child who claimed to be an heir to a decedent's estate could not
be adjudicated in an ordinary civil action which, as in this case, was for the recovery of
The petition has no merit. property.22 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied; citations omitted)

Cause of action is defined as the act or omission by which a party violates a right of By way of exception, the need to institute a separate special proceeding for the
another.16 It is well-settled that the existence of a cause of action is determined by the determination of heirship may be dispensed with for the sake of practicality, as when
allegations in the complaint.17 In this relation, a complaint is said to assert a sufficient the parties in the civil case had voluntarily submitted the issue to the trial court and
cause of action if, admitting what appears solely on its face to be correct, the plaintiff already presented their evidence regarding the issue of heirship, and the RTC had
would be entitled to the relief prayed for.18Accordingly, if the allegations furnish consequently rendered judgment thereon,23 or when a special proceeding had been
sufficient basis by which the complaint can be maintained, the same should not be instituted but had been finally closed and terminated, and hence, cannot be re-
dismissed, regardless of the defenses that may be averred by the defendants.19 opened.24

As stated in the subject complaint, petitioners, who were among the plaintiffs therein, In this case, none of the foregoing exceptions, or those of similar nature, appear to
alleged that they are the lawful heirs of Magdaleno and based on the same, prayed that exist. Hence, there lies the need to institute the proper special proceeding in order to
the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication executed by Gaudioso be declared null and void and determine the heirship of the parties involved, ultimately resulting to the dismissal of
that the transfer certificates of title issued in the latter’s favor be cancelled. While the Civil Case No. T-2246.
foregoing allegations, if admitted to be true, would consequently warrant the reliefs
sought for in the said complaint, the rule that the determination of a decedent’s lawful Verily, while a court usually focuses on the complaint in determining whether the same
heirs should be made in the corresponding special proceeding20 precludes the RTC, in fails to state a cause of action, a court cannot disregard decisions material to the proper
an ordinary action for cancellation of title and reconveyance, from granting the same. appreciation of the questions before it.25 Thus, concordant with applicable
In the case of Heirs of Teofilo Gabatan v. CA,21 the Court, citing several other jurisprudence, since a determination of heirship cannot be made in an ordinary action
precedents, held that the determination of who are the decedent’s lawful heirs must be for recovery of ownership and/or possession, the dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246 was
Page 21 of 46
altogether proper. In this light, it must be pointed out that the RTC erred in ruling on 18,1972. He was survived by his sister, Ursula Pascual and the children of his late sisters
Gaudioso’s heirship which should, as herein discussed, be threshed out and determined as follows: (1) Maria Pascual Reyes- Ruperto Reyes and Jose Reyes; (2) Ines Pascual
in the proper special proceeding. As such, the foregoing pronouncement should Reyes-Jose P. Reyes, Benito Reyes, and Manna Reyes Manalastas; (3) Josefa Pascual
therefore be devoid of any legal effect. Reyes-Augusto Reyes and Benjamin Reyes; and (4) Escolastica Pascual Dalusong (half-
blood Pedro Dalusong.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246 is hereby
AFFIRMED, without prejudice to any subsequent proceeding to determine the lawful On December 3, 1973, the heirs of Dr. Pascual filed Special Proceedings No. 73-30-M in
heirs of the late Magdaleno Ypon and the rights concomitant therewith. the then Court of First Instance of Pampanga for the administration of his estate. Atty.
Marcela Macapagal, Clerk of Court of Branch VII was appointed special administratrix.
SO ORDERED. Macapagal was, however, replaced by Reynaldo San Juan.

On February 12, 1976, Ursula Pascual filed a motion to exclude some properties from
the inventory of Pascual's estate and to deliver the titles thereto to her. Ursula alleged
that Dr. Pascual during his lifetime or on November 2, 1966 executed a "Donation
Mortis Causa" in her favor covering properties which are included in the estate of Dr.
Pascual (subject of Special Proceedings No. 73-30-M) and therefore should be excluded
G.R. No. L-45262 July 23, 1990
from the inventory.

RUPERTO REYES and REYNALDO C. SAN JUAN, in his capacity as Special


On August 1, 1976; the trial court issued an order excluding from the inventory of the
Administrator, petitioners,
estate the properties donated to Ursula, to wit:
vs.
HON. LORENZO R. MOSQUEDA, Judge of CFI, Pampanga (Branch VII), and
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing discussion, let the
URSULA D. PASCUAL, respondents.
properties listed in paragraph 2 of the motion of February 12, 1976
filed by Ursula D. Pascual thru counsel be, as it is hereby ordered,
G.R. No. L-45394 July 23, 1990
excluded from the inventory of the estate of the deceased Dr. Emilio
D. Pascual, without prejudice to its final determination in a separate
action. Special Administrator Reynaldo San Juan is hereby ordered to
return to Court the custody of the corresponding certificates of titles
PEDRO DALUSONG, petitioner, of these properties, until the issue of ownership is finally determined
vs in a separate action. (G.R. No. 45262, pp. 23-24)
HON. LORENZO R. MOSQUEDA, JUDGE, BRANCH VII, COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF PAMPANGA, and URSULA D. PASCUAL, respondents. The Order is now the subject of G.R. Nos. 45262 and 45394. On January 5, 1977, we
issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the trial court from enforcing the
G.R. Nos. 73241-42 July 23, 1990 August 1, 1976 Order.

OFELIA D. PARUNGAO and ROSARIO DUNCIL, petitioners, Among the properties included in the "donation mortis causa" in favor of Ursula was
vs. Lot 24, Block No. 15 of the subdivision plan Psd-3231, located at 1109-1111 R. Papa St.,
THE HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, (Third Civil Cases Division), Tondo, Manila as evidenced by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 17854. The records show
BENJAMIN P. REYES and OSCAR REYES, respondents. that on May 15, 1969, Emilio Pascual executed a deed of donation of real property inter
vivos over the abovementioned lot in Manila in favor of Ofelia D. Parungao, petitioner
in G.R. Nos. 73241-42 a minor with her mother, Rosario Duncil, accepting the gift and
donation for and in her behalf. When Parungao reached the age of majority or on
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: December 20, 1976, she tried to have the donation registered. However, she found out
that the certificate of title was missing from where it was supposed to be kept,
The instant petitions have been consolidated as they arose from the same facts and prompting her to file a petition for reconstitution of title with the Court of First
involve similar issues. Dr. Emilio Pascual died intestate and without issue on November Instance of Manila. The petition was granted in October 1977. Parungao registered the
Page 22 of 46
deed of donation with the Register of Deeds of Manila who cancelled Transfer 2) On the counterclaim, ordering Ofelia Parungao to pay defendant
Certificate of Title No. 17854 and issued in lieu thereof Transfer Certificate of Title No. defendants the sum of Two Thousand (P2,000.00) Pesos as and for
129092 in the name of Ofelia Parungao. She then filed a motion for exclusion in Special attorney's fees.'
Proceedings No. 73-30-M.
Parungao appealed the decision to the then Intermediate Appellate Court. The decision
In the meantime, on September 23, 1976, Ursula Pascual executed a deed of absolute was, however, affirmed, with costs against the appellant.
sale over the Tondo property in favor of Benjamin, Oscar, Jose and Emmanuel, all
surnamed Reyes. The Intermediate Appellate Court decision is now the subject matter in G.R. Nos.
73241-42.
On May 2, 1978, Benjamin Reyes, private respondent in G.R. Nos. 73241-42 filed a
complaint for declaration of nullity of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 129092, Register On January 29, 1986, we issued a minute resolution denying the above petition for lack
of Deeds of Manila and/or reconveyance of deed of title against Ofelia Parungao and of merit. The resolution became final and executory on March 10, 1986 and on this same
Rosario Duncil, with the then Court of First Instance of Manila. The case was docketed day the entry of judgment was effected. The entry of judgment was however set aside in
as Civil Case No. 115164. the resolution dated January 19, 1987 on the ground that the January 29, 1986 resolution
was not received by the petitioners' counsel of record. The petitioner was granted leave
In their answer with compulsory counterclaim Parungao and Duncil, denied Reyes' to file a motion for reconsideration of the January 29, 1986 resolution.
assertion of ownership over the Tondo property. On November 6, 1978, Ofelia
Parungao filed a complaint for recovery of possession over the Tondo property against The motion for reconsideration is now before us for resolution petition.
Benjamin Reyes and his nephew Oscar Reyes with the Court of First Instance of Manila.
The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 119359. In her complaint, Parungao also alleged The issues raised in these petitions are two-fold: (1) In G.R. No. L-45394, petitioner
that as early as 1973, the defendants occupied two (2) doors of the apartment situated at Pedro Dalusong questions the jurisdiction of the probate court to exclude the
the Tondo property by mere tolerance of the previous owner, Dr. Emilio Pascual, and properties donated to Ursula Pascual in its Order dated August 1, 1976, and (2) In G.R.
later by her until April 8, 1978 when she formally demanded that the defendants vacate No. L-45262 and G.R. Nos. 73241-42 Ruperto Reyes, Reynaldo C. San Juan, in his
the premises. Parungao prayed that the defendants be evicted from the premises. capacity as special administrator of the estate of Emilio Pascual (petitioner in G.R. No.
L- 45262), Ofelia Parungao and Rosario Duncil (petitioners in G.R. Nos. 7324142)
The two cases were consolidated. On June 3, 1982, the then Court of First Instance, question the appellate court's finding that the "Donation Mortis Causa" executed by
Branch 8 rendered a joint decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: Emilio Pascual in favor of his sister Ursula Pascual was actually a Donation Inter Vivos.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: In Civil Case No. 115164 We first discuss the issue on jurisdiction. The questioned August 1, 1976 order of the
— then Court of First Instance of Pampanga in S.P. Proc. No. 73-30-M categorically stated
that the exclusion from the inventory of the estate of the deceased Dr. Emilio D.
1) Declaring TCT No. 129092 in the name of Ofelia Parungao null and Pascual was "without prejudice to its final determination in a separate action." The
void; and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to cancel said title provisional character of the exclusion of the contested properties in the inventory as
and to restore, in lieu thereof, TCT No. 17854 in the name of Emilio stressed in the order is within the jurisdiction of the probate court. This was stressed in
D. Pascual; the case of Cuizon v. Ramolete (129 SCRA 495 [1984]) which we cited in the case
of Morales v. Court of First Instance of Cavite, Branch V (146 SCRA 373 [1986]):
2) Ordering Ofelia D. Parungao to pay plaintiff Benjamin P. Reyes
the sum of Two Thousand (P2,000.00) Pesos, as and for attorney's It is well-settled rule that a probate court or one in charge of
fees; and to pay the costs of suit including all fees which the Register proceedings whether testate or intestate cannot adjudicate or
of Deeds may prescribe for the full implementation of this decision. determine title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate and
For lack of merit, the counterclaim is dismissed. which are equally claimed to belong to outside parties. All that the
said court could do as regards said properties is to determine
In Civil Case No. 119359 — whether they should or should not be included in the inventory or
list of properties to be administered by the administrator. If there is
1) Dismissing the complaint for want of merit; and no dispute, well and good; but if there is, then the parties, the
administrator, and the opposing parties have to resort to an ordinary
Page 23 of 46
action for a final determination of the conflicting claims of title xxx xxx xxx
because the probate court cannot do so (Mallari v. Mallari, 92 Phil.
694; Baquial v. Amihan, 92 Phil. 501).i•t•c-aüsl (Enumerated herein are 41 parcels of land)

Similarly, in Valero Vda. de Rodriguez v. Court of Appeals, (91 SCRA Also included in this DONATION MORTIS CAUSA are all personal
540) we held that for the purpose of determining whether a certain properties of the DONOR in the form of cash money or bank
property should or should not be included in the inventory, the deposits and insurance in his favor, and his real properties situated
probate court may pass upon the title thereto but such in other towns of Pampanga, such as San Simon, and in the province
determination is not conclusive and is subject to the final decision in of Rizal, San Francisco del Monte and in the City of Manila.
a separate action regarding ownership which may be instituted by
the parties (3 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, That the said donor has reserved for himself sufficient property to
pages 448449 and 473; Lachenal v. Salas, maintain him for life; and that the said DONEE does hereby ACCEPT
L-42257, June 14, 1976, 71 SCRA 262, 266). and RECEIVE this DONATION MORTIS CAUSA and further does
express his appreciation and gratefulness for the generosity of said
On the second issue, it may be noted that the Court of Appeals did not pass upon the DONOR; (Rollo of G.R. No. L-45262, pp. 12-16)
authenticity of the 1969 donation to Parungao because of its finding that the 1966
donation to Pascual was inter vivos. The petitioners do not press the authenticity of the xxx xxx xxx
1969 donation as their challenge centers on whether or not the 1966 donation was inter
vivos. However, the trial court has a lengthy discussion reflecting adversely on the Considering the provisions of the DONATION MORTIS CAUSA the appellate court
authenticity of the 1969 donation to Parungao. ruled that the deed of donation was actually a donation inter vivos although
denominated as DONATION MORTIS CAUSA.
The petitioners assert that the 1966 donation was null and void since it was not
executed with the formalities of a will. Therefore, the petitioners in G.R. No. L-45262 It is, now a settled rule that the title given to a deed of donation is not the
insist that the donated properties should revert to the estate of Emilio Pascual while determinative factor which makes the donation "inter vivos" or "mortis causa" As early
the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 73241-42 insist that the donation of real property inter vivos as the case of Laureta v. Manta, et al., (44 Phil. 668 [1928]) this Court ruled that the
in favor of Ofelia Parungao be given effect. dispositions in a deed of donation-whether "inter vivos" or "mortis causa" do not
depend on the title or term used in the deed of donation but on the provisions stated in
The subject deed of donation titled "DONATION MORTIS CAUSA" duly notarized by a such deed. This Court explained in Concepcion v. Concepcion (91 Phil. 823 [1952]) —
certain Cornelio M. Sigua states:
...But, it is a rule consistently followed by the courts that it is the
That Dr. Emilio D. Pascual, Filipino, single, of age and resident of body of the document of donation and the statements contained
Apalit, Pampanga, hereinafter called the DONOR and Ursula D. therein, and not the title that should be considered in ascertaining
Pascual, Filipino, single, also of age, resident of and with postal the intention of the donor. Here, the donation is entitled and called
address at Apalit, Pampanga, hereinafter called the DONEE, have donacion onerosa mortis causa. From the body, however, we find
agreed, as they do hereby agree, to the following, to wit: that the donation was of a nature remunerative rather than onerous.
It was for past services rendered, services which may not be
That the said DONOR, Dr. Emilio D. Pascual, for and in considered as a debt to be paid by the donee but services rendered to
consideration of the love and affection which he has and bears unto her freely and in goodwill. The donation instead of being onerous or
the said DONEE, as also for the personal services rendered by the for a valuable consideration, as in payment of a legal obligation, was
said DONEE to the said DONOR, does hereby by these presents more of remuneratory or compensatory nature, besides being partly
voluntarily GIVE, GRANT, and DONATE MORTIS CAUSA unto the motivated by affection.
said DONEE URSULA D. PASCUAL, her heirs and assigns, all of my
rights, title and interest, in and to the following parcels of land with We should not give too much importance or significance to or be
all the improvements thereon, situated in the Municipality of Apalit, guided by the use of the phrase 'mortis causa in a donation and
Pampanga, and more particularly described and Identified as follows: thereby to conclude that the donation is not one of inter vivos. In the
case of De Guzman et al. v. Ibea et al. (67 Phil. 633), this Court
Page 24 of 46
through Mr. Chief Justice Avancena said that if a donation by its the property while alive (Vidal v. Posadas, 58 Phil., 108; Guzman v.
terms is inter vivos, this character is not altered by the fact that the Ibea 67 Phil., 633);
donor styles it mortis causa.
(2) That before his death, the transfer should be revocable by the
In the case of Laureta v. Mata, et al. (44 Phil. 668), the court held transferor at will, ad nutum; but revocability may be provided for
that the donation involved was inter vivos. There, the donor Severa indirectly by means of a reserved power in the donor to dispose of
Magno y Laureta gave the properties involved as — the properties conveyed (Bautista v. Sabiniano, G.R. No. L- 4326,
November 18, 1952);
... a reward for the services which he is rendering me, and as a token
of my affection toward him and of the fact that he stands high in my (3) That the transfer should be void if the transferor should survive
estimation, I hereby donate 'mortis causa to said youth all the the transferee.
properties described as follows:
These principles were repeated in the case of Castro v. Court of Appeals (27 SCRA 1076
xxx xxx xxx [1969]), to wit:

I also declare that it is the condition of this donation that the donee Whether a donation is inter vivos or mortis causa depends upon the
cannot take possession of the properties donated before the death of nature of the disposition made. 'Did the donor intend to transfer the
the donor, and in the event of her death the said donee shall be ownership of the property donated upon the execution of the
under obligation to cause a mass to be held annually as a suffrage in donation? If this is so, as reflected from the provisions contained in
behalf of my sold, and also to defray the expenses of my burial and the donation, then it is inter vivos; otherwise, it is merely mortis
funerals.' causa, or made to take effect after death.' (Howard v. Padilla and
Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-7064 and L-7098, April 22, 1955.
It will be observed that the present case and that of Laureta above
cited are similar in that in both cases the donation was being made Applying the above principles to the instant petitions, there is no doubt that the so-
as a reward for services rendered and being rendered, and as a token called DONATION MORTIS CAUSA is really a donation inter vivos. The donation was
of affection for the donee; the phrase 'mortis causa was used; the executed by Dr. Pascual in favor of his sister Ursula Pascual out of love and affection as
donee to take possession of the property donated only after the well as a recognition of the personal services rendered by the donee to the donor. The
death of the donor; the donee was under obligation to defray the transfer of ownership over the properties donated to the donee was immediate and
expenses incident to the celebration of the anniversary of the donor's independent of the death of the donor. The provision as regards the reservation of
death, including church fees. The donation in both cases were duly properties for the donor's subsistence in relation to the other provisions of the deed of
accepted. In said case of Laureta this Court held that the donation donation confirms the intention of the donor to give naked ownership of the properties
was in praesenti and not a gift in futuro. to the donee immediately after the execution of the deed of donation.

In the later case of Bonsato et al. v. Court of appeals, et al. (95 Phil. 481 [1954]) this With these findings we find no need to discuss the other arguments raised by the
Court, distinguished the characteristics of a donation inter vivos and "mortis causa" in petitioners.
this wise:
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby renders judgment as follows:
Did the late Domingo Bonsato, make donations inter vivos or
dispositions post mortem in favor of the petitioners herein? If the 1) In G.R. Nos. 45262 and 45394 the petitions are DENIED. The Temporary Restraining
latter, then the documents should reveal any or all of the following Order issued on January 5, 1977 is hereby LIFTED; and
characteristics:
2) In G.R. Nos. 73241-42, the motion for reconsideration is DENIED. This DENIAL is
(1) Convey no title or ownership to the transferee before the death of FINAL.
the transferor; or, what amounts to the same thing, that the
transferor should retain the ownership (fun or naked) and control of SO ORDERED.

Page 25 of 46
1.2 4,009 sq. m. given to son Antonio Nicolas

2. Title No. T-40333 located at Polo, Bulacan with an area of 1,000 sq. m. given
to son Antonio Nicolas

3. Title No. T-36989 located at Polo, Bulacan with an area of 4,000 sq. m. given
G.R. No. 128781 August 6, 2002 to daughter Teresita N. de Leon (herein petitioner)

TERESITA N. DE LEON, ZENAIDA C. NICOLAS and the HEIRS OF ANTONIO 4. Title No. T-36987 located at Polo, Bulacan with an area of 283 sq. m. given
NICOLAS, petitioners, to son Antonio Nicolas
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. PABLO P. INVENTOR and RAMON 5. T-33658 located at Polo, Bulacan with an area of 6,109 sq. m. given to
NICOLAS, respondents. daughter Teresita N. de Leon

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: 6. T-68554 located at Caloocan City with an area of 690 sq. m. given to son
Ramon (Oppositor-Applicant herein)
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which
prays that the Decision dated February 28, 1997 and the Resolution dated April 3, 1997 7. T-10907 located at Caloocan City with an area of 310 sq. m. given to son
issued by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 42958,1 be set aside; and, that another Ramon but was somehow transferred to Antonio Nicolas, and the property is
judgment be entered ordering the Presiding Judge of Branch 123 of the Regional Trial now titled in the name of the latter’s widow, Zenaida Carlos Nicolas."
Court of Caloocan City to give due course to petitioners’ notice of appeal, to approve
their record on appeal and to elevate the records of Sp. Proc. No. C-1679 to respondent xxx xxx x x x."4
appellate court for further proceedings.
On September 27, 1994, the RTC issued an Order directing Ramon "to submit pertinent
The factual background: documents relative to the transfer of the properties from the registered owners during
their lifetime for proper determination of the court if such properties should be
Herein petitioner Teresita N. de Leon was appointed administratrix of the estate of collated, and set it for hearing with notice to the present registered owners to show
Rafael C. Nicolas in Sp. Proc. No. C-1679, entitled, "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate cause why their properties may not be included in the collation of properties."5
of Rafael C. Nicolas". Said case was subsequently consolidated with Sp. Proc No. C-
18102 and Civil Case No. C-17407.3 Deceased spouses Rafael and Salud Nicolas were the On October 10, 1994, respondent Ramon filed an Amended Motion for Collation
parents of petitioner Teresita N. de Leon, Estrellita N. Vizconde, Antonio Nicolas specifying the properties to be collated and attaching to said motion, the documents in
(deceased husband of petitioner Zenaida Nicolas and predecessor of the petitioners support thereof, to wit:
Heirs of Antonio Nicolas), Ramon Nicolas and Roberto Nicolas.
"3. A more complete list of the properties to be collated is as follows:
On September 19, 1994, private respondent Ramon G. Nicolas, an oppositor–applicant
in the intestate proceedings, filed a "Motion for Collation," claiming that deceased 1. Title No. T-36734 located at Polo, Bulacan with an area of 14,119 sq. m., xerox
Rafael Nicolas, during his lifetime, had given the following real properties to his copy hereto attached as Annex "A", distributed as follows:
children by gratuitous title and that administratrix-petitioner Teresita failed to include
the same in the inventory of the estate of the decedent: 1.1 10,110 sq. m. given to daughter Estrellita N. Visconde, under TCT
No. V-554 of Valenzuela Bulacan (Annex "B"), and later sold by
"1. Title No. T-36734 located at Polo, Bulacan with an area of 14,119 sq. m. Estrellita to Amelia Lim Sy for P3,405,612.00 and the Deed of Sale
distributed as follows: hereto attached as Annex "B-1";

1.1 10,110 sq. m. given to daughter Estrellita N. Visconde – "1.2 4,009 sq. m. given to son Antonio Nicolas, xerox copy hereto
attached as Annex "C";

Page 26 of 46
2. Two lots, covered by TCT No. T-36989 located at Polo, Bulacan with an area xerox copy of the transfer certificate of title in the name of Antonio
of 4,000 sq. m. and TCT No. T-33658 located at Polo, Bulacan with an area of Nicolas did not state "the number and the technical description of
6,109 sq. m. "given to daughter Teresita N. de Leon by a Deed of Sale, xerox the property. The administratrix should get hold of a certified copy
copies are hereto attached as Annex "D", "D-1" and "D-2"; of the title of Antonio Nicolas about subject property;

The 4,000 sq. m. lot was sold by Petitioner Teresita for the amount of (2). Two lots, covered by TCT No. T-36989 located at Polo, Bulacan
P1,888,000.00, xerox copy of the Deed of Sale is hereto attached as Annex "D- with an area of 4,000 sq. m. and TCT No. T-33658 located at Polo,
3"; Bulacan with an area of 6,109 sq. m. given to daughter Teresita N. de
Leon by a Deed of Sale;
4. Son Antonio received additional properties under a Deed of Sale, hereto
attached as Annex "E", which are those covered by TCT No. T-36987 located at (3). The property covered by TCT No. T-36987 located at Polo,
Polo, Bulacan with an area of 283 sq. m.; TCT No. T-40333 located at Polo, Bulacan, with an area of 283 sq. m.; the property covered by TCT No.
Bulacan with an area of 1,000 sq. m. and TCT No. T-10907 located at Caloocan T-40333 located at Polo, Bulacan, with an area of 1,000 sq. m. and
City with an area of 310 sq. m., xerox copies hereto attached as Annexes "E-1", another property covered by TCT No. T-10907 located at Caloocan
"E-2" and "E-3"; City with an area of 310 sq. m. xerox copies of which are attached to
the Amended Motion For Collation, marked as Annexes "E’1", "E-2"
The lot with an area of 310 sq. m. is supposedly earmarked for Oppositor- and "E-3";
applicant Ramon but was somehow included in the Deed of Sale to son
Antonio, and the property is now titled in the name of the latter’s widow, (4). The lot with an area of 310 sq. m. given to son Antonio Nicolas
Zenaida Carlos Nicolas; which property is now titled in the name of the latter’s widow,
Zenaida Carlos Nicolas.
5. TCT No. T-68554 located at Caloocan City with an area of 690 sq. m. where
the ancestral home is presently located; "Accordingly, the Administratrix is hereby ordered to include the foregoing
properties which were received from the decedent for collation in the instant
6. Son Antonio received another property with an area of 1,876 sq. m. and sold probate proceedings.
for P850,000.00, hereto attached as Annex "F";
"SO ORDERED."7
7. Son Antonio received another property with an area of 1,501 sq. m. and sold
for P200,000.00, hereto attached as Annex "G"; We note that only those lots described under paragraphs 3.1.2, 3.2 and 4 of the
"Amended Motion for Collation" were ordered included for collation.1âwphi1.nêt
xxx xxx x x x."6
On November 18, 1994, petitioner Teresita N. de Leon filed a Motion for
A comparison with the original motion for collation reveals that the amended motion Reconsideration alleging that the properties subject of the Order "were already titled in
refers to the same real properties enumerated in the original except Nos. 6 and 7 above their names years ago"8 and that titles may not be collaterally attacked in a motion for
which are not found in the original motion. collation. On February 23, 1995, the RTC issued an Order denying said motion, ruling
that it is within the jurisdiction of the court to determine whether titled properties
On November 11, 1994, the RTC issued an Order, to wit: should be collated,9 citing Section 2, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court which provides that
the final order of the court concerning questions as to advancements made shall be
"Acting on the Amended Motion for Collation filed by oppositor-applicant binding on the person raising the question and on the heir.
Ramon G. Nicolas and the comment thereto filed by petitioner-administratrix,
the Court finds the following properties to be collated to the estate properties Petitioner Teresita N. de Leon filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated
under present administration, to wit: February 23, 199510 which respondent opposed.11

(1). 4,009 sq. m. given to son Antonio Nicolas described in paragraph On July 18, 1995, the RTC issued an Order, pertinent portions of which read:
1.2 of the Amended Motion For Collation, marked as Annex "C"; (the

Page 27 of 46
"x x x Foremost to be resolved is the issue of collation of the properties of the "II
deceased Rafael Nicolas which were disposed by the latter long before his
death. The oppositor-applicant Ramon Nicolas should prove to the "RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
satisfaction of the Court whether the properties disposed of by the late Rafael WHEN HE DID NOT INCLUDE IN HIS ORDER-ANNEX J THE HEARING ON
Nicolas before the latter’s death was gratuitous or for valuable consideration. THE FINAL DETERMINATION OF TCT NOS. T-36734, T-36989, T-33658, T-
The Court believes that he or she who asserts should prove whether the 36987, T-40333 and T-10907 (WHETHER THEY ARE STILL PART OF THE
disposition of the properties was gratuitously made or for valuable ESTATE OR SHOULD BE EXCLUDED FROM THE INVENTORY/ESTATE)
consideration. THEREBY ASSUMING WITHOUT ANY BASIS THAT THESE PROPERTIES
TO BE STILL PART OF THE ESTATE OF RAFAEL NICOLAS WHEN THEY
The Court has already set for hearing on July 21, 1995, at 8:30 a.m., the ARE NOT BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN SOLD WAY BACK IN 1979 FOR
reception and/or presentation of evidence in the issue of collated properties VALUABLE CONSIDERATIONS TO PETITIONER TERESITA N. DE LEON
disposed before the death of Rafael Nicolas."12 AND ANTONIO NICOLAS HUSBAND OF PETITIONER ZENAIDA
NICOLAS."17
On November 4, 1996, the RTC removed petitioner from her position as administratrix
on ground of conflict of interest considering her claim that she paid valuable After private respondent Ramon had filed his comment, and petitioners, their reply,
consideration for the subject properties acquired by her from their deceased father and and after hearing the oral arguments of the parties, the Special Fourth Division of the
therefore the same should not be included in the collation;13 and, ordered the hearing Court of Appeals found the petition devoid of merit, ruling that the Order dated
on the collation of properties covered by TCT No. T-V-1211 and T-V-1210 only.14 November 11, 1994 directing the inclusion of the properties therein enumerated in the
estate of the deceased Rafael Nicolas had already become final for failure of petitioners
On November 28, 1996, acting on the impression that the collation of the real to appeal from the order of collation; that the appeal of the petitioner from the Orders
properties enumerated in the Order dated November 11, 1994 is maintained by the RTC, dated November 4, 1996 and December 3, 1996 removing petitioner as administratrix is
petitioner Teresita N. de Leon filed a Motion for Reconsideration praying that her timely appealed; and, observing that the notice of appeal and record on appeal appear
appointment as administratrix be maintained; and that the properties covered by TCT to be unacted upon by the RTC, the appellate court resolved:
Nos. T-36989, T-33658, T-36987, T-40333, T-10907 and a portion of TCT No. T-13206
described as Lot 4-A with 4,009 square meters be declared and decreed as the exclusive "WHEREFORE, while finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of
properties of the registered owners mentioned therein and not subject to collation.15 respondent Judge, he is hereby ORDERED to act on petitioner’s appeal on the
matter of the removal of petitioner as administratrix.
The RTC denied said motion in its Order dated December 23, 1996.16
SO ORDERED."18
Petitioners Teresita N. de Leon, Zenaida Nicolas (the surviving spouse of Antonio
Nicolas) and the Heirs of Antonio Nicolas filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for Hence, herein petition anchored on the following assignments of error:
certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with prayer for a temporary restraining order
and writ of preliminary injunction claiming that: "FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

"I "RESPONDENT HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN IT DECLARED IN


THE QUESTIONED DECISION THAT THE ORDER OF THE COURT A
"RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS ACTED IN EXCESS OF HIS JURISDICTION AND QUO DATED NOVEMBER 11, 1994 WAS FINAL.
WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN WITHOUT GIVING
PETITIONERS OPPORTUNITY TO VENTILATE THEIR APPEAL HE "SECOND ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR</P>
INSISTED ON HEARING THE MATTERS ON THE APPOINTMENT OF A
REGULAR ADMINISTRATOR AND COLLATION ON DECEMBER 24, 1996 "RESPONDENT HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN IT DECLARED IN
AND RESETTING ITS CONTINUATION TO JANUARY 21 and 28, 1997 THE QUESTIONED RESOLUTION THAT THERE WAS NO COGENT OR
INSPITE OF THE PENDENCY OF THE NOTICE OF APPEAL AND/OR RE- COMPELLING REASON TO DISTURB THE QUESTIONED DECISION."19
AFFIRMATION OF THE NOTICE OF APPEAL FROM WHICH ACTS THERE
IS NO APPEAL NOR ANY PLAIN, SPEEDY AND ADEQUATE REMEDY IN
THE ORDINARY COURSE OF LAW."
Page 28 of 46
Petitioners claim that: private respondent never presented any document to prove that likewise the court’s duty to hear the observations, with power to
the properties transferred by their deceased parents to petitioners are by gratuitous determine if such observations should be attended to or not and if the
title; private respondent never notified petitioner of any hearing on said documents to properties referred to therein belong prima facie to the intestate, but
give them opportunity to show cause why their properties should not be collated; the no such determination is final and ultimate in nature as to the
assailed Order dated November 11, 1994 is arbitrary, capricious, whimsical, confiscatory, ownership of the said properties."21 (Emphasis supplied)
depriving them of due process; the said order is interlocutory in nature and therefore
non-appealable; the properties acquired by petitioner Teresita N. de Leon and her A probate court, whether in a testate or intestate proceeding,22 can only pass upon
deceased brother Antonio Nicolas, married to petitioner Zenaida C. Nicolas and their questions of title provisionally.23The rationale therefor and the proper recourse of the
children, were sold to them as evidenced by public documents; and, the properties aggrieved party are expounded in Jimenez v. Court of Appeals:
were already titled in their respective names or sold to third persons.
"The patent reason is the probate court’s limited jurisdiction and the principle
Private respondent contends that: due process has been afforded the petitioners when that questions of title or ownership, which result in inclusion or exclusion
the RTC resolved the issue of collation of the subject properties after hearing; petitioner from the inventory of the property, can only be settled in a separate action.
deliberately omitted certain material facts in the petition to mislead the Court because
petitioners were actually given at least three (3) times the opportunity to ventilate and "All that the said court could do as regards said properties is determine
oppose the issue of collation; as stated by the appellate court in the Resolution whether they should or should not be included in the inventory or list of
promulgated on February 10, 1997, both parties affirmed that the RTC had proceeded to properties to be administered by the administrator. If there is a dispute as to
conduct hearings on January 21 and 28, 1997 as originally scheduled; presentation of the ownership, then the opposing parties and the administrator have to resort
evidence had been terminated and the twin issues of the appointment of a new to an ordinary action for a final determination of the conflicting claims of title
administratrix and the collation of two (2) properties covered by TCT No. T-V-1210 and because the probate court cannot do so."24
T-V-1211 were already submitted for resolution to the court below;20 subject properties
are collatable under Articles 1601 and 1071 of the Civil Code and Section 2 of Rule 90 of Further, In Sanchez v. Court of Appeals, we held:
the Rules of Court and the ruling in Guinguing v. Abuton and Abuton, 48 Phil. 144;
petitioner failed to present evidence that there was valuable consideration for these "[A] probate court or one in charge of proceedings whether testate or intestate
properties and failed to rebut the evidence that petitioners do not have the financial cannot adjudicate or determine title to properties claimed to be a part of the
capability to pay for these properties as evidenced by the testimony of credible estate and which are claimed to belong to outside parties. All that the said
witnesses who are relatives of spouses decedents. court could do as regards said properties is to determine whether they should
or should not be included in the inventory or list of properties to be
We find the petition partly meritorious. administered by the administrator. If there is no dispute, well and good, but if
there is, then the parties, the administrator, and the opposing parties have to
Contrary to the finding of the Court of Appeals that the Order of November 11, 1994 had resort to an ordinary action for a final determination of the conflicting claims
become final for failure of petitioners to appeal therefrom in due time, we hold that of title because the probate court cannot do so."25
said Order is interlocutory in nature. Our pronouncement in Garcia v. Garcia supports
this ruling: Guided by the above jurisprudence, it is clear that the Court of Appeals committed an
error in considering the assailed Order dated November 11, 1994 as final or binding
"The court which acquires jurisdiction over the properties of a deceased upon the heirs or third persons who dispute the inclusion of certain properties in the
person through the filing of the corresponding proceedings, has supervision intestate estate of the deceased Rafael Nicolas. Under the foregoing rulings of the
and control over the said properties, and under the said power, it is its Court, any aggrieved party, or a third person for that matter, may bring an ordinary
inherent duty to see that the inventory submitted by the administrator action for a final determination of the conflicting claims.
appointed by it contains all the properties, rights and credits which the law
requires the administrator to set out in his inventory. In compliance with this Private respondent’s reliance on Section 2, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
duty the court has also inherent power to determine what properties, rights
and credits of the deceased should be included in or excluded from the "SEC. 2. Questions as to advancement to be determined. – Questions as to
inventory. Should an heir or person interested in the properties of a advancement made, or alleged to have been made, by the deceased to any heir
deceased person duly call the court’s attention to the fact that certain may be heard and determined by the court having jurisdiction of the estate
properties, rights or credits have been left out in the inventory, it is
Page 29 of 46
proceedings; and the final order of the court thereon shall be binding on the "We have examined the expedientes of the two cases. We found that the
person raising the question and on the heir." proceedings have not yet reached the stage when the question of collation or
advancement to an heir may be raised and decided. The numerous debts of
in support of his claim that the assailed Order is a final order and therefore appealable the decedents are still being paid. The net remainder (remanente liquido) of
and that due to petitioners’ failure to appeal in due time, they are now bound by said their conjugal estate has not yet been determined. On the other hand, up to
Order, is not feasible. this time, no separate action has been brought by the appellants to nullify
Mrs. Rustia’s Torrens titles to the disputed lots or to show that the sale was in
What seems to be a conflict between the above-quoted Rule and the afore–discussed reality a donation.
jurisprudence that the Order in question is an interlocutory and not a final order is
more apparent than real. This is because the questioned Order was erroneously "In this appeal, it is not proper to pass upon the question of collation and to
referred to as an order of collation both by the RTC and the appellate court. For all decide whether Mrs. Rustia’s titles to the disputed lots are questionable. The
intents and purposes, said Order is a mere order including the subject properties in the proceedings below have not reached the stage of partition and distribution
inventory of the estate of the decedent. when the legitimes of the compulsory heirs have to be determined."27

The Court held in Valero Vda. de Rodriguez v. Court of Appeals26 that the order of In the light of the foregoing, Section 2, Rule 90 should be interpreted in the context of
exclusion (or inclusion) is not a final order; that it is interlocutory in the sense that it Section 1 of the same Rule, to wit:
did not settle once and for all the title to the subject lots; that the prevailing rule is that
for the purpose of determining whether a certain property should or should not be "Section 1. When order for distribution of residue made. – When the debts,
included in the inventory, the probate court may pass upon the title thereto but such funeral charges, and expenses of administration, the allowance to the widow,
determination is not conclusive and is subject to the final decision in a separate action and inheritance tax, if any, chargeable to the estate in accordance with law,
regarding ownership which may be instituted by the parties. have been paid, the court, on the application of the executor or administrator,
or of a person interested in the estate, and after hearing upon notice, shall
In the Rodriguez case, the Court distinguished between an order of collation and an assign the residue of the estate to the persons entitled to the same, naming
order of exclusion from or inclusion in the estate’s inventory, thus: them and the proportions, or parts, to which each is entitled, and such person
may demand and recover their respective shares from the executor or
"We hold further that the dictum of the Court of Appeals and the probate administrator, or any other person having the same in his possession. If there
court that the two disputed lots are not subject to collation was a is a controversy before the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased
supererogation and was not necessary to the disposition of the case which person or as to the distributive shares to which each person is entitled under
merely involved the issue of inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of the law, the controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary cases.
the testator’s estate. The issue of collation was not yet justiciable at that early
stage of the testate proceeding. It is not necessary to mention in the order of No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the obligations above
exclusion the controversial matter of collation. mentioned has been made or provided for, unless the distributes, or any of
them, give a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the court, conditioned for the
"Whether collation may exist with respect to the two lots and whether Mrs. payment of said obligations within such time as the court directs."
Rustia’s Torrens titles thereto are indefeasible are matters that may be raised
later or may not be raised at all. How those issues should be resolved, if and Based thereon, we find that what the parties and the lower courts have perceived to be
when they are raised, need not be touched upon in the adjudication of this as an Order of Collation is nothing more than an order of inclusion in the inventory of
appeal. the estate which, as we have already discussed, is an interlocutory order. The motion
for collation was filed with the probate court at the early stage of the intestate estate
"The intestate and testate proceedings for the settlement of the estates of the proceedings. We have examined the records of the case and we found no indication
deceased Valero spouses were consolidated, as ordered by the lower court on that the debts of the decedents spouses have been paid and the net remainder of the
November 21, 1974, so that the conjugal estate of the deceased spouses may be conjugal estate have already been determined, and the estates of the deceased spouses
properly liquidated, as contemplated in section 2, Rule 73 of the Rules of at the time filing of the motion for collation were ready for partition and distribution.
Court and Act No. 3176. In other words, the issue on collation is still premature.

Page 30 of 46
And even if we consider, en arguendo, that said assailed Order is a collation order and a parties’ deceased parents,30 to approve their record on appeal31 and to elevate the
final order, still, the same would have no force and effect upon the parties. It is a records of Special Proceeding No. C-1679 to the Court of Appeals – It is not disputed by
hornbook doctrine that a final order is appealable. As such, the Order should have the parties that said Orders are appealable. In fact, the Court of Appeals had correctly
expressed therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the laws on which it is based as directed the RTC to give due course to petitioners’ appeal and this is not assailed by the
mandated by Section 14, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the private respondent.
Philippines, which provides:
But, the approval or disapproval of the record on appeal is not a proper subject matter
"SEC. 14. No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing of the present petition for review on certiorari as it is not even a subject-matter in CA-
therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. G.R. SP No. 42958. Whether or not the record on appeal should be approved is a matter
that is subject to the sound discretion of the RTC, provided that Sections 6 to 9, Rule 41
No petition for review or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the court of the Rules of Court are observed by appellant.
shall be refused due course or denied without stating the legal basis
therefore." Finally, the elevation of the records of Special Proceedings No. C-1679 to the Court of
Appeals for the purpose of petitioners’ appeal from the order removing the
An examination of the subject Order as quoted earlier,28 readily reveals that the administratrix is unnecessary where a record on appeal is allowed under the Rules of
presiding Judge failed to comply with the said constitutional mandate. The assailed Court. The court a quo loses jurisdiction over the subject of the appeal upon the
Order did not state the reasons for ordering the collation of the properties enumerated approval of the record on appeal and the expiration of the time to appeal of the other
therein. The Order simply directed the inclusion of certain real properties in the estate parties; but retains jurisdiction over the remaining subject matter not covered by the
of the deceased. It did not declare that the properties enumerated therein were given to appeal.32
the children of the deceased gratuitously, despite the title in the children’s names or
deeds of sale in their favor. Moreover, in his Comment, private respondent makes WHEREFORE, the petition is partly GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated February
mention of the testimonies of his witnesses but these were not even mentioned in the 28, 1997 and Resolution dated April 3, 1997 of the Court of Appeals are MODIFIED.
Order of November 11, 1994. Petitioner would have been deprived of due process as they The Order dated November 11, 1994 issued by the Regional Trial Court and all other
would be divested of the opportunity of being able to point out in a motion for orders of said court emanating from said Order which involve the properties
reconsideration or on appeal, any errors of facts and/or law considering that there were enumerated therein are considered merely provisional or interlocutory, without
no facts or laws cited in support of the assailed Order of collation. As a final Order, it is, prejudice to any of the heirs, administrator or approving parties to resort to an ordinary
on its face patently null and void. It could have never become final. A void judgment is action for a final determination of the conflicting claims of title.
not entitled to the respect accorded to a valid judgment, but may be entirely
disregarded or declared inoperative by any tribunal in which effect is sought to be given The Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City (Branch 123) is directed to immediately act,
to it.29 For it to be considered as a valid final order, the RTC must then first rule and without further delay, on petitioners’ appeal from the Orders dated November 4, 1996
state in its order whether the properties covered by TCT Nos. T-36734, T-36989, T- and December 23, 1996, subject to Sections 6 to 9, Rule 41 of the Rules of
33658, T-36987, T-40333, T-10907 and the 4,009 square meter lot were acquired by Court.1âwphi1.nêt
petitioners from the deceased parents of the parties by onerous or gratuitous title; and
must specifically state in its order the reasons why it ordered the subject properties No costs.
collated. It is only then that the order of collation may be the subject of a motion for
reconsideration and/or appeal within the 15-day reglementary period. Until and unless SO ORDERED.
the constitutional mandate is complied with, any appeal from said Order would have
been premature.

Either way therefore, whether the Order in question is a final or interlocutory order, it
is a reversible error on the part of the appellate court to rule that the so-called order of
collation dated November 11, 1994 had already attained finality.

As to the prayer of petitioners that the RTC be ordered to give due course to their
notice of appeal from the Orders dated November 4, 1996 and December 23, 1996 G.R. No. 177099 June 8, 2011
removing petitioner Teresita N. de Leon as administratrix of the estate of private
Page 31 of 46
EDUARDO G. AGTARAP, Petitioner, who would be entitled to participate in the estate; (b) apportioning and allocating unto
vs. the named heirs their aliquot shares in the estate in accordance with law; and (c)
SEBASTIAN AGTARAP, JOSEPH AGTARAP, TERESA AGTARAP, WALTER DE entitling the distributees the right to receive and enter into possession those parts of
SANTOS, and ABELARDO DAGORO, Respondents. the estate individually awarded to them.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x On September 26, 1994, the RTC issued an order setting the petition for initial hearing
and directing Eduardo to cause its publication.
G.R. No. 177192
On December 28, 1994, Sebastian filed his comment, generally admitting the
SEBASTIAN G. AGTARAP, Petitioner, allegations in the petition, and conceding to the appointment of Eduardo as special
vs. administrator.
EDUARDO G. AGTARAP, JOSEPH AGTARAP, TERESA AGTARAP, WALTER DE
SANTOS, and ABELARDO DAGORO, Respondents. Joseph, Gloria, and Teresa filed their answer/opposition. They alleged that the two
subject lots belong to the conjugal partnership of Joaquin with Lucia, and that, upon
DECISION Lucia’s death in April 1924, they became the pro indiviso owners of the subject
properties. They said that their residence was built with the exclusive money of their
NACHURA, J.: late father Jose, and the expenses of the extensions to the house were shouldered by
Gloria and Teresa, while the restaurant (Manong’s Restaurant) was built with the
Before us are the consolidated petitions for review on certiorari of petitioners Sebastian exclusive money of Joseph and his business partner. They opposed the appointment of
G. Agtarap (Sebastian)1 and Eduardo G. Agtarap (Eduardo),2 assailing the Decision Eduardo as administrator on the following grounds: (1) he is not physically and
dated November 21, 20063 and the Resolution dated March 27, 20074 of the Court of mentally fit to do so; (2) his interest in the lots is minimal; and (3) he does not possess
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 73916. the desire to earn. They claimed that the best interests of the estate dictate that Joseph
be appointed as special or regular administrator.
The antecedent facts and proceedings—
On February 16, 1995, the RTC issued a resolution appointing Eduardo as regular
On September 15, 1994, Eduardo filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 114, administrator of Joaquin’s estate. Consequently, it issued him letters of administration.
Pasay City, a verified petition for the judicial settlement of the estate of his deceased
father Joaquin Agtarap (Joaquin). It was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 94-4055. On September 16, 1995, Abelardo Dagoro filed an answer in intervention, alleging that
Mercedes is survived not only by her daughter Cecile, but also by him as her husband.
The petition alleged that Joaquin died intestate on November 21, 1964 in Pasay City He also averred that there is a need to appoint a special administrator to the estate, but
without any known debts or obligations. During his lifetime, Joaquin contracted two claimed that Eduardo is not the person best qualified for the task.
marriages, first with Lucia Garcia (Lucia),5 and second with Caridad Garcia (Caridad).
Lucia died on April 24, 1924. Joaquin and Lucia had three children—Jesus (died without After the parties were given the opportunity to be heard and to submit their respective
issue), Milagros, and Jose (survived by three children, namely, Gloria, 6 Joseph, and proposed projects of partition, the RTC, on October 23, 2000, issued an Order of
Teresa7). Joaquin married Caridad on February 9, 1926. They also had three children— Partition,8 with the following disposition—
Eduardo, Sebastian, and Mercedes (survived by her daughter Cecile). At the time of his
death, Joaquin left two parcels of land with improvements in Pasay City, covered by In the light of the filing by the heirs of their respective proposed projects of partition
Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. 873-(38254) and 874-(38255). Joseph, a and the payment of inheritance taxes due the estate as early as 1965, and there being no
grandson of Joaquin, had been leasing and improving the said realties and had been claim in Court against the estate of the deceased, the estate of JOAQUIN AGTARAP is
appropriating for himself ₱26,000.00 per month since April 1994. now consequently – ripe – for distribution among the heirs minus the surviving spouse
Caridad Garcia who died on August 25, 1999.
Eduardo further alleged that there was an imperative need to appoint him as special
administrator to take possession and charge of the estate assets and their civil fruits, Considering that the bulk of the estate property were acquired during the existence of
pending the appointment of a regular administrator. In addition, he prayed that an the second marriage as shown by TCT No. (38254) and TCT No. (38255) which showed
order be issued (a) confirming and declaring the named compulsory heirs of Joaquin on its face that decedent was married to Caridad Garcia, which fact oppositors failed to
contradict by evidence other than their negative allegations, the greater part of the
Page 32 of 46
estate is perforce accounted by the second marriage and the compulsory heirs
thereunder.

The Administrator, Eduardo Agtarap rendered a true and just accounting of his
administration from his date of assumption up to the year ending December 31, 1996 TOTAL --------------------------------------------------------- ₱847,500.00
per Financial and Accounting Report dated June 2, 1997 which was approved by the
Court. The accounting report included the income earned and received for the period
and the expenses incurred in the administration, sustenance and allowance of the TOTAL NET WORTH ----------------------------------------- ₱14,177,500.00
widow. In accordance with said Financial and Accounting Report which was duly
approved by this Court in its Resolution dated July 28, 1998 – the deceased JOAQUIN
AGTARAP left real properties consisting of the following: WHEREFORE, the net assets of the estate of the late JOAQUIN AGTARAP with a total
value of ₱14,177,500.00, together with whatever interest from bank deposits and all
I LAND: other incomes or increments thereof accruing after the Accounting Report of
December 31, 1996, after deducting therefrom the compensation of the administrator
Two lots and two buildings with one garage quarter located at #3030 Agtarap St., Pasay and other expenses allowed by the Court, are hereby ordered distributed as follows:
City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 38254 and 38255 and registered with
the Registry of Deeds of Pasay City, Metro Manila, described as follows: TOTAL ESTATE – ₱14,177,500.00

CARIDAD AGTARAP – ½ of the estate as her conjugal share – ₱7,088,750.00, the other
TCT NO. LOT NO. AREA/SQ.M. ZONAL VALUE AMOUNT half of ₱7,088,750.00 – to be divided among the compulsory heirs as follows:

38254 745-B-1 1,335 sq. m. ₱5,000.00 ₱6,675,000.00 1) JOSE (deceased) - ₱1,181,548.30

38255 745-B-2 1,331 sq. m. ₱5,000.00 ₱6,655,000.00 2) MILAGROS (deceased) - ₱1,181,548.30

3) MERCEDES (deceased) - ₱1,181,548.30

TOTAL------------------------------------------------------------- ₱13,330,000.00
4) SEBASTIAN - ₱1,181,548.30

II BUILDINGS AND IMPROVEMENTS:


5) EDUARDO - ₱1,181,548.30
BUILDING I (Lot # 745-B-1) ------------------------------ ₱350,000.00
6) CARIDAD - ₱1,181,548.30
BUILDING II (Lot # 745-B-2) ----------------------------- 320,000.00
The share of Milagros Agtarap as compulsory heir in the amount of ₱1,181,548.30 and
who died in 1996 will go to Teresa Agtarap and Joseph Agtarap, Walter de Santos and
Building Improvements -------------------------------------- 97,500.00 half brothers Eduardo and Sebastian Agtarap in equal proportions.

Restaurant ------------------------------------------------------ 80,000.00 TERESA AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66

Page 33 of 46
JOSEPH AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66 ₱531,656.23 Jose Agtarap

WALTER DE SANTOS - ₱236,291.66 2) TERESA AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66 – share from Milagros Agtarap

₱295,364.57 – as compulsory heir of


SEBASTIAN AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66
₱531,656.23 Jose Agtarap
EDUARDO AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66
3) WALTER DE SANTOS - ₱236,291.66 – share from Milagros Agtarap
Jose Agtarap died in 1967. His compulsory heirs are as follows:
₱295,364.57 – as compulsory heir of
COMPULSORY HEIRS:
₱531,656.23 Jose Agtarap

1) GLORIA – (deceased) – represented by Walter de Santos –


HEIRS OF THE SECOND MARRIAGE:

- ₱295,364.57
a) CARIDAD AGTARAP - died on August 25, 1999

2) JOSEPH AGTARAP - ₱295,364.57


₱7,088,750.00 - as conjugal share

3) TERESA AGTARAP - ₱295,364.57


₱1,181,458.30 - as compulsory heir

4) PRISCILLA AGTARAP - ₱295,364.57

Hence, Priscilla Agtarap will inherit ₱295,364.57. Total of ₱8,270,208.30

Adding their share from Milagros Agtarap, the following heirs of the first marriage
stand to receive the total amount of: b) SEBASTIAN AGTARAP - ₱1,181,458.38 – as compulsory heir

HEIRS OF THE FIRST MARRIAGE:


₱ 236,291.66 – share from Milagros
1avvphi1
c) EDUARDO AGTARAP - ₱1,181,458.38 – as compulsory heir
1) JOSEPH AGTARAP - ₱236,291.66 – share from Milagros Agtarap

₱295,364.57 – as compulsory heir of ₱ 236,291.66 – share from Milagros

Page 34 of 46
Partition to reflect the correct sharing of the heirs. However, before the RTC could
issue a new order of partition, Eduardo and Sebastian both appealed to the CA.
d) MERCEDES - as represented by Abelardo Dagoro as the
surviving spouse of a compulsory heir
On November 21, 2006, the CA rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of which
reads—
₱1,181,458.38
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeals are DISMISSED for lack of
merit. The assailed Resolution dated August 27, 2001 is AFFIRMED and pursuant
REMAINING HEIRS OF CARIDAD AGTARAP: thereto, the subject properties (Lot No. 745-B-1 [TCT No. 38254] and Lot No. 745-B-2
[TCT No. 38255]) and the estate of the late Joaquin Agtarap are hereby partitioned as
1) SEBASTIAN AGTARAP follows:

2) EDUARDO AGTARAP The two (2) properties, together with their improvements, embraced by TCT No. 38254
MERCEDES AGTARAP (Predeceased Caridad Agtarap) and TCT No. 38255, respectively, are first to be distributed among the following:

In sum, Sebastian Agtarap and Eduardo Agtarap stand to inherit: Lucia Mendietta - ½ of the property. But since she is deceased, her share shall be
inherited by Joaquin, Jesus, Milagros and Jose in equal shares.
SEBASTIAN – ₱4,135,104.10 – share from Caridad Garcia
₱1,181,458.30 - as compulsory heir Joaquin Agtarap - ½ of the property and ¼ of the other half of the property which
₱ 236,291.66 - share from Milagros pertains to Lucia Mendietta’s share.

Jesus Agtarap - ¼ of Lucia Mendietta’s share. But since he is already deceased (and died
without issue), his inheritance shall, in turn, be acquired by Joaquin Agtarap.
₱5,522,854.06
Milagros Agtarap - ¼ of Lucia Mendietta’s share. But since she died in 1996 without
issue, 5/8 of her inheritance shall be inherited by Gloria (represented by her husband
EDUARDO – ₱4,135,104.10 – share from Caridad Garcia Walter de Santos and her daughter Samantha), Joseph Agtarap and Teresa Agtarap, (in
₱1,181,458.30 – as compulsory heir representation of Milagros’ brother Jose Agtarap) and 1/8 each shall be inherited by
₱ 236,291.66 – share from Milagros Mercedes (represented by her husband Abelardo Dagoro and her daughter Cecile),
Sebastian Eduardo, all surnamed Agtarap.

Jose Agtarap - ¼ of Lucia Mendietta’s share. But since he died in 1967, his inheritance
₱5,522,854.06 shall be acquired by his wife Priscilla, and children Gloria (represented by her husband
Walter de Santos and her daughter Samantha), Joseph Agtarap and Teresa in equal
shares.
SO ORDERED.9
Then, Joaquin Agtarap’s estate, comprising three-fourths (3/4) of the subject properties
Eduardo, Sebastian, and oppositors Joseph and Teresa filed their respective motions for and its improvements, shall be distributed as follows:
reconsideration.
Caridad Garcia - 1/6 of the estate. But since she died in 1999, her share shall be
On August 27, 2001, the RTC issued a resolution10 denying the motions for inherited by her children namely Mercedes Agtarap (represented by her husband
reconsideration of Eduardo and Sebastian, and granting that of Joseph and Teresa. It Abelardo Dagoro and her daughter Cecilia), Sebastian Agtarap and Eduardo Agtarap in
also declared that the real estate properties belonged to the conjugal partnership of their own right, dividing the inheritance in equal shares.
Joaquin and Lucia. It also directed the modification of the October 23, 2000 Order of

Page 35 of 46
Milagros Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate. But since she died in 1996 without issue, 5/8 of her II.
inheritance shall be inherited by Gloria (represented by her husband Walter de Santos
and her daughter Samantha), Joseph Agtarap and Teresa Agtarap, (in representation of THE COURT OF APPEALS (FORMER TWELFTH DIVISION) ERRED IN DISMISSING
Milagros’ brother Jose Agtarap) and 1/8 each shall be inherited by Mercedes THE DECISION APPEALED FROM FOR LACK OF MERIT AND IN AFFIRMING THE
(represented by her husband Abelardo Dagoro and her daughter Cecile), Sebastian and ASSAILED RESOLUTION DATED AUGUST 27, 2001 OF THE LOWER COURT
Eduardo, all surnamed Agtarap. HOLDING THAT THE PARCELS OF LAND COVERED BY TCT NO. 38254 AND TCT
(NO.) 38255 OF THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS FOR THE CITY OF PASAY BELONG TO
Jose Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate. But since he died in 1967, his inheritance shall be THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP OF JOAQUIN AGTARAP MARRIED TO LUCIA
acquired by his wife Priscilla, and children Gloria (represented by her husband Walter GARCIA MENDIETTA NOTWITHSTANDING THEIR REGISTRATION UNDER THEIR
de Santos and her daughter Samantha), Joseph Agtarap and Teresa Agtarap in equal EXISTING CERTIFICATES OF TITLE AS REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF JOAQUIN
shares. AGTARAP, CASADO CON CARIDAD GARCIA. UNDER EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE,
THE PROBATE COURT HAS NO POWER TO DETERMINE THE OWNERSHIP OF
Mercedes Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate. But since she died in 1984, her inheritance shall be THE PROPERTY DESCRIBED IN THESE CERTIFICATES OF TITLE WHICH SHOULD
acquired by her husband Abelardo Dagoro and her daughter Cecile in equal shares. BE RESOLVED IN AN APPROPRIATE SEPARATE ACTION FOR A TORRENS TITLE
UNDER THE LAW IS ENDOWED WITH INCONTESTABILITY UNTIL IT HAS BEEN
Sebastian Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate. SET ASIDE IN THE MANNER INDICATED IN THE LAW ITSELF.14

Eduardo Agtarap - 1/6 of the estate. As regards his first and second assignments of error, Sebastian contends that Joseph
and Teresa failed to establish by competent evidence that they are the legitimate heirs
SO ORDERED.11 of their father Jose, and thus of their grandfather Joaquin. He draws attention to the
certificate of title (TCT No. 8026) they submitted, stating that the wife of their father
Aggrieved, Sebastian and Eduardo filed their respective motions for reconsideration. Jose is Presentacion Garcia, while they claim that their mother is Priscilla. He avers that
the marriage contracts proffered by Joseph and Teresa do not qualify as the best
evidence of Jose’s marriage with Priscilla, inasmuch as they were not authenticated and
In its Resolution dated March 27, 2007, the CA denied both motions. Hence, these
formally offered in evidence. Sebastian also asseverates that he actually questioned the
petitions ascribing to the appellate court the following errors:
legitimacy of Joseph and Teresa as heirs of Joaquin in his motion to exclude them as
heirs, and in his reply to their opposition to the said motion. He further claims that the
G.R. No. 177192
failure of Abelardo Dagoro and Walter de Santos to oppose his motion to exclude them
as heirs had the effect of admitting the allegations therein. He points out that his
1. – The Court of Appeals erred in not considering the aforementioned motion was denied by the RTC without a hearing.
important facts12 which alter its Decision;
With respect to his third assigned error, Sebastian maintains that the certificates of title
2. – The Court of Appeals erred in not considering the necessity of hearing the of real estate properties subject of the controversy are in the name of Joaquin Agtarap,
issue of legitimacy of respondents as heirs; married to Caridad Garcia, and as such are conclusive proof of their ownership thereof,
and thus, they are not subject to collateral attack, but should be threshed out in a
3. – The Court of Appeals erred in allowing violation of the law and in not separate proceeding for that purpose. He likewise argues that estoppel applies against
applying the doctrines of collateral attack, estoppel, and res judicata.13 the children of the first marriage, since none of them registered any objection to the
issuance of the TCTs in the name of Caridad and Joaquin only. He avers that the estate
G.R. No. 177099 must have already been settled in light of the payment of the estate and inheritance tax
by Milagros, Joseph, and Teresa, resulting to the issuance of TCT No. 8925 in Milagros’
THE COURT OF APPEALS (FORMER TWELFTH DIVISION) DID NOT ACQUIRE name and of TCT No. 8026 in the names of Milagros and Jose. He also alleges that res
JURISDICTION OVER THE ESTATE OF MILAGROS G. AGTARAP AND ERRED IN judicata is applicable as the court order directing the deletion of the name of Lucia, and
DISTRIBUTING HER INHERITANCE FROM THE ESTATE OF JOAQUIN AGTARAP replacing it with the name of Caridad, in the TCTs had long become final and
NOTWITHSTANDING THE EXISTENCE OF HER LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT IN executory.
VIOLATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF PRECEDENCE OF TESTATE PROCEEDINGS
OVER INTESTATE PROCEEDINGS.

Page 36 of 46
In his own petition, with respect to his first assignment of error, Eduardo alleges that action.18 Second, if the interested parties are all heirs to the estate, or the question is
the CA erroneously settled, together with the settlement of the estate of Joaquin, the one of collation or advancement, or the parties consent to the assumption of
estates of Lucia, Jesus, Jose, Mercedes, Gloria, and Milagros, in contravention of the jurisdiction by the probate court and the rights of third parties are not impaired, then
principle of settling only one estate in one proceeding. He particularly questions the the probate court is competent to resolve issues on ownership.19 Verily, its jurisdiction
distribution of the estate of Milagros in the intestate proceedings despite the fact that a extends to matters incidental or collateral to the settlement and distribution of the
proceeding was conducted in another court for the probate of the will of Milagros, estate, such as the determination of the status of each heir and whether the property in
bequeathing all to Eduardo whatever share that she would receive from Joaquin’s the inventory is conjugal or exclusive property of the deceased spouse.20
estate. He states that this violated the rule on precedence of testate over intestate
proceedings. We hold that the general rule does not apply to the instant case considering that the
parties are all heirs of Joaquin and that no rights of third parties will be impaired by the
Anent his second assignment of error, Eduardo contends that the CA gravely erred resolution of the ownership issue. More importantly, the determination of whether the
when it affirmed that the bulk of the realties subject of this case belong to the first subject properties are conjugal is but collateral to the probate court’s jurisdiction to
marriage of Joaquin to Lucia, notwithstanding that the certificates of title were settle the estate of Joaquin.1auuphi1
registered in the name of Joaquin Agtarap casado con ("married to") Caridad Garcia.
According to him, the RTC, acting as an intestate court with limited jurisdiction, was It should be remembered that when Eduardo filed his verified petition for judicial
not vested with the power and authority to determine questions of ownership, which settlement of Joaquin’s estate, he alleged that the subject properties were owned by
properly belongs to another court with general jurisdiction. Joaquin and Caridad since the TCTs state that the lots were registered in the name of
Joaquin Agtarap, married to Caridad Garcia. He also admitted in his petition that
The Court’s Ruling Joaquin, prior to contracting marriage with Caridad, contracted a first marriage with
Lucia. Oppositors to the petition, Joseph and Teresa, however, were able to present
As to Sebastian’s and Eduardo’s common issue on the ownership of the subject real proof before the RTC that TCT Nos. 38254 and 38255 were derived from a mother title,
properties, we hold that the RTC, as an intestate court, had jurisdiction to resolve the TCT No. 5239, dated March 17, 1920, in the name of FRANCISCO VICTOR BARNES Y
same. JOAQUIN AGTARAP, el primero casado con Emilia Muscat, y el Segundo con Lucia
Garcia Mendietta (FRANCISCO VICTOR BARNES y JOAQUIN AGTARAP, the first
The general rule is that the jurisdiction of the trial court, either as a probate or an married to Emilia Muscat, and the second married to Lucia Garcia Mendietta).21 When
intestate court, relates only to matters having to do with the probate of the will and/or TCT No. 5239 was divided between Francisco Barnes and Joaquin Agtarap, TCT No.
settlement of the estate of deceased persons, but does not extend to the determination 10864, in the name of Joaquin Agtarap, married to Lucia Garcia Mendietta, was issued
of questions of ownership that arise during the proceedings.15 The patent rationale for for a parcel of land, identified as Lot No. 745 of the Cadastral Survey of Pasay, Cadastral
this rule is that such court merely exercises special and limited jurisdiction. 16 As held in Case No. 23, G.L.R.O. Cadastral Record No. 1368, consisting of 8,872 square meters.
several cases,17 a probate court or one in charge of estate proceedings, whether testate This same lot was covered by TCT No. 5577 (32184)22 issued on April 23, 1937, also in the
or intestate, cannot adjudicate or determine title to properties claimed to be a part of name of Joaquin Agtarap, married to Lucia Garcia Mendietta.
the estate and which are claimed to belong to outside parties, not by virtue of any right
of inheritance from the deceased but by title adverse to that of the deceased and his The findings of the RTC and the CA show that Lucia died on April 24, 1924, and
estate. All that the said court could do as regards said properties is to determine subsequently, on February 9, 1926, Joaquin married Caridad. It is worthy to note that
whether or not they should be included in the inventory of properties to be TCT No. 5577 (32184) contained an annotation, which reads—
administered by the administrator. If there is no dispute, there poses no problem, but if
there is, then the parties, the administrator, and the opposing parties have to resort to Ap-4966 – NOTA: Se ha enmendado el presente certificado de titulo, tal como aparece,
an ordinary action before a court exercising general jurisdiction for a final tanchando las palabras "con Lucia Garcia Mendiet[t]a" y poniendo en su lugar, entre
determination of the conflicting claims of title. lineas y en tinta encarnada, las palabras "en segundas nupcias con Caridad Garcia", en
complimiento de un orden de fecha 28 de abril de 1937, dictada por el Hon. Sixto de la
However, this general rule is subject to exceptions as justified by expediency and Costa, juez del Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Rizal, en el expediente cadastal No. 23,
convenience. G.L.R.O. Cad. Record No. 1368; copia de cual orden has sido presentada con el No. 4966
del Libro Diario, Tomo 6.0 y, archivada en el Legajo T-No. 32184.
First, the probate court may provisionally pass upon in an intestate or a testate
proceeding the question of inclusion in, or exclusion from, the inventory of a piece of Pasig, Rizal, a 29 abril de 1937.23
property without prejudice to the final determination of ownership in a separate
Page 37 of 46
Thus, per the order dated April 28, 1937 of Hon. Sixto de la Costa, presiding judge of the tax, if any, chargeable to the estate in accordance with law, have been paid, the court,
Court of First Instance of Rizal, the phrase con Lucia Garcia Mendiet[t]a was crossed on the application of the executor or administrator, or of a person interested in the
out and replaced by en segundas nuptias con Caridad Garcia, referring to the second estate, and after hearing upon notice, shall assign the residue of the estate to the
marriage of Joaquin to Caridad. It cannot be gainsaid, therefore, that prior to the persons entitled to the same, naming them and the proportions, or parts, to which each
replacement of Caridad’s name in TCT No. 32184, Lucia, upon her demise, already left, is entitled, and such persons may demand and recover their respective shares from the
as her estate, one-half (1/2) conjugal share in TCT No. 32184. Lucia’s share in the executor or administrator, or any other person having the same in his possession. If
property covered by the said TCT was carried over to the properties covered by the there is a controversy before the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased
certificates of title derivative of TCT No. 32184, now TCT Nos. 38254 and 38255. And as person or as to the distributive share to which each person is entitled under the law,
found by both the RTC and the CA, Lucia was survived by her compulsory heirs – the controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary cases.
Joaquin, Jesus, Milagros, and Jose.
No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the obligations above mentioned
Section 2, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court provides that when the marriage is dissolved by has been made or provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them, give a bond, in a
the death of the husband or the wife, the community property shall be inventoried, sum to be fixed by the court, conditioned for the payment of said obligations within
administered, and liquidated, and the debts thereof paid; in the testate or intestate such time as the court directs.
proceedings of the deceased spouse, and if both spouses have died, the conjugal
partnership shall be liquidated in the testate or intestate proceedings of either. Thus, Thus, an estate is settled and distributed among the heirs only after the payment of the
the RTC had jurisdiction to determine whether the properties are conjugal as it had to debts of the estate, funeral charges, expenses of administration, allowance to the
liquidate the conjugal partnership to determine the estate of the decedent. In fact, widow, and inheritance tax. The records of these cases do not show that these were
should Joseph and Teresa institute a settlement proceeding for the intestate estate of complied with in 1965.
Lucia, the same should be consolidated with the settlement proceedings of Joaquin,
being Lucia’s spouse.24 Accordingly, the CA correctly distributed the estate of Lucia, As regards the issue raised by Sebastian on the legitimacy of Joseph and Teresa, suffice
with respect to the properties covered by TCT Nos. 38254 and 38255 subject of this case, it to say that both the RTC and the CA found them to be the legitimate children of Jose.
to her compulsory heirs. The RTC found that Sebastian did not present clear and convincing evidence to support
his averments in his motion to exclude them as heirs of Joaquin, aside from his negative
Therefore, in light of the foregoing evidence, as correctly found by the RTC and the CA, allegations. The RTC also noted the fact of Joseph and Teresa being the children of Jose
the claim of Sebastian and Eduardo that TCT Nos. 38254 and 38255 conclusively show was never questioned by Sebastian and Eduardo, and the latter two even admitted this
that the owners of the properties covered therein were Joaquin and Caridad by virtue of in their petitions, as well as in the stipulation of facts in the August 21, 1995
the registration in the name of Joaquin Agtarap casado con (married to) Caridad hearing.29 Furthermore, the CA affirmed this finding of fact in its November 21, 2006
Garcia, deserves scant consideration. This cannot be said to be a collateral attack on the Decision.30
said TCTs. Indeed, simple possession of a certificate of title is not necessarily conclusive
of a holder’s true ownership of property.25 A certificate of title under the Torrens Also, Sebastian’s insistence that Abelardo Dagoro and Walter de Santos are not heirs to
system aims to protect dominion; it cannot be used as an instrument for the the estate of Joaquin cannot be sustained. Per its October 23, 2000 Order of Partition,
deprivation of ownership.26 Thus, the fact that the properties were registered in the the RTC found that Gloria Agtarap de Santos died on May 4, 1995, and was later
name of Joaquin Agtarap, married to Caridad Garcia, is not sufficient proof that the substituted in the proceedings below by her husband Walter de Santos. Gloria begot a
properties were acquired during the spouses’ coverture.27The phrase "married to daughter with Walter de Santos, Georgina Samantha de Santos. The RTC likewise
Caridad Garcia" in the TCTs is merely descriptive of the civil status of Joaquin as the noted that, on September 16, 1995, Abelardo Dagoro filed a motion for leave of court to
registered owner, and does not necessarily prove that the realties are their conjugal intervene, alleging that he is the surviving spouse of Mercedes Agtarap and the father
properties.28 of Cecilia Agtarap Dagoro, and his answer in intervention. The RTC later granted the
motion, thereby admitting his answer on October 18, 1995.31 The CA also noted that,
Neither can Sebastian’s claim that Joaquin’s estate could have already been settled in during the hearing of the motion to intervene on October 18, 1995, Sebastian and
1965 after the payment of the inheritance tax be upheld. Payment of the inheritance Eduardo did not interpose any objection when the intervention was submitted to the
tax, per se, does not settle the estate of a deceased person. As provided in Section 1, RTC for resolution.32
Rule 90 of the Rules of Court—
Indeed, this Court is not a trier of facts, and there appears no compelling reason to hold
SECTION 1. When order for distribution of residue made. -- When the debts, funeral that both courts erred in ruling that Joseph, Teresa, Walter de Santos, and Abelardo
charges, and expenses of administration, the allowance to the widow, and inheritance Dagoro rightfully participated in the estate of Joaquin. It was incumbent upon
Page 38 of 46
Sebastian to present competent evidence to refute his and Eduardo’s admissions that These cases are hereby remanded to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 114, Pasay City,
Joseph and Teresa were heirs of Jose, and thus rightful heirs of Joaquin, and to timely for further proceedings in the settlement of the estate of Joaquin Agtarap. No
object to the participation of Walter de Santos and Abelardo Dagoro. Unfortunately, pronouncement as to costs.
Sebastian failed to do so. Nevertheless, Walter de Santos and Abelardo Dagoro had the
right to participate in the estate in representation of the Joaquin’s compulsory heirs, SO ORDERED.
Gloria and Mercedes, respectively.33

This Court also differs from Eduardo’s asseveration that the CA erred in settling,
together with Joaquin’s estate, the respective estates of Lucia, Jesus, Jose, Mercedes, and
Gloria. A perusal of the November 21, 2006 CA Decision would readily show that the
disposition of the properties related only to the settlement of the estate of Joaquin.
G.R. No. 116835 March 5, 1998
Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, as cited above, the RTC was
specifically granted jurisdiction to determine who are the lawful heirs of Joaquin, as
well as their respective shares after the payment of the obligations of the estate, as ANTONIETTA GARCIA VDA. DE CHUA, petitioner,
enumerated in the said provision. The inclusion of Lucia, Jesus, Jose, Mercedes, and vs.
Gloria in the distribution of the shares was merely a necessary consequence of the COURT OF APPEALS (Special Eight Division), HON. JAPAL M. GUIANI, RTC,
settlement of Joaquin’s estate, they being his legal heirs. Branch 14, 12th Judicial Region, Cotabato City, and FLORITA A. VALLEJO, as
Administratrix of the Estate of the late Roberto L. Chua, respondents.
However, we agree with Eduardo’s position that the CA erred in distributing Joaquin’s
estate pertinent to the share allotted in favor of Milagros. Eduardo was able to show
that a separate proceeding was instituted for the probate of the will allegedly executed
by Milagros before the RTC, Branch 108, Pasay City.34 While there has been no showing KAPUNAN, J.:
that the alleged will of Milagros, bequeathing all of her share from Joaquin’s estate in
favor of Eduardo, has already been probated and approved, prudence dictates that this Assailed before us in this Appeal by Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the
Court refrain from distributing Milagros’ share in Joaquin’s estate. decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR Sp. No. 33101, promulgated on 19 April 1994
affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14, of Cotabato City in
It is also worthy to mention that Sebastian died on January 15, 2010, per his Certificate Special Procedure Case No. 331.
of Death.35 He is survived by his wife Teresita B. Agtarap (Teresita) and his children
Joaquin Julian B. Agtarap (Joaquin Julian) and Ana Ma. Agtarap Panlilio (Ana Ma.). As culled from the records, the following facts have been established by evidence:

Henceforth, in light of the foregoing, the assailed November 21, 2006 Decision and the During his lifetime, Roberto Lim Chua lived out of wedlock with private respondent
March 27, 2007 Resolution of the CA should be affirmed with modifications such that Florita A. Vallejo from 1970 up to 1981. Out of this union, the couple begot two
the share of Milagros shall not yet be distributed until after the final determination of illegitimate children, namely, Roberto Rafson Alonzo and Rudyard Pride Alonzo.
the probate of her purported will, and that Sebastian shall be represented by his
compulsory heirs. On 28 May 1992, Roberto Chua died intestate in Davao City.

WHEREFORE, the petition in G.R. No. 177192 is DENIED for lack of merit, while the On 2 July 1992, private respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court of Cotabato City
petition in G.R. No. 177099 is PARTIALLY GRANTED, such that the Decision dated a Petition1 which is reproduced hereunder:
November 21, 2006 and the Resolution dated March 27, 2007 of the Court of Appeals
are AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS: that the share awarded in favor IN RE: PETITION FOR DECLARATION
of Milagros Agtarap shall not be distributed until the final determination of the probate
of her will, and that petitioner Sebastian G. Agtarap, in view of his demise on January OF HEIRSHIP, GUARDIANSHIP OVER
15, 2010, shall be represented by his wife Teresita B. Agtarap and his children Joaquin
Julian B. Agtarap and Ana Ma. Agtarap Panlilio. THE PERSONS AND PROPERTIES OF

Page 39 of 46
MINORS ROBERT RAFSON ALONZO SP. PROC. NO/ 331 c) Lot in Davao City covered by TCT
No. T-126583 with an area of 303 sq. m. 50,000.00
and RUDYARD PRIDE ALONZO, all
d) Lot in Davao City covered by TCT
surnamed CHUA and ISSUANCE OF No. T-126584 with an area of 303 sq. m. 50,000.00

LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION. e) Residential house in Cotabato City valued at


30,000.00
FLORITA ALONZO VALLEJO,
f) Residential house in Davao City valued at 600,000.00
Petitioner
g) Car, Colt Lancer with Motor No. 4G33-3 AF6393
PETITION 210,000.00

COMES NOW the petitioner assisted by counsel and unto this h) Colt, Galant Super Saloon with Motor
Honorable Court most respectfully states: No. 4G37-GB0165 545,000.00

1. That she is of legal age, Filipino, married but separated from her i) Car, Colt Galant with Motor No. 4G52-52D75248
husband and residing at Quezon Avenue, Cotabato City, Philippines; 110,000.00

2. That sometime from 1970 up to and until late 1981 your petitioner j) Reo Isuzu Dump Truck with Motor
lived with Roberto Lim Chua as husband and wife and out of said union No. DA640-838635 350,000.00
they begot two (2) children, namely, Robert Rafson Alonzo Chua who
was born in General Santos City on April 28, 1977 and Rudyard Pride k) Hino Dump Truck with Motor No. ED100-T47148
Alonzo Chua who was born in Davao City on August 30, 1978. A xerox 350,000.00
copy of the birth certificate of each child is hereto attached as annex "A"
and "B", respectively. l) Stockholdings in various corporations with par value
estimated at 3,335,000.00
3. That the aforementioned children who are still minors today are both
staying with herein petitioner at her address at Quezon Avenue, Total P5,000,000.00
Cotabato City;
6. That deceased Roberto Lim Chua died single and without legitimate
4. That Roberto Lim Chua, father of the above-mentioned minors, died descendants or ascendants, hence, the above named minors Robert
intestate on May 28, 1992 in Davao City. Rafson Alonzo Chua and Rudyard Pride Alonzo Chua, his children with
herein petitioner shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased.
5. That the aforementioned deceased left properties both real and (Article 988 of the Civil Code of the Philippines).
personal worth P5,000,000.00 consisting of the following:
7. That the names, ages and residences of the relatives of said minors
a) Lot in Kakar, Cotabato City covered by TCT are the following, to wit:
No. T-12835 with an area of 290 sq. m. estimated at
P50,000.00 Names Relationship Ages Residence

b) Lot in Kakar, Cotabato City covered by TCT 1. Carlos Chua Uncle 60 Quezon Avenue,
No. T-12834 with an area of 323 sq. m. 50,000.00 Cotabato City

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2. Aida Chua Auntie 55 Rosary Heights, Cotabato City, Philippines, June 29, 1992.
Cotabato City
(Sgd.) FLORITA ALONZO VALLEJO
3. Romulo Uy Uncle 40 c/o Overseas (Petitioner)
Fishing Exporation
Co. Inc., Matina, The trial court issued an order setting the hearing of the petition on 14 August
Davao City 1992 and directed that notice thereof be published in a newspaper of general
circulation in the province of Maguindanao and Cotabato City and or Davao
6. That considering the fact that the aforementioned minors by City.
operation of law are to succeed to the entire estate of Roberto Lim Chua
under the provisions of Article 988 of the New Civil Code of the On 21 July 1992, herein petitioner Antonietta Garcia Vda. de Chua, representing
Philippines, it is necessary that for the protection of the rights and to be the surviving spouse of Roberto Chua, filed a Motion to Dismiss2 on the
interest of Robert Rafson Alonzo Chua and Rudyard Pride Alonzo Chua, ground of improper venue. Petitioner alleged that at the time of the decedent's
both minors and heirs of deceased Roberto Lim Chua, a guardian over death Davao City was his residence, hence, the Regional Trial Court of Davao
the persons and properties of said minors be appointed by this City is the proper forum.
Honorable Court.
Private respondent filed an opposition to the Motion to Dismiss3 dated July 20,
7. That herein petitioner being the mother and natural guardian of said 1992 based on the following grounds:
minors is also competent and willing to act as the guardian of minors
Robert Rafson Alonzo Chua and Rudyard Pride Alonzo Chua both (1) That this petition is for the guardianship of the minor children of
staying and living with her; that petitioner possesses all the the petitioner who are heirs to the estate of the late Roberto L. Chua
qualifications and none of the disqualifications of a guardian. and under Section 1, Rule 92 of the Rules of Court the venue shall be at
the place where the minor resides;
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed:
(2) That the above-named minors are residents of Cotabato City:
1. That, upon proper notice and hearing, an order be issued declaring
minors ROBERTO RAFSON ALONZO CHUA and RUDYARD PRIDE (3) That the movant in this case has no personality to intervene nor
ALONZO CHUA as heirs to the intestate estate of deceased ROBERTO oppose in the granting of this petition for the reason that she is a total
LIM CHUA; stranger to the minors Robert Rafson Alonzo and Rudyard Pride
Alonzo, all surnamed Chua.
2. That Letters of Administration be issued to herein petitioner for the
administration of the estate of the deceased ROBERTO LIM CHUA; (4) That deceased Roberto L. Chua died a bachelor. He is the father of
the above-named minors with the petitioner in this case;
3. That the petitioner be also appointed the guardian of the persons and
estate of minors ROBERT RAFSON ALONZO CHUA and RUDYARD (5) That movant/oppositor Antonietta Chua is not the surviving spouse
PRIDE ALONZO CHUA; of the late Roberto L. Chua but a pretender to the estate of the latter
since the deceased never contracted marriage with any woman until he
4. That after all the property of deceased Roberto Lim Chua have been died.
inventoried and expenses and just debts, have been paid, the intestate
estate of Roberto Lim Chua be distributed to its rightful heirs, the On 6 August 1992, private respondent Vallejo filed a Motion for Admission of an
minors in this case, pursuant to the provisions of Article 988 of the New Amended Petition4 "in order that the designation of the case title can properly
Civil Code of the Philippines. and appropriately capture or capsulize in clear terms the material averments in
the body of the pleadings; thus avoiding any confusion or misconception of the
5. And for such other reliefs and remedies this Honorable Court may nature and real intent and purpose of this petition." The amended
consider fit and proper in the premises. petition5 contained identical material allegations but differed in its title, thus:.

Page 41 of 46
IN RE: PETITION FOR THE SETTLEMENT OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE married to Antonietta Garcia, and a resident of Davao City; Residence
OF ROBERTO L. CHUA, DECLARATION OF HEIRSHIP, GUARDIANSHIP Certificates from 1988 and 1989 issued at Davao City indicating that he
OVER THE PERSONS AND PROPERTIES OF MINORS ROBERT AND was married and was born in Cotabato City; Income Tax Returns for
RUDYARD, all surnamed CHUA and ISSUANCE OF LETTERS OF 1990 and 1991 filed in Davao City where the status of the decedent was
ADMINISTRATION. stated as married; passport of the decedent specifying that he was
married and his residence was Davao City. Petitioner through counsels,
FLORITA ALONZO VALLEJO, objected to the admission in evidence of Exhibits "2" through "18" if the
Petitioner. purpose is to establish the truth of the alleged marriage between the
decedent and Antonietta Garcia. The best evidence they said is the
Paragraph 4 of the original petition was also amended to read as follows: marriage contract. They do not object to the admission of said exhibit if
the purpose is to show that Davao City was the business residence of
4. That Roberto Lim Chua, father of the abovementioned minors is a the decedent.
resident of Cotabato City and died intestate on May 28, 1992 at Davao
City. Petitioner through counsels, presented Exhibit "A" through "K" to
support her allegation that the decedent was a resident of Cotabato
The petition contained exactly the same prayers as the original petition. City; that he died a bachelor; that he begot two illegitimate children
with the petitioner as mother. Among these exhibits are Income Tax
Petitioner opposed the motion to amend petition alleging that at the hearing of Returns filed in Cotabato City from 1968 through 1979 indicating therein
said motion on 24 July 1992, private respondent's counsel allegedly admitted that he was single; birth certificates of the alleged two illegitimate
that the sole intention of the original petition was to secure guardianship over children of the decedent; Resident Certificates of the decedent issued
the persons and property of the minors.6 in Cotabato City; Registration Certificate of Vehicle of the decedent
showing that his residence is Cotabato City.
On 21 August 1992, the trial court issued an Order7 denying the motion to
dismiss for lack of merit. The court ruled that Antonietta Garcia had no It is clear from the foregoing that the movant failed to establish the
personality to file the motion to dismiss not having proven her status as wife of truth of her allegation that she was the lawful wife of the decedent. The
the decedent. Further, the court found that the actual residence of the deceased best evidence is a valid marriage contract which the movant failed to
was Cotabato City, and even assuming that there was concurrent venue among produce. Transfer Certificates of Title, Residence Certificates, passports
the Regional Trial Courts where the decedent had resided, the R.T.C. of and other similar documents cannot prove marriage especially so when
Cotabato had already taken cognizance of the settlement of the decedent's the petitioner has submitted a certification from the Local Civil
estate to the exclusion of all others. The pertinent portions of the order read: Registrar concerned that the alleged marriage was not registered and a
letter from the judge alleged to have solemnized the marriage that he
has not solemnized said alleged marriage. Consequently, she has no
At the hearing of the motion to dismiss on August 19, 1992, counsel for
personality to file the subject motion to dismiss.
movant Antonietta G. Chua presented 18 Exhibits in support of her
allegation that she was the lawful wife of the decedent and that the
latter resides in Davao City at the time of his death. Exh. "1" was the On the issue of the residence of the decedent at the time of his death,
xerox copy of the alleged marriage contract between the movant and the decedent as a businessman has many business residences from
the petitioner. This cannot be admitted in evidence on the ground of different parts of the country where he usually stays to supervise and
the timely objection of the counsels for petitioner that the best pursue his business ventures. Davao City is one of them. It cannot be
evidence is the original copy or authenticated copy which the movant denied that Cotabato City is his actual residence where his alleged
cannot produce. Further, the counsels for petitioner in opposition illegitimate children also reside.
presented the following: a certification from the Local Civil Registrar
concerned that no such marriage contract was ever registered with The place of residence of the deceased in settlement of estates, probate
them; a letter from Judge Augusto Banzali, the alleged person to have of will, and issuance of letters of administration does not constitute an
solemnized the alleged marriage that he has not solemnized such element of jurisdiction over the subject matter. It is merely constitutive
alleged marriage. Exhibit "2" through "18" consist among others of of venue (Fule vs. CA, L-40502, November 29, 1976). Even assuming that
Transfer Certificate of Title issued in the name of Roberto L. Chua there is concurrent venue among the Regional Trial Courts of the places
Page 42 of 46
where the decedent has residences, the Regional Trial Court first taking the estate of Roberto L. Chua, thereby converting the petition into an intestate
cognizance of the settlement of the estate of the decedent, shall proceeding, without the amended petition being published in a newspaper of
exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts (Section 1, Rule general circulation as required by Section 3, Rule 79.
73). It was this Court which first took cognizance of the case when the
petition was filed on July 2, 1992, docketed as Special Proceeding No. 331 The Court of Appeals, in its decision promulgated on 19 April 1994,14 denied the
and an order of publication issued by this Court on July 13, 1992. petition ratiocinating that the original petition filed was one for guardianship
of the illegitimate children of the deceased as well as for administration of his
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the motion to dismiss is hereby intestate estate. While private respondent may have alleged in her opposition to
denied for lack of merit. the motion to dismiss that petition was for guardianship, the fact remains that
the very allegations of the original petition unmistakably showed a twin
On 31 August 1992, upon motion of private respondent, the trial court issued an purpose: (1) guardianship; and (2) issuance of letters of administration. As such,
order appointing Romulo Lim Uy, a first cousin of the deceased, as special it was unnecessary for her to republish the notice of hearing through a
administrator of the decedent's estate.8 newspaper of general circulation in the province. The amended petition was
filed for the only reason stated in the motion for leave: so that the "case title can
On the same day, the trial court, likewise, issued an Order appointing Florita properly and appropriately capture or capsulize in clear terms the material
Vallejo as guardian over the persons and properties of the two minor children.9 averments in the body of the pleadings; thus avoiding any confusion or
misconception of the nature and real intent and purpose of this petition," which
Thereafter, petitioner filed a Motion dated 25 October 199310 praying that the was for guardianship over the persons and properties of her minor children and
letters of administration issued to Vallejo be recalled and that new letters of for the settlement of the intestate estate of the decedent who was their father.
administration be issued to her. She, likewise, filed a Motion dated 5 November In other words, there being no change in the material allegations between the
199311 to declare the proceedings a mistrial. Both motions were denied by the original and amended petitions, the publication of the first in a newspaper of
trial court in its Order dated 22 November 1993. 12 Petitioner's motion for general circulation sufficed for purposes of compliance with the legal
reconsideration of the order was denied by the trial court in an Order dated 13 requirements of notice.
December 1993.13
Moreover, the appellate court ruled that the petitioner's remedy is appeal from
Assailing the last two orders of the trial court, petitioner filed a petition the orders complained of under Section 1(f), Rule 109 of the Rules of Court,
for certiorari and prohibition (Rule 65) with the respondent Court of Appeals, not certiorari and prohibition.
docketed as CA G.R. No. Sp. 33101, alleging that the trial court acted with grave
abuse of discretion in: Not satisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeals, petitioner comes to this
Court contending that the appellate court committed the following errors:
(1) unilaterally and summarily converting, if not treating, the
guardianship proceedings into an intestate proceeding; I

(2) summarily hearing the intestate proceedings without jurisdiction THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY AND
and without any notice to herein petitioner whatsoever; and SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ORIGINAL PETITION
(Annex F, Petition) WAS FOR A TWIN PURPOSE, TO WIT: FOR
(3) issuing the questioned order (sic) on the alleged pretension that GUARDIANSHIP AND FOR INTESTATE ESTATE PROCEEDINGS;
herein petitioner has no personality to intervene in SPL Proc. No. 331
questioning the highly anomalous orders precipitately issued ex- II
parte by the public respondent R.T.C. without notice to the petitioners.
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
Petitioner in the main argued that private respondent herself admitted in her HOLDING THAT THERE IS NO NEED TO PUBLISH THE AMENDED
opposition to petitioner's motion to dismiss filed in the trial court and in open PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATION OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE
court that the original petition she filed is one for guardianship; hence, the trial THEREBY CONTRAVENING THE RULES OF COURT AND THE RULINGS
court acted beyond its jurisdiction when it issued letters of administration over OF THE SUPREME COURT.

Page 43 of 46
III The petition is devoid of merit.

THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN The title alone of the original petition clearly shows that the petition is one
NOT NULLIFYING THE ORDERS (Annex "P" to "T") PRECIPITATELY which includes the issuance of letters of administration. The title of said
ISSUED EX-PARTE BY THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL petition reads:
COURT IN THE INTESTATE PROCEEDINGS WITHOUT PRIOR
HEARING OR NOTICE TO HEREIN PETITIONER THEREBY DEPRIVING IN RE: PETITION FOR DECLARATION OF HEIRSHIPS, GUARDIANSHIP
THE LATTER (ANTONIETTA GARCIA VDA. DE CHUA ) OF DUE OVER THE PERSON AND PROPERTIES OF MINORS ROBERTO
PROCESS AND OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD. ALONZO AND RUDYARD ALONZO, all surnamed CHUA and ISSUANCE
OF LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION.18
IV
Likewise, the prayer of the petition states:
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN
SWEEPINGLY HOLDING THAT PETITIONER'S REMEDY IS APPEAL.15 2. That Letters of Administration be issued to herein petition for the
administration of the estate of the deceased ROBERTO LIM CHUA.
In support of her first assignment of error, petitioner submits that the Court of
Appeals' conclusion that the original petition was one for guardianship and The original petition also contains the jurisdictional facts required in a petition
administration of the intestate estate is contradicted by the evidence on hand, for the issuance of letters of administration. Section 2, Rule 79 of the Rules of
asserting that the original petition failed to allege and state the jurisdictional Court reads:
facts required by the Rules of Court in petitions for administration of a
decedent's estate, such as: (a) the last actual residence of the decedent at the Sec. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration — A petition
time of his death; (b) names, ages and residences of the heirs; and (c) the names for letters of administration must be filed by an interested person and
and residences of the creditors of the decedent. Petitioner also reiterates her must show, so far as known to the petitioner:
argument regarding private respondent's alleged admission that the original
petition was one for guardianship and not for issuance of letters of (a) jurisdictional facts;
administration, pointing to the Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss dated 20
July 1992, where the private respondent alleged. (b) The names, ages, and residences of the heirs and the names and
residences of the creditors, of the decedent'
1. That this petition is for guardianship of the minor children of the
petitioner who are heirs to the estate of the late Roberto L. Chua and (c) The probative value and character of the property of the estate;.
under Section 1, Rule 92 of the Rules of Court the venue shall be at the
place where the minor resides.16
(d) The name of the person for whom letters of administration are
prayed;
as well as to the statements made by counsel for the private respondent during
the 24 July 1992 hearing on the motion to dismiss:
But no defect in the petition shall render void the issuance of letters of
administration. (emphasis ours).
ATTY. RENDON:
The jurisdictional facts required in a petition for issuance of letters of
We filed our opposition to the motion to dismiss the petition administration are: (1) the death of the testator; (2) residence at the time of
because this is a petition for guardianship of minors, not for intestate death in the province where the probate court is located; and (3) if the decedent
proceedings. So this is a case where the mother wanted to be appointed was a non-resident, the fact of being a resident of a foreign country and that the
as guardian because she is also the litigant here. Because whenever decedent has left an estate in the province where the court is sitting.19
there is an intestate proceedings, she has to represent the minors, and
under the Rules of Court in any guardianship proceedings, the venue is
While paragraph 4 of the original petition stating:
at the place where the minor is actually residing.17

Page 44 of 46
(4) That Roberto Lim Chua, father of the above mentioned minors, died from the judge alleged to have solemnized the marriage that he has not
intestate on May 28, 1992 in Davao City. solemnized said alleged marriage. . . .22

failed to indicate the residence of the deceased at the time of his death, the Under her third assignment of error, petitioner claims that the trial court issued
omission was cured by the amended petitions wherein the same paragraph now its orders, Annexes "P" to "T" without prior hearing or notice to her, thus,
reads: depriving her of due process.

(4) That Roberto Lim Chua, father of the abovementioned minors is a The orders referred to by petitioner are: Order dated 31 August 1992 appointing
resident of Cotabato City and died intestate on May 28, 1992 at Davao Romulo Lim Uy, first cousin of the deceased, as special administrator of the
City.20 (Emphasis in the original.) estate; Order dated 31 August 1992 appointing private respondent as guardian
over the person and property of the minors; Order dated 5 August 1993, directing
All told the original petition alleged substantially all the facts required to be the transfer of the remains of the deceased from Davao City to Cotabato City;
stated in the petition for letters of administration. Consequently, there was no Order dated 6 September 1993 directing petitioner to turn over a Mitsubishi
need to publish the amended petition as petitioner would insist in her second Gallant car owned by the estate of the deceased to the special administrator;
assignment of errors. and Order dated 28 September 1993, authorizing the sheriff to break open the
deceased's house for the purpose of conducting an inventory of the properties
Be that as it may, petitioner has no legal standing to file the motion to dismiss found therein, after the sheriff was refused entry to the house by the driver and
as she is not related to the deceased, nor does she have any interest in his estate maid of petitioner.
as creditor or otherwise. The Rules are explicit on who may do so:
Apart from the fact that petitioner was not entitled to notice of the proceedings
Sec. 4. Opposition to petition for administration — Any interested of the trial court, not being able to establish proof of her alleged marriage to the
person, may by filing a written opposition, contest the petition on the deceased, or of her interest in the estate as creditor or otherwise, petitioner
ground of incompetency of the person for whom letters of categorically stated in the instant petition that on 25 October 1993 she filed a
administration are prayed therein, or on the ground of the contestant's motion praying for the recall of the letters of administration issued by the trial
own right to the administration, and may pray that letters issue to court and another motion dated 5 August 1993 praying that the proceedings
himself, or to any competent person or persons named in the conducted by the trial court be declared as a mistrial and the court orders
opposition.. relative thereto be set aside and nullified. Petitioner further stated that her
motions were denied by the trial court in its Order dated 22 November 21, 1993
Only an interested person may oppose the petition for issuance of letters of and that on 30 November 1993 she filed a motion for reconsideration of the
administration. An interested person is one who would be benefited by the order of denial which in turn was denied by the trial court on 13 December 1993.
estate such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a
creditor; his interest is material and direct, and not one that is only indirect or Due process was designed to afford opportunity to be heard, not that an actual
contingent.21 hearing should always and indispensably be held.23 The essence of due process
is simply an opportunity to be heard.24 Here, even granting that the petitioner
Petitioner was not able to prove her status as the surviving wife of the decedent. was not notified of the orders of the trial court marked as Exhibits "P" to "T,"
The best proof of marriage between man and wife is a marriage contract which inclusive, nonetheless, she was duly heard in her motions to recall letters of
Antonietta Chua failed to produce. The lower court correctly disregarded the administration and to declare the proceedings of the court as a "mistrial," which
photostat copy of the marriage certificate which she presented, this being a motions were denied in the Order dated 22 November 1993.25 A motion for the
violation of the best evidence rule, together with other worthless pieces of reconsideration of this order of denial was also duly heard by the trial court but
evidence. The trial court correctly ruled in its 21 August 1992 Order that: was denied in its Order of 13 December 1993.26

. . . Transfer Certificates of Title, Residence Certificates, passports and Denial of due process cannot be successfully invoked by a party who has had the
other similar documents cannot prove marriage especially so when the opportunity to be heard on his motion for reconsideration.27
petitioner has submitted a certification from the Local Civil Registrar
concerned that the alleged marriage was not registered and a letter As to the last assignment of errors, we agree with the Court of Appeals that the
proper remedy of the petitioner in said court was an ordinary appeal and not a
Page 45 of 46
special civil action for certiorari; which can be availed of if a party has no plain,
speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Except for her bare
allegation that an ordinary appeal would be inadequate, nothing on record
would indicate that extraordinary remedy of certiorari or prohibition is
warranted.

Finally, petitioner further argues as supplement to her memorandum that the


ruling of the Court of Appeals treating the Special Proceeding No. 331 as one for
both guardianship and settlement of estate is in contravention of our ruling
in Gomez vs. Imperial,28 which the petitioner quotes:

The distribution of the residue of the estate of the deceased is a


function pertaining property not to the guardianship proceedings, but
to another proceeding which the heirs are at liberty to initiate.

Petitioner's reliance on said case is misplaced. In the Gomez case, the action
before the lower court was merely one for guardianship. Therefore said court
did not have the jurisdiction to distribute the estate of the deceased. While in
the case at bar, the petition filed before the court was both for guardianship and
settlement of estate.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition of petitioner Antonietta Chua is


hereby denied.

SO ORDERED.

Page 46 of 46