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Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons

Rule 73 Venue and Process

Ce Eusebio, who treated him, resided at No. 41 P. Florentino St., Quezon City, on October 29,
1952, Andres Eusebio bought a house and lot at 889-A España Extention, in said City
(Exhibit 2). While transferring his belongings to this house, soon thereafter, the decedent
G.R. No. L-8409 December 28, 1956
suffered a stroke (probably heart failure), for which reason Dr. Eusebio took him to his (Dr.
Eusebio's) aforementioned residence, where the decedent remained until he was brought
In the Matter of the Intestate of the deceased Andres Eusebio. EUGENIO to the UST Hospital, in the City of Manila, sometimes before November 26, 1952. On this
EUSEBIO, petitioner-appellee, date, he contracted marriage in articulo mortis with his common law wife, Concepcion
vs. Villanueva, in said hospital. Two (2) days later, he died therein of "acute left ventricular
AMANDA EUSEBIO, JUAN EUSEBIO, DELFIN EUSEBIO, VICENTE EUSEBIO, and failure secondary to hypertensive heart disease", at the age of seventy-four (74) years
CARLOS EUSEBIO,oppositors-appellants. (Exhibit A). Consequently, he never stayed or even slept in said house at España
Extention.
Francisco M. Ramos and Valeriano Silva for appellee.
Filemon Cajator for appellants. It being apparent from the foregoing that the domicile of origin of the decedent was San
Fernando, Pampanga, where he resided for over seventy (70) years, the presumption is
that he retained such domicile, and, hence, residence, in the absence of satisfactory proof
to the contrary, for it is well-settled that "a domicile once acquired is retained until a new
domicile is gained" (Minor, Conflict of Laws, p.70; Restatement of the Law on Conflict of
CONCEPCION, J.: Laws, p. 47; In re Estate of Johnson, 192 Iowa, 78). Under the circumstances surrounding
the case at bar, if Andres Eusebio established another domicile, it must have been one of
choice, for which the following conditions are essential, namely: (1) capacity to choose and
This case instituted on November 16, 1953, when Eugenio Eusebio filed with the Court of freedom of choice; (2) physical presence at the place chosen; and (3) intention to stay
First Instance of Rizal, a petition for his appointment as administrator of the estate of his therein permanently (Minor, Conflict of Laws, pp. 109-110; Googrich, Conflict of Laws, p.
father, Andres Eusebio, who died on November 28, 1952, residing, according to said 169; Velilla vs. Posadas, 62 Phil., 624; Zuellig vs. Republic of the Philippines, 46 Off. Gaz.
petition, in the City of Quezon. On December 4, 1953, Amanda, Virginia, Juan, Delfin, Suppl. No. 11, p. 220). Admittedly, the decedent was juridically capable of choosing a
Vicente and Carlos, all surnamed Eusebio, objected to said petition, stating that they are domicile and had been in Quezon City several days prior to his demise. Thus, the issue
illegitimate children of the deceased and that the latter was domiciled in San Fernando, narrows down to whether he intended to stay in that place permanently.
Pampanga, and praying, therefore, that the case be dismissed upon the ground that venue
had been improperly filed. By an order, dated March 10, 1954, said court overruled this
objection and granted said petition. Hence, the case is before us on appeal taken, from There is no direct evidence of such intent. Neither does the decedent appears to have
said order, by Amanda Eusebio, and her aforementioned sister and brothers. manifested his wish to live indefinitely in said city. His son, petitioner-appellee, who took the
witness stand, did not testify thereon, despite the allegation, in his answer to the
aforemention, opposition of the appellants herein, that "the deceased (had) decided to
The appeal hinges on the situs of the residence of Andres Eusebio on November 28, 1952, reside . . . for the rest of his life, in Quezon City". Moreover, said appellee did not introduce
for Rule 75, section 1, of the Rules of Court, provides: the testimony of his legitimate full brother and son of the decedent, Dr. Jesus Eusebio,
upon whose advice, presumably, the house and lot at No. 889-A España Extention was
Where estate of deceased persons settled. — If the decedent is an inhabitant of purchased, and who, therefore, might have cast some light on his (decedent's) purpose in
the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizens or an alien, his will buying said property. This notwithstanding, the lower court held that the decedent's intent
shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate, in the Court to stay permanently in Quezon City is "manifest" from the acquisition of said property and
of First Instance in the province in which he resides at the time of his death, and the transfer of his belonging thereto. This conclusion is untenable.lawphil.net
if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of any
province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the The aforementioned house and lot were bought by the decedent because he had been
settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion adviced to do so "due to his illness", in the very words of herein appellee. It is not
of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on improbable — in fact, its is very likely — that said advice was given and followed in order
the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not that the patient could be near his doctor and have a more effective treatment. It is well
be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the settled that "domicile is not commonly changed by presence in a place merely for one's
original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record. own health", even if coupled with "knowledge that one will never again be able, on account
of illness, to return home." (The Conflict of Laws, by Beale, Vol. I, pp. 172-173; see, also,
It is not disputed that up to, at least, October 29, 1952, Andres Eusebio was, and had Shenton vs. Abbott, Md., 15., A. 2d. 906; U.S. vs. Knight, D. C. Mont., 291 Fed. 129).Again,
always been, domiciled in San Fernando, Pampanga, where he had his home, as well as the decedent did not part with, or alienate, his house in San Fernando, Pampanga.
some other properties. Inasmuch as his heart was in bad condition and his son, Dr. Jesus Moreover, some of his children, who used to live with him in San Fernando, Pampanga,

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Rule 73 Venue and Process

remained in that municipality. Then, again, in the deed Exhibit 2, by virtue of which said him. We find ourselves unable to sanction either the foregoing procedure adopted by the
property at No. 889-A España Extention, Quezon City, was conveyed to him, on October lower court or the inference it drew from the circumstances surrounding the case.
29, 1952, or less than a month before his death, the decedent gave San Fernando,
Pampanga, as his residence. Similarly, the "A" and "B" residence certificates used by the
To begin with, His Honor, the trial Judge had taken inconsistent positions. While, on the
decedent in aknowledging said Exhibit 2, before a notary public, was issued in San
one hand, he declared that appellants could not be permitted to introduce evidence on the
Fernando, Pampanga. Lastly, the marriage contract Exhibit 1, signed by the deceased
residence of the decedent, for they contested the jurisdiction of court, on the other hand, he
when he was married, in articulo mortis, to Concepcion Villanueva, at the UST Hospital, on
held, in the order appealed from, that, by cross-examining the appellee, said appellants
November 26, 1952, or two (2) days prior to his demise, stated that his residence is San
had submitted themselves to the authority of the court.
Fernando, Pampanga. It is worthy of notice that Alfonso Eusebio, one of the legitimate full
brothers of the herein appellee, was a witness to said wedding, thus indicating that the
children of the deceased by his first marriage, including said appellee, were represented on What is more, this conclusion is refuted by the record. At the beginning of the hearing, in
that occasion and would have objected to said statement about his residence, if it were the lower court, appellants' counsel announced that he would take part therein "only to
false. Consequently, apart from appellee's failure to prove satisfactory that the decedent question the jurisdiction, for the purpose of dismissing this proceeding," (p. 2, t.s.n.). During
had decided to establish his home in Quezon City, the acts of the latter, shortly and the cross-examination of petitioner herein, said counsel tried to elicit the relation between
immediately before his death, prove the contrary. At any rate, the presumption in favor of the decedent and the appellants. As, the appellee objected thereto, the court said,
the retention of the old domicile 1— which is particularly strong when the domicile is one of addressing appellants' counsel: "Your stand until now is to question the jurisdiction of the
the origin 2as San Fernando, Pampanga, evidently was, as regards said decedent — has court. . . . It you are trying to establish the status of the oppositors, I will sustain the
not been offset by the evidence of record. objection, unless you want to submit to the jurisdiction of the court" (p. 7, t.s.n.).
Thereupon, appellants' counsel refused to do so, stating: "I will insist on my stand." Then,
too, at the conclusion of the hearing, the court rejected Exhibits 1 and 2, for the reason that
The lower court, however, rejected said Exhibits 1 and 2, upon being offered in evidence,
appellants "refuse to submit to the jurisdiction of this court and they maintain that these
and refused to entertain the same in the order appealed from. The reason therefor are
proceedings should be dismissed." Thus, appellants specially made of record that they
deducible from its resolution in rejecting said documents during the hearing of the incident
were not submitting themselves to the jurisdiction of the court, except for the
at bar. The court then held:
purpose only of assailing the same, and the court felt that appellants were not giving up
their stand, which was, and is, a fact.
Exihibits "1" and "2" are rejecting but the same may be attached to the records
for whatever action oppositors may want to take later on because until now the
At any rate, appellants were entitled to establish facts tending to prove, not only their right
personality of the oppositors has not been established whether or not they have
to object to appellee's petition, but, also, that venue had been laid improperly. Such facts
a right to intervene in this case, and the Court cannot pass upon this question as
were: (a) their alleged relationship with the decedent, 3 which, if true, entitle them to
the oppositors refuse to submit to the jurisdiction of this Court and they maintain
proceed him under the Civil Code of the Philippines; and (b) his alleged residence is
that these proceedings should be dismissed. (P. 10, t. s. n.)
Pampanga. In other words, the lower court should have admitted Exhibits 1 and 2 in
evidence and given thereto the proper effect, in connection with the issue under
In short, the lower court believed that said documents should not be admitted in evidence consideration.
before appellants had established their "personality" to intervene in the case, referring
seemingly to their filiation. When appellants, however, sought, during said hearing, to
Appellee, however, asks: "What will happen if this case be dismissed in the Court of First
establish their relation with the deceased, as his alleged illegitimate children, His Honor, the
Instance of Quezon City on the ground of lack of jurisdiction or improper venue?" In this
trial Judge sustained appellee's objection thereto stating:
connection, it appears that on November 14, 1953, the Clerk of the Court of First Instance
of Pampanga received a petition of appellants herein, dated November 4, 1953, for the
Your stand until now is to question the jurisdiction of this Court, and it seems that settlement of the "Intestate Estate of the late Don Andres Eusebio". Attached to said
you are now trying to prove the status of your client; you are leading so that. The wpetition was petition for the docketing thereof free charge, pursuant to Rule 3, section 22,
main point here is your contention that the deceased was never a resident of of the Rules of Court. The latter petition was granted by an order dated November 16,
Quezon City and that is why I allowed you to cross-examine. If you are trying to 1953, which was received by the cashier of said court on November 17, 1953, on which
establish the status of the oppositors, I will sustain the objection, unless you want date the case was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 957. On December 14, 1953,
to submit to the jurisdiction of the Court. This is not yet the time to declare who Jesus, Eugenio, Amando and Alfonso, all surnamed Eusebio (the children of the decedent
are persons who should inherit. (p. 1, t. s. n.) by first marriage, including petitioner herein), moved for the dismissal of said proceedings,
owing to the pendency of the present case, before the Court of First Instance of Rizal, since
November 16, 1953. This motion was granted in an order dated December 21, 1953,
Thus, the lower court refused to consider appellant's evidence on the domicile of the
relying upon the above Rule 75, section 1, of the Rules of Court, pursuant to which "the
decedent, because of their alleged lack of "personality", but, when tried to establish such
"personality", they were barred from doing so on account of the question of venue raised by

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Rule 73 Venue and Process

court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts."

Although said order is now final, it cannot affect the outcome of the case at bar. Said order
did not pass upon the question of domicile or residence of the decedent. Moreover, in
granting the court first taking cognizance of the case exclusive jurisdiction over the same,
said provision of the Rules of Court evidently refers to cases triable before two or more
courts with concurrent jurisdiction. It could not possibly have intended to deprive a
competent court of the authority vested therein by law, merely because a similar case had
been previously filed before a court to which jurisdiction is denied by law, for the same
would then be defeated by the will of one of the parties. More specially, said provision
refers mainly to non-resident decedents who have properties in several provinces in the
Philippines, for the settlement of their respective estates may undertaken before the court
of first instance of either one of said provinces, not only because said courts then have
concurrent jurisdiction — and, hence, the one first taking cognizance of the case shall
exclude the other courts — but, also, because the statement to this effect in said section 1
of Rule 75 of the Rules of the Court immediately follows the last part of the next preceding
sentence, which deals with non-resident decedents, whose estate may settled the court of
first instance of any province in which they have properties.lawphil.net

In view, however, of the last sentence of said section, providing that:

. . . The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of


residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested
in a suit or proceedings, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case,
or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.

if proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a deceased resident are instituted in two or
more courts, and the question of venue is raised before the same, the court in which the
first case was filed shall have exclusive jurisdiction to decide said issue, and we so held in
the case of Taciana Vda. De Borja vs. Tan, L-7792 (July 27, 1955). Should it be decided, in
the proceedings before the said court, that venue had been improperly laid, the case
pending therein should be dismissed and the corresponding proceedings may, thereafter,
be initiated in the proper court.

In conclusion, we find that the decedent was, at the time of his death, domiciled in San
Fernando, Pampanga; that the Court of First Instance of Rizal had no authority, therefore,
to appoint an administrator of the estate of the deceased, the venue having been laid
improperly; and that it should, accordingly, have sustained appellants' opposition and
dismissed appellee's petition.

Wherefore, the order appealed from is hereby reversed and appellee's petition is
dismissed, with costs against the appellee. It is so ordered.

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Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

G.R. No. L-40502 November 29, 1976 therefore, prayed that she be appointed special administratrix of the estate, in lieu of
Virginia G. Fule, and as regular administratrix after due hearing.
VIRGINIA GARCIA FULE, and HONORABLE SEVERO A. MALVAR, Presiding Judge,
Court of First Instance of Laguna, Branch Vl, petitioners, While this reconsideration motion was pending resolution before the Court, Preciosa B.
vs. Garcia filed on May 29, 1973 a motion to remove Virginia G. Fule as special administratrix
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, * PRECIOSA B. GARCIA and AGUSTINA B. alleging, besides the jurisdictional ground raised in the motion for reconsideration of May 8,
GARCIA, respondents. 1973 that her appointment was obtained through erroneous, misleading and/or incomplete
misrepresentations; that Virginia G. Fule has adverse interest against the estate; and that
she has shown herself unsuitable as administratrix and as officer of the court.
L-42670 November 29, 1976

In the meantime, the notice of hearing of the petition for letters of administration filed by
VIRGINIA GARCIA FULE, petitioner,
Virginia G. Fule with the Court of First Instance of Calamba, Laguna, was published on May
vs.
17, 24, and 31, 1973, in the Bayanihan,a weekly publication of general circulation in
HONORABLE ERNANI C. PAÑO, Presiding Judge of Court of First Instance of Rizal,
Southern Luzon.
Quezon City, Branch XVIII, and PRECIOSA B. GARCIA, respondents.

On June 6, 1973, Preciosa B. Garcia received a "Supplemental Petition for the


Francisco Carreon for petitioners.
Appointment of Regular Administrator ' filed by Virginia G. Fule. This supplemental petition
modified the original petition in four aspects: (1) the allegation that during the lifetime of the
Augusto G. Gatmaytan for private respondents. deceased Amado G. Garcia, he was elected as Constitutional Delegate for the First District
of Laguna and his last place of residence was at Calamba, Laguna; (2) the deletion of the
names of Preciosa B. Garcia and Agustina Garcia as legal heirs of Amado G. Garcia; (3)
the allegation that Carolina Carpio, who was simply listed as heir in the original petition, is
the surviving spouse of Amado G. Garcia and that she has expressly renounced her
MARTIN, J.: preferential right to the administration of the estate in favor of Virginia G. Fule; and (4) that
Virginia G. Fule be appointed as the regular administratrix. The admission of this
supplemental petition was opposed by Preciosa B. Garcia for the reason, among others,
These two interrelated cases bring to Us the question of what the word "resides" in Section that it attempts to confer jurisdiction on the Court of First Instance of Laguna, of which the
1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules Of Court, referring to the situs of the settlement of the court was not possessed at the beginning because the original petition was deficient.
estate of deceased persons, means. Additionally, the rule in the appointment of a special
administrator is sought to be reviewed.
On July 19, 1973, Preciosa B. Garcia filed an opposition to the original and supplemental
petitions for letters of administration, raising the issues of jurisdiction, venue, lack of interest
On May 2, 1973, Virginia G. Fule filed with the Court of First Instance of Laguna, at of Virginia G. Fule in the estate of Amado G. Garcia, and disqualification of Virginia G Fule
Calamba, presided over by Judge Severo A. Malvar, a petition for letters of administration, as special administratrix.
docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 27-C, alleging, inter alia, "that on April 26, 1973, Amado G.
Garcia, a property owner of Calamba, Laguna, died intestate in the City of Manila, leaving
real estate and personal properties in Calamba, Laguna, and in other places, within the An omnibus motion was filed by Virginia G. Fule on August 20, 1973, praying for authority
jurisdiction of the Honorable Court." At the same time, she moved to take possession of properties of the decedent allegedly in the hands of third persons as
ex parte for her appointment as special administratrix over the estate. On even date, May well as to secure cash advances from the Calamba Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing
2, 1973, Judge Malvar granted the motion. Association, Inc. Preciosa B. Garcia opposed the motion, calling attention to the limitation
made by Judge Malvar on the power of the special administratrix, viz., "to making an
inventory of the personal and real properties making up the state of the deceased."
A motion for reconsideration was filed by Preciosa B. Garcia on May 8, 1973, contending
that the order appointing Virginia G. Fule as special administratrix was issued without
jurisdiction, since no notice of the petition for letters of administration has been served upon However, by July 2, 1973, Judge Malvar and already issued an order, received by Preciosa
all persons interested in the estate; there has been no delay or cause for delay in the B. Garcia only on July 31, 1973, denying the motion of Preciosa B. Garcia to reconsider the
proceedings for the appointment of a regular administrator as the surviving spouse of order of May 2, 1973, appointing Virginia G. Fule as special administratrix, and admitting
Amado G. Garcia, she should be preferred in the appointment of a special administratrix; the supplementation petition of May 18,1973.
and, Virginia G. Fule is a debtor of the estate of Amado G. Garcia. Preciosa B. Garcia,

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Rule 73 Venue and Process

On August 31, 1973, Preciosa B. Garcia moved to dismiss the petition, because (1) second, holding that the power allowed the special administratrix enables her to conduct
jurisdiction over the petition or over the parties in interest has not been acquired by the and submit an inventory of the assets of the estate.
court; (2) venue was improperly laid; and (3) Virginia G. Fule is not a party in interest as
she is not entitled to inherit from the deceased Amado G. Garcia.
On January 7, 1974, Preciosa B. Garcia moved for reconsideration of the foregoing orders
of November 28, 1973 and December 19, 1973, insofar as they sustained or failed to rule
On September 28, 1973, Preciosa B. Garcia filed a supplemental motion to substitute on the issues raised by her: (a) legal standing (cause of action) of Virginia G. Fule; (b)
Virginia G. Fule as special administratrix, reasoning that the said Virginia G. Fule admitted venue; (c) jurisdiction; (d) appointment, qualification and removal of special administratrix;
before before the court that she is a full-blooded sister of Pablo G. Alcalde, an illegitimate and (e) delivery to the special administratrix of checks and papers and effects in the office
son of Andrea Alcalde, with whom the deceased Amado G. Garcia has no relation. of the Calamba Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc.

Three motions were filed by Preciosa B. Garcia on November 14, 1973, one, to enjoin the On March 27, 1973, Judge Malvar issued the first questioned order denying Preciosa B.
special administratrix from taking possession of properties in the hands of third persons Garcia's motion for reconsideration of January 7, 1974. On July 19, 1974, Judge Malvar
which have not been determined as belonging to Amado G. Garcia; another, to remove the issued the other three questioned orders: one, directing Ramon Mercado, of the Calamba
special administratrix for acting outside her authority and against the interest of the estate; Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc., to furnish Virginia G. Fule, as
and still another, filed in behalf of the minor Agustina B. Garcia, to dismiss the petition for special administratrix, copy of the statement of accounts and final liquidation of sugar pool,
want of cause of action, jurisdiction, and improper venue. as well as to deliver to her the corresponding amount due the estate; another, directing
Preciosa B. Garcia to deliver to Virginia G. Fule two motor vehicles presumably belonging
to the estate; and another, directing Ramon Mercado to deliver to the court all certificates of
On November 28, 1973, Judge Malvar resolved the pending omnibus motion of Virgina G.
title in his possession in the name of Preciosa B. Garcia, whether qualified with the word
Fule and the motion to dismiss filed by Preciosa B. Garcia. Resolving the motion to
"single" or "married to Amado Garcia."
dismiss, Judge Malvar ruled that the powers of the special administratrix are those provided
for in Section 2, Rule 80 of the Rules of Court, 1 subject only to the previous qualification
made by the court that the administration of the properties subject of the marketing During the hearing of the various incidents of this case (Sp. Proc. 27-C) before Judge
agreement with the Canlubang Sugar Planters Cooperative Marketing Association should Malvar, 2 Virginia G. Fule presented the death certificate of Amado G. Garcia showing that
remain with the latter; and that the special administratrix had already been authorized in a his residence at the time of his death was Quezon City. On her part, Preciosa B. Garcia
previous order of August 20, 1973 to take custody and possession of all papers and presented the residence certificate of the decedent for 1973 showing that three months
certificates of title and personal effects of the decedent with the Canlubang Sugar Planters before his death his residence was in Quezon City. Virginia G. Fule also testified that
Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. Ramon Mercado, of the Canlubang Sugar Planters Amado G. Garcia was residing in Calamba, Laguna at the time of his death, and that he
Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc., was ordered to deliver to Preciosa B. Garcia all was a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention for the first district of Laguna.
certificates of title in her name without any qualifying words like "married to Amado Garcia"
does not appear. Regarding the motion to dismiss, Judge Malvar ruled that the issue of
On July 26, 1974, Preciosa B. Garcia and Agustina B. Garcia commenced a special action
jurisdiction had already been resolved in the order of July 2, 1973, denying Preciosa B.
for certiorari and/or prohibition and preliminary injunction before the Court of Appeals,
Garcia's motion to reconsider the appointment of Virginia G. Fule and admitting the
docketed as CA-G.R. No. 03221-SP. primarily to annul the proceedings before Judge
supplemental petition, the failure of Virginia G. Fule to allege in her original petition for
Malvar in Sp. Proc. No. 27-C of the Court of First Instance of Laguna, or, in the alternative,
letters of administration in the place of residence of the decedent at the time of his death
to vacate the questioned four orders of that court, viz., one dated March 27, 1974, denying
was cured. Judge Malvar further held that Preciosa B. Garcia had submitted to the
their motion for reconsideration of the order denying their motion to dismiss the criminal
jurisdiction of the court and had waived her objections thereto by praying to be appointed
and supplemental petitions on the issue, among others, of jurisdiction, and the three others,
as special and regular administratrix of the estate.
all dated July 19, 1974, directing the delivery of certain properties to the special
administratrix, Virginia G. Fule, and to the court.
An omnibus motion was filed by Preciosa B. Garcia on December 27, 1973 to clarify or
reconsider the foregoing order of Judge Malvar, in view of previous court order limiting the
On January 30, 1975, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment annulling the proceedings
authority of the special administratrix to the making of an inventory. Preciosa B. Garcia also
before Judge Severo A. Malvar in Sp. Proc. 27-C of the Court of First Instance of Calamba,
asked for the resolution of her motion to dismiss the petitions for lack of cause of action,
Laguna, for lack of jurisdiction.
and also that filed in behalf of Agustina B. Garcia. Resolution of her motions to substitute
and remove the special administratrix was likewise prayed for.
Denied of their motion for reconsideration on March 31, 1975, Virginia G. Fule forthwith
elevated the matter to Us on appeal by certiorari. The case was docketed as G.R. No. L-
On December 19, 1973, Judge Malvar issued two separate orders, the first, denying
40502.
Preciosa B. Garcia's motions to substitute and remove the special administratrix, and the

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Rule 73 Venue and Process

However, even before Virginia G. Fule could receive the decision of the Court of Appeals, 1. Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court provides: "If the decedent is an
Preciosa B. Garcia had already filed on February 1, 1975 a petition for letters of inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will
administration before the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City Branch, docketed as shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of
Sp. Proc. No. Q-19738, over the same intestate estate of Amado G. Garcia. On February First Instance in the province in which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an
10, 1975, Preciosa B. Garcia urgently moved for her appointment as special administratrix inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of any province in which he had
of the estate. Judge Vicente G. Ericta granted the motion and appointed Preciosa B. Garcia estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall
as special administratrix upon a bond of P30,000.00. Preciosa B. Garcia qualified and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court,
assumed the office. so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his
estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in
the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record." With particular
For the first time, on February 14, 1975, Preciosa B. Garcia informed Judge Ericta of the
regard to letters of administration, Section 2, Rule 79 of the Revised Rules of Court
pendency of Sp. Proc. No. 27-C before Judge Malvar of the Court of First Instance of
demands that the petition therefor should affirmatively show the existence of jurisdiction to
Laguna, and the annulment of the proceedings therein by the Court of Appeals on January
make the appointment sought, and should allege all the necessary facts, such as death, the
30, 1975. She manifested, however, her willingness to withdraw Sp. Proc. Q-19738 should
name and last residence of the decedent, the existence, and situs if need be, of assets,
the decision of the Court of Appeals annulling the proceedings before the Court of First
intestacy, where this is relied upon, and the right of the person who seeks administration,
Instance of Laguna in Sp. Proc. No. 27-C have not yet become final, it being the subject of
as next of kin, creditor, or otherwise, to be appointed. The fact of death of the intestate and
a motion for reconsideration.
his last residence within the country are foundation facts upon which all subsequent
proceedings in the administration of the estate rest, and that if the intestate was not an
On March 10, 1973, Judge Ericta ordered the suspension of the proceedings before his inhabitant of the state at the time of his death, and left no assets in the state, no jurisdiction
court until Preciosa B. Garcia inform the court of the final outcome of the case pending is conferred on the court to grant letters of administration. 3
before the Court of Appeals. This notwithstanding, Preciosa B. Garcia filed on December
11, 1975, an "Urgent Petition for Authority to Pay Estate Obligations."
The aforequoted Section 1, Rule 73 (formerly Rule 75, Section 1), specifically the clause
"so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of the
On December 13, 1975, Virginia G. Fule filed a "Special Appearance to Question Venue estate," is in reality a matter of venue, as the caption of the Rule indicates: "Settlement of
and Jurisdiction" reiterating the grounds stated in the previous special appearance of Estate of Deceased Persons. Venue and Processes. 4 It could not have been intended to
March 3, 1975, and calling attention that the decision of the Court of Appeals and its define the jurisdiction over the subject matter, because such legal provision is contained in
resolution denying the motion for reconsideration had been appealed to this Court; that the a law of procedure dealing merely with procedural matters. Procedure is one thing;
parties had already filed their respective briefs; and that the case is still pending before the jurisdiction over the subject matter is another. The power or authority of the court over the
Court. subject matter "existed and was fixed before procedure in a given cause began." That
power or authority is not altered or changed by procedure, which simply directs the manner
in which the power or authority shall be fully and justly exercised. There are cases though
On December 17, 1975, Judge Ernani Cruz Pano, who succeeded Judge Ericta, issued an that if the power is not exercised conformably with the provisions of the procedural law,
order granting Preciosa B. Garcia's "Urgent Petition for Authority to Pay Estate Obligations" purely, the court attempting to exercise it loses the power to exercise it legally. However,
in that the payments were for the benefit of the estate and that there hangs a cloud of doubt this does not amount to a loss of jurisdiction over the subject matter. Rather, it means that
on the validity of the proceedings in Sp. Proc. No. 27-C of the Court of First Instance of the court may thereby lose jurisdiction over the person or that the judgment may thereby be
Laguna. rendered defective for lack of something essential to sustain it. The appearance of this
provision in the procedural law at once raises a strong presumption that it has nothing to do
A compliance of this Order was filed by Preciosa B. Garcia on January 12,1976. with the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter. In plain words, it is just a matter of
method, of convenience to the parties. 5
On February 4,1974, VIRGINIA G. FULE instituted G.R. No. L-42670, a petition for
certiorari with temporary restraining order, to annul the proceedings in Sp. Proc. No. Q- The Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, confers upon Courts of First Instance jurisdiction
19738 and to restrain Judge Ernani Cruz Paño from further acting in the case. A restraining over all probate cases independently of the place of residence of the deceased. Because of
order was issued on February 9, 1976. the existence of numerous Courts of First Instance in the country, the Rules of Court,
however, purposedly fixes the venue or the place where each case shall be brought. A
fortiori, the place of residence of the deceased in settlement of estates, probate of will, and
We dismiss the appeal in G.R. No. L-40502 and the petition for certiorari in G.R. No. L- issuance of letters of administration does not constitute an element of jurisdiction over the
42670 for the reasons and considerations hereinafter stated. subject matter. It is merely constitutive of venue. And it is upon this reason that the Revised
Rules of Court properly considers the province where the estate of a deceased person shall
be settled as "venue." 6

6
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

2. But, the far-ranging question is this: What does the term "resides" mean? Does it refer to becomes imperative that the venue for Virginia C. Fule's petition for letters of administration
the actual residence or domicile of the decedent at the time of his death? We lay down the was improperly laid in the Court of First Instance of Calamba, Laguna. Nevertheless, the
doctrinal rule that the term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as long-settled rule is that objection to improper venue is subject to waiver. Section 4, Rule 4
distinguished from "legal residence or domicile." This term "resides," like, the terms of the Revised Rules of Court states: "When improper venue is not objected to in a motion
"residing" and "residence," is elastic and should be interpreted in the light of the object or to dismiss, it is deemed waived." In the case before Us the Court of Appeals had reason to
purpose of the statute or rule in which it is employed. 7 In the application of venue statutes hold that in asking to substitute Virginia G. Fule as special administratrix, Preciosa B.
and rules — Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature — Garcia did not necessarily waive her objection to the jurisdiction or venue assumed by the
residence rather than domicile is the significant factor. Even where the statute uses the Court of First Instance of Calamba, Laguna, but availed of a mere practical resort to
word "domicile" still it is construed as meaning residence and not domicile in the technical alternative remedy to assert her rights as surviving spouse, while insisting on the
sense. Some cases make a distinction between the terms "residence" and "domicile" but as enforcement of the Rule fixing the proper venue of the proceedings at the last residence of
generally used in statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same the decedent.
meaning as the term "inhabitant." 8 In other words, "resides" should be viewed or
understood in its popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or physical habitation of a
4. Preciosa B. Garcia's challenge to Virginia G. Fule's appointment as special administratrix
person, actual residence or place of abode. It signifies physical presence in a place and
is another issue of perplexity. Preciosa B. Garcia claims preference to the appointment as
actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the term means merely residence, that is,
surviving spouse. Section 1 of Rule 80 provides that "(w)hen there is delay in granting
personal residence, not legal residence or domicile. 9Residence simply requires bodily
letters testamentary or of administration by any cause including an appeal from the
presence as an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that
allowance or disallowance of a will, the court may appoint a special administratorto take
place and also an intention to make it one's domicile. 10 No particular length of time of
possession and charge of the estate of the deceased until the questions causing the delay
residence is required though; however, the residence must be more than temporary. 11
are decided and executors or administrators appointed. 13 Formerly, the appointment of a
special administrator was only proper when the allowance or disallowance of a will is under
3. Divergent claims are maintained by Virginia G. Fule and Preciosa B. Garcia on the appeal. The new Rules, however, broadened the basis for appointment and such
residence of the deceased Amado G. Garcia at the time of his death. In her original petition appointment is now allowed when there is delay in granting letters testamentary or
for letters of administration before the Court of First Instance of Calamba, Laguna, Virginia administration by any cause e.g., parties cannot agree among themselves. 14 Nevertheless,
G. Fule measely stated "(t)hat on April 26,1973, Amado G. Garcia, a property owner of the discretion to appoint a special administrator or not lies in the probate court. 15 That,
Calamba, Laguna, died intestate in the City of Manila, leaving real estate and personal however, is no authority for the judge to become partial, or to make his personal likes and
properties in Calamba, Laguna, and in other places within the jurisdiction of this Honorable dislikes prevail over, or his passions to rule, his judgment. Exercise of that discretion must
Court." Preciosa B. Garcia assailed the petition for failure to satisfy the jurisdictional be based on reason, equity, justice and legal principle. There is no reason why the same
requirement and improper laying of venue. For her, the quoted statement avers no domicile fundamental and legal principles governing the choice of a regular administrator should not
or residence of the deceased Amado G. Garcia. To say that as "property owner of be taken into account in the appointment of a special administrator. 16 Nothing is wrong for
Calamba, Laguna," he also resides in Calamba, Laguna, is, according to her, non sequitur. the judge to consider the order of preference in the appointment of a regular administrator
On the contrary, Preciosa B. Garcia claims that, as appearing in his death certificate in appointing a special administrator. After all, the consideration that overrides all others in
presented by Virginia G. Fule herself before the Calamba court and in other papers, the last this respect is thebeneficial interest of the appointee in the estate of the decedent. 17 Under
residence of Amado G. Garcia was at 11 Carmel Avenue, Carmel Subdivision, Quezon the law, the widow would have the right of succession over a portion of the exclusive
City. Parenthetically, in her amended petition, Virginia G. Fule categorically alleged that property of the decedent, besides her share in the conjugal partnership. For such reason,
Amado G. Garcia's "last place of residence was at Calamba, Laguna." she would have as such, if not more, interest in administering the entire estate correctly
than any other next of kin. The good or bad administration of a property may affect rather
the fruits than the naked ownership of a property. 18
On this issue, We rule that the last place of residence of the deceased Amado G. Garcia
was at 11 Carmel Avenue, Carmel Subdivision, Quezon City, and not at Calamba, Laguna.
A death certificate is admissible to prove the residence of the decedent at the time of his Virginia G. Fule, however, disputes the status of Preciosa B. Garcia as the widow of the
death. 12 As it is, the death certificate of Amado G. Garcia, which was presented in late Amado G. Garcia. With equal force, Preciosa B. Garcia maintains that Virginia G. Fule
evidence by Virginia G. Fule herself and also by Preciosa B. Garcia, shows that his last has no relation whatsoever with Amado G. Garcia, or that, she is a mere illegitimate sister
place of residence was at 11 Carmel Avenue, Carmel Subdivision, Quezon City. Aside from of the latter, incapable of any successional rights. 19 On this point, We rule that Preciosa B.
this, the deceased's residence certificate for 1973 obtained three months before his death; Garcia is prima facie entitled to the appointment of special administratrix. It needs be
the Marketing Agreement and Power of Attorney dated November 12, 1971 turning over the emphasized that in the issuance of such appointment, which is but temporary and subsists
administration of his two parcels of sugar land to the Calamba Sugar Planters Cooperative only until a regular administrator is appointed, 20 the appointing court does not determine
Marketing Association, Inc.; the Deed of Donation dated January 8, 1973, transferring part who are entitled to share in the estate of the decedent but who is entitled to the
of his interest in certain parcels of land in Calamba, Laguna to Agustina B. Garcia; and administration. The issue of heirship is one to be determined in the decree of distribution,
certificates of titles covering parcels of land in Calamba, Laguna, show in bold documents and the findings of the court on the relationship of the parties in the administration as to be
that Amado G. Garcia's last place of residence was at Quezon City. Withal, the conclusion the basis of distribution. 21 The preference of Preciosa B. Garcia is with sufficient reason. In

7
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

a Donation Inter Vivos executed by the deceased Amado G. Garcia on January 8, 1973 in
favor of Agustina B. Garcia, he indicated therein that he is married to Preciosa B.
Garcia. 22 In his certificate of candidacy for the office of Delegate to the Constitutional
Convention for the First District of Laguna filed on September 1, 1970, he wrote therein the
name of Preciosa B. Banaticla as his spouse. 23 Faced with these documents and the
presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have
entered into a lawful contract of marriage, Preciosa B. Garcia can be reasonably believed
to be the surviving spouse of the late Amado G. Garcia. Semper praesumitur pro
matrimonio. 24

5. Under these circumstances and the doctrine laid down in Cuenco vs. Court of
Appeals, 25 this Court under its supervisory authority over all inferior courts may properly
decree that venue in the instant case was properly assumed by and transferred to Quezon
City and that it is in the interest of justice and avoidance of needless delay that the Quezon
City court's exercise of jurisdiction over the settlement of the estate of the deceased Amado
G. Garcia and the appointment of special administratrix over the latter's estate be approved
and authorized and the Court of First Instance of Laguna be disauthorized from continuing
with the case and instead be required to transfer all the records thereof to the Court of First
Instance of Quezon City for the continuation of the proceedings.

6. Accordingly, the Order of Judge Ernani Cruz Pano of December 17, 1975, granting the
"Urgent Petition for Authority to Pay Estate Obligations" filed by Preciosa B. Garcia in Sp.
Proc. No. Q-19738, subject matter of G.R. No. L-42670, and ordering the Canlubang Sugar
Estate to deliver to her as special administratrix the sum of P48,874.70 for payment of the
sum of estate obligations is hereby upheld.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petitions of petitioner Virginia Garcia Fule in G.R. No.
L-40502 and in G.R. No. L42670 are hereby denied, with costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

8
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

G.R. No. 128314 May 29, 2002 The court required the parties to submit their respective nominees for the position.6 Both
failed to comply, whereupon the trial court ordered that the petition be archived.7
RODOLFO V. JAO, petitioner,
vs. Subsequently, Perico moved that the intestate proceedings be revived.8 After the parties
COURT OF APPEALS and PERICO V. JAO, respondents. submitted the names of their respective nominees, the trial court designated Justice Carlos
L. Sundiam as special administrator of the estate of Ignacio Jao Tayag and Andrea Jao.9
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
On April 6, 1994, the motion to dismiss filed by petitioner Rodolfo was denied, to wit:
Rodolfo and Perico Jao were the only sons of the spouses Ignacio Jao Tayag and Andrea
V. Jao, who died intestate in 1988 and 1989, respectively. The decedents left real estate, A mere perusal of the death certificates of the spouses issued separately in 1988
cash, shares of stock and other personal properties. and 1989, respectively, confirm the fact that Quezon City was the last place of
residence of the decedents. Surprisingly, the entries appearing on the death
certificate of Andrea V. Jao were supplied by movant, Rodolfo V. Jao, whose
On April 17, 1991, Perico instituted a petition for issuance of letters of administration before
signature appears in said document. Movant, therefore, cannot disown his own
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 99, over the estate of his parents,
representation by taking an inconsistent position other than his own admission.
docketed as Special Proceedings No. Q-91-8507.1 Pending the appointment of a regular
xxx xxx xxx.
administrator, Perico moved that he be appointed as special administrator. He alleged that
his brother, Rodolfo, was gradually dissipating the assets of the estate. More particularly,
Rodolfo was receiving rentals from real properties without rendering any accounting, and WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing consideration, this court DENIES for lack
forcibly opening vaults belonging to their deceased parents and disposing of the cash and of merit movant’s motion to dismiss.
valuables therein.
SO ORDERED.10
Rodolfo moved for the dismissal of the petition on the ground of improper venue.2 He
argued that the deceased spouses did not reside in Quezon City either during their lifetime
Rodolfo filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, which was docketed as CA-
or at the time of their deaths. The decedent’s actual residence was in Angeles City,
G.R. SP No. 35908. On December 11, 1996, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed
Pampanga, where his late mother used to run and operate a bakery. As the health of his
decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
parents deteriorated due to old age, they stayed in Rodolfo’s residence at 61 Scout Gandia
Street, Quezon City, solely for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment and
hospitalization. Rodolfo submitted documentary evidence previously executed by the WHEREFORE, no error, much less any grave abuse of discretion of the court a
decedents, consisting of income tax returns, voter’s affidavits, statements of assets and quo having been shown, the petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED. The
liabilities, real estate tax payments, motor vehicle registration and passports, all indicating questioned order of the respondent Judge is affirmed in toto.
that their permanent residence was in Angeles City, Pampanga.1âwphi1.nêt
SO ORDERED.11
In his opposition,3 Perico countered that their deceased parents actually resided in
Rodolfo’s house in Quezon City at the time of their deaths. As a matter of fact, it was
Rodolfo’s motion for reconsideration was denied by the Court of Appeals in the assailed
conclusively declared in their death certificates that their last residence before they died
resolution dated February 17, 1997.12 Hence, this petition for review, anchored on the
was at 61 Scout Gandia Street, Quezon City.4 Rodolfo himself even supplied the entry
following grounds:
appearing on the death certificate of their mother, Andrea, and affixed his own signature on
the said document.
I
Rodolfo filed a rejoinder, stating that he gave the information regarding the decedents’
residence on the death certificates in good faith and through honest mistake. He gave his RESPONDENT COURT HAD DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A
residence only as reference, considering that their parents were treated in their late years WAY NOT IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW AND IS DIRECTLY CONTRADICTORY
at the Medical City General Hospital in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila. Their stay in his house TO THE APPLICABLE DECISION ALREADY RENDERED BY THIS
was merely transitory, in the same way that they were taken at different times for the same HONORABLE COURT.
purpose to Perico’s residence at Legaspi Towers in Roxas Boulevard. The death
certificates could not, therefore, be deemed conclusive evidence of the decedents’
residence in light of the other documents showing otherwise.5 II

9
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE RULING OF THIS The main issue before us is: where should the settlement proceedings be had --- in
HONORABLE COURT IN THE CASE OF EUSEBIO VS. EUSEBIO, 100 PHILS. Pampanga, where the decedents had their permanent residence, or in Quezon City, where
593, WHICH CLEARLY INTERPRETED WHAT IS MEANT BY RESIDENCE IN they actually stayed before their demise?
SEC. 1 OF RULE 73 OF THE RULES OF COURT.
Rule 73, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:
III
Where estate of deceased persons be settled. – If the decedent is an inhabitant
RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PHYSICAL PRESENCE IN of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will
A PLACE AT THE TIME OF DEATH IS DETERMINATIVE OF DECEDENT’S shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the
RESIDENCE RATHER THAN THE INTENTION OF THE DECEDENTS TO Court of First Instance in the province in which he resides at the time of his
ESTABLISH THEIR PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN ANOTHER PLACE. death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of
any province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the
settlement of the estate of a decedent shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion
IV
of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on
the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not
RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN APPLYING BY ANALOGY THE be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the
RESIDENCE CONTEMPLATED IN SEC. 2 OF RULE 4 FOR THE PURPOSE original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.
OF SERVING SUMMONS TO A DEFENDANT IN A PERSONAL ACTION TO (underscoring ours)
THE RESIDENCE CONTEMPLATED IN SEC. 1 OF RULE 73 FOR THE
PURPOSE OF DETERMINING VENUE IN THE SETTLEMENT OF THE
Clearly, the estate of an inhabitant of the Philippines shall be settled or letters of
ESTATE OF A DECEASED.
administration granted in the proper court located in the province where the
decedent resides at the time of his death.
V
Petitioner Rodolfo invokes our ruling in the case of Eusebio v. Eusebio, et al.,14 where we
RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN GIVING MORE WEIGHT TO THE ENTRY held that the situs of settlement proceedings shall be the place where the decedent had his
OF PETITIONER AND PRIVATE RESPONDENT IN THE RESPECTIVE DEATH permanent residence or domicile at the time of death. In determining residence at the time
CERTIFICATES OF THE DECEDENTS RATHER THAN THE OVERWHELMING of death, the following factors must be considered, namely, the decedent had: (a) capacity
EVIDENCE SHOWING THE CLEAR INTENTION OF THE DECEDENTS TO to choose and freedom of choice; (b) physical presence at the place chosen; and (c)
ESTABLISH THEIR PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN ANGELES CITY. intention to stay therein permanently.15 While it appears that the decedents in this case
chose to be physically present in Quezon City for medical convenience, petitioner avers
that they never adopted Quezon City as their permanent residence.1âwphi1.nêt
VI

The contention lacks merit.


RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN APPLYING THE PRINCIPLE OF
ESTOPPEL AS AGAINST PETITIONER WHICH CAN NOT BE MORE
PERSUASIVE THAN THE CLEAR INTENTION OF THE DECEDENTS The facts in Eusebio were different from those in the case at bar. The decedent therein,
THEMSELVES TO ESTABLISH PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN ANGELES CITY. Andres Eusebio, passed away while in the process of transferring his personal belongings
to a house in Quezon City. He was then suffering from a heart ailment and was advised by
his doctor/son to purchase a Quezon City residence, which was nearer to his doctor. While
VII he was able to acquire a house in Quezon City, Eusebio died even before he could move
therein. In said case, we ruled that Eusebio retained his domicile --- and hence, residence
RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING THE PETITION FOR --- in San Fernando, Pampanga. It cannot be said that Eusebio changed his residence
CERTIORARI DESPITE THE CLEAR ABUSE OF DISCRETION ON THE PART because, strictly speaking, his physical presence in Quezon City was just temporary.
OF THE TRIAL COURT IN INSISTING TO TAKE COGNIZANCE OF SP.
PROCEEDING NO. Q-91-8507.13 In the case at bar, there is substantial proof that the decedents have transferred to
petitioner’s Quezon City residence. Petitioner failed to sufficiently refute respondent’s
assertion that their elderly parents stayed in his house for some three to four years before
they died in the late 1980s.

10
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

Furthermore, the decedents’ respective death certificates state that they were both Petitioner strains to differentiate between the venue provisions found in Rule 4, Section
residents of Quezon City at the time of their demise. Significantly, it was petitioner himself 2,18 on ordinary civil actions, and Rule 73, Section 1, which applies specifically to
who filled up his late mother’s death certificate. To our mind, this unqualifiedly shows that at settlement proceedings. He argues that while venue in the former understandably refers to
that time, at least, petitioner recognized his deceased mother’s residence to be Quezon actual physical residence for the purpose of serving summons, it is the permanent
City. Moreover, petitioner failed to contest the entry in Ignacio’s death certificate, residence of the decedent which is significant in Rule 73, Section 1. Petitioner insists that
accomplished a year earlier by respondent. venue for the settlement of estates can only refer to permanent residence or domicile
because it is the place where the records of the properties are kept and where most of the
decedents’ properties are located.
The recitals in the death certificates, which are admissible in evidence, were thus properly
considered and presumed to be correct by the court a quo. We agree with the appellate
court’s observation that since the death certificates were accomplished even before Petitioner’s argument fails to persuade.
petitioner and respondent quarreled over their inheritance, they may be relied upon to
reflect the true situation at the time of their parents’ death.
It does not necessarily follow that the records of a person’s properties are kept in the place
where he permanently resides. Neither can it be presumed that a person’s properties can
The death certificates thus prevailed as proofs of the decedents’ residence at the time of be found mostly in the place where he establishes his domicile. It may be that he has his
death, over the numerous documentary evidence presented by petitioner. To be sure, the domicile in a place different from that where he keeps his records, or where he maintains
documents presented by petitioner pertained not toresidence at the time of death, as extensive personal and business interests. No generalizations can thus be formulated on
required by the Rules of Court, but to permanent residence or domicile. InGarcia-Fule v. the matter, as the question of where to keep records or retain properties is entirely
Court of Appeals,16 we held: dependent upon an individual’s choice and peculiarities.

xxx xxx xxx the term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as At any rate, petitioner is obviously splitting straws when he differentiates between venue in
distinguished from "legal residence or domicile." This term "resides", like the ordinary civil actions and venue in special proceedings. In Raymond v. Court of
terms "residing" and "residence", is elastic and should be interpreted in the light Appeals19 and Bejer v. Court of Appeals,20 we ruled that venue for ordinary civil actions and
of the object or purpose of the statute or rule in which it is employed. In the that for special proceedings have one and the same meaning. As thus defined, "residence",
application of venue statutes and rules – Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules in the context of venue provisions, means nothing more than a person’s actual residence or
of Court is of such nature – residence rather than domicile is the significant place of abode, provided he resides therein with continuity and consistency.21 All told, the
factor. Even where the statute uses the word "domicile" still it is construed as lower court and the Court of Appeals correctly held that venue for the settlement of the
meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense. Some cases make a decedents’ intestate estate was properly laid in the Quezon City court.
distinction between the terms "residence" and "domicile" but as generally used in
statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED, and the decision of the
as the term "inhabitant." In other words, "resides" should be viewed or
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 35908 is AFFIRMED.
understood in its popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or physical
habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. It signifies physical
presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the term SO ORDERED.
means merely residence, that is, personal residence, not legal residence or
domicile. Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given
place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention
to make it one’s domicile. No particular length of time of residence is required
though; however, the residence must be more than temporary.17

Both the settlement court and the Court of Appeals found that the decedents have been
living with petitioner at the time of their deaths and for some time prior thereto. We find this
conclusion to be substantiated by the evidence on record. A close perusal of the
challenged decision shows that, contrary to petitioner’s assertion, the court below
considered not only the decedents’ physical presence in Quezon City, but also other factors
indicating that the decedents’ stay therein was more than temporary. In the absence of any
substantial showing that the lower courts’ factual findings stemmed from an erroneous
apprehension of the evidence presented, the same must be held to be conclusive and
binding upon this Court.

11
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

G.R. No. L-6622 July 31, 1957 5. The right, interests or participation that the deceased Quintin de Borja has or
may have in Civil Case No. 6190 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija,
shall be likewise included in the total mass of the inheritance of the Intestate;
Intestate Estate of the deceased MARCELO DE BORJA. CRISANTO DE
BORJA, administrator-appellant,
vs. 6. Not only the lands in Tabuatin but also those in Cainta coming from the now
JUAN DE BORJA, ET AL., oppositors-appellees. deceased Exequiel Ampil shall also from part of the total mass of the inheritance
of the Intestate of the late Marcelo de Borja;
E. V. Filamor for appellant.
Juan de Borja for himself and co-appellees. 7. Once the total of the inheritance of the intestate is made up as specified before
in this Agreement, partition thereof will be made as follows:
FELIX, J.:
From the total mass shall be deducted in case or in kind, Twelve Thousand
Pesos (P12,000) that shall be delivered to Da. Juliana de Borja and Da. Crisanta
The case. — Quintin, Francisco, Crisanta and Juliana, all surnamed de Borja, are
de Borja in equal shares, and the rest shall be divided among the four heirs, i. e.,
legitimate children of Marcelo de Borja who, upon his demise sometime in 1924 or 1925,
Don Francisco de Borja, the heirs of Quintin de Borja, Da. Juliana de Borja, and
left a considerable amount of property. Intestate proceedings must have followed, and the
Da. Crisanta de Borja, in equal parts. (TRANSLATION)
pre-war records of the case either burned, lost or destroyed during the last war, because
the record shows that in 1930 Quintin de Borja was already the administrator of the
Intestate Estate of Marcelo de Borja. The Intestate remained under the administration of Crisanto de Borja until the then
outbreak of the war. From then on and until the termination of the war, there was a lull and
state of inaction in Special proceeding No. 2414 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal,
In the early part of 1938, Quintin de Borja died and Crisanto de Borja, son of Francisco de
Pasig branch (In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Marcelo de Borja), until upon petition
Borja, was appointed and took over as administrator of the Estate. Francisco de Borja, on
filed by Miguel B. Dayco, as administrator of the estate of his deceased mother, Crisanta
the other hand, assumed his duties as executor of the will of Quintin de Borja, but upon
de Borja, who is one of heirs, for reconstitution of the records of this case, the Court on
petition of the heirs of said deceased on the ground that his interests were conflicting with
December 11, 1945, ordered the reconstitution of the same, requiring the administrator to
that of his brother's estate he was later required by the Court to resign as such executor
submit his report and a copy of the project of partition.
and was succeeded by Rogelio Limaco, a son-in-law of Quintin de Borja.

On January 3, 1946, the administrator, Dr. Crisanto de Borja, filed his accounts for the
It also appears that on February 16, 1940, at the hearing set for the approval of the
period ranging from March 1 to December 22, 1945, which according to the heirs of Quintin
statement of accounts of the late administrator of the Intestate Estate of Marcelo de Borja,
de Borja were so inadequate and general that on February 28, 1946, they filed a motion for
then being opposed by Francisco de Borja, the parties submitted an agreement, which was
specification. On April 30, 1946, they also filed their opposition to said statement of
approved by the Court (Exh. A). Said agreement, translated into English, reads as follows:
accounts alleging that the income reported in said statement was very much less than the
true and actual income of the estate and that the expenses appearing therein were
1. All the accounts submitted and those that are to be submitted corresponding to exaggerated and/or not actually incurred, and prayed that the statement of accounts
this year will be considered approved; submitted by the administrator be disapproved.

2. No heir shall claim anything of the harvests from the lands in Cainta that came The administrator later filed another report of his administration, dated August 9, 1949,
from Exequiel Ampil, deceased, nor from the land in Tabuatin, Nueva Ecija; corresponding to the period lapsed from December 23, 1945, to July 31, 1949, showing a
cash balance of P71.96, but with pending obligation amounting to P35,415.
3. That the amounts of money taken by each heir shall be considered as
deposited in conjunction with the other properties of the intestate and shall form On August 22, 1949, Juan de Borja and sisters, heirs of the deceased Quintin de Borja,
part of the mass without drawing any interest; filed their opposition to the statement of accounts filed by the administrator on the ground
that same was not detailed enough to enable the interested parties to verify the same; that
they cannot understand why the Intestate could suffer any loss considering that during the
4. That it shall be understood as included in this mass the sum of twelve administration of the same by Quintin de Borja, the Estate accumulated gains of more than
thousand pesos (P12,000) that the sisters Crisanta and Juliana de Borja paid of P100,000 in the form of advances to the heirs as well as cash balance; that they desired to
their own money as part of the price the lands and three thousand pesos examine the accounts of Dr. Crisanto de Borja to verify the loss and therefore prayed that
(P3,000) the price of the machinery for irrigation; the administrator be ordered to deposit with the Clerk of Court all books, receipts, accounts

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Rule 73 Venue and Process

and other papers pertaining to the Estate of Marcelo de Borja. This motion was answered de Borja and Tircila Quiogue, which said heir had kept and continued to retain in her
by the administrator contending that the Report referred to was already clear and enough, possession; that the heirs of Quintin de Borja should deliver to the administrator all the
the income as well as the expenditures being specified therein; that he had to spend for the lands and a document transferring in favor of the Intestate the two parcels of land with a
repairs of the properties of the Estate damaged during the Japanese occupation; that the total area of 71 hectares of cultivated land in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija which were in the
allegation that during the administration of Quintin de Boria the Estate realized a profit of possession of said heirs, together with the house of Feliciana Mariano Vda. de Sarangaya,
P100,000 was not true, because instead of gain there was even a shortage in the funds which were the objects of Civil Case No. 6190 mentioned in Paragraph 11 of the project of
although said administrator had collected all his fees (honorarios) and commissions partition; that as consequence of the said dispossession the heirs of Quintin de Borja must
corresponding to the entire period of his incumbency; that the obligations mentioned in said deliver to the administrator the products of the 71 hectares of land in Cabanatuan, Nueva
report will be liquidated before the termination of the proceedings in the same manner as it Ecija, and the rentals of the house of Feliciana Mariano or else render to the Court an
is done in any other intestate case; that he was willing to submit all the receipts of the accounting of the products of these properties from the time they took possession of the
accounts for the examination of the interested parties before the Clerk or before the Court same in 1937 to the present; that there was a pending obligation amounting to P36,000 as
itself; that this Intestate could be terminated, the project of partition having been allowed of September 14, 1949, which the heirs should pay before the properties adjudicated to
and confirmed by the Supreme Court and that the Administrator was also desirous of them would be delivered. The Court, however, ordered the administrator on December 10,
terminating it definitely for the benefit of all the parties. 1949, to show and prove by evidence why he should not be accounts the proceeds of his
administration from 1937.
On September 14, 1949, the administrator filed another statement of accounts covering the
period of from March 1, 1945, to July 31, 1949, which showed a cash balance of P71.95, Meantime, Juliana de Borja filed a Constancia denying possession of any jewelry belonging
with pending obligations in the sum of P35,810. to the deceased spouses Marcelo de Borja and Tarcilla Quiogue or any other personal
belonging of said spouses, and signified her willingness to turn over to the administrator the
silver wares mentioned in Paragraph III of the project of partition, which were the only
The heirs of Quintin de Borja, Juan de Borja and his sisters, registered their opposition said
property in her care, on the date that she would expect the delivery to her of her share in
statement of accounts and prayed the Court to disapprove the same and to appoint an
the inheritance from her deceased parents.
account to go over the books of the administrator and to submit a report thereon as soon as
possible. The heir Juliana de Borja also formally offered her objection to the approval of the
accounts submitted by the administrator and prayed further that said administrator be On July 6, 1950, Juan de Borja and his sisters Marcela, Saturnina, Eufracia, Jacoba and
required to submit a complete accounting of his administration of the Estate from 1937 to Olimpia, all surnamed de Borja, as heirs of Quintin de Borja, filed a motion for the delivery
1949. On the other hand, Francisco de Borja and Miguel B. Dayco, as the only heir of the to them of their inheritance in the estate, tendering to the administrator a document ceding
deceased Crisanta de Borja, submitted to the Court an agreement to relieve the and transferring to the latter all the rights, interests and participation of Quintin de Borja in
administrator from accounting for the period of the Japanese occupation; that as to the Civil Case No. 7190 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, pursuant to the provisions
accounting from 1937 to 1941, they affirmed their conformity with the agreement entered of the project of Partition, and expressing their willingness to put up a bond if required to do
into by all the heirs appearing in the Bill of Exceptions of Juliana de Borja; and they have no so by the Court, and on July 18, 1950, the Court ordered the administrator to deliver to
objection to the approval of the statement of accounts submitted by the administrator Marcela, Juan, Saturniana, Eufracia, Jacoba and Olimpia, all surnamed de Borja, all the
covering of the years 1945 to 1949. properties adjudicated to them in the Project of Partition dated February 8, 1944, upon the
latter's filing a bond in the sum of P10,000 conditioned upon the payment of such obligation
as may be ordered by the Court after a hearing on the controverted accounts of the
On December 6, 1949, the administrator, answered the opposition of the heir Juliana de
administrator. The Court considered the fact that the heirs had complied with the
Borja, alleging that the corresponding statement of accounts for the years 1937, 1938,
requirement imposed by the Project of Partition when they tendered the document ceding
1939, 1940 and 1941 were presented and approved by the Court before and during the
and transferring the rights and interests of Quintin de Borja in the aforementioned lands
Japanese occupation, but the records of the same were destroyed in the Office of the Clerk
and expressed the necessity of terminating the proceedings as soon as practicable,
of that Court during the liberation of the province of Rizal, and his personal records were
observing that the Estate had been under administration for over twenty-five years already.
also lost during the Japanese occupation, when his house was burned; that Judge Peña
The Court, however, deferred action on the petition filed by the special administratrix of the
who was presiding over the Court in 1945 impliedly denied the petition of heirs to require
Intestate Estate of Juliana de Borja until after compliance with the conditions imposed by
him to render an accounting for the period from 1942 to the early part of 1945, for the
the project of partition. But on July 20, 1950, apparently before the properties were
reason that whatever money obtained from the Estate during said period could not be
delivered to the heirs, Francisco de Borja and Miguel B. Dayco filed a motion informing the
made the subject of any adjudication it having been declared fiat money and without value,
Court that the two parcels of land located in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, produced some
and ordered that the statement of accounts be presented only for the period starting from
21,300 cavans of palay, amounting to P213,000 at P10 per cavan, which were enjoyed by
March 1, 1945. The administrator further stated that he was anxious to terminate this
some heirs; that the administrator Crisanto de Borja had not taken possession of the same
administration but some of the heirs had not yet complied with the conditions imposed in
for circumstances beyond his control; and that there also existed the sum of P70,204 which
the project of partition which was approved by the Supreme Court; that in accordance with
the former administrator, Quintin de Borja, received from properties that were redeemed,
said partition agreement, Juliana de Borja must deliver to the administrator all the jewelry,
but which amount did not come into the hands of the present, administrator because
objects of value, utensils and other personal belongings of the deceased spouses Marcelo

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according to reliable information, same was delivered to the heir Juliana de Borja who The heirs of Quintin de Borja again opposed the approval of the statements of accounts
deposited it in her name at the Philippine National Bank. It was, therefore prayed that the charging the administrator with having failed to include the fruits which the estate should
administrator be required to exert the necessary effort to ascertain the identity of the person have accrued from 1941 to 1951 amounting to P479,429.70, but as the other heirs seemed
or persons who were in possession of the same amount and of the value of the products of satisfied with the accounts presented by said administrator and as their group was only one
the lands in Mayapyap, Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, and to recover the same for the Intestate of the 4 heirs of Intestate Estate, they prayed that the administrator be held liable for only
Estate. P119,932.42 which was 1/4 of the amount alleged to have been omitted. On October 4,
1951, the administrator filed a reply to said opposition containing a counterclaim for moral
damages against all the heirs of Quintin de Borja in the sum of P30,000 which was
On July 28, 1950, the special administratrix of the estate of Juliana de Borja, then
admitted by the Court over the objection of the heirs of Quintin de Borja that the said
deceased, filed an answer to the motion of these two heirs, denying the allegation that said
pleading was filed out of time.
heir any product of the lands mentioned from Quintin de Borja, and informed the Court that
the Mayapyap property had always been in the possession of Francisco de Borja himself
and prayed the court that the administrator be instructed to demand all the fruits and The oppositors, the heirs of Quintin de Borja, then filed their answer to the counterclaim
products of said property from Francisco de Borja. denying the charges therein, but later served interrogatories on the administrator relative to
the averments of said counterclaim. Upon receipt of the answer to said interrogatories
specifying the acts upon which the claim for moral damages was based, the oppositors filed
On July 28, 1950, the heirs of Quintin de Borja also filed their opposition to the said motion
an amended answer contending that inasmuch as the acts, manifestations and pleadings
of Francisco de Borja and Miguel B. Dayco on the ground that the petition was superfluous
referred to therein were admittedly committed and prepared by their lawyer, Atty. Amador
because the present proceeding was only for the approval of the statement of accounts
E. Gomez, same cannot be made the basis of a counterclaim, said lawyer not being a party
filed by the administrator; that said motion was improper because it was asking the Court to
to the action, and furthermore, as the acts upon which the claim for moral damages were
order the administrator to perform what he was duty bound to do; and that said heirs were
based had been committed prior to the effectivity of the new Civil Code, the provisions of
already barred or stopped from raising that question in view of their absolute ratification of
said Code on moral damages could not be invoked. On January 15, 1952, the administrator
and assent to the statement of accounts submitted by the administrator.
filed an amended counterclaim including the counsel for the oppositors as defendant.

On August 16, 1950, by order of the Court, the properties adjudicated to Juliana de Borja in
There followed a momentary respite in the proceedings until another judge was assigned to
the project of Partition were finally delivered to the estate of said heir upon the filing of a
preside over said court to dispose of the old case pending therein. On August 15, 1952,
bond for P20,000. In that same order, the Court denied the administrator's motion to
Judge Encarnacion issued an order denying admission to administrator's amended
reconsider the order of July 18, 1950, requiring him to deliver to the heirs of Quintin de
counterclaim directed against the lawyer, Atty. Amador E. Gomez, holding that a lawyer,
Borja the properties corresponding to them, on the ground that there existed no sufficient
not being a party to the action, cannot be made answerable for counterclaims. Another
reason to disturb said order. It also ruled that as the petition of Francisco de Borja and
order was also issued on the same date dismissing the administrator's counterclaim for
Miguel B. Dayco made mention of certain properties allegedly belonging to the Intestate,
moral damages against the heirs of Quintin de Borja and their counsel for the alleged
said petition should properly be considered to gather with the final accounts of the
defamatory acts, manifestation and utterances, and stating that granting the same to be
administrator.
meritorious, yet it was a strictly private controversy between said heirs and the
administrator which would not in any way affect the interest of the Intestate, and, therefore,
The administrator raised the matter by certiorari to this Tribunal, which was, docketed as not proper in an intestate proceedings. The Court stressed that to allow the ventilation of
G.R. No. L-4179, and on May 30, 1951, We rendered decision affirming the order such personal controversies would further delay the proceedings in the case which had
complained of, finding that the Juan de Borja and sisters have complied with the already lagged for almost 30 years, a situation which the Court would not countenance.
requirement imposed in the Project of Partition upon the tender of the document of cession
of rights and quit-claim executed by Marcela de Borja, the administratrix of the Estate of
Having disposed of these pending incidents which arose out of the principal issue, that is,
Quintin de Borja, and holding that the reasons advanced by the administrator in opposing
the disputed statement of accounts submitted by the administrator, the Court rendered
the execution of the order of delivery were trivial.
judgment on September 5, 1952, ordering the administrator to distribute the funds in his
possession to the heirs as follows: P1,395.90 to the heirs of Quintin de Borja; P314.99 to
On August 27, 1951, the administrator filed his amended statement of accounts covering Francisco de Borja; P314.99 to the Estate of Juliana de Borja and P314.99 to Miguel B.
the period from March 1, 1945, to July 31, 1949, which showed a cash balance of P36,660. Dayco, but as the latter still owed the intestate the sum of P900, said heirs was ordered to
An additional statement of accounts filed on August 31, 1961 for the period of from August pay instead the 3 others the sum of P146.05 each. After considering the testimonies of the
1, 1949, to August 31, 1951, showed a cash balance of P5,851.17 and pending obligations witnesses presented by both parties and the available records on hand, the Court found the
in the amount of P6,165.03. administrator guilty of maladministration and sentenced Crisanto de Borja to pay to the
oppositors, the heirs of Quintin de Borja, the sum of P83,337.31, which was 1/4 of the
amount which the state lost, with legal interest from the date of the judgment. On the same
day, the Court also issued an order requiring the administrator to deliver to the Clerk of that

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Court PNB Certificate of Deposit No. 211649 for P978.50 which was issued in the name of merely confined to the preparation of the defense of his client. Appellant, however,
Quintin de Borja. asserted that he filed the counterclaim against said lawyer not in his individual capacity but
as counsel for the heirs of Quintin de Borja. But as we have already stated that the
existence of a lawyer-client relationship does not make the former a party to the action,
The administrator, Dr. Crisanto de Borja, gave notice to appeal from the lower Court's
even this allegation of appellant will not alter the result We have arrived at.
orders of August 15, 1952, the decision of September 5, 1952, and the order of even date,
but when the Record on Appeal was finally approved, the Court ordered the exclusion of
the appeal from the order of September 5, 1952, requiring the administrator to deposit the Granting that the lawyer really employed intemperate language in the course of the
PNB Certificate of Deposit No. 2114649 with the Clerk of Court, after the oppositors had hearings or in the preparation of the pleadings filed in connection with this case, the
shown that during the hearing of that incident, the parties agreed to abide by whatever remedy against said counsel would be to have him cited for contempt of court or take other
resolution the Court would make on the ownership of the funds covered by that deposit. administrative measures that may be proper in the case, but certainly not a counterclaim for
moral damages.
The issues. — Reducing the issues to bare essentials, the questions left for our
determination are: (1) whether the counsel for a party in a case may be included as a II. — Special Proceedings No. 6414 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Pasig branch)
defendant in a counterclaim; (2) whether a claim for moral damages may be entertained in was instituted for the purpose of settling the Intestate Estate of Marcelo de Borja. In taking
a proceeding for the settlement of an estate; (3) what may be considered as acts of cognizance of the case, the Court was clothed with a limited jurisdiction which cannot
maladministration and whether an administrator, as the one in the case at bar, may be held expand to collateral matters not arising out of or in any way related to the settlement and
accountable for any loss or damage that the estate under his administration may incur by adjudication of the properties of the deceased, for it is a settled rule that the jurisdiction of a
reason of his negligence, bad faith or acts of maladministration; and (4) in the case at bar probate court is limited and special (Guzman vs. Anog, 37 Phil. 361). Although there is a
has the Intestate or any of the heirs suffered any loss or damage by reason of the tendency now to relax this rule and extend the jurisdiction of the probate court in respect to
administrator's negligence, bad faith or maladministration? If so, what is the amount of such matters incidental and collateral to the exercise of its recognized powers (14 Am. Jur. 251-
loss or damage? 252), this should be understood to comprehend only cases related to those powers
specifically allowed by the statutes. For it was even said that:
I. — Section 1, Rule 10, of the Rules of Court defines a counterclaim as:
Probate proceedings are purely statutory and their functions limited to the control
of the property upon the death of its owner, and cannot extend to the adjudication
SECTION 1. Counterclaim Defined. — A counterclaim is any claim, whether for
of collateral questions (Woesmes, The American Law of Administration, Vol. I, p.
money or otherwise, which a party may have against the opposing party. A
514, 662-663).
counterclaim need not dismiss or defeat the recovery sought by the opposing
party, but may claim relief exceeding in amount or different in kind from that
sought by the opposing party's claim. It was in the acknowledgment of its limited jurisdiction that the lower court dismissed the
administrator's counterclaim for moral damages against the oppositors, particularly against
Marcela de Borja who allegedly uttered derogatory remarks intended to cast dishonor to
It is an elementary rule of procedure that a counterclaim is a relief available to a party-
said administrator sometime in 1950 or 1951, his Honor's ground being that the court
defendant against the adverse party which may or may not be independent from the main
exercising limited jurisdiction cannot entertain claims of this kind which should properly
issue. There is no controversy in the case at bar, that the acts, manifestations and
belong to a court general jurisdiction. From what ever angle it may be looked at, a
actuations alleged to be defamatory and upon which the counterclaim was based were
counterclaim for moral damages demanded by an administrator against the heirs for
done or prepared by counsel for oppositors; and the administrator contends that as the very
alleged utterances, pleadings and actuations made in the course of the proceeding, is an
oppositors manifested that whatever civil liability arising from acts, actuations, pleadings
extraneous matter in a testate or intestate proceedings. The injection into the action of
and manifestations attributable to their lawyer is enforceable against said lawyer, the
incidental questions entirely foreign in probate proceedings should not be encouraged for to
amended counterclaim was filed against the latter not in his individual or personal capacity
do otherwise would run counter to the clear intention of the law, for it was held that:
but as counsel for the oppositors. It is his stand, therefore, that the lower erred in denying
admission to said pleading. We differ from the view taken by the administrator. The
appearance of a lawyer as counsel for a party and his participation in a case as such The speedy settlement of the estate of deceased persons for the benefit of the
counsel does not make him a party to the action. The fact that he represents the interests creditors and those entitled to the residue by way of inheritance or legacy after
of his client or that he acts in their behalf will not hold him liable for or make him entitled to the debts and expenses of administration have been paid, is the ruling spirit of
any award that the Court may adjudicate to the parties, other than his professional fees. our probate law (Magabanua vs. Akel, 72 Phil., 567, 40 Off Gaz., 1871).
The principle that a counterclaim cannot be filed against persons who are acting in
representation of another — such as trustees — in their individual capacities
III. and IV. — This appeal arose from the opposition of the heirs of Quintin de Borja to the
(Chambers vs. Cameron, 2 Fed. Rules Service, p. 155; 29 F. Supp. 742) could be applied
approval of the statements of accounts rendered by the administrator of the Intestate
with more force and effect in the case of a counsel whose participation in the action is

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Rule 73 Venue and Process

Estate of Marcelo de Borja, on the ground that certain fruits which should have been March 180.00 March 1-15 190.00
accrued to the estate were unaccounted for, which charge the administrator denied. After a
April-December 1,140.00 March 16-December 4,085.00
protracted and extensive hearing on the matter, the Court, finding the administrator, Dr.
Crisanto de Borja, guilty of certain acts of maladministration, held him liable for the P1,820.00 P5,035.00
payment to the oppositors, the heirs of Quintin de Borja, of 1/4 of the unreported income 1948
which the estate should have received. The evidence presented in the court below bear out
January-December P1,920.00 January-December P5,150.00
the following facts:
1949
(a) The estate owns a 6-door building, Nos. 1541, 1543, 1545, 1547, 1549 and 1551 in January-November 15 P1,680.00 January-December P4,315.00
Azcarraga Street, Manila, situated in front of the Arranque market. Of this property, the
administrator reported to have received for the estate the following rentals: From the testimony of said witness, it appears that from 1945 to November 15,1949, he
paid a total of P28,200 for the lease of Door No. 1543 and the basement of Door No. 1541.
Annual These figures were not controverted or disputed by the administrator but claim that said
Period of time Total rentals monthly tenant subleased the apartments occupied by Pedro Enriquez and Soledad Sodora and
rental paid the said rentals, not to the administrator, but to said Enriquez. The transcript of the
testimony of this witness really bolster this contention — that Lauro Aguila talked with said
March to December, 1945 P3,085.00 P51.42 Pedro Enriquez when he leased the aforementioned apartments and admitted paying the
January to December, 1946 4,980.00 69.17 rentals to the latter and not to the administrator. It is interesting to note that Pedro Enriquez
January to December, 1947 8,330.00 115.70 is the same person who appeared to be the administrator's collector, duly authorized to
receive the rentals from this Azcarraga property and for which services, said Enriquez
January to December, 1948 9,000.00 125.00 received 5 per cent of the amount he might be able to collect as commission. If we are to
January to December, 1949 8,840.00 122.77 believe appellant's contention, aside from the commission that Pedro Enriquez received he
January to December, 1950 6,060.00 184.16 also sublet the apartments he was occupying at a very much higher rate than that he
actually paid the estate without the knowledge of the administrator or with his approval. As
Total P40,295.00 the administrator also seemed to possess that peculiar habit of giving little importance to
bookkeeping methods, for he never kept a ledger or book of entry for amounts received for
The oppositors, in disputing this record income, presented at the witness stand Lauro the estate, We find no record of the rentals the lessees of the other doors were paying. It
Aguila, a lawyer who occupied the basement of Door No. 1541 and the whole of Door No. was, however, brought about at the hearing that the 6 doors of this building are of the same
1543 from 1945 to November 15, 1949, and who testified that he paid rentals on said sizes and construction and the lower Court based its computation of the amount this
apartments as follows: property should have earned for the estate on the rental paid by Atty. Aguila for the 1 1/2
doors that he occupied. We see no excuse why the administrator could not have taken
cognizance of these rates and received the same for the benefit of the estate he was
administering, considering the fact that he used to make trips to Manila usually once a
1945 month and for which he charged to the estate P8 as transportation expenses for every trip.

Door No. 1541 (basement)


Basing on the rentals paid by Atty. Aguila for 1 1/2 doors, the estate received P112,800
February P20.00 Door No. 1543 from February 1, 1945, to November 15, 1949, for the 6 doors, but the lower Court held him
accountable not only for the sum of P34,235 reported for the period ranging from March 1,
March 20.00 For 7 months at P300 1945, to December 31, 1949, but also for a deficit of P90,525 or a total of P124,760. The
April 60.00 a month P2,100.00 record shows, however that the upper floor of Door No. 1549 was vacant in September,
May-December 800.00 1949, and as Atty. Aguila used to pay P390 a month for the use of an entire apartment from
September to November, 1949, and he also paid P160 for the use of the basement of an
Total P900.00 apartment (Door No. 1541), the use, therefore, of said upper floor would cost P230 which
1946 should be deducted, even if the computation of the lower Court would have to be followed.
January-December P1,200.00 January-December P4,080.00
1947 There being no proper evidence to show that the administrator collected more rentals than
those reported by him, except in the instance already mentioned, We are reluctant to bold
January P100.00 January P380.00
him accountable in the amount for which he was held liable by the lower Court, and We
February 100.00 February 380.00 think that under the circumstances it would be more just to add to the sum reported by the

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administrator as received by him as rents for 1945-1949 only, the difference between the Other witnesses, i.e., Isidro Benuya, Federico Cojo, Emilio de la Cruz and Ernesto
sum reported as paid by Atty. Aguila and the sum actually paid by the latter as rents of 1 Mangulabnan, testified that they were some of the tenants of the Mayapyap property; that
1/2 of the apartments during the said period, or P25,457.09 1/4 of which is P6,364.27 which they were paying their shares to the overseers of Francisco de Borja and sometimes to his
shall be paid to the oppositors. wife, which the administrator was not able to contradict, and the lower Court found no
reason why the administrator would fail to take possession of this property considering that
this was even the subject of the agreement of February 16, 1940, executed by the heirs of
The record also shows that in July, 1950, the administrator delivered to the other heirs
the Intestate.
Doors Nos. 1545, 1547, 1549 and 1551 although Doors Nos. 1541 and 1543 adjudicated to
the oppositors remained under his administration. For the period from January to June,
1950, that the entire property was still administered by him, the administrator reported to The lower Court, giving due credence to the testimonies of the witnesses for the oppositors,
have received for the 2 oppositors' apartments for said period of six months at P168.33 a computed the loss the estate suffered in the form of unreported income from the rice lands
month, the sum of P1,010 which belongs to the oppositors and should be taken from the for 10 years at P67,000 (6,700 a year)and the amount of P4,000 from the remaining portion
amount reported by the administrator. of the land not devoted to rice cultivation which was being leased at P20 per hectare.
Consequently, the Court held the administrator liable to appellees in the sum of P17,750
which is 1/4 of the total amount which should have accrued to the estate for this item.
The lower Court computed at P40 a month the pre-war rental admittedly received for every
apartment, the income that said property would have earned from 1941 to 1944, or a total
of P11,520, but as We have to exclude the period covered by the Japanese occupation, the But if We exclude the 3 years of occupation, the income for 7 years would be P46,900 for
estate should receive only P2,880 1/4 of which P720 the administrator should pay to the the ricelands and P2,800 (at P400 a year) for the remaining portion not developed to rice
oppositors for the year 1941. cultivation or a total of P48,700, 1/4 of which isP12,175 which We hold the administrator
liable to the oppositors.
(b) The Intestate estate also owned a parcel of land in Mayapyap, Nueva Ecija, with an
area of 71 hectares, 95 ares and 4 centares, acquired by Quintin de Borja the spouses (c) The Hacienda Jalajala located in said town of Rizal, was divided into 3 parts: the Punta
Cornelio Sarangaya and Feliciana Mariano in Civil Case NO. 6190 of the Court of First section belonged to Marcelo de Borja, the Bagombong pertained to Bernardo de Borja and
Instance of said province, In virtue of the agreement entered into by the heirs, this property Francisco de Borja got the Jalajala proper. For the purpose of this case, we will just deal
was turned over by the estate of Quintin de Borja to the intestate and formed part of the with that part called Junta. This property has an area of 1,345, hectares, 29 ares and 2
general mass of said estate. The report of the administrator failed to disclose any return centares (Exh. 36) of which, according to the surveyor who measured the same, 200
from this property alleging that he had not taken possession of the same. He does not deny hectares were of cultivated rice fields and 100 hectares dedicated to the planting of upland
however that he knew of the existence of this land but claimed that when he demanded the rice. It has also timberland and forest which produce considerable amount of trees and
delivery of the Certificate of Title covering this property, Rogelio Limaco, then administrator firewoods. From the said property which has an assessed value of P115,000 and for which
of the estate of Quintin de Borja, refused to surrender the same and he did not take any the estates pay real estate tax of P1,500 annually, the administrator reported the following:
further action to recover the same.
Expenditure
To counteract the insinuation that the Estate of Quintin de Borja was in possession of this (not including
property from 1940 to 1950, the oppositors presented several witnesses, among them was administration's
an old man, Narciso Punzal, who testified that he knew both Quintin and Francisco de Year Income fees
Borja; that before the war or sometime in 1937, the former administrator of the Intestate,
1945........... P625.00 P1,310.42
Quintin de Borja, offered him the position of overseer (encargado) of this land but he was
notable to assume the same due to the death of said administrator; that on July 7, 1951, 1946............. 1,800.00 3,471.00
herein appellant invited him to go to his house in Pateros, Rizal, and while in said house, 1947............. 2,550.00 2,912.91
he was instructed by appellant to testify in court next day that he was the overseer of the
1948............. 1,828.00 3,311.88
Mayapyap property for Quintin de Borja from 1937-1944, delivering the yearly proceeds of
1,000 cavanes of Palay to Rogelio Limaco; that he did not need to be afraid because both 1949............. 3,204.50 4,792.09
Quintin de Borja and Rogelio Limaco were already dead. But as he knew that the facts on 1950............. 2,082.00 2,940.91
which he was to testify were false, he went instead to the house of one of the daughters of
P12,089.50 P18,739.21
Quintin de Borja, who, together with her brother, Atty. Juan de Borja, accompanied him to
the house of the counsel for said oppositors before whom his sworn declaration was taken
(Exh. 3). This statement was assailed by the oppositors and to substantiate their charge that the
administrator did not file the true income of the property, they presented several witnesses
who testified that there were about 200 tenants working therein; that these tenants paid to

17
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

Crisanto de Borja rentals at the rate of 6 cavanes of palay per hectare; that in the years of obligations because of lack of cash balance for the estate. The oppositors, however,
1943 and 1944, the Japanese were the ones who collected their rentals, and that the estate presented evidence that on October 29, 1939, the administrator received from Juliana de
could have received no less than 1,000 cavanes of palay yearly. After the administrator had Borja the sum of P20,475.17 together with certain papers pertaining to the intestate (Exh.
presented witnesses to refute the facts previously testified to by the witnesses for the 4),aside from the checks in the name of Quintin de Borja. Likewise, for his failure to pay the
oppositors, the Court held that the report of the administrator did not contain the real taxes on the building at Azcarraga for 1947, 1948 and 1949, said property was sold at
income of the property devoted to rice cultivation, which was fixed at 1,000 cavanes every public auction and the administrator had to redeem the same at P3,295.48, although the
year — for 1941, 1942, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950, or a total of 8,000 amount that should have been paid was only P2,917.26. The estate therefore suffered a
cavanes valued at P73,000. But as the administrator accounted for the sum of P11,155 loss of P378.22. Attributing these surcharges and penalties to the negligence of the
collected from rice harvests and if to this amount we add the sum of P8,739.20 for administrator, the lower Court adjudged him liable to pay the oppositors ¼ of P1,366.97,
expenses, this will make a total of P19,894.20, thus leaving a deficit of P53,105.80, ¼ of the total loss suffered by the Intestate, or P341.74.
which will be P13,276.45 which the administrator is held liable to pay the heirs of Quintin de
Borja.
(f) Sometime in 1942, a big fire razed numerous houses in Pateros, Rizal, including that of
Dr. Crisanto de Borja. Thereafter, he claimed that among the properties burned therein was
It was also proved during the hearing that the forest land of this property yields his safe containing P15,000 belonging to the estate under his administration. The
considerable amount of marketable firewoods. Taking into consideration the testimonies of administrator contended that this loss was already proved to the satisfaction of the Court
witnesses for both parties, the Court arrived at the conclusion that the administrator sold to who, approved the same by order of January 8, 1943, purportedly issued by Judge
Gregorio Santos firewoods worth P600 in 1941, P3,500 in 1945 and P4,200 in 1946 or a Servillano Platon(Exh. B). The oppositors contested the genuineness of this order and
total of P8,300. As the report included only the amount of P625, there was a balance of presented on April 21, 1950, an expert witness who conducted several tests to determine
P7,675 in favor of the estate. The oppositors were not able to present any proof of sales the probable age of the questioned document, and arrived at the conclusion that the
made after these years, if there were any and the administrator was held accountable to questioned ink writing "(Fdo)" appearing at the bottom of Exhibit B cannot be more than 4
the oppositors for only P1,918.75. years old (Exh. 39). However, another expert witness presented by the administrator
contradicted this finding and testified that this conclusion arrived at by expert witness Mr.
Pedro Manzañares was not supported by authorities and was merely the result of his own
(d) The estate also, owned ricefields in Cainta, Rizal, with a total area of 22 hectares, 76
theory, as there was no method yet discovered that would determine the age of a
ares and 66 centares. Of this particular item, the administrator reported an income of
document, for every document has its own reaction to different chemicals used in the tests.
P12,104 from 1945 to 1951. The oppositors protested against this report and presented
There is, however, another fact that called the attention of the lower Court: the
witnesses to disprove the same.
administrator testified that the money and other papers delivered by Juliana de Borja to him
on October 29, 1939, were saved from said fire. The administrator justified the existence of
Basilio Javier worked as a tenant in the land of Juliana de Borja which is near the land these valuables by asserting that these properties were locked by Juliana de Borja in her
belonging to the Intestate, the 2 properties being separated only by a river. As tenant of drawer in the "casa solariega" in Pateros and hence was not in his safe when his house,
Juliana de Borja, he knew the tenants working on the property and also knows that both together with the safe, was burned. This line of reasoning is really subject to doubt and the
lands are of the same class, and that an area accommodating one cavan of seedlings lower Court opined, that it runs counter to the ordinary course of human behaviour for an
yields at most 100 cavanes and 60 cavanes at the least. The administrator failed to administrator to leave in the drawer of the "aparador" of Juliana de Borja the money and
overcome this testimony. The lower Court considering the facts testified to by this witness other documents belonging to the estate under his administration, which delivery has
made a finding that the property belonging to this Intestate was actually occupied by receipted for, rather than to keep it in his safe together with the alleged P15,000 also
several persons accommodating 13 ½ cavanes of seedlings; that as for every cavan of belonging to the Intestate. The subsequent orders of Judge Platon also put the defense of
seedlings, the land produces 60 cavanes of palay, the whole area under cultivation would appellant to bad light, for on February 6, 1943, the Court required Crisanto de Borja to
have yielded 810 cavanes a year and under the 50-50 sharing system (which was testified appear before the Court of examination of the other heirs in connection with the reported
by witness Javier), the estate would have received no less than 405 cavanes every year. loss, and on March 1, 1943, authorized the lawyers for the other parties to inspect the safe
Now, for the period of 7 years — from 1941 to 1950, excluding the 3 years of war — the allegedly burned (Exh. 35). It is inconceivable that Judge Platon would still order the
corresponding earning of the estate should be 2,835 cavanes, out of which the 405 inspection of the safe if there was really an order approving the loss of those P15,000. We
cavanes from the harvest of 1941 is valued at P1,215 and the rest 2,430 cavanes at P10 is must not forget, in this connection, that the records of this case were burned and that at the
valued at P24,300, or all in all P25,515. If from this amount the reported income of P12,104 time of the hearing of this incident in 1951, Judge Platon was already dead. The lower
is deducted, there will be a balance of P13,411.10 1/4 of which or P3,352.75 the Court also found no reason why the administrator should keep in his such amount of
administrator is held liable to pay to the oppositors. money, for ordinary prudence would dictate that as an administration funds that come into
his possession in a fiduciary capacity should not be mingled with his personal funds and
should have been deposited in the Bank in the name of the intestate. The administrator
(e) The records show that the administrator paid surcharges and penalties with a total of was held responsible for this loss and ordered to pay ¼ thereof, or the sum of P3,750.
P988.75 for his failure to pay on time the taxes imposed on the properties under his
administration. He advanced the reason that he lagged in the payment of those tax

18
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

(g) Unauthorized expenditures — yet considering that during his occupancy of the said "casa solariega" he was not paying
any rental at all, it is but reasonable that he should take care of the expenses for the
ordinary repair of said house. Appellant asserted that had he and his family not occupied
1. The report of the administrator contained certain sums amounting to P2,130 paid to and
the same, they would have to pay someone to watch and take care of said house. But this
receipted by Juanita V. Jarencio the administrator's wife, as his private secretary. In
will not excuse him from this responsibility for the disbursements he made in connection
explaining this item, the administrator alleged that he needed her services to keep receipts
with the aforementioned repairs because even if he stayed in another house, he would
and records for him, and that he did not secure first the authorization from the court before
have had to pay rentals or else take charge also of expenses for the repairs of his
making these disbursements because it was merely a pure administrative function.
residence. The administrator should be held liable to the oppositors in the amount
ofP366.28.
The keeping of receipts and retaining in his custody records connected with the
management of the properties under administration is a duty that properly belongs to the
5. Appellant reported to have incurred expenses amounting to P6,304.75 for alleged repairs
administrator, necessary to support the statement of accounts that he is obliged to submit
on the rice mill in Pateros, also belonging to the Intestate. Of the disbursements made
to the court for approval. If ever his wife took charge of the safekeeping of these receipts
therein, the items corresponding, to Exhibits I, I-1, I-21, L-26, L-15, L-64 and L-65, in the
and for which she should be compensated, the same should be taken from his fee. This
total sum of P570.70 were rejected by the lower court on the ground that they were all
disbursement was disallowed by the Court for being unauthorized and the administrator
unsigned although some were dated. The lower Court, however, made an oversight in
required to pay the oppositors ¼, thereof or P532.50.
including the sum of P150 covered by Exhibit L-26 which was duly signed by Claudio
Reyes because this does not refer to the repair of the rice-mill but for the roofing of the
2. The salaries of Pedro Enriquez, as collector of the Azcarraga property; of Briccio house and another building and shall be allowed. Consequently, the sum of P570.70 shall
Matienzo and Leoncio Perez, as encargados, and of Vicente Panganiban and Herminigildo be reduced to P420.70 which added to the sum of P3,059 representing expenditures
Macetas as forest-guards were found justified, although un authorized, as they appear to rejected as unauthorized to wit:
be reasonable and necessary for the care and preservation of the Intestate.
Exhibit L-59 ............. P500.00 Yek Wing
3. The lower Court disallowed as unjustified and unnecessary the expenses for salaries
Exhibit L-60 ............. 616.00 Yek Wing
paid to special policemen amounting to P1,509. Appellant contended that he sought for the
services of Macario Kamungol and others to act as special policemen during harvest time Exhibit L-61 ............. 600.00 Yek Wing
because most of the workers tilting the Punta property were not natives of Jalajala but of Exhibit L-62 ............. 840.00 Yek Wing
the neighboring towns and they were likely to run away with the harvest without giving the Exhibit L-63 ............. 180.00 Yek Wing
share of the estate if they were not policed. This kind of reasoning did not appear to be
convincing to the trial judge as the cause for such fear seemed to exist only in the Exhibit Q-2 ............. 323.00 scale "Howe"
imagination. Granting that such kind of situation existed, the proper thing for the P3,059.0
administrator to do would have been to secure the previous authorization from the Court if Total ...................... 0
he failed to secure the help of the local police. He should be held liable for this
unauthorized expenditure and pay the heirs of Quintin de Borja ¼ thereof or P377.25.
will give a total of P3,479 1/4 of which is P869.92 that belongs to the oppositors.

4. From the year 1942 when his house was burned, the administrator and his family took
shelter at the house belonging to the Intestate known as "casa solariega" which, in the 6. On the expenses for planting in the Cainta ricefields: — In his statement of accounts,
Project of Partition was adjudicated to his father, Francisco de Borja. This property, appellant reported to have incurred a total expense of P5,977 for the planting of the
however, remained under his administration and for its repairs he spent from 1945-1950, ricefields in Cainta, Rizal, from the agricultural year 1945-46 to 1950-51. It was proved that
P1465,14, duly receipted. the prevailing sharing system in this part of the country was on 50-50 basis. Appellant
admitted that expenses for planting were advanced by the estate and liquidated after each
harvest. But the report, except for the agricultural year 1950 contained nothing of the
None of these repairs appear to be extraordinary for the receipts were for nipa, for payments that the tenants should have made. If the total expenses for said planting
carpenters and thatchers. Although it is true that Rule 85, section 2 provides that: amounted to P5,977, ½ thereof or P2,988.50 should have been paid by the tenants as their
share of such expenditures, and as P965 was reported by the administrator as paid back in
SEC. 2. EXECUTOR OR ADMINISTRATOR TO KEEP BUILDINGS IN REPAIR. 1950, there still remains a balance of P2,023.50 unaccounted for. For this shortage, the
— An executor or administrator shall maintain in tenant able repair the houses administrator is responsible and should pay the oppositors ¼ thereof or P505.87.
and other structures and fences belonging to the estate, and deliver the same in
such repair to the heirs or devisees when directed so to do by the court.

19
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

7. On the transportation expenses of the administrator: — It appears that from the year printed contracts were used by another and that they are still in the possession of the
1945 to 1951, the administrator charged the estate with a total of P5,170 for transportation administrator which could be utilized anytime, this disbursement may be allowed.
expenses. The un receipted disbursements were correspondingly itemized, a typical
example of which is as follows:
The report also contains a receipt of payment made to Mr. Severo Abellera in the sum of
P375 for his transportation expenses as one of the two commissioners who prepared the
1950 Project of Partition. The oppositors were able to prove that on May 24, 1941, the Court
authorized the administrator to withdraw from the funds of the intestate the sum of P300 to
Gastos de viaje del administrador From Pateros
defray the transportation expenses of the commissioners. The administrator, however,
To Pasig ................ 50 x P4.00 = P200.00 alleged that he used this amount for the payment of certain fees necessary in connection
To Manila ............... 50 x P10.00 = P500.00 with the approval of the proposed plan of the Azcarraga property which was then being
processed in the City Engineer's Office. From that testimony, it would seem that appellant
To Cainta ................ 8 x P8.00 = P64.00
could even go to the extent of disobeying the order of the Court specifying for what purpose
To Jalajala ............... 5 x P35.00 = P175.00 that amount should be appropriated and took upon himself the task of judging for what it
= P399.00 will serve best. Since he was not able to show or prove that the money intended and
ordered by the Court to be paid for the transportation expenses of the commissioners was
spent for the benefit of the estate as claimed, the administrator should be held responsible
(Exhibit W-54). therefor and pay to the oppositors ¼ of P375 or the sum of P93.75.

From the report of the administrator, We are being made to believe that the Intestate estate The records reveal that for the service of summons to the defendants in Civil Case No. 84
is a losing proposition and assuming arguendo that this is true, that precarious financial of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, P104 was paid to the Provincial Sheriff of the same
condition which he, as administrator, should know, did not deter Crisanto de Borja from province (Exhibit H-7). However, an item for P40 appeared to have been paid to the Chief
charging to the depleted funds of the estate comparatively big amounts for his of Police on Jalajala allegedly for the service of the same summons. Appellant claimed that
transportation expenses. Appellant tried to justify these charges by contending that he used as the defendants in said civil case lived in remote barrios, the services of the Chief of
his own car in making those trips to Manila, Pasig and Cainta and a launch in visiting the Police as delegate or agent of the Provincial Sheriff were necessary. He forgot probably the
properties in Jalajala, and they were for the gasoline consumed. This rather unreasonable fact that the local chiefs of police are deputy sheriffs ex-officio. The administrator was
spending of the estate's fund prompted the Court to observe that one will have to spend therefore ordered by the lower Court to pay ¼ of said amount or P10 to the oppositors.
only P0.40 for transportation in making a trip from Pateros to Manila and practically the
same amount in going to Pasig. From his report for 1949 alone, appellant made a total of
97 trips to these places or an average of one trip for every 3 1/2 days. Yet We must not The administrator included in his Report the sum of P550 paid to Atty. Filamor for his
forget that it was during this period that the administrator failed or refused to take professional services rendered for the defense of the administrator in G.R. No. L-4179,
cognizance of the prevailing rentals of commercial places in Manila that caused certain loss which was decided against him, with costs. The lower Court disallowed this disbursement
to the estate and for which he was accordingly held responsible. For the reason that the on the ground that this Court provided that the costs of that litigation should not be borne by
alleged disbursements made for transportation expenses cannot be said to be economical, the estate but by the administrator himself, personally.
the lower Court held that the administrator should be held liable to the oppositors for ¼
thereof or the sum of P1,292.50, though We think that this sum should still be reduced Costs of a litigation in the Supreme Court taxed by the Clerk of Court, after a verified
to P500. petition has been filed by the prevailing party, shall be awarded to said party and will only
include his fee and that of his attorney for their appearance which shall not be more than
8. Other expenses: P40; expenses for the printing and the copies of the record on appeal; all lawful charges
imposed by the Clerk of Court; fees for the taking of depositions and other expenses
connected with the appearance of witnesses or for lawful fees of a commissioner (De la
The administrator also ordered 40 booklets of printed contracts of lease in the name of the Cruz, Philippine Supreme Court Practice, p. 70-71). If the costs provided for in that case,
Hacienda Jalajala which cost P150. As the said hacienda was divided into 3 parts one which this Court ordered to be chargeable personally against the administrator are not
belonging to this Intestate and the other two parts to Francisco de Boria and Bernardo de recoverable by the latter, with more reason this item could not be charged against the
Borja, ordinarily the Intestate should only shoulder ¹/3 of the said expense, but as the Intestate. Consequently, the administrator should pay the oppositors ¼ of the sum of P550
tenants who testified during the hearing of the matter testified that those printed forms were or P137.50.
not being used, the Court adjudged the administrator personally responsible for this
amount. The records reveal, that this printed form was not utilized because the tenants
refused to sign any, and We can presume that when the administrator ordered for the (e) The lower Court in its decision required appellant to pay the oppositors the sum of
printing of the same, he did not foresee this situation. As there is no showing that said P1,395 out of the funds still in the possession of the administrator.

20
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

In the statement of accounts submitted by the administrator, there appeared a cash with a balance of P36,750.35 in Japanese military notes and admittedly belonging to the
balance of P5,851.17 as of August 31, 1961. From this amount, the sum of P1,002.96 Intestate and We do not believe that the oppositors or any of the heirs would be interested
representing the Certificate of Deposit No. 21619 and Check No. 57338, both of the in an accounting for the purpose of dividing or distributing this deposit.
Philippine National Bank and in the name of Quintin de Borja, was deducted leaving a
balance of P4,848. As Judge Zulueta ordered the delivery to the oppositors of the amount
(g) On the sum of P13,294 for administrator's fees:
of P1,890 in his order of October 8, 1951; the delivery of the amount of P810 to the estate
of Juliana de Borja in his order of October 23, 1951, and the sum of P932.32 to the same
estate of Juliana de Borja by order of the Court of February 29, 1952, or a total of It is not disputed that the administrator set aside for himself and collected from the estate
P3,632.32 after deducting the same from the cash in the possession of the administrator, the sum of P13,294 as his fees from 1945 to 1951 at the rate of P2,400 a year. There is no
there will only be a remainder of P134.98. controversy as to the fact that this appropriated amount was taken without the order or
previous approval by the probate Court. Neither is there any doubt that the administration
of the Intestate estate by Crisanto de Borja is far from satisfactory.
The Intestate is also the creditor of Miguel B. Dayco, heir and administrator of the estate of
Crisanta de Borja, in the sum of P900 (Exhibits S and S-1). Adding this credit to the actual
cash on hand, there will be a total of P1,034.98, ¼, of which or P258.74 properly belongs to Yet it is a fact that Crisanto de Borja exercised the functions of an administrator and is
the oppositors. However, as there is only a residue of P134.98 in the hands of the entitled also to a certain amount as compensation for the work and services he has
administrator and dividing it among the 3 groups of heirs who are not indebted to the rendered as such. Now, considering the extent and size of the estate, the amount involved
Intestate, each group will receive P44.99, and Miguel B. Dayco is under obligation to and the nature of the properties under administration, the amount collected by the
reimburse P213.76 to each of them. administrator for his compensation at P200 a month is not unreasonable and should
therefore be allowed.
The lower Court ordered the administrator to deliver to the oppositors the amount of
P1,395.90 and P314.99 each to Francisco de Borja and the estate of Juliana de Borja, but It might be argued against this disbursement that the records are replete with instances of
as We have arrived at the computation that the three heirs not idebted to the Intestate highly irregular practices of the administrator, such as the pretended ignorance of the
ought to receive P44.99 each out of the amount of P134.98, the oppositors are entitled to necessity of a book or ledger or at least a list of chronological and dated entries of money
the sum of P1,080.91 — the amount deducted from them as taxes but which the Court or produce the Intestate acquired and the amount of disbursements made for the same
ordered to be returned to them — plus P44.99 or a total of P1,125.90. It appearing properties; that admittedly he did not have even a list of the names of the lessees to the
however, that ina Joint Motion dated November 27, 1952, duly approved by the Court, the properties under his administration, nor even a list of those who owed back rentals, and
parties agreed to fix the amount at P1,125.58, as the amount due and said heirs have although We certainly agree with the probate Court in finding appellant guilty of acts of
already received this amount in satisfaction of this item, no other sum can be chargeable maladministration, specifically in mixing the funds of the estate under his administration
against the administrator. with his personal funds instead of keeping a current account for the Intestate in his capacity
as administrator, We are of the opinion that despite these irregular practices for which he
was held already liable and made in some instances to reimburse the Intestate for amounts
(f) The probate Court also ordered the administrator to render an accounting of his
that were not properly accounted for, his claim for compensation as administrator's fees
administration during the Japanese occupation on the ground that although appellant
shall be as they are hereby allowed.
maintained that whatever money he received during that period is worthless, same having
been declared without any value, yet during the early years of the war, or during 1942-43,
the Philippine peso was still in circulation, and articles of prime necessity as rice and Recapitulation. — Taking all the matters threshed herein together, the administrator is held
firewood commanded high prices and were paid with jewels or other valuables. liable to pay to the heirs of Quintin de Borja the following:

But We must not forget that in his order of December 11, 1945, Judge Peña required the Under Paragraphs III and IV:
administrator to render an accounting of his administration only from March 1, 1945, to
December of the same year without ordering said administrator to include therein the
occupation period. Although the Court below mentioned the condition then prevailing during (a) .......................................................................... P7,084.27
the war-years, We cannot simply presume, in the absence of proof to that effect, that the .....
administrator received such valuables or properties for the use or in exchange of any asset (b) .......................................................................... 12,175.00
or produce of the Intestate, and in view of the aforementioned order of Judge Peña, which .....
We find no reason to disturb, We see no practical reason for requiring appellant to account (c) .......................................................................... 16,113.95
for those occupation years when everything was affected by the abnormal conditions .....
created by the war. The records of the Philippine National Bank show that there was a
current account jointly in the names of Crisanto de Borja and Juanita V. Jarencio, his wife, (d) .......................................................................... 3,352.75

21
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

.....
(e) .......................................................................... 341.74
.....
(f) ........................................................................... 3,750.00
.....
(g) 1 ..................................................................... 532.50
2 ..................................................................... 377.25
3 ..................................................................... 366.28
4 ..................................................................... 869.92
5 ..................................................................... 505.87
6 ..................................................................... 500.00
7-a
b .................................................................. 93.75
c .................................................................. 10.00
137.50
d ...................................................................
P46,210.00

In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is modified by reducing the amount
that the administrator was sentenced to pay the oppositors to the sum of P46,210.78
(instead of P83,337.31), plus legal interests on this amount from the date of the decision
appealed from, which is hereby affirmed in all other respects. Without pronouncement as to
costs. It is so ordered.

22
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

administration and praying in the alternative, that if an estate does exist, the letters of
administration relating to the said estate be issued in her favor as the surviving spouse.

In its resolution dated March 28, 1985, the Regional Trial Court, appointed private
respondent Rita Pereira Nagac administratrix of the intestate estate of Andres de Guzman
Pereira upon a bond posted by her in the amount of Pl,000.00. The trial court ordered her
to take custody of all the real and personal properties of the deceased and to file an
G.R. No. L-81147 June 20, 1989 inventory thereof within three months after receipt of the order. 3

VICTORIA BRINGAS PEREIRA, petitioner, Not satisfied with the resolution of the lower court, petitioner brought the case to the Court
vs. of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the appointment of private respondent as
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and RITA PEREIRA NAGAC, respondents. administratrix in its decision dated December 15, 1987. 4

Benjamin J. Quitoriano for petitioner. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari where petitioner raises the following issues: (1)
Whether or not there exists an estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira for
purposes of administration; (2) Whether or not a judicial administration proceeding is
Linzag-Arcilla & Associates Law Offices for private respondent. necessary where there are no debts left by the decedent; and, (3) Who has the better right
to be appointed as administratrix of the estate of the deceased, the surviving spouse
GANCAYCO, J.: Victoria Bringas Pereira or the surviving sister Rita Pereira Nagac?

Is a judicial administration proceeding necessary when the decedent dies intestate without Anent the first issue, petitioner contends that there exists no estate of the deceased for
leaving any debts? May the probate court appoint the surviving sister of the deceased as purposes of administration for the following reasons: firstly, the death benefits from PAL,
the administratrix of the estate of the deceased instead of the surviving spouse? These are PALEA, PESALA and the SSS belong exclusively to her, being the sole beneficiary and in
the main questions which need to be resolved in this case. support of this claim she submitted letter-replies from these institutions showing that she is
the exclusive beneficiary of said death benefits; secondly, the savings deposits in the name
of her deceased husband with the PNB and the PCIB had been used to defray the funeral
Andres de Guzman Pereira, an employee of the Philippine Air Lines, passed away on expenses as supported by several receipts; and, finally, the only real property of the
January 3, 1983 at Bacoor, Cavite without a will. He was survived by his legitimate spouse deceased has been extrajudicially settled between the petitioner and the private
of ten months, the herein petitioner Victoria Bringas Pereira, and his sister Rita Pereira respondent as the only surviving heirs of the deceased.
Nagac, the herein private respondent.

Private respondent, on the other hand, argues that it is not for petitioner to decide what
On March 1, 1983, private respondent instituted before Branch 19 of the Regional Trial properties form part of the estate of the deceased and to appropriate them for herself. She
Court of Bacoor, Cavite, Special Proceeding No. RTC-BSP-83-4 for the issuance of letters points out that this function is vested in the court in charge of the intestate proceedings.
of administration in her favor pertaining to the estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman
Pereira. 1 In her verified petition, private respondent alleged the following: that she and
Victoria Bringas Pereira are the only surviving heirs of the deceased; that the deceased left Petitioner asks this Court to declare that the properties specified do not belong to the estate
no will; that there are no creditors of the deceased; that the deceased left several of the deceased on the basis of her bare allegations as aforestated and a handful of
properties, namely: death benefits from the Philippine Air Lines (PAL), the PAL Employees documents. Inasmuch as this Court is not a trier of facts, We cannot order an unqualified
Association (PALEA), the PAL Employees Savings and Loan Association, Inc. (PESALA) and final exclusion or non-exclusion of the property involved from the estate of the
and the Social Security System (SSS), as well as savings deposits with the Philippine deceased. 5
National Bank (PNB) and the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank (PCIB), and a 300
square meter lot located at Barangay Pamplona, Las Pinas, Rizal and finally, that the The resolution of this issue is better left to the probate court before which the administration
spouse of the deceased (herein petitioner) had been working in London as an auxiliary proceedings are pending. The trial court is in the best position to receive evidence on the
nurse and as such one-half of her salary forms part of the estate of the deceased. discordant contentions of the parties as to the assets of the decedent's estate, the
valuations thereof and the rights of the transferees of some of the assets, if any. 6 The
On March 23,1983, petitioner filed her opposition and motion to dismiss the petition of function of resolving whether or not a certain property should be included in the inventory or
private respondent 2 alleging that there exists no estate of the deceased for purposes of list of properties to be administered by the administrator is one clearly within the
competence of the probate court. However, the court's determination is only provisional in

23
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

character, not conclusive, and is subject to the final decision in a separate action which belonged to the deceased (and therefore to the heirs) may properly be
may be instituted by the parties. 7 ventilated in the partition proceedings, especially where such property
is in the hands of one heir.
Assuming, however, that there exist assets of the deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira for
purposes of administration, We nonetheless find the administration proceedings instituted In another case, We held that if the reason for seeking an appointment as administrator is
by private respondent to be unnecessary as contended by petitioner for the reasons herein merely to avoid a multiplicity of suits since the heir seeking such appointment wants to ask
below discussed. for the annulment of certain transfers of property, that same objective could be achieved in
an action for partition and the trial court is not justified in issuing letters of
administration. 14 In still another case, We did not find so powerful a reason the argument
The general rule is that when a person dies leaving property, the same should be judicially
that the appointment of the husband, a usufructuary forced heir of his deceased wife, as
administered and the competent court should appoint a qualified administrator, in the order
judicial administrator is necessary in order for him to have legal capacity to appear in the
established in Section 6, Rule 78, in case the deceased left no will, or in case he had left
intestate proceedings of his wife's deceased mother, since he may just adduce proof of his
one, should he fail to name an executor therein. 8 An exception to this rule is established in
being a forced heir in the intestate proceedings of the latter. 15
Section 1 of Rule 74. 9 Under this exception, when all the heirs are of lawful age and there
are no debts due from the estate, they may agree in writing to partition the property without
instituting the judicial administration or applying for the appointment of an administrator. We see no reason not to apply this doctrine to the case at bar. There are only two surviving
heirs, a wife of ten months and a sister, both of age. The parties admit that there are no
debts of the deceased to be paid. What is at once apparent is that these two heirs are not
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Revised Rules of Court, however, does not preclude the heirs
in good terms. The only conceivable reason why private respondent seeks appointment as
from instituting administration proceedings, even if the estate has no debts or obligations, if
administratrix is for her to obtain possession of the alleged properties of the deceased for
they do not desire to resort for good reasons to an ordinary action for partition. While
her own purposes, since these properties are presently in the hands of petitioner who
Section 1 allows the heirs to divide the estate among themselves as they may see fit, or to
supposedly disposed of them fraudulently. We are of the opinion that this is not a
resort to an ordinary action for partition, the said provision does not compel them to do so if
compelling reason which will necessitate a judicial administration of the estate of the
they have good reasons to take a different course of action. 10 It should be noted that
deceased. To subject the estate of Andres de Guzman Pereira, which does not appear to
recourse to an administration proceeding even if the estate has no debts is sanctioned only
be substantial especially since the only real property left has been extrajudicially settled, to
if the heirs have good reasons for not resorting to an action for partition. Where partition is
an administration proceeding for no useful purpose would only unnecessarily expose it to
possible, either in or out of court, the estate should not be burdened with an administration
the risk of being wasted or squandered. In most instances of a similar nature, 16 the claims
proceeding without good and compelling reasons. 11
of both parties as to the properties left by the deceased may be properly ventilated in
simple partition proceedings where the creditors, should there be any, are protected in any
Thus, it has been repeatedly held that when a person dies without leaving pending event.
obligations to be paid, his heirs, whether of age or not, are not bound to submit the property
to a judicial administration, which is always long and costly, or to apply for the appointment
We, therefore, hold that the court below before which the administration proceedings are
of an administrator by the Court. It has been uniformly held that in such case the judicial
pending was not justified in issuing letters of administration, there being no good reason for
administration and the appointment of an administrator are superfluous and unnecessary
burdening the estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira with the costs and
proceedings . 12
expenses of an administration proceeding.

Now, what constitutes "good reason" to warrant a judicial administration of the estate of a
With the foregoing ruling, it is unnecessary for us to delve into the issue of who, as between
deceased when the heirs are all of legal age and there are no creditors will depend on the
the surviving spouse Victoria Bringas Pereira and the sister Rita Pereira Nagac, should be
circumstances of each case.
preferred to be appointed as administratrix.

In one case, 13 We said:


WHEREFORE, the letters of administration issued by the Regional Trial Court of Bacoor to
Rita Pereira Nagac are hereby revoked and the administration proceeding dismissed
Again the petitioner argues that only when the heirs do not have any without prejudice to the right of private respondent to commence a new action for partition
dispute as to the bulk of the hereditary estate but only in the manner of of the property left by Andres de Guzman Pereira. No costs.
partition does section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court apply and that in
this case the parties are at loggerheads as to the corpus of the
SO ORDERED.
hereditary estate because respondents succeeded in sequestering
some assets of the intestate. The argument is unconvincing, because,
as the respondent judge has indicated, questions as to what property

24
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

The movants contend that since the intestate proceedings in the Court of First
Instance of Rizal was filed at 8:00 A.M. on March 12, 1963 while the petition for
probate was filed in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan at 11:00 A.M. on the same
date, the latter Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition for probate, citing as
authority in support thereof the case of Ongsingco Vda. de Borja vs. Tan and De
Borja, G.R. No. 7792, July 27, 1955.

G.R. No. L-21993 June 21, 1966 The petitioners Pangilinan and Jacalan, on the other hand, take the stand that the
Court of First Instance of Bulacan acquired jurisdiction over the case upon delivery by
them of the will to the Clerk of Court on March 4, 1963, and that the case in this Court
ANGELA RODRIGUEZ, MARIA RODRIGUEZ, ET AL., petitioners, therefore has precedence over the case filed in Rizal on March 12, 1963.
vs.
HON. JUAN DE BORJA, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Branch
III, ANATOLIA PANGILINAN and ADELAIDA JACALAN, respondents. The Court of First Instance, as previously stated denied the motion to dismiss on the
ground that a difference of a few hours did not entitle one proceeding to preference over
the other; that, as early as March 7, movants were aware of the existence of the purported
Petitioners Angela, Maria, Abelardo and Antonio, surnamed Rodriguez, petition this Court will of Father Rodriguez, deposited in the Court of Bulacan, since they filed a petition to
for a writ of certiorari and prohibition to the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, for its refusal examine the same, and that movants clearly filed the intestate proceedings in Rizal "for no
to grant their motion to dismiss its Special Proceeding No. 1331, which said Court is other purpose than to prevent this Court (of Bulacan) from exercising jurisdiction over the
alleged to have taken cognizance of without jurisdiction. probate proceedings". Reconsideration having been denied, movants, now petitioners,
came to this Court, relying principally on Rule 73, section 1 of the Rules of Court, and
The facts and issues are succinctly narrated in the order of the respondent court, dated invoking our ruling in Ongsingco vs. Tan and De Borja, L-7792, July 27, 1955.
June 13, 1963 (Petition, Annex 0), in this wise:
SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. — If the decedent is an
It is alleged in the motion to dismiss filed by Angela, Maria, Abelardo and Antonio inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his
Rodriguez, through counsel, that this Court "has no jurisdiction to try the above- will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the
entitled case in view of the pendency of another action for the settlement of the estate Court of First Instance in the province in which he resides at the time of his death, and
of the deceased Rev. Fr. Celestino Rodriguez in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of any province
namely, Sp. Proceedings No. 3907 entitled 'In the matter of the Intestate Estate of the which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate
deceased Rev. Fr. Celestino Rodriguez which was filed ahead of the instant case". of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The
jurisdiction assumed by a court, as far as it depends on the place of residence of the
decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or
The records show that Fr. Celestino Rodriguez died on February 12, 1963 in the City proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want
of Manila; that on March 4, 1963, Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan delivered of jurisdiction appears on the record.
to the Clerk of Court of Bulacan a purported last will and testament of Fr. Rodriguez;
that on March 8, 1963, Maria Rodriguez and Angela Rodriguez, through counsel filed
a petition for leave of court to allow them to examine the alleged will; that on March We find this recourse to be untenable. The jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of
11, 1963 before the Court could act on the petition, the same was withdrawn; that on Bulacan became vested upon the delivery thereto of the will of the late Father Rodriguez on
March 12, 1963, aforementioned petitioners filed before the Court of First Instance of March 4, 1963, even if no petition for its allowance was filed until later, because upon the
Rizal a petition for the settlement of the intestate estate of Fr. Rodriguez alleging, will being deposited the court could, motu proprio, have taken steps to fix the time and
among other things, that Fr. Rodriguez was a resident of Parañaque, Rizal, and died place for proving the will, and issued the corresponding notices conformably to what is
without leaving a will and praying that Maria Rodriguez be appointed as Special prescribed by section 3, Rule 76, of the Revised Rules of Court (Section 3, Rule 77, of the
Administratrix of the estate; and that on March 12, 1963 Apolonia Pangilinan and old Rules):
Adelaida Jacalan filed a petition in this Court for the probation of the will delivered by
them on March 4, 1963. It was stipulated by the parties that Fr. Rodriguez was born in SEC. 3. Court to appoint time for proving will. Notice thereof to be published. — When
Parañaque, Rizal; that he was Parish priest of the Catholic Church of Hagonoy, a will is delivered to, or a petition for the allowance of a will is filed in, the Court having
Bulacan, from the year 1930 up to the time of his death in 1963; that he was buried in jurisdiction, such Court shall fix a time and place for proving the will when all
Parañaque, and that he left real properties in Rizal, Cavite, Quezon City and Bulacan. concerned may appear to contest the allowance thereof, and shall cause notice of
such time and place to be published three (3) weeks successively, previous to the
time appointed, in a newspaper of general circulation in the province.

25
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

But no newspaper publication shall be made where the petition for probate has been deceased person shall be settled is properly called "venue" (Rule 75, section 1.)
filed by the testator himself. Motion for reconsideration is denied.

The use of the disjunctive in the words "when a will is delivered to OR a petition for the The estate proceedings having been initiated in the Bulacan Court of First Instance ahead
allowance of a will is filed" plainly indicates that the court may act upon the mere deposit of any other, that court is entitled to assume jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts,
therein of a decedent's testament, even if no petition for its allowance is as yet filed. Where even if it were a case of wrong venue by express provisions of Rule 73 (old Rule 75) of the
the petition for probate is made after the deposit of the will, the petition is deemed to relate Rules of Court, since the same enjoins that:
back to the time when the will was delivered. Since the testament of Fr. Rodriguez was
submitted and delivered to the Court of Bulacan on March 4, while petitioners initiated
The Court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent shall
intestate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Rizal only on March 12, eight days
exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. (Sec. 1)
later, the precedence and exclusive jurisdiction of the Bulacan court is incontestable.

This disposition presupposes that two or more courts have been asked to take cognizance
But, petitioners object, section 3 of revised Rule 76 (old Rule 77) speaks of a will being
of the settlement of the estate. Of them only one could be of proper venue, yet the rule
delivered to "the Court having jurisdiction," and in the case at bar the Bulacan court did not
grants precedence to that Court whose jurisdiction is first invoked, without taking venue into
have it because the decedent was domiciled in Rizal province. We can not disregard Fr.
account.
Rodriguez's 33 years of residence as parish priest in Hagonoy, Bulacan (1930-1963); but
even if we do so, and consider that he retained throughout some animus revertendi to the
place of his birth in Parañaque, Rizal, that detail would not imply that the Bulacan court There are two other reasons that militate against the success of petitioners. One is that
lacked jurisdiction. As ruled in previous decisions, the power to settle decedents' estates is their commencing intestate proceedings in Rizal, after they learned of the delivery of the
conferred by law upon all courts of first instance, and the domicile of the testator only decedent's will to the Court of Bulacan, was in bad faith, patently done with a view to
affects the venue but not the jurisdiction of the Court (In re Kaw Singco, 74 Phil. 239; divesting the latter court of the precedence awarded it by the Rules. Certainly the order of
Reyes vs. Diaz, 73 Phil. 484; Bernabe vs. Vergara, 73 Phil. 676). Neither party denies that priority established in Rule 73 (old Rule 75) was not designed to convert the settlement of
the late Fr. Rodriguez is deceased, or that he left personal property in Hagonoy, province of decedent's estates into a race between applicants, with the administration of the properties
Bulacan (t.s.n. p. 46, hearing of June 11, 1963, Annex "H", Petition, Rec., p. 48). That is as the price for the fleetest.
sufficient in the case before us.
The other reason is that, in our system of civil law, intestate succession is only subsidiary
In the Kaw Singco case (ante) this Court ruled that: or subordinate to the testate, since intestacy only takes place in the absence of a valid
operative will. Says Article 960 of the Civil Code of the Philippines:
"... If we consider such question of residence as one affecting the jurisdiction of the
trial court over the subject-matter, the effect shall be that the whole proceedings ART. 960. Legal or intestate succession takes place:
including all decisions on the different incidents which have arisen in court will have to (1) If a person dies without a will, or with a void will, or one which has subsequently
be annulled and the same case will have to be commenced anew before another court lost its validity;
of the same rank in another province. That this is of mischievous effect in the prompt (2) When the will does not institute an heir to, or dispose of all the property belonging
administration of justice is too obvious to require comment. (Cf. Tanunchuan vs. Dy to the testator. In such case, legal succession shall take place only with respect to the
Buncio & Co., G.R. No. 48206, December 31, 1942). Furthermore, section 600 of Act property in which the testator has not disposed;
No. 190, providing that the estate of a deceased person shall be settled in the (3) If the suspensive condition attached to the institution of heir does not happen or is
province where he had last resided, could not have been intended as defining the not fulfilled, or if the heir dies before the testator, or repudiates the inheritance, there
jurisdiction of the probate court over the subject matter, because such legal provision being no substitution, and no right of accretion takes place;
is contained in a law of procedure dealing merely with procedural matters, and, as we (4) When the heir instituted is incapable of succeeding, except in cases provided in
have said time and again, procedure is one thing and jurisdiction over the subject this Code.
matter is another. (Attorney General vs. Manila Railroad Company, 20 Phil. 523.) The
law of jurisdiction — Act No. 136, Section 56, No. 5 — confers upon Courts of First
Therefore, as ruled in Castro, et al. vs. Martinez, 10 Phil. 307, "only after final decision as
Instance jurisdiction over all probate cases independently of the place of residence of
to the nullity of testate succession could an intestate succession be instituted in the form of
the deceased.1 Since, however, there are many Courts of First Instance in the
pre-established action". The institution of intestacy proceedings in Rizal may not thus
Philippines, the Law of Procedure, Act No. 190, section 600, fixes the venue or the
proceed while the probate of the purported will of Father Rodriguez is pending.
place where each case shall be brought. Thus, the place of residence of the deceased
is not an element of jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely of venue. And it is
upon this ground that in the new Rules of Court the province where the estate of a

26
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

We rule that the Bulacan Court of First Instance was entitled to priority in the settlement of contended: (1) that the properties disposed of in the will of the deceased Eusebio Capili
the estate in question, and that in refusing to dismiss the probate. proceedings, said court belonged to him exclusively and not to the conjugal partnership, because Hermogena
did not commit any abuse of discretion. It is the proceedings in the Rizal Court that should Reyes had donated to him her half share of such partnership; (2) that the collateral heirs
be discontinued. Wherefore, the writ of certiorari applied for is denied. Costs against of Hermogena Reyes had no lawful standing or grounds to question the validity of the
petitioners Rodriguez. donation; and (3) that even assuming that they could question the validity of the
donation, the same must be litigated not in the testate proceeding but in a separate civil
action.
G.R. No. L-18148 February 28, 1963

Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted
DEOGRACIAS BERNARDO, executor of the testate estate of the deceased EUSEBIO
and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other
CAPILI; and the instituted heirs, namely: ARMANDO CAPILI and ARTURO
evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1äwphï1.ñët
BERNARDO, ET AL., petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and THE HEIRS OF THE LATE HERMOGENA REYES, The oppositors and heirs of Hermogena Reyes, on their part, argued that the deed of
namely: FRANCISCO REYES, ET AL., and JOSE ISIDORO, ET AL., respondents. donation itself was determinative of the original conjugal character to the properties,
aside from the legal presumption laid down in Article 160 of the Civil Code, and that
since the donation was null and void the deceased Eusebio Capili did not become owner
This is a petition by certiorari for the review of the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming
of the share of his wife and therefore could not validly dispose of it in his will.
that of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan holding that the probate court in Special
Proceeding 1101 had jurisdiction to determine the validity of the deed of donation in
question and to pass upon the question of title or ownership of the properties mentioned On September 14, 1960, the probate court, the Honorable M. Mejia presiding, issued an
therein. order declaring the donation void without making any specific finding as to its juridical
nature, that is, whether it was inter vivos or mortis causa, for the reason that, considered
under the first category, it falls under Article 133 of the Civil Code, which prohibits
The facts are briefly stated in the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals as follows:
donations between spouses during the marriage; and considered under the second
category, it does not comply with the formalities of a will as required by Article 728 in
Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes were husband and wife. The first died on July 27, relation to Article 805 of the same Code, there being no attestation clause. In the same
1958 and a testate proceeding for the settlement of his estate was instituted in the Court order the court disapproved both projects of partition and directed the executor to file
of the Fist Instance of Bulacan. His will was admitted to probate on October 9, 1958, another," dividing the property mentioned in the last will and testament of the deceased
disposing of his properties in favor of his widow; his cousins Armando, Ursula, and Eusebio Capili and the properties mentioned in the deed of donation, Exhibit B, between
Buenaventura, all surnamed Capili; and Arturo, Deogracias and Eduardo, all surnamed the instituted heirs of the deceased Eusebio Capili and the legal heirs of the deceased
Bernardo. Hermogena Reyes herself died on April 24, 1959. Upon petition of Deogracias Hermogena Reyes, upon the basis that the said properties were conjugal properties of
Bernardo, executor of the estate of the deceased Eusebio Capili, she was substituted by the deceased spouses." On September 27, 1960, the executor filed a motion for new
her collateral relatives and intestate heirs, namely, Marcos, Vicente, Francisco and trial, reiterating and emphasizing the contention previously raised in their memorandum
Dominga, all surnamed Reyes; and Jose, Constancia, Raymunda and Elena, all that the probate court had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the claim of the legal
surnamed Isidoro. heirs of Hermogena Reyes involving title to the properties mentioned in the will of
Eusebio Capili and taking exception to the court's declaration of the nullity of the
donation "without stating facts or provision of law on which it was based." The motion for
On June 12, 1959, the executor filed a project of partition in the testate proceeding in new trial was denied in an order dated October 3, 1960.
accordance with the terms of the will, adjudicating the estate of Eusebio Capili among
the testamentary heirs with the exception of Hermogena Reyes, whose share was
alloted to her collateral relatives aforementioned. On June 16, 1959 these relatives filed On appeal to the Court of Appeals the order appealed from being affirmed, petitioners filed
an opposition to the executor's project of partition and submitted a counter-project of this present petition for review by certiorari.
partition of their own, claiming 1/2 of the properties mentioned in the will of the deceased
Eusebio Capili on the theory that they belonged not to the latter alone but to the conjugal
The petitioners-appellants contend that the appellate court erred in not declaring that the
partnership of the spouses.
probate court, having limited and special jurisdiction, had generally no power to adjudicate
title and erred in applying the exception to the rule.
The probate court, in two orders dated June 24, 1959 and February 10, 1960,
respectively, set the two projects of partition for hearing, at which evidence was
In a line of decisions, this Court consistently held that as a general rule, question as to title
presented by the parties, followed by the submission of memoranda discussing certain
to property cannot be passed upon on testate or intestate proceedings,"1 except where one
legal issues. In the memorandum for the executor and the instituted heirs it was

27
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

of the parties prays merely for the inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of the property, of the decedent which is to be distributed among his heirs who are all parties to the
in which case the probate court may pass provisionally upon the question without prejudice proceedings, including, of course, the widow, now represented because of her death, by
to its final determination in a separate action.2 However, we have also held that when the her heirs who have been substituted upon petition of the executor himself and who have
parties interested are all heirs of the deceased, it is optional to them to submit to the appeared voluntarily. There are no third parties whose rights may be affected. It is true that
probate court a question as to title to property, and when so submitted, said probate court the heirs of the deceased widow are not heirs of the testator-husband, but the widow is, in
may definitely pass judgment thereon (Pascual v. Pascual, 73 Phil. 561; Manalac v. addition to her own right to the conjugal property. And it is this right that is being sought to
Ocampo, et al., 73 Phil. 661); and that with the consent of the parties, matters affecting be enforced by her substitutes. Therefore, the claim that is being asserted is one belonging
property under judicial administration may be taken cognizance of by the court in the to an heir to the testator and, consequently, it complies with the requirement of the
course of intestate proceeding, provided interests of third persons are not prejudiced exception that the parties interested (the petitioners and the widow, represented by dents)
(Cunanan v. Amparo, 80 Phil. 229, 232). are all heirs claiming title under the testator.

In the light of this doctrine, may it be said correctly that the trial court as well as the Court of Petitioners contend additionally that they have never submitted themselves to the
Appeals erred in upholding the power of the probate court in this case to adjudicate in the jurisdiction of the probate court, for the purpose of the determination of the question of
testate proceedings, the question as to whether the properties herein involved belong to the ownership of the disputed properties. This is not borne by the admitted facts. On the
conjugal partnership of Eusebio Capili and Hermogena Reyes, or to the deceased husband contrary, it is undisputed that they were the ones who presented the project of partition
exclusively? claiming the questioned properties as part of the testator's asset. The respondents, as
representatives or substitutes of the deceased widow opposed the project of partition and
submitted another. As the Court of Appeals said, "In doing so all of them must be deemed
At the outset, let it be clarified that the matter at issue is not a question of jurisdiction, in the
to have submitted the issue for resolution in the same proceeding. Certainly, the petitioners
sense advanced by appellants that the trial court had completely no authority to pass upon
can not be heard to insist, as they do, on the approval of their project of partition and, thus,
the title to the lands in dispute, and that its decision on the subject is null and void and does
have the court take it for granted that their theory as to the character of the properties is
not bind even those who had invoked its authority and submitted to its decision because, it
correct, entirely without regard to the opposition of the respondents". In other words, by
is contended, jurisdiction is a creature of law and parties to an action can not vest, extend
presenting their project of partition including therein the disputed lands (upon the claim that
or broaden it. If appellants' contention is correct, then there can be no exception to the no-
they were donated by the wife to her husband), petitioners themselves put in issue the
jurisdiction theory. But as has been stated in the case of Cunanan v. Amparo (supra) the
question of ownership of the properties — which is well within the competence of the
Supreme Court speaking through Mr. Justice Pedro Tuason: "Determination of title to
probate court — and just because of an opposition thereto, they can not thereafter
property is within the jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance. The responding Soriano's
withdraw either their appearance or the issue from the jurisdiction of the court. Certainly,
objection (that the probate court lacked jurisdiction to order the delivery of the possession
there is here a waiver where the parties who raise the objection are the ones who set the
of the lots to the estate) relates exclusively to the procedure, which is distinct from
court in motion.5They can not be permitted to complain if the court, after due hearing,
jurisdiction. It affects only personal rights to a mode of practice (the filing of an independent
adjudges question against them.6
ordinary action) which may be waived". Strictly speaking, it is more a question of jurisdiction
over the person, not over the subject matter, for the jurisdiction to try controversies
between heirs of a deceased person regarding the ownership of properties alleged to Finally, petitioners-appellants claim that appellees are estopped to raise the question of
belong to his estate, has been recognized to be vested in probate courts. This is so ownership of the properties involved because the widow herself, during her lifetime, not
because the purpose of an administration proceeding is the liquidation of the estate and only did not object to the inclusion of these properties in the inventory of the assets of her
distribution of the residue among the heirs and legatees. Liquidation means determination deceased husband, but also signed an extra-judicial partition of those inventoried
of all the assets of the estate and payment of all the debts and expenses.3 Thereafter, properties. But the very authorities cited by appellants require that to constitute estoppel,
distribution is made of the decedent's liquidated estate among the persons entitled to the actor must have knowledge of the facts and be appraised of his rights at the time he
succeed him. The proceeding is in the nature of an action of partition, in which each party is performs the act constituting estoppel, because silence without knowledge works no
required to bring into the mass whatever community property he has in his possession. To estoppel.7 In the present case, the deceased widow acted as she did because of the deed
this end, and as a necessary corollary, the interested parties may introduce proofs relative of donation she executed in favor of her husband not knowing that such deed was illegal, if
to the ownership of the properties in dispute. All the heirs who take part in the distribution of inter-vivos, and ineffectual if mortis-causa, as it has not been executed with the required
the decedent's estate are before the court, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, in all formalities similar to a will.
matters and incidents necessary to the complete settlement of such estate, so long as no
interests of third parties are affected.4
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals being in accordance with law, the
same is hereby affirmed with costs against appellants. So ordered.
In the case now before us, the matter in controversy is the question of ownership of certain
of the properties involved — whether they belong to the conjugal partnership or to the
husband exclusively. This is a matter properly within the jurisdiction of the probate court
which necessarily has to liquidate the conjugal partnership in order to determine the estate

28
Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

the writ of execution, on the ground that the order was merely interlocutory, hence not final
in character. The court added that the dispositive portion of the said Order even directs the
distribution of the estate of the deceased spouses. Private respondents filed a motion for
reconsideration which was denied in an Order dated February 1, 1991. Thus, private
respondents filed a petition before the Court of Appeals, which nullified the two assailed
[G.R. No. 108581. December 8, 1999] Orders dated November 29, 1990 and February 1, 1991. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

LOURDES L. DOROTHEO, Petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, NILDA D. QUINTANA, Aggrieved, petitioner instituted a petition for review arguing that the case filed by private
for Herself and as Attorney-in-Fact of VICENTE DOROTHEO and JOSE respondents before the Court of Appeals was a petition under Rule 65 on the ground of
DOROTHEO, Respondents. grave abuse of discretion or lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner contends that in issuing the two
assailed orders, Judge Angas cannot be said to have no jurisdiction because he was
particularly designated to hear the case. Petitioner likewise assails the Order of the Court of
May a last will and testament admitted to probate but declared intrinsically void in an order Appeals upholding the validity of the January 30, 1986 Order which declared the intrinsic
that has become final and executory still be given effect? This is the issue that arose from invalidity of Alejandros will that was earlier admitted to probate. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
the following antecedents: chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Petitioner also filed a motion to reinstate her as executrix of the estate of the late Alejandro
Private respondents were the legitimate children of Alejandro Dorotheo and Aniceta Reyes. and to maintain the status quo or lease of the premises thereon to third parties.[3] Private
The latter died in 1969 without her estate being settled. Alejandro died thereafter. respondents opposed the motion on the ground that petitioner has no interest in the estate
Sometime in 1977, after Alejandros death, Petitioner, who claims to have taken care of since she is not the lawful wife of the late Alejandro. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Alejandro before he died, filed a special proceeding for the probate of the latters last will
and testament. In 1981, the court issued an order admitting Alejandros will to probate.
Private respondents did not appeal from said order. In 1983, they filed a Motion To Declare The petition is without merit. A final and executory decision or order can no longer be
The Will Intrinsically Void. The trial court granted the motion and issued an order, the disturbed or reopened no matter how erroneous it may be. In setting aside the January 30,
dispositive portion of which reads: chanroblesvirtualawlibrary 1986 Order that has attained finality, the trial court in effect nullified the entry of judgment
made by the Court of Appeals. It is well settled that a lower court cannot reverse or set
aside decisions or orders of a superior court, for to do so would be to negate the hierarchy
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Order is hereby issued declaring Lourdes Legaspi of courts and nullify the essence of review. It has been ruled that a final judgment on
not the wife of the late Alejandro Dorotheo, the provisions of the last will and testament of probated will, albeit erroneous, is binding on the whole world.[4] chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Alejandro Dorotheo as intrinsically void, and declaring the oppositors Vicente Dorotheo,
Jose Dorotheo and Nilda Dorotheo Quintana as the only heirs of the late spouses Alejandro
Dorotheo and Aniceta Reyes, whose respective estates shall be liquidated and distributed It has been consistently held that if no appeal is taken in due time from a judgment or order
according to the laws on intestacy upon payment of estate and other taxes due to the of the trial court, the same attains finality by mere lapse of time. Thus, the order allowing
government.[1] chanroblesvirtualawlibrary the will became final and the question determined by the court in such order can no longer
be raised anew, either in the same proceedings or in a different motion. The matters of due
execution of the will and the capacity of the testator acquired the character of res judicata
Petitioner moved for reconsideration arguing that she is entitled to some compensation and cannot again be brought into question, all juridical questions in connection therewith
since she took care of Alejandro prior to his death although she admitted that they were not being for once and forever closed.[5] Such final order makes the will conclusive against the
married to each other. Upon denial of her motion for reconsideration, petitioner appealed to whole world as to its extrinsic validity and due execution.[6] chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
the Court of Appeals, but the same was dismissed for failure to file appellants brief within
the extended period granted.[2] This dismissal became final and executory on February 3,
1989 and a corresponding entry of judgment was forthwith issued by the Court of Appeals It should be noted that probate proceedings deals generally with the extrinsic validity of the
on May 16, 1989. A writ of execution was issued by the lower court to implement the final will sought to be probated,[7]particularly on three aspects: chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
and executory Order. Consequently, private respondents filed several motions including a
motion to compel petitioner to surrender to them the Transfer Certificates of Titles (TCT)
whether the will submitted is indeed, the decedents last will and
covering the properties of the late Alejandro. When petitioner refused to surrender the
testament;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
TCTs, private respondents filed a motion for cancellation of said titles and for issuance of
new titles in their names. Petitioner opposed the motion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
compliance with the prescribed formalities for the execution of
wills;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
An Order was issued on November 29, 1990 by Judge Zain B. Angas setting aside the final
and executory Order dated January 30, 1986, as well as the Order directing the issuance of

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the testamentary capacity of the testator;[8] chanroblesvirtualawlibrary Petitioner posits that the January 30, 1986 Order is merely interlocutory, hence it can still
be set aside by the trial court. In support thereof, petitioner argues that an order merely
declaring who are heirs and the shares to which set of heirs is entitled cannot be the basis
and the due execution of the last will and testament.[9] chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
of execution to require delivery of shares from one person to another particularly when no
project of partition has been filed.[19] The trial court declared in the January 30, 1986 Order
Under the Civil Code, due execution includes a determination of whether the testator was that petitioner is not the legal wife of Alejandro, whose only heirs are his three legitimate
of sound and disposing mind at the time of its execution, that he had freely executed the children (petitioners herein), and at the same time it nullified the will. But it should be noted
will and was not acting under duress, fraud, menace or undue influence and that the will is that in the same Order, the trial court also said that the estate of the late spouses be
genuine and not a forgery,[10] that he was of the proper testamentary age and that he is a distributed according to the laws of intestacy. Accordingly, it has no option but to implement
person not expressly prohibited by law from making a will.[11] chanroblesvirtualawlibrary that order of intestate distribution and not to reopen and again re-examine the intrinsic
provisions of the same will. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The intrinsic validity is another matter and questions regarding the same may still be raised
even after the will has been authenticated.[12] Thus, it does not necessarily follow that an It can be clearly inferred from Article 960 of the Civil Code, on the law of successional
extrinsically valid last will and testament is always intrinsically valid. Even if the will was rights that testacy is preferred to intestacy.[20] But before there could be testate
validly executed, if the testator provides for dispositions that deprives or impairs the lawful distribution, the will must pass the scrutinizing test and safeguards provided by law
heirs of their legitime or rightful inheritance according to the laws on succession,[13] the considering that the deceased testator is no longer available to prove the voluntariness of
unlawful provisions/dispositions thereof cannot be given effect. This is specially so when his actions, aside from the fact that the transfer of the estate is usually onerous in nature
the courts had already determined in a final and executory decision that the will is and that no one is presumed to give - Nemo praesumitur donare.[21] No intestate
intrinsically void. Such determination having attained that character of finality is binding on distribution of the estate can be done until and unless the will had failed to pass both its
this Court which will no longer be disturbed. Not that this Court finds the will to be extrinsic and intrinsic validity. If the will is extrinsically void, the rules of intestacy apply
intrinsically valid, but that a final and executory decision of which the party had the regardless of the intrinsic validity thereof. If it is extrinsically valid, the next test is to
opportunity to challenge before the higher tribunals must stand and should no longer be determine its intrinsic validity that is whether the provisions of the will are valid according to
reevaluated. Failure to avail of the remedies provided by law constitutes waiver. And if the the laws of succession. In this case, the court had ruled that the will of Alejandro was
party does not avail of other remedies despite its belief that it was aggrieved by a decision extrinsically valid but the intrinsic provisions thereof were void. Thus, the rules of intestacy
or court action, then it is deemed to have fully agreed and is satisfied with the decision or apply as correctly held by the trial court. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
order. As early as 1918, it has been declared that public policy and sound practice demand
that, at the risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts must at some point of time fixed
Furthermore, Alejandros disposition in his will of the alleged share in the conjugal
by law[14] become final otherwise there will be no end to litigation.Interes rei publicae ut
properties of his late spouse, whom he described as his only beloved wife, is not a valid
finis sit litium - the very object of which the courts were constituted was to put an end to
reason to reverse a final and executory order. Testamentary dispositions of properties not
controversies.[15] To fulfill this purpose and to do so speedily, certain time limits, more or
belonging exclusively to the testator or properties which are part of the conjugal regime
less arbitrary, have to be set up to spur on the slothful.[16] The only instance where a party
cannot be given effect. Matters with respect to who owns the properties that were disposed
interested in a probate proceeding may have a final liquidation set aside is when he is left
of by Alejandro in the void will may still be properly ventilated and determined in the
out by reason of circumstances beyond his control or through mistake or inadvertence not
intestate proceedings for the settlement of his and that of his late spouses
imputable to negligence,[17] which circumstances do not concur
estate. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
herein. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Petitioners motion for appointment as administratrix is rendered moot considering that she
Petitioner was privy to the suit calling for the declaration of the intrinsic invalidity of the will,
was not married to the late Alejandro and, therefore, is not an
as she precisely appealed from an unfavorable order therefrom. Although the final and
heir. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
executory Order of January 30, 1986 wherein private respondents were declared as the
only heirs do not bind those who are not parties thereto such as the alleged illegitimate son
of the testator, the same constitutes res judicata with respect to those who were parties to WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. SO
the probate proceedings. Petitioner cannot again raise those matters anew for relitigation ORDERED. chanrob
otherwise that would amount to forum-shopping. It should be remembered that forum
shopping also occurs when the same issue had already been resolved adversely by some
other court.[18] It is clear from the executory order that the estates of Alejandro and his
spouse should be distributed according to the laws of intestate
succession. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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included herein co-petitioners and the four children of Lino Jimenez by Consolacion
Ungson, his previous wife.2

In October, 1979, herein private respondent Leonardo Jimenez, Jr., son of Leonardo
Jimenez, Sr., filed a motion for the exclusion of his father's name and those of Alberto,
G.R. No. 75773 April 17, 1990
Alejandra, and Angeles from the petition, inasmuch as they are children of the union of Lino
Jimenez and Consolacion Ungson and not of Lino Jimenez and Genoveva Caolboy and
TOMAS JIMENEZ, VISITACION JIMENEZ, DIGNO JIMENEZ, ANTONIO JIMENEZ, because they have already received their inheritance consisting of five (5) parcels of lands
AMADEO JIMENEZ, MODESTO JIMENEZ and VIRGINIA JIMENEZ, petitioners, in Salomague, Bugallon, Pangasinan. 3
vs.
HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, HON. AMANDA VALERA-
On March 23, 1981, petitioner Virginia Jimenez was appointed administrator of the
CABIGAO, in her capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch XXXVII,
Intestate Estate of Lino Jimenez and Genoveva Caolboy. 4 On May 21, 1981, she filed an
Lingayen, Pangasinan, LEONARDO JIMENEZ, JR. and CORAZON
inventory of the estate of the spouses Lino Jimenez and Genoveva Caolboy wherein she
JIMENEZ, respondents.
included the five (5) parcels of land in Salomague, Bugallon, Pangasinan. As a
consequence, Leonardo Jimenez, Jr. moved for the exclusion of these properties from the
Simplicio M. Sevilleja for petitioners. inventory on the ground that these had already been adjudicated to Leonardo Sr., Alberto,
Alejandra and Angeles by their deceased father Lino Jimenez. Private respondent
Leonardo Jimenez, Jr. presented testimonial and documentary evidence in support of his
Bitty S. Viliran for private respondents. motion while petitioner Virginia Jimenez, other than cross-examining the witnesses of
Leonardo, presented no evidence of her own, oral or documentary.
Leonardo B. Jimenez, Jr. for respondents.
On September 29, 1981, the probate court ordered the exclusion of the five (5) parcels of
FERNAN, CJ.: land from the inventory on the basis of the evidence of private respondent Leonardo
Jimenez, Jr. which consisted among others of: (1) Tax Declaration showing that the subject
properties were acquired during the conjugal partnership of Lino Jimenez and Consolacion
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and set aside the decision 1 of Ungson; and, (2) a Deed of Sale dated May 12, 1964 wherein Genoveva Caolboy stated,
the Court of Appeals dated May 29, 1986 which dismissed the petition that the subject properties had been adjudicated by Lino Jimenez to his children by a
for certiorari and mandamus in AC-G.R. No. 06578 entitled "Tomas Jimenez, et. al. vs. previous marriage, namely: Alberto, Leonardo, Alejandra and Angeles. 5 The motion for
Hon. Amanda Valera-Cabigao." reconsideration of said order was denied on January 26, 1982. 6

The facts are as follows: Petitioner Virginia Jimenez then went to the Court of Appeals on a petition for certiorari and
prohibition, docketed thereat as CA-G.R. No. SP-13916, seeking the annulment of the
The marriage of Leonardo (Lino) Jimenez and Consolacion Ungson produced four (4) order dated September 29, 1981 as well as the order of January 26, 1982. On November
children, namely: Alberto, Leonardo, Sr., Alejandra and Angeles. During the existence of 18, 1982, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition because (1) Genoveva Caolboy,
the marriage, Lino Jimenez acquired five (5) parcels of land in Salomague, Bugallon, petitioners' mother, had admitted that the subject parcels of land had been adjudicated to
Pangasinan. the children of the previous nuptial; (2) the subject properties could not have been acquired
during the marriage of Lino Jimenez to Genoveva Caolboy because they were already titled
in the name of Lino Jimenez even prior to 1921, long before Lino's marriage to Genoveva
After the death of Consolacion Ungson, Lino married Genoveva Caolboy with whom he in 1940; (3) the claim of Virginia Jimenez was barred by prescription because it was only in
begot the seven petitioners herein: Tomas, Visitacion, Digno, Antonio, Amadeo, Modesto 1981 when they questioned the adjudication of the subject properties, more than ten (10)
and Virginia, all surnamed Jimenez. Lino Jimenez died on August 11, 1951 while years after Genoveva had admitted such adjudication in a public document in 1964; and,
Genoveva Caolboy died on November 21, 1978. (4) petitioner Virginia Jimenez was guilty of laches. This decision became final and
executory. 7
Thereafter, in April 1979, Virginia Jimenez filed a petition before the Court of First Instance
of Pangasinan, Branch V, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 5346, praying to be Two (2) years after, petitioners filed an amended complaint dated December 10, 1984
appointed as administratrix of the properties of the deceased spouses Lino and Genoveva. before the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan, Branch XXXVII, docketed thereat as Civil
Enumerated in her petition were the supposed heirs of the deceased spouses which Case No. 16111, to recover possession/ownership of the subject five (5) parcels of land as
part of the estate of Lino Jimenez and Genoveva Caolboy and to order private respondents

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to render an accounting of the produce therefrom. Private respondents moved for the Res judicata 19 does not exist because of the difference in the causes of actions.
dismissal of the complaint on the grounds that the action was barred by prior judgment in Specifically in S.P. No. 5346, the action was for the settlement of the intestate estate of
CA-G.R. No. SP-13916 dated November 18, 1982 and by prescription and laches. Lino Jimenez and Genoveva Caolboy while Civil Case No. 16111 was an action for the
However, petitioners opposed the motion to dismiss contending that (1) the action was not recovery of possession and ownership of the five (5) parcels of land. Moreover, while
barred by prior judgment because the probate court had no jurisdiction to determine with admittedly, the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Branch V in S.P. No. 5346 had
finality the question of ownership of the lots which must be ventilated in a separate action; jurisdiction, the same was merely limited jurisdiction. Any pronouncement by said court as
and, (2) the action instituted in 1981 was not barred by prescription or laches because to title is not conclusive and could still be attacked in a separate proceeding. Civil Case No.
private respondents' forcible acquisition of the subject properties occurred only after the 16111, on the other hand. was lodged before the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan,
death of petitioners' mother, Genoveva Caolboy in 1978. Branch XXXVII in the exercise of the court's general jurisdiction. It was, in fact, such
"separate or ordinary proceedings" contemplated by the rules for a final determination of
the issue of ownership of the disputed properties. To repeat, since the determination of the
On February 13, 1985, the trial court resolved to dismiss the complaint on the ground of res
question of title to the subject properties in S.P. 5346 was merely provisional, petitioners
judicata. 8 On May 31, 1985, petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the resolution was
are not barred from instituting the appropriate action in Civil Case No. 16111.
denied. As earlier intimated, the petition for certiorariand mandamus filed by petitioners
before the appellate court was likewise denied due course and dismissed in a decision
dated May 29, 1986. 9 Indeed, the grounds relied upon by private respondents in their motion to dismiss do not
appear to be indubitable. Res judicata has been shown here to be unavailable and the
other grounds of prescription and laches pleaded by private respondents are seriously
Hence, this recourse.
disputed. The allegation in the complaint is that the heirs of Leonardo Jimenez, Sr.
(referring to private respondents,) forcibly intruded into and took possession of the disputed
The issue in this case is whether in a settlement proceeding (testate or intestate) the lower properties only in 1978, after the death of Genoveva Caolboy. Since the action for
court has jurisdiction to settle questions of ownership and whether res judicata exists as to reconveyance was instituted in 1984, it would appear that the same has not yet prescribed
bar petitioners' present action for the recovery of possession and ownership of the five (5) or otherwise barred by laches.
parcels of land. In the negative, is the present action for reconveyance barred by
prescription and/or laches?
There are a number of factual issues raised by petitioners before the lower court which
cannot be resolved without the presentation of evidence at a full-blown trial and which
We reverse. Petitioners' present action for recovery of possession and ownership is make the grounds for dismissal dubitable. Among others, the alleged admission made by
appropriately filed because as a general rule, a probate court can only pass upon questions petitioners' mother in the deed of sale is vehemently denied, as well as the fact itself of
of title provisionally. Since the probate, court's findings are not conclusive being prima adjudication, there being no showing that the conjugal partnership of Lino Jimenez and
facie, 10 a separate proceeding is necessary to establish the ownership of the five (5) Consolacion Ungson had been liquidated nor that a judicial or extra-judicial settlement of
parcels of land. 11 the estate of Lino Jimenez was undertaken whereby such adjudication could have been
effected.
The patent reason is the probate court's limited jurisdiction and the principle that questions
of title or ownership, which result in inclusion or exclusion from the inventory of the The grounds stated in the motion to dismiss not being indubitable, the trial court committed
property, can only be settled in a separate action. 12 grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 16111.

All that the said court could do as regards said properties is determine whether they should WHEREFORE, the questioned decision of the respondent appellate court is hereby
or should not be included in the inventory or list of properties to be administered by the REVERSED. Civil Case No. 16111 is reinstated and the Regional Trial Court of
administrator. If there is a dispute as to the ownership, then the opposing parties and the Pangasinan, Branch XXXVII is directed to proceed in said case with dispatch.
administrator have to resort to an ordinary action for a final determination of the conflicting
claims of title because the probate court cannot do so. 13
SO ORDERED.

The provisional character of the inclusion in the inventory of a contested property was
again reiterated in the following cases: Pio Barreto Realty Development, Inc. vs. Court of
Appeals, 14 Junquera vs. Borromeo, 15 Borromeo vs. Canonoy, 16 Recto vs. de la Rosa. 17 It
has also been held that in a special proceeding for the probate of a will, the question of
ownership is an extraneous matter which the probate court cannot resolve with
finality. 18 This pronouncement no doubt applies with equal force to an intestate proceeding
as in the case at bar.

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the, probate court has no jurisdiction to decide the question as to its ownership because
that matter has to be resolved by the Caloocan court where Civil Case No. 3597 is pending.
G.R. No. L-42257 June 14, 1976
The probate court denied that motion. It held that it has jurisdiction over the issue of
ownership because the heirs had agreed to present their evidence on that point before a
ILDEFONSO LACHENAL, ELIAS LACHENAL, IRENEA L. SANTOS, FLORA L.
commissioner.
SANCHEZ and NATIVIDAD D. LACHENAL, petitioners,
vs.
HON. EMILIO V. SALAS, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Pasig, It invoked the rule that generally "questions of title to property cannot be passed upon in
Rizal, Branch I, and FLAVIANA L. LEONIO, respondents. testate or intestate proceedings, except when the parties interested are all heirs of the
deceased in which event it is optional upon them to submit to the probate court the
question as to title to property and when so submitted, said probate court may definitely
AQUINO, J.:
pass judgment thereon. The reason is that questions of collation or of advancement are
generally inevitably involved therein which are proper matters to be passed upon in the due
Victorio Lachenal died on November 20, 1969. His testate estate is pending settlement in course of administration. And it has also been held that with the consent of the parties,
the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch I (Special Proceeding No. 5836). His son, matters affecting property under administration may be taken cognizance of by the court in
Ildefonso Lachenal, was named executor of his will. Among the properties included in the the course of the intestate proceedings provided the interests of third persons are not
inventory of his estate is a fishing boat called Lachenal VII. prejudiced." (3 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, page 473, citing
Alvarez vs. Espiritu, L-18833, August 14, 1965, 14 SCRA 892, 899; Pascual vs. Pascual,
73 Phil. 561; Vda. de Manalac vs. Ocampo, 73 Phil. 661; Cunanan vs. Amparo, 80 Phil.
On April 1, 1971 the executor filed in that proceeding a motion to require the spouses Lope 227; Dinglasan vs. Ang Chia, 88 Phil. 476; Baquial vs. Amihan, 92 Phil. 501).
L. Leonio and Flaviana Lachenal-Leonio to pay the rentals for the lease of Lachenal VII and
to return the boat to Navotas, Rizal for drydocking and repair.
On January 5, 1976 the executor and his co-plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3597 filed these
special civil actions of prohibition and certiorari against the probate court.
Mrs. Leonio, who was a daughter of the testator, opposed the executor's motion. She
countered with a motion to exclude the fishing boat from the decedent's estate. She
claimed that she is the owner of the boat because she purchased it from her father in 1967. The issue is whether the probate court should be allowed to continue the hearing on the
The executor opposed the motion for exclusion. ownership of the fishing boat or whether that question should be left to the determination of
the Caloocan court where the subsequent separate action (now in the pre-trial stage) for
the recovery of the motorboat is pending.
The probate court in its order of January 28, 1972 designated a commissioner to receive
the evidence of the parties relative to the ownership of the motorboat. Mrs. Leonio had
already finished the presentation of her evidence before the commissioner. We hold that the title to the fishing boat should be determined in Civil Case No. 3597
because it affects the lessee thereof, Lope L Leonio, the decedent's son-in-law, who,
although married to his daughter or compulsory heir, is nevertheless a third person with
The executor did not present his countervailing evidence. Instead, on July 8, 1975 he and respect to his estate. "The administrator may not pull him against his will, by motion, into
the testator's other children named Flora, Elias and Irenea, and the children of a deceased the administration proceeding" (De la Cruz vs. Camon, 63 O.G. 8704, 16 SCRA 886; De
child filed in the Caloocan City Branch of the Court of First Instance of Rizal an action Paula vs. Escay, infra).
against the Leonio spouses and the other three children of the testator named Crispula,
Modesto and Esperanza, for the recovery of the motorboat Lachenal VII, allegedly valued
at P150,000, together with back rentals and damages (Civil Case No. 3597). This case falls under the general rule that questions as to title to property cannot be passed
upon in the testate or intestate proceeding but should be ventilated in a separate action
(Ongsingco vs. Tan, 97 Phil. 330, 334; Bernardo vs. Court of Appeals ,117 Phil. 835;
It was alleged in the complaint that Victorio Lachenal in 1964 leased the said motorboat to Magallanes vs. Kayanan, L-31048, January 20, 1976; Recto vs. Dela Rosa, L-42799,
his son-in-law, Lope L. Leonio, for a monthly rental of P2,000 and that after Victorio's March 16, 1976).
death, the executor of his estate demanded from Leonio the return of the boat and the
payment of the back rentals.
Where a party in a probate proceeding prays for the inclusion in, or exclusion from, the
inventory of a piece of property, the court may provisionally pass upon the question without
On July 20, 1975 the said plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3597 filed in the probate court their prejudice to its final determination in a separate action (Garcia vs. Garcia, 67 Phil. 353;
own motion to exclude the said motorboat from the decedent's estate on the ground that Guinguing vs. Abuton, 48 Phil. 144, 147; Junquera vs. Borromeo, L-18498, March 30,
1967, 19 SCRA 656; Borromeo vs. Canonoy, L-25010, March 30, 1967, 19 SCRA 667).

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The Court of First Instance is a court of general original jurisdiction invested with power to testamentary or intestate proceeding (Mangaliman vs. Gonzales, L-21033, December 28,
take cognizance of all kinds of cases: civil cases, criminal cases, special proceedings, land 1970, 36 SCRA 462).
registration, guardianship, naturalization, admiralty and insolvency cases (Sec. 39,
Judiciary Law; De Paula vs. Escay, 97 Phil. 617, 619; Manalo vs. Mariano, L-33850,
The court may also have to resolve ancillary issues as to damages and counterclaims for
January 22, 1976).
money or property. Ultimately, execution has to be issued. The execution of a judgment is
usually made by the Court of First Instance in an ordinary action and not in a special
Whether a particular matter should be resolved by the Court of First Instance in the proceeding (See Magallanes vs. Kayanan, supra).
exercise of its general jurisdiction or of its limited jurisdiction as a special court (probate,
land registration, etc.) is in reality not a question of over the subject matter. It is in essence
In the instant case, in as much as the controversy over the fishing boat concerns members
a procedural question involving a mode of practice "which may be waived" (Cunanan vs.
of the same family, the Caloocan court should endeavor before trial to persuade the
Amparo, supra, page 232; Cf. Reyes vs. Diaz, 73 Phil. 484 rejurisdiction over the issue).
litigants to agree upon some compromise (Arts. 222 and 2029, Civil Code; Sec. 1[j], Rule
16, Rules of Court).
Probate jurisdiction includes all matters relating to the settlement of estates and the probate
of wills of persons (Sec. 599, Act 190), particularly the administration of the decedent's
WHEREFORE, the probate court's orders of September 17 and October 20, 1975,
estate, the payment of his debts, questions as to collation or advancements to the heirs,
asserting its jurisdiction to decide the title to the fishing boat, Lachenal VII, are set aside.
the liquidation of the conjugal partnership, and the partition and distribution of the estate
No costs.
(De La Cruz vs. Camon, supra).

SO ORDERED.
For the recovery or protection or the property rights of the decedent. an executor or
administrator may bring or defend in the right of the decedent, actions for causes which
survive. Actions to recover real or personal property, or an interest therein, from the Separate Opinions
decedent's estate, or to enforce a lien thereon, and actions to recover damages for an
injury to or property, real or personal, may be commenced against an executor or
BARREDO, J., concurring:
administrator (Secs. 1 and 2, Rule 87, Rules of Court).

I concur in the judgment setting aside the orders of respondent court upholding its
In the instant case, the executor, by virtue of section 2 of Rule 87, filed a separate action in
jurisdiction as probate court to pass on the issue of ownership of the subject fishing boat,
the Caloocan court for the recovery of the fishing boat and back rentals from the Leonio
Lachenal VII and recognizing the jurisdiction already acquired by the Caloocan Court of
spouses.
First Instance in Civil Case No. 3597. I am adding these few lines to the well grounded
main opinion written by Mr. Justice Aquino just to point out that the argument of estoppel
In the De la Cruz case, supra, it was held that rentals allegedly due to the decedent's advanced by respondent cannot hold in this case, considering that according to the record,
estate may not be collected by the administrator by filing a motion in the testate respondent judge had merely delegated the reception of the evidence to a commissioner
proceeding. The said rentals do not constitute property in the administrator's hands and are and the proceedings before said commissioner has been pending for quite sometime, more
not thus within the effective control of the probate court. The proper procedure in collecting than three years, without being completed. Questions of ownerships as very aptly
such rentals is to file an independent action in the Court of First Instance so that the right of emphasized in the main opinion should as a rule be threshed out on the basis of
the estate thereto may be threshed out in a full-dress trial on the merits. appropriate pleadings and evidence duly received by the court. Under the circumstances
obtaining in the instant case, the best interests of justice require that preference be given to
the proper action which anyway has already been instituted for the purpose. It might be a
The ruling in the De la Cruz case applies with stronger force to this case because here the
different case, however, if both parties had already presented all their evidence before the
executor seeks to recover not only the rentals but also the leased property itself, as to
judge himself of the probate court.
which the wife of the lessee had asserted adverse title.

Normally, it is expedient and convenient that the question of title to property, which arises
between the decedent's estate and other persons, should be adjucated in a separate action
because such a question requires the presentation of appropriate pleadings (complaint,
motion to dismiss, answer, counterclaim and reply). A resort to the modes of discovery may
be necessary so that the issues may be clearly defined and the trial may be expedited.
Those matters can be effectively accomplished in an ordinary action rather than in the

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Settlement of Estate of Deceased Persons
Rule 73 Venue and Process

On December 4, 1967 she mortgaged the two lots to the Quezon City Development Bank
as security for a loan of fifty thousand pesos (page 204, Rollo).

Beatriz B. Valero died intestate on September 12, 1972, survived by her husband and her
adopted child. Her estate is pending settlement in Special Proceeding No. 88896 of the
G.R. No. L-39532 July 20, 1979
Court of First Instance of Manila. Mrs. Rustia was named administratrix of her adopted
mother's estate.
Testate Estate of Jose M. Valero, FLORA VALERO VDA. DE RODRIGUEZ and ROSIE
VALERO DE GUTIERREZ,petitioners-appellants,
More than a month later, or on October 18, 1972, Jose M. Valero died testate, survived by
vs.
his two children, Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs. Gutierrez. His will was duly probated in Special
COURT OF APPEALS and CARMEN VALERO-RUSTIA, respondents-appellees.
Proceeding No. 88677, also of the Court of First Instance of Manila. Lawyer Celso F.
Unson, the executor, submitted an inventory wherein, following the list of conjugal assets in
Amboriso Padilla Law Office and Iglesia & Associates for appellants. the testator's will, the two San Lorenzo Village lots were included as part of the testate
estate.
Angel P. Purisima for appellees.
That inclusion provoked Mrs. Rustia, the adopted child of Mrs. Valero, and Mrs. Rodriguez
and Mrs. Gutierrez, the legitimate children of the testator, Jose M. Valero, to file (through
AQUINO, J.:1äwphï1.ñët Mrs. Rustia's lawyer) in the testate proceeding a motion for the exclusion of the two San
Lorenzo Village lots from the testator's inventoried estate.
This is supposedly a case about collation. As factual background, it should be stated that
the spouses, Beatriz Bautista and Jose M. Valero, did not beget any child during their Adduced as reason for the exclusion is the fact that since February 16, 1966 Mrs. Rustia
marriage In 1951 Beatriz adopted Carmen (Carmencita) Bautista. Jose wanted also to has been the registered owner of the lots as shown by two Torrens titles, copies of which
adopt her but because, by his first marriage, he had two children named Flora Valero Vda. were attached to the motion.
de Rodriguez and Rosie Valero Gutierrez. he was disqualified to adopt Carmen. Jose
manifested in the adoption proceeding that he consented to the use by Carmen of his
surname Valero. (See Civil Case No. 12475, Manila CFI; Art. 338[1], Civil Code and art. 28, The executor opposed the motion on the ground that the two lots were donated to Mrs.
Child and Youth Welfare Code.) Rustia and the donation would allegedly involve collation and the donee's title to the lots.
The executor revealed that he was informed by Mrs. Gutierrez and Mrs. Rodriguez
(supposed movants) that the two lots should be included in the inventory. Thus, the issue of
On September 18, 1964, Jose M. Valero donated to Carmen B. Valero (who was already collation was prematurely raised.
married to Doctor Sergio Rustia) his one-half proindiviso share (apparently his inchoate
share) in two conjugal lots, with the improvements thereon, located at San Lorenzo Village,
Makati, Rizal, with an area of 1,500 square meters. His wife, Beatriz, consented to the The probate court in its order of August 9, 1973 excluded the two lots from the inventory of
donation. However, the deed of donation was not registered. the testator's estate but with the understanding "that the same are subject to collation".

On January 13, 1966, Jose M. Valero, who was then seventy-three years old, executed his On December 4, 1973 or one hundred twelve days after Mrs. Rustia was served with a
last will and testament wherein he enumerated the conjugal properties of himself and his copy of that order, she filed a motion for its reconsideration. She insisted that she is the
wife, including the two San Lorenzo Village lots. In that will, he did not mention the owner of the two San Lorenzo Village lots as indicated in the Torrens titles. No one
donation. He devised to his wife properties sufficient to constitute her legitime and opposed that motion. At the hearing of that motion, Mrs. Rustia's lawyer apprised the court
bequeathed the remainder to his two children, Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs. Gutierrez. that the executor informed him over the phone that he was not opposing the motion.

About a month later, or on February 15, 1966, the Valero spouses, by means of a deed of The probate court in its order of December 14, 1973 ruled that the two lots were
absolute sale, conveyed the San Lorenzo Village lots and the improvements thereon to unconditionally excluded from the inventory of Jose M. Valero's estate, meaning "that they
Carmen B. Valero-Rustia for the sum of one hundred twenty thousand pesos. The sale was are not subject to collation". That order is the bone of contention in this case.
registered on the following day. Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 163270 and 163271 were
issued to the vendee, Mrs. Rustia.
Mrs. Rodriguez (without being joined by her sister, Mrs. Gutierrez) filed a motion for the
reconsideration of the order of December 14, 1973. She alleged that the two San Lorenzo
Village lots were really conveyed to Mrs. Rustia by way of donation because the

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consideration for the sale was allegedly only one-fifth of the true value of the lots. Mrs. We hold further that the dictum of the Court of Appeals and the probate court that the two
Rodriguez further contended that the order of August 9, 1973 was final in character. disputed lots are not subject to collation was a supererogation and was not necessary to
the disposition of the case which merely involved the issue of inclusion in, or exclusion
from, the inventory of the testator's estate. The issue of collation was not yet justifiable at
In reply, Mrs. Rustia countered that the prior order was interlocutory and that in 1966 the
that early stage of the testate proceeding. It is not necessary to mention in the order of
true value of the two lots was around P120,000 and that their value increased considerably
exclusion the controversial matter of collation.
in 1973 or 1974. Moreover, the relatively low price of the sale could be attributed to the fact
that Mrs. Rustia and her husband lived with the Valeros and were taking care of them.
Whether collation may exist with respect to the two lots and whether Mrs. Rustia's Torrens
titles thereto are indefeasible are matters that may be raised later or may not be raised at
The probate court denied the motion for reconsideration. Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs.
all. How those issues should be resolved, if and when they are raised, need not be touched
Gutierrez, in their petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals, assailed the probate court's
upon in the adjudication of this appeal.
order declaring that the two lots were not subject to collation.

The intestate and testate proceedings for the settlement of the estates of the deceased
The Court of Appeals held that the order of exclusion dated August 9, 1973 was
Valero spouses were consolidated, as ordered by the lower court on November 21, 1974,
interlocutory and that it could be changed or Modified at anytime during the course of the
so that the conjugal estate of the deceased spouses may be properly liquidated, as
administration proceedings.
contemplated in section 2, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court and Act No. 3176 (Pages 223 and
235-6, Rollo).
It further held that it was immaterial whether the two lots were donated or sold to Mrs.
Rustia as "a mere subterfuge to avoid payment of the donor's and donee's taxes".
We have examined the expedientes of the two cases. We found that the proceedings have
According to the Appellate Court, it was immaterial because under article 1061 of the Civil
not yet reached the stage when the question of collation or advancement to an heir may be
Code, only compulsory heirs are required to make collation for the determination of their
raised and decided. The numerous debts of the decedents are still being paid. The net
legitimes and, under section 2, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, only heirs are involved in
remainder (remanente liquido) of their conjugal estate has not yet been determined. On the
questions as to advancement and Mrs. Rustia is not an heir of the testator, Jose M. Valero
other hand, up to this time, no separate action has been brought by the appellants to nullify
(Vda. de Rodriguez vs. Valero Rustia, CA-G. R. No. SP- 02944, August 28, 1974, per G. S.
Mrs. Rustia's Torrens titles to the disputed lots or to show that the sale was in reality a
Santos, Gaviola, Jr. and De Castro, JJ.).
donation.

From that decision, an appeal was made to this Court. The appeal was not given due
In this appeal, it is not proper to pass upon the question of collation and to decide whether
course. However, upon motion for reconsideration and over Mrs. Rustia's opposition, the
Mrs. Rustia's titles to the disputed lots are questionable. The proceedings below have not
appeal was later allowed.
reached the stage of partition and distribution when the legitimes of the compulsory heirs
have to be determined.
The appellants' only assignment of error is that the Court of Appeals should have held that
the probate court's order of exclusion dated August 9, 1973 was not interlocutory but was a
WHEREFORE, we affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals and the orders of the, lower
final and appealable order valid that the order of December 14, 1973 modifying the order of
court dated August 9 and December 14, 1973, excluding from the inventory of Jose M.
August 3 is void.
Valeros estate the two San Lorenzo Village lots now registered in the name of Carmen B.
Valero-Rustia, but we delete from that decision and the two orders any ruling regarding
We hold that the order of exclusion dated August 9, 1973 was not a final order. It was collation which is a matter that may be passed upon by the probate court at the time when
interlocutory in the sense that it did not settle once and for all the title to the San Lorenzo it is seasonably raised by the interested parties, if it is ever raised at all. No costs.
Village lots. The probate court in the exclusion incident could not determine the question of
title.
SO ORDERED.

The prevailing rule is that for the purpose of determining whether a certain property should
or should not be included in the inventory, the probate court may pass upon the title thereto
but such determination is not conclusive and is subject to the final decision in a separate
action regarding ownership which may be instituted by the parties (3 Moran's Comments on
the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, pages 448-9 and 473; Lachenal vs. Salas, L-42257, June
14, 1976, 71 SCRA 262, 266).

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The proceedings for the settlement of the estate of Drepin were initiated shortly after his
death on July 29, 1972 with the filing of a petition for probate of his holographic will on
August 23, 1972.

In this holographic will the late Drepin listed twenty-two (22) persons as his alleged
G.R. No. L-62431-33 August 31, 1984
creditors, and within the six (6) months after publication within which to file claims against
the estate, twelve (12) persons filed their respective claims. The total amount of obligations
PIO BARRETTO REALTY DEVELOPMENT, INC., petitioner, that may be chargeable against the Drepin Estate is P1,299,652.66.
vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS (SIXTH DIVISION) and HONOR
The only asset of the testate estate of Drepin consists of three (3) parcels of titled land with
MOSLARES, respondents.
an area of approximately eighty (80) hectares, and another parcel with an area of eighty-
one (81) hectares still pending registration. The estate is saddled with claims of creditors
This petition for certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on named in the Drepin will and creditors who have filed their claims within the reglementary
June 30, 1982 in CA-G.R. Nos. 12599-R, 12600-R, and 12601-R entitled "Honor P. period. The only way to pay their claims is to sell the Drepin lots, so that from the proceeds
Moslares, petitioner v. Honorable Reynaldo P. Honrado, et al., respondents, was filed as of the sale, the debts of the estate could be paid, and any remaining balance distributed to
part of the effort to expedite the final settlement of the estate of the deceased NICOLAI the Drepin heirs.
DREPIN.
Since the filing of the petition for probate of the Drepin will, on August 23, 1972, nine (9)
The dispositive portion of the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals reads as follows: offers had been made for the purchase of the Drepin lands, among them, that of GM
Management Phils., dated August 15, 1978, through its President Honor P. Moslares. Basis
for Moslares' letter proposal is a deed of sale with mortgage executed by the decedent in
WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, judgment is hereby rendered: his favor on October 9, 1970. It appears that on said date, the deceased sold 80.3980
hectares of land absolutely and perpetually to Honor P. Moslares for the sum of
(a) making permanent the temporary restraining order issued: P2,600,000.00 with a downpayment of P300,000.00. To secure the payment of the
remaining P2,300,000.00, the latter mortgaged the land to the former. The parties further
agreed not to register the sale yet until P1,300,000.00 shall have been paid to Drepin and
(b) declaring null and void the impugned orders of April 15, 1980, July 2, 1980, P1,000.000.00 paid to Drepin's creditors.
September 30, 1980, and October 20, 1980, for having been issued in grave abuse of
discretion and in excess of jurisdiction, with the September and October orders having
the additional defect of due process violation; Subsequently, on June 25, 1971, Drepin and Moslares entered into a "Joint Venture
Agreement". Said agreement listed Drepin as the registered "owner" of the lots and
denominated Moslares as "developer" tasked with converting the lands into a residential
(c) declaring null and void the Deed of Undertaking and Deed of Sale in favor of subdivision. The agreement specified:
respondent Pio Barretto Realty Development, Inc., for being mere consequences of
null orders;
(h) That the Developer agrees to reserve the right of the registered Owner of the land
to ask for immediate CASH payment against an "Absolute Deed of Sale " on the said
(d) ordering the Register of Deeds of Rizal to cancel the transfer certificates of title above mentioned properties, subject of this "Joint Venture Agreement" on the amount
issued to Pio Barreto Realty Development, (TCT Nos. N-50539, of not less than TWO MILLION THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND
N-50540, N-50541) and to transfer the same to the Estate of Nicolai Drepin with the (P2,300,000.00) PESOS, after the big loan is granted to the Developer in or about
annotation that this transfer to the estate is subject to the final decision in Civil Case thirty (30) days to forty-five (45) days from the signing of this Joint Venture Agreement
No. 41287 of the CFI of Pasig, Metro Manila; and and the "Special Power of Attorney",

(e) denying the prayer for the exclusion of the three titled lots involved from Special (i) However, if the Owner of the property Mr. Nicolai Drepin not choose to be paid on
Proceedings Nos. 7257, 7261, and 7269 of the CFI of Makati Branch Civil Case No. this said above mentioned property in CASH of TWO MILLION THREE HUNDRED
41287 abovementioned. THOUSAND (P2,300,000.00) PESOS, this "joint venture agreement is still in full force
and effect, OTHERWISE if full payment of TWO MILLION THREE HUNDRED
THOUSAND (P2,300,000.00) PESOS receipt is acknowledged by the said Mr. Nicolai

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Drepin, the "Joint Venture Agreement" is automatically cancelled and declared no through this Honorable Court on 19 October, 1979, is in compliance with the Contract
force and effect. entered into between him and the late Nicolai Drepin, in 1970;

Before the agreement could be implemented, Nicolai Drepin died. 2. The Order of this Honorable Court dated 9 January, 1979, particularly with
reference to the period, mentioned in No. 1, page 2 of the Order of this Honorable
Court giving Honor P. Moslares up to 28 February, 1979, within which to comply with
Upon learning of the existence of Special Proceedings No. 7257, 7261 and 7269 herein
his letter-offer to the Court dated 15 August, 1978, is not yet final, said period having
respondent Moslares, on August 15, 1978, informed the Judicial Administrator
been extended;
Atty. Tomas Trinidad that he is already the owner of the properties made subject matter of
the Special Proceedings and proposed that he be permitted to pay the balance on the sale
with mortgage in accordance with the terms of his written proposal. The probate court, on 3. The Order of this Honorable Court dated 9 January, 1979, particularly No. 2, Page
August 17, 1978 issued an order approving respondent Moslares' proposal and authorizing 2 thereof, barred Counsel for Cornelia B. Tejano from making any further offer, his
administrator Trinidad to enter into the appropriate agreement. This was reiterated by the right to do so having expired on 28 February, 1979.
court in its order dated January 9, 1979, with the condition that GM Management Phils. had
only up to February 28, 1979 to comply with its letter-offer dated August 15, 1978 and
Thereupon, the probate court judge directed Moslares through the administrator Atty.
"failure on their part to comply with the same within the period specified, the contract with
Trinidad, to furnish copies of — (1) Deed of Absolute Sale; (2) Special Power of Attorney;
the decedent shall be deemed resolved and ineffective." Counsel for heir claimant Cornelia
and (3) Joint Venture Agreement. The same were promptly submitted.
Tejano was Revise given up to said date to make and submit a more beneficial offer.
Neither GM Management nor counsel for Tejano was able to perform as required.
On February 28, 1979, March 6, 1980 and April 15, 1980, letters to Judicial Administrator
Trinidad were sent by respondent Moslares seeking further extension of time within which
Requests for revision of payment and extension of period within which to pay the balance
to pay the balance of his obligation to the estate, and for favorable recommendations to the
of P1,600,000.00 were made by Moslares. Further, he filed a Manifestation and Urgent
probate court in his reports saying: "Help me now, this is ours. We can make money of all
Motion proposing transfer of the certificate of titles over the land subject of the proceedings
this sacrifice we had on the pass (sic)."
so as to enable him to generate funds to liquidate the payable balance. The same were left
unacted upon by the probate court.
On April 15, 1980, the probate court reiterated its order dated August 17, 1978 authorizing
the Administrator to finalize the sale with GM Management Phils. and giving respondent
Meanwhile, on September 25,1979, A Deed of Undertaking was entered into by respondent
Moslares ten (10) days from date to deposit the necessary amount to cover the value of the
Moslares and the Administrator to implement the Contract of Sale with Mortgage. Such
checks as each fallsdue. Failure to do so would result in the automatic rescission of the
deed provided for the mode of payment which Moslares was to follow as well as the
authority to sell to GM Management Phils. and the Administrator would be permitted to
clearing and transfer of the certificates of title in the name of Moslares. The latter proviso
accept other offers in the best interest of the Estate. This order was the probate court's
was to enable Moslares to secure the loan needed to pay for the balance of the purchase
prompt action on a "Report with Motion for Cancellation of Order Approving Sale to GM
price. Postdated checks were issued by Moslares to cover the amount embraced in said
Management, Phils. Honor P. Moslares, if it fails to make good the April 15, 1980 check "As
undertaking. Approval of the agreement with Moslares was strongly urged by the
Token Payment in Good Faith", filed by administrator Trinidad on the same day, April 15,
Administrator. No action was taken by the court thereon. At the hearing of October 19,
1980.
1979, Moslares tendered P1,600,000.00 to the Judicial Administrator. This was opposed by
counsel for heir Tejano, Atty. Ramon Encarnacion, on the ground that respondent Moslares
had only until February 28, 1979 within which to pay the same. Attorney Encarnacion GM Management sought reconsideration and amendment of the Order of April 15, 1980 to
thereupon brought to the attention of the court an offer to buy the properties for conform to the provisions of the Deed of Undertaking.
P3,000,000.00 by herein petitioner Pio Barretto Realty Development, Inc. Because of the
differing contentions and the new offer, the probate court ordered the parties to submit
On May 23, 1980, administrator Trinidad filed a "Report with Motion to Authorize
memoranda and set a conference on November 28, 1979 to discuss the new offer.
Administrator to Screen Offers to Purchase Estate and Others.

On November 12, 1979, respondent Moslares submitted his memorandum containing three
On May 31, 1980, respondent Moslares filed another manifestation praying that his pending
points to wit:
motions be acted upon and that the motion of administrator Trinidad be denied for lack of
merit.
l. Actually, Honor P. Moslares is already owner of the Property, subject matter of this
proceedings, and as such, could no longer be the subject matter of this testate
On June 30, 1980, administrator Trinidad made the following "Observation and Report on
proceedings. The payment made by Honor P. Moslares to the Judicial Administrator
the Motion of Buyer GM Management Phils. for reconsideration" —

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2. Two checks, one for P50,000.00 and one for P250,000.00 were deposited on April checks bounced also that the Deed of Undertaking was validly cancelled as a result of the
28, 1980 after the Order of the Probate Court. BOTH BOUNCED. DAIF (Drawn valid rescission of Trinidad's authority to sell to petitioner.
against insufficient funds).
On September 30, 1980, the probate court issued an order denying respondent Moslares'
3. Another check for P300,000.00 is now held by the Administrator, postdated for motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. And on October 10, 1980 administrator Trinidad
today, June 30, 1980 and Administrator just received, June 29, 1980 a telegram executed the Deed of Sale in favor of Pio Barretto Realty, Inc. transferring the titles to the
asking to withhold deposit until after 30 days from amendatory order of the Probate properties in question in the name of the latter. The same was duly registered. On October
Court. 20, 1980, the probate court approved the report of administrator Trinidad dated October 16,
1980, with xerox copies of the Deed of Sale in favor of Pio Barretto Realty, Inc. of the
estate of Nicolai Drepin pursuant to respondent court's order authorizing the sale, and of
xxx xxx xxx
the approved Deed of Undertaking with the vendee.

6. The motion of Administrator is reiterated.


An urgent Motion and Manifestation was filed by respondent Moslares on April 8, 1981
praying that his motion for reconsideration of the orders be already resolved, followed by an
On July 2, 1980, the probate court issued the following order: Omnibus Motion on April 27, 1981 to resolve all pending motions and praying that the Deed
of Sale and Deed of Undertaking in favor of Pio Barretto be cancelled. The same remained
unacted upon.
Finding the Motion of the Administrator well-taken and in the best interests of the
Estate, the administrator is authorized to enter into agreement with any other
interested parties on a first paid first served basis without prejudice to G.M. On May 18, 1981, respondent filed Civil Case No. 41287 before the Court of First Instance
Management Philippines to continue with its offer and make good the same in as an of Rizal in Pasig, Metro Manila to determine title and ownership over the Drepin lands.
ordinary buyer on the same first paid first served basis.
On June 23, 1981, a petition for certiorari was filed by respondent Moslares before the
Respondent Moslares filed a motion for reconsideration of said July 2, 1980 order on the Court of Appeals which issued a temporary restraining order. Judgment was rendered by
ground that: respondent court in favor of respondent Moslares, the dispositive portion of which has been
quoted.
1. The Honorable Probate Court has no jurisdiction over the three (3) parcels of land,
consisting of 80.3980 hectares subject matter of the Deed of Sale which the late Barretto filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied on November 12, 1982.
Nicolai Drepin, conveyed to Movant Honor P. Moslares. The only right which pertains Hence, this petition.
to the ESTATE, is the right to demand from Honor P. Moslares, the balance of the
Deed of Sale, which has been fixed by this Honorable Court at ONE MILLION SIX
In its decision, the Court of Appeals laid down the two principal issues involved in the case,
HUNDRED THOUSAND (P1,600,000.00) PESOS, Philippine Currency;
as follows: (1) whether or not the respondent judge (Judge R. Honrado) acted without or in
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in refusing to exclude the parcels of
2. As of November, 1979, the law that governs between the ESTATE and MOVANT, land involved from the testate proceedings of the Drepin estate; and (2) whether or not the
Honor P. Moslares, is the DEED OF UNDERTAKING executed by the Administrator in respondent judge acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion
favor of Movant Honor P. Moslares, pursuant to the authority given by the Honorable in issuing the impugned orders dated April 15, 1980, July 2, 1980, September 30, 1980,
Probate Court to the Administrator contained in the Order dated August 15, 1978, and October 20, 1980.
reiterated in the Order dated January 9, 1979, and in the Order dated 15 April 1980;
and
We are in full accord with the respondent court's resolution of the first issue, and we quote:

3. The Honorable Probate Court has no jurisdiction to decree rescission of the


For continually presuming that the three titled lots were part of the Drepin estate and
Contract into (sic) between the decedent and Movant Honor P. Moslares on the 9th
for refusing to provisionally pass upon the question of exclusion, did the respondent
day of October, 1970.
court act without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion?

This motion for reconsideration was opposed by administrator Trinidad as well as the
We hold that even with such presumption and refusal, the respondent court still acted
Tejano heirs through counsel, arguing that the probate court has jurisdiction to issue the
within its jurisdiction and not with grave abuse of discretion. After all, the jurisprudence
questioned orders because petitioner submitted himself to the court's jurisdiction and his
and rule are both to the effect that the probate court "may" provisionally pass upon the

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question of exclusion, not "should". The obvious reason is the probate court's limited alleged ownership of Mr. Moslares over the three titled Drepin lots involved in this case
jurisdiction and the principle that questions of title or ownership, which result to contrary to its pronouncement in settling the first issue.
inclusion in or exclusion from the inventory of the property, can only be settled in a
separate action. Hence, even if respondent court presumed an the way that the
It is to be noted that the last agreement entered into by the deceased prior to his death, that
properties sold by Drepin to petitioner were part of Drepin's estate, that would not
is, the Joint Venture Agreement listing Drepin as owner of the properties in question, and
prevent nor defeat petitioner's remedy in a separate suit.
the surrender to administrator Trinidad of the certificates of title, had led the probate court
to enter or include said properties in its inventory of the deceased's estate. Thus,
And We hold that Civil Case No. 41287 is just such a suit instituted to settle the provisionally, ownership thereof was recognized as vested in the estate. Subsequently, in
question of ownership over the lots covered originally by TCTs Nos. 259060, 259061 the course of the probate proceedings, the sale of the properties was found to be
and 259062, despite the claim for damages, because of the composite effect of the necessary to settle the deceased's obligations. It was then that herein private respondent
prayer in the complaint thereof ... Moslares submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court in an "Offer to Buy" said
properties, based on his previous agreement with the deceased during the latter's lifetime.
xxx xxx xxx
It is noteworthy that contrary to Moslares' assertion of ownership, he had offered to buy the
Drepin lands from the probate court. Surely, this is not conduct ordinarily expected of one
In effect, We are saying that the question of whether the properties sold by Drepin to
who is the owner of the property. Further, the fact that subsequent to the Deed of Sale, the
Petitioner should be excluded from the probate proceedings below, can not be
deceased as buyer and as absolute owner entered into an agreement with the respondent
determined with finality by Us in this case, because in this petition We are merely
merely as developer of the lands in question evidences a change of cause or object as well
reviewing the acts of the respondent CFI as a probate court. Any ruling by the probate
as a change of relation between the parties. Moslares' own acts negate his claims in this
court to include those properties "is only provisional in character and is without
petition that he had acquired ownership of the properties. Thus, the transparency of
prejudice to a judgment in a separate action on the issue of title or ownership" (Sebial
respondent's argument becomes readily apparent.
v. Sebial, L-23419, June 27, 1975, 64 SCRA 385). Consequently, in reviewing the
exercise of such limited probate jurisdiction, We cannot order an unqualified and final
exclusion of the properties involved, as prayed for; to do so would expand the probate Having submitted his letter-proposal to the court, the same was approved, allowing
court's jurisdiction beyond the perimeters set by law and jurisprudence. It is fitting and Moslares to pay the balance of the purchase price agreed upon by respondent and the
proper that this issue be ventilated and finally resolved in the already instituted Civil decedent in the amount of One Million Six Hundred Thousand Pesos (P1,600,000.00)
Case No. 41287, even as We hold that respondent court's act of not excluding the lots specifying the time and manner of payment thereof. Thus, he was given preference and
involved did not constitute grave abuse of discretion. In view of this limitation, We priority over other persons or groups offering to buy the estate. Having failed to comply with
need not resolve the issue of whether there was novation of the Deed of Sale with the conditions of payment of the contract, the same was rescinded by the probate court.
Mortgage, or not. Now, respondent questions this rescission which he maintains to be beyond the jurisdiction
of the court.
This same elemental principle, we found occasion to reiterate in the cases of Junquera v.
Borromeo (19 SCRA 656);Borromeo v. Canonoy (19 SCRA 667); Recto v. dela Rosa (75 Estoppel works to preclude respondent from questioning the jurisdiction of the court. By
SCRA 226); Lachenal v. Salas (71 SCRA 202);Bolisay v. Alcid (85 SCRA 213); Vda. de offering to buy the properties in question, respondent has clearly recognized the jurisdiction
Rodriguez v. Court of Appeals (91 SCRA 540). of the probate court to which he had effectively submitted himself. It is well settled that a
party is estopped from disputing the jurisdiction of the court after invoking it himself (Tible v.
Aquino, 65 SCRA 207). After voluntarily submitting a cause and encountering an adverse
However, from here, the road forks as we disagree with the respondent court's findings on
decision on the merits, it is too late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or power of the
the second issue.
court (People v. Munar, 53 SCRA 278; Capilitan v. dela Cruz, 55 SCRA 706; Summit
Guaranty and Insurance Co., Inc., v. Court of Appeals, 110 SCRA 241; Tajonera v.
In his petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, respondent Moslares assails the Lamoroza, 110 SCRA 438). A party will not be allowed to make a mockery of justice by
issuance of the four impugned orders by the probate court on the ground that the court had taking inconsistent positions. Doctrine of estoppel bars a party from trifling with the courts
no jurisdiction to rescind the Deed of Sale with the Mortgage entered into by the deceased (Depositario v. Hervias, 121 SCRA 756).
during his lifetime, due to the limited jurisdiction of the probate court merely to settle and
liquidate the estates of a decedent and not to pass upon questions of title to property.
The merits of the case likewise lead to similar conclusions.

On the other hand, the petitioner argues that in voiding and nullifying the four orders of the
It cannot but be conceded that the limited jurisdiction of a probate court prohibits it from
probate court, the Court of Appeals, in effect, would have the former court recognize the
determining rights to property left by a decedent which depends on the contract (Goodin v.

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Rule 73 Venue and Process

Casselman 200 N.W. 94, 51 N.D. 543). However, actions of the probate court, in the case Section 3. Persons interested may prevent such sale, etc., by giving bond. — No such
at bar, do not refer to the adjudication of rights under the contract entered into by the authority to sell mortgage, or otherwise encumber real or personal estate shall be
deceased during his lifetime. It is to be noted that the dealings of the respondent with the granted if any person interested in the estate gives a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the
court arose out of the latter's bid to sell property under its authority to sell, mortgage or court, conditioned to pay the debts, expenses of administration, and legacies within
otherwise encumber property of the estate to pay or settle against the estate (Rule 89, such tune as the court directs; and such bond shall be for the security of the creditors,
Revised Rules of Court). Thus, respondent bound himself under an agreement with the as well as of the executor or administrator, and may be prosecuted for the benefit of
court separate and distinct from that which he had with the decedent. In rescinding such either.
contract, the court merely seeks to enforce its right to put an end to an agreement which
had ceased to be a working proposition. Surely, this is well within the power of the probate
provides respondent with the legal means by which he could have forestalled the sale of
court. Though of limited and special jurisdiction, it cannot be denied, however, that when
the Drepin lands to the petitioner. (Court of First Instance v. Court of Appeals, supra) If third
the law confers jurisdiction upon a court, the latter is deemed to have all the necessary
persons oppose an application for leave to sell the property of the decedent, claiming title
powers to exercise such jurisdicton to make it effective (Zuniga v. Court of Appeals, 95
to the property, the title claim, cannot be adjudicated by the probate court, but it can hold
SCRA 740).
approval of the sale in abeyance until the question of ownership shall have been decided in
a proper action (Baquial v. Amihan, 92 Phil. 501). But this, he failed to do. Ergo, we find no
We cannot allow an absurd situation to arise where the Drepin estate will never be settled reason to disturb the questioned orders of the probate court.
and liquidated because even if Moslares cannot pay the agreed purchase price of the
Drepin lands, still the probate court can no longer sell the lands to other prospective
Moreover, the respondent is not without remedy if truly his claim of ownership is proper and
buyers. Under the theory of respondent, it is insisted that the probate court has no authority
meritorious. Since the probate court has no jurisdiction over the question of title and
to cancel his unfulfilled offer to buy, notwithstanding the fact that he failed miserably to
ownership of the properties, the respondents may bring a separate action if they wish to
comply with the terms of his own offer to buy. It is to be remembered that Moslares had
question the petitioner's titles and ownership (Vda. de Rodriguez v. Court of Appeals, 91
already been granted undue leniency by the probate court to meet his obligations to pay.
SCRA 540). Though an order of the probate court approving the sale of the decedent's
But, the saga of Moslares' bouncing checks remains. Three reports of Administrator
property is final, the respondent may file a complaint in the proper court for the rescission of
Trinidad had been submitted as annexes to the petition for certiorari. The report, dated
the sale. (Pizarro v. Court of Appeals, 99 SCRA 72). Likewise, the initial question of
June 30, 1980 showed that two of Moslares' checks were dishonored, having been drawn
respondent regarding the propriety of including the properties in question in the inventory of
against insufficient funds. The August 18, 1980 report stated that: "All the checks submitted
the probate court as he claims ownership thereof may therein be finally and conclusively
to the probate court for payment bounced." And in the report dated April 15, 1981, it was
settled (Vda. de Rodriguez v. Court of Appeals, supra; Lachenal v. Salas, 71 SCRA 202).
further averred by the administrator that "... believing that the bouncing checks were not
The respondent has ample protection of his rights for the province of the probate court
intended to defraud the Estate," "he refrained from prosecuting Honor P. Moslares
remains merely the settlement of the estate and may not be extended beyond (Pizarro v.
criminally under the law on dishonored checks."
Court of Appeals, supra).

It is also to be emphasized that it was not respondent's contract of sale with decedent that
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for certiorari is hereby GRANTED. The
had been invalidated but rather the administrator's authority to sell to respondent. Although
decision of the Court of Appeals (now Intermediate Appellate Court), dated June 30, 1982
the court recognized the Deed of Sale with Mortgage, still the same was not being enforced
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The permanent restraining order issued against the trial
as such but was used only as basis for the terms and conditions of respondent's agreement
court is hereby DISMISSED. The impugned orders of the probate court dated April 15,
with the court. To enforce the same is truly beyond the scope of the probate court's
1980, July 2, 1980, September 30, 1980 and October 20, 1980 are accordingly
jurisdiction. The court's actions constitute a refusal to pass upon the validity of the contract
REINSTATED.
to sell.

SO ORDERED.
Further, the probate court has ample discretion in determining whether conditions of a
particular sale would be beneficial to the estate and this is generally respected by the
appellate courts (Court of First Instance v. Court of Appeals, 106 SCRA 114, Fernandez, et
al., v. Montejo, 109 Phil. 701). To attack the nullity of the order of the probate court to sell
property of the deceased, it must be shown that the contract of sale is null and void (Rafols
v. Barba, 119 SCRA 147). The infirmity of the subject deed of sale is premised on the
alleged nullity of the order of the court authorizing the sale. The validity of said order may
not be attacked in a collateral proceeding, the supposed ground for declaring it void for lack
of jurisdiction not being apparent on the face thereof (Rafols v. Barba, supra).
Nevertheless, respondent could have prevented the sale of the Drepin lands. Section 3,
Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court, to wit:

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

On November 27, 1953, Vitaliana Borromeo, a niece of the deceased, filed her own
opposition to the probate of the will, on the ground that the signature "Vito Borromeo"
appearing thereon was a forgery. Other oppositions were subsequently filed by Patrocinio
Borromeo de Tabotabo (her opposition was later withdrawn), Lilia Morre de Tabotabo,
G.R. No. L-18498 March 30, 1967 Lamberto Morre, Patricia Morre de Ranario, Aurora Morre de Borromeo, Ramon Ocampo,
Isagani Morre and Rosario Morre, invoking substantially the same grounds mentioned
heretofore.
TESTATE ESTATE OF VITO BORROMEO. JOSE H. JUNQUERA, petitioner-appellee,
vs.
CRISPIN BORROMEO, ET AL., oppositors-appellants. Meanwhile, Tomas, Amelia and Fortunato Borromeo, manifestly on behalf of the "Cebu
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, intervenor-appellant. Arcade Company, T. L. Borromeo y Cia.", a duly organized partnership controlled by them,
filed a motion to exclude from the inventory of the Estate previously filed by the new special
administrator, thirteen parcels of land situated in the City of Cebu with a total area of 2,148
Benjamin A. Rallon for oppositor-appellant Fortunato Borromeo. square meters, alleging that during his lifetime the deceased testator had sold said lots to
Crispen Baizas and Associates for heirs oppositors-appellants Tomas Borromeo and them, as evidenced by the document now in the record as Exhibit F-1 executed on May 17,
Amelia Borromeo. 1945, confirming the alleged previous sale. After due hearing, the court, in its order of July
Office of the Solicitor General for intervenor oppositor-appellant Republic. 16, 1954, denied the motion for exclusion, ruling that movants' remedy was to file a
Miguel Cuenco and Fernando S. Ruiz for heirs oppositors-appellants Crispin Borromeo, separate accion reivindicatoria against the administrator.
Teofilo Borromeo, et al.
Filiberto Leonardo for petitioner-appellee.
On October 28, 1955, the Republic of the Philippines filed a motion for leave to intervene
and join the oppositors in contesting the probate of the will, on the ground that, should the
DIZON, J.: estate be adjudicated the latter by intestacy, it stood to collect a considerable amount by
way of estate and inheritance taxes. In its order of December 10 of the same year, the
Vito Borromeo, a widower and permanent resident of the City of Cebu, died on March 13, Court allowed the intervention.
1952, in Parañaque, Rizal, at the age of 88 years, without forced heirs but leaving
extensive properties in the province of Cebu. After a prolonged trial, on May 28, 1960, the Court rendered a decision denying the probate
of the will and declaring itself without jurisdiction to pass upon the question of ownership
On April 19 of the same year, Jose H. Junquera, filed with the Court of First Instance of over the thirteen lots which the Cebu Arcade etc. claimed as its own. All the parties
said province a petition for the probate of a one page document as the last will left by said appealed — the proponents of the will from the portion of the decision denying probate, and
deceased, devising all his properties to Tomas, Fortunato and Amelia, all surnamed the oppositors and the Republic of the Philippines, from that portion thereof where the court
Borromeo, in equal and undivided shares, and designating Junquera as executor thereof refused to decide the question of ownership of the thirteen lots already mentioned.
(Special Proceedings No. 916-R). The document — now in the record as Exhibit "A" — was
dated May 17, 1946, drafted in Spanish, and allegedly signed, and thumbmarked by said The proponents of the disputed will, mainly with the testimony of the three attesting
deceased, in the presence of Dr. Cornelio G. Gandionco, Eusebio Cabiluna and Filiberto witnesses, Cornelio Gandionco, Filiberto Leonardo and Eusebio Cabiluna, sought to prove
Leonardo as attesting witnesses. On June 14, 1952, the probate court appointed Junquera the following facts:
as special administrator of the estate.

In the morning of May 17, 1945, Tomas Borromeo, complying with the request of Vito
On November 14 of the same year, Teofilo Borromeo filed an opposition to the probate of Borromeo, went to the house of Atty. Filiberto Leonardo to request him to be a witness at
the will based on the following grounds: (1) that the formalities required by law had not the execution of the latter's last will. Dr. Cornelio Gandionco, who at the time happened to
been complied with; (2) that the testator was mentally incapable of making a will at the time be in the house of Leonardo, was likewise requested to act as such. Together, the three
of its execution; (3) that the will was procured by undue and improper influence, on the part went to the residence of Vito Borromeo at Ramos Street, Cebu City. Upon their arrival the
of the beneficiaries and/or some other person; (4) that the signature of the testator was third witness, Eusebio Cabiluna, who was living on the ground floor of the house, was
procured by fraud; and (5) that the testator acted by mistake or did not intend the asked to come upstairs. Thereafter, in their presence, Vito Borromeo executed first, the
instrument he signed to be his will at the time he affixed his signature thereto. document Exhibit "F" (deed of confirmation of an alleged previous sale to Cebu Arcade
Company, T. L. Borromeo y Cia.) witnessed by Gandionco and Cabiluna. Later, Vito

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Borromeo, being of sound and disposing mind, and without pressure or influence exerted The trial court refused to believe the testimony of the attesting witnesses and, as a result,
on him, dictated the substance of his will to Tomas Borromeo, who in turn typewrote it in denied the petition for probate, because, in its opinion, they appeared not to be "wholly
proper legal language. The document was then read by Vito Borromeo, who later signed disinterested persons" and because of the serious discrepancies in their testimonies with
and thumbmarked it (Exhibit "A") and carbon copies thereof (Exhibits "E" and "K") in the respect to the number of copies made of the disputed document. The court also found that
presence of the attesting witnesses, who, in turn, signed the will and its copies in the the physical condition of the deceased at the time of the execution of the questioned
presence of Vito Borromeo and of each other. document was such that it was highly improbable, if not impossible, for him to have affixed
his signatures on the documents Exhibits A, E and K in the spontaneous and excellent
manner they appear to have been written. Thus, the court was also led to believe the
Proponents also placed the Rev. Fr. Julio Corres, a Spanish Catholic priest who was the
testimony of the handwriting experts for oppositors, — adverse to the genuineness of the
confessor of Vito Borromeo from 1942 to 1946, the Rev. Fr. Sergio Alfafara, who was his
signatures of Vito Borromeo on the questioned document — more than that of the
confessor from 1946 to 1947, and Vicenta Mañacap, a mid-wife who lived in the testator's
handwriting expert presented by the proponents of the will.
house and had served him from May 1945 up to his death on March 30, 1952 on the
witness stand. The gist of their testimony is to the effect that at the time of the execution of
the will, Vito Borromeo was still strong and could move around freely with the aid of a cane; It seems clear, therefore, that the main issue to be decided in the present appeal is whether
that he was still mentally alert and was a man of strong will; that his right hand was or not the evidence of record is sufficient to prove the due execution of the will in
unimpaired and he could write with it unaided; that as a matter of fact — according to question.1äwphï1.ñët
Vicenta Mañacap — he still wrote personal letters to Tomas Borromeo, could eat by himself
and even played the piano.
It must be conceded that in this jurisdiction, the subscribing witnesses to a contested will
are regarded as the best witnesses in connection with its due execution. It is similarly true,
On the other hand, the oppositors presented several witnesses who testified that the however, that to deserve full credit, their test, testimony must be reasonable and unbiased,
signatures purporting to be those of Vito Borromeo on the document Exhibit "A" and its and that, as in the case of any other witness, their testimony may be overcome by any
copies were forgeries; that they were too good and too perfect signatures and, therefore, competent evidence — direct or circumstantial (Board, etc. vs. Shasser, 10 Kan. 585, 168
quite impossible for the deceased — an ailing man already 82 years old on May 17, 1945 Pac. 836 [1917]).
— to write; that he was found "positive for bacillus leprosy" by Dr. Antonio Garcia as early
as 1926 or 1927, having been treated for it consistently by injections of chaulmoogra oil
It is also an appellate practice of long standing in this jurisdiction to accord great weight to
administered by Dr. Max Borromeo and Dr. Cornelio Gandionco; that Vito Borromeo's usual
the findings of fact made by the trial court and not to disturb them unless said court had
signatures during his better days had always been characterized by certain flourishes,
failed to consider material facts and circumstances or had given undue weight to, or
technically called "rubric"; that Vito Borromeo had also reared and educated two of the
misconstrued the testimony of particular witnesses, the reason for this being that the trial
oppositors, Crispin Borromeo and the late Teofilo Borromeo and there was no conceivable
judge had full opportunity to hear and observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses
reason why they were left out in the will, if any such will had really been made by him
while testifying and was consequently in a better position than the reviewing court to
knowingly; that the testamentary witness Cornelio Gandionco, is a nephew of the other
determine the question of their credibility. While this is not applicable to the present case
witness, Filiberto Leonardo, and was the fiance of Angeles Borromeo, a sister of Tomas
because His Honor, the judge who penned the appealed decision was not the same judge
Borromeo, one of the instituted heirs; that the third testamentary witness, Eusebio Cabiluna
before whom the evidence of the parties was presented, it must be stated that, judging from
is the real father of Fortunato Borromeo, another instituted heir, who admittedly grew up
the carefully written decision under review, it was only after a thorough study of the record
and was reared by Vito Borromeo and his wife Juliana Evangelista since he was barely
that His Honor arrived at the conclusion that the subscribing witnesses do not appear to be
three months; that Amelia Borromeo, the third instituted heir, is a younger sister of Tomas
wholly disinterested persons.
Borromeo and dependent upon him; that on May 17, 1945, the deceased's leprosy was so
far advanced that the fingers of his right hand were already hardened and atrophied, this
making it difficult, if not impossible, for him to write; and that on the same date, his sense of On the matter of the number of copies made of the questioned will allegedly signed by the
hearing and his eyesight had been considerably impaired, his eyes being always watery testator and the three subscribing witnesses, His Honor found that Cabiluna was very
due to the progress of his leprosy. uncertain and confused; that a certain stage of his examination, he said that
only two copies of the will were prepared — the original and one carbon copy — while at
another stage he affirmed that he did not know whether or not there was a duplicate and
The oppositors also presented Felipe Logan of the National Bureau of Investigation and
that all he could say was that he had affixed his signature three times (Transcript,
Jose G. Villanueva, as handwriting experts, who testified, after examining the supposed
Marquiala, August 22, 1958, pp. 49-50). In truth, however, he really signed six (6) times —
signatures of the deceased in Exhibit "A" and comparing them with his accepted standard
twice on the original and twice on each of the two copies. Adding confusion to the situation
signatures, that the questioned signatures were forgeries. The proponents, however,
is the answer he gave when he was asked if Vito Borromeo also signed the carbon copy, to
presented their own handwriting expert, Martin Ramos, who testified to the contrary.
which his answer was "I did not see" (Idem., p. 50).

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On the other hand, the other subscribing witness, Atty. Filiberto Leonardo, testified prejudice of the other. This can not be said of the condition and physical appearance of the
categorically that there were only the original and one carbon copy of the will and that the questioned document itself. Both, albeit silently, will reveal the naked truth, hiding nothing,
testator and all the subscribing witnesses signed both (Transcript, Marquiala, December forgetting nothing, and exaggerating nothing. For this reason, independently of the
23, 1953, pp. 167, 210, and 218). However, the naked and highly disturbing fact is that, conflicting opinions expressed by the handwriting experts called to the witness stand by the
contrary to what is inferable from the vacillating testimony of Cabiluna and the categorical parties, we have carefully examined and considered the physical appearance and condition
assertion of Atty. Leonardo, the proponents of the questioned will themselves of the original and two copies of the questioned will found in the record — particularly the
presented three copies of said will; the original, a carbon duplicate copy and a carbon signatures attributed to the testator — and We have come to the conclusion that the latter
triplicate copy, now in the record as Exhibits A, E and K, respectively. could not have been written by him.

While it is true that the testimony of these subscribing witnesses was given around eight Upon the face of the original and two copies of the contested will (Exhibits A, E and K)
years after the alleged execution of the questioned will, still we believe that the transaction appear a total of six alleged signatures of the testator. They are all well written along a
in which they claim to have taken an important part is of such character and importance practically straight line, without any visible sign of tremor or lack of firmness in the hand that
that it can not be a very easy matter for anyone of them to have a hazy recollection of the wrote them. In fact, in the respects just adverted to, they appear better written than the
number of copies signed by the testator and by them. Stranger still would it be for them to unquestioned signatures, of attesting witnesses Gandionco and Cabiluna, inspite of the fact
say something in open contradiction with the reality on the matter. If, as may be clearly that on the date of the alleged execution of the will (May 17, 1945) the testator was
deduced from their testimony — Cabiluna and Leonardo's — there was only the original considerably older and in a much poorer physical condition than they. According to the
and one copy signed by the testator and the subscribing witnesses, why is it that three — evidence, the testator was then a sick man, eighty-two years old, with the entire left half of
original and two copies — were really in existence and were produced in court during the his body paralyzed since six years before, while the oldest attesting witness (Cabiluna) was
trial? around sixty-five years of age and Leonardo and Gandionco were only forty-four and forty-
five years old respectively, and were all in good health. Despite the obviously very poor
physical condition of the testator, Leonardo claims that he signed the alleged will unaided,
In the case of the third subscribing witness, Dr. Cornelio Gandionco, the imputation was
writing his name thereon slowly but continuously or without interruption, and that, on the
made by two witnesses, Dr. Teofilo Borromeo and Judge Crispin Borromeo, that he was
same occasion, he signed his name several times not only on the original of the will and its
the fiance of Angeles Borromeo, sister of Tomas Borromeo, who is one of the three heirs
copies but also on the original and several copies of the alleged confirmatory sale Exhibit
instituted in the questioned will, evidently to show that he is not a completely disinterested
F-1 and on his residence certificate. Considering all the attendant circumstances, we agree
witness. The evidence to this effect appears to have remained unimpeached, although the
with the lower court that Vito Borromeo could not have written the questioned signatures.
proponents of the will could have done it by calling on Dr. Gandionco himself or on Angeles
Borromeo to deny the imputation.
In view of what has been said heretofore, We find it unnecessary to examine and consider
in detail the conflicting testimony of the handwriting experts presented by the parties: Martin
Moreover, the evidence also disclose that Dr. Gandionco was the uncle of the other
Ramos by the proponents of the will, to sustain the genuineness of the questioned
subscribing witness, Atty. Leonardo, and that, in fact, they were living together at the time
signatures, and Felipe Logan and Jose G. Villanueva, by the oppositors, to prove that said
of the alleged execution of the will. This circumstance — apparently trivial — can not be
signatures are forgeries. We shall limit ourselves in this connection to quoting with approval
taken lightly because in view of appellee's claim that Angeles Borromeo was the fiance of
the following portion of the appealed decision:
Dr. Gandionco, it would not be unreasonable to entertain the suspicion that both
subscribing witnesses were not wholly disinterested. Material to this point is the fact
established by the evidence that Atty. Leonardo was the notary public before whom the What the Court finds to be a weakness in the conclusions of Martin Ramos,
document Exhibit 4-A — which purports to convey to a partnership controlled by the heirs based on his comparative examination of the questioned and standard
instituted in the questioned will thirteen parcels of land situated in the commercial center of signatures of Vito Borromeo, is his apparent assumption that all the signatures
Cebu City — was supposedly acknowledged by the testator on the same date May 17, were made by Vito Borromeo under equality or similarity of circumstances, that
1945. is, that in all instances Vito Borromeo had normal use of both of his hands, — the
right and the left. He failed to take into account that when Vito Borromeo
allegedly affixed those signatures on May 17, 1945 on Exhibits 'A', 'E', and 'K' the
In the light of the foregoing, We can not see our way clear to holding that the trial court
left portion of his body, including the left hand, was already paralyzed, and Vito
erred in refusing to give full credit to the testimony of the three subscribing witnesses.
Borromeo was represented to have written his name alone by himself and
unaided. Maybe, if he was previously apprised of those circumstances, he would
It has also been held that the condition and physical appearance of a questioned document hesitate to make the conclusion that those flawless signatures reading Vito
constitute a valuable factor which, if correctly evaluated in the light of surrounding Borromeo, written straight and in a form as good as, if not better than, the
circumstances, may help in determining whether it is genuine or forged. Subscribing signatures of three much younger attesting witnesses, were positively in the
witnesses may forget or exaggerate what they really know, saw, heard or did; they may be handwriting of the 82-year old, ailing, and paralytic Vito Borromeo. The Court
biased and, therefore, tell only half truths to mislead the court or favor one party to the consequently, finds itself not disposed to adopt his conclusions, but on the

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contrary is inclined toward the views of the other two experts witnesses, Felipe
Logan and Jose G. Villanueva.

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

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

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

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

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

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thereof in their own rights, and not by inheritance. The action, docketed as Civil Case No.
274-R, was filed with the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch IX.

On February 2, 1971, PASTOR, JR. and his sister SOFIA filed their opposition to the
petition for probate and the order appointing QUEMADA as special administrator.

On December 5, 1972, the PROBATE COURT issued an order allowing the will to probate.
Appealed to the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 52961- R, the order was affirmed in a
G.R. No. L-56340 June 24, 1983 decision dated May 9, 1977. On petition for review, the Supreme Court in G.R. No. L-46645
dismissed the petition in a minute resolution dated November 1, 1977 and remanded the
same to the PROBATE COURT after denying reconsideration on January 11, 1978.
SPOUSES ALVARO PASTOR, JR. and MA. ELENA ACHAVAL DE
PASTOR, petitioners,
vs. For two years after remand of the case to the PROBATE COURT, QUEMADA filed
THE COURT OF APPEALS, JUAN Y. REYES, JUDGE OF BRANCH I, COURT OF FIRST pleading after pleading asking for payment of his legacy and seizure of the properties
INSTANCE OF CEBU and LEWELLYN BARLITO QUEMADA, respondents. subject of said legacy. PASTOR, JR. and SOFIA opposed these pleadings on the ground of
pendency of the reconveyance suit with another branch of the Cebu Court of First Instance.
All pleadings remained unacted upon by the PROBATE COURT.
PLANA, J.:
On March 5, 1980, the PROBATE COURT set the hearing on the intrinsic validity of the will
I. FACTS: for March 25, 1980, but upon objection of PASTOR, JR. and SOFIA on the e ground of
pendency of the reconveyance suit, no hearing was held on March 25. Instead, the
This is a case of hereditary succession. PROBATE COURT required the parties to submit their respective position papers as to
how much inheritance QUEMADA was entitled to receive under the wig. Pursuant thereto,
PASTOR. JR. and SOFIA submitted their Memorandum of authorities dated April 10, which
Alvaro Pastor, Sr. (PASTOR, SR.), a Spanish subject, died in Cebu City on June 5, 1966, in effect showed that determination of how much QUEMADA should receive was still
survived by his Spanish wife Sofia Bossio (who also died on October 21, 1966), their two premature. QUEMADA submitted his Position paper dated April 20, 1980. ATLAS, upon
legitimate children Alvaro Pastor, Jr. (PASTOR, JR.) and Sofia Pastor de Midgely (SOFIA), order of the Court, submitted a sworn statement of royalties paid to the Pastor Group of tsn
and an illegitimate child, not natural, by the name of Lewellyn Barlito Quemada QUEMADA from June 1966 (when Pastor, Sr. died) to February 1980. The statement revealed that of
PASTOR, JR. is a Philippine citizen, having been naturalized in 1936. SOFIA is a Spanish the mining claims being operated by ATLAS, 60% pertained to the Pastor Group distributed
subject. QUEMADA is a Filipino by his mother's citizenship. as follows:

On November 13, 1970, QUEMADA filed a petition for the probate and allowance of an 1. A. Pastor, Jr. ...................................40.5%
alleged holographic will of PASTOR, SR. with the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch I
(PROBATE COURT), docketed as SP No. 3128-R. The will contained only one
testamentary disposition: a legacy in favor of QUEMADA consisting of 30% of PASTOR, 2. E. Pelaez, Sr. ...................................15.0%
SR.'s 42% share in the operation by Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development
Corporation (ATLAS) of some mining claims in Pina-Barot, Cebu. 3. B. Quemada .......................................4.5%

On November 21, 1970, the PROBATE COURT, upon motion of QUEMADA and after an On August 20, 1980, while the reconveyance suit was still being litigated in Branch IX of the
ex parte hearing, appointed him special administrator of the entire estate of PASTOR, SR., Court of First Instance of Cebu, the PROBATE COURT issued the now assailed Order of
whether or not covered or affected by the holographic will. He assumed office as such on Execution and Garnishment, resolving the question of ownership of the royalties payable by
December 4, 1970 after filing a bond of P 5,000.00. ATLAS and ruling in effect that the legacy to QUEMADA was not inofficious. [There was
absolutely no statement or claim in the Order that the Probate Order of December 5, 1972
On December 7, 1970, QUEMADA as special administrator, instituted against PASTOR, had previously resolved the issue of ownership of the mining rights of royalties thereon, nor
JR. and his wife an action for reconveyance of alleged properties of the estate, which the intrinsic validity of the holographic will.]
included the properties subject of the legacy and which were in the names of the spouses
PASTOR, JR. and his wife, Maria Elena Achaval de Pastor, who claimed to be the owners

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The order of August 20, 1980 found that as per the holographic will and a written Hence, this Petition for Review by certiorari with prayer for a writ of pre y injunction,
acknowledgment of PASTOR, JR. dated June 17, 1962, of the above 60% interest in the assailing the decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 18, 1980 as well as the
mining claims belonging to the Pastor Group, 42% belonged to PASTOR, SR. and only orders of the Probate Court dated August 20, 1980, November 11, 1980 and December 17,
33% belonged to PASTOR, JR. The remaining 25% belonged to E. Pelaez, also of the 1980, Med by petitioners on March 26, 1981, followed by a Supplemental Petition with
Pastor Group. The PROBATE COURT thus directed ATLAS to remit directly to QUEMADA Urgent Prayer for Restraining Order.
the 42% royalties due decedent's estate, of which QUEMADA was authorized to retain 75%
for himself as legatee and to deposit 25% with a reputable banking institution for payment
In April 1981, the Court (First Division) issued a writ of preliminary injunction, the lifting of
of the estate taxes and other obligations of the estate. The 33% share of PASTOR, JR.
which was denied in the Resolution of the same Division dated October 18, 1982, although
and/or his assignees was ordered garnished to answer for the accumulated legacy of
the bond of petitioners was increased from P50,000.00 to P100,000.00.
QUEMADA from the time of PASTOR, SR.'s death, which amounted to over two million
pesos.
Between December 21, 1981 and October 12, 1982, private respondent filed seven
successive motions for early resolution. Five of these motions expressly prayed for the
The order being "immediately executory", QUEMADA succeeded in obtaining a Writ of
resolution of the question as to whether or not the petition should be given due course.
Execution and Garnishment on September 4, 1980, and in serving the same on ATLAS on
the same day. Notified of the Order on September 6, 1980, the oppositors sought
reconsideration thereof on the same date primarily on the ground that the PROBATE On October 18, 1982, the Court (First Division) adopted a resolution stating that "the
COURT gravely abused its discretion when it resolved the question of ownership of the petition in fact and in effect was given due course when this case was heard on the merits
royalties and ordered the payment of QUEMADA's legacy after prematurely passing upon on September 7, (should be October 21, 1981) and concise memoranda in amplification of
the intrinsic validity of the will. In the meantime, the PROBATE COURT ordered suspension their oral arguments on the merits of the case were filed by the parties pursuant to the
of payment of all royalties due PASTOR, JR. and/or his assignees until after resolution of resolution of October 21, 1981 . . . " and denied in a resolution dated December 13, 1982,
oppositors' motion for reconsideration. private respondent's "Omnibus motion to set aside resolution dated October 18, 1982 and
to submit the matter of due course to the present membership of the Division; and to
reassign the case to another ponente."
Before the Motion for Reconsideration could be resolved, however, PASTOR, JR., this time
joined by his wife Ma. ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR, filed with the Court of Appeals a
Petition for certiorari and Prohibition with a prayer for writ of preliminary injunction (CA-G.R. Upon Motion for Reconsideration of the October 18, 1982 and December 13, 1982
No. SP- 11373-R). They assailed the Order dated August 20, 1980 and the writ of Resolutions, the Court en banc resolved to CONFIRM the questioned resolutions insofar as
execution and garnishment issued pursuant thereto. The petition was denied on November hey resolved that the petition in fact and in effect had been given due course.
18, 1980 on the grounds (1) that its filing was premature because the Motion for
Reconsideration of the questioned Order was still pending determination by the PROBATE
II. ISSUES:
COURT; and (2) that although "the rule that a motion for reconsideration is prerequisite for
an action for certiorari is never an absolute rule," the Order assailed is "legally valid. "
Assailed by the petitioners in these proceedings is the validity of the Order of execution and
garnishment dated August 20, 1980 as well as the Orders subsequently issued allegedly to
On December 9, 1980, PASTOR, JR. and his wife moved for reconsideration of the Court
implement the Probate Order of December 5, 1972, to wit: the Order of November 11, 1980
of Appeal's decision of November 18, 1980, calling the attention of the appellate court to
declaring that the Probate Order of 1972 indeed resolved the issues of ownership and
another order of the Probate Court dated November 11, 1980 (i.e., while their petition for
intrinsic validity of the will, and reiterating the Order of Execution dated August 20, 1980;
certiorari was pending decision in the appellate court), by which the oppositors' motion for
and the Order of December 17, 1980 reducing to P2,251,516.74 the amount payable to
reconsideration of the Probate Court's Order of August 20, 1980 was denied. [The
QUEMADA representing the royalties he should have received from the death of PASTOR,
November 11 Order declared that the questions of intrinsic validity of the will and of
SR. in 1966 up to February 1980.
ownership over the mining claims (not the royalties alone) had been finally adjudicated by
the final and executory Order of December 5, 1972, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals
and the Supreme Court, thereby rendering moot and academic the suit for reconveyance The Probate Order itself, insofar as it merely allowed the holographic will in probate, is not
then pending in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch IX. It clarified that only the 33% questioned. But petitioners denounce the Probate Court for having acted beyond its
share of PASTOR, JR. in the royalties (less than 7.5% share which he had assigned to jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion when it issued the assailed Orders. Their
QUEMADA before PASTOR, SR. died) was to be garnished and that as regards PASTOR, argument runs this way: Before the provisions of the holographic win can be implemented,
SR.'s 42% share, what was ordered was just the transfer of its possession to the custody of the questions of ownership of the mining properties and the intrinsic validity of the
the PROBATE COURT through the special administrator. Further, the Order granted holographic will must first be resolved with finality. Now, contrary to the position taken by
QUEMADA 6% interest on his unpaid legacy from August 1980 until fully paid.] the Probate Court in 1980 — i.e., almost eight years after the probate of the will in 1972 —
Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals denied reconsideration. the Probate Order did not resolve the two said issues. Therefore, the Probate Order could
not have resolved and actually did not decide QUEMADA's entitlement to the legacy. This

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being so, the Orders for the payment of the legacy in alleged implementation of the Probate Unmistakably, there are three aspects in these proceedings: (1) the probate of the
Order of 1972 are unwarranted for lack of basis. holographic will (2) the intestate estate aspect; and (3) the administration proceedings
for the purported estate of the decedent in the Philippines.
Closely related to the foregoing is the issue raised by QUEMADA The Probate Order of
1972 having become final and executory, how can its implementation (payment of legacy) In its broad and total perspective the whole proceedings are being impugned by the
be restrained? Of course, the question assumes that QUEMADA's entitlement to the legacy oppositors on jurisdictional grounds, i.e., that the fact of the decedent's residence and
was finally adjudged in the Probate Order. existence of properties in the Philippines have not been established.

On the merits, therefore, the basic issue is whether the Probate Order of December 5, 1972 Specifically placed in issue with respect to the probate proceedings are: (a) whether or
resolved with finality the questions of ownership and intrinsic validity. A negative finding will not the holographic will (Exhibit "J") has lost its efficacy as the last will and testament
necessarily render moot and academic the other issues raised by the parties, such as the upon the death of Alvaro Pastor, Sr. on June 5, 1966, in Cebu City, Philippines; (b)
jurisdiction of the Probate Court to conclusively resolve title to property, and the Whether or not the said will has been executed with all the formalities required by law;
constitutionality and repercussions of a ruling that the mining properties in dispute, although and (c) Did the late presentation of the holographic will affect the validity of the same?
in the name of PASTOR, JR. and his wife, really belonged to the decedent despite the
latter's constitutional disqualification as an alien.
Issues In the Administration Proceedings are as follows: (1) Was the ex- parte
appointment of the petitioner as special administrator valid and proper? (2) Is there
On the procedural aspect, placed in issue is the propriety of certiorari as a means to assail any indispensable necessity for the estate of the decedent to be placed under
the validity of the order of execution and the implementing writ. administration? (3) Whether or not petition is qualified to be a special administrator of
the estate; and (4) Whether or not the properties listed in the inventory (submitted by
the special administrator but not approved by the Probate Court) are to be excluded.
III. DISCUSSION:

Then came what purports to be the dispositive portion:


1. Issue of Ownership —

Upon the foregoing premises, this Court rules on and resolves some of the problems
(a) In a special proceeding for the probate of a will, the issue by and large is restricted to
and issues presented in these proceedings, as follows:
the extrinsic validity of the will, i.e., whether the testator, being of sound mind, freely
executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. (Rules of Court, Rule
75, Section 1; Rule 76, Section 9.) As a rule, the question of ownership is an extraneous (a) The Court has acquired jurisdiction over the probate proceedings as it hereby
matter which the Probate Court cannot resolve with finality. Thus, for the purpose of allows and approves the so-called holographic will of testator Alvaro Pastor, Sr.,
determining whether a certain property should or should not be included in the inventory of executed on July 31, 1961 with respect to its extrinsic validity, the same having been
estate properties, the Probate Court may pass upon the title thereto, but such duly authenticated pursuant to the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. Let,
determination is provisional, not conclusive, and is subject to the final decision in a therefore, a certificate of its allowance be prepared by the Branch Clerk of this Court
separate action to resolve title. [3 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court (1980 ed.), p. to be signed by this Presiding Judge, and attested by the seal of the Court, and
458; Valero Vda. de Rodriguez vs. Court of Appeals, 91 SCRA 540.] thereafter attached to the will, and the will and certificate filed and recorded by the
clerk. Let attested copies of the will and of the certificate of allowance thereof be sent
to Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corporation, Goodrich Bldg., Cebu City,
(b) The rule is that execution of a judgment must conform to that decreed in the dispositive
and the Register of Deeds of Cebu or of Toledo City, as the case may be, for
part of the decision. (Philippine-American Insurance Co. vs. Honorable Flores, 97 SCRA
recording.
811.) However, in case of ambiguity or uncertainty, the body of the decision may be
scanned for guidance in construing the judgment. (Heirs of Presto vs. Galang, 78 SCRA
534; Fabular vs. Court of Appeals, 119 SCRA 329; Robles vs. Timario. 107 Phil. 809.) (b) There was a delay in the granting of the letters testamentary or of administration
for as a matter of fact, no regular executor and/or administrator has been appointed
up to this time and - the appointment of a special administrator was, and still is,
The Order sought to be executed by the assailed Order of execution is the Probate Order
justified under the circumstances to take possession and charge of the estate of the
of December 5, 1972 which allegedly resolved the question of ownership of the disputed
deceased in the Philippines (particularly in Cebu) until the problems causing the delay
mining properties. The said Probate Order enumerated the issues before the Probate
are decided and the regular executor and/or administrator appointed.
Court, thus:

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(c) There is a necessity and propriety of a special administrator and later on an of Cebu." [Parenthetically, although the statement refers only to the "intestate" aspect, it
executor and/or administrator in these proceedings, in spite of this Court's declaration defies understanding how ownership by the estate of some properties could be
that the oppositors are the forced heirs and the petitioner is merely vested with the deemed finally resolved for purposes oftestate administration, but not so
character of a voluntary heir to the extent of the bounty given to him (under) the for intestate purposes. Can the estate be the owner of a property for testate but not for
will insofar as the same will not prejudice the legitimes of the oppositor for the intestate purposes?] Then again, the Probate Order (while indeed it does not direct the
following reasons: implementation of the legacy) conditionally stated that the intestate administration aspect
must proceed "unless . . . it is proven . . . that the legacy to be given and delivered to the
petitioner does not exceed the free portion of the estate of the testator," which clearly
1. To submit a complete inventory of the estate of the decedent-
implies that the issue of impairment of legitime (an aspect of intrinsic validity) was in fact
testator Alvaro Pastor, Sr.
not resolved. Finally, the Probate Order did not rule on the propriety of allowing QUEMADA
to remain as special administrator of estate properties not covered by the holographic will,
2. To administer and to continue to put to prolific utilization of the "considering that this (Probate) Order should have been properly issued solely as a
properties of the decedent; resolution on the issue of whether or not to allow and approve the aforestated will. "

3. To keep and maintain the houses and other structures and (c) That the Probate Order did not resolve the question of ownership of the properties listed
belonging to the estate, since the forced heirs are residing in Spain, in the estate inventory was appropriate, considering that the issue of ownership was the
and prepare them for delivery to the heirs in good order after partition very subject of controversy in the reconveyance suit that was still pending in Branch IX of
and when directed by the Court, but only after the payment of estate the Court of First Instance of Cebu.
and inheritance taxes;
(d) What, therefore, the Court of Appeals and, in effect, the Supreme Court affirmed en
(d) Subject to the outcome of the suit for reconveyance of ownership and possession toto when they reviewed the Probable Order were only the matters properly adjudged in the
of real and personal properties in Civil Case No. 274-T before Branch IX of the Court said Order.
of First Instance of Cebu, the intestate estate administration aspect must proceed,
unless, however, it is duly proven by the oppositors that debts of the decedent have
(e) In an attempt to justify the issuance of the Order of execution dated August 20, 1980,
already been paid, that there had been an extrajudicial partition or summary one
the Probate Court in its Order of November 11, 1980 explained that the basis for its
between the forced heirs, that the legacy to be given and delivered to the petitioner
conclusion that the question of ownership had been formally resolved by the Probate Order
does not exceed the free portion of the estate of the testator, that the respective
of 1972 are the findings in the latter Order that (1) during the lifetime of the decedent, he
shares of the forced heirs have been fairly apportioned, distributed and delivered to
was receiving royalties from ATLAS; (2) he had resided in the Philippines since pre-war
the two forced heirs of Alvaro Pastor, Sr., after deducting the property willed to the
days and was engaged in the mine prospecting business since 1937 particularly in the City
petitioner, and the estate and inheritance taxes have already been paid to the
of Toledo; and (3) PASTOR, JR. was only acting as dummy for his father because the latter
Government thru the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
was a Spaniard.

The suitability and propriety of allowing petitioner to remain as special administrator or


Based on the premises laid, the conclusion is obviously far-fetched.
administrator of the other properties of the estate of the decedent, which properties
are not directly or indirectly affected by the provisions of the holographic will (such as
bank deposits, land in Mactan etc.), will be resolved in another order as separate (f) It was, therefore, error for the assailed implementing Orders to conclude that the Probate
incident, considering that this order should have been properly issued solely as a Order adjudged with finality the question of ownership of the mining properties and
resolution on the issue of whether or not to allow and approve the aforestated will. royalties, and that, premised on this conclusion, the dispositive portion of the said Probate
(Emphasis supplied.) Order directed the special administrator to pay the legacy in dispute.

Nowhere in the dispositive portion is there a declaration of ownership of specific properties. 2. Issue of Intrinsic Validity of the Holographic Will -
On the contrary, it is manifest therein that ownership was not resolved. For it confined itself
to the question of extrinsic validity of the win, and the need for and propriety of appointing a
(a) When PASTOR, SR. died in 1966, he was survived by his wife, aside from his two
special administrator. Thus it allowed and approved the holographic win "with respect to its
legitimate children and one illegitimate son. There is therefore a need to liquidate the
extrinsic validity, the same having been duly authenticated pursuant to the requisites or
conjugal partnership and set apart the share of PASTOR, SR.'s wife in the conjugal
solemnities prescribed by law." It declared that the intestate estate administration aspect
partnership preparatory to the administration and liquidation of the estate of PASTOR, SR.
must proceed " subject to the outcome of the suit for reconveyance of ownership and
which will include, among others, the determination of the extent of the statutory
possession of real and personal properties in Civil Case 274-T before Branch IX of the CFI
usufructuary right of his wife until her death. * When the disputed Probate order was issued

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on December 5, 1972, there had been no liquidation of the community properties of (a) Without a final, authoritative adjudication of the issue as to what properties compose the
PASTOR, SR. and his wife. estate of PASTOR, SR. in the face of conflicting claims made by heirs and a non-heir (MA.
ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR) involving properties not in the name of the decedent, and
in the absence of a resolution on the intrinsic validity of the will here in question, there was
(b) So, also, as of the same date, there had been no prior definitive determination of the
no basis for the Probate Court to hold in its Probate Order of 1972, which it did not, that
assets of the estate of PASTOR, SR. There was an inventory of his properties presumably
private respondent is entitled to the payment of the questioned legacy. Therefore, the Order
prepared by the special administrator, but it does not appear that it was ever the subject of
of Execution of August 20, 1980 and the subsequent implementing orders for the payment
a hearing or that it was judicially approved. The reconveyance or recovery of properties
of QUEMADA's legacy, in alleged implementation of the dispositive part of the Probate
allegedly owned but not in the name of PASTOR, SR. was still being litigated in another
Order of December 5, 1972, must fall for lack of basis.
court.

(b) The ordered payment of legacy would be violative of the rule requiring prior liquidation
(c) There was no appropriate determination, much less payment, of the debts of the
of the estate of the deceased, i.e., the determination of the assets of the estate and
decedent and his estate. Indeed, it was only in the Probate Order of December 5, 1972
payment of all debts and expenses, before apportionment and distribution of the residue
where the Probate Court ordered that-
among the heirs and legatees. (Bernardo vs. Court of Appeals, 7 SCRA 367.)

... a notice be issued and published pursuant to the provisions of Rule 86 of the Rules
(c) Neither has the estate tax been paid on the estate of PASTOR, SR. Payment therefore
of Court, requiring all persons having money claims against the decedent to file them
of the legacy to QUEMADA would collide with the provision of the National Internal
in the office of the Branch Clerk of this Court."
Revenue Code requiring payment of estate tax before delivery to any beneficiary of his
distributive share of the estate (Section 107 [c])
(d) Nor had the estate tax been determined and paid, or at least provided for, as of
December 5, 1972.
(d) The assailed order of execution was unauthorized, having been issued purportedly
under Rule 88, Section 6 of the Rules of Court which reads:
(e) The net assets of the estate not having been determined, the legitime of the forced heirs
in concrete figures could not be ascertained.
Sec. 6. Court to fix contributive shares where devisees, legatees, or heirs have been
in possession. — Where devisees, legatees, or heirs have entered into possession of
(f) All the foregoing deficiencies considered, it was not possible to determine whether the portions of the estate before thedebts and expenses have been settled and paid and
legacy of QUEMADA - a fixed share in a specific property rather than an aliquot part of the have become liable to contribute for the payment of such debts and expenses, the
entire net estate of the deceased - would produce an impairment of the legitime of the court having jurisdiction of the estate may, by order for that purpose, after hearing,
compulsory heirs. settle the amount of their several liabilities, and order how much and in what manner
each person shall contribute, and may issue execution as circumstances require.
(g) Finally, there actually was no determination of the intrinsic validity of the will in other
respects. It was obviously for this reason that as late as March 5, 1980 - more than 7 years The above provision clearly authorizes execution to enforce payment of debts of estate. A
after the Probate Order was issued the Probate Court scheduled on March 25, 1980 a legacy is not a debt of the estate; indeed, legatees are among those against whom
hearing on the intrinsic validity of the will. execution is authorized to be issued.

3. Propriety of certiorari — ... there is merit in the petitioners' contention that the probate court generally cannot
issue a writ of execution. It is not supposed to issue a writ of execution because its
orders usually refer to the adjudication of claims against the estate which the executor
Private respondent challenges the propriety of certiorari as a means to assail the validity of or administrator may satisfy without the necessity of resorting to a writ of execution.
the disputed Order of execution. He contends that the error, if any, is one of judgment, not The probate court, as such, does not render any judgment enforceable by execution.
jurisdiction, and properly correctible only by appeal, not certiorari.

The circumstances that the Rules of Court expressly specifies that the probate court
Under the circumstances of the case at bar, the challenge must be rejected. Grave abuse may issue execution (a) to satisfy (debts of the estate out of) the contributive shares of
of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction is much too evident in the actuations of the devisees, legatees and heirs in possession of the decedent's assets (Sec. 6. Rule 88),
probate court to be overlooked or condoned. (b) to enforce payment of the expenses of partition (Sec. 3, Rule 90), and (c) to satisfy
the costs when a person is cited for examination in probate proceedings (Sec. 13,
Rule 142) may mean, under the rule of inclusion unius est exclusion alterius, that

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those are the only instances when it can issue a writ of execution. (Vda. de Valera vs. SO ORDERED.
Ofilada, 59 SCRA 96, 108.)

(d) It is within a court's competence to order the execution of a final judgment; but to order
the execution of a final order (which is not even meant to be executed) by reading into it
terms that are not there and in utter disregard of existing rules and law, is manifest grave
abuse of discretion tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. Consequently, the rule that certiorari
may not be invoked to defeat the right of a prevailing party to the execution of a valid and
final judgment, is inapplicable. For when an order of execution is issued with grave abuse
of discretion or is at variance with the judgment sought to be enforced (PVTA vs. Honorable
Gonzales, 92 SCRA 172), certiorari will lie to abate the order of execution.

(e) Aside from the propriety of resorting to certiorari to assail an order of execution which
varies the terms of the judgment sought to be executed or does not find support in the
dispositive part of the latter, there are circumstances in the instant case which justify the
remedy applied for.

Petitioner MA. ELENA ACHAVAL DE PASTOR, wife of PASTOR, JR., is the holder in her
own right of three mining claims which are one of the objects of conflicting claims of
ownership. She is not an heir of PASTOR, SR. and was not a party to the probate
proceedings. Therefore, she could not appeal from the Order of execution issued by the
Probate Court. On the other hand, after the issuance of the execution order, the urgency of
the relief she and her co-petitioner husband seek in the petition for certiorari states against
requiring her to go through the cumbersome procedure of asking for leave to intervene in
the probate proceedings to enable her, if leave is granted, to appeal from the challenged
order of execution which has ordered the immediate transfer and/or garnishment of the
royalties derived from mineral properties of which she is the duly registered owner and/or
grantee together with her husband. She could not have intervened before the issuance of
the assailed orders because she had no valid ground to intervene. The matter of ownership
over the properties subject of the execution was then still being litigated in another court in
a reconveyance suit filed by the special administrator of the estate of PASTOR, SR.

Likewise, at the time petitioner PASTOR, JR. Med the petition for certiorari with the Court of
Appeals, appeal was not available to him since his motion for reconsideration of the
execution order was still pending resolution by the Probate Court. But in the face of actual
garnishment of their major source of income, petitioners could no longer wait for the
resolution of their motion for reconsideration. They needed prompt relief from the injurious
effects of the execution order. Under the circumstances, recourse to certiorari was the
feasible remedy.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. No. SP-11373-R is


reversed. The Order of execution issued by the probate Court dated August 20, 1980, as
well as all the Orders issued subsequent thereto in alleged implementation of the Probate
Order dated December 5, 1972, particularly the Orders dated November 11, 1980 and
December 17, 1980, are hereby set aside; and this case is remanded to the appropriate
Regional Trial Court for proper proceedings, subject to the judgment to be rendered in Civil
Case No. 274-R.

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A writ of possession was also issued sometime thereafter, and the private respondents
were placed in possession of their respective shares. 4 However, when a representative of
the private respondents went to cultivate the portion adjudicated to said private
respondents, he was prevented by Jose Diaz and Cipriano Evangelista. In view thereof, the
private respondents filed a motion to cite said Jose Diaz and Cipriano Evangelista in
G.R. No. L-42678 April 9, 1987 contempt of court. 5

PEDRO E. BAYBAYAN, CIPRIANO EVANGELISTA, and SPOUSES BARTOLOME and As a consequence, herein petitioners Pedro Baybayan, Cipriano Evangelists, and the
CONSUELO BAYBAYAN,petitioners, spouses Bartolome and Consuelo Baybayan, claiming to be the registered owners of the
vs. lots involved, filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Rosales Branch
HON. NARCISO A. AQUINO, as Presiding Judge CFI Pangasinan Branch XIV; Deputy docketed therein as Civil Case No. 231-R, against the Deputy Sheriff and the herein private
Sheriff CONSTANCIO PAGADUAN; EULALIA EVANGELISTA, NORBERTO, PAULINA, respondents, for the quieting of their title, plus damages, and to restrain said defendants
FELIZA, all surnamed PADUA; DIONISIA, LAUREANO, JOSEFINA, LEONARDO, from enforcing the writ of execution issued in Spec. Proc. No. 24-R. 6
ANASTACIA, VALENTINA, all surnamed ORPIANO; SERVILLANO, GERTRUDES,
PASTORA, LORENZO, FAUSTA, all surnamed DELFIN; and DIONISIO, FAUSTINA,
Meanwhile, at the hearing of the motion for contempt in Spec. Proc. No. 24-R, the question
AMADO BENJAMIN, all surnamed ORIA, respondents.
of the Identity of the lands subject of Spec. Proc. No. 24-R, was brought up, so that the
probate court ordered a relocation survey and commissioned a geodetic engineer to
PADILLA, J.: undertake said survey. After the survey, the commissioner submitted to the Court a report
stating, among others, that the lands which were delivered by the Deputy Sheriff to the
heirs of Vicente Oria, pursuant to the writ of possession issued by the probate court, are
This is a petition for certiorari to annul and set aside the Order issued by the respondent registered in the names of herein petitioners under TCT No. 50269 and TCT No. 50270 of
Judge on 4 December 1975, which dismissed, without prejudice, the petitioners' complaint the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan. 7
filed in Civil Case No. 23 1 -R of the then Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, as well as
the Order, dated 24 December 1975, which denied petitioners' motion for the
reconsideration of said order. By reason thereof, the probate court, in an order dated 30 October 1975, dismissed the
contempt charge against Jose Diaz and Cipriano Evangelists. However, the same court
ordered the petitioners to amend their complaint filed in Civil Case No. 231-R since "it is
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows: necessary that an amended complaint be filed by Pedro Baybayan in order to determine
whether or not the property in question is part of the property under Spec. Proc. No. 24-R,
On 19 January 1960, herein private respondents Norberto Padua, Paulina Padua, Felisa inasmuch as it is now the property claimed by him which is covered by Transfer Certificate
Padua, Dionisia Orpiano, Laureano Orpiano, Leonardo Orpiano, Josefina Orpiano, of Title No. 50269." 8
Valentina Orpiano, Servillano Delfin, Gertrudes Delfin, Pastors Delfin Lorenzo Delfin,
Fausta Delfin, Dionisio Oria, Faustina Oria, Amado Oria, and Benjamin Oria, all claiming to Pursuant thereto, the herein petitioners filed an Omnibus Motion in Civil Case No. 231-R, to
be the nephews and nieces of one Vicente Oria who died intestate sometime in 1945 in which was attached an amended complaint wherein some defendants were dropped. 9 The
Balungao, Pangasinan, filed a petition for the summary settlement of the decedent's estate, respondent Judge, however, found that the Amended Complaint did not comply with his
the value of which did not exceed P6,000.00. The petition was filed in the then Court of order of 30 October 1975 to exclude Lot E and dismissed the case, "without prejudice on
First Instance of Pangasinan, Tayug Branch. The case was docketed therein as Special the part of the plaintiffs to file a proper complaint for the recovery of ownership or
Proceeding No. T-300. 1 possession of the property in controversy which is Lot B in the relocation plan and formerly
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 23684, now under Transfer Certificate of Title
After due publication and hearing, the probate court issued an order adjudicating the estate No. 50269." 10
to the heirs of the decedent, who were ordered to submit a project of partition. 2 Sometime
in 1971, the case was transferred to the Resales Branch of the Court of First Instance of The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the order, 11 but the motion was denied
Pangasinan where it was docketed as Spec. Proc. No. 24-R. on 24 December 1975. 12Thereupon, they filed with this Court a petition for certiorari for
the review of the orders of the lower court. The Court treated the petition as a special civil
On 18 September 1974, the probate court confirmed the adjudication earlier made and action for certiorari. 13
ordered Eulalia Evangelista to deliver the respective shares of her co-heirs; to make an
accounting of the produce thereof from 1960; and to deliver said produce to her co-heirs or Counsel for the petitioners, in this petition, contends that the respondent Judge had no
pay its equivalent. A writ of execution was subsequently issued pursuant thereto. 3 authority under the law, both substantive and procedural, to issue the questioned orders

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because the order to amend the complaint was issued in, and in connection with Spec.
Proc. No. 24-R where the herein petitioners are not even parties.

The contention, in our opinion, is not meritorious. While it may be true that the order to
amend the complaint filed in Civil Case No. 231-R was issued in Spec. Proc. No. 24-R, so
that it cannot ordinarily bind the herein petitioners who are not parties in said special
proceedings, it appears, however, that the petitioners voluntarily submitted themselves to
the jurisdiction of the probate court, when they filed an Omnibus Motion in Civil Case No.
231-R, wherein they prayed for leave to amend their complaint in accordance with the order
of the probate court of 30 October 1975. They cannot now be allowed belatedly to adopt an
inconsistent posture by attacking the jurisdiction of the respondent trial Judge to whom they
submitted their cause voluntarily. 14

We find, however, that the respondent Judge committed a grave abuse of discretion,
amounting to lack of jurisdiction, in dismissing the complaint filed by the petitioners, for their
alleged failure to amend their complaint to exclude therefrom Lot E which the respondent
Judge found, in his order of 30 October 1975, issued in the probate court, to be owned by
the petitioners Cipriano Evangelists and Consuelo Baybayan. The findings of the
respondent Judge as to the ownership of Lot E after the hearing conducted in Spec. Proc.
No. 24-R do not justify the order to amend the complaint since the determination of the
ownership of the said lot by the respondent Judge presiding over a court exercising probate
jurisdiction is not final or ultimate in nature and is without prejudice to the right of an
interested party to raise the question of ownership in a proper action. 15

It is a well-settled rule in this jurisdiction, sanctioned and reiterated in a long fine of


decisions, that "when questions arise as to ownership of property alleged to be a part of the
estate of a deceased person, but claimed by some other person to be his property, not by
virtue of any right of inheritance from the deceased, but by title adverse to that of the
deceased and his estate, such questions cannot be determined in the courts of
administrative proceedings. The Court of First Instance, acting, as a probate court, has no
jurisdiction to adjudicate such contentions, which must be submitted to the Court of First
Instance in the exercise of its general jurisdiction as a court of first instance." 16

Besides, the order to amend the complaint is vague and hazy and does not specify what
the amendments should be or how the complaint should be amended so that the petitioners
should not be faulted if the amended complaint subsequently filed by them in Civil Case
No. 231-R does not contain the allegations that the respondent Judge would want to
appear therein.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and a writ issued, setting aside the Orders issued
by the respondent Judge on 7 December 1975 and 24 December 1975, in Civil Case No.
231-R of the then Court of First Instance of Pangasinan. Without costs.

SO ORDERED.

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4. The decision of the Public Service Commission is an unwarranted departure


from its announced policy with respect to the establishment and operation of ice
plant. (Pp. 1-2, petitioner's brief.)

In his argument petitioner contends that it was error on the part of the commission to allow
G.R. No. L-770 April 27, 1948
the substitution of the legal representative of the estate of Pedro O. Fragante for the latter
as party applicant in the case then pending before the commission, and in subsequently
ANGEL T. LIMJOCO, petitioner, granting to said estate the certificate applied for, which is said to be in contravention of law.
vs.
INTESTATE ESTATE OF PEDRO O. FRAGRANTE, deceased, respondent.
If Pedro O. Fragante had not died, there can be no question that he would have had the
right to prosecute his application before the commission to its final conclusion. No one
Angel Limjoco, Jr. and Delfin L. Gonzales for petitioner. would have denied him that right. As declared by the commission in its decision, he had
Bienvenido A. Tan for respondent. invested in the ice plant in question P 35,000, and from what the commission said
regarding his other properties and business, he would certainly have been financially able
to maintain and operate said plant had he not died. His transportation business alone was
HILADO, J.: netting him about P1,440 a month. He was a Filipino citizen and continued to be such till
his demise. The commission declared in its decision, in view of the evidence before it, that
Under date of May 21, 1946, the Public Service Commission, through Deputy his estate was financially able to maintain and operate the ice plant. The aforesaid right of
Commissioner Fidel Ibañez, rendered its decision in case No. 4572 of Pedro O. Fragante, Pedro O. Fragante to prosecute said application to its conclusion was one which by its
as applicant for a certificate of public convenience to install, maintain and operate an ice nature did not lapse through his death. Hence, it constitutes a part of the assets of his
plant in San Juan, Rizal, whereby said commission held that the evidence therein showed estate, for which a right was property despite the possibility that in the end the commission
that the public interest and convenience will be promoted in a proper and suitable manner might have denied application, although under the facts of the case, the commission
"by authorizing the operation and maintenance of another ice plant of two and one-half (2- granted the application in view of the financial ability of the estate to maintain and operate
½) tons in the municipality of San Juan; that the original applicant Pedro O. Fragante was a the ice plant. Petitioner, in his memorandum of March 19, 1947, admits (page 3) that the
Filipino Citizen at the time of his death; and that his intestate estate is financially capable of certificate of public convenience once granted "as a rule, should descend to his estate as
maintaining the proposed service". The commission, therefore, overruled the opposition an asset". Such certificate would certainly be property, and the right to acquire such a
filed in the case and ordered "that under the provisions of section 15 of Commonwealth Act certificate, by complying with the requisites of the law, belonged to the decedent in his
No. 146, as amended a certificate of public convenience be issued to the Intestate Estate lifetime, and survived to his estate and judicial administrator after his death.
of the deceased Pedro Fragante, authorizing said Intestate Estate through its Special or
Judicial Administrator, appointed by the proper court of competent jurisdiction, to maintain If Pedro O. Fragrante had in his lifetime secured an option to buy a piece of land and during
and operate an ice plant with a daily productive capacity of two and one-half (2-1/2) tons in the life of the option he died, if the option had been given him in the ordinary course of
the Municipality of San Juan and to sell the ice produced from said plant in the said business and not out of special consideration for his person, there would be no doubt that
Municipality of San Juan and in the Municipality of Mandaluyong, Rizal, and in Quezon said option and the right to exercise it would have survived to his estate and legal
City", subject to the conditions therein set forth in detail (petitioner's brief, pp. 33-34). representatives. In such a case there would also be the possibility of failure to acquire the
property should he or his estate or legal representative fail to comply with the conditions of
Petitioner makes four assignments of error in his brief as follows: the option. In the case at bar Pedro O. Fragrante's undoubted right to apply for and acquire
the desired certificate of public convenience — the evidence established that the public
needed the ice plant — was under the law conditioned only upon the requisite citizenship
1. The decision of the Public Service Commission is not in accordance with law. and economic ability to maintain and operate the service. Of course, such right to acquire
or obtain such certificate of public convenience was subject to failure to secure its objective
2. The decision of the Public Service Commission is not reasonably supported by through nonfulfillment of the legal conditions, but the situation here is no different from the
evidence. legal standpoint from that of the option in the illustration just given.

3. The Public Service Commission erred in not giving petitioner and the Ice and Rule 88, section 2, provides that the executor or administrator may bring or defend actions,
Cold Storage Industries of the Philippines, Inc., as existing operators, a among other cases, for the protection of the property or rights of the deceased which
reasonable opportunity to meet the increased demand. survive, and it says that such actions may be brought or defended "in the right of the
deceased".

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Rule 82, section 1, paragraph (a), mentions among the duties of the executor or Words and Phrases, First Series, (Vol. 6, p, 5325), states the following doctrine in the
administrator, the making of an inventory of all goods, chattels, rights, credits, and estate of jurisdiction of the State of Indiana:
the deceased which shall come to his possession or knowledge, or to the possession of
any other person for him.
As the estate of the decedent is in law regarded as a person, a forgery
committed after the death of the man whose name purports to be signed to the
In his commentaries on the Rules of Court (Volume II, 2nd ed., pages 366, 367) the present instrument may be prosecuted as with the intent to defraud the estate. Billings vs.
chief Justice of this Court draws the following conclusion from the decisions cited by him: State, 107 Ind., 54, 55, 6 N. E. 914, 7 N. E. 763, 57 Am. Rep. 77.

Therefore, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, any action affecting the The Supreme Court of Indiana in the decision cited above had before it a case of forgery
property or rights (emphasis supplied) of a deceased person which may be committed after the death of one Morgan for the purpose of defrauding his estate. The
brought by or against him if he were alive, may likewise be instituted and objection was urged that the information did not aver that the forgery was committed with
prosecuted by or against the administrator, unless the action is for recovery of the intent to defraud any person. The Court, per Elliott, J., disposed of this objection as
money, debt or interest thereon, or unless, by its very nature, it cannot survive, follows:
because death extinguishes the right . . . .
. . . The reason advanced in support of this proposition is that the law does not
It is true that a proceeding upon the application for a certificate of public convenience regard the estate of a decedent as a person. This intention (contention) cannot
before the Public Service Commission is not an "action". But the foregoing provisions and prevail. The estate of the decedent is a person in legal contemplation. "The word
citations go to prove that the decedent's rights which by their nature are not extinguished "person" says Mr. Abbot, "in its legal signification, is a generic term, and includes
by death go to make up a part and parcel of the assets of his estate which, being placed artificial as well as natural persons," 2 Abb. Dict. 271; Douglas vs. Pacific, etc.
under the control and management of the executor or administrator, can not be exercised Co., 4 Cal. 304; Planters', etc., Bank vs. Andrews, 8 Port. (Ala.) 404. It said in
but by him in representation of the estate for the benefit of the creditors, devisees or another work that 'persons are of two kinds: natural and artificial. A natural
legatees, if any, and the heirs of the decedent. And if the right involved happens to consist person is a human being. Artificial persons include (1) a collection or succession
in the prosecution of an unfinished proceeding upon an application for a certificate of public of natural persons forming a corporation; (2) a collection of property to which the
convenience of the deceased before the Public Service Commission, it is but logical that law attributes the capacity of having rights and duties. The latter class of artificial
the legal representative be empowered and entitled in behalf of the estate to make the right persons is recognized only to a limited extent in our law. "Examples are the
effective in that proceeding. estate of a bankrupt or deceased person." 2 Rapalje & L. Law Dict. 954. Our own
cases inferentially recognize the correctness of the definition given by the
authors from whom we have quoted, for they declare that it is sufficient, in
Manresa (Vol. III, 6th ed., p. 11) says that No. 10 of article 334 and article 336 of the Civil
pleading a claim against a decedent's estate, to designate the defendant as the
Code, respectively, consider as immovable and movable things rights which are not
estate of the deceased person, naming him. Ginn vs. Collins, 43 Ind. 271. Unless
material. The same eminent commentator says in the cited volume (p. 45) that article 336
we accept this definition as correct, there would be a failure of justice in cases
of the Civil Code has been deficiently drafted in that it is not sufficiently expressive of all
where, as here, the forgery is committed after the death of a person whose name
incorporeal rights which are also property for juridical purposes.
is forged; and this is a result to be avoided if it can be done consistent with
principle. We perceive no difficulty in avoiding such a result; for, to our minds, it
Corpus Juris (Vol. 50, p. 737) states that in the broad sense of the term, property includes, seems reasonable that the estate of a decedent should be regarded as an
among other things, "an option", and "the certificate of the railroad commission permitting artificial person. It is the creation of law for the purpose of enabling a disposition
the operation of a bus line", and on page 748 of the same volume we read: of the assets to be properly made, and, although natural persons as heirs,
devises, or creditors, have an interest in the property, the artificial creature is a
distinct legal entity. The interest which natural persons have in it is not complete
However, these terms (real property, as estate or interest) have also been until there has been a due administration; and one who forges the name of the
declared to include every species of title, inchoate or complete, and decedent to an instrument purporting to be a promissory note must be regarded
embrace rights which lie in contract, whether executory or executed. (Emphasis as having intended to defraud the estate of the decedent, and not the natural
supplied.) persons having diverse interests in it, since ha cannot be presumed to have
known who those persons were, or what was the nature of their respective
Another important question raised by petitioner is whether the estate of Pedro O. Fragrante interest. The fraudulent intent is against the artificial person, — the estate — and
is a "person" within the meaning of the Public Service Act. not the natural persons who have direct or contingent interest in it. (107 Ind. 54,
55, 6 N.E. 914-915.)

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In the instant case there would also be a failure of justice unless the estate of Pedro O. United States or to corporations, copartnerships, associations, or joint-stock companies
Fragrante is considered a "person", for quashing of the proceedings for no other reason constituted and organized under the laws of the Philippines", and the further proviso that
than his death would entail prejudicial results to his investment amounting to P35,000.00 as sixty per centum of the stock or paid-up capital of such entities must belong entirely to
found by the commission, not counting the expenses and disbursements which the citizens of the Philippines or of the United States.
proceeding can be presumed to have occasioned him during his lifetime, let alone those
defrayed by the estate thereafter. In this jurisdiction there are ample precedents to show
Within the Philosophy of the present legal system, the underlying reason for the legal fiction
that the estate of a deceased person is also considered as having legal personality
by which, for certain purposes, the estate of the deceased person is considered a "person"
independent of their heirs. Among the most recent cases may be mentioned that of "Estate
is the avoidance of injustice or prejudice resulting from the impossibility of exercising such
of Mota vs. Concepcion, 56 Phil., 712, 717, wherein the principal plaintiff was the estate of
legal rights and fulfilling such legal obligations of the decedent as survived after his death
the deceased Lazaro Mota, and this Court gave judgment in favor of said estate along with
unless the fiction is indulged. Substantially the same reason is assigned to support the
the other plaintiffs in these words:
same rule in the jurisdiction of the State of Indiana, as announced in Billings vs.
State, supra, when the Supreme Court of said State said:
. . . the judgment appealed from must be affirmed so far as it holds that
defendants Concepcion and Whitaker are indebted to he plaintiffs in the amount
. . . It seems reasonable that the estate of a decedent should be regarded as an
of P245,804.69 . . . .
artificial person. it is the creation of law for the purpose of enabling a disposition
of the assets to be properly made . . . .
Under the regime of the Civil Code and before the enactment of the Code of Civil
Procedure, the heirs of a deceased person were considered in contemplation of law as the
Within the framework and principles of the constitution itself, to cite just one example, under
continuation of his personality by virtue of the provision of article 661 of the first Code that
the bill of rights it seems clear that while the civil rights guaranteed therein in the majority of
the heirs succeed to all the rights and obligations of the decedent by the mere fact of his
cases relate to natural persons, the term "person" used in section 1 (1) and (2) must be
death. It was so held by this Court in Barrios vs. Dolor, 2 Phil., 44, 46. However, after the
deemed to include artificial or juridical persons, for otherwise these latter would be without
enactment of the Code of Civil Procedure, article 661 of the Civil Code was abrogated, as
the constitutional guarantee against being deprived of property without due process of law,
held in Suiliong & Co. vs. Chio-Taysan, 12 Phil., 13, 22. In that case, as well as in many
or the immunity from unreasonable searches and seizures. We take it that it was the
others decided by this Court after the innovations introduced by the Code of Civil
intendment of the framers to include artificial or juridical, no less than natural, persons in
Procedure in the matter of estates of deceased persons, it has been the constant doctrine
these constitutional immunities and in others of similar nature. Among these artificial or
that it is the estate or the mass of property, rights and assets left by the decedent, instead
juridical persons figure estates of deceased persons. Hence, we hold that within the
of the heirs directly, that becomes vested and charged with his rights and obligations which
framework of the Constitution, the estate of Pedro O. Fragrante should be considered an
survive after his demise.
artificial or juridical person for the purposes of the settlement and distribution of his estate
which, of course, include the exercise during the judicial administration thereof of those
The heirs were formerly considered as the continuation of the decedent's personality simply rights and the fulfillment of those obligations of his which survived after his death. One of
by legal fiction, for they might not have been flesh and blood — the reason was one in the those rights was the one involved in his pending application before the Public Service
nature of a legal exigency derived from the principle that the heirs succeeded to the rights Commission in the instant case, consisting in the prosecution of said application to its final
and obligations of the decedent. Under the present legal system, such rights and conclusion. As stated above, an injustice would ensue from the opposite course.
obligations as survive after death have to be exercised and fulfilled only by the estate of the
deceased. And if the same legal fiction were not indulged, there would be no juridical basis
How about the point of citizenship? If by legal fiction his personality is considered extended
for the estate, represented by the executor or administrator, to exercise those rights and to
so that any debts or obligations left by, and surviving, him may be paid, and any surviving
fulfill those obligations of the deceased. The reason and purpose for indulging the fiction is
rights may be exercised for the benefit of his creditors and heirs, respectively, we find no
identical and the same in both cases. This is why according to the Supreme Court of
sound and cogent reason for denying the application of the same fiction to his citizenship,
Indiana in Billings vs. State, supra, citing 2 Rapalje & L. Dictionary, 954, among the artificial
and for not considering it as likewise extended for the purposes of the aforesaid unfinished
persons recognized by law figures "a collection of property to which the law attributes the
proceeding before the Public Service Commission. The outcome of said proceeding, if
capacity of having rights and duties", as for instance, the estate of a bankrupt or deceased
successful, would in the end inure to the benefit of the same creditors and the heirs. Even
person.
in that event petitioner could not allege any prejudice in the legal sense, any more than he
could have done if Fragrante had lived longer and obtained the desired certificate. The
Petitioner raises the decisive question of whether or not the estate of Pedro O. Fragrante fiction of such extension of his citizenship is grounded upon the same principle, and
can be considered a "citizen of the Philippines" within the meaning of section 16 of the motivated by the same reason, as the fiction of the extension of personality. The fiction is
Public Service Act, as amended, particularly the proviso thereof expressly and categorically made necessary to avoid the injustice of subjecting his estate, creditors and heirs, solely by
limiting the power of the commission to issue certificates of public convenience or reason of his death to the loss of the investment amounting to P35,000, which he has
certificates of public convenience and necessity "only to citizens of the Philippines or of the

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already made in the ice plant, not counting the other expenses occasioned by the instant
proceeding, from the Public Service Commission of this Court.

We can perceive no valid reason for holding that within the intent of the constitution (Article
IV), its provisions on Philippine citizenship exclude the legal principle of extension above
adverted to. If for reasons already stated our law indulges the fiction of extension of
personality, if for such reasons the estate of Pedro O. Fragrante should be considered an
artificial or juridical person herein, we can find no justification for refusing to declare a like
fiction as to the extension of his citizenship for the purposes of this proceeding.

Pedro O. Fragrante was a Filipino citizen, and as such, if he had lived, in view of the
evidence of record, he would have obtained from the commission the certificate for which
he was applying. The situation has suffered but one change, and that is, his death. His
estate was that of a Filipino citizen. And its economic ability to appropriately and
adequately operate and maintain the service of an ice plant was the same that it received
from the decedent himself. In the absence of a contrary showing, which does not exist
here, his heirs may be assumed to be also Filipino citizens; and if they are not, there is the
simple expedient of revoking the certificate or enjoining them from inheriting it.

Upon the whole, we are of the opinion that for the purposes of the prosecution of said case
No. 4572 of the Public Service Commission to its final conclusion, both the personality and
citizenship of Pedro O. Fragrante must be deemed extended, within the meaning and intent
of the Public Service Act, as amended, in harmony with the constitution: it is so adjudged
and decreed.

Decision affirmed, without costs. So ordered.

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Thereafter, respondent sought the dissolution of their conjugal partnership assets and the
settlement of Felicisimo’s estate. On December 17, 1993, she filed a petition for letters of
administration 8 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, docketed as SP. Proc. No.
M-3708 which was raffled to Branch 146 thereof.

G.R. No. 133743 February 6, 2007


Respondent alleged that she is the widow of Felicisimo; that, at the time of his death, the
decedent was residing at 100 San Juanico Street, New Alabang Village, Alabang, Metro
EDGAR SAN LUIS, Petitioner, Manila; that the decedent’s surviving heirs are respondent as legal spouse, his six children
vs. by his first marriage, and son by his second marriage; that the decedent left real properties,
FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, Respondent. both conjugal and exclusive, valued at P30,304,178.00 more or less; that the decedent
does not have any unpaid debts. Respondent prayed that the conjugal partnership assets
be liquidated and that letters of administration be issued to her.
x ---------------------------------------------------- x

On February 4, 1994, petitioner Rodolfo San Luis, one of the children of Felicisimo by his
G.R. No. 134029 February 6, 2007 first marriage, filed a motion to dismiss 9 on the grounds of improper venue and failure to
state a cause of action. Rodolfo claimed that the petition for letters of administration should
RODOLFO SAN LUIS, Petitioner, have been filed in the Province of Laguna because this was Felicisimo’s place of residence
vs. prior to his death. He further claimed that respondent has no legal personality to file the
FELICIDAD SAGALONGOS alias FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, Respondent. petition because she was only a mistress of Felicisimo since the latter, at the time of his
death, was still legally married to Merry Lee.
DECISION
On February 15, 1994, Linda invoked the same grounds and joined her brother Rodolfo in
seeking the dismissal 10 of the petition. On February 28, 1994, the trial court issued an
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: Order 11 denying the two motions to dismiss.

Before us are consolidated petitions for review assailing the February 4, 1998 Decision 1 of Unaware of the denial of the motions to dismiss, respondent filed on March 5, 1994 her
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 52647, which reversed and set aside the opposition 12 thereto. She submitted documentary evidence showing that while Felicisimo
September 12, 1995 2 and January 31, 1996 3 Resolutions of the Regional Trial Court of exercised the powers of his public office in Laguna, he regularly went home to their house
Makati City, Branch 134 in SP. Proc. No. M-3708; and its May 15, 1998 in New Alabang Village, Alabang, Metro Manila which they bought sometime in 1982.
Resolution 4denying petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. Further, she presented the decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family Court of the
First Circuit, State of Hawaii to prove that the marriage of Felicisimo to Merry Lee had
The instant case involves the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo T. San Luis (Felicisimo), already been dissolved. Thus, she claimed that Felicisimo had the legal capacity to marry
who was the former governor of the Province of Laguna. During his lifetime, Felicisimo her by virtue of paragraph 2, 13 Article 26 of the Family Code and the doctrine laid down in
contracted three marriages. His first marriage was with Virginia Sulit on March 17, 1942 out Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 14
of which were born six children, namely: Rodolfo, Mila, Edgar, Linda, Emilita and Manuel.
On August 11, 1963, Virginia predeceased Felicisimo. Thereafter, Linda, Rodolfo and herein petitioner Edgar San Luis, separately filed motions
for reconsideration from the Order denying their motions to dismiss. 15 They asserted that
Five years later, on May 1, 1968, Felicisimo married Merry Lee Corwin, with whom he had paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code cannot be given retroactive effect to validate
a son, Tobias. However, on October 15, 1971, Merry Lee, an American citizen, filed a respondent’s bigamous marriage with Felicisimo because this would impair vested rights in
Complaint for Divorce 5 before the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, United derogation of Article 256 16 of the Family Code.
States of America (U.S.A.), which issued a Decree Granting Absolute Divorce and
Awarding Child Custody on December 14, 1973. 6 On April 21, 1994, Mila, another daughter of Felicisimo from his first marriage, filed a
motion to disqualify Acting Presiding Judge Anthony E. Santos from hearing the case.
On June 20, 1974, Felicisimo married respondent Felicidad San Luis, then surnamed
Sagalongos, before Rev. Fr. William Meyer, Minister of the United Presbyterian at Wilshire On October 24, 1994, the trial court issued an Order 17 denying the motions for
Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. 7 He had no children with respondent but lived reconsideration. It ruled that respondent, as widow of the decedent, possessed the legal
with her for 18 years from the time of their marriage up to his death on December 18, 1992. standing to file the petition and that venue was properly laid. Meanwhile, the motion for

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disqualification was deemed moot and academic 18 because then Acting Presiding Judge Alabang, Muntinlupa. Thus, the petition for letters of administration was properly filed in
Santos was substituted by Judge Salvador S. Tensuan pending the resolution of said Makati City.
motion.
The Court of Appeals also held that Felicisimo had legal capacity to marry respondent by
Mila filed a motion for inhibition 19 against Judge Tensuan on November 16, 1994. On even virtue of paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code and the rulings in Van Dorn v. Romillo,
date, Edgar also filed a motion for reconsideration 20 from the Order denying their motion Jr. 30 and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera. 31 It found that the marriage between Felicisimo and Merry
for reconsideration arguing that it does not state the facts and law on which it was based. Lee was validly dissolved by virtue of the decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family
Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. As a result, under paragraph 2, Article 26,
Felicisimo was capacitated to contract a subsequent marriage with respondent. Thus –
On November 25, 1994, Judge Tensuan issued an Order 21 granting the motion for
inhibition. The case was re-raffled to Branch 134 presided by Judge Paul T. Arcangel.
With the well-known rule – express mandate of paragraph 2, Article 26, of the Family Code
of the Philippines, the doctrines in Van Dorn, Pilapil, and the reason and philosophy behind
On April 24, 1995, 22 the trial court required the parties to submit their respective position
the enactment of E.O. No. 227, — there is no justiciable reason to sustain the individual
papers on the twin issues of venue and legal capacity of respondent to file the petition. On
view — sweeping statement — of Judge Arc[h]angel, that "Article 26, par. 2 of the Family
May 5, 1995, Edgar manifested 23 that he is adopting the arguments and evidence set forth
Code, contravenes the basic policy of our state against divorce in any form whatsoever."
in his previous motion for reconsideration as his position paper. Respondent and Rodolfo
Indeed, courts cannot deny what the law grants. All that the courts should do is to give
filed their position papers on June 14, 24 and June 20, 25 1995, respectively.
force and effect to the express mandate of the law. The foreign divorce having
been obtained by the Foreigner on December 14, 1992, 32 the Filipino divorcee, "shallx x x
On September 12, 1995, the trial court dismissed the petition for letters of administration. It have capacity to remarry under Philippine laws". For this reason, the marriage between the
held that, at the time of his death, Felicisimo was the duly elected governor and a resident deceased and petitioner should not be denominated as "a bigamous marriage.
of the Province of Laguna. Hence, the petition should have been filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna
and not in Makati City. It also ruled that respondent was without legal capacity to file the
Therefore, under Article 130 of the Family Code, the petitioner as the surviving spouse can
petition for letters of administration because her marriage with Felicisimo was bigamous,
institute the judicial proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased. x x x 33
thus, void ab initio. It found that the decree of absolute divorce dissolving Felicisimo’s
marriage to Merry Lee was not valid in the Philippines and did not bind Felicisimo who was
a Filipino citizen. It also ruled that paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code cannot be Edgar, Linda, and Rodolfo filed separate motions for reconsideration 34 which were denied
retroactively applied because it would impair the vested rights of Felicisimo’s legitimate by the Court of Appeals.
children.
On July 2, 1998, Edgar appealed to this Court via the instant petition for review on
Respondent moved for reconsideration 26 and for the disqualification 27 of Judge Arcangel certiorari. 35 Rodolfo later filed a manifestation and motion to adopt the said petition which
but said motions were denied. 28 was granted. 36

Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed and set aside the orders of In the instant consolidated petitions, Edgar and Rodolfo insist that the venue of the subject
the trial court in its assailed Decision dated February 4, 1998, the dispositive portion of petition for letters of administration was improperly laid because at the time of his death,
which states: Felicisimo was a resident of Sta. Cruz, Laguna. They contend that pursuant to our rulings in
Nuval v. Guray 37 and Romualdez v. RTC, Br. 7, Tacloban City, 38"residence" is
synonymous with "domicile" which denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when
WHEREFORE, the Orders dated September 12, 1995 and January 31, 1996 are hereby
absent, one intends to return. They claim that a person can only have one domicile at any
REVERSED and SET ASIDE; the Orders dated February 28 and October 24, 1994 are
given time. Since Felicisimo never changed his domicile, the petition for letters of
REINSTATED; and the records of the case is REMANDED to the trial court for further
administration should have been filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
proceedings. 29

Petitioners also contend that respondent’s marriage to Felicisimo was void and bigamous
The appellante court ruled that under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the term
because it was performed during the subsistence of the latter’s marriage to Merry Lee.
"place of residence" of the decedent, for purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of
They argue that paragraph 2, Article 26 cannot be retroactively applied because it would
his estate, refers to the personal, actual or physical habitation, or actual residence or place
impair vested rights and ratify the void bigamous marriage. As such, respondent cannot be
of abode of a person as distinguished from legal residence or domicile. It noted that
considered the surviving wife of Felicisimo; hence, she has no legal capacity to file the
although Felicisimo discharged his functions as governor in Laguna, he actually resided in
petition for letters of administration.

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The issues for resolution: (1) whether venue was properly laid, and (2) whether respondent the address of Felicisimo at "100 San Juanico, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa." Respondent
has legal capacity to file the subject petition for letters of administration. also presented proof of membership of the deceased in the Ayala Alabang Village
Association 46 and Ayala Country Club, Inc., 47 letter-envelopes 48 from 1988 to 1990 sent by
the deceased’s children to him at his Alabang address, and the deceased’s calling
The petition lacks merit.
cards 49 stating that his home/city address is at "100 San Juanico, Ayala Alabang Village,
Muntinlupa" while his office/provincial address is in "Provincial Capitol, Sta. Cruz, Laguna."
Under Section 1, 39 Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for letters of administration of
the estate of Felicisimo should be filed in the Regional Trial Court of the province "in which
From the foregoing, we find that Felicisimo was a resident of Alabang, Muntinlupa for
he resides at the time of his death." In the case of Garcia Fule v. Court of Appeals, 40 we
purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate. Consequently, the subject
laid down the doctrinal rule for determining the residence – as contradistinguished from
petition for letters of administration was validly filed in the Regional Trial Court 50 which has
domicile – of the decedent for purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate:
territorial jurisdiction over Alabang, Muntinlupa. The subject petition was filed on December
17, 1993. At that time, Muntinlupa was still a municipality and the branches of the Regional
[T]he term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as distinguished from "legal Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region which had territorial jurisdiction over
residence or domicile." This term "resides," like the terms "residing" and "residence," is Muntinlupa were then seated in Makati City as per Supreme Court Administrative Order No.
elastic and should be interpreted in the light of the object or purpose of the statute or rule in 3. 51 Thus, the subject petition was validly filed before the Regional Trial Court of Makati
which it is employed. In the application of venue statutes and rules – Section 1, Rule 73 of City.
the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature – residence rather than domicile is the
significant factor. Even where the statute uses the word "domicile" still it is construed as
Anent the issue of respondent Felicidad’s legal personality to file the petition for letters of
meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense. Some cases make a distinction
administration, we must first resolve the issue of whether a Filipino who is divorced by his
between the terms "residence" and "domicile" but as generally used in statutes fixing
alien spouse abroad may validly remarry under the Civil Code, considering that Felicidad’s
venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the term "inhabitant."
marriage to Felicisimo was solemnized on June 20, 1974, or before the Family Code took
In other words, "resides" should be viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning,
effect on August 3, 1988. In resolving this issue, we need not retroactively apply the
the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode.
provisions of the Family Code, particularly Art. 26, par. (2) considering that there is
It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the
sufficient jurisprudential basis allowing us to rule in the affirmative.
term means merely residence, that is, personal residence, not legal residence or domicile.
Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile
requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one’s domicile. No The case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 52 involved a marriage between a foreigner and his
particular length of time of residence is required though; however, the residence must be Filipino wife, which marriage was subsequently dissolved through a divorce obtained
more than temporary. 41 (Emphasis supplied) abroad by the latter. Claiming that the divorce was not valid under Philippine law, the alien
spouse alleged that his interest in the properties from their conjugal partnership should be
protected. The Court, however, recognized the validity of the divorce and held that the alien
It is incorrect for petitioners to argue that "residence," for purposes of fixing the venue of
spouse had no interest in the properties acquired by the Filipino wife after the divorce.
the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo, is synonymous with "domicile." The rulings in
Thus:
Nuval and Romualdez are inapplicable to the instant case because they involve election
cases. Needless to say, there is a distinction between "residence" for purposes of election
laws and "residence" for purposes of fixing the venue of actions. In election cases, In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the marriage from the
"residence" and "domicile" are treated as synonymous terms, that is, the fixed permanent standards of American law, under which divorce dissolves the marriage. As stated by the
residence to which when absent, one has the intention of returning. 42 However, for Federal Supreme Court of the United States in Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L. Ed. 794, 799:
purposes of fixing venue under the Rules of Court, the "residence" of a person is his
personal, actual or physical habitation, or actual residence or place of abode, which may
"The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from the bond of matrimony by a competent
not necessarily be his legal residence or domicile provided he resides therein with
jurisdiction are to change the existing status or domestic relation of husband and wife, and
continuity and consistency. 43 Hence, it is possible that a person may have his residence in
to free them both from the bond. The marriage tie, when thus severed as to one party,
one place and domicile in another.
ceases to bind either. A husband without a wife, or a wife without a husband, is unknown to
the law. When the law provides, in the nature of a penalty, that the guilty party shall not
In the instant case, while petitioners established that Felicisimo was domiciled in Sta. Cruz, marry again, that party, as well as the other, is still absolutely freed from the bond of the
Laguna, respondent proved that he also maintained a residence in Alabang, Muntinlupa former marriage."
from 1982 up to the time of his death. Respondent submitted in evidence the Deed of
Absolute Sale 44 dated January 5, 1983 showing that the deceased purchased the
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the husband of
aforesaid property. She also presented billing statements 45 from the Philippine Heart
petitioner. He would have no standing to sue in the case below as petitioner’s husband
Center and Chinese General Hospital for the period August to December 1992 indicating

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entitled to exercise control over conjugal assets. As he is bound by the Decision of his own All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the
country’s Court, which validly exercised jurisdiction over him, and whose decision he does country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this
not repudiate, he is estopped by his own representation before said Court from asserting country, except those prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and 38.
his right over the alleged conjugal property. 53
On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family Code, Executive Order No.
As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the Court ruled that she should no longer 227 was likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A
be considered married to the alien spouse. Further, she should not be required to perform second paragraph was added to Article 26. As so amended, it now provides:
her marital duties and obligations. It held:
ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, petitioner has to be force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be
considered still married to private respondent and still subject to a wife's valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37
obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner and 38.
should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support
to private respondent. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs with possible
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a
rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated against in her own
divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to
country if the ends of justice are to be served. 54 (Emphasis added)
remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (Emphasis
supplied)
This principle was thereafter applied in Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera 55 where the Court
recognized the validity of a divorce obtained abroad. In the said case, it was held that the
xxxx
alien spouse is not a proper party in filing the adultery suit against his Filipino wife. The
Legislative Intent
Court stated that "the severance of the marital bond had the effect of dissociating the
former spouses from each other, hence the actuations of one would not affect or cast
obloquy on the other." 56 Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed that the intent of
Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of the Civil
Code Revision Committee, is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse
Likewise, in Quita v. Court of Appeals, 57 the Court stated that where a Filipino is divorced
remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to
by his naturalized foreign spouse, the ruling in Van Dorn applies. 58 Although decided on
the Filipino spouse.
December 22, 1998, the divorce in the said case was obtained in 1954 when the Civil Code
provisions were still in effect.
Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985 case of Van Dorn
v. Romillo, Jr. The Van Dorn case involved a marriage between a Filipino citizen and
The significance of the Van Dorn case to the development of limited recognition of divorce
a foreigner. The Court held therein that a divorce decree validly obtained by the alien
in the Philippines cannot be denied. The ruling has long been interpreted as severing
spouse is valid in the Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino spouse is
marital ties between parties in a mixed marriage and capacitating the Filipino spouse to
capacitated to remarry under Philippine law. 63 (Emphasis added)
remarry as a necessary consequence of upholding the validity of a divorce obtained abroad
by the alien spouse. In his treatise, Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino cited Van Dorn stating that "if
the foreigner obtains a valid foreign divorce, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to As such, the Van Dorn case is sufficient basis in resolving a situation where a divorce is
remarry under Philippine law." 59 In Garcia v. Recio,60 the Court likewise cited the validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse. With the enactment of the Family Code and
aforementioned case in relation to Article 26. 61 paragraph 2, Article 26 thereof, our lawmakers codified the law already established through
judicial precedent.1awphi1.net
In the recent case of Republic v. Orbecido III, 62 the historical background and legislative
intent behind paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code were discussed, to wit: Indeed, when the object of a marriage is defeated by rendering its continuance intolerable
to one of the parties and productive of no possible good to the community, relief in some
way should be obtainable. 64 Marriage, being a mutual and shared commitment between
Brief Historical Background
two parties, cannot possibly be productive of any good to the society where one is
considered released from the marital bond while the other remains bound to it. Such is the
On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law Executive Order No. 209, state of affairs where the alien spouse obtains a valid divorce abroad against the Filipino
otherwise known as the "Family Code," which took effect on August 3, 1988. Article 26 spouse, as in this case.
thereof states:

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Petitioners cite Articles 15 65 and 17 66 of the Civil Code in stating that the divorce is void not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by
under Philippine law insofar as Filipinos are concerned. However, in light of this Court’s the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the
rulings in the cases discussed above, the Filipino spouse should not be discriminated foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office. 71
against in his own country if the ends of justice are to be served. 67 In Alonzo v.
Intermediate Appellate Court, 68 the Court stated:
With regard to respondent’s marriage to Felicisimo allegedly solemnized in California,
U.S.A., she submitted photocopies of the Marriage Certificate and the annotated text 72 of
But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by its results; and likewise, we may the Family Law Act of California which purportedly show that their marriage was done in
add, by its purposes. It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of the law, the first accordance with the said law. As stated in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial
concern of the judge should be to discover in its provisions the intent of the lawmaker. notice of foreign laws as they must be alleged and proved. 73
Unquestionably, the law should never be interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice as
this is never within the legislative intent. An indispensable part of that intent, in fact, for we
Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial court for further reception of evidence
presume the good motives of the legislature, is to render justice.
on the divorce decree obtained by Merry Lee and the marriage of respondent and
Felicisimo.
Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in consonance with justice.
Law and justice are inseparable, and we must keep them so. To be sure, there are some
Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated to marry respondent in 1974,
laws that, while generally valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in a particular case
nevertheless, we find that the latter has the legal personality to file the subject petition for
because of its peculiar circumstances. In such a situation, we are not bound, because only
letters of administration, as she may be considered the co-owner of Felicisimo as regards
of our nature and functions, to apply them just the same, in slavish obedience to their
the properties that were acquired through their joint efforts during their cohabitation.
language. What we do instead is find a balance between the word and the will, that justice
may be done even as the law is obeyed.
Section 6, 74 Rule 78 of the Rules of Court states that letters of administration may be
granted to the surviving spouse of the decedent. However, Section 2, Rule 79 thereof also
As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and must not unfeelingly apply the law as it
provides in part:
is worded, yielding like robots to the literal command without regard to its cause and
consequence. "Courts are apt to err by sticking too closely to the words of a law," so we are
warned, by Justice Holmes again, "where these words import a policy that goes beyond SEC. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration. – A petition for letters of
them." administration must be filed by an interested person and must show, as far as known to the
petitioner: x x x.
xxxx
An "interested person" has been defined as one who would be benefited by the estate,
such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a creditor. The interest
More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined justice "as the constant and perpetual
must be material and direct, and not merely indirect or contingent. 75
wish to render every one his due." That wish continues to motivate this Court when it
assesses the facts and the law in every case brought to it for decision. Justice is always an
essential ingredient of its decisions. Thus when the facts warrants, we interpret the law in a In the instant case, respondent would qualify as an interested person who has a direct
way that will render justice, presuming that it was the intention of the lawmaker, to begin interest in the estate of Felicisimo by virtue of their cohabitation, the existence of which was
with, that the law be dispensed with justice. 69 not denied by petitioners. If she proves the validity of the divorce and Felicisimo’s capacity
to remarry, but fails to prove that her marriage with him was validly performed under the
laws of the U.S.A., then she may be considered as a co-owner under Article 144 76 of the
Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the divorce decree allegedly obtained by
Civil Code. This provision governs the property relations between parties who live together
Merry Lee which absolutely allowed Felicisimo to remarry, would have vested Felicidad
as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage, or their marriage is void from the
with the legal personality to file the present petition as Felicisimo’s surviving spouse.
beginning. It provides that the property acquired by either or both of them through their
However, the records show that there is insufficient evidence to prove the validity of the
work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be governed by the rules on co-
divorce obtained by Merry Lee as well as the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo under
ownership. In a co-ownership, it is not necessary that the property be acquired through
the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia v. Recio, 70 the Court laid down the specific guidelines for
their joint labor, efforts and industry. Any property acquired during the union is prima
pleading and proving foreign law and divorce judgments. It held that presentation solely of
facie presumed to have been obtained through their joint efforts. Hence, the portions
the divorce decree is insufficient and that proof of its authenticity and due execution must
belonging to the co-owners shall be presumed equal, unless the contrary is proven. 77
be presented. Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or document may be proven
as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication or (2) a
copy thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of the document. If the record is

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Meanwhile, if respondent fails to prove the validity of both the divorce and the marriage, the
applicable provision would be Article 148 of the Family Code which has filled the hiatus in
Article 144 of the Civil Code by expressly regulating the property relations of couples living
together as husband and wife but are incapacitated to marry. 78 In Saguid v. Court of
Appeals, 79 we held that even if the cohabitation or the acquisition of property occurred
before the Family Code took effect, Article 148 governs. 80 The Court described the
property regime under this provision as follows:

The regime of limited co-ownership of property governing the union of parties who are not
legally capacitated to marry each other, but who nonetheless live together as husband and
wife, applies to properties acquired during said cohabitation in proportion to their respective
contributions. Co-ownership will only be up to the extent of the proven actual contribution of
money, property or industry. Absent proof of the extent thereof, their contributions and
corresponding shares shall be presumed to be equal.

xxxx

In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which involved the issue of
co-ownership of properties acquired by the parties to a bigamous marriage and an
adulterous relationship, respectively, we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the
acquisition of the property is essential. x x x

As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as determined by the
pleadings or the nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must be
proved by competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of the party’s own
evidence and not upon the weakness of the opponent’s defense. x x x 81

In view of the foregoing, we find that respondent’s legal capacity to file the subject petition
for letters of administration may arise from her status as the surviving wife of Felicisimo or
as his co-owner under Article 144 of the Civil Code or Article 148 of the Family Code.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals reinstating
and affirming the February 28, 1994 Order of the Regional Trial Court which denied
petitioners’ motion to dismiss and its October 24, 1994 Order which dismissed petitioners’
motion for reconsideration is AFFIRMED. Let this case be REMANDED to the trial court for
further proceedings.

SO ORDERED.

63