Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1940 > January 1940 Decisions > G.R. No. 46898 January 20, 1940 - PEDRO ADAPON v. FELISA MARALIT

069 Phil 383:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 46898. January 20, 1940.]

Testate of the deceased Rudocindo Adapon. PEDRO ADAPON, administrator-appellant, v. FELISA MARALIT, Oppositor-Appellee.

G. Garcia and Jose Nava for Appellant.

Godofredo Reyes for Appellee.

SYLLABUS


1. ESTATES OF DECEASED PERSONS; EXTENT OF JURISDICTION OF PROBATE COURTS; DETERMINATION OF QUESTIONS OF OWNERSHIP. — Under section 599 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the probate jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance relates only to matters having to do with "the settlement of estates and probate of wills of deceased persons, the appointment and removal of guardians and trustees, and the power, duties, and rights of guardians and wards, trustees, and cestuis que trust." As may be seen, the law does not extend the jurisdiction of a probate court to the determination of questions of ownership that arise during the proceeding.


D E C I S I O N


LAUREL, J.:


On December 16, 1936, Pedro Adapon presented for probate the last will and testament of his deceased father, Rudocindo Adapon, in the Court of First Instance of Batangas where the cause was docketed as civil case No. 3313. The will was admitted to probate, and Pedro Adapon, having been appointed administrator by the court, filed an inventory of the properties and assets of the estate. The surviving spouse of the testator by a second marriage, Felisa Maralit, the oppositor-appellee here, through counsel, presented a petition asking the court to order the administrator to pay her a monthly allowance of P50, and to include in the submitted inventory the following properties which, it is alleged, had been omitted:

(a) Un credito hipotecario otorgado a favor

de Rudocindo Adapon por Gregorio Salud P2,000.00

(b) 1,000 cavanes de palay (ademas de 300)

cosechados y embodegados en la fecha

de la muerte del difunto y desde que este

fallecio hasta la fecha en que se

presento el inventario, a razon de P2 por

cada ca van 2,000.00

(c) 100 animales entre carabaos,

caballos, y vacunos 1,400.00

(d) Una casa reconstruida levantada en

la finca No. 2 del inventario 6,000.00

(e) Una maquina descascarilladora de

palay nueva instalada en la finca

No. 2 del inventario 1,000.00

————

Total 12,400.00

To this petition, administrator-appellant filed an answer enumerating his objections as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"(a) En cuanto a la obligacion de Gregorio Salud, de P2,000, la misma se ha contraido a favor del finado Rudocindo Adapon y del Administrador Pedro Adapon; de modo que, solamente la mitad de dicho credito, o sea, P1,000 corresponde a la Testamentaria.

"(b) En cuanto a los cavanes de palay, solamente 300 cavanes corresponden a la Testamentaria.

"(c) En cuanto a los carabaos, caballos y vacunos, el Administrador solo tiene en su poder unos 28 cabezas.

"(d) En cuanto a la casa construida dentro del lote o finca No. 2 del inventario, la misma no debe ser incluida en el inventario, puesto que es de la exclusiva propiedad del Administrador.

"(e) En cuanto a la maquina descascarilladora de palay instalada en la finca No. 2 del inventario, la misma no es de la Testamentaria, sino de la propiedad exclusiva del Administrador Pedro Adapon." (Record on Appeal, pp. 35-36.)

When the petition was set for hearing, the oppositor-appellee moved that, in view of the claims of ownership made in the answer, the administrator should be relieved of his duties and another appointed to act in his place. The probate court suspended the hearing for sometime in an effort to have the parties reach an agreement, and failing in this, issued the order of July 7, 1937, quoted below, which is the subject of the instant appeal:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"El Juzgado, despues de haber considerado detenidamente la pretension de una y otra parte, ha encontrado lo siguiente: 1. ░ que la viuda Felisa Maralit pide que el administrador sea removido de su cargo, porque este alega ser dueño exclusivo de algunos bienes que, segun la misma viuda, pertenecen a la testamentaria; y 2. ░ que el administrador no pretende tener ningun derecho exclusivo sobre los bienes que el ha hecho constar en el inventario.

"Sin resolver si el administrador es realmente dueño de los bienes que el no quiere hacer constar en el inventario como pertenecientes a la testamentaria, el Juzgado es de opinion que el motivo alegado por la viuda en su mocion pidiendo que el administrador sea removido de su cargo, no es suficiente para la remocion de este; pero teniendo en cuenta que se debe discutir en un juicio ordinario la propiedad de los bienes que los reclama como suyos Pedro Adapon, y para ello habra necesidad de que una persona en representacion de la testamentaria de Rudocindo Adapon ejercite una accion contra Pedro Adapon, en interes de esta actuacion especial, se debe nombrar como uno de los administradores a Eusebio Ilagan para que en tal capacidad reclame, en un juicio ordinario, de Pedro Adapon los bienes que, segun la viuda, pertenecen a la testamentaria, de dicho finado.

"Por todo lo expuesto, el Juzgado nombra a Eusebio Ilagan como uno de los administradores de esta testamentaria con el unico fin de ejercitar contra Pedro Adapon la accion respecto de los bienes, que se encuentran en poder de este, segun la viuda, dicho Pedro Adapon no quiere incluir en el inventario de los bienes afectos a esta testarnentaria."cralaw virtua1aw library

In his detailed assignment of errors, the administrator-appellant submits that the lower court erred in:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. ░ Al estimar que la peticion de Felisa Maralit en la que se pide que el administrador-apelante sea ordenado a incluir en el inventario cierto credito y bienes enumerados en dicha peticion, envuelve una cuestion de propiedad.

"2. ░ Al denegar la peticion del administrador-apelante a que el referido incidente suscitado por Felisa Maralit se vea y se resuelva dentro de estas actuaciones de testa- mentaria.

"3. ░ Al decretar, por orden fechada el 7 de julio de 1937, tal como fue enmendada por la de 28 de julio, 1937, el nombramiento de Alejandro Maralit como uno de los ad- ministradores de esta testamentaria con el unico fin de ejercitar contra Adapon, la accion respecto de los bienes que se encuentran en poder de este, segun la viuda, dicho Pedro Adapon no quiere incluir en el inventario de los bienes afectados a esta testamentaria.’

"4. ░ Al denegar la mocion de reconsideracion del administrador-apelante a la orden del Juzgado de 7 de julio de 1937."cralaw virtua1aw library

The statement of the issue by the parties is markedly conflictive. We are of the opinion, however, that the sole question to be resolved in this appeal is whether or not a Court of First Instance, in the exercise of its probate jurisdiction under section 599 of the Code of Civil Procedure, could, upon petition of an oppositor to include certain properties in the inventory prepared by the administrator, to some of which the said administrator has laid claims of proprietorship, determine the question of ownership, and thereby meet the issues as thus presented.

The administrator-appellant earnestly contends that the question of ownership is not involved, and that the only point to be passed upon is:" ┐Deberia el Juzgado ordenar o no el administrador Pedro Adapon la inclusion en el inventario de la testamentaria el credito y bienes especificados por Felisa Maralit en su aludido escrito?" It is not seen how the probate court can determine the respective merits of the conflicting claims made by the administrator and the oppositor without necessarily declaring the lawful ownership of the properties involved. Such a declaration is necessary and inevitable, and without it the, probate court cannot properly proceed and dispose of the petition submitted by the. oppositor.

Under section 599 of the Code Of Civil Procedure, the probate jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance relates only to matters having to do with "the settlement of estates and probate of wills of deceased persons, the appointment and removal of guardians and trustees, and the powers, duties, and rights of guardians and wards, trustees, and cestuis que trust." As may be seen, the law does not extend the jurisdiction of a probate court to the determination of questions of ownership that arise during the proceeding.

In the case of Bauermann v. Casas (10 Phil., 392-393), this court, in passing upon the same question now raised, observed that "the mere fact that one of the parties is an executor or administrator of a certain estate does not give exclusive jurisdiction to the probate court wherein the estate is being settled, of questions arising between such executors or administrators and third persons, as to the ownership of specific property. of course when it is once determined that certain property is the property of the estate, exclusive jurisdiction over the administration of such property vests in the court wherein the estate is being settled, but until this question is decided the mere allegation that certain property is the property of an estate in course of administration is not sufficient to oust all other courts of jurisdiction over questions touching the ownership of such property and rights based on the right of ownership." In Devesa v. Arbes (13 Phil., 281), the same doctrine was reiterated with greater force and emphasis, the Court there holding that "a contested claim of an administrator that certain rights of possession and ownership are the property of the estate which he represents must be determined in a separate action, and not in the course of the administration proceedings." Again, this Court in Guzman v. Anog and Anog (37 Phil., 62-63), decided that "when questions arise as to the 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 course of administration 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 in the exercise of its general jurisdiction as a Court of First Instance to try and determine the ordinary actions mentioned in the Code of Civil Procedure." Finally, in the case of Lunsod v. Ortega (46 Phil., 676), where the same question was presented, the Court reaffirmed the principle enunciated in the foregoing cases b stating that "it is an established doctrine of this court that the mere fact that one of the parties is the executor or administrator of the estate of a deceased person does not confer upon the probate court, in which the proceedings for the distribution and settlement of said estate are pending, exclusive jurisdiction to decide all questions that may arise between the said executor or administrator and third persons as to the title of a specific property."cralaw virtua1aw library

Furthermore, section 697 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"If the executor or administrator has a claim against the estate he represents, he shall give notice thereof, in writing, to the court, and the court shall appoint a special administrator who shall, in the adjustment of such claim, have the same power and be subject to the same liability as the general administrator or executor in the settlement of other claims. The court may order the executor or administrator to pay to the special administrator necessary funds to defend such claim."cralaw virtua1aw library

In the final analysis, therefore, we think that the appealed order of the lower court is in accordance with, and finds support in, the provisions of the law and the established doctrine of the court.

Counsel for the administrator-appellant calls our attention to the unpublished decision of this court in Antonia Lete de Morales v. Michaela Lete y Cornell (R. G. No. 37497), where it was resolved that "a fin de evitar multiplicidad de pleitos, opinamos que en el presente caso el Juez en su jurisdiccion ordinaria podia resolver la cuestion planteada como asi lo hizo." We have carefully examined the entire record of that case, and we are of the opinion that the present case stands upon a different factual basis. Primarily, in the first case, proof consisting of "Exhibit 1 and the testimony of one Ponciano Morales" had already been presented to, and admitted by the probate court establishing the ownership of the property in the estate, whereas in the present case, only the claim of the administrator to some of the properties mentioned in the petition of the oppositor, praying for the inclusion of the said properties in the inventory of the estate, appears on the record. That the decision in that case did not revoke the settled rulings of this court on the point can be further gleaned from the fact that the decision itself states that "pero con arreglo a las doctrinas sentadas en los asuntos de De los Santos contra Jarra, 15 Jur. Fil., 153, y Guzman contra Anog, 37 Jur. Fil., 66, el Juzgado no tenia competencia para resolver la cuestion sobre posesion y propiedad de los inmuebles en cuestion."cralaw virtua1aw library

Judgment is affirmed with costs against the petitioner-appellant. So ordered.

Avanceña, C.J., Villa-Real, Imperial, Diaz and Concepion, JJ., concur.




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