G.R. 174975, January 20, 2009
After the death of Alejandro Montañer Sr., Liling and Almahleen, both muslims, filed a “complaint” for the judicial partition of properties before the Shari’a District Court in Marawi. They alleged Alejandro Sr was a Muslim, they are the first family, and requested for the estimated value of the estate of the decedent. They prayed for partition of the estate of the decedent and appointment of an administrator. Luiso Kho et al., filed a motion to dismiss upon various grounds. Sharia Court dismissed but afterwards reconsidered its order of dismissal and allowed Liling et al to adduce further evidence. In its second order, it ordered the continuation of trial, pre-trial, among others.
Luisa Kho et al sought recourse before the Supreme Court, and one of the issues raised was that (II) the Shari’a District Court did not acquire jurisdiction over the complaint of Liling et al because the “Estates and Properties of the Late Alendro Sr.” is not a natural or Juridical person with capacity to be sued.
SC: The underlying presumption of Luisa Kho et al is an erroneous understanding of special proceedings before the Sharia court – they presume that it is an ordinary civil action against a deceased person. Part of it may be because of the designation of the parties as plaintiffs or defendants and the case was denominated as a special civil action.
- A petition for issuance of letters of administration is a petition to establish a right or status
The proceedings before the Shari’a court for the issuance of letters of administration, settlement, and distribution of the estates is a special proceeding. Rule 1, Sec. 3(c) of the Rules of Court defines a special proceeding as “a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact”
In Musa v. Moson, the Court applied the rules on special proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a deceased Muslim. When Liling et al filed a petition for the issuance of letters of administration, etc, they sought to establish a special proceeding by seeking to establish the fact of death of the decedent and later be recognized as the heirs (a status or right).
- In a special proceeding, there is no definite adverse party. has only one definite party.
- The estate is not sued for any cause of action because the purpose of the settlement of the decedent is to determine all the assets of the estate, pay its liabilities, and distribute the residual to those entitled to the same.