GR.R. No. 204029, June 4, 2014
A Petition for Review on Certiorari has been filed under Rule 45 assailing the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 93035. The case is about annulment and revocation of an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and a Deed of Absolute Sale which was filed by the petitioners, Avelina Abarientos Rebusquillo and Salvador Orosco, in October 26, 2004 . They alleged that Avelina was one of the children of Eulalio Abarientos, who died intestate in 1964, leaving behind an untitled parcel of land in Legazpi City. In 2001, Avelina was made to sign two documents by her daughter and son-in-law on the pretext that the documents were needed to facilitate the titling of the lot but it was only in 2003 that she realized that what she signed was an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and a Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of respondents. They sought the intervention of the court to declare null and void the two documents in order to correct the injustice done to the other heirs of Eulalio. The Regional Trial Court (RTC) had annulled the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Avelina, the CA reversed the decision of the RTC.
CA’s reason: RTC erred in annulling the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication simply on petitioners’ allegation of the existence of the heirs of Eulalio, considering that issues on heirship must be made in administration or intestate proceedings, not in an ordinary civil action.
Aggrieved, Avelina petitioned before SC.
Should the declaration of heirship be made in a special proceeding in this case?
The court ruled that, generally, the declaration of heirship must be made in a special proceeding. However, the court also held that there are exceptions when there is a good and compelling reason for such recourse.
Here, it would not be practical or expeditious to subject the estate of the deceased person to a special proceeding (administration proceedings) since the only property of the estate was a single parcel of land and the parties in the civil case had already presented evidence regarding the issue of heirship.
The court also noted that the respondents admitted in court that they knew the petitioner Avelina was not the sole heir of the deceased person, and that it would be superfluous to have a separate special proceeding for the determination of the status of petitioner Avelina as the sole heir. Therefore, the trial court should proceed to evaluate the evidence presented by the parties during the trial and render a decision on the issues it defined during pre-trial.