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TASIANA ONGSINGCO, Guardian of Francisco de Borja vs. CFI Judge BIENVENIDO A.

TAN and JOSE DE BORJA, 97 PHIL 330 (1955)

Tasiana Ongsingco is the wife and judicial guardian of one Francisco de Borja who
was declared incompetent. Francisco de Borja is the surviving spouse of Josefa
Tangco whose estate is being settled. Jose de Borja is the son of Francisco de Borja,
who was appointed administrator of the estate of Josefa Tangco. Francisco de Borja,
according to petitioner, is the owner of two parcels of land situated in Santa Rosa,
Nueva Ecija, which he acquired by inheritance from his late father Marcelo de Borja
and as such form part of his separate properties. As such guardian, petitioner took
over from her husband the possession of said two parcels of land and commenced
the threshing of the palay crop standing thereon for the benefit of her ward.
Meanwhile, Jose de Borja, as administrator of the estate of Josefa Tangco, filed a
motion praying that petitioner be restrained from threshing the palay on the lands
until the ownership thereof has been definitely determined either by the court or by
agreement of the parties.
A dispute arose as to the ownership of said parcel of land. On the one hand,
petitioner claims that they belong exclusively to her ward having inherited them
from his late father Marcelo de Borja. While on the other hand, respondent
administrator contends that they are not the lands adjudicated to the incompetent
by the commissioners on partition. The parties made several attempts to arrive at
an agreement as to the identity of the disputed lands, but they failed, and as there
was a pressing need of immediately threshing the crops, petitioner filed an action in
the CFI of Nueva Ecija to determine title and ownership of said lands. The Nueva
Ecija court issued a preliminary injunction restraining respondent administrator for
interfering with the administration of said properties. Such action notwithstanding
respondent administrator for interfering with the administration of said properties.
Such action notwithstanding respondent court issued the 2 orders in question
prohibiting petitioner from continuing possession of said partials of lands. These
orders not only go into the issue of ownership but render ineffective the writ of
injunction issued by the CFI of Nueva Ecija. Hence, this petition.

Whether the respondent court has jurisdiction to determine the dispute in the estate
proceedings of ownership of the late Josefa Tangco considering that the dispute
between the parties involves the ownership of the lands now subject of an action in
the CFI of Nueva Ecija.

NO. It is a well-settled rule in this jurisdiction, sanctioned and reiterated in a long
line of decisions that, "the question of ownership of property is one which should be
determined in an ordinary action and not in probate proceedings, and this whether
or not the property is alleged to belong to the estate". In another case, it was held
that "The general rule is that questions as to title to property cannot be passed
upon in testate or intestate proceedings", or stating the rule more elaborately,
"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
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 in the exercise of its general jurisdiction as a court of first
In the settlement of the estate of a decedent, what is the applicability of the
provision on conferring concurrent and exclusive jurisdiction?
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.
(Eusebio vs. Eusebio)