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400 Phil. 25


[ G.R. No. 109557, November 29, 2000 ]



The case is an appeal via certiorari from the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals and its resolution denying reconsideration[2] reversing that of the Regional Trial Court, Iloilo, Branch  32[3] and declaring void the special proceedings instituted therein by petitioners to authorize petitioner Gilda L. Jardeleza, in view of the comatose condition of her husband, Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr., with the approval of the court, to dispose of their conjugal property in favor of co-petitioners, their daughter and son in law, for the ostensible purpose of “financial need in the personal, business and medical expenses of her ‘incapacitated’ husband.”

The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:
“This case is a dispute between Teodoro L. Jardeleza (herein respondent) on the one hand, against his mother Gilda L. Jardeleza, and sister and brother-in-law, the spouses Jose Uy and Glenda Jardeleza (herein petitioners) on the other hand.  The controversy came about as a result of Dr. Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr.’s suffering of a stroke on March 25, 1991, which left him comatose and bereft of any motor or mental faculties.  Said Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. is the father of herein respondent Teodoro Jardeleza and husband of herein private respondent Gilda Jardeleza.

“Upon learning that one piece of real property belonging to the senior Jardeleza spouses was about to be sold, petitioner Teodoro Jardeleza, on June 6, 1991, filed a petition (Annex “A”) before the R.T.C. of Iloilo City, Branch 25, where it was docketed as Special Proceeding No. 4689, in the matter of the guardianship of Dr. Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr.  The petitioner averred therein that the present physical and mental incapacity  of Dr. Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. prevent him from competently administering his properties, and in order to prevent the loss and dissipation of the Jardelezas’ real and personal assets, there was a need for a court-appointed guardian to administer said properties.  It was prayed therein that Letters of Guardianship be issued in favor of herein private respondent Gilda Ledesma Jardeleza, wife of Dr. Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. It was further prayed that in the meantime, no property of Dr. Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. be negotiated, mortgaged or otherwise alienated to third persons, particularly Lot No. 4291 and all the improvements thereon, located along Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City, and covered by T.C.T. No. 47337.

“A few days later, or on June 13, 1991, respondent Gilda L. Jardeleza herself filed a petition docketed as Special Proceeding NO. 4691, before Branch 32 of the R.T.C. of Iloilo City, regarding the declaration of incapacity of Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr., assumption of sole powers of administration of conjugal properties, and authorization to sell the same (Annex “B”).  Therein, the petitioner Gilda L. Jardeleza averred the physical and mental incapacity of her husband, who was then confined for intensive medical care and treatment at the Iloilo Doctor’s Hospital.  She signified to the court her desire to assume sole powers of administration of their conjugal properties.  She also alleged that her husband’s medical treatment and hospitalization expenses were piling up, accumulating to several hundred thousands of pesos already.  For this, she urgently needed to sell one piece of real property, specifically Lot No. 4291 and its improvements.  Thus, she prayed for authorization from the court to sell said property.

“The following day, June 14, 1991, Branch 32 of the R.T.C. of Iloilo City issued an Order (Annex “C”) finding the petition in Spec. Proc. No. 4691 to be sufficient in form and substance, and setting the hearing thereof for June 20, 1991.  The scheduled hearing of the petition proceeded, attended by therein petitioner Gilda Jardeleza, her counsel, her two children, namely Ernesto Jardeleza, Jr., and Glenda Jardeleza Uy, and Dr. Rolando Padilla, one of Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr.’s attending physicians.

“On that same day, June 20, 1991, Branch 32 of the RTC of Iloilo City rendered its Decision (Annex “D”), finding that it was convinced that Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. was truly incapacitated to participate in the administration of the conjugal properties, and that the sale of Lot No. 4291 and the improvements thereon was necessary to defray the mounting expenses for treatment and Hospitalization.  The said court also made the pronouncement that the petition filed by Gilda L. Jardeleza was “pursuant to Article 124 of the Family Code, and that the proceedings thereon are governed by the rules on summary proceedings sanctioned under Article 253 of the same Code x x x.

“The said court then disposed as follows:

“WHEREFORE, there being factual and legal bases to the petition dated June 13, 1991, the Court hereby renders judgment as follows:

“1)  declaring Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr., petitioner’s husband, to be incapacitated and unable to participate in the administration of conjugal properties;

“2)  authorizing petitioner Gilda L. Jardeleza to assume sole powers of administration of their conjugal properties; and

“3)  authorizing aforesaid petitioner to sell Lot No. 4291 of the Cadastral Survey of Iloilo, situated in Iloilo City and covered by TCT No. 47337 issued in the names of Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. and Gilda L. Jardeleza and the buildings standing thereof.


“On June 24, 1991, herein petitioner Teodoro Jardeleza filed his Opposition to the proceedings before Branch 32 in Spec. Proc. Case No. 4691, said petitioner being unaware and not knowing that a decision has already been rendered on the case by public respondent.

“On July 3, 1991, herein petitioner Teodoro Jardeleza filed a motion for reconsideration of the judgment in Spec. Proc. No. 4691 and a motion for consolidation of the two cases (Annex “F”).  He propounded the argument that the petition for declaration of incapacity, assumption of sole powers of administration, and authority to sell the conjugal properties was essentially a petition for guardianship of the person and properties of Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. As such, it cannot be prosecuted in accordance with the provisions on summary proceedings set out in Article 253 of the Family Code.  It should follow the rules governing special proceedings in the Revised Rules of Court which require procedural due process, particularly the need for notice and a hearing on the merits.  On the other hand,  even if  Gilda  Jardeleza’s petition can be prosecuted by summary proceedings, there was still a failure to comply with the basic requirements thereof, making the decision in Spec. Proc. No. 4691 a defective one.  He further alleged that under the New Civil Code, Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. had acquired vested rights as a conjugal partner, and that these rights cannot be impaired or prejudiced without his consent.  Neither can he be deprived of his share in the conjugal properties through mere summary proceedings.  He then restated his position that Spec. Proc. No. 4691 should be consolidated with Spec. Proc. No. 4689 which was filed earlier and pending before Branch 25.

“Teodoro Jardeleza also questioned the propriety of the sale of Lot No. 4291 and the improvements thereon supposedly to pay the accumulated financial obligations arising from Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr.’s hospitalization.  He alleged that the market value of the property would be around Twelve to Fifteen Million Pesos, but that he had been informed that it would be sold for much less.  He also pointed out that the building thereon which houses the Jardeleza Clinic is a monument to Ernesto Jardeleza Sr.’s industry, labor and service to his fellowmen.  Hence, the said property has a lot of sentimental value to his family.  Besides, argued Teodoro Jardeleza, then conjugal partnership had other liquid assets to pay off all financial obligations.  He mentioned that apart from sufficient cash, Jardeleza, Sr. owned stocks of Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital which can be off-set against the cost of medical and hospital bills.  Furthermore, Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. enjoys certain privileges at the said hospital which allows him to pay on installment basis.  Moreover, two of Ernesto Jardeleza Sr.’s attending physicians are his own sons who do not charge anything for their professional services.

“On July 4, 1991, Teodoro Jardeleza filed in Spec. Proc. No. 4691 a supplement to his motion for reconsideration (Annex “G”).  He reiterated his contention that summary proceedings was irregularly applied.  He also noted that the provisions on summary proceedings found in Chapter 2 of the Family Code comes under the heading on “Separation in Fact Between Husband and Wife” which contemplates of a situation where both spouses are of disposing mind.  Thus, he argued that were one spouse is “comatose without motor and mental faculties,” the said provisions cannot be made to apply.

“While the motion for reconsideration was pending, Gilda Jardeleza disposed by absolute sale Lot No. 4291 and all its improvements to her daughter, Ma. Glenda Jardeleza Uy, for Eight Million Pesos (P8,000,000.00), as evidenced by a Deed Absolute Sale dated July 8, 1991 executed between them (p. 111, Rollo).  Under date of July 23, 1991, Gilda Jardeleza filed an urgent ex-parte motion for approval of the deed of absolute sale.

“On August 12, 1991 Teodoro Jardeleza filed his Opposition to the motion for approval of the deed of sale on the grounds that: (1) the motion was prematurely filed and should be held in abeyance until the final resolution of the petition; (2) the motion does not allege nor prove the justifications for the sale; and (3) the motion does not allege that had Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. been competent, he would have given his consent to the sale.

“Judge Amelita K. del Rosario-Benedicto of Branch 32 of the respondent Court, who had penned the decision in Spec. Proc. No. 4691 had in the meantime formally inhibited herself from further acting in this case (Annex “I”).  The case was then reraffled to Branch 28 of the said court.

“On December 19, 1991, the said court issued an Order (Annex “M”) denying herein petitioner’s motion for reconsideration and approving respondent Jardeleza’s motion for approval of the deed of absolute sale.  The said court ruled that:

“After a careful and thorough perusal of the decision, dated June 20, 1991, the Motion for Reconsideration, as well as its supplements filed by “oppositor”, Teodoro L. Jardeleza, through counsel, and the opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration, including its supplements, filed by petitioner, through counsel, this Court is of the opinion and so holds, that her Honor, Amelita K. del Rosario-Benedicto, Presiding Judge of Branch 32, of this Court, has properly observed the procedure embodied under Article 253, in relation to Article 124, of the Family Code, in rendering her decision dated June 20, 1991.

“Also, as correctly stated by petitioner, through counsel, that “oppositor” Teodor L. Jardeleza does not have the personality to oppose the instant petition considering that the property or properties, subject of the petition, belongs to the conjugal partnership of the spouses Ernesto and Gilda Jardeleza, who are both still alive.

“In view thereof, the Motion for Reconsideration of “oppositor” Teodoro L. Jardeleza, is hereby denied for lack of merit.

“Considering the validity of the decision dated June 20, 1991, which among others, authorized Gilda L. Jardeleza to sell Lot No. 4291 of the Cadastral Survey of Iloilo, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 47337 issued in the names of Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr., and Gilda L. Jardeleza and the building standing thereon, the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Approval of Deed of Absolute Sale dated July 23, 1991, filed by petitioner, through counsel, is hereby granted and the deed of absolute sale, executed and notarized on July 8, 1991, by and between Gilda L. Jardeleza, as vendor, and Ma. Glenda Jardeleza, as vendee, is hereby approved, and the Register of Deeds of Iloilo City, is directed to register the sale and issue the corresponding transfer certificate of title to the vendee.

On December 9, 1992, the Court of Appeals promulgated its  decision reversing the appealed decision and ordering the trial court to dismiss the special proceedings to approve the deed of sale, which was also declared void.[5]

On December 29, 1992, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration,[6] however, on March 29, 1993, the Court of Appeals denied the motion, finding no cogent and compelling reason to disturb the decision.[7]

Hence, this appeal.[8]

The issue raised is whether petitioner Gilda L. Jardeleza as the wife of Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr. who suffered a stroke, a cerebrovascular accident, rendering him comatose, without motor and mental faculties, and could not manage their conjugal partnership property may assume sole powers of administration of the conjugal property under Article 124 of the Family Code and dispose of a parcel of land with its improvements, worth  more than twelve million  pesos, with the approval of the court in a summary proceedings, to her co-petitioners, her own daughter and son-in-law, for the amount of eight million pesos.

The Court of Appeals ruled that in the condition of Dr. Ernesto Jardeleza, Sr., the procedural rules on summary proceedings in relation to Article 124 of the Family Code are not  applicable.   Because  Dr. Jardeleza, Sr. was unable to take care of himself and manage the conjugal property due to illness that had rendered him comatose, the proper remedy was the appointment of a judicial guardian of the person or estate or both of such incompetent, under Rule 93, Section 1, 1964 Revised Rules of Court.  Indeed, petitioner earlier had filed such a petition for judicial guardianship.
Article 124 of the Family Code provides as follows:

“ART. 124.  The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership property shall belong to both spouses jointly.  In case of disagreement, the husband’s decision shall prevail, subject to recourse to the court by the wife for a proper remedy which must be availed of within five years from the date of the contract implementing such decision.

“In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the conjugal properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of administration.  These powers do not include the powers of disposition or encumbrance which must have the authority of the court or the written consent of the other spouse.  In the absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or encumbrance shall be void.  However, the transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the part of the consenting spouse and the third person, and may be perfected as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the other spouse or authorization by the court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both offerors. (165a).”
In regular manner, the rules on summary judicial proceedings under the Family Code govern the proceedings under Article 124 of the Family Code.  The situation contemplated is one where the spouse is absent, or separated in fact or has abandoned the other or consent is withheld or cannot be obtained. Such rules do not apply to cases where the non-consenting spouse is incapacitated or incompetent to give consent. In this case, the trial court found that the subject spouse "is an incompetent" who was in comatose or semi-comatose condition, a victim of stroke, cerebrovascular accident, without motor and mental faculties, and with a diagnosis of brain stem infarct.[9] In such case, the proper remedy is a judicial guardianship proceedings under Rule 93 of the 1964 Revised Rules of Court.

Even assuming that the rules of summary judicial proceedings under the Family Code may apply to the wife's administration of the conjugal property, the law provides that the wife who assumes sole powers of administration has the same powers and duties as a guardian under the Rules of Court.[10]

Consequently, a spouse who  desires  to  sell real property as such administrator of the conjugal property must observe the procedure for the sale of the ward’s estate required of judicial guardians under Rule 95, 1964 Revised Rules of Court, not the summary judicial proceedings under the Family Code.

In the case at bar, the trial court did not comply with the procedure under the Revised Rules of Court. Indeed, the trial court did not even observe the requirements of the summary judicial proceedings under the Family Code. Thus, the trial court did not serve notice of the petition to the incapacitated spouse; it did not require him to show cause why the petition should not be granted.

Hence, we agree with the Court of Appeals that absent an opportunity to be heard, the decision rendered by the trial court is void for lack of due process. The doctrine consistently adhered to by this Court is that a denial of due process suffices to cast on the official act taken by whatever branch of the government the impress of nullity.[11] A decision rendered without due process is void ab initio and may be attacked directly or collaterally.[12] “A decision is void for lack of due process if, as a result, a party is deprived of the opportunity of being heard.”[13] “A void decision may be assailed or impugned at  any  time either directly or collaterally, by means of a separate action, or by resisting such decision in any action or proceeding where it is invoked.”[14]

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 26936, in toto.

Costs against petitioners.


Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

[1] In CA-G. R. SP No. 26936, promulgated on December 09, 1992, Petition, Annex "R", Rollo, pp. 193-202.

[2] Petition, Annex “T”, Rollo, pp. 233-234.

[3] Ibid., Annex “C”, RTC Decision, Rollo, pp. 55-56.

[4] Supra, Note 1, at pp. 194-198.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Petition, Annex "S", Rollo, pp. 203-232.

[7] Supra, Note 1, Marigomen, J., ponente, Rasul and Galvez, JJ., concurring, Rollo, pp. 233-234.

[8] Petition filed on April 14, 1993, Rollo, pp. 2-49. On March 20, 1996, we gave due course to the petition, Rollo, p. 383.

[9] Petition, Annexes “J” and “K”, medical certificates, Rollo, pp. 145-146.

[10] Article 61, Family Code.

[11] DBP v. Bautista, 135 Phil. 201, 205-206 [1968].

[12] David v. Aquilizan, 94 SCRA 707, 714 [1979].

[13] The Summary Dismissal Board etc. v. Torcita, G. R. No. 130442, April 6, 2000, citing Palu-ay v. Court of Appeals, 293 SCRA 358 [1998].

[14] Ang Lam v. Rosillosa, 86 Phil. 447, 452 [1950].

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