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[G.R. No.

183053 : June 15, 2010] administering her estate and he should be the one appointed as its administrator;
IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF CRISTINA that as part owner of the mass of conjugal properties left by Cristina, he must be
AGUINALDO-SUNTAY; EMILIO A.M. SUNTAY III, PETITIONER, VS. accorded legal preference in the administration
ISABEL COJUANGCO-SUNTAY, RESPONDENT. 8. After a failed attempt by the parties to settle the proceedings amicably, Federico
DECISION filed a Manifestation dated March 13, 1999, nominating his adopted son, Emilio III,
as administrator of the decedent’s estate on his behalf. Subsequently, the trial
NACHURA, J . court granted Emilio III’s Motion for Leave
to Intervene considering his interest in the outcome of the case.
Doctrine: The law [of intestacy] is founded... on the presumed will of 9. In the course of the proceedings, on November 13, 2000, Federico died.
the deceased... Love, it is said, first descends, then ascends, and, finally, 10. The trial court rendered a decision on November 9, 2001, appointing herein
spreads sideways. petitioner, Emilio III, as administrator of decedent Cristina’s intestate estate.What
matters most at this time is the welfare of the estate of the decedent in the light of
Facts: such unfortunate and bitter estrangement. The Court honestly believes that to
1. On June 4, 1990, the decedent, Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay (Cristina), married to
appoint the petitioner would go against the wishes of the decedent who raised
Dr. Federico Suntay (Federico), died intestate. [Emilio III] from infancy in her home in Baguio City as her own child. Certainly, it
~ In 1979, their only son, Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay (Emilio I), predeceased both would go against the wishes of the surviving spouse x x x who nominated [Emilio
Cristina and Federico. III] for appointment as administrator.
~ At the time of her death, Cristina was survived by her husband, Federico, and 11. Aggrieved, respondent filed an appeal before the CA, which reversed and set
several grandchildren, including herein petitioner Emilio A.M. Suntay III (Emilio III)
aside the decision of the RTC, revoked the Letters of Administration issued to
and respondent Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay Emilio III. In marked contrast, the CA zeroed in on Emilio III’s status as an
2. Emilio I was married to Isabel Cojuangco, and they begot three children, illegitimate child of Emilio I and, thus, barred from representing his deceased
namely: herein respondent, Isabel; Margarita; and Emilio II father in the estate of the latter’s legitimate mother, the decedent. That he cannot
3. Emilio I’s marriage to Isabel Cojuangco was subsequently annulled. Thereafter,
be appointed for the ff reasons:
Emilio I had two children out of wedlock, Emilio III and Nenita Suntay Tañedo i. The appointment of Emilio III was subject to a suspensive condition,
(Nenita), by two different women, Concepcion Mendoza and Isabel Santos, i.e., Federico’s appointment as administrator of the estate
respectively. ii. As between the legitimate offspring (respondent) and illegitimate
4. Consequently, respondent and her siblings Margarita and Emilio II, lived withoffspring (Emilio III) of decedent’s son, Emilio I, respondent is
their mother on Balete Drive, Quezon City, separately from their father and preferred, being the "next of kin" referred to by Section 6, Rule 78 of
paternal grandparents. the Rules of Court
5. Parenthetically, after the death of Emilio I, Federico filed a petition for visitation iii. Jurisprudence has consistently held that Article 992 of the Civil Code
rights over his grandchildren. It was altogether stopped because of a manifestation
bars the illegitimate child from inheriting ab intestato from the legitimate
filed by children and relatives of his father or mother.
respondent Isabel, articulating her sentiments on the unwanted visits of her
grandparents. ISSUE :
6. After her spouse’s death, Federico, after the death of his spouse, Cristina, or on
September 27, 1993, adopted their illegitimate grandchildren, Emilio III and Nenita A. IN THE APPOINTMENT OF AN ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE UNDER
7. On October 26, 1995, respondent filed a petition for the issuance of letters of SECTION 6 OF RULE 78 OF THE RULES OF COURT, WHETHER ARTICLE
administration in her favor. Federico filed his opposition. Being the surviving 992 OF THE CIVIL CODE APPLIES; and
spouse of Cristina, he is capable of

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B. UNDER THE UNDISPUTED FACTS WHERE HEREIN PETITIONER WAS decedent's husband, the original oppositor to respondent's petition for letters of
REARED BY THE DECEDENT AND HER SPOUSE SINCE INFANCY, administration.
WHETHER ARTICLE 992 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE APPLIES SO AS TO
BAR HIM FROM BEING APPOINTED ADMINISTRATOR OF THE Indeed, the factual antecedents of this case accurately reflect the basis of
DECEDENT'S ESTATE intestate succession, i.e., love first descends, for the decedent, Cristina, did not
distinguish between her legitimate and illegitimate grandchildren. Neither did her
The pivotal issue: husband, Federico, who, in fact, legally raised the status of Emilio III from an
illegitimate grandchild to that of a legitimate child. The peculiar circumstances of
Who, as between Emilio III and respondent, is better qualified to act as this case, painstakingly pointed out by counsel for petitioner, overthrow the legal
administrator of the decedent's estate. presumption in Article 992 of the Civil Code that there exist animosity and
antagonism between legitimate and illegitimate descendants of a deceased.
Ruling:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
The basis for Article 992 of the Civil Code, referred to as the iron curtain bar rule, in CA-G.R. CV No. 74949 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Letters of
is quite the opposite scenario in the facts obtaining herein for the actual Administration over the estate of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay shall issue to
relationship between Federico and Cristina, on one hand, and Emilio III, on the both petitioner Emilio A.M. Suntay III and respondent Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay
other, was akin to the normal relationship of legitimate relatives; upon payment by each of a bond to be set by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78,
Malolos, Bulacan, in Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-95. The Regional Trial
In the appointment of an administrator, the principal consideration is the interest in Court, Branch 78, Malolos, Bulacan is likewise directed to make a determination
the estate of the one to be appointed. The order of preference does not rule out and to declare the heirs of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay according to the
the appointment of co-administrators, especially in cases where justice and equity actual factual milieu as proven by the parties, and all other persons with legal
demand that opposing parties or factions be represented in the management of interest in the subject estate. It is further directed to settle the estate of decedent
the estates, a situation which obtains here. Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay with dispatch. No costs.

Similarly, the subject estate in this case calls to the succession other putative SO ORDERED.
heirs, including another illegitimate grandchild of Cristina and Federico, Nenita
Tañedo, but who was likewise adopted by Federico, and the two (2) siblings of Carpio, (Chairperson), Peralta, Abad , and Perez, * JJ. , concur.
respondent Isabel, Margarita and Emilio II. In all, considering the conflicting claims
of the putative heirs, and the unliquidated conjugal partnership of Cristina and 1. The Court cannot subscribe to the appellate court’s ruling excluding Emilio III in
Federico which forms part of their respective estates, we are impelled to move in the administration of the decedent’s undivided estate. The underlying philosophy
only one direction,i.e., joint administration of the subject estate. of our law on intestate succession is to give preference to the wishes and
presumed will of the decedent, absent a valid and effective will
One final note. Counsel for petitioner meticulously argues that Article 992 of the The basis for Article 992 of the Civil Code, referred to as the iron curtain bar rule,
Civil Code, the successional bar between the legitimate and illegitimate relatives of is quite the opposite scenario in the facts obtaining herein for the actual
a decedent, does not apply in this instance where facts indubitably demonstrate relationship between Federico and
the contrary - Emilio III, an illegitimate grandchild of the decedent, was actually Cristina, on one hand, and Emilio III. Both spouses acknowledged Emilio III as
treated by the decedent and her husband as their own son, reared from infancy, their grandchild. Cristina’s properties forming part of her estate are still
educated and trained in their businesses, and eventually legally adopted by commingled with that of her husband, Federico, because her share in the conjugal

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partnership, albeit terminated upon her death, remains undetermined and The Civil Code of the Philippines apparently adhered to this principle
unliquidated since it reproduced Article 943 of the Spanish Code in its own Art. 992, but with
Emilio III is a legally adopted child of Federico, entitled to share in the distribution fine inconsistency
of the latter’s estate as a direct heir, one degree from Federico, not simply i. in subsequent articles (990, 995 and 998) our Code allows the
representing his deceased illegitimate hereditary portion of the illegitimate child to pass to his own descendants, whether
father, Emilio I. legitimate or illegitimate, while Art. 992 prevents the illegitimate issue of a
2. It is patently clear that the CA erred in excluding Emilio III from the legitimate child from representing him in the intestate succession of the
administration of the decedent’s estate. As Federico’s adopted son, Emilio III’s grandparent, the illegitimates of an illegitimate child can now do so
interest in the estate of Cristina is as much apparent to this Court as the interest This difference being indefensible and unwarranted, in the future revision of the
therein of respondent. Considering that the CA even declared that "under the law, Civil Code we shall have to make a choice and decide either that the illegitimate
[Federico], being the surviving spouse, would have the right of succession over a issue enjoys in all cases the right of representation, in which case Art. 992 must be
portion of the exclusive property of the decedent, aside from his share in the suppressed; or contrariwise maintain said article and modify Articles 995 and 998.
conjugal partnership." 8. Manresa:
3. However, the order of preference (Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court lists The law [of intestacy] is founded... on the presumed will of the
the order of preference in the appointment of an administrator of an estate) is not deceased... Love, it is said, first descends, then ascends, and, finally, spreads
absolute for it depends on the attendant facts and circumstances of each case. sideways.
Jurisprudence has long held that the selection of an administrator lies in the sound Indeed, the factual antecedents of this case accurately reflect the basis
discretion of the trial court. In the main, the attendant facts and circumstances of of intestate succession, i.e., love first descends, for the decedent, Cristina, did not
this case necessitate, at the least, a joint administration by both respondent and distinguish between her legitimate and illegitimate grandchildren. Neither did her
Emilio III of their grandmother’s, Cristina’s, estate. husband, Federico, who, in fact, legally raised the status of Emilio III from an
4. [I]n the appointment of an administrator, the principal consideration is the illegitimate grandchild to that of a legitimate child.
interest in the estate of the one to be appointed. The order of preference does not The peculiar circumstances of this case, painstakingly pointed out by counsel for
rule out the appointment of co-administrators, specially in cases where justice and petitioner, overthrow the legal presumption in Article 992 of the Civil Code that
equity demand that opposing parties or factions be represented in the there exist animosity and antagonism between legitimate and illegitimate
management of the estates, a situation which obtains here. descendants of a deceased. It must be pointed out that judicial restraint impels us
5. Similarly, the subject estate in this case calls to the succession other putative to refrain from making a final declaration of heirship and distributing the
heirs, including another illegitimate grandchild of Cristina and Federico, Nenita presumptive shares of the parties in the estates of Cristina and Federico,
Tañedo. considering that the question on who will administer the properties of the long
6. On a final note, counsel for petitioner meticulously argues that Article 992 of the deceased couple has yet to be settled.
Civil Code, the successional bar between the legitimate and illegitimate relatives of Decision: The petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
a decedent, does not apply in this instance where facts indubitably demonstrate G.R. CV No. 74949 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE
the contrary – Emilio III, an illegitimate grandchild of the decedent, was actually
treated by the decedent and her husband as their own son.
7. Contention on 992 by JBL:
the Spanish Civil Code of 1889 the right of representation was admitted
only within the legitimate family; so much so that Article 943 of that Code
prescribed that an illegitimate child can not inherit ab intestato from the legitimate
children and relatives of his father and mother.