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Indispensable parties in partition action.

Divinagracia v. Parilla, et al.,


G.R. No. 196750, March 11, 2015
Facts:
Conrado, Sr. owned a parcel of land in Iloilo City. He had 2 children with his first wife,
namely, Cresencio and Conrado, Jr.; and 7 children with his second wife, namely, Mateo, Sr,
Coronacion, Cecilia, Celestial, Celedonio, Ceruleo and Cebeleo, Sr. He also begot 3 illegitimate
children, namely Eduardo, Rogelio and Ricardo. Both Mateo, Sr. and Cebeleo, Sr. pre-deceased
Conrado, Sr. leaving children, namely: (a) for Mateo, Sr.: Felcon, Landelin, Eusela, Giovanni,
Mateo, Jr., Tito, and Gaylord; and (b) for Cebeleo, Sr.: Cebeleo, Jr. and Neobel. Santiago, who
allegedly bought the shares of majority of the heirs of a property left by Conrado, Sr. He filed a
complaint for partition but did not implead Mateo, Sr.s children.
RTC found that through the subject document, Santiago became a co-owner of the subject
land and, as such, has the right to demand the partition of the same. However, the RTC held that
Santiago did not validly acquire Mateo, Sr.s share over the subject land, considering that Felcon
admitted the lack of authority to bind his siblings with regard to Mateo, Sr.s share thereon.
CA, on appeal, dismissed Santiagos complaint for judicial partition. It held the Mateo,
Sr.s children are indispensable parties to the judicial partition and thus, their non-inclusion as
defendants would necessarily result in its dismissal. CA denied the motion for reconsideration of
the heirs of Santiago, hence, the petition for review on certiorari.
Issue: Is the action for partition proper without impleading Mateo, Sr.s children?
Held: No because the co-heirs are indispensable parties.
The aforementioned heirs whether in their own capacity or in representation of their
direct ascendant have vested rights over the subject land and, as such, should be impleaded as
indispensable parties in an action for partition thereof. However, a reading of Santiagos
complaint shows that as regards Mateo, Sr.s interest, only Felcon was impleaded, excluding
therefrom his siblings and co-representatives. Similarly, with regard to Cebeleo, Sr.s interest
over the subject land, the complaint impleaded his wife, Maude, when pursuant to Article 972 of
the Civil Code, the proper representatives to his interest should have been his children, Cebeleo,
Jr. and Neobel. Verily, Santiagos omission of the aforesaid heirs renders his complaint for
partition defective.
An indispensable party is one whose interest will be affected by the courts action in the
litigation, and without whom no final determination of the case can be had. The partys interest
in the subject matter of the suit and in the relief sought are so inextricably intertwined with the

other parties that his legal presence as a party to the proceeding is an absolute necessity. In his
absence, there cannot be a resolution of the dispute of the parties before the court which is
effective, complete, or equitable. (Gabatin v. Land Bank of the Philippines, 486 Phil. 366, 379380 (2004), citing Bank of the Philippine Islands v. CA, 450 Phil. 532, 541 (2003); further
citation omitted). Thus, the absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of
the court null and void, for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but even as
to those present. (Domingo v. Scheer, 466 Phil. 235, 265 (2004).
With regard to actions for partition, Section 1, Rule 69 of the Rules of Court requires that
all persons interested in the property shall be joined as defendants, viz.:
SEC. 1. Complaint in action for partition of real estate. A person having
the right to compel the partition of real estate may do so as provided in this Rule,
setting forth in his complaint the nature and extent of his title and an adequate
description of the real estate of which partition is demanded and joining as
defendants all other persons interested in the property.
Thus, all the co-heirs and persons having an interest in the property are indispensable
parties; as such, an action for partition will not lie without the joinder of the said parties.
However, the CA erred in ordering the dismissal of the complaint on account of
Santiagos failure to implead all the indispensable parties in his complaint. In Heirs of Mesina v.
Heirs of Fian, Sr., G.R. No. 201816, April 8, 2013, 695 SCRA 345, the Court definitively
explained that in instances of non-joinder of indispensable parties, the proper remedy is to
implead them and not to dismiss the case, to wit:
The non-joinder of indispensable parties is not a ground for the
dismissal of an action. At any stage of a judicial proceeding and/or at such times
as are just, parties may be added on the motion of a party or on the initiative of
the tribunal concerned. If the plaintiff refuses to implead an indispensable party
despite the order of the court, that court may dismiss the complaint for the
plaintiffs failure to comply with the order. The remedy is to implead the nonparty claimed to be indispensable. x x x
In view of the foregoing, the correct course of action in the instant case is to order its
remand to the RTC for the inclusion of those indispensable parties who were not impleaded and
for the disposition of the case on the merits.