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Synopsis/Syllabi

FIRSTDIVISION

[G.R.No.63145.October5,1999]

SULPICIAVENTURA,petitioner,vs.HON.FRANCISJ.MILITANTE,inHisCapacity
asPresidingJudge,RegionalTrialCourt,7thJudicialDistrict,BranchXII,Cebu
CityandJOHNUY,respondents.

DECISION
PUNO,J.:

This is a Petition for Certiorari assailing the Order[1] of public respondent directing her to file an
AnswertotheComplaintforaSumofMoneywithDamagesfiledbyprivaterespondentafterdenyingher
MotiontoDismiss.[2]
Thereisnodisputeastothefollowingrelevantfacts:
PrivaterespondentfiledaComplaintforaSumofMoneyandDamagesagainstpetitionerwhichreads:

REPUBLICOFTHEPHILIPPINES

COURTOFFIRSTINSTANCEOFCEBU

14thJudicialDistrict

BRANCH____

MR.JOHNUY,ProprietorofCebu

TextarAutoSupply,

Plaintiff,

versusCIVILCASENO.R21968

For:SUMOFMONEYANDDAMAGES

ESTATEOFCARLOSNGOas

representedbysurviving

spouseMs.SULPICIAVENTURA,

Defendant.

Oo///

COMPLAINT

PLAINTIFF,thrucounsel,untothisHonorableCourt,mostrespectfullystatesthat:

1.Heisoflegalage,FilipinoandproprietorofCebuTextarAutoSupplywhosepostaladdressisat177Leon
KilatSt.,CebuCity,whilethedefendantisanestateofCarlosNgoasrepresentedbysurvivingspouseMs.
SulpiciaVenturawithresidenceandpostaladdressatBack[sic]ofChongHuaHospital,CebuCitywhere
summonsandotherprocessesoftheCourtcouldbeeffected

2.DuringthelifetimeofCarlosNgohewasindebtedwiththeplaintiffintheamountofP48,889.70as
evidencedbytheheretoattachedstatementmarkedasAnnexesAandA1whichaccountwasobtainedby
himforthebenefitofhisfamily

3.SaidobligationisalreadydueanddemandableandthedefendantthruMs.Venturawhoisostensibly
takingcareoftheproperties/estateofdeceasedCarlosNgo,refused,failedandneglectedandstillcontinues
torefuse,failandneglecttopaydespiterepeateddemands

4.Asaconsequenceoftherefusaltopaytheplaintiffwascompelledtoretaintheservicesofcounselwith
whomhecontractedtopayP10,000.00asattorney'sfees.Uponinstitutionofthiscomplaint,hehasfurther
incurredinitiallitigationexpendituresinthesumofP4,000.00.

WHEREFORE,thisHonorableCourtismostrespectfullyprayedtorenderjudgmentfortheplaintiffby

1.OrderingthedefendanttopaytheplaintiffthesumofP48,889.70plusinterestuntiltheobligationisfully
paid

2.OrderingthedefendanttopaytheplaintifftheamountofP10,000.00asattorney'sfeesplusP4,000.00as
reimbursementoftheinitiallitigationexpenditures.

FURTHERplaintiffpraysforsuchotherrelieforremedyinaccordancewithlaw,justiceandequity.

CebuCity,Philippines,March29,1982.

xxx[3]

PetitionermovedtodismisstheforegoingcomplaintonthegroundthattheestateofCarlosNgohasno
legalpersonality,thesamebeingneitheranaturalnorlegalpersonincontemplationoflaw[4]
InhisOppositiontoMotiontoDismiss,[5]petitionerinsistedthatsincethemoneyclaimsubjectofthis
caseactuallyrepresentsthecostsofautomotivespareparts/replacementscontractedbydeceasedCarlosNgo
during his lifetime for the benefit/business of the family x x x the conjugal partnership x x x shall be
accountable for the payment thereof.[6] Subsequently, private respondent's counsel manifested that he is
poised to amend the complaint in order to state the correct party defendant that he intends to sue in this
case[7].Thepublicrespondentgaveprivaterespondentfifteen(15)daystomaketheamendment.
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration[8] of the order of public respondent permitting private
respondenttoamendhiscomplaint.First,shearguedthattheactioninstitutedbytheprivaterespondentto
recoverP48,889.70,representingtheunpaidpriceoftheautomotivesparepartspurchasedbyherdeceased
husbandduringhislifetime,isamoneyclaimwhich,underSection21,Rule3oftheRevisedRulesofCourt,
doesnotsurvive,thesamehavingbeenfiledafterCarlosNgohadalreadydied.Second,sheclaimedthatthe
publicrespondentneveracquiredjurisdictionoverthesubjectmatterofthecasewhich,beinganactionto
recoverasumofmoneyfromadeceasedperson,mayonlybeheardbyaprobatecourt.
Private respondent opposed the foregoing motion.[9] He insisted that petitioner, being the wife of the
deceasedCarlosNgo,isliabletopaytheobligationwhichbenefitedtheirfamily.
PublicrespondentissuedanOrdergivingprivaterespondenttwentyfour(24)hourstofilehisamended
complaint so that the Court can determine for itself whether there is really a cause of action against the
defendant who would be substituted to the Estate of Carlos Ngo, considering that it would seem from the
arguments of counsel for plaintiff x x x that the debt incurred by the deceased Carlong [sic] Ngo was in
behalfoftheconjugalpartnershipsothatthewifeofCarlosNgomightbeliabletopaytheobligation.[10]
PrivaterespondentthenfiledhisAmendedComplaint[11]withthenewallegationsunderscoredtherein
asfollows:

REPUBLICOFTHEPHILIPPINES
COURTOFFIRSTINSTANCEOFCEBU

14thJudicialDistrict

BRANCHXII

MR.JOHNUY,ProprietorofCebu

TextarAutoSupply,

Plaintiff,

versusCIVILCASENO.R21968

For:SUMOFMONEYAND

MS.SULPICIAVENTURA,DAMAGES

Defendant.

Oox

AMENDEDCOMPLAINT

PLAINTIFFthrucounsel,untothisHonorableCourtmostrespectfullystatesthat:

1.xxx

2.DuringthelifetimeofCarlosNgoheandhiswife,thedefendanthereinareindebtedwiththeplaintiffin
theamountofP48,889.70asevidencedbytheheretoattachedstatementmarkedasAnnexesAandA1
whichaccountwasobtainedforthebenefitoftheirfamilyandisbeingconfirmedbytheirsonRoyNgoper
hissignaturemarkedasAnnexA2

3.xxx

4.Forseveraltimes,thedefendanthadconcealedherselfinherhousewhentheplaintiff'srepresentativewent
toherresidencetocollectpaymentofthesaidaccount

5.xxx

xxx.[12]

Petitioner filed a Comment to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.[13] She reiterated that whether the
unsecureddebtwascontractedbyherhusbandaloneorasachargeagainsttheconjugalpartnershipofgains,
it cannot be denied that her husband was now deceased, the said debt does not survive him, the conjugal
partnershipofgainsisterminateduponthedeathofoneofthespouses,andthedebtsandchargesagainstthe
conjugal partnership of gains may only be paid after an inventory is made in the appropriate testate or
intestateproceeding.
PrivaterespondentfiledaRejoindertoDefendant'sComment.[14]Hecounteredthatthedefendantinhis
amendedcomplaintwasnowpetitionerandthatshewasnotdeceased,hencetheinapplicabilityofthelegal
rulesontheabatementofmoneyclaimsincasethedefendantdiespendingtheirprosecution.
Publicrespondentissuedthehereinassailedorderwhichreadsasfollows:

ORDER

ThiscaseiscalledtodaytodealonthemotionforreconsiderationoftheorderofthisCourtdatedNovember
16,1982denyingthemotionofthedefendanttodismissthecomplaint.
InitsorderofNovember16,1982,theCourtintheinterestofjusticeadvisedtheplaintifftomaketheproper
amendmentsothattheproperpartydefendantmaybeimpleadedconsideringthatthemotiontodismissthen
wasanchoredonthegroundthattheestateofCarlosNgowasnotanaturalnorjuridicalperson,henceit
couldnotbesued.OnDecember23,1982,theplaintiffamendeditscomplaintandthistimethedefendantis
alreadySulpiciaVentura.Thedefendantnowarguesthateventheamendedcomplaintwouldshowthatthis
isreallyacollectionofadebtoftheconjugalpartnershipofdeceasedCarlong[sic]Ngoandhiswife.

Perusingtheamendedcomplaint,theCourtfindsthatinParagraph2theallegationstates:Duringthelifetime
ofCarlosNgo,heandhiswife,thedefendant,areindebtedwiththeplaintiffintheamountofP48,689.70,
(sic)etc.,sothattheindebtednesswasincurredbyCarlosNgoanddefendantSulpiciaVenturaandsince
CarlosNgoisnowdeadthatwillnotprecludetheplaintifffromfilingacaseagainstthelivingdefendant,
SulpiciaVentura.

WHEREFORE,themotionforreconsiderationisherebyDENIEDandthedefendantmayfileheranswer
withinfifteen(15)daysfromtoday.

ITISSOORDERED.[15]

PetitionerscurriedtothisCourtprayingthattheforegoingorderofthepublicrespondentbesetaside
andtheamendedcomplaintofprivaterespondent,ordereddismissed.[16]
Wegrantthepetition.
First.Sec. 1, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court provided that only natural or judicial persons, or
entitiesauthorizedbylawmaybepartiesinacivilaction.Thiswastherulein1982atthetimethatprivate
respondentfiledhiscomplaintagainstpetitioner.In1997,therulesoncivilprocedurewererevised,butSec.
1,Rule3remainedlargelyunaltered,exceptforthechangeoftheword,judicialtojuridical.
Partiesmaybeeitherplaintiffsordefendants.Theplaintiffinanactionisthepartycomplaining,anda
properpartyplaintiffisessentialtoconferjurisdictiononthecourt.[17]Inordertomaintainanactionina
courtofjustice,theplaintiffmusthaveanactuallegalexistence,thatis,he,sheoritmustbeapersoninlaw
and possessed of a legal entity as either a natural or an artificial person, and no suit can be lawfully
prosecutedsaveinthenameofsuchaperson.[18]
Theruleisnodifferentasregardspartydefendants.Itisincumbentuponaplaintiff,whenheinstitutesa
judicialproceeding,tonametheproperpartydefendanttohiscauseofaction.[19]Inasuitorproceedingin
personamofanadversarycharacter,thecourtcanacquirenojurisdictionforthepurposeoftrialorjudgment
untilapartydefendantwhoactuallyorlegallyexistsandislegallycapableofbeingsued,isbroughtbefore
it.[20]It hasevenbeenheld that the question of the legal personality of a party defendantisaquestionof
substancegoingtothejurisdictionofthecourtandnotoneofprocedure.[21]
TheoriginalcomplaintofpetitionernamedtheestateofCarlosNgoasrepresentedbysurvivingspouse
Ms.SulpiciaVenturaasthedefendant.Petitionermovedtodismissthesameonthegroundthatthedefendant
asnamedinthecomplainthadnolegalpersonality.Weagree.
Neitheradeadpersonnorhisestatemaybeapartyplaintiffinacourtaction.Adeceasedpersondoes
nothavesuchlegalentityasisnecessarytobringactionsomuchsothatamotiontosubstitutecannotlieand
shouldbedeniedbythecourt.[22]Anactionbegunbyadecedent'sestatecannotbesaidtohavebeenbegun
byalegalperson,sinceanestateisnotalegalentitysuchanactionisanullityandamotiontoamendthe
party plaintiff will not likewise lie, there being nothing before the court to amend.[23] Considering that
capacitytobesuedisacorrelativeofthecapacitytosue,tothesameextent,adecedentdoesnothavethe
capacitytobesuedandmaynotbenamedapartydefendantinacourtaction.[24]
Second.ItisclearthattheoriginalcomplaintofprivaterespondentagainsttheestateofCarlosNgowas
asuitagainstCarlosNgohimselfwhowasalreadydeadatthetimeofthefilingofsaidcomplaint.At that
time,andthis,privaterespondentadmitted,nospecialproceedingtosettlehisestatehadbeenfiledincourt.
Assuch,thetrialcourtdidnotacquirejurisdictionovereitherthedeceasedCarlosNgoorhisestate.
Tocurethisfataldefect,privaterespondentamendedhisoriginalcomplaint.Inhisamendedcomplaint,
privaterespondentdeletedtheestateofCarlosNgoandnamedpetitionerasthedefendant.Whenpetitioner,
inhercommenttotheamendedcomplaint,reasonedthattheconjugalpartnershipofgainsbetweenherand
CarlosNgowasterminateduponthelatter'sdeathandthatthedebtwhichhecontracted,assumingitwasa
chargeagainsttheconjugalproperty,couldonlybepaidafteraninventoryismadeintheappropriatetestate
or intestate proceeding, private respondent simply reiterated his demand that petitioner pay her husband's
debtwhich,heinsisted,redoundedtothebenefitofeveryoneinherfamily.
Itistruethatamendmentstopleadingsareliberallyallowedinfurtheranceofjustice,inorderthatevery
casemaysofaraspossiblebedeterminedonitsrealfacts,andinordertospeedthetrialofcausesorprevent
the circuitry of action and unnecessary expense.[25] But amendments cannot be allowed so as to confer
jurisdictionuponacourtthatneveracquireditinthefirstplace.[26]Whenitisevidentthatthecourthasno
jurisdictionoverthepersonandthesubjectmatterandthatthepleadingissofatallydefectiveasnottobe
susceptibleofamendment,orthattopermitsuchamendmentwouldradicallyalterthetheoryandthenature
oftheaction,thenthecourtshouldrefusetheamendmentofthedefectivepleadingandorderthedismissalof
thecase.[27]
Moreover,ascorrectlyarguedbypetitioner,theconjugalpartnershipterminatesuponthedeathofeither
spouse.[28]Afterthedeathofoneofthespouses,incaseitisnecessarytosellanyportionoftheconjugal
propertyinordertopayoutstandingobligationsofthepartnership,suchsalemustbemadeinthemannerand
withtheformalitiesestablishedbytheRulesofCourtforthesaleofthepropertyofdeceasedpersons.[29]
Whereacomplaintisbroughtagainstthesurvivingspousefortherecoveryofanindebtednesschargeable
againstsaidconjugalproperty,anyjudgmentobtainedtherebyisvoid.[30]Theproperactionshouldbeinthe
formofaclaimtobefiledinthetestateorintestateproceedingsofthedeceasedspouse.[31]
Inmanycasesasintheinstantone,evenafterthedeathofoneofthespouses,thereisnoliquidationof
the conjugal partnership. This does not mean, however, that the conjugal partnership continues.[32] And
privaterespondentcannotbesaidtohavenoremedy.UnderSec.6,Rule78oftheRevisedRulesofCourt,
he may apply in court for letters of administration in his capacity as a principal creditor of the deceased
CarlosNgoifafterthirty(30)daysfromhisdeath,petitionerfailedtoapplyforadministrationorrequestthat
administrationbegrantedtosomeotherperson.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is GRANTED. The Amended Complaint filed by
privaterespondentisHEREBYDISMISSED.
SOORDERED.
Pardo,andYnaresSantiago,JJ.,concur.
Davide,Jr.,C.J.,(Chairman),andKapunan,J.,onofficialleave.

[1]Annex"K"ofthePetition,Rollo,p.36.

[2]Annex"B"ofthePetition,Rollo,p.16.Petitioner'sMotionforReconsiderationwasalsodenied.

[3]Annex"A"ofthePetition,Rollo,pp.1315.

[4]Annex"B"ofthePetition,Rollo,p.16.

[5]Annex"C"ofthePetition,Rollo,pp.1718.

[6]Annex"C"ofthePetition,Rollo,p.17.

[7]Annex"D",Rollo,p.19.

[8]Annex"E"ofthePetition,Rollo,pp.2022.

[9]Annex"F"ofthePetition,Rollo,pp.2627.

[10]Annex"G",Rollo,p.28.

[11]Annex"H",Rollo,pp.2930.

[12]Ibid.