Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. L-11143             February 26, 1958

HON. S.C. MOSCOSO, ETC., and PILAR S. BASILIO, respondents.

Claro M. Recto for petitioner.
Segundo M. Zosa for respondents.


On February 6, 1951, petitioner filed with the municipal court of Manila acomplaint against Pedro Basilio to collect the sum of P1,336.25 representingthe unpaid purchase price of merchandise sold to the latter on credit; but while the action was pending, Basilio died and proceedings for thesettlement of his estate were instituted in the court of first instance of Leyte and docketed there as S.P. No. 409, In Re: Intestate Estate of PedroBasilio. After proper proceedings, on June 18, 1952, letters of administration was issued to respondent Pilar B. Basilio, widow of the deceased, and on the same date the court entered an order requiring the persons having money claims against the deceased to file them within sixmonths from June 25, 1952; and pursuant to this order, petitioner filed in said special proceedings its claim in the sum of P536.66 representing the balance of the original indebtedness of the deceased Pedro Basilio.

On August 20, 1952, respondent administratrix, in her answer, admitted the claim of the herein petitioner and on August 23, 1952, the same was approvedand allowed by the court. No payment was, however, made, so, upon motion,the lower court ordered the respondent administratrix to sell, within 30 days, the properties of the intestate to pay the claim in question. The respondent administratrix, however, failed again to settle the aforesaidclaim, and the petitioner was constrained to file on May 23, 1955, a motion to urge the respondent administratrix to pay said claim or to sell the properties of the estate if there were no sufficient funds available to satisfy the claim. This motion was considered favorably, but the respondentJudge, in his order of June 4, 1955, granted the respondent administratrix an extended time until June 30 within which to pay petitioner's claim. Again she failed to make payment, hence on December 27, 1955, petitioner filed another motion praying the court to compel the administratrix to settle the claim and to declare here in contempt for her failure to comply with previous orders requiring her to pay the claim in question. Accordingly, on January9, 1956, respondent Judge required the respondent administratrix to appear before the court and to inform whether she had already paid petitioner's claim and, in case of failure to have done so, to explain why she should not be punished for contempt of court. On January 25, 1956, respondent administratrix filed a reply to the motion for contempt, explaining that her failure to settle the claim in question was not due to her unwillingness but to the impossibility of raising the necessary amount to pay the claim, and asserting at the same time that petitioner Elizalde Trading Corporation "should not press for the collection of its claim of P536.66 in view of the fact that the Teresa Marble Works (formerly Florentine Craft Works) under the management of Mr. Amberti, thru its representative in Tacloban City,Mr. Cagampan, obtained a credit of about P1,000.00 for gasoline, oil, and diesel fuel at the time when the Elizalde Trading Corporation was purchasing surplus barges at Guiwan, Samar. This account has remained unpaid up to now, but unfortunately the receipts for the same had been burned when the establishment of the deceased, Pedro Basilio, was burned. However, the said Elizalde Company knows of this account in view of a letter sent by thedeceased to request payment of the same considering that the Florentine Craft Works (Teresa Marble Works) belongs to the said company." And by virtue of these allegations, she submitted that she should not be punished forcontempt for the reason that "her failure to satisfy the claims against the estate are due to circumstances beyond her control and not to mere abandonment of duty or negligence." Acting upon this motion, the respondentJudge issued on January 26, 1956, an order which in effect sustained the aforequoted belated counterclaim of the respondent administratrix, holding therein, among things, the following:

Considering that the claim of the Elizalde Trading Corporation is subjectto a counterclaim by the administratrix in an amount in excess of the saidclaim, and the claim of the Philippine National Bank is pending resolutionby this Court, only the claim of the Caltex is left to be settled without question.

Thereupon, on February 4, 1956, petitioner filed a motion for reconsiderationof the foregoing order, alleging "that the alleged belated counterclaimasserted against the herein petitioner is utterly fictitious and that evenassuming, without admitting, that the alleged claim of the administratrix against herein claimant has barred the administratrix's claim forever pursuant to Section 10 of Rule 87 of the Rules of Court." On August 4, 1956, respondent Judge denied this motion in an order which reads as follows:

While it is true that the claim of Elizalde & Co. was approved by the court, thru the Hon. Judge Juan L. Bocar, on August 23, 1952, and the offsetting of claim of the administratrix against that credit has been presented quite late, the Court believes that in the interest of justice and equity and considering that Elizalde & Co. has shown fairness in all its dealings, particularly in cases like the present, where the state has very few properties and the interested heirs are minors entitled to support an education, it would seem to be part of fairness and equity for the Court to allow the administratrix to have a chance to prove its offsetting claim against Elizalde & Co. since after all the latter is believed to be possessedof their own evidence to disprove it.

Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won by a rapier's thrust. (Alonso vs.Villamor, 16 Phil. 318, 322). Anything that may preclude a party frompresenting with fullness the facts of his case, should be brushed aside, ifthat can be done without unfairness to the other side, a legitimate desireto take advantage of an opponent's mistake may be legitimate but cannot beencouraged. (Dacanay et al. vs. Lucero, 76 Phil., 139, 42 O. G. 2119-21;Sec. 2, Rule 17).

Hence the motion for reconsideration is denied and the court sets for August 25, 1956, the reopening of the Elizalde Claim only to the extent ofpermitting the administratrix an opportunity to prove her offsetting claim after which, if the same is found groundless, the Court will order her to pay Elizalde & Co. at the earliest practicable date or to dispose of suchproperty of the estate sufficient to pay the same claim.

On August 17, 1956 petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of thisorder, but it was denied, hence the filing of the present petition whereinpetitioner prays that "a writ of certiorari be issued annulling and settingaside the order of the respondent Judge dated August 4, 1956 and orderingthe respondent Administratrix forthwith to pay the petitioner's P536.66 claim which was approved by a final, executory and unassailable order of August 23, 1952, with costs against the respondents.

From the facts above stated it could readily be seen (a) that petitioner's claim for P536.66 duly filed in the intestate proceedings of the deceased Pedro Basilio was approved by the lower court on August 23, 1952, and since then up to the issuance of the disputed order of August 4, 1956, no appeal nor any steps had been taken by the respondent administratrix to have the approval of said claim set aside; (b) that during the intervening time, several orders were issued by the lower court requiring the respondent administratrix to pay said claim, but the latter, for one reason or another, was unable to comply with them, which compelled the petitioner to file several petitions praying that the respondent administratrix be declared incontempt; (c) that the order of the court approving the claim in questionhas become final and was executory before the respondent administratrixasserted on January 25, 1956 a counterclaim consisting of an alleged credit in favor of the intestate estate for the sum of P1,000 for gasoline, oil anddiesel fuel furnished, not to petitioner, but to Florentine Craft Works(Teresa Marble Works); and (d) that the counterclaim in question refers to an obligation contracted by the Florentine Craft Works or (Teresa Marble Works) and that it was filed out of the time allowed by Section 10 of Rule 87, whichprovides that the executor or administrator should answer any claim within5 days after service of copy thereof and that upon his failure to do so, thecounterclaim to, or any claim in offset of, creditor's claim shall be barredforever. Obviously, having all these facts in view, the counterclaim presented by the respondent administratrix which gave way to the opening ofpetitioner's claim, cannot be validly and legally entertained by the respondent Judge for the simple reason that, at the time of its filing, therewas already a final and executory order of the court approving petitioner'sclaim and said counterclaim was based on the obligation contracted, not by the herein petitioner, but by another person. Respondent administratrix claims, however, that, in equity, her belated counterclaim should be givenway, but this contention is clearly untenable under the facts of the caseand the law applicable thereto. Certainly, equity cannot be availed of in thepresent case for, as stated above, petitioner's claim has not been contestedby the respondent administratrix—instead, its legality has been admittedwhen it was submitted to court for approval; the order approving such claimhas become final and executory, and the counterclaim refers to anobligation with which petitioner has nothing to do.

Wherefore, the order of respondent Judge, dated August 4, 1956, is hereby annuled and set aside and the respondent administratrix ordered forthwith to pay petitioner's P536.66 claim, with cost against her.

Bengzon, Paras, C.J., Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion and Reyes, J.B.L., JJ., concur.

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