G.R. No. 109557, 29 November 2000
Dr. Ernesto Jardelaza suffered stroke that rendered him comatose. Gilda, wife of the latter, filed a petition in RTC Iloilo to be allowed as sole administrator of their conjugal property and be authorized to sell the same as her husband is physically incapacitated to discharge his functions. She further contest that such illness of the husband necessitated expenses that would require her to sell their property in Lot 4291 and its improvement to meet such necessities. RTC ruled in favor of Gilda contending that such decision is pursuant to Article 124 of Family Code and that the proceedings thereon are governed by the rules on summary proceedings.
The son of the spouses, Teodoro, filed a motion for reconsideration contending that the petition made by her mother was essentially a petition for guardianship of the person and properties of his father. As such it cannot be prosecuted in accordance with the provisions on summary proceedings instead it should follows the ruled governing special proceedings in the Revised Rules of Court requiring procedural due process particularly the need for notice and a hearing on the merits. He further reiterated that Chapter 2 of the Family Code comes under the heading on “Separation in Fact between Husband and Wife” contemplating a situation where both spouses are of disposing mind. Hence, he argued that this should not be applied in their case.
During the pendency of the motion, Gilda sold the property to her daughter and son in law. Upon the appeal by Teodoro, CA reversed the decision of the lower court.
Whether or not Gilda as the wife of a husband who suffered stroke, a cerebrovascular accident rendering him comatose, without motor and mental faculties, may assume sole powers of administration of the conjugal property and dispose a parcel of land with improvements.
No. SC ruled in favor of Teodoro. The rule on summary proceedings does not apply to cases where the non-consenting spouse is incapacitated or incompetent to give consent. In this case, trial court found that subject spouse was incompetent who was in a comatose condition and with a diagnosis of brain stem infract. Hence, the proper remedy is a judicial guardianship proceeding under the Revised Rules of Court.
The law provides that wife who assumes sole powers of administration has the same powers and duties as a guardian. Consequently, a spouse who desires to sell real property as administrator of the conjugal property must observe the procedure for the sale of the ward’s estate required of judicial guardians, and not the summary judicial proceedings under Family Code. SC further held that such incapacity of the trial court to provide for an opportunity to be heard is null and void on the ground of lack of due process.
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 the cause why the petition should not be granted.
* Case digest by Frillin M. Lomosad, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018