by Jhacel Batobalonos

JOSE ZULUETA v. FRANCISCA ZULUETA, GR No. 428, 1902-04-30

Facts:

Don Jose Zulueta and his sister, Doña Francisca Zulueta, are sole heirs under the will of their father, Don Clemente Zulueta, who died in Iloilo in 1900. In the course of the voluntary testamentary proceedings instituted in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo by Don Jose,... three auditors were appointed to make a division of the estate under article 1053 of the Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil, of whom Don Jose and Doña Francisca each nominated one, the third or auditor umpire being chosen by common accord of the parties. The two auditors... nominated by the parties respectively failed to agree, and each rendered a separate report. The auditor umpire, whose report was filed March 29,1901, agreed with and accepted in its entirety the report of the auditor nominated by Don Jose.

On petition of Don Jose the court by a providencia, of May 7 fixed the term of fifteen days as that... within which Dona Francisca should formulate her demand, which term was subsequently enlarged seven days on petition of Dona Francisca. June 5 Doff a Francisca petitioned the court, stating that the new Code of Procedure enacted by the Civil Commission was soon to become... operative, and that she deemed it more advantageous to her rights that the declarative action which she had to bring should be governed by the new Code rather than that then in force, and asking that proceedings in the action should be suspended till the new Code went into... effect. This petition the court denied in an auto rendered June 15, declaring, furthermore, that the term fixed for the filing of the demand having expired, Dona Francisca had lost her right to institute the action.

Hence this appeal.

June 22 Dona Francisca petitioned for the reform of... this auto. On the same day this petition was denied in an auto rendered by Don Cirilo Mapa

Mapa

Issues:

whether Dona Francisca is entitled to relief against the consequences of her failure to interpose, her appeal against the auto of June 22 within the period fixed by the law.

Ruling:

The mistake in this instance was her own, but it... was a mistake of law, and while we should be unwilling to say that special cases might not occur in which relief would be afforded in such a proceeding as this against a mistake of law made by a party, we are of opinion that the present is not such a case. Nothing is shown here... except the bare fact that the party acted under ignorance or misconception of the provisions of the law in regard to the time within which the appeal could be taken, and there is no reason why the general principle, a principle "founded not only on expediency and policy but on... necessity," that "ignorance of the law does not excuse from compliance therewith" (Civil Code, art. 2), should be relaxed. The framers of Act No. 75 could not have intended to totally abrogate this principle with reference to the class of cases covered by the act. If such were... the effect of this legislation the court "would be involved and perplexed with questions incapable of any just solution and embarrassed by inquiries almost interminable."

The petition for the suspension of the declarative action till the new Code went into effect was totally without merit. No reason was alleged in the petition itself why the suspension should be granted other than the mere convenience of the party, and none has been suggested... on the argument. The petitipn could not in any possible view that occurs to us have been granted. With reference to the declaration in the autothat the plaintiff had lost her right to file her demand in the declarative action, it may be said that this declaration... followed as a necessary consequence from the providencia of May 7, fixing the time within which the demand must be formulated, and the subsequent providencia enlarging the period, from neither of which providencias had any appeal or other remedy been attempted... by Dona Prancisca.

The petitioner had the benefit of that period and was accorded besides an extension of seven days, and has consequently had all the rights to which she was strictly entitled... under the law and something more. She hasj we think, no just ground to complain that she has been deprived of any substantial right either by her own mistake or that of the court below, in any possible view in which the facts of the case may be regarded.

the petition must be denied and the judgment appealed from affirmed, with costs to the appealing party both as to the petition and the appeal.

Principles:

principle "founded not only on expediency and policy but on... necessity," that "ignorance of the law does not excuse from compliance therewith"