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[ GR No. 6541, Sep 12, 1911 ]



20 Phil. 219

[ G. R. No. 6541, September 12, 1911 ]




On the 19th of February,  1908, the plaintiff and appellant herein commenced an action in the Court of First Instance of the Province of Masbate, claiming damages in the sum of  P50,000,  alleged to  have been  occasioned by certain alleged libelous statements made by the defendant affecting his honor, virtue, and reputation.

To this petition the defendant filed a demurrer, which demurrer was sustained by the lower court on the 18th of December, 1908.

After the decision sustaining the demurrer, the plaintiff refused to amend his complaint  and the lower court, on the 21st of February,  1910, rendered a final judgment dismissing the  complaint and absolving the defendant from any liability thereunder, with costs against the plaintiff.

The basis of the action of the plaintiff is that, on the 7th day of August,  1907, the  defendant being  the "administradora"  of  the  estate of Francisco Maria  Bayot, filed  a written objection, with the commissioners who had been Appointed to consider claims against the said estate, to a certain claim presented to  the said commissioners against said estate by the plaintiff herein, in which written objection the defendant is alleged to have made certain statements which, the plaintiff claims, reflected  upon his virtue, honor and reputation.

The lower court,  in discussing the sufficiency of the complaint,  considering the objection  of the defendant, communicated in writing to the  said commissioners, made the following statement:

"This document  is a kind of report, communication,  or brief,  addressed  to the commission of  appraisement and claims of the intestate estate of Francisco Ma. Bayot, signed by  the administratrix thereof, objecting to the claim  filed against her by Gaspar Zurbito and asking  that said claim be disallowed.

"In stating her grounds and reasons for  asking that the commission disallow Zurbito's claim, she inserts into various portions thereof the words and phrases quoted in the complaint, many of which are certainly abusive, and at least offensive and insulting. 

"As drawn up, and considering the use for which it was intended, this document has,  in our opinion, all the characteristics of a real  private communication,  which must  be regarded as privileged under the provisions  of section 9 of Act No. 277."

Commissioners appointed to consider claims against estates of deceased persons have a right to hear evidence and decide upon the validity and legality of the claims presented against estates.   The  commissioners constitute, therefore, a tribunal.  This tribunal has a right to hear evidence pro and con in relation to claims presented to it.   It has a right to hear arguments  in  favor  of or against  the validity  or legality of such claims, and to decide such claims.  Persons presenting their claims before the commission have a right to present whatever evidence and  arguments they have in support of the same.   The administrator of the estate and those directly interested in the estate have  a right present whatever arguments they have in opposition to the allowance of such claims.   If the persons presenting the claim are, in the opinion of those opposing it, attempting to have a claim allowed which should not be allowed, they have a right to state their reasons therefor, even though  such opposition may incidentally  reflect upon  the  honor and credit of the person presenting the claim.

A careful reading of the statements made by the defendant in his opposition to the allowance of the claim presented by the  plaintiff, shows that there were some  statements contained in  it which did not necessarily relate to the particular claim presented; however, those allegations are not made the basis of the complaint filed by the plaintiff herein.

It appears from the record that  after the commencement of the action the plaintiff  died  and an administrator was appointed who continued the action.  No question is raised here as to the  right of the administrator to continue an action of the nature of the present one; therefore we do not discuss that question.

After a full consideration of the facts and the law applicable to the  present cause, we  are  of the opinion  that the judgment of the lower court should be and is hereby affirmed.   Without any finding as  to costs it is so ordered.

Torres, Mapa, Carson, and Moreland, JJ.,  concur.