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Rule 3 Section 16: Nullity of proceedings in case of non-substitution despite notice or

knowledge of death of
party
Amanda Vda. De Dela Cruz, et al. vs Court of Appeals, Marcelo Abada,
Margarita Jose, Martina Jose, Quirino Jose, Teofilo Jose, et.al.
GR No. L-41107; 28 February 1979
Ponente: De Castro, J.
Facts:
Petitioners filed an action for ejectment and collection of unpaid rentals against
Felix Jose and 114 other tenants in the Court of Agrarian Relations, Pangasinan. The
complaint alleged that Jose is a tenant over 4.5 has landholding in petitioners hacienda
paying 850 kilos of palay per ha per year as rental, and that Jose failed to pay his
obligation.
Through Atty. Cabotaje, Jose and co-defendants filed a joint answer denying the
allegations. The trial commenced, however before termination, Jose died and it appears
no substitution of defendant was effected. Trial court ruled in favor of petitioners
prompting Joses co-defendants to bring the case to SC for review. The petition was
dismissed for petitioners (co-defendants) failure to file their brief.
On petitioners motion, Court of Agrarian Relations issued an order of execution to
effect ejectment was entered. The conjugal properties of deceased Jose and wife were
sold at public auction. A certificate of sale was later issued in favor of Amanda Vda de
dela cruz as highest bidder.
Heirs of Jose filed a motion to substitute the deceased and to set aside as null and
void the decisions, orders and writ of execution and sale made. Trial court allowed the
substitution but denied the motion to set aside the decisions. CA dismissed trial courts
decision on the ground that no substitution was ordered despite awareness of death of
defendant.
Issue:
Whether or not the continuance of trial after the death of defendant, without
substitution amounts to lack of jurisdiction
Held:
Yes. Petition dismissed.
Ruling:
Whether defendant died before or after termination of trial is not all that important
because one thing is certain; that he died before the rendition of judgment. This fact was
known to the Judge of the Court of Agrarian Relations, who in his decision placed the
word dead in parenthesis beside the name of Felix Jose.
In previous rulings of the Court, it has been held that in statutes relating to
procedure, every act which is jurisdictional, or of the essence of the proceedings, or is
prescribed for the protection or benefit of the party affected, is mandatory. Furthermore,
Rule 3, Sec. 17, Revised Rules of Court uses the word shall, one infers that substitution
is indeed a mandatory requirement in actions surviving the deceased. The need for
substitution is based on the right of a party to due process.
In any case, substitution should be ordered even after judgment has been rendered
since proceedings may still be taken and the legal representative must appear to protect
the interests of the deceased in all such proceedings.
The dismissal of the appeal by the Supreme Court for failure of the petitioners to
file their brief or memorandum within the prescribed period could not, therefore, bar and
heirs of the deceased from questioning all the proceedings, particularly if the fact is

considered that there could not have been a final judgment on the merits since in the
first place jurisdiction over the deceased defendant was lacking in the lower court.
Accordingly, there can be no res judicata as contended by petitioner.