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[G.R. No. 116018. November 13, 1996]

JOSEFA TORRES died intestate leaving a parcel of land located at Balagtas, Bulacan.
Among her heirs are respondents Aurora S. Roque, Priscilla S. Luna and Josefina S.
Austria. Sometime in 1984, the heirs of Josefa Torres, as vendors, and petitioner Nelia
A. Constantino, as vendee, entered into a contract to sell a parcel of land with a total
land area of two hundred and fifty (250) square meters. The lot, owned in common by
the Torres heirs, is being occupied by petitioners mother and sister. An adjoining lot,
also co-owned by the heirs, is being occupied by spouses Severino and Consuelo Lim.
Pursuant to their agreement, the heirs authorized petitioner to prepare the necessary
Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Sale.
After having the document drafted - with several spaces left blank including the
specification as to the metes and bounds of the land - petitioner asked the heirs to affix
their signatures on the document. The heirs signed the document with the
understanding that respondent Aurora S. Roque, one of the heirs, would be present
when the latter would seek permission from the Bureau of Lands and have the land
However, without the participation of any of the Torres heirs, the property was
subsequently surveyed, subdivided and then covered by TCT Nos. T-292265 and T292266. Petitioner did not furnish the heirs with copies of the Deed of Extrajudicial
Settlement of Estate with Sale nor of the subdivision plan and the certificates of title.
Upon securing a copy of the deed from the Registry of Deeds, the respondents learned
that the area of the property purportedly sold to petitioner was much bigger than that
agreed upon by the parties. It already included the portion being occupied by the
spouses Severino and Consuelo Lim.
On 2 June 1986, private respondents sent a letter to petitioner demanding the surrender
to them of the deed of settlement and conveyance, the subdivision plan and the
certificates of title; but to no avail. On 25 June 1986 respondents filed with the Regional
Trial Court of Bulacan an action for annulment of the deed and cancellation of the
certificates of title, with prayer for recovery of damages, attorneys fees and costs of suit. i

Petitioner controverted the allegations of respondents by presenting the Deed of

Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Sale dated 10 October 1984 wherein
respondents agreed to divide and adjudicate among themselves the inherited property
with an area of one thousand five hundred and three (1,503) square meters. In the
same document, they caused the subdivision of the property into two (2) lots according
to Plan No. PSD-03-009105 identified as Lot 4-A with an area of one thousand ninetysix (1,096) square meters, and Lot 4-B with an area of four hundred and seven (407)
square meters, and acknowledged the sale to petitioner of said Lot 4-B. As a
consequence, on 18 March 1985, the Register of Deeds issued TCT No. T-292265 in
the name of the heirs of Josefa Torres and TCT No. T-292266 in the name of petitioner.
In reply, private respondents reiterated that all the heirs signed the document before the
land was surveyed and subdivided, hence, there was as yet no definite area to be sold
that could be indicated in the deed at the time of the signing. They also claimed that
they were not notified about the survey and the subdivision of the lot and therefore they
could not have agreed on the area supposedly sold to petitioner. The respondent heirs
insist that they could not have agreed to the extent of the area actually reflected in the
deed because it included the portion being occupied by the Lim spouses, which was
already the subject of a previous agreement to sell between them and their
The trial court entertained serious doubts with respect to the preparation and due
execution of the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Sale taking into account
that (a) while petitioner claimed that all the heirs signed before the notary public and in
her presence, she was not able to enumerate all the signatories to the document; (b)
while petitioner claimed that the document was signed only after the survey of the land
was completed, or on 10 October 1984, such fact was negated by her own witness who
testified that the survey was conducted only on 16 October 1984; and, (c) while
petitioner alleged that the document was signed and notarized in Manila no explanation
was offered why the same could not have been signed and notarized in Bulacan where
notaries public abound which could have been less inconvenient to the parties
concerned. Additionally, the trial court relied heavily on the assertions of respondents as
reflected in their demand letter that they did not give their consent to the sale of Lot 4-B.
Thus, on the basis of the evidence on record, the trial court on 27 September 1990
ordered the annulment and cancellation of the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of
Estate with Sale, TCT Nos. T-292265 and T-292266 and Subdivision Plan No. PSD-03009105. It also ordered petitioner to pay private respondents P50,000.00 for moral
damages, P15,000.00 for attorneys fees, and to pay the costs of suit. ii[2]
On 16 March 1994 respondent Court of Appeals sustained the decision of the trial
court,iii[3] and on 20 June 1994 denied the motion to reconsider its decision. iv[4]
Petitioner faults respondent Court of Appeals: (a) for disregarding documentary
evidence already presented, marked and identified on a purely technical ground, and (b)

for concluding that the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Sale did not
reflect the true intent of the parties.
Petitioner argues that the trial court should not have denied her motion to admit formal
offer of evidence merely on the basis of technicality such as late filing, citing Siguenza v.
Court of Appeals.v[5] We are not persuaded. Indeed, we held in Siguenza that rules of
procedure are not to be applied in a very rigid and technical sense as they are used
only to help secure, not override, substantial justice. Yet the holding is inapplicable to
the present case as the trial court had a reasonable basis for denying petitioners motion
On February 6, 1990, Atty. Ponciano Mercado, defendants counsel, manifested in Court
that he has (sic) no more witness to present. He asked that he be given 15 days to
make a formal offer of evidence and which the Court granted. At the scheduled hearing
of April 03, 1990, Atty. Ponciano Mercado x x x x was not in Court. Atty. Veneracion,
plaintiffs counsel, called the attention of the Court that Atty. Mercado has (sic) not yet
filed and/or complied with the Court Order dated February 06, 1990, which is to file his
formal offer of evidence. On motion of Atty. Veneracion, defendants right to file a formal
offer of evidence was deemed waived. Atty. Veneracion waived the presentation of
rebuttal evidence considering that the defendant can (sic) no longer make a formal offer
of evidence.
On May 11, 1990, the Court was in receipt of a motion to admit formal offer of exhibits
filed by the defendant thru counsel, Atty. Ponciano Mercado, on May 02, 1990.
Considering that the same was filed out of time and the plaintiffs having filed their
memorandum already, the motion to admit formal offer of exhibits was denied
(underscoring supplied).
The trial court was correct in holding that petitioner waived the right to formally offer his
evidence. A considerable lapse of time, about three (3) months, had already passed
before petitioners counsel made effort to formally offer his evidence. For the trial court to
grant petitioners motion to admit her exhibits would be to condone an inexcusable laxity
if not non-compliance with a court order which, in effect, would encourage needless
delays and derail the speedy administration of justice.
Petitioner also insists that the real intent of the parties was to make the entire Lot 4-B
the subject matter of the sale. She claims that during cross-examination respondent
Aurora S. Roque admitted that she signed in behalf of her co-heirs a receipt for
P30,000.00 as partial payment for the lot occupied by Ka Baring and Lina (relatives of
petitioner) and Iling (Consuelo Lim). Moreover, according to petitioner, the assertions of
private respondents to petitioner contained in the demand letter should not necessarily
be true and that the validity of the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Sale
was not affected by the fact that it was notarized in a place other than where the subject
matter thereof was situated, citing Sales v. Court of Appeals. vi[6]

These other arguments of petitioner are barren and futile. The admission of respondent
Roque cannot prevail in the face of the clear evidence that there was as yet no meeting
of the minds on the land area to be sold since private respondents were still awaiting
the survey to be conducted on the premises. Obviously, the trial court only lent
credence to the assertions in the demand letter after having weighed the respective
evidence of the parties. But even without the letter, the evidence of respondents had
already amply substantiated their claims.
We ruled in the Sales case that the extrinsic validity of a document was not affected by
the fact that it was notarized in a place other than where the subject matter thereof was
located. What is more important under the Notarial Law is that the notary public has
authority to acknowledge the document executed within his territorial jurisdiction. The
ruling in Sales is not applicable to the present case. Our concern here is not whether
the notary public had the authority to acknowledge the document executed within his
territorial jurisdiction but whether respondents indeed appeared before him and signed
the deed. However, the quantum of evidence shows that they did not.
The trial court correctly appreciated the fact that the deed was notarized in Manila when
it could have been notarized in Bulacan. This additional detail casts doubt on the
procedural regularity in the preparation, execution and signing of the deed. It is not easy
to believe that petitioner and the ten (10) Torres heirs traveled all the way to Manila to
have their questioned document notarized considering that they, with the exception of
respondent Roque, are residents of Balagtas, Bulacan, where notaries public are easy
to find. Consequently, the claim of private respondents that they did not sign the
document before a notary public is more plausible than petitioners feeble claim to the
Likewise, we find the allegation of respondents that they signed the deed prior to the
survey, or before determination of the area to be sold, worthy of credit as against the
contention of petitioner that they signed after the survey or on 10 October 1984. As
found by the trial court, such contention was contradicted by petitioners own witness
who positively asserted in court that the survey was conducted only on 16 October 1984
or six (6) days after the signing. Quite obviously, when respondents affixed their
signatures on the deed, it was still incomplete since petitioner who caused it to be
prepared left several spaces blank, more particularly as regards the dimensions of the
property to be sold. The heirs were persuaded to sign the document only upon the
assurance of petitioner that respondent Roque, pursuant to their understanding, would
be present when the property would be surveyed after obtaining permission from the
Bureau of Lands. As it surfaced, the supposed understanding was merely a ruse of
petitioner to induce respondents to sign the deed without which the latter would not
have given their conformity thereto.vii[7] Apparently, petitioner deceived respondents by
filling the blank spaces in the deed, having the lots surveyed and subdivided, and then
causing the issuance of transfer certificates of title without their knowledge, much less
consent. Thus all the elements of fraud vitiating consent for purposes of annulling a
contract concur: (a) It was employed by a contracting party upon the other; (b) It

induced the other party to enter into the contract; (c) It was serious; and, (d) It resulted
in damages and injury to the party seeking annulment. viii[8]
Perhaps, another compelling reason for the annulment of the document of settlement
and conveyance is that the second page thereof clearly manifests that the number of
the subdivision plan and the respective areas of Lots 4-A and 4-B were merely
handwritten while all the rest of the statements therein were typewritten, which leads us
to the conclusion that handwritten figures thereon were not available at the time the
document was formalized.
WHEREFORE, there being no error to warrant a reversal of the decision and resolution
in question of respondent Court of Appeals, which affirmed the decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Br. 22, the instant petition is DENIED.
Padilla (Chairman), Vitug, Kapunan, and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.




vRepublic of the Philippines

G.R. No. L-19189

November 27, 1922

FROILAN LOPEZ, plaintiff-appellant,

Araneta and Zaragoza for plaintiff-appellant.
Jose Espiritu and Gibbs, McDonough and Johnson for defendants-appellants.

Both parties to this action appeal from the judgment of Judge Simplicio del Rosario of the
Court of First Instance of Manila awarding the plaintiff the sum of 88,495.21 with legal interest
from May 13, 1921, without special finding as to costs.
The many points pressed by contending counsel can be best disposed of by, first, making a
statement of the facts; next, considering plaintiff's appeal; next, considering defendant's
appeal; and, lastly, rendering judgment.

On and prior to June 6, 1920, Benita Quiogue de V. del Rosario, whom we will hereafter call
Mrs. Del Rosario, was the owner of a bonded warehouse situated in the City of Manila. She
was engaged in the business of a warehouse keeper, and stored copra and other
merchandise in the said building. Among the persons who had copra deposited in the Del
Rosario warehouse was Froilan Lopez, the holder of fourteen warehouse receipts in his own
name, and the name of Elias T. Zamora. (Exhibits C, D, and R.)
The warehouse receipts, or negotiable warrants, or quedans (as they are variously termed) of
Lopez named a declared value of P107,990.40 (Exhibits L-1 to L-13). The warehouse receipts
provided: (1) For insurance at the rate of 1 per cent per month on the declared value; (2) the
company reserves to itself the right to raise and/or lower the rates of storage and/or of
insurance on giving one calendar month's notice in writing; (3) this warrant carries no
insurance unless so noted on the face hereof, cost of which is in addition to storage; (4) the
time for which storage and/or insurance is charged is thirty (30) days; (5) payment for storage
and/or insurance, etc., shall be made in advance, and/or within five (5) days after presentation
of bill. It is admitted that insurance was paid by Lopez to May 18, 1920, but not thereafter.
Mrs. Del Rosario secured insurance on the warehouse and its contents with the National
Insurance Co., Inc., the Commercial Union Insurance Company, the Alliance Insurance
Company, the South British Insurance Co., Ltd., and the British Traders Insurance Co., Ltd., in
the amount of P404,800. All the policies were in the name of Sra. Benita Quiogue de V. del
Rosario, with the exception of one of the National Insurance Company, Inc., for P40,000, in
favor of the Compaia Coprera de Tayabas. (Exhibits N, O, P, R-1 to R-4.)
The warehouse of Mrs. Del Rosario and its contents were destroyed by fire on June 6, 1920.
The warehouse was a total loss, while of the copra stored therein, only an amount equal to
P49,985 was salvaged.
Following an unsuccessful attempt by Henry Hunter Bayne, Fire Loss Adjuster, to effect a
settlement between the insurance companies and Mrs. Del Rosario, the latter, on August 24,
1920, authorized Attorney F. C. Fisher to negotiate with the various insurance companies.
(Exhibit A.) As a result, an agreement between Mrs. Del Rosario and the insurance
companies to submit the matter to administration was executed in September, 1920. (Exhibit
B.) Mrs. Del Rosario laid claim before the arbitrators, Messrs. Muir and Campbell, to
P419,683.95, and the proceeds of the salvage sale. The arbitrators in their report allowed
Mrs. Del Rosario P363,610, which, with the addition of the money received from the salvaged
copra amounting to P49,985, and interest, made a total of P414,258, collected by her from
the companies. (Exhibits E, F, G, H, and Q.)
Mrs. Del Rosario seems to have satisfied all of the persons who had copra stored in her
warehouse, including the stockholders in the Compaia Coprera de Tayabas (whose stock
she took over), with the exception of Froilan Lopez, the plaintiff. Ineffectual attempts by Mrs.

Del Rosario to effect a compromise with Lopez first for P71,994, later raised to P72,724, and
finally reduced to P17,000, were made. (Exhibits Y, 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12.) But Lopez stubbornly
contended, or, at least, his attorney contended for him, that he should receive not a centavo
less than P88,595.43. (Exhibits 4, 5.)
Plaintiff, by means of his assignment of error, lays claim to P88,595.43 in lieu of P88,495.21
allowed by the trial court. The slight difference of P100.22 is asked for so that plaintiff can
participate in the interest money which accrued on the amount received for the salvaged
copra. (Exhibits EE and FF.) Defendant makes no specific denial of this claim. We think the
additional sum should accrue to the plaintiff.
Plaintiff's second and third assignment of error present the point that the defendant has
fraudulently and even criminally refrained from paying the plaintiff, and that the plaintiff
should recover interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum. We fail to grasp plaintiff's point of
view. The defendant has not sought to elude her moral and legal obligations. The controversy
is merely one which unfortunately all too often arises between litigious persons. Plaintiff has
exactly the rights of any litigant, equally situated, and no more.
It has been the constant practice of the court to make article 1108 of the Civil Code the basis
for the calculation of interest. Damages in the form of interest at the rate of 12 per cent, as
claimed by the plaintiff, are too remote and speculative to be allowed. The deprivation of an
opportunity for making money which might have proved beneficial or might have been ruinous
is of too uncertain character to be weighed in the even balances of the law. (Civil Code, art.
1108; Gonzales Quiros vs. Palanca Tan-Guinlay [1906], 5 Phil., 675; Tin Fian vs. Tan [1909],
14 Phil., 126; Sun Life Insurance Co. of Canada vs. Rueda Hermanos & Co. and Delgado
[1918], 37 Phil., 844; Scvola, Codigo Civil, vol. 19, p. 576; 8 R. C. L., 463; 17 C. J., 864.)
Counsel for defendant have adroitly and ingeniously attempted to avoid all liability. However,
we remain unimpressed by many of these arguments.lawph!
Much time has been spent by counsel for both parties in discussing the question, of whether
the defendant acted as the agent of the plaintiff, in taking out insurance on the contents of the
bodega, or whether the defendant acted as a reinsurer of the copra. Giving a natural
expression to the terms of the warehouse receipts, the first hypothesis is the correct one. The
agency can be deduced from the warehouse receipts, the insurance policies, and the
circumstances surrounding the transaction.
After all, however, this is not so vitally important, for it might well be although we do not
have to decide that under any aspect of the case, the defendant would be liable. The law is

that a policy effected by bailee and covering by its terms his own property and property held
in trust; inures, in the event of a loss, equally and proportionately to the benefit of all the
owners of the property insured. Even if one secured insurance covering his own goods and
goods stored with him, and even if the owner of the stored goods did not request or know of
the insurance, and did not ratify it before the payment of the loss, yet it has been held by a
reputable court that the warehouseman is liable to the owner of such stored goods for his
share. (Snow vs. Carr [1878], 61 Ala., 363; 32 Am. Rep., 3; Broussard vs. South Texas Rice
Co., [1910], 103 Tex., 535; Ann. Cas., 1913-A, 142, and note; Home Insurance Co. of New
York vs. Baltimore Warehouse Co. [1876], 93 U. S., 527.)
Moreover, it has not escaped our notice that in two documents, one the agreement for
arbitration, and the other the statement of claim of Mrs. Del Rosario, against the insurance
companies, she acknowledged her responsibility to the owners of the stored merchandise,
against risk of loss by fire. (Exhibits B and C-3.) The award of the arbitrators covered not
alone Mrs. Del Rosario's warehouse but the products stored in the warehouse by Lopez and
Plaintiff's rights to the insurance money have not been forfeited by failure to pay the insurance
provided for in the warehouse receipts. A preponderance of the proof does not demonstrate
that the plaintiff ever ordered the cancellation of his insurance with the defendant. Nor is it
shown that the plaintiff ever refused to pay the insurance when the bills were presented to
him, and that notice of an intention to cancel the insurance was ever given the plaintiff.
The record of the proceedings before the board of arbitrators, and its report and findings,
were properly taken into consideration by the trial court as a basis for the determination of the
amount due from the defendant to the plaintiff. In a case of contributing policies, adjustments
of loss made by an expert or by a board of arbitrators may be submitted to the court not as
evidence of the facts stated therein, or as obligatory, but for the purpose of assisting the court
in calculating the amount of liability. (Home Insurance Co. vs. Baltimore Warehouse Co.,
Counsel for the defendant have dwelt at length on the phraseology of the policies of the
National Insurance Company, Inc. Special emphasis has been laid upon one policy (Exhibit 9)
in the name of the Compaia Coprera de Tayabas. In this connection it may be said that three
members of the court, including the writer of this opinion, have been favorable impressed by
this argument, and would have preferred at least to eliminate the policy for which premiums
were paid, not by Mrs. Del Rosario on behalf of Lopez and others, but by Compaia Coprera
de Tayabas. A majority of the court, however, believe that all the assets should be marshalled
and that the plaintiff should receive the benefit accruing from the gross amount realized from
all the policies. Consequently, no deduction for this claim can be made.

The remaining contention of the defendant that the plaintiff cannot claim the benefits of the
agency without sharing in the expenses, is well taken. Although the plaintiff did not expressly
authorize the agreement to submit the matter to arbitration, yet on his own theory of the case,
Mrs. Del Rosario was acting as his agent in securing insurance, while he benefits from the
amicable adjustment of the insurance claims. As no intimation is made that the expenses
were exorbitant, we necessarily accept the statement of the same appearing in Exhibits Q
and 8.
Of the insurance money, totalling P414,258, P382,558 was for copra and the remainder for
buildings, corn, etc. The expenses for collecting the P414,258 totalled P33,600.
382,558/414,258 of 33,600 equals P31,028.85, the proportionate part of the expenses with
reference to the copra. Of the expenses amounting, as we have said, to P31,028.85, plaintiff
would be liable for his proportionate share or 88,595.43/382,558.00 of P31,028.85 or
The parties finally agree that the plaintiff at the time of the fire was indebted to the defendant
for storage and insurance in the sum of P315.90.
In resume, the result is to sustain plaintiff's first assignment of error and to overrule his
second and third assignments of error, to overrule defendant's assignment of error 1, 2, 3,
and 4 in toto and to accede to defendant's assignments of error, 5, 6, and 7 in part. If our
mathematics are correct, and the amounts can be figured in several different ways, plaintiff is
entitled to P88,595.43 minus P7,185.88, his share of the expenses, minus P315.90, due for
insurance and storage, or approximately a net amount of P81,093.65, with legal interest. This
sum the defendant must disgorge.
Wherefore, judgment is modified and the plaintiff shall have and recover from the defendants
the sum of P81,093.65, with interest at 6 per cent per annum from May 13, 1921, until paid.
Without special finding as to costs in either instance, it is so ordered.
Araullo, C. J., Street, Avancea, Villamor, Ostrand, Johns, and Romualdez, JJ., concur.
Johnson, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines

A.M. No. 2026-CFI December 19, 1981
JUDGE REYNALDO P. HONRADO of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch
25 and EVANGELINE S. YUIPCO, Deputy Clerk of Court, respondents.

Should disciplinary action be taken against respondent judge for having admitted to probate a
will, which on its face is void because it is written in English, a language not known to the
illiterate testatrix, and which is probably a forged will because she and the attesting witnesses
did not appear before the notary as admitted by the notary himself?
That question arises under the pleadings filed in the testate case and in the certiorari case in
the Court of Appeals which reveal the following tangled strands of human relationship:
Mauro Suroza, a corporal in the 45th Infantry of the U.S. Army (Philippine Scouts), Fort
McKinley, married Marcelina Salvador in 1923 (p. 150, Spec. Proc. No. 7816). They were
childless. They reared a boy named Agapito who used the surname Suroza and who
considered them as his parents as shown in his 1945 marriage contract with Nenita de Vera

(p. 15, Rollo of CA-G.R. No. 08654-R; p. 148, Rollo of Testate Case showing that Agapito was
5 years old when Mauro married Marcelina in 1923).
Mauro died in 1942. Marcelina, as a veteran's widow, became a pensioner of the Federal
Government. That explains why on her death she had accumulated some cash in two banks.
Agapito and Nenita begot a child named Lilia who became a medical technologist and went
abroad. Agapito also became a soldier. He was disabled and his wife Nenita was appointed
as his guardian in 1953 when he was declared an incompetent in Special Proceeding No.
1807 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch I (p. 16, Rollo of CA-G.R. No.
In that connection, it should be noted that a woman named Arsenia de la Cruz wanted also to
be his guardian in another proceeding. Arsenia tried to prove that Nenita was living separately
from Agapito and that she (Nenita) admitted to Marcelina that she was unfaithful to Agapito
(pp. 61-63, Record of testate case).
Judge Bienvenido A. Tan dismissed the second guardianship proceeding and confirmed
Nenita's appointment as guardian of Agapito (p. 16, Rollo of CA case). Agapito has been
staying in a veteran's hospital in San Francisco or Palo Alto, California (p. 87, Record).
On a date not indicated in the record, the spouses Antonio Sy and Hermogena Talan begot a
child named Marilyn Sy, who, when a few days old, was entrusted to Arsenia de la Cruz
(apparently a girl friend of Agapito) and who was later delivered to Marcelina Salvador Suroza
who brought her up as a supposed daughter of Agapito and as her granddaughter (pp. 23-26,
Rollo of CA-G.R. No.SP-08654-R). Marilyn used the surname Suroza. She stayed with
Marcelina but was not legally adopted by Agapito. She married Oscar Medrano and is
residing at 7666 J.B. Roxas Street, Makati, apparently a neighbor of Marina Paje, a resident
of 7668 J.B. Roxas Street.
Marcelina supposedly executed a notarial will in Manila on July 23, 1973, when she was 73
years old. That will which is in English was thumbmarked by her. She was illiterate. Her letters
in English to the Veterans Administration were also thumbmarked by her (pp. 38-39, CA
Rollo). In that wig, Marcelina bequeathed all her estate to her supposed granddaughter
Marcelina died on November 15, 1974 at the Veterans Hospital in Quezon City. At the time of
her death, she was a resident of 7374 San Maximo Street, Olimpia, Makati, Rizal. She owned
a 150-square meter lot and house in that place. She acquired the lot in 1966 (p. 134, Record
of testate case).
On January 13, 1975, Marina Paje, alleged to be a laundrywoman of Marcelina (P. 97, CA
Rollo) and the executrix in her will (the alternate executrix was Juanita Macaraeg, mother of

Oscar, Marilyn's husband), filed with the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch 25, a
petition for the probate of Marcelina's alleged will. The case was assigned to Judge Reynaldo
P. Honrado.
As there was no opposition, Judge Honrado commissioned his deputy clerk of court,
Evangeline S. Yuipco, to hear the evidence. The transcripts of the stenographic notes taken at
the hearing before the deputy clerk of court are not in the record.
In an order dated March 31, 1975, Judge Honrado appointed Marina as administratrix. On the
following day, April 1, Judge Honrado issued two orders directing the Merchants Banking
Corporation and the Bank of America to allow Marina to withdraw the sum of P10,000 from
the savings accounts of Marcelina S. Suroza and Marilyn Suroza and requiring Corazon
Castro, the custodian of the passbooks, to deliver them to Marina.
Upon motion of Marina, Judge Honrado issued another order dated April 11, 1975, instructing
a deputy sheriff to eject the occupants of the testatrix's house, among whom was Nenita V.
Suroza, and to place Marina in possession thereof.
That order alerted Nenita to the existence of the testamentary proceeding for the settlement
of Marcelina's estate. She and the other occupants of the decedent's house filed on April 18 in
the said proceeding a motion to set aside the order of April 11 ejecting them. They alleged
that the decedent's son Agapito was the sole heir of the deceased, that he has a daughter
named Lilia, that Nenita was Agapito's guardian and that Marilyn was not Agapito's daughter
nor the decedent's granddaughter (pp. 52-68, Record of testate case). Later, they questioned
the probate court's jurisdiction to issue the ejectment order.
In spite of the fact that Judge Honrado was already apprised that persons, other than Marilyn,
were claiming Marcelina's estate, he issued on April 23 an order probating her supposed will
wherein Marilyn was the instituted heiress (pp. 74-77, Record).
On April 24, Nenita filed in the testate case an omnibus petition "to set aside proceedings,
admit opposition with counter-petition for administration and preliminary injunction". Nenita in
that motion reiterated her allegation that Marilyn was a stranger to Marcelina, that the will was
not duly executed and attested, that it was procured by means of undue influence employed
by Marina and Marilyn and that the thumbmarks of the testatrix were procured by fraud or
Nenita further alleged that the institution of Marilyn as heir is void because of the preterition of
Agapito and that Marina was not qualified to act as executrix (pp. 83-91, Record).
To that motion was attached an affidavit of Zenaida A. Penaojas the housemaid of Marcelina,
who swore that the alleged will was falsified (p. 109, Record).

Not content with her motion to set aside the ejectment order (filed on April 18) and her
omnibus motion to set aside the proceedings (filed on April 24), Nenita filed the next day, April
25, an opposition to the probate of the will and a counter-petition for letters of administration.
In that opposition, Nenita assailed the due execution of the will and stated the names and
addresses of Marcelina's intestate heirs, her nieces and nephews (pp. 113-121, Record).
Nenita was not aware of the decree of probate dated April 23, 1975.
To that opposition was attached an affidavit of Dominga Salvador Teodocio, Marcelina's niece,
who swore that Marcelina never executed a win (pp. 124-125, Record).
Marina in her answer to Nenita's motion to set aside the proceedings admitted that Marilyn
was not Marcelina's granddaughter but was the daughter of Agapito and Arsenia de la Cruz
and that Agapito was not Marcelina's son but merely an anak-anakan who was not legally
adopted (p. 143, Record).
Judge Honrado in his order of July 17, 1975 dismissed Nenita's counter-petition for the
issuance of letters of administration because of the non-appearance of her counsel at the
hearing. She moved for the reconsideration of that order.
In a motion dated December 5, 1975, for the consolidation of all pending incidents, Nenita V.
Suroza reiterated her contention that the alleged will is void because Marcelina did not appear
before the notary and because it is written in English which is not known to her (pp. 208-209,
Judge Honrado in his order of June 8, 1976 "denied" the various incidents "raised" by Nenita
(p. 284, Record).
Instead of appealing from that order and the order probating the wig, Nenita "filed a case to
annul" the probate proceedings (p. 332, Record). That case, Civil Case No. 24276, Suroza vs.
Paje and Honrado (p. 398, Record), was also assigned to Judge Honrado. He dismissed it in
his order of February 16, 1977 (pp. 398-402, Record).
Judge Honrado in his order dated December 22, 1977, after noting that the executrix had
delivered the estate to Marilyn, and that the estate tax had been paid, closed the
testamentary proceeding.
About ten months later, in a verified complaint dated October 12, 1978, filed in this Court,
Nenita charged Judge Honrado with having probated the fraudulent will of Marcelina. The
complainant reiterated her contention that the testatrix was illiterate as shown by the fact that
she affixed her thumbmark to the will and that she did not know English, the language in
which the win was written. (In the decree of probate Judge Honrado did not make any finding
that the will was written in a language known to the testatrix.)

Nenita further alleged that Judge Honrado, in spite of his knowledge that the testatrix had a
son named Agapito (the testatrix's supposed sole compulsory and legal heir), who was
preterited in the will, did not take into account the consequences of such a preterition.
Nenita disclosed that she talked several times with Judge Honrado and informed him that the
testatrix did not know the executrix Marina Paje, that the beneficiary's real name is Marilyn Sy
and that she was not the next of kin of the testatrix.
Nenita denounced Judge Honrado for having acted corruptly in allowing Marina and her
cohorts to withdraw from various banks the deposits Marcelina.
She also denounced Evangeline S. Yuipco, the deputy clerk of court, for not giving her access
to the record of the probate case by alleging that it was useless for Nenita to oppose the
probate since Judge Honrado would not change his decision. Nenita also said that
Evangeline insinuated that if she (Nenita) had ten thousand pesos, the case might be decided
in her favor. Evangeline allegedly advised Nenita to desist from claiming the properties of the
testatrix because she (Nenita) had no rights thereto and, should she persist, she might lose
her pension from the Federal Government.
Judge Honrado in his brief comment did not deal specifically with the allegations of the
complaint. He merely pointed to the fact that Nenita did not appeal from the decree of probate
and that in a motion dated July 6, 1976 she asked for a thirty day period within which to
vacate the house of the testatrix.
Evangeline S. Yuipco in her affidavit said that she never talked with Nenita and that the latter
did not mention Evangeline in her letter dated September 11, 1978 to President Marcos.
Evangeline branded as a lie Nenita's imputation that she (Evangeline) prevented Nenita from
having access to the record of the testamentary proceeding. Evangeline was not the
custodian of the record. Evangeline " strongly, vehemently and flatly denied" Nenita's charge
that she (Evangeline) said that the sum of ten thousand pesos was needed in order that
Nenita could get a favorable decision. Evangeline also denied that she has any knowledge of
Nenita's pension from the Federal Government.
The 1978 complaint against Judge Honorado was brought to attention of this Court in the
Court Administrator's memorandum of September 25, 1980. The case was referred to Justice
Juan A. Sison of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report and recommendation. He
submitted a report dated October 7, 1981.
On December 14, 1978, Nenita filed in the Court of Appeals against Judge Honrado a petition
for certiorari and prohibition wherein she prayed that the will, the decree of probate and all the
proceedings in the probate case be declared void.

Attached to the petition was the affidavit of Domingo P. Aquino, who notarized the will. He
swore that the testatrix and the three attesting witnesses did not appear before him and that
he notarized the will "just to accommodate a brother lawyer on the condition" that said lawyer
would bring to the notary the testatrix and the witnesses but the lawyer never complied with
his commitment.
The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition because Nenita's remedy was an appeal and her
failure to do so did not entitle her to resort to the special civil action of certiorari (Suroza vs.
Honrado, CA-G.R. No. SP-08654, May 24, 1981).
Relying on that decision, Judge Honrado filed on November 17, 1981 a motion to dismiss the
administrative case for having allegedly become moot and academic.
We hold that disciplinary action should be taken against respondent judge for his improper
disposition of the testate case which might have resulted in a miscarriage of justice because
the decedent's legal heirs and not the instituted heiress in the void win should have inherited
the decedent's estate.
A judge may be criminally liable or knowingly rendering an unjust judgment or interlocutory
order or rendering a manifestly unjust judgment or interlocutory order by reason of
inexcusable negligence or ignorance (Arts. 204 to 206, Revised Penal Code).
Administrative action may be taken against a judge of the court of first instance for serious
misconduct or inefficiency ( Sec. 67, Judiciary Law). Misconduct implies malice or a wrongful
intent, not a mere error of judgment. "For serious misconduct to exist, there must be reliable
evidence showing that the judicial acts complained of were corrupt or inspired by an intention
to violate the law, or were in persistent disregard of well-known legal rules" (In re
lmpeachment of Horrilleno, 43 Phil. 212, 214-215).
Inefficiency implies negligence, incompetence, ignorance and carelessness. A judge would be
inexcusably negligent if he failed to observe in the performance of his duties that diligence,
prudence and circumspection which the law requires in the rendition of any public service (In
re Climaco, Adm. Case No. 134-J, Jan. 21, 1974, 55 SCRA 107, 119).
In this case, respondent judge, on perusing the will and noting that it was written in English
and was thumbmarked by an obviously illiterate testatrix, could have readily perceived that
the will is void.
In the opening paragraph of the will, it was stated that English was a language "understood
and known" to the testatrix. But in its concluding paragraph, it was stated that the will was
read to the testatrix "and translated into Filipino language". (p. 16, Record of testate case).
That could only mean that the will was written in a language not known to the illiterate testatrix
and, therefore, it is void because of the mandatory provision of article 804 of the Civil Code

that every will must be executed in a language or dialect known to the testator. Thus, a will
written in English, which was not known to the Igorot testator, is void and was disallowed
(Acop vs. Piraso, 52 Phil. 660).
The hasty preparation of the will is shown in the attestation clause and notarial
acknowledgment where Marcelina Salvador Suroza is repeatedly referred to as the "testator"
instead of "testatrix".
Had respondent judge been careful and observant, he could have noted not only the anomaly
as to the language of the will but also that there was something wrong in instituting the
supposed granddaughter as sole heiress and giving nothing at all to her supposed father who
was still alive.
Furthermore, after the hearing conducted by respondent deputy clerk of court, respondent
judge could have noticed that the notary was not presented as a witness.
In spite of the absence of an opposition, respondent judge should have personally conducted
the hearing on the probate of the will so that he could have ascertained whether the will was
validly executed.
Under the circumstances, we find his negligence and dereliction of duty to be inexcusable.
WHEREFORE, for inefficiency in handling the testate case of Marcelina S. Suroza, a fine
equivalent to his salary for one month is imposed on respondent judge (his compulsory
retirement falls on December 25, 1981).
The case against respondent Yuipco has become moot and academic because she is no
longer employed in the judiciary. Since September 1, 1980 she has been assistant city fiscal
of Surigao City. She is beyond this Court's disciplinary jurisdiction (Peralta vs. Firm Adm.
Matter No. 2044-CFI November 21, 1980, 101 SCRA 225).
Barredo (Chairman), De Castro, Ericta and Escolin JJ., concur.
Concepcion Jr., J., is on leave.
Abad Santos, J., took no part.



Republic of the Philippines

G.R. No. 16008

September 29, 1921


J. Dorado, J. Tirol, and J. Hontiveros for appellant.
Lucina Andrada died on June 5, 19919, in the Municipality of Capiz, Province of Capiz; and
soon thereafter a petition was presented to the Cour of First Instance of Capiz by Lucila Arce
to establish a document purporting to be the last will and testament of the deceased. Upon
hearing the petition, his Honor, Judge Antonio Villareal, declared that the document in
question had not been executed in conformity with the requirements of section 618 of the Coe
of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645 of the Philippine Legislature. He therefore
refused to admit the purported will to probate, and the petitioner appealed.
The attesting clause of the will in question is incorporated in the will itself, constituting the last
paragraph thereof; and its defect consists in the fact that it does not state the number of
sheets or pages upon which the will is written, though it does state that the testatrix and the
instrumental witnesses signed on every page, as is in fact obvious from an inspection of the
instrument. Each of the pages moreover bears successively the Visayan words, "isa," "duha,"
"tatlo," "apat," "lima," which mean respectively "one," "two," "three," "four," "five," Visayan
being the dialect in which the instrument is written.
By section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645, it is required that
each and every page of the will shall be numbered correlatively in letters and that the
attesting clause shall state the number of sheets or pages used.
Without decising in this case whether the will in question is rendered invalid by reason of the
manner in which the pages are numbered, the court is unanimous upon the point that the
defect pointed out in the attesting clause is fatal. The law plainly says that the attestation shall
state the number of sheets or pages used, the eident purpose being to safeguard the
document from the possiblity of the interpolation of additional pages or the omission of some
of the pages actually used. It is true that this point is also safeguarded by the other two
requirements that the pages shall be consecutively lettered and that each page shall be
singed on the left margin by the testator and the witnesses. In light of these requirements it is
really difficult to see any practical necessity for the additional requirement that the attesting
clause shall state the number of sheets or pages used. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that
the last mentioned requirement affords additional secuirty against the danger that the will may
be tampered with; and as the Legislature has seen fit to prescribe this requirement, it must be
considered material.
In two cases we have held that the failure to comply with the strict requirements of this law
does not invalidate the instrument, but the irregularities presented in those cases were
entirely rivial, the defect in one case being that a willin which the dispositive part consisted of

a single sheet was not signed in the margin in addition to being signed at the bottom (In re will
of Abangan, 40 Phil., 476); in the others, that the pages comprising the body of the will were
signed by the testator and witnesses on the right margin instead of the left (Avera vs. Garcia
and Rodriguez, p. 145, ante). In the case now before us the defect is, in our opinion, of more
significance; and the rule here applicable is that enunciated in Caraig vs. Tatlonghari, R.G.
No. 12558, decided March 23, 1918, not reported, and (In re estate of Saguinsim, 41 Phil.,
875), in each of which the will was held to be invalid.
It results that the trial judge did not err in refusing probate of the will, and the judgment must
be affirmed. It is so ordered, with costs against the appellant.
Johnson, Araullo, Avancea and Villamor, JJ., concur.