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G.R. No. L-4777

November 11, 1908

SUILIONG & CO., as liquidators of The Yek Tong Lim Fire, Marine, and Insurance Co.,
Ltd., plaintiffs-appellees,
vs.
SILVINA CHIO-TAYSAN, defendant-FRANCISCA JOSE, intervener-appellant.
Leodegario Azarraga, for appellant.
Carlos Ledesma, and Ramon Fernandez, for appellees.

CARSON, J.:
Avelina Caballero, deceased, owned during her lifetime a certain tract of land, which was duly
inscribed in her name in the land registry of the city of Manila. On March 27, 1903, she borrowed
from Francisca Jose, the intervener and appellant in this action, 1,000 pesos, Mexican currency,
and turned over her title deeds to this tract of land to the lender as security for the loan, but no
entry touching the transaction was noted in the land registry.
Avelina Caballero died on the 5th day of June, 1903, and thereafter Silvina Chio-Taysan, the
defendant in this action, instituted in the Court of First Instance of Manila an action, known,
under the system of civil procedure in existence prior to the adoption of the present code, as an
"action for the declaration of heirship" and on the 5th day of August, 1903, the following order
declaring her to be the only and exclusive heir of Avelina Caballero, deceased, was issued in
that proceeding:
[United States of America, Philippine Islands. In the Court of First Instance of Manila.
Part III.]
It having been proven by both documental and oral evidence introduced in the abovecited case, that the petitioner Silvina Chio-Taysan y Caballero is the daughter of Jose
Chio-Taysan and Avelina Caballero, who died on the 29th of April, 1895, and on the 5th
of June, 1903, respectively, without leaving any other descendant or having executed
any will; and there being no objection whatever to the claim of the petitioner, it is hereby
declared that the said Silvina Chio-Taysan y Caballero is the legal heir abintestato of her
deceased parents, the said Jose Chio-Taysan and Avelina Caballero, in conformity with
the provisions of the Civil Code now in force. Let a certificate of this decision be issued to
the interested party and those who may hereafter apply for the same. So ordered.
A.S. CROSSFIELD, Judge.
On March 9, 1904, the registrar of deeds of the city of Manila by virtue of this order entered the
following inscription in the land registry whereby the said Silvina Chio-Taysan is made to appear
as the owner of the land in question:
Ninth inscription. Urban property. A parcel of land and a house of a strong
materials, tile roofed, built thereon, marked number eight, situated in Calle Lavezares of
the district of Binondo, this city, the remaining description of which appears in the first
inscription of this number. It has no encumbrances. Doa Avelina Caballero y

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Bugnot, of age, widow, of this vicinity, is the owner of this property under a title of
repurchase, according to the proceeding inscription. Said lady and her husband, Don
Jose Chio-Taysan, died on June 5, 1903, and April 29, 1895, respectively, and neither of
them having executed a will, the corresponding intestate proceedings were instituted, in
which an order was issued on August 5, 1903, by A.S. Crossfield, judge of the
third sala of the Court of First Instance of this city, declaring their daughter, Silvina ChioTaysan y Caballero, their intestate heir. By virtue thereof, I inscribe, in favor of the said
Silvina Chio-Taysan y Caballero, the right she was acquired over the property of this
number, under title by intestate inheritance. All the above appears from the previous
records and from the copy of the above judicial order, issued by Don Salvador Chofre,
assistant clerk of the Court of First Instance of this city, on August 5, 1903, which
document was presented to this registry at 8:50 a. m. on the 25th day of February last,
as per record No. 452, page 266, of the 7th volume of the Diario. And all the above being
in accordance with the document above referred to, I sign these presents in Manila, on
March 9, 1904 Fees: $7.50, No. 7, Tariff of Fees. Alberto Barretto.
On the 26th day of May, 1904, the said Silvina Chio-Taysan borrowed the sum of P2,500 from
the Fire and Marine Insurance and Loan Co., of which the plaintiff is the lawfully appointed
liquidator, and mortgaged the land in question as security for the repayment of the loan.
Thereafter the husband of Silvina Chio-Taysan instituted special proceedings under the
provisions of the present Code of Civil Procedure, for the administration of the estate of Avelina
Caballero, deceased, and on the 16th day of October, 1905, he was, in accordance with his
petition, appointed administrator; and thereupon, submitted as such administrator, an inventory
of the property of the estate, in which was included the land in question; and on the 28th of
November, 1905, Francisca Jose, the intervener in this action, submitted her claim to the
commissioner appointed in these proceedings, for the sum of 1,000 pesos, Mexican currency,
loaned the deceased, as above set out, on the 28th day of March, 1904, which claim was duly
approved on the 31st of August, 1906.
On the 10th day of October, 1906, the plaintiff in this action filed its complaint against the
defendant, Silvina Chio-Taysan, praying for judgment for the amount loaned her as above set
out, and the foreclosure of its mortgage upon the land. To this complaint the defendant, Silvina
Chio-Taysan, filed her answer, admitting the facts alleged in the complaint and declining to
interpose any objection to the prayer of the complaint; but on the 30th of October, 1907,
Francisca Jose was permitted to intervene and file her separate "complaint in intervention"
wherein she set out the facts touching the loan made by her to Avelina Caballero, deceased, and
prayed that the court declare the mortgage executed by Silvina Chio-Taysan rescinded and of no
effect; and further that it annul the inscription in the land registry of the title of Silvina ChioTaysan to the land in question; and declare this land subject to her claim against the estate of
Avelina Caballero, deceased.
lawphil.net

The trial court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against both the defendant and the
intervener in conformity with the prayer of the complaint, and the intervener brings that judgment
before this court for review upon her bill of exceptions duly signed and certified.
We do not think that the judgment of the trial court can be sustained in so far as it wholly denies
relief to the intervener, Francisca Jose. The trial judge denied the relief prayed for by the
intervener, on the ground that her intervention in this action was for the purpose of the written
title deeds on the land, and that, since she admitted that she had admitted her claim against the
estate of Avelina Caballero, deceased, to the committee appointed in the administration

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proceedings, she must be taken to have abandoned, whatever lien she may have held as
security therefor, in accordance with the provisions of section 708 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
The prayer of her complaint in intervention, however, is merely for the rescission and annulment
of the mortgage contract between the loan company and the defendant and of the inscription in
the land registry of the title of the defendant, and a declaration that as a creditor of the estate
she has a superior right to that of the plaintiff company in the proceeds of any sale of the land in
question. She does not seek to enforce her claim and recover her debt in this proceeding, but
merely to prevent the plaintiff from securing a judgment in this action which would take out of the
estate property which she believes to be subject to her claim set up in the administration
proceedings. If her contentions are well founded, and if the estate of the deceased is subject to
the payment of the debts of the deceased in such form that the heirs of the deceased could not
alienate this land free of the claims of the creditors of the deceased against the land, for the
payment of their claims against the deceased, the intervener is clearly entitled to at least so
much of the relief she seeks in this action as will have the effect of preventing the sale of this
land under the plaintiff's foreclosure proceedings, free of the claims of creditors of the deceased,
because, if the plaintiffs in this action were permitted to foreclosure their mortgage and to
recover their debt from the sale of the land in question, it might well be that there would not be
sufficient property in the estate to pay the amount of the claim of the intervener against the
estate.
Had the transactions above set out in taken place under the system of law in force in these
Islands immediately prior to the 1st day of October, 1901, when the new Code of Civil Procedure
went into effect, there would be no difficulty in determining the respective rights of the various
parties to this action. Article 657 of the Civil Code provides that Los derechos a la succession de
una persona se transmiten desde el momento de su muerte. (The rights to the succession of
another are transmitted from the moment of his death); and article 661 provides thatLos
herederos suceden al difunto por el hecho solo de su muerte en todos sus derechos y
obligaciones. (Heirs succeed the deceased by the mere fact of his death, in all rights and
obligations). Under these, and co-related provisions of the Civil Code, a sole and exclusive heir
(as defined in article 660 of the Civil Code) became the owner of the property and was charged
with the obligations of the deceased at the moment of his death, upon precisely the same terms
and conditions as the property was held and as the obligations had been incurred by the
deceased prior to his death, save only that when he accepted the inheritance, "with benefit of an
inventory" he was not held liable for the debts and obligations of the deceased beyond the value
of the property which came into his hands.
The property of the deceased, both real and personal, became the property of the heir by the
mere fact of death of his prodecessor in interest, and he could deal with it in precisely the same
way in which the deceased could have dealt with it, subject only to the limitations which by law or
by contract were imposed upon the deceased himself. He could alienate or mortgage it with the
same freedom as could the deceased in his lifetime; the unsecured debts and other personal
obligations of the deceased becoming the unsecured debts and personal obligations of the heir
for which he was held personally responsible in precisely the same manner as the deceased,
save only, as has been said before, where he availed himself of the privilege of taking the estate
"with the benefit of an inventory," in which case the extent of his liability was limited to the value
of the estate which came into his hands, though in other respects its character as a personal
liability remained unchanged. Thus death created no new lien in favor of creditors upon the
property of the deceased, which was not in existence at the time of his death; personal debts
and obligations of the deceased becoming the personal debts and obligations of the heir, to
whom the creditor was compelled to look for payment, with no new right in or to the property of
the decease, in the hands of the heir, which he did not have in or to such property in the hands
of the deceased. (Title 3, Book of the Civil Code.)

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Spanish procedural law provided an action known as an action for the declaration of heirship
(declaracion de herederos) whereby one claiming the status of heir could have his right thereto
judicially declared, and this judicial declaration of heirship unless and until set aside or modified
in a proper judicial proceeding, was evidence of the fact of heirship which the officials charged
with the keeping of the public records, including the land registry, were bound to accept as a
sufficient basis for the formal entry, in the name of the heir, of ownership of the property of the
deceased.
It is evident therefore that, unless the provisions of Spanish procedural and substantive law, in
force when the new Code of Civil Procedure went into effect, have been repealed or modified
thereby, the defendant in this action, Silvina Chio-Taysan, who was judicially declared to be the
sole and universal heir of Avelina Caballero, deceased, became, by the mere fact of the death of
Caballero, the absolute owner of the tract of land in question, subject only to such liens thereon
as may have existed prior thereto, the personal obligations of the deceased also passing to her
at the same time; that, upon proof of such judicial declaration of heirship, the register of deeds of
the city of Manila properly entered Chio-Taysan in the land registry as the owner of this land by
right of inheritance; and that the Loan Company, of which the plaintiffs are the duly appointed
liquidators, was entitled to rely on the properly noted entries in the land registry and that the
company's mortgage deed from Chio-Taysan, in whose name the land is registered, could not be
affected by the unrecorded claim of the indebtedness of the intervener, who must look to the
heirs for the recovery of her debt.
But both the substantive and procedural law touching rights of succession and their
enforcement, which were in force in these Islands when the new Code of Civil Procedure went
into effect, have, to a greater or less degree, been repealed or modified by its enactment; and we
are of opinion that, under the provisions of the new code, the heir is not a
such personally responsible for the debts of the deceased, in whole or in part; and on the other
hand, the property of the deceased comes to him charged with the debts of the deceased, so
that he can not alienate or charge it free of such debts, until and unless they are extinguished
either by payment, prescription, or satisfaction in one or other of the modes recognized by law.
It must be admitted that we can not point out the specific section of the new Code of Civil
Procedure which in express terms repeals the old law and formally enacts the new doctrine of
succession just laid down; but we think that an examination of the various provisions of that code
touching the administration of the estates of deceased person leaves no room for doubt that they
do so by necessary implication.
The legislators who enacted this code were more especially acquainted with the American and
English systems of legislation, and in most of its provisions closely adhered to American
precedent. It substantially repeals in toto the proceedings prescribed under the old law for the
administration of estates of deceased persons, and substitutes therefor a system similar to that
generally adopted in the United States; most of its provisions having been borrowed word for
word from the codes of one or other of the various States. The substantive law in force in these
Islands being in many respects, and especially in regard to rights of inheritance, wholly different
from that in force in the various States from which the new system of administration of the
estates of deceased persons was adopted, many irreconcilable conflicts are to be found
between the provisions of the new and the old law, so that it becomes necessary either to
declare a great part of the provisions of the new Code of Procedure void and no effect, as wholly
inapplicable, or to hold that in such cases the provisions of substantive as well as procedural law
in conflict or inconsistent with the provisions of the new Code of Procedure are repealed, or
amended by the substitution of such other provisions as are clearly necessary as a basis upon
which the new provisions of procedural law are predicated.

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An examination more especially of sections 597, 644, 695, 727, 729, 731, 733, and 749 of the
Code of Civil Procedure, read together with the remaining provisions for the administration of the
estates of deceased persons, clearly indicates that the provisions of articles 660 and 661 of the
Civil Code have been abrogated.
These provisions of the new code clearly demonstrate that the terms heredero and legatario, as
defined in the Civil Code (art. 660), are not synonymous with the words "heir" and "legatee," as
used in the new code; the word "heir" in the new code being technically and applicable only to a
relative taking property of an intestate by virtue of the laws of descent, devisee and legatee
being reserved for all persons whether relatives or not, taking respectively real or personal
property by virtue of a will; while heredero in the Civil Code was applicable not only to one who
would be called an "heir," under the provisions of the new code, but also to one, whether relative
or not, who took what might be called "a residuary estate under a will" (el que sucede a titulo
universal).
It appears also from an examination of these provisions that the legislature has provided no
machinery whereby an absolute right on the part of the heir to succeed by the mere fact of death
to all the rights and property of the deceased may be enforced, without previous payment or
provision of the payment of the debts; and on the other hand, it has provided machinery for the
enforcement of the debts and other obligations of the deceased, not as debts or obligations of
the heir, but as debt or obligations of the deceased, to the payment of which the property of the
deceased may be subjected wherever it be found. Thus section 597 expressly provides that, in
those cases where settlement of an intestate estate may be made without legal proceedings,
either by a family council, as known under the Spanish law, or by an agreement in writing
executed by all the heirs, the real estate of the deceased remains charged with liability to
creditors of the deceased for two years after the settlement, "notwithstanding any transfers
thereof that may have been made;" and we think the inference is clear that the legislator in this
section recognizes and affirms the doctrine that, prior to the date of such settlement, the real
estate at least was charged in like manner with the debts of the deceased. So it will be found
that, where the legal proceedings are had looking to the settlement of testate or intestate
estates, provision is made for the recovery of claims against the deceased, not by proceedings
directed against the heir, but by proceedings looking directly to the subjection of the property of
the deceased to the payment of such claims; the property both real and personal being, in
express terms, made chargeable with the payment of these debts, the executor or administrator
having the right to the possession of the real as well as the personal property, to the exclusion of
the heirs, so long as may be necessary for that purpose (secs. 727 and 729).
For practical purposes it may well be said that in the eye of the law, where there is no remedy to
enforce an alleged right when it is invaded, the existence of the right may safely be denied; and
where the law furnishes a remedy whereby one may enforce a claim, that claim is a right
recognized and established by the law. The new Code of Procedure furnishing no remedy
whereby the provisions of article 661 of the of the Civil Code may be enforced, in so far as they
impose upon the heredero (heir) the duty of assuming as a personal obligation all the debts of
the deceased, at least to the extent of the value of the property received from the estate; or in so
far as they give to the heredero the reciprocal right to receive the property of the deceased,
without such property being specifically subjected to the payment of the debts to the deceased
by the very fact of his deceased, these provisions of article 661 may properly be held to have
been abrogated; and the new code having provided a remedy whereby the property of the
deceased may always be subjected to the payment of his debts in whatever hands it may be
found, the right of a creditor to a lien upon the property of the deceased, for the payment of the
debts of the deceased, created by the mere fact of his death, may be said to be recognized and
created by the provisions of the new code. (Pavia vs. De la Rosa, 8 Phil. Rep., 70).

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It is evident, therefore, that a judgement in an action for the declaration of heirship in favor of one
or more heirs could not entitle such persons to be recognized as the owner or owners of the
property of the deceased on the same terms as such property was held by the deceased, for it
passes to the heir, under the new code, burdened with all the debts of the deceased, his death
having created a lien thereon for the benefit of creditor; and indeed an examination of the
proceedings prescribed in the new Code of Civil Procedure for the administration and distribution
of the estates of deceased persons leaves no room for doubt that those proceedings are
exclusive of all other judicial proceedings looking to that end, and supersede the judicial
proceeding for the declaration of heirship, as recognized in the old procedure, at least so far as
that proceeding served as a remedy whereby the right of specific persons to succeed to the
rights and obligations of the deceased as his heirs might be judicially determined and enforced.
Examining the facts in the case at bar, in the light of the doctrine as to the law of succession as
thus modified and amended by the new Code of Civil Procedure, which went into effect prior to
the death of Avelina Caballero, it is evident that her death created a lien upon her property in
favor of the intervener Francisca Jose, for the payment of the debt contracted by her during her
lifetime, and that this lien ought to have and has priority to any lien created upon this property by
the heir of the deceased; that the judicial declaration of heirship in favor of Silvina Chio-Taysan,
could not and did not furnish a basis for an entry in the land registry of the name of Silvina ChioTaysan as the absolute owner of the property of Avelina Caballero; that such entry, improperly
made, could not and did not prejudice the lien of the intervener, Francisca Jose, for the debt due
her by the deceased (Mortgage Law, art. 33); and that the mortgage of the property of the
deceased by her heir, Silvina Chio-Taysan, was subject to the prior lien of the intervener,
Francisca Jose, for the payment of her debt.
It is not necessary for us to consider the action of the court below in ordering the foreclosure of
the mortgage, in so far as it affects the defendant Silvina Chio-Taysan who did not appeal; but
we think that the intervener, who is seeking to subject the property of the deceased to the
payment of her debt in the administration proceedings now pending, is clearly entitled to so
much of the relief prayed for as will have the effect of preventing the application of the proceeds
of the sale of this land under foreclosure proceedings to the payment of debts contracted by the
heir until and unless it shall appear that the residue of the estate of the deceased is sufficient to
satisfy her claim. Such provision for the protection of her rights having been made, the other
relief prayed for by her may properly be denied, since a provision subjecting the land in question
to the payment of her claim against the estate of Avelina Caballero, deceased, fully and
sufficiently protects her rights in the premises, and her rights having been secured, she has no
proper interest in the rescission of the mortgage contract between plaintiff and defendant, or the
cancellation of the inscription of the defendant's title as heir in the land registry.
The judgment of the trial court should, therefore, be modified in accordance with the foregoing
principles, and the record will be returned to the trial court where judgment will be entered
modifying the judgment, by providing that the proceeds of the sale of the land under the
foreclosure proceedings will be deposited with the clerk of the court, where it will be retained
until the amount of the debt due the intervener and unpaid in the course of the administration of
the estate of Avelina Caballero shall have been ascertained, whereupon the said funds shall be
applied: first, to extinguish the unpaid residue, if any, of the claim of the intervener; second, to
pay the debt due the plaintiff in this action; and finally, the residue, if any, to be paid to the estate
of the deceased; the intervener to have her costs in this action in both instances. So ordered.
Arellano, C.J., Torres, Mapa, and Willard, JJ., concur.
Tracey, J., concurs in the result.

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G.R. No. L-47799

June 13, 1941

Administration of the estate of Agripino Neri y Chavez. ELEUTERIO NERI, ET


AL., petitioners,
vs.
IGNACIA AKUTIN AND HER CHILDREN, respondents.
Ozamiz & Capistrano for petitioners.
Gullas, Leuterio, Tanner & Laput for respondents.
MORAN, J.:
Agripino Neri y Chavez, who died on December 12, 1931, had by his first marriage six children
named Eleuterio, Agripino, Agapito, Getulia, Rosario and Celerina; and by his second marriage
with Ignacia Akutin, five children named Gracia, Godofredo, Violeta, Estela Maria, and Emma.
Getulia, daughter in the first marriage, died on October 2, 1923, that is, a little less than eight
years before the death of said Agripino Neri y Chavez, and was survived by seven children
named Remedios, Encarnacion, Carmen, Trinidad, Luz, Alberto and Minda. In Agripino Neri's
testament, which was admitted to probate on March 21, 1932, he willed that his children by the
first marriage shall have no longer any participation in his estate, as they had already received
their corresponding shares during his lifetime. At the hearing for the declaration of heirs, the trial
court found, contrary to what the testator had declared in his will, that all his children by the first
and second marriages intestate heirs of the deceased without prejudice to one-half of the
improvements introduced in the properties during the existence of the last conjugal partnership,
which should belong to Ignacia Akutin. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision
with the modification that the will was "valid with respect to the two-thirds part which the testator
could freely dispose of. "This judgment of the Court of Appeals is now sought to be reviewed in
this petition forcertiorari.
The decisive question here raised is whether, upon the foregoing facts, the omission of the
children of the first marriage annuls the institution of the children of the first marriage as sole
heirs of the testator, or whether the will may be held valid, at least with respect to one-third of the
estate which the testator may dispose of as legacy and to the other one-third which he may
bequeath as betterment, to said children of the second marriage.
The Court of Appeals invoked the provisions of article 851 of the Civil Code, which read in part
as follows:
Disinheritance made without a statement of the cause, or for a cause the truth of which, if
contradicted, is not proven, ... shall annul the institution of the heir in so far as it
prejudices the person disinherited; but the legacies, betterments, and other testamentary
dispositions, in so far as they do no encroach upon the legitime, shall be valid.
The appellate court thus seemed to have rested its judgment upon the impression that the
testator had intended to disinherit, though ineffectively, the children of the first marriage. There is
nothing in the will that supports this conclusion. True, the testator expressly denied them any
share in his estate; but the denial was predicated, not upon the desire to disinherit, but upon the
belief, mistaken though it was, that the children by the first marriage had already received more
than their corresponding shares in his lifetime in the form of advancement. Such belief
conclusively negatives all inference as to any intention to disinherit, unless his statement to that
effect is prove to be deliberately fictitious, a fact not found by the Court of Appeals. The situation

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contemplated in the above provision is one in which the purpose to disinherit is clear, but upon a
cause not stated or not proved, a situation which does not obtain in the instant case.
The Court of Appeals quotes Manresa thus:
En el terreno de los principios, la solucion mas justa del problema que hemos hecho
notar al comentar el articulo, seria distinguir el caso en que el heredero omitido viviese al
otorgarse el testamento, siendo conocida su existencia por el testador, de aquel en que,
o naciese despues, o se ignorase su existencia, aplicando en el primer caso la doctrina
del articulo 851, y en el segundo la del 814. (6 Manresa, 354-355.)
But it must be observed that this opinion is founded on mere principles (en el terreno de los
principios) and not on the express provisions of the law. Manresa himself admits that according
to law, "no existe hoy cuestion alguna en esta materia: la pretericion produce siempre los
mismos efectos, ya se refiera a personas vivas al hacer el testamento o nacidas despues. Este
ultimo grupo solo puede hacer relacion a los descendientes legitimos, siempre que ademas
tengan derecho a legitima." (6 Manresa, 381.)
Appellants, on the other hand, maintain that the case is one of voluntary preterition of four of the
children by the first marriage, and of involuntary preterition of the children by the deceased
Getulia, also of the first marriage, and is thus governed by the provisions of article 814 of the
Civil Code, which read in part as follows:
The preterition of one or all of the forced heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time
of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall void the institution
of heir; but the legacies and betterments shall be valid, in so far as they are not
inofficious.
Preterition consists in the omission in the testator's will of the forced heirs or anyone of them,
either because they are not mentioned therein, or, though mentioned, they are neither instituted
as heirs nor are expressly disinherited.(Cf. 6 Manresa, 346.) In the instant case, while the
children of the first marriage were mentioned in the will, they were not accorded any share in the
heriditary property, without expressly being disinherited. It is, therefore, a clear case of preterition
as contended by appellants. The omission of the forced heirs or anyone of them, whether
voluntary or involuntary, is a preterition if the purpose to disinherit is not expressly made or is not
at least manifest.
Except as to "legacies and betterments" which "shall be valid in so far as they are not inofficious"
(art. 814 of the Civil Code), preterition avoids the institution of heirs and gives rise to intestate
succession. (Art. 814, Civil Code; Decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain of June 17, 1908 and
February 27, 1909.) In the instant case, no such legacies or betterments have been made by the
testator. "Mejoras" or betterments must be expressly provided, according to articles 825 and 828
of the Civil Code, and where no express provision therefor is made in the will, the law would
presume that the testator had no intention to that effect. (Cf. 6 Manresa, 479.) In the will here in
question, no express betterment is made in favor of the children by the second marriage; neither
is there any legacy expressly made in their behalf consisting of the third available for free
disposal. The whole inheritance is accorded the heirs by the second marriage upon the mistaken
belief that the heirs by the first marriage have already received their shares. Were it not for this
mistake, the testator's intention, as may be clearly inferred from his will, would have been to
divide his property equally among all his children.

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Judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed and that of the trial court affirmed, without
prejudice to the widow's legal usufruct, with costs against respondents.
Avancea, C.J., Diaz, Laurel and Horrilleno, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-40789 February 27, 1987


INTESTATE ESTATE OF PETRA V. ROSALES, IRENEA C. ROSALES, petitioner,
vs.
FORTUNATO ROSALES, MAGNA ROSALES ACEBES, MACIKEQUEROX ROSALES and
ANTONIO ROSALES,respondents.
Jose B. Echaves for petitioner.
Jose A. Binghay and Paul G. Gorres for respondents.

GANCAYCO, J.:
In this Petition for Review of two (2) Orders of the Court of First Instance of Cebu the question
raised is whether the widow whose husband predeceased his mother can inherit from the latter,
her mother-in-law.
It appears from the record of the case that on February 26, 1971, Mrs. Petra V. Rosales, a
resident of Cebu City, died intestate. She was survived by her husband Fortunate T. Rosales and
their two (2) children Magna Rosales Acebes and Antonio Rosales. Another child, Carterio
Rosales, predeceased her, leaving behind a child, Macikequerox Rosales, and his widow Irenea
C. Rosales, the herein petitioner. The estate of the dismissed has an estimated gross value of
about Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00).
On July 10, 1971, Magna Rosales Acebes instituted the proceedings for the settlement of the
estate of the deceased in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. The case was docketed as Special
Proceedings No. 3204-R. Thereafter, the trial court appointed Magna Rosales Acebes
administratrix of the said estate.
In the course of the intestate proceedings, the trial court issued an Order dated June 16, 1972
declaring the following in individuals the legal heirs of the deceased and prescribing their
respective share of the estate
Fortunata T. Rosales (husband), 1/4; Magna R. Acebes (daughter), 1/4;
Macikequerox Rosales, 1/4; and Antonio Rosales son, 1/4.
This declaration was reiterated by the trial court in its Order I dated February 4, 1975.

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These Orders notwithstanding, Irenea Rosales insisted in getting a share of the estate in her
capacity as the surviving spouse of the late Carterio Rosales, son of the deceased, claiming that
she is a compulsory heir of her mother-in-law together with her son, Macikequerox Rosales.
Thus, Irenea Rosales sought the reconsideration of the aforementioned Orders. The trial court
denied her plea. Hence this petition.
In sum, the petitioner poses two (2) questions for Our resolution petition. First is a widow
(surviving spouse) an intestate heir of her mother-in-law? Second are the Orders of the trial
court which excluded the widow from getting a share of the estate in question final as against the
said widow?
Our answer to the first question is in the negative.
Intestate or legal heirs are classified into two (2) groups, namely, those who inherit by their own
right, and those who inherit by the right of representation. 1 Restated, an intestate heir can only
inherit either by his own right, as in the order of intestate succession provided for in the Civil
Code, 2 or by the right of representation provided for in Article 981 of the same law. The relevant
provisions of the Civil Code are:
Art. 980. The children of the deceased shall always inherit from him in their own
right, dividing the inheritance in equal shares.
Art. 981. Should children of the deceased and descendants of other children who
are dead, survive, the former shall inherit in their own right, and the latter by right
of representation.
Art. 982. The grandchildren and other descendants shag inherit by right of
representation, and if any one of them should have died, leaving several heirs,
the portion pertaining to him shall be divided among the latter in equal portions.
Art. 999. When the widow or widower survives with legitimate children or their
descendants and illegitimate children or their descendants, whether legitimate or
illegitimate, such widow or widower shall be entitled to the same share as that of
a legitimate child.
There is no provision in the Civil Code which states that a widow (surviving spouse) is an
intestate heir of her mother-in-law. The entire Code is devoid of any provision which entitles her
to inherit from her mother-in- law either by her own right or by the right of representation. The
provisions of the Code which relate to the order of intestate succession (Articles 978 to 1014)
enumerate with meticulous exactitude the intestate heirs of a decedent, with the State as the
final intestate heir. The conspicuous absence of a provision which makes a daughter-in-law an
intestate heir of the deceased all the more confirms Our observation. If the legislature intended
to make the surviving spouse an intestate heir of the parent-in-law, it would have so provided in
the Code.
Petitioner argues that she is a compulsory heir in accordance with the provisions of Article 887 of
the Civil Code which provides that:
Art. 887. The following are compulsory heirs:

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(1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents
and ascendants;
(2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to
their legitimate children and descendants;
(3) The widow or widower;
(4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction;
(5) Other illegitimate children referred to in article 287;
Compulsory heirs mentioned in Nos. 3, 4 and 5 are not excluded by those in Nos.
1 and 2; neither do they exclude one another.
In all cases of illegitimate children, their filiation must be duly proved.
The father or mother of illegitimate children of the three classes mentioned, shall
inherit from them in the manner and to the extent established by this Code.
The aforesaid provision of law 3 refers to the estate of the deceased spouse in which case the
surviving spouse (widow or widower) is a compulsory heir. It does not apply to the estate of a parentin-law.
Indeed, the surviving spouse is considered a third person as regards the estate of the parent-inlaw. We had occasion to make this observation in Lachenal v. Salas, 4 to Wit:
We hold that the title to the fishing boat should be determined in Civil Case No.
3597 (not in the intestate proceeding) because it affects the lessee thereof, Lope
L. Leoncio, the decedent's son-in-law, who, although married to his daughter or
compulsory heir, is nevertheless a third person with respect to his estate. ...
(Emphasis supplied).
By the same token, the provision of Article 999 of the Civil Code aforecited does not support
petitioner's claim. A careful examination of the said Article confirms that the estate contemplated
therein is the estate of the deceased spouse. The estate which is the subject matter of the
intestate estate proceedings in this case is that of the deceased Petra V. Rosales, the mother-inlaw of the petitioner. It is from the estate of Petra V. Rosales that Macikequerox Rosales draws a
share of the inheritance by the right of representation as provided by Article 981 of the Code.
The essence and nature of the right of representation is explained by Articles 970 and 971 of the
Civil Code, viz
Art. 970. Representation is a right created by fiction of law, by virtue of which the
representative is raised to the place and the degree of the person represented,
and acquires the rights which the latter would have if he were living or if he could
have inherited.
Art. 971. The representative is called to the succession by the law and not by the
person represented. The representative does not succeed the person

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represented but the one whom the person represented would have succeeded.
(Emphasis supplied.)
Article 971 explicitly declares that Macikequerox Rosales is called to succession by law because
of his blood relationship. He does not succeed his father, Carterio Rosales (the person
represented) who predeceased his grandmother, Petra Rosales, but the latter whom his father
would have succeeded. Petitioner cannot assert the same right of representation as she has no
filiation by blood with her mother-in-law.
Petitioner however contends that at the time of the death of her husband Carterio Rosales he
had an inchoate or contingent right to the properties of Petra Rosales as compulsory heir. Be
that as it may, said right of her husband was extinguished by his death that is why it is their son
Macikequerox Rosales who succeeded from Petra Rosales by right of representation. He did not
succeed from his deceased father, Carterio Rosales.
On the basis of the foregoing observations and conclusions, We find it unnecessary to pass
upon the second question posed by the petitioner.
Accordingly, it is Our considered opinion, and We so hold, that a surviving spouse is not an
intestate heir of his or her parent-in-law.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit, with
costs against the petitioner. Let this case be remanded to the trial-court for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.
Yap (Chairman), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Feliciano and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1 III Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the
Philippines 461, 1979 ed.
2 Articles 978 to 1014.
3 Art. 887 (3), Civil Code.
4 71 SCRA 262, 265 L-42257, June 14, 1976.

G.R. No. 73275 May 20, 1987

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FLOCERFINA BARANDA, Assisted by Husband, ELIAS FABON, HERMINIA BARANDA
RECATO represented by LILIA R. TORRENTE, as Attorney-in-Fact, TEODORO BARANDA
represented by JUANITA VICTORIA as Attorney-in-Fact, ALIPIO VILLARTA and
SALVACION BARANDA, petitioners,
vs.
EVANGELINA G. BARANDA, ELISA G. BARANDA, and THE HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE
APPELLATE COURT, respondents.
Alarkon and Valero for petitioners.
Romulo, Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc and Delos Angeles for private respondents.

CRUZ, J.:
We are faced once again with an all-too-familiar if distasteful controversy: an old woman dying
without issue and without a will and her collaterals wrangling over her properties like the soldiers
in Mount Calvary casting lots for the seamless robe of Jesus. The difference in this case is that
even before the owner's death, two of the claimants had already taken over her properties by
virtue of certain supposed transfers which are in fact that reason for this petition.
The questioned sales were effected through three deeds denominated "Bilihan ng Lupa" and
dated January 29 and February 3, 1977, 1 under which Paulina L. Baranda, a widow, sold five parcels of land to her
niece, Evangelina Baranda, and a sixth parcel to her other niece, Elisa, also a daughter of Pedro Baranda, Paulina's brother. The sales
were made, according to the documents, for the total consideration of P105,000.00 duly acknowledged as received by the transferor
from the vendees. 2

What made these transactions suspect was a subsequent complaint filed by Paulina Baranda
against her nieces on August 1, 1977, in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, in which she alleged
that she had signed the said deeds of sale without knowing their contents and prayed that
Evangelina and Elisa be ordered to reconvey the lands subject thereof to her. 3 This complaint
was later withdrawn pursuant to an agreement dated August 2, 1977, 4 under which the defendants, in
exchange for such withdrawal, obligated themselves to "execute absolute deeds of sale covering the
above-mentioned properties in favor of the First Party," meaning the plaintiff.
It was also stipulated in the said agreement thatc. The FIRST PARTY shall keep possession of the aforementioned deeds of sale,
as wen as the Transfer Certificate of Title of the above-listed properties, which
are in the hands of the SECOND PARTIES;
d. That any time that the FIRST PARTY desires to sell, mortgage or otherwise
dispose of or encumber the abovementioned properties, the SECOND PARTIES
shall execute the proper documents in accordance with the desire and wishes of
the FIRST PARTY.
As it turned out, only Elisa reconveyed the lot deeded to her; Evangelina never complied with the
agreement; and when Paulina died in 1982, the certificate of title over the lots in question were
still in the names of Evangelina and Elisa Baranda. 5

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This was the factual situation when on April 26, 1982, the herein petitioners, claiming to be the
legitimate heirs of the late Paulina Baranda, filed a complaint against Evangelina and Elisa
Baranda in the Court of First Instance of Rizal for the annulment of the sale and the
reconveyance of the lots, with damages. Judgment was rendered in favor of the plaintiffs: * a)
declaring the deeds of sale null and void; b) ordering the defendants to execute the necessary instrument to transfer the lots in question
to the estate of the late Paulina Baranda; c) ordering defendants to turn over to the estate of Paulina Baranda the sum of P24,000.00 a
year from February 1982 until the administrator of said estate takes over the management of said properties, with interest at 12% per
annum; and d) sentencing defendants to pay, jointly and severally, the plaintiffs the sum of Twenty Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00)
for and as attorney's fees and expenses of litigation. 6

On appeal to the Intermediate Appellate Court, ** the decision of the trial court was reversed and the deeds of sale
were held valid and binding, for reasons to be discussed presently. The respondent court, in dismissing the complaint, also required the
complainants to pay P50,000.00 for attorney's fees, P30,000.00 for litigation expenses, P20,000.00 as moral damages, and P20,000.00
as exemplary damages. The petitioners are now before us to challenge that decision. 7

We address ourselves first to the basic issue, to wit, the validity of the three deeds of sale
allegedly signed by Paulina Baranda without knowing their contents. The respondent court,
rejecting the findings of the trial court, upheld the questioned deeds, stressing that they were
public documents and that their authenticity could further be sustained by the testimony of the
private respondents. We disagree.
While it is true that a notarized instrument is admissible in evidence without further proof of its
due execution and is conclusive as to the truthfulness of its contents, 8 this rule is nonetheless not
absolute but may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. 9 Such evidence, as
the Court sees it, has been sufficiently established in this case.
The curious part about the supposed deeds of sale is the consideration allegedly agreed upon,
in the amounts of P25,000.00 for lots 4 and 5, P50,000.00 for lots 9, 11 and 6, and P30,000.00
for lot 8 which Evangelina testified as having been actually paid to their aunt on February 3,
1977. Especially intriguing is the source of the said purchase price, in the total amount of
P105,000.00, which by the testimony of the private respondents was paid by them in cash to
their aunt in the office of Atty. Galos, who notarized the deeds of sale. 10
According to Evangeline, the sum of P100,000.00 was given to her by a "balikbayan" boy friend,
and it was from this amount that she paid her share of the purchase price of
P75,000.00. 11 According to Elisa, her sister Evangelina lent her P15,000.00 and she raised another P15,000.00 from her
grandmother in the province to complete the P30,000.00 due from her for the lot she was buying.12 At the time of these transactions,
neither Evangelina nor Elisa was gainfully employed or had independent sources of income, both being then fresh college graduates
aged 25 and 26 years old, respectively. 13

The tale of the mysterious and generous "balikbayan" is something "out of this world," in the
language of the trial court, and we are inclined to agree, although not in those words. This Court
is itself rather perplexed that the respondent court should have accepted this tissue of lies so
readily, considering its obvious falsity. The "balikbayan" is a hazy figure, if we go by his own girl
friend's testimony, without even a name at least, let alone other personal circumstances to give
him bone and body. All we can glean from the record is that he is an exceedingly trusting and
generous person who, presumably out of love for Evangeline, willingly delivered P100,000.00 in
cold cash to her and thereafter disappeared completely. (Five years later, Evangelina was still
unmarried.) 14 Strangely, this amorphous sweetheart was not even presented at the trial to corroborate his beloved, assuming
their love was as strong as ever, or at least to protect his investment.

Elsa's explanation of how she got her own P30,000.00 is equally imaginative and was obviously
part of the fabric or fabrication woven by her sister to conjure what now appears to be a
non-existent fund. As Elisa puts it, half of the P30,000.00 she paid came as a loan from

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Evangelina's boy friend's P100,000.00 and the other P15,000.00 was given to her by her
grandmother. 15
This grandmother was another generous if also improbable figure, if we go by Elisa's testimony
this time. According to her, she persuaded her grandmother to sell her lands in La Union, to give
her the purchase price of P15,000.00, and to come with her husband to live with her in
Manila, 16 not in her own house, significantly, but in the house of Paulina Baranda, with whom she and her sister were themselves
living. Elisa did not present any document to prove that her grandmother did sell her properties to raise the P15,000.00, or, indeed, that
she had any property at all to sell. There is no evidence of this whatsoever. At any rate, it is hard to believe that this old woman would
agree to sell her own properties in La Union, where she was presumably making a living, and with her second husband (who was not
even related to Elisa and Evangeline) to live off her granddaughters, who were themselves in a way also living off Paulina Baranda in
the latter's house. Paulina Baranda and the grandmother were strangers.

The sisters made another incredible claim, viz., that from the house where they and Paulina
Baranda were living together they carried the amount of P105,000.00 in cold cash to the office of
Atty. Galos where they delivered it to Paulina Baranda. 17 Apparently, Paulina then brought it back to the same
house where it came from in the first place, in a preposterous pantomime that invites laughter, not belief, and would make them out as
three silly persons from some inane nursery rhyme.

Why the nieces did not pay the money in the house instead of bringing it all the way from the
house and back is something that has not been sufficiently explained by the private respondents.
They could have shown, for example, that Paulina Baranda intended to bring it somewhere else,
say, for deposit in a bank, or for the purchase of some property, such as the ticket to the United
States where she was allegedly planning to migrate. 18 There is no evidence of such deposit or purchase,
however, no evidence at all of where that money went after it was supposedly received by Paulina Baranda on the date of the alleged
transaction. It also simply disappeared like the "balikbayan" who never returned.

Paulina Baranda herself denied under oath that she ever sold her lands to Evangelina and Elisa,
alleging in her verified complaint that she "never executed any deed" conveying the title to her
properties and "was surprised and shocked to learn" later that her transfer certificate of title to
her lots had been cancelled and new certificates of title had been issued in favor of the private
respondents.19 She withdrew this complaint only after her nieces agreed in writing to reconvey the properties to her "in order to
preserve family solidarity and in order to avoid litigation among the parties."

20

The nieces explain away this complaint by saying it was merely simulated, to prevent the U.S.
government from discontinuing her pension as a war widow on the ground that she had
squandered her property. 21 If that was her only purpose, one might well wonder why it was
necessary at all to commence litigation as a mere resale of the properties would have been sufficient
and easily effected without the asperity of a civil complaint. Considering that, as the private
respondents kept insisting, there was never any misunderstanding between them and their aunt,
there would have been no difficulty in their acceding to her request for a resale of the properties to
protect her pension. The fact that the complaint had to be filed shows they were unwilling to reconvey
the properties after the aunt demanded their return following her discovery of the fake deeds of sale,
an unwillingness further manifested when Evangelina refused to comply with this aforesaid
agreement and never reconveyed the lots supposedly bought by her.
By offering this explanation, the private respondents are in effect asking this Court to condone
and approve their attempt to deceive and defraud the government of a sister state.
There is also the issue of the capacity to sue of the petitioners who, it is claimed by the private
respondents, are not the proper parties to question the validity of the deed of sale. The reason
given is that they are not the legitimate and compulsory heirs of Paulina Baranda nor were they
parties to the challenged transactions.

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It is not disputed that Paulina Baranda died intestate without leaving any direct descendants or
ascendants, or compulsory heirs. She was survived, however, by two brothers, namely, Pedro
and Teodoro, and several nephews and nieces, including the private respondents, as well as
petitioners Flocerfina Baranda, Salvacion Baranda, and Alipio Baranda Villarte, children of two
deceased brothers and a sister. 22 The above- named persons, together with Pedro Baranda, who
was not joined as a petitioner because he is the father of the private respondents, and the children of
another deceased sister, are the legitimate intestate heirs of Paulina Baranda.
The applicable provisions of the Civil Code are the following:
Art. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a
surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the
deceased in accordance with the following articles.
Art. 1005. Should brothers and sisters survive together with nephews and nieces,
who are the children of the descendant's brothers and sisters of the full blood, the
former shall inherit per capita, and the latter per stirpes
Art. 972. The right of representation takes place in the direct descending line, but
never in the ascending.
In the collateral line it takes place only in favor of the children or brothers or
sisters, whether they be of the full or half blood.
As heirs, the petitioners have legal standing to challenge the deeds of sale purportedly signed by
Paulina Baranda for otherwise property claimed to belong to her estate will be excluded
therefrom to their prejudice. Their claims are not merely contingent or expectant, as argued by
the private respondents, but are deemed to have vested in them upon Paulina Baranda's death
in 1982, as, under Article 777 of the Civil Code, "the rights to the succession are transmitted from
the moment of the death of the decedent." While they are not compulsory heirs, they are
nonetheless legitimate heirs and so, since they "stand to be benefited or injured by the judgment
or suit," are entitled to protect their share of successional rights.
This Court has repeatedly held that "the legal heirs of a decedent are the parties in interest to
commence ordinary actions arising out of the rights belonging to the deceased, without separate
judicial declaration as to their being heirs of said decedent, provided that there is no pending
special proceeding for the settlement of the decedent's estate." 23
There being no pending special proceeding for the settlement of Paulina Baranda's estate, the
petitioners, as her intestate heirs, had the right to sue for the reconveyance of the disputed
properties, not to them, but to the estate itself of the decedent, for distribution later in accordance
with law. Otherwise, no one else could question the simulated sales and the subjects thereof
would remain in the name of the alleged vendees, who would thus have been permitted to
benefit from their deception, In fact, even if it were assumed that those suing through attorneysin-fact were not properly represented, the remaining petitioners would still have sufficed to
impugn the validity of the deeds of sale.
Neither can it be argued that the petitioners cannot assail the said contracts on the ground that
they were not parties thereto because as heirs of Paulina Baranda they are affected, and
adversely at that, by the supposed sales of her properties. As this Court has held

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A person who is not a party obliged principally or subsidiarily in a contract may
exercise an action for nullity of the contract if he is prejudiced in his rights with
respect to one of the contracting parties and can show the detriment which could
positively result to him from the contract in which he had no intervention. 24
The real party-in-interest in an action for annulment or contract includes a person
who is not a party obliged principally or subsidiarily in the contract if he is
PREJUDICED in his rights with respect to one of the contracting parties. 25

Moreover, it is expressly and specifically provided in the Civil Code that:


Art. 1311. Contracts take effect only between the parties, their assigns and heirs
except in case where the rights and obligations arising from the contract are not
transmissible by their nature, or by stipulation or by provision of law. ...
As Justice J.B.L. Reyes said in his concurring opinion in Armentia v. Patriarca, 26 speaking of a
similar situation, "what petitioners, however, question is the validity of such transfer or disposition for if
it could be established that such disposition was invalid, the property allegedly conveyed never left
the patrimony of the transferor, and upon the latter's death without a testament, such property would
pass to the transferor's heirs intestate and be recoverable by them or by the administrator of the
transferor's estate should there be any."
Assuming then that the petitioners are proper parties to challenge the validity of the private
respondents title to the land in question, may it not be argued that the right to do so had
nevertheless already prescribed when they filed the complaint in 1982?
The Civil Code provides in Article 1391 that an action to annul a contract on the ground of
vitiated consent must be filed within four years from the discovery of the vice of consent. In the
instant case, however, we are dealing not with a voidable contract tainted with fraud, mistake,
undue influence, violence or intimidation that can justify its nullification, but with a contract that is
null and void ab initio.
Paulina Baranda declared under oath in her complaint that she signed the deeds of sale without
knowing what they were, which means that her consent was not merely marred by the abovestated vices, so as to make the contracts voidable, but that she had not given her consent at
all. We are also satisfied that there was no valid consideration either for the alleged transfers, for
reasons already discussed. Lack of consent and consideration made the deeds of
sale void altogether 27 and rendered them subject to attack at any time, conformably to the rule in
Article 1410 that an action to declare the inexistence of void contracts "does not prescribe."
Act No. 496, which was in force at the time the complaint was filed, provided that the action to
annul a registration of land under the Torrens system should be filed within one year; otherwise,
the same shall be barred forever. 28This is not an absolute rule, however, as the Torrens system is
not supposed to be used as an instrument for wrongdoing or to validate an illegal acquisition of title to
the prejudice of the real owner of the property registered. We have consistently ruled that when there
is a showing of such illegality, the property registered is deemed to be simply held in trust for the real
owner by the person in whose name it is registered, and the former then has the right to sue for the
reconveyance of the property. The action for the purpose is also imprescriptible.
Public policy demands that a person guilty of fraud or at least, of breach of trust,
should not be allowed to use a Torrens title as a shield against the consequences
of his wrong doing. (Cabanos vs. Register of Deeds, 40 Phil. 620).

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An action to compel reconveyance of property with a Torrens title does not
prescribe if the registered owner had obtained registration in bad faith, and the
property is still in the latter's name. The reason is that the registration is in the
nature of a continuing and subsisting trust. (Caladiao v. Vda. de Blas, L-19063,
April 29, 1964).
A holder in bad faith of a certificate of title is not entitled to the protection of the
law, for the law cannot be used as a shield for frauds. (Ignacio vs. Chua Hong, 52
Phil. 940; Gustilo vs. Maravilla, 48 Phil. 442).
As long as the land wrongfully registered under the Torrens system is still in the name of the
person who caused such registration, an action in personam will lie to compel him to reconvey
the property to the real owner. Provided only that the property has, as in this case, not passed to
an innocent third person for value, such an action is permitted. We have held that the sole
remedy of the landowner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in
anothers' name is not to set aside the decree after one year from the date thereof. Respecting it
as incontrovertible and no longer open to review, he may nevertheless bring an ordinary action
for reconvevance or for darmages if the property has passed into the hands of an innocent
purchaser for value. 29
It was in conformity with this doctrine, in fact, that the petitioners filed on April 26, 1982, their
complaint against the private respondents for annulment of the deeds of sale and for
reconveyance of the lands subject thereof which were illegally registered in the names of
Evangelina and Elisa Baranda.
We deal with one final matter that should be cause for serious concern as it has a direct
relevance to the faith of our people in the administration of justice in this country. It is noted with
disapproval that the respondent court awarded the total indemnity of P120,000.00, including
attorney's fees and litigation expenses that were double the amounts claimed and exemplary
damages which were not even prayed for by the private respondents. Such improvident
generosity is likely to raise eyebrows, if not outright challenge to the motives of some of our
courts, and should therefore be scrupulously avoided at all times, in the interest of maintaining
popular confidence in the judiciary. We therefore caution against a similar recklessness in the
future and call on all members of the bench to take proper heed of this admonition.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby REVERSED and that of the trial
court is REINSTATED, with costs against the private respondents.
SOORDERED.
Yap (Chairman), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Feliciano and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.
Gancayco, J., took no part.

G.R. No. L-33924 March 18, 1988

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MARIA BALAIS and PETRONILO ERAYA as successors in interest of JUAN BALAIS and
JUANCHO BALAIS, petitioners,
vs.
BUENAVENTURA, ADELA, ROSITA, and TERESITA, all surnamed BALAIS, respondents.
Ledesma, Guytingco & Associates for petitioners.
Sergio F. Apostol for respondents.

SARMIENTO, J.:
Pursuant to its Resolution of June 30, 1971, 1 the Court of Appeals 2 certified this case to the Court.
The Appellate Court declined to render a ruling, it being of the opinion that the case "involve[s] purely
questions of law over which [it] [has] nojuriscliction." 3 Specifically, the questions put to the Court are
two-fold: (1) does the court have jurisdiction to decree a partition in an action for reconveyance? (2)
may it apply the provisions of the new Civil Code in determining the successionary rights of heirs
where the decedent died during the effectivity of the old Code? 4 questions undoubtedly legal in
character. In forwarding the appeal to this Court, the Court of Appeals invokes, specifically, the
provisions of Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. 5 We quote pertinent parts thereof:
SEC. 17. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. xxx
xxx xxx xxx
The Supreme Court shall further have exclusive jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify or
affirm on certiorari as the law or rules of court may provide, final judgments and decrees of
inferior courts as herein provided, in
xxx xxx xxx
(3) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any inferior court is in issue;
(4) All other cases in which only errors or questions of law are involved: Provided however, That
if, in addition to constitutional, tax or jurisdictional questions, the cases mentioned in the three
next preceding paragraphs also involve questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law, the
aggrieved party shall appeal to the Court of Appeals; and the final judgment or decision of the
latter may be reviewed, revised, reversed, modified or affirmed by the Supreme
Court on writ of certiorari; xxx
xxx xxx xxx
Under the Constitution then in force:

SEC. 2. ... [T]he Supreme Court [shall have] jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify, or
affirm on appeal, certiorari, or writ of error, as the law or the rules of court may provide, final
judgments and decrees of inferior courts in
(1) xxx xxx xxx

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(2) xxx xxx xxx
(3) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any trial court is in issue.
(4) xxx xxx xxx
(5) All cases in which an error or question of law is involved.
an exclusive jurisdiction of the Court since aimed under our subsequent Constitutions:
Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
xxx xxx xxx
(2) Review and revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules
of Court may provide, final judgments and decrees of inferior courts in (a) xxx xxx xxx
(b) xxx xxx xxx
(c) All in which the jurisdiction of any inferior court is in issue.
(d) xxx xxx xxx
(e) All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved.
Under, finally, the Judiciary Reorganization Act, 8 the Court of Appeals exercises:
(3) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgments, decisions, resolutions,
orders, or awards of Regional Trial Courts and quasi-judicial agencies,
instrumentalities, boards, or commissions except those falling within the
appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme
Court in accordance with the Constitution, the provisions of this Act, and of subparagraph (1) of
the third paragraph and subparagraph (4) of the fourth paragraph of Section 17 of the Judiciary
Act of 1948.
We turn to the facts. We quote:
From the decision of the Court of First Instance of L- qqqeyte the dispositive
portion of which reads as follows:
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the
Court hereby renders judgment:
(1) Dismissing the complaint with cost against the plaintiffs:
(2) Maintaining its decision in toto in Civil Case No. C811 entitled
Juan Balais et al. versus Petronilo Eraya including the dispositive

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portion granting to the illegitimate children, namely Buenaventura,
Adela, Rosita and Teresa, all surnamed Balais successional
rights and adjudicating to them one-fourth (1/4) of the share of
their deceased father Escolastico Balais which consists of onehalf (1/2) of the conjugal partnership property; and
(3) Ordering the plaintiffs to pay to the defendants the amount of
P400.00 for attorney's fees and P100.00 for expenses of
litigation.
plaintiffs Maria Balais and Petronilo Eraya have taken an appeal to this Court.
Giving rise to the present case are in their chronological sequence as follows:
April 22, 1964 Juan, Maria, Buenaventura, Adela, Rosita and Teresa all
surnamed Balais filed a complaint against Petronilo Eraya in the CFI of Leyte
docketed therein as Civil Case No. 811 for recovery of real property and
damages (p. 13, folder of Exhibits).
August 5, 1965 The lower court, rendered its judgment, the dispositive portion
of which reads as follows:
1. Declaring the sale of one-half (1/2) of the parcel of land more particularly
described in paragraph 4 of the complaint by the widow Eutelia Masalig to the
defendant Petronilo Eraya null and void and ordering the latter to execute within
thirty (30) days after the judgment becomes final a deed of conveyance in favor
of the plaintiffs of one-half (1/2) of the said parcel of land minus one-fourth (1/4)
thereof which is hereby declared validly sold to him by the widow and, if he fails
to do so within the specified period, let judgment be entered divesting the title of
said Petronilo Eraya to the property and vesting it in the plaintiffs and such
judgment shall have the force and effect of a conveyance executed in due form
of law;
2. Ordering that the hereditary estate of the deceased Escolastico Balais
consisting of one-half (1/2) of the whole parcel of land described in paragraph 4
of the complaint be divided into two-halves, one-half (1/2) of which is hereby
adjudicated to bis two legitimate children Juan Balais and Maria Balais (Article
888, new Civil Code); the share of each of the plaintiffs Buenaventura, Adela,
Rosita and Teresa, all surnamed Balais shall be equal to two-fifths (,2/5) of the
share of either Juan Balais or Maria Balais provided that their total shares in this
particular case shall not exceed one-half (1/2) of the free portion after the share
of Eutelia Masalig is fully satisfied (Article 895, paragraph 3, new Civil Code)
which share of the widow shall be equal to the share of each of the legitimate
children (Article 999 Civil Code); otherwise stated, the hereditary estate of the
deceased which consist of one-half (1/2) of the whole parcel of land described in
the complaint shall be divided into four (4) parts, two (2) parts of which shall
belong to the two (2) legitimate children Juan Balais and Maria Balais one (1)
part to the widow Eutelia Masalig which is hereby deemed included in the sale of
the property to the defendant Petronilo Eraya and the remaining one (1) part to
the illegitimate children Buenaventura, Adela, Rosita and Teresa, all surnamed
Balais.

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3. Ordering the defendant to render an accounting of the value of the products of
the shares of the plaintiffs as above indicated from the time of the filing of the
complaint, and to deliver the share to the plaintiffs together with their shares; and
4. To pay the costs of the suit.
March 28, 1966 The lower court issued an order for the issuance of a writ of execution of the
aforesaid decision.
May 12, 1966 Defendant Eraya filed a motion to set aside the order of execution for the
reasons therein stated (pp. 16-19, folder of Exhibits),.
June 27, 1966 The aforesaid motion to set aside order for the issuance of writ was denied (p.
10, RA.). It will be noted that the plaintiffs' cause in Civil, Case No. 811 was for the recovery of
property-and not for partition of an estate. Despite this, however, the lower court proceeded to
distribute the estate of the late Escolastico Balais.
February 23, 1967 Maria and Juan Balais and Petronilo Eraya filed a complaint in the CFI of
Leyte, Civil Case No. C-893 against defendants for the annulment of that portion of the judgment
rendered in Civil Case No. 811 awarding to the latter who are illegitimate children of the late
Escolastico Balais (1/4) of the hereditary estate of their deceased father.
March 10, 1967 Buenaventura Balais and his co-defendants filed through counsel an answer
with counterclaim whereby they sought for the dismissal of the aforesaid complaint.
When the case was called for trial, the parties agreed to submit the case for decision based on
the pleadings inasmuch as the defendants have admitted the material allegations of plaintiffs'
complaint, as well as the latter's documentary evidence.
July 29, 1967 The lower court rendered a decision dismissing plaintiffs' complaint (pp. 13-26,
RA.) 9
xxx xxx xxx
As we have indicated, the jurisdiction of the trial court 10 to order the partition and distribution of the
estate in the course of an action for recovery of real property is contested. Apart from such a
jurisdictional challenge, the trial court is held to be in error for applying the provisions of the new Civil
Code, in particular, Articles 887 and 895 thereof, granting to so-called spurious children the right to a
share in the estate of the deceased who perished in 1946 and consequently, prior to the effectivity of
the new Code. 11
Jurisdiction, in general, is either one over the nature of the action, over the subject matter, over
the person of the defendants (not incidentally, put to question here), or over the issues framed in
the pleadings.
There is no doubt that as far as the instant case is concerned, the Court of First Instance is
vested with the jurisdiction to try either case, whether for reconveyance or partition. Under the
judiciary law then in force, the Judiciary Act of 1948, the Court of First Instance exercises original
jurisdiction:

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(b) In all civil actions which involve the title to or possession of real property or
any interest therein, or the legality of any tax, impost or assessment, except
actions of forcible entry into and detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction
of which is conferred by this Act upon city and municipal Courts; 12
What is asailed however is the competency of the lower court to distribute the estate on a simple
complaint for reconveyance. In other words, what is disputed is the jurisdiction of the court to
pass upon issues not raised in the pleadings.
There are instances, and upon the acquiescence of the parties, when issues not in fact alleged
may be heard by the court. Section 5, of Rule 10, of the Rules of Court, provides, in part, as
follows:
... When issues not raised by the pleadings are tried by express or implied
consent of the parties, they shall be treated in all respects, as if they had been
raised in the pleadings. ... 13
In such a case, amendments may be had on the pleadings:
... as may be necessary to cause them to conform to the evidence and to raise
these issues may be made upon motion of any party at any time, even after
judgment: ... 14
But failure to amend, the Rule further tells us, "does not affect the result of the trial of these
issues." 15
The court, in that event, acquires jurisdiction over such issues.
It may likewise be that although the court lacks the jurisdiction, it acquires one subsequently as
when the defendant invokes it, say, by asking for affirmative relief 16 In that case, jurisdiction by
estoppel arises. 17
Noteworthy is the fact that in the case at bar, in spite of the broad challenge the appellants
present against the jurisdiction of the trial court to order the distribution of the property, they, in
reality, question only that part of the decision awarding a one-fourth part of the property to the
illegitimate children of the deceased, upon the ground that under the old Civil Code the
statute in effect at the time of the death of the deceased in 1946 illegitimate children other
than natural enjoyed no successionary rights. Otherwise, they do not contest the delivery of the
estate to the deceased's widow or to themselves in the proportions decreed by the court. In that
respect, they do not deny the court's jurisdiction to order partition. In their complaint, 18 they
therefore prayed:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, plaintiff;, thru their undersigned counsel to
this Honorable Court respectfully pray: (a) That the plaintiffs be declared the
absolute owner of the portion of 1/4 of the intestate estate of Escolastisco Balais
now possessed under claim of ownership by herein defendants; That the part of
the decision in Civil Case No. C-811, adjudicating one-fourth (1/4) of the intestate
estate of the illegitimate children of Escolastico Balais be declared null and void
for having been rendered without jurisdiction and being contrary to law,
particularly Art. 2263 of the New Civil Code; (c) That defendants be sentenced to
pay the amount of P200.00 for every year they remain in possession of the
property subject of this suit; P 500.00 as attorney's fees and P300.00 for

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expenses of litigation and costs; and (d) That the plaintiffs be granted whatever
remedy they may be entitled in equity and justice. 19
The appellants must therefore be considered to have accepted the lower court's jurisdiction. To
reject that jurisdiction with respect to the part of the decision unfavorable to them and to accept it
as regards those portions favorable to them is to assume inconsistent stances. Either the court
has jurisdiction or it does not. Estoppel is a bar against any claims of lack of jurisdiction.
This is not to say, however, that the trial court in both suits, the original action for
reconveyance and the suit for annulment of judgment did not err in granting in favor of the
appellees a share in the estate pursuant to Article 895 of the Civil Code, 20 the decedent having
passed away during the regime of the Civil Code of 1889 under which bastards, in bulgar parlance,
were entitled to no share in the state. In Uson v. Del Rosario, 21 we said that the rights given to the
adulterous children under the new Civcil Code have no retroactive application. Thus:
xxx xxx xxx
There is no merit in this claim. Article 2253 above referred to provides indeed that
rights which are declared for the first time shall have retroactive effect even
though the event which gave rise to them may have occurred under the former
legislation, but this is so only when the new rights do not prejudice any vestedor
acquired of the same origin. Thus, said article provides that "if a right should be
declared for the first timein this Code, it shall be effective at once, even though
the act and the event which give rights thereto may have been done or may have
occurred under the prior legislation, provided said new right, of the same origin."
As already stated in the early part of this decision, the right of ownership of Maria
Uson over the lands in question became vested in 1945 upon the date her late
husband and this is so because of the imperative provision of the law which
commands that the right to succession are transmitted from the moment of death
(Aricle 657, old Civil Code). The new right recognized by the new Civil Code in
favor of the illegitimate children of the deceased cannot, therefore, be asserted to
the inpairment of the vested right of Maria Uson over the lands dispute. 22
xxx xxx xxx

But as we stated, the error of the court notwithstanding, the case is a closed chapter, the
decision having been rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction. And, as noted by the trial
court itself, it is the case that has become final and executory, and in fact, in the process of
execution. 23 A decision, no matter how erroneous, becomes the law of the case between the parties
upon attaining finality. 24
WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Yap (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Paras and Padilla, JJ., concur.

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[G.R. No. 154203. July 8, 2003]

REY

CARLO
A.
RIVERA
and
GLADYS
ABAGA
RIVERA, petitioners, vs. VIRGILIO RIVERA, respondent.
DECISION

PUNO, J.:

In this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,


petitioners assail the March 21, 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals, in
connection with an ejectment case, docketed as Civil Case No. 7529,
ordering them to vacate the disputed premises and pay rentals.
The subject of the dispute is a 228-square meter lot with a two-storey
duplex house located in Pasig City. The property was originally owned by
spouses Remigio Rivera, Sr. and Consuelo Rivera. The spouses had
eleven (11) children, two of whom were Remigio, Jr. (petitioners father) and
respondent Virgilio Rivera.
In 1974, when the spouses migrated to the United States, they asked
their son Remigio, Jr. and his children (two of whom are petitioners Rey
Carlo and Gladys Rivera) to occupy one unit of the duplex house without
payment of rentals. In 1985, respondent, another son of the spouses,
moved into the other unit of the duplex house and likewise occupied it
gratuitously.
After Remigio, Sr. died in 1992, his widow Consuelo and their eleven
(11) children executed an extrajudicial settlement where the children
voluntarily waived their hereditary rights to four (4) real properties owned
by their parents, including the lot with the duplex house, in favor of their
mother Consuelo.
[1]

In 1993, Remigio, Jr. together with his three (3) sons migrated to the
United States, leaving behind petitioners who continued to reside in one of
the units of the duplex house.Respondent likewise migrated to the U.S.
On April 6, 1999, Consuelo sold the duplex house and lot to respondent
for five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00). At the time of the sale,
both Consuelo and respondent were residing in the same house in San
Jose, California. In the Deed of Sale, Consuelo and respondent were
represented by respondents daughters Ma. Theresa R. Ferreria and Ma.
[2]

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Dolores A. Rivera. Title to the property was subsequently transferred in the


name of respondent.
Respondent, represented by his daughter Dolores, asked petitioners to
sign a lease contract over the unit of the duplex house they were
occupying, covering the period from April 30, 1999 to June 30, 1999, with a
monthly rental of P6,000.00.
As the petitioners refused to sign the lease contract or vacate the
premises, respondent, through his daughter Dolores, filed an unlawful
detainer case (Civil Case No. 7529) against them before the Metropolitan
Trial Court (MeTC) of Pasig City. In the complaint, it was alleged: that
respondent is the registered owner of the duplex house; that he merely
tolerated petitioners occupancy of one of the units thereof, conditioned
upon the execution of the lease contract between the parties; that
petitioners initially agreed thereto as they claimed they would remain in the
unit only for a few more months; and that after respondent caused the
preparation of the lease contract, petitioners refused to sign it or vacate the
property.
[3]

[4]

In their Answer with counterclaim, petitioners alleged that the deed of


sale between Consuelo and Virgilio Rivera was fictitious. They claimed that
their occupancy of the premises was not by mere tolerance as they have a
right to occupy it as co-owners. Hence, they averred that they could not be
compelled to pay rentals for the use of the property. Petitioners likewise
raised the affirmative defense that respondent had no cause of action
against them as no title was conferred to him because: the deed of sale
was fictitious; the subject property was part of the conjugal property of
Remigio, Sr. and Consuelo and after the formers death, all the compulsory
heirs executed an extrajudicial settlement transferring all the conjugal
properties to Consuelo out of love and respect for her; Consuelo and all the
compulsory heirs have migrated to the States; Consuelo was living with
respondent in the States; Consuelo and respondent hid from the other
heirs the transfer of the subject property to respondent; the deed of sale
was executed in the Philippines through a special power of attorney
granted by respondent to his daugthers, Ma. Theresa Rivera-Ferreria and
Ma. Dolores Rivera; assuming that the sale was legitimate, Consuelo did
not notify petitioners thereof, with deliberate intent and bad faith to
disinherit her grandchildren, petitioners herein, in violation of their right of
first refusal, having resided in the premises since birth, or for more than 20
years; the P500,000
consideration
for
the
sale
was
clearly
inadequate; assuming that the sale was valid, it nonetheless deprived the
other compulsory heirs of their share over the subject property; and with
[5]

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the attendant defects in the sale of the property, no right or title was
transferred to respondent.
The trial court rendered judgment in the ejectment case in favor of
respondent, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
plaintiff and against defendants Rey Carlo Rivera and Gladys Rivera in the manner
following:
1. Ordering the defendants and all persons claiming rights under them to
immediately vacate the subject premises unlawfully withheld from the plaintiff;
2. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiff the sum of P5,000.00 as and by way of
unpaid rentals from April to September 1999, without prejudice to collecting the
reasonable compensation for occupancy that may be forthcoming until defendants
vacate the premises;
3. Ordering defendants to pay plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 as and by way of
attorneys fees; and
4. Ordering the defendants to pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioners appealed the decision to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) on
the grounds that: (a) the respondent had no right over the property as he
did not have actual or prior physical possession thereof; (b) the nonexistent lease contract was not binding between the parties; and (c)
respondents title was not indefeasible.
On March 16, 2001, the RTC reversed the decision of the MeTC and
ruled in favor of the petitioners. It held that there was no valid contract of
lease between the parties and petitioners occupied the subject property in
the concept of a co-owner.
[6]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in its Decision dated March 21, 2002,
reversed the RTCs decision and reinstated the original decision of the
MeTC. It held that as registered owner of the land, respondent is entitled
to possession thereof.
[7]

Hence, this petition for review with petitioners raising the following
issues: (a) whether petitioners, being in actual physical possession of the
property since 1974, are entitled to continue in possession of the premises
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until the issue of ownership thereof is resolved by a court of competent


jurisdiction; (b) whether Civil Case No. 7529, the ejectment case, is beyond
the jurisdiction of the municipal trial court; (c) whether respondent holds the
subject property in trust for the legitimate heirs at the time the ejectment
case was filed; and (d) whether petitioners, who are in actual physical
possession of the premises, exercised the right of a co-owner in
representation of their father, Remigio Rivera, Jr.
We find no merit in the petition.
We cannot sustain petitioners contention that as they had actual,
physical possession of the property as co-owners, in representation of their
father Remigio, Jr., they are entitled to remain in the premises. In an
unlawful detainer case, prior physical possession by the plaintiff is not
necessary. It is enough that he shows that he has a better right of
possession. Actual, prior physical possession of a property by a party is
indispensable only in forcible entry cases, not in unlawful detainer cases
where the defendant is necessarily in prior lawful possession of the
property but his possession eventually becomes unlawful upon termination
or expiration of his right to possess. Thus, the fact that petitioners were in
prior physical possession of the duplex unit does not automatically entitle
them to continue in said possession and does not give them a better right
to the property.
[8]

Petitioners claim that the unlawful detainer suit should have been
dismissed as the respondent relied only on his title to the property in
bringing the action. They contend that respondents assertion of ownership
in the unlawful detainer case removed it from the jurisdiction of the
MeTC. Moreover, they insist that their possession of the property was not
merely by tolerance of the original owners and later on by the respondent
as they assert their fathers right as co-owner of the property.
Again, petitioners arguments must fail. It is well-settled that a person
who occupies the land of another at the latters tolerance or permission,
without any contract between them, is necessarily bound by an implied
promise that he will vacate upon demand, failing which, a summary action
for ejectment may be filed against him. In the case at bar, respondents
allegations in his complaint specifically show that petitioners occupied the
subject unit only with the express permission of the spouses as the original
owners. Thus, when title to the property passed on to respondent by virtue
of a contract of sale, petitioners refusal to sign the lease contract prepared
by the respondent for their use of the duplex unit rendered their continued
occupation thereof unlawful.
[9]

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Although petitioners impugned the validity of respondents title over the


property as they claimed to have the right to occupy it as co-owner, this
allegation did not divest the MeTC of jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer
suit. It is settled that the sole issue in an ejectment case is physical or
material possession. Neither a claim of juridical possession nor an
assertion of ownership by the defendant can deprive the court of
jurisdiction over the disputed property. Courts in ejectment cases are
mandated to decide questions of ownership whenever it is necessary to
decide the question of possession. They cannot be divested of jurisdiction
over ejectment cases just because the defendants assert ownership over
the litigated property.
[10]

[11]

The underlying reason for this ruling is to prevent the defendant from
trifling with the summary nature of an ejectment suit by the simple
expedient of asserting ownership over the disputed property.
[12]

In the case at bar, the lower court properly adjudicated ownership of the
property to respondent in the unlawful detainer case on the basis of his title
thereto. Full ownership of the subject property was surrendered to
Consuelo Rivera upon the death of Remigio, Sr. through an extrajudicial
partition signed by all the compulsory heirs. Thus, Consuelo had every
right to dispose of the property as she deemed fit. Moreover, the lower
court correctly ruled that petitioners had no hereditary rights over the
property in representation or substitution of their father as the latter was
still alive.
We stress, however, that this adjudication, is only an initial
determination of ownership for the purpose of settling the issue of
possession, the issue of ownership being inseparably linked thereto. The
lower courts adjudication of ownership in the ejectment case is merely
provisional and would not bar or prejudice an action between the same
parties involving title to the property.
[13]

Lastly, respondent rightfully omitted Remigio, Jr. as party in the illegal


detainer case as he was not the one in actual, physical possession of the
subject property, but petitioners. While petitioners insist that the TCT
issued to respondent shows that the property was part of the inheritance
left by Remigio, Sr. which gives them the right to assert and protect the
interest of their father Remigio, Jr. over his share in the property, this issue,
coupled with the alleged fictitious or fraudulent sale of the property to
respondent, must be tried by petitioners in a separate proceeding only for
that purpose as it is settled that an unlawful detainer case resolves only the
issue of physical or material possession.
[14]

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IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED. The impugned decision of


the Court of Appeals, dated March 21, 2002, is AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Panganiban,
JJ., concur.

Sandoval-Gutierrez,

Corona, and Carpio-Morales,

G.R. Nos. 140371-72

November 27, 2006

DY YIENG SEANGIO, BARBARA D. SEANGIO and VIRGINIA D. SEANGIO, Petitioners,


vs.
HON. AMOR A. REYES, in her capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, National
Capital Judicial Region, Branch 21, Manila, ALFREDO D. SEANGIO, ALBERTO D.
SEANGIO, ELISA D. SEANGIO-SANTOS, VICTOR D. SEANGIO, ALFONSO D. SEANGIO,
SHIRLEY D. SEANGIO-LIM, BETTY D. SEANGIO-OBAS and JAMES D.
SEANGIO, Respondents.
DECISION
AZCUNA, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari1 with application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction
and/or temporary restraining order seeking the nullification of the orders, dated August 10, 1999
and October 14, 1999, of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 21 (the RTC), dismissing the
petition for probate on the ground of preterition, in the consolidated cases, docketed as SP. Proc.
No. 98-90870 and SP. Proc. No. 99-93396, and entitled, "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of
Segundo C. Seangio v. Alfredo D. Seangio, et al." and "In the Matter of the Probate of the Will of
Segundo C. Seangio v. Dy Yieng Seangio, Barbara D. Seangio and Virginia Seangio."
The facts of the cases are as follows:
On September 21, 1988, private respondents filed a petition for the settlement of the intestate
estate of the late Segundo Seangio, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 9890870 of the RTC, and
praying for the appointment of private respondent Elisa D. SeangioSantos as special
administrator and guardian ad litem of petitioner Dy Yieng Seangio.
Petitioners Dy Yieng, Barbara and Virginia, all surnamed Seangio, opposed the petition. They
contended that: 1) Dy Yieng is still very healthy and in full command of her faculties; 2) the
deceased Segundo executed a general power of attorney in favor of Virginia giving her the
power to manage and exercise control and supervision over his business in the Philippines; 3)
Virginia is the most competent and qualified to serve as the administrator of the estate of
Segundo because she is a certified public accountant; and, 4) Segundo left a holographic will,
dated September 20, 1995, disinheriting one of the private respondents, Alfredo Seangio, for

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cause. In view of the purported holographic will, petitioners averred that in the event the
decedent is found to have left a will, the intestate proceedings are to be automatically suspended
and replaced by the proceedings for the probate of the will.
On April 7, 1999, a petition for the probate of the holographic will of Segundo, docketed as SP.
Proc. No. 9993396, was filed by petitioners before the RTC. They likewise reiterated that the
probate proceedings should take precedence over SP. Proc. No. 9890870 because testate
proceedings take precedence and enjoy priority over intestate proceedings. 2
The document that petitioners refer to as Segundos holographic will is quoted, as follows:
Kasulatan sa pag-aalis ng mana
Tantunin ng sinuman
Ako si Segundo Seangio Filipino may asawa naninirahan sa 465-A Flores St., Ermita, Manila at
nagtatalay ng maiwanag na pag-iisip at disposisyon ay tahasan at hayagang inaalisan ko ng
lahat at anumang mana ang paganay kong anak na si Alfredo Seangio dahil siya ay naging
lapastangan sa akin at isan beses siya ng sasalita ng masama harapan ko at mga kapatid niya
na si Virginia Seangio labis kong kinasama ng loob ko at sasabe rin ni Alfredo sa akin na ako
nasa ibabaw gayon gunit daratin ang araw na ako nasa ilalim siya at siya nasa ibabaw.
Labis kong ikinasama ng loob ko ang gamit ni Alfredo ng akin pagalan para makapagutang na
kuarta siya at kanya asawa na si Merna de los Reyes sa China Bangking Corporation na millon
pesos at hindi ng babayad at hindi ng babayad ito ay nagdulot sa aking ng malaking kahihiya sa
mga may-ari at stockholders ng China Banking.
At ikinagalit ko pa rin ang pagkuha ni Alfredo at ng kanyang asawa na mga custome[r] ng Travel
Center of the Philippines na pinagasiwaan ko at ng anak ko si Virginia.
Dito ako nagalit din kaya gayon ayoko na bilanin si Alfredo ng anak ko at hayanan kong
inaalisan ng lahat at anoman mana na si Alfredo at si Alfredo Seangio ay hindi ko siya anak at
hindi siya makoha mana.
Nila[g]daan ko ngayon ika 20 ng Setyembre 1995 sa longsod ng Manila sa harap ng tatlong
saksi. 3
(signed)
Segundo Seangio
Nilagdaan sa harap namin
(signed)
Dy Yieng Seangio (signed)
Unang Saksi ikalawang saksi

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(signed)
ikatlong saksi
On May 29, 1999, upon petitioners motion, SP. Proc. No. 9890870 and SP. Proc. No. 99
93396 were consolidated.4
On July 1, 1999, private respondents moved for the dismissal of the probate
proceedings5 primarily on the ground that the document purporting to be the holographic will of
Segundo does not contain any disposition of the estate of the deceased and thus does not meet
the definition of a will under Article 783 of the Civil Code. According to private respondents, the
will only shows an alleged act of disinheritance by the decedent of his eldest son, Alfredo, and
nothing else; that all other compulsory heirs were not named nor instituted as heir, devisee or
legatee, hence, there is preterition which would result to intestacy. Such being the case, private
respondents maintained that while procedurally the court is called upon to rule only on the
extrinsic validity of the will, it is not barred from delving into the intrinsic validity of the same, and
ordering the dismissal of the petition for probate when on the face of the will it is clear that it
contains no testamentary disposition of the property of the decedent.
Petitioners filed their opposition to the motion to dismiss contending that: 1) generally, the
authority of the probate court is limited only to a determination of the extrinsic validity of the will;
2) private respondents question the intrinsic and not the extrinsic validity of the will; 3)
disinheritance constitutes a disposition of the estate of a decedent; and, 4) the rule on preterition
does not apply because Segundos will does not constitute a universal heir or heirs to the
exclusion of one or more compulsory heirs.6
On August 10, 1999, the RTC issued its assailed order, dismissing the petition for probate
proceedings:
A perusal of the document termed as "will" by oppositors/petitioners Dy Yieng Seangio, et al.,
clearly shows that there is preterition, as the only heirs mentioned thereat are Alfredo and
Virginia. [T]he other heirs being omitted, Article 854 of the New Civil Code thus applies.
However, insofar as the widow Dy Yieng Seangio is concerned, Article 854 does not apply, she
not being a compulsory heir in the direct line.
As such, this Court is bound to dismiss this petition, for to do otherwise would amount to an
abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court in the case of Acain v. Intermediate Appellate Court [155
SCRA 100 (1987)] has made its position clear: "for respondents to have tolerated the probate
of the will and allowed the case to progress when, on its face, the will appears to be intrinsically
void would have been an exercise in futility. It would have meant a waste of time, effort,
expense, plus added futility. The trial court could have denied its probate outright or could have
passed upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provisions before the extrinsic validity of
the will was resolved (underscoring supplied).
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion to Suspend Proceedings is hereby DENIED for
lack of merit. Special Proceedings No. 9993396 is hereby DISMISSED without pronouncement
as to costs.
SO ORDERED.7

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Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by the RTC in its order dated October 14,
1999.
Petitioners contend that:
THE RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED IN EXCESS OF HER JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE
ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION AND
DECIDED A QUESTION OF LAW NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE IN
ISSUING THE QUESTIONED ORDERS, DATED 10 AUGUST 1999 AND 14 OCTOBER 1999
(ATTACHMENTS "A" AND "B" HEREOF) CONSIDERING THAT:
I
THE RESPONDENT JUDGE, WITHOUT EVEN COMPLYING WITH SECTIONS 3 AND 4 OF
RULE 76 OF THE RULES OF COURT ON THE PROPER PROCEDURE FOR SETTING THE
CASE FOR INITIAL HEARING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE JURISDICTIONAL
FACTS, DISMISSED THE TESTATE CASE ON THE ALLEGED GROUND THAT THE
TESTATORS WILL IS VOID ALLEGEDLY BECAUSE OF THE EXISTENCE OF PRETERITION,
WHICH GOES INTO THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL, DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT
IS A SETTLED RULE THAT THE AUTHORITY OF PROBATE COURTS IS LIMITED ONLY TO A
DETERMINATION OF THE EXTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL, I.E., THE DUE EXECUTION
THEREOF, THE TESTATORS TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY AND THE COMPLIANCE WITH
THE REQUISITES OR SOLEMNITIES PRESCRIBED BY LAW;
II
EVEN ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO
RULE UPON THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL OF THE TESTATOR, IT IS
INDUBITABLE FROM THE FACE OF THE TESTATORS WILL THAT NO PRETERITON EXISTS
AND THAT THE WILL IS BOTH INTRINSICALLY AND EXTRINSICALLY VALID; AND,
III
RESPONDENT JUDGE WAS DUTY BOUND TO SUSPEND THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE
INTESTATE CASE CONSIDERING THAT IT IS A SETTLED RULE THAT TESTATE
PROCEEDINGS TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER INTESTATE PROCEEDINGS.
Petitioners argue, as follows:
First, respondent judge did not comply with Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court
which respectively mandate the court to: a) fix the time and place for proving the will when all
concerned may appear to contest the allowance thereof, and cause notice of such time and
place to be published three weeks successively previous to the appointed time in a newspaper
of general circulation; and, b) cause the mailing of said notice to the heirs, legatees and
devisees of the testator Segundo;
Second, the holographic will does not contain any institution of an heir, but rather, as its title
clearly states,Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, simply contains a disinheritance of a compulsory

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heir. Thus, there is no preterition in the decedents will and the holographic will on its face is not
intrinsically void;
Third, the testator intended all his compulsory heirs, petitioners and private respondents alike,
with the sole exception of Alfredo, to inherit his estate. None of the compulsory heirs in the direct
line of Segundo were preterited in the holographic will since there was no institution of an heir;
Fourth, inasmuch as it clearly appears from the face of the holographic will that it is both
intrinsically and extrinsically valid, respondent judge was mandated to proceed with the hearing
of the testate case; and,
Lastly, the continuation of the proceedings in the intestate case will work injustice to petitioners,
and will render nugatory the disinheritance of Alfredo.
The purported holographic will of Segundo that was presented by petitioners was dated, signed
and written by him in his own handwriting. Except on the ground of preterition, private
respondents did not raise any issue as regards the authenticity of the document.
The document, entitled Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, unmistakably showed Segundos
intention of excluding his eldest son, Alfredo, as an heir to his estate for the reasons that he cited
therein. In effect, Alfredo was disinherited by Segundo.
For disinheritance to be valid, Article 916 of the Civil Code requires that the same must be
effected through a will wherein the legal cause therefor shall be specified. With regard to the
reasons for the disinheritance that were stated by Segundo in his document, the Court believes
that the incidents, taken as a whole, can be considered a form of maltreatment of Segundo by
his son, Alfredo, and that the matter presents a sufficient cause for the disinheritance of a child
or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code:
Article 919. The following shall be sufficient causes for the disinheritance of children and
descendants, legitimate as well as illegitimate:
(1) When a child or descendant has been found guilty of an attempt against the life of the
testator, his or her spouse, descendants, or ascendants;
(2) When a child or descendant has accused the testator of a crime for which the law
prescribes imprisonment for six years or more, if the accusation has been found
groundless;
(3) When a child or descendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with the
spouse of the testator;
(4) When a child or descendant by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence
causes the testator to make a will or to change one already made;
(5) A refusal without justifiable cause to support the parents or ascendant who disinherit
such child or descendant;

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(6) Maltreatment of the testator by word or deed, by the child or descendant; 8
(7) When a child or descendant leads a dishonorable or disgraceful life;
(8) Conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction.
Now, the critical issue to be determined is whether the document executed by Segundo can be
considered as a holographic will.
A holographic will, as provided under Article 810 of the Civil Code, must be entirely written,
dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be
made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.
Segundos document, although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance instrument,
conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law. It is written, dated and signed
by the hand of Segundo himself. An intent to dispose mortis causa[9] can be clearly deduced
from the terms of the instrument, and while it does not make an affirmative disposition of the
latters property, the disinheritance of Alfredo, nonetheless, is an act of disposition in itself. In
other words, the disinheritance results in the disposition of the property of the testator Segundo
in favor of those who would succeed in the absence of Alfredo. 10
Moreover, it is a fundamental principle that the intent or the will of the testator, expressed in the
form and within the limits prescribed by law, must be recognized as the supreme law in
succession. All rules of construction are designed to ascertain and give effect to that intention. It
is only when the intention of the testator is contrary to law, morals, or public policy that it cannot
be given effect.11
Holographic wills, therefore, being usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law, as
illustrated in the present case, should be construed more liberally than the ones drawn by an
expert, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the execution of the instrument and
the intention of the testator.12 In this regard, the Court is convinced that the document, even if
captioned as Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, was intended by Segundo to be his last
testamentary act and was executed by him in accordance with law in the form of a holographic
will. Unless the will is probated,13 the disinheritance cannot be given effect.14
With regard to the issue on preterition,15 the Court believes that the compulsory heirs in the direct
line were not preterited in the will. It was, in the Courts opinion, Segundos last expression to
bequeath his estate to all his compulsory heirs, with the sole exception of Alfredo. Also, Segundo
did not institute an heir16 to the exclusion of his other compulsory heirs. The mere mention of the
name of one of the petitioners, Virginia, in the document did not operate to institute her as the
universal heir. Her name was included plainly as a witness to the altercation between Segundo
and his son, Alfredo.
1wphi1

Considering that the questioned document is Segundos holographic will, and that the law favors
testacy over intestacy, the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with. Article 838 of the Civil
Code provides that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and
allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. Thus, unless the will is probated, the right of a
person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory.17

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In view of the foregoing, the trial court, therefore, should have allowed the holographic will to be
probated. It is settled that testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent
take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. 18
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 21, dated August 10, 1999 and October 14, 1999, are set aside. Respondent judge is
directed to reinstate and hear SP Proc. No. 99-93396 for the allowance of the holographic will of
Segundo Seangio. The intestate case or SP. Proc. No. 98-90870 is hereby suspended until the
termination of the aforesaid testate proceedings.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ
RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
Associate Justice
CANCIO C. GARCIA
Associate Justice
ATT E S TATI O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the cases
were assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
C E R TI F I C ATI O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairpersons Attestation,
it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the cases were assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice

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G.R. No. L-4888

May 25, 1953

JOSE MERZA, petitioner,


vs.
PEDRO LOPEZ PORRAS, respondent.
Primicias, Abad, Mencies & Castillo for petitioner.
Moises Ma. Buhain for respondent.
TUAZON , J.:
This is an appeal from the Court of Appeals which affirmed an order of the Court of First Instance
of Zambales denying the probate of the last will and testament and
so-called codicil, identified as Exhibits A and B, of Pilar Montealegre, deceased. The testatrix
was survived by the husband and collateral relatives, some of whom, along with the husband,
were disinherited in Exhibit B for the reasons set forth therein.
The opposition to Exhibit A was predicated on alleged defects of the attestation clause. Written in
the local dialect known to the testatrix, the attestation clause, as translated into English in the
record on appeal, reads:
The foregoing instrument consisting of three pages, on the date above-mentioned, was
executed, signed and published by testatrix Pilar Montealegre and she declared that the
said instrument is her last will and testament; that in our presence and also in the very
presence of the said testatrix as likewise in the presence of two witnesses and the
testatrix each of us three witnesses signed this a testament.
The opponent objected that this clause did not estate that the tetratrix and the witnesses had
signed each and every page of the will or that she had signed the instrument in the presence of
the witnesses. The Appellate Court dismissed the first objection, finding that "failure to estate in
the attestation clause in question that the testatrix and/or the witnesses had signed each and
every page of Exhibit A were cured by the fact that each one of the page of the instrument

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appears to be signed by the testatrix and the three attesting witnesses (Nayve vs. Mojal, 47
Phil., 152, (1924); Ticson vs. Gorostiza, 57 Phil., (1932); Leynes vs. Leynes, 40 Off. Gaz., 3rd
Suppl. (October 18, 1939), 510, 528; Rallos vs. Rallos, 44 Off. Gaz., 4938, 4940)." But granting
the correctness of the premise, the court held the second objection well taken and thus
concluded: "The question whether the testatrix had signed in the presence of said witnesses can
not be verified upon physical examination of the instrument. Hence, the absence of the require
statement in said clause may not, pursuant to the decisions of the Supreme Court, be offset by
proof aliunde even if admitted without any objection."
The premise of the conclusion is, in our opinion, incorrect.
It must be admitted that the attestation clause was very poor drawn, its language exceedingly
ungrammatical to the point of being difficult to understand; but from a close examination of the
whole context in relation to its purpose the implication seems clear that the testatrix signed in the
presence of the witnesses. Considering that the witnesses' only business at hand was to sign
and attest to the testatrix's signing of the document, and that the only actors of the proceeding
were the maker and the witnesses acting and speaking collectively and in the first person, the
phrase "in our presence," used as it was in connection with the process of signing, can not imply
anything but the testatrix signed before them. No other inference is possible. The prepositional
phrase "in our presence" denotes an active verb and the verb a subject. The verb could not be
other than signed and the subject no other than the testatrix.
The use of the word "also" is no less enlightening. It denotes that, as each of the witnesses sign
in the presence of the testatrix and of one another, so the testatrix sign in similar or like manner
in their presence.
In consonance with the principle of the liberal interpretation, adhered to in numerous later
decision of this Court and affirmed and translated into inactment in the new Civil Code (Article
827), we are constrained to hold the attestation clause under consideration sufficient and valid.
"Precision of language in the drafting of the attestation clause is desirable. However, it is not
imperative that a parrot-like copy of the word of the statue be made. It is sufficient if from the
language employed it can reasonably be deduced that the attestation clause fulfills what the law
expects of it." (Ticson vs. Gorostiza, supra.)
"It could have been the intention of the legislature in providing for the essential safeguards in the
execution of a will to shackle the very right of the testamentary disposition which the law
recognizes and holds sacred." (Leynesvs. Leynes, supra.)
With reference of Exhibit B the Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that the document
having been executed one day before Exhibit A could not be considered as a codicil "because a
codicil, as the word implies, is only an addition to, or modification of, the will." The Court of
Appeals added that "the content of Exhibit B are couched in the language of ordinarily used in a
simple affidavit and as such, may not have the legal effect and force to a testamentary
disposition." Furthermore, the Court of Appeals observed, disinheritance "may not be made in
any instrument other than the will of Exhibit A, as expressly provided for in article 849 of the Civil
Code," and, "there being no disposition as to the disinheritance of the oppositor, Pedro Lopez
Porras (the surviving spouse), in the said Exhibit A, it is quite clear that he can not be
disinherited in any other instrument including Exhibit B, which is, as above stated, a simple
affidavit."

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Exhibit B does partake of the nature of a will. A will is defined in article 667 of the Civil code of
Spain as "the act by which a persons dispose of all his property or a portion of it," and in article
783 of the new Civil Code as "an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities
prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate, to take effect after
his death. Exhibit B comes within this definition.
Being of testamentary character and having been made with all the formalities of law, Exhibit B is
entitled to probate as an independent testementary desposition. In the absence of any legal
provision to the contrary and there is none in this jurisdiction it is the general, wellestablished rule that two separate and distinct wills may be probated if one does not revoke the
other (68 C.J., 885) and provided that the statutory requirements relative to the execution of wills
have been complied with (Id. 881). As seen, Exhibit B embodied all the requisites of a will, even
free of such formal of literary imperfections as are found in Exhibit A.
It also follows that Exhibit B is a legal and effective vehicle for excluding lawful heirs from testate
or intestate succession. Article 849 of the Civil Code of Spain does not, as the appealed decision
seems to insinuate, require that the disinheritance should be accomplished in the same
instrument by which the maker provides the disposition of his or her property after his or death.
This article merely provides that "disinheritance can be affected only by a will (any will) in which
the legal cause upon which it is based is expressly stated."
It is our judgment therefore that the instruments Exhibit A and B admitted to probate, subject of
courts to the right of the disinherited person under particle 850 to contest the disinheritance, and
it is so ordered, with costs against the appellee.
Paras, C.J., Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Bautista Angelo and Labrador, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 82027 March 29, 1990


ROMARICO G. VITUG, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and ROWENA FAUSTINO-CORONA, respondents.
Rufino B. Javier Law Office for petitioner.
Quisumbing, Torres & Evangelista for private respondent.

SARMIENTO, J.:

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This case is a chapter in an earlier suit decided by this Court 1 involving the probate of the two wills
of the late Dolores Luchangco Vitug, who died in New York, U. S.A., on November 10, 1980, naming
private respondent Rowena Faustino-Corona executrix. In our said decision, we upheld the
appointment of Nenita Alonte as co-special administrator of Mrs. Vitug's estate with her (Mrs. Vitug's)
widower, petitioner Romarico G. Vitug, pending probate.
On January 13, 1985, Romarico G. Vitug filed a motion asking for authority from the probate
court to sell certain shares of stock and real properties belonging to the estate to cover allegedly
his advances to the estate in the sum of P667,731.66, plus interests, which he claimed were
personal funds. As found by the Court of Appeals, 2the alleged advances consisted of P58,147.40
spent for the payment of estate tax, P518,834.27 as deficiency estate tax, and P90,749.99 as
"increment thereto." 3 According to Mr. Vitug, he withdrew the sums of P518,834.27 and P90,749.99
from savings account No. 35342-038 of the Bank of America, Makati, Metro Manila.
On April 12, 1985, Rowena Corona opposed the motion to sell on the ground that the same
funds withdrawn from savings account No. 35342-038 were conjugal partnership properties and
part of the estate, and hence, there was allegedly no ground for reimbursement. She also sought
his ouster for failure to include the sums in question for inventory and for "concealment of funds
belonging to the estate." 4
Vitug insists that the said funds are his exclusive property having acquired the same through a
survivorship agreement executed with his late wife and the bank on June 19, 1970. The
agreement provides:
We hereby agree with each other and with the BANK OF AMERICAN NATIONAL
TRUST AND SAVINGS ASSOCIATION (hereinafter referred to as the BANK),
that all money now or hereafter deposited by us or any or either of us with the
BANK in our joint savings current account shall be the property of all or both of
us and shall be payable to and collectible or withdrawable by either or any of us
during our lifetime, and after the death of either or any of us shall belong to and
be the sole property of the survivor or survivors, and shall be payable to and
collectible or withdrawable by such survivor or survivors.
We further agree with each other and the BANK that the receipt or check of
either, any or all of us during our lifetime, or the receipt or check of the survivor or
survivors, for any payment or withdrawal made for our above-mentioned account
shall be valid and sufficient release and discharge of the BANK for such payment
or withdrawal. 5
The trial courts 6 upheld the validity of this agreement and granted "the motion to sell some of the
estate of Dolores L. Vitug, the proceeds of which shall be used to pay the personal funds of Romarico
Vitug in the total sum of P667,731.66 ... ." 7
On the other hand, the Court of Appeals, in the petition for certiorari filed by the herein private
respondent, held that the above-quoted survivorship agreement constitutes a conveyance mortis
causa which "did not comply with the formalities of a valid will as prescribed by Article 805 of the
Civil Code," 8 and secondly, assuming that it is a mere donation inter vivos, it is a prohibited donation
under the provisions of Article 133 of the Civil Code. 9
The dispositive portion of the decision of the Court of Appeals states:

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WHEREFORE, the order of respondent Judge dated November 26, 1985 (Annex
II, petition) is hereby set aside insofar as it granted private respondent's motion to
sell certain properties of the estate of Dolores L. Vitug for reimbursement of his
alleged advances to the estate, but the same order is sustained in all other
respects. In addition, respondent Judge is directed to include provisionally the
deposits in Savings Account No. 35342-038 with the Bank of America, Makati, in
the inventory of actual properties possessed by the spouses at the time of the
decedent's death. With costs against private respondent. 10
In his petition, Vitug, the surviving spouse, assails the appellate court's ruling on the strength of
our decisions inRivera v. People's Bank and Trust Co. 11 and Macam v. Gatmaitan 12 in which we
sustained the validity of "survivorship agreements" and considering them as aleatory contracts. 13
The petition is meritorious.
The conveyance in question is not, first of all, one of mortis causa, which should be embodied in
a will. A will has been defined as "a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a
capacitated person disposes of his property and rights and declares or complies with duties to
take effect after his death." 14 In other words, the bequest or device must pertain to the testator. 15 In
this case, the monies subject of savings account No. 35342-038 were in the nature of conjugal funds
In the case relied on, Rivera v. People's Bank and Trust Co., 16 we rejected claims that a survivorship
agreement purports to deliver one party's separate properties in favor of the other, but simply, their
joint holdings:
xxx xxx xxx
... Such conclusion is evidently predicated on the assumption that Stephenson
was the exclusive owner of the funds-deposited in the bank, which assumption
was in turn based on the facts (1) that the account was originally opened in the
name of Stephenson alone and (2) that Ana Rivera "served only as housemaid of
the deceased." But it not infrequently happens that a person deposits money in
the bank in the name of another; and in the instant case it also appears that Ana
Rivera served her master for about nineteen years without actually receiving her
salary from him. The fact that subsequently Stephenson transferred the account
to the name of himself and/or Ana Rivera and executed with the latter the
survivorship agreement in question although there was no relation of kinship
between them but only that of master and servant, nullifies the assumption that
Stephenson was the exclusive owner of the bank account. In the absence, then,
of clear proof to the contrary, we must give full faith and credit to the certificate of
deposit which recites in effect that the funds in question belonged to Edgar
Stephenson and Ana Rivera; that they were joint (and several) owners thereof;
and that either of them could withdraw any part or the whole of said account
during the lifetime of both, and the balance, if any, upon the death of either,
belonged to the survivor. 17
xxx xxx xxx
In Macam v. Gatmaitan, 18 it was held:
xxx xxx xxx

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This Court is of the opinion that Exhibit C is an aleatory contract whereby,
according to article 1790 of the Civil Code, one of the parties or both reciprocally
bind themselves to give or do something as an equivalent for that which the other
party is to give or do in case of the occurrence of an event which is uncertain or
will happen at an indeterminate time. As already stated, Leonarda was the owner
of the house and Juana of the Buick automobile and most of the furniture. By
virtue of Exhibit C, Juana would become the owner of the house in case
Leonarda died first, and Leonarda would become the owner of the automobile
and the furniture if Juana were to die first. In this manner Leonarda and Juana
reciprocally assigned their respective property to one another conditioned upon
who might die first, the time of death determining the event upon which the
acquisition of such right by the one or the other depended. This contract, as any
other contract, is binding upon the parties thereto. Inasmuch as Leonarda had
died before Juana, the latter thereupon acquired the ownership of the house, in
the same manner as Leonarda would have acquired the ownership of the
automobile and of the furniture if Juana had died first. 19
xxx xxx xxx

There is no showing that the funds exclusively belonged to one party, and hence it must be
presumed to be conjugal, having been acquired during the existence of the marita. relations.

20

Neither is the survivorship agreement a donation inter vivos, for obvious reasons, because it was
to take effect after the death of one party. Secondly, it is not a donation between the spouses
because it involved no conveyance of a spouse's own properties to the other.
It is also our opinion that the agreement involves no modification petition of the conjugal
partnership, as held by the Court of Appeals, 21 by "mere stipulation" 22 and that it is no "cloak" 23 to
circumvent the law on conjugal property relations. Certainly, the spouses are not prohibited by law to
invest conjugal property, say, by way of a joint and several bank account, more commonly
denominated in banking parlance as an "and/or" account. In the case at bar, when the spouses Vitug
opened savings account No. 35342-038, they merely put what rightfully belonged to them in a moneymaking venture. They did not dispose of it in favor of the other, which would have arguably been
sanctionable as a prohibited donation. And since the funds were conjugal, it can not be said that one
spouse could have pressured the other in placing his or her deposits in the money pool.
The validity of the contract seems debatable by reason of its "survivor-take-all" feature, but in
reality, that contract imposed a mere obligation with a term, the term being death. Such
agreements are permitted by the Civil Code.24
Under Article 2010 of the Code:
ART. 2010. By an aleatory contract, one of the parties or both reciprocally bind
themselves to give or to do something in consideration of what the other shall
give or do upon the happening of an event which is uncertain, or which is to
occur at an indeterminate time.
Under the aforequoted provision, the fulfillment of an aleatory contract depends on either the
happening of an event which is (1) "uncertain," (2) "which is to occur at an indeterminate time." A
survivorship agreement, the sale of a sweepstake ticket, a transaction stipulating on the value of
currency, and insurance have been held to fall under the first category, while a contract for life
annuity or pension under Article 2021, et sequentia, has been categorized under the second. 25 In

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either case, the element of risk is present. In the case at bar, the risk was the death of one party and
survivorship of the other.

However, as we have warned:


xxx xxx xxx
But although the survivorship agreement is per se not contrary to law its
operation or effect may be violative of the law. For instance, if it be shown in a
given case that such agreement is a mere cloak to hide an inofficious donation,
to transfer property in fraud of creditors, or to defeat the legitime of a forced heir,
it may be assailed and annulled upon such grounds. No such vice has been
imputed and established against the agreement involved in this case. 26
xxx xxx xxx
There is no demonstration here that the survivorship agreement had been executed for such
unlawful purposes, or, as held by the respondent court, in order to frustrate our laws on wills,
donations, and conjugal partnership.
The conclusion is accordingly unavoidable that Mrs. Vitug having predeceased her husband, the
latter has acquired upon her death a vested right over the amounts under savings account No.
35342-038 of the Bank of America. Insofar as the respondent court ordered their inclusion in the
inventory of assets left by Mrs. Vitug, we hold that the court was in error. Being the separate
property of petitioner, it forms no more part of the estate of the deceased.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the respondent appellate court, dated June 29, 1987, and its
resolution, dated February 9, 1988, are SET ASIDE.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera (Chairperson), Paras, Padilla and Regalado JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-3362

March 1, 1951

TESTATE estate of Carlos Gil, deceased. ISABEL HERREROS VDA. DE GIL, administratrixappellee,
vs.
PILAR GIL VDA. DE MURCIANO, oppositor-appellant.
Eligio C. Lagman for appellant.
Reyes, Albert and Agcaoili for appellee.

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JUGO, J.:
The Court of First Instance of Manila admitted to probate the alleged will and testament of the
deceased Carlos Gil. The oppositor Pilar Gil Vda. de Murciano appealed to this Court, raising
only question of law. Her counsel assigns the two following alleged errors:
Primer Error. El Juzgado inferior erro al dejar de declarar que el alegado testamento
de Carlos Gil no ha sido otogar de acuerdo con la ley.
Segundo Error. Erro finalmente a legalizar el referido testamento.
The alleged will read as follows:
Primera Pagina (1)
EN EL NOMBRE DE DIOS, AMEN
Yo, Carlos Gil, de 66 aos de edad, residente de Porac, Pampanga, I. F., hallandome
sano y en pleno goce de mis facultades intelectuales, libre y expontaneamente, sin
violencia, coaccion, dolo o influencia ilegal de persona extraa, otorgo y ordeno este mi
testamento y ultima voluntad en castellano, idioma que poseo y entiendo, de la manera
siguiente:
1. Declaro que durante mi matrimonio con mi esposa la hoy Isabel Herreros no tuvimos
hijos;
2. Declaro que tengo propiedades situadas en Manila y en la Provincia de Pampanga;
3. Doy y adjudico a mi querida esposa Isabel Herretos todos mis bienes ya que muebles
e inmuebles situados en Manila y en Pampanga, bajo la condicion de que cuando esta
muera y si hayan bienes remanentes heredadas por ella de mi, que dichos bienes
remanentes se adjudicaran a Don Carlos Worrel.
4. Nombro como albacea de mis bienes despues de mi fallecimiento al Dr. Galicano
Coronel a quien tengo absoluta confianza, con relevacion de fianza;
En testimonio de todo lo cual, firmo este mi testamento y en el margen izquierdo de cada
una de sus dos paginas, utiles con la clausula de atestiguamiento en presencia de los
testigos, quienes a su vez firmaron cada una de dichas paginas y la clausula de
atestiguamiento en mi presencia cada uno de ellos con la de los demas, hoy en Porac,
Pampanga, I. F., el dia 27 de Mayo de mil novecientos treinta y nueve.

CARLOS GIL

Testificacion:

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Segunda Pagina (2)

Nosotros los que suscribimos, todos mayores de edad, certificamos: que el testamento
que precede este escrito en la lengua castellana que conoce la testadora, compuesto de
dos paginas utiles con la clausula de atestiguamiento paginadas correlativamente en
letras y numeros en la parte superior de la casilla, asi como todas las hojas del mismo,
en nuestra presencia y que cada uno de nosotros hemos atestiguado y firmado dicho
documento y todas las hojas del mismo en presencia del testador y en la de cada uno de
nosotros.

(Fdo.) ALFREDO T. RIVERA


(Fdo.) RAMON MENDIOLA
(Fdo.) MARIANO OMAA

Regarding the correctness and accuracy of the above-copied alleged will, the court below said:
. . . The only copy available is a printed form contained in the record appeal in case G.R.
No. L-254, entitled "Testate Estate of Carlos Gil; Isabel Herreros Vda. de Gil, petitioner
and appellant vs. Roberto Toledo y Gil, oppositor and appellee." Both parties are agreed
that this is a true and correct copy of the will. (P. 10, Record on Appeal).
The appeal being only on questions of law the above finding of the court below cannot be
disputed. The conclusions of law reached by said court are based on it. Moreover, the finding is
correctly based on the evidence of record. The parties agreed that said copy is true and correct.
If it were otherwise, they would not have so agreed, considering that the defect is of an essential
character and is fatal to the validity of the attestation clause.
It will be noted that the attestation clause above quoted does not state that the alleged testor
signed the will. It declares only that it was signed by the witnesses. This is a fatal defect, for the
precise purpose of the attestation clause is to certify that the testator signed the will, this being
the most essential element of the clause. Without it there is no attestation at all. It is said that the
court may correct a mere clerical error. This is too much of a clerical error for it effects the very
essence of the clause. Alleged errors may be overlooked or correct only in matters of form which
do not affect the substance of the statement.
It is claimed that the correction may be made by inference. If we cure a deficiency by means of
inferences, when are we going to stop making inferences to supply fatal deficiencies in wills?
Where are we to draw the line? Following that procedure we would be making interpolations by
inferences, implication, and even by internalcircumtantial evidence. This would be done in the
face of the clear, uniquivocal, language of the statute as to how the attestation clause should be
made. It is to be supposed that the drafter of the alleged will read the clear words of the statute
when he prepared it. For the court to supply alleged deficiencies would be against the evident

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policy of the law. Section 618 of Act No. 190, before it was amended, contained the following
provision:
. . . But the absence of such form of attestation shall not render the will invalid if it proven
that the will was in fact signed and attested as in this section provided.
However, Act No. 2645 of the Philippine Legislature, passed on July 1, 1916, besides increasing
the contents of the attestation clause, entirely suppressed the above-quoted provision. This
would show that the purpose of the amending act was to surround the execution of a will with
greater guarantees and solemnities. Could we, in view of this, hold that the court can cure
alleged deficiencies by inferences, implications, and internal circumstantial evidence? Even in
ordinary cases the law requires certain requisities for the conclusiveness of circumstantial
evidence.
It is contended that the deficiency in the attestation clause is cured by the last paragraph of the
body of the alleged will, which we have quoted above. At first glance, it is queer that the alleged
testator should have made an attestation clause, which is the function of the witness. But the
important point is that he attests or certifies his own signature, or, to be accurate, his signature
certifies itself. It is evident that one cannot certify his own signature, for it does not increase the
evidence of its authenticity. It would be like lifting one's self by his own bootstraps. Consequently,
the last paragraph of the will cannot cure in any way the fatal defect of the attestation clause of
the witnesses. Adding zero to an insufficient amount does not make it sufficient.
It is said that the rules of statutory construction are applicable to documents and wills. This is
true, but said rules apply to the body of the will, containing the testamentary provisions, but not
to the attestation clause, which must be so clear that it should not require any construction.
The parties have cited pro and con several decisions of the Supreme Court, some of which are
said to be rather strict and others liberal, in the interpretation of section 618 of Act No. 190, as
amended by Act No. 2645.
In the case of Gumban vs. Gorecho (50 Phil., 30, 31), the court had the following to say:
1. WILLS; ALLOWANCE OR DISALLOWANCE; SECTIONS 618 AND 634 OF THE
CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE CONSTRUED. The right to dispose of the property by
will is governed entirely by statute. The law is here found in section 618 of the Code of
Civil Procedure, as amended. The law not alone carefully makes use of the imperative,
but cautiously goes further and makes use of the negative, to enforce legislative
intention.
2. ID.; ID.; ATTESTATION. The Philippine authorities relating to the attestation clause
to wills reviewed. The cases of Sao vs. Quintana ([1925], 48 Phil., 506), and Nayve vs.
Mojal and Aguilar ([1924], 47 Phil., 152), particularly compared. The decision in In re Will
of Quintana, supra, adopted and reaffirmed. The decision in Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar,
supra, modified.
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID. The portion of section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as
amended, which provides that "The attestation clause shall state the number of sheets or
pages used, upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will
and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his
express direction, in the presence of three witnesses, and the latter witnessed and

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signed the will and all pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other"
applied and enforced.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID. An attestation clause which does not recite that the witnesses
signed the will and each and every page thereof on the left margin in the presence of the
testator is defective, and such a defect annuls the will. (Sano vs. Quintana, supra.)
In the subsequent case of Quinto vs. Morata (54 Phil., 481, 482), Judge Manuel V. Moran, now
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in his decision made the following pronouncement:
. . . En la clausula de atestiguamiento del testamento en cuestion, se hace constar que
los testadores firmaron el testamento en presencia de los tres testigos instrumentales y
que estos firmaron el testamento los unos en presencia de los otros, pero no se hace
constar que dichos testigos firmaron el testamento enpresencia de los testadores, ni que
estos y aquellos firmaron todas y cada una de las paginas del testamento los primeros
en presencia de los segundos y vice-versa.
En su virtud, se deniega la solicitud en la que se pide la legalizacion del alegado
testamento Exhibit A de Gregorio Pueblo y Carmen Quinto, y se declara que Gregorio
Pueblo murio intestado.
The Supreme Court fully affirmed the decision, laying down the following doctrine:
1. WILLS; ATTESTATION CLAUSE; EVIDENCE TO SUPPLY DEFECTS OF. The
attestation clause must be made in strict conformity with the requirements of section 618
of Act No. 190, as amended. Where said clause fails to show on its face a full
compliance with those requirements, the defect constitutes sufficient ground for the
disallowance of the will. (Sano vs. Quintana, 48 Phil., 506; Gumban vs. Gorecho, 50
Phil., 30). Evidence aliunde should not be admitted to establish facts not appearing on
the attestation clause, and where said evidence has been admitted it should not be given
the effect intended. (Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca, 43 Phil., 405, 409.).
2. ID.; ID.; INTERPRETATION OF SECTION 618 OF ACT NO. 190, AS AMENDED.
Section 618 of Act No. 190, as amended, should be given a strict interpretation in order
to give effect to the intention of the Legislature. Statutes prescribing formalities to be
observed in the execution of wills are very strictly construed. Courts cannot supply the
defensive execution of will. (40 Cyc., p. 1079; Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca, supra.)
It is true that in subsequent decisions, the court has somewhat relaxed the doctrine of
the Gumban vs. Gorchocase, supra, but not to the extent of validating an attestation clause
similar to that involved herein.
In the case of Aldaba vs. Roque (43 Phil., 378), the testatrix signed the attestation clause which
was complete, and it was also signed by the two attesting witnesses. For this reason, the court
said:
In reality, it appears that it is the testatrix who makes the declaration about the points
contained in the above described paragraph; however, as the witnesses, together with
the testatrix, have signed the said declaration, we are of the opinion and so hold that the
words above quoted of the testament constitute a sufficient compliance with the
requirements of section 1 of Act No. 2645 which provides that: . . . (p. 381,supra.)

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The attestation clause involved herein is very different.
In the case of Dischoso de Ticson vs. De Gorotiza (57 Phil., 437), it was held that:
An attestation clause to a will, copied from a form book and reading: "We, the
undersigned attesting witnesses, whose residences are stated opposite our respective
names, do hereby certify that the testatrix, whose name is signed hereinabove, has
publish unto us the foregoing will consisting of two pages as her Last Will and Testament,
and has signed the same in our presence, and in witness whereof we have each signed
the same and each page thereof in the presence of said testatrix and in the presence of
each other," held not to be fatally defective and to conform to the law.
This very different from the attestation clause in the case at bar.
In the case of Grey vs. Fabie * (40 Off. Gaz., 1st Supplement, 196, No. 3, May 23, 1939), the will
was objected to on the ground that, although the attestation clause stated that "each of the
pages of which the said will is composed" was signed by the testatrix at the left margin and at
the foot of the fifth page, it did not state that the signature was made in the presence of the
witnesses. It was held, however, that said deficiency was cured by the phrase "as well as by
each of us in the presence of the testatrix." The words "as well as" indicate that the testatrix
signed also in the presence of the witnesses, for the phrase "as well as" in this case is equivalent
to "also." The language is clear and, unlike the attestation clause in the present case, does not
necessitate any correction. In the body of the will the testatrix stated that she signed in the
presence of each and all of the three witnesses. This was considered as a corroboration, but it
was unnecessary.
In the case of Leynez vs. Leynez (40 Off. Gaz., 3rd Supplement, 51, 52, No. 7, October 18,
1939; 68 Phil., 745), the attestation clause reads as follows:
Suscrito y declarado por el testador Valerio Leynez, como su ultima voluntad y
testamento en presencia de todos y cada uno de nosotros, y a ruego de dicho testador,
firmamos el presente cada uno en presencia de los otros, o de los demas y de la del
mismo testsador, Valerio Leynez. El testamento consta de dos (2) paginas solamente.
The objection was that the attestation clause did not state that the testator and the witnesses
signed each and every page of the will. This fact , however, appears in the will itself. It is clear,
therefore, that in case of the will complied with all the requisites for its due execution. In the
instant case, essential words were omitted.
In the case of Alcala vs. De Villa 1 (40 Off. Gaz., 14th Supplement, 131, 134-135, No. 23, April
18, 1939), the attestation clause reads as follows:
Hacemos constar que en la fecha y pueblo arriba mencionadios otorgo el Sr. Emiliano
Alcala su ultima voluntad o testamentao compuesto de cuatro paginas incluida ya esta
clasula de atestiguamiento. Que estabamos presentes en el momento de leer y ratificar
el que el testamento arriba mencionado es su ultima voluntad o testamento compuesto
de cuatro paginasen papel de maquinilla. Que igualmente estabamos presentes cuando
el firmo este documento al pie del mismo y en el margen izquierdo de cada pagina del
testador tambien en presencia suya y de cada uno de nosotros en cada pagina y en el
margen izquierdo de esta escritura o testamento. En su testimonio firmamos abajo en
prsencia del testador y de cada uno de nosotros.

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The above attestation clause is substantially perfect. The only clerical error is that it says
"testador" instead of "testamento" in the phrase "cada pagina del testador." The word "tambien"
renders unnecessary the use of the verb "firmamos."
In the case of Mendoza vs. Pilapil 2 (40 Off. Gaz., 1855, No. 9, June 27, 1941), the attestation
clause did not state the number of pages of the will. However, it was held that this deficiency was
cured by the will itself, which stated that it consisted of three pages and in fact it had three
pages.
In the case of Rallos vs. Rallos (44 Off. Gaz., 4938, 4940, No. 12, October 23, 1947), decided by
the Court of Appeals, the attestation clause (translated in Spanish) reads as follows:
Nosotros, los testigos, certificamos que este que hemos firmado es el testamento y
ultima voluntad, que se ha redactado en cuatro paginas, de Numeriano Rallos, quien
despues de leer y de leer y de leerle el mencionado testamento, y despues de que ella
dio su conformidad, firmo y marco con su dedo pulgar derecho en nuestra presencia y
en presencia de cada uno de nosotros, que asimismo cada uno de nosotros, los
testigos, firmamos enpresencia de la testadora y en presencia de cada uno de nosotros.
It will be noticed that the only thing omitted is the statement as to the signing of the testatrix and
the witnesses of each and every page of the will, but the omission is cured by the fact that their
signatures appear on every page. This attestation clause is different from that involved in the
present case.
There is no reason why wills should not be executed by complying substantially with the clear
requisites of the law, leaving it to the courts to supply essential elements. The right to dispose of
property by will is not natural but statutory, and statutory requirements should be satisfied.
The right to make a testamentary disposition of one's property is purely of statutory
creation, and is available only upon the compliance with the requirements of the statute.
The formalities which the Legislature has prescribed for the execution of a will are
essential to its validity, and cannot be disregarded. The mode so prescribed is the
measure for the exercise of the right, and the heir can be deprived of his inheritance only
by a compliance with this mode. For the purpose of determining whether a will has been
properly executed, the intention of the testator in executing it is entitled to no
consideration. For that purpose only intention of the Legislature, as expressed in the
language of the statute, can be considered by the court, and whether the will as
presented, shows a compliance with the statute. Estate of Walker, 110 Cal., 387, 42
Pac., 815, 30 L. R. A., 460, 52 Am. St. Rep. 104. In re Seaman's Estate, 80 Pac., 700,
701.)
In interpreting the legislature's thought, courts have rigidly opposed any exception
tending to weaken the basic principle underlying the law, the chief purpose of which is to
see that the testator's wishes are observed. It is possible, in some or many cases, a
decedent may have thought he had made a will, but the statute says he had not. The
question is not one of his intention, but of what he actually did, or . . . failed to do. . . . It
may happen . . . that . . . wills . . . truly expressing the intertions of the testator are made
without observations of the required forms; and whenever that happens, the genuine
intention is frustrated. . . . The Legislature . . . has taught of it best and has therefore
determined, to run the risk of frustrating (that intention, . . . in preference to the risk of
giving effect to or facilitating the formation of spurious wills, by the absence of forms. . . .
The evil probably to arise by giving to wills made without any form, . . ." or, in derogation

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of testator's wishes, fraudulently imposing spurious wills on his effect on his estate.
Churchill's Estate, 260 Pac. 94, 101, 103 Atl. 533.
It has always been the policy of this court to sustain a will if it is legally possible to do so,
but we cannot break down the legislative barriers protecting a man's property after death,
even if a situation may be presented apparently meritorious. (In Re: Maginn, 30 A. L. R.,
pp. 419, 420.)
In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is reversed, denying the probate of the
alleged will and declaring intestate the estate of the deceased Carlos Gil. With costs against the
appellee. It is so ordered.
Moran, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla and Reyes, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions
TUAZON, J., dissenting:
The decision takes for granted that the will was written just as it was copied in the stipulation of
facts by the parties. But counsel for appellee makes the correctness of the copy an issue thereby
raising the question of not whether the burnt will possessed the statutory requirements but
whether the copy is erroneous. Since this is a chief feature on which the appellee's case is built;
since, in fact, the objection to form of the attestation clause, with which the decision wholly deals,
would disappear if the appellee's contention were well founded, it is proper that in this dissenting
opinion we should accord the matter at least a passing notice.
It may be stated as background that the original of the will was filed in the Court of First Instance
of Manila in 1943; that in 1945, before the will came up for probate, it was destroyed by fire or
looters; that in the probate proceeding after liberation, the parties submitted an agreed statement
of facts in which the will was reproduced ascopied in the record on appeal in another case
docketed in this court on appeal as G.R. No. L-254 and decided on April 30, 1948. It further
appears from the record of that case and from the decision of this court that the controversy
there concerned the right of a nephew of the testator to impugn the will, it being alleged that he
was not a legal heir and had no interest in the probate.
As transcribed in the majority decision, it will be seen that the attestation clause is truncated and
meaningless. The last of the compound sentence in incomplete, lacking an adjective phrase.
Counsel for appellee contends that the phrase "ha sido firmado por el testador" or equivalent
expression between the words "del mismo" and the words "en nuestra presencia" should be
inserted if the sentence is to be complete and have sense. The attestation clause with the
inclusion of the omitted phrase, which we italicize should read thus:
Nosotros, los que suscribimos, todos mayores de edad, certificamos que el testamento
que precede escrito en la lengua castellana que conoce la testador, compuesto de las
paginadas utiles con la clausula de atestiguamiento paginadas correlativamente en
letras y numeros en la parte superior de la casilla, asi como todos las hojas del mismo
(Ha sido firmado por el testador) en nuestra presencia y que cada de nosotros hemos

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atestiguado y firmado dicho documento y todas las hojas del mismo presencia del
testador y en la de cada uno de nosotros.
It seems obvious that the missing phrase was inadvertently left out. The probabilities of error in
the copy are enhanced by the fact that the form of the will was not in controversy. The form of
the will being immaterial, it is easily conceivable that little or on care was employed in the
copying thereof in the pleading or record on appeal above mentioned. The absence of the
signature of the testator on the first page of the copy is an additional proof that little or on pain
was taken to insure accuracy in the transcription. The appearance of "la testadora" in the copy
instead of "el testador" is another.
Quite aside from all this, the testator was presumed to know the law, as the decision says.
Certainly, Attorney Mariano Omaa, who drafted the whole instrument and signed it as an
attesting witness, knew the law and, by the context of the whole instrument, has shown
familiarity with the rules of grammar and ability to express his idea properly.
Read in the light of these circumstances without mentioning the evidence or record, not
objected to, that the testator signed the will in the presence of the attesting witnesses so
important an omission as to make the sentence senseless granting such omission existed in
the original document-could not have been intentional or due to ignorance. The most that can be
said is that the flaw was due to a clerical mistake, inadvertance, or oversight.
There is insinuation that the appellee in agreeing that the will read as it was "reproduced in the
record on Appeal" above mentioned is bound by the agreement. This is not an absolute rule. The
binding effect of a stipulation on the parties does not go to the extent of barring them or either of
them from impeaching it on the score of clerical error or clear mistake. That there was such
mistake, is indubitable. It is noteworthy that the opponent and appellant herself appears not to
have noticed any defect in the attestation clause as copied in the stipulation. It would seem that
in the court below she confined her attack on the will to the alleged failure of the testator to sign
the first page. We say this because it was only the alleged unsigning of the first page of the
document which the trial court in the appealed decision discussed and ruled upon. There is not
the slightest reference in the decision, direct or implied, to any flaw in the attestation clause
which is by far more important than the alleged absence of the testator's signature on the first
page.
As stated the problem posed by the omission in question is governed, not by the law of wills
which requires certain formalities to be observed in the execution, but by the rules of
construction applicable to statues and documents in general. And this rule would obtain even if
the omission had occurred in the original document and not in the copy alone. In either case, the
court may and should correct the error by supplying the omitted word or words.
In Testamentaria del finado Emilio Alcala, a similar situation arose and the Court said:
Es evidente que leyendo la clausula de atestiguacion se nota a simple vista que en su
redaccion se ha incurrido en omisiones que la razon y el sentido comon pueden suplirlas
sin alterar ni tergiversar la intencion tanto del testador como la de los tres testigos que
intervinieron en el otorgamiento de la misma. Teniendo en cuenta la fraselogia de la
segunda parte de la clausula se observara que las omisiones, aunque son
substanciales, consisten en meros errores gramaticales que los tribunales, en el
ejercicio de su discrecion y en la aplicacion de las reglas de interpretacion de
documentos, pueden subsanarlos para dar efectividad a la intencion y hacer que el
conjunto de los terminos de la clausula de atestacion surtan sus efectos.

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La interpritacion que se acaba de bar a la clausula de atestacion y la correccion de los
errores gramaticales de que misma adolece, incluyendo la insercion del verbo
"firmamos" que se omitio involuntariamente, esta de acuerdo con las reglas
fundamentals de interpretacion de documentos segun las cuales se debe hacer
prevalecer siempre la intencion del que haya redactado el instrumento (art. 288, Cod. de
Proc. Civ.; Pecson contra, 45 Jur. Fil., 224; 28 R. C. L., sec. 187, pags. 225, 226.)
La solucion que se acaba de bar al asunto es la que se halla mas conforme con la
justificia en vista de que se ha presentado prueba alguna que insinue siquiera que en el
otorgamiento del testamento se ha cometido dolo o fraude con el animo de perjudiar a
cualquiera. (Testamentaria de Emiano Alcala, 40 G. O., 14. Suplemento, No. 23, pags.
131, 132.)
From 69 C. J., 82 83, we quote: "Words omitted from a will may be supplied by the court
whenever necessary to effectuate the testator's intention as expressed in the will; but not where
the effect of inserting the words in the will would alter or defeat such intention, or change the
meaning of words that are clear and unequivocal." On pages 50, 51, the same work says: "To aid
the court in ascertaining and giving effect to the testator's intention in the case of an ambiguous
will, certain rules have been established for guidance in the construction or interpretation to be
placed upon such a will, and in general a will should be construed according to these established
rules of construction." Speaking of construction of statutes which, as has been said, is applicable
to construction of documents, the same work, in Vol. 59, p. 992, says: "Where it appears from
the context that certain words have been inadvertently omitted from a statute, the court may
supply such words as are necessary to complete the sense, and to express the legislative intent.
Adding force to the above principle is the legal presumption that the will is in accordance with
law. (2 Page on Wills, 840, 841; 57 Am. Jur., 720.)
Let us assume, for the purpose of this decision only, that the attestation clause was drawn as the
draftsman intended, that the mistake in language in said clause was not inadvertent, and
consider the case on the premise from which the court has approached it; is the decision well
grounded, at least in the light of this court's previous decisions?
At the outset, it should be pointed out that as early as 1922 a similar case, in which the validity of
the will was sustained, found its way into this court. (Aldaba vs. Roque, 43 Phil., 378). The case
was more than four-square behind the case at bar. There the departure from the statutory
formality was more radical, in that the testator took charge or writing the entire attestation clause
in the body of the will, the witnesses limiting their role to signing the document below the
testator's signature. Here, at most, the testator took away from the witness only a small part of
their assigned task, leaving them to perform the rest.
Referring to "the lack of attestation clause required by law," this court, in a unanimous
decision in banc, through Mr. Justice Villamor said (syllabus): "When the attestation clause is
signed by the witnesses to the instruments besides the testator, such attestation clause is valid
and constitutes a substantial compliance with the provisions of section 1 of Act No. 2645, even
though the facts recited in said attestation appear to have been make by the testator himself."
That was good doctrine when it was announced. We think it is good law still. That ruling should
set the present case at rest unless the court wants to discard it. On the possibility that this is the
intention, we will dwell on the subject further.

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This Court noted in Dichoso de Ticson vs. De Gorostiza, (1922), 57 Phil., 437, "that there have
been noticeable in the Philippines two divergent tendencies in the law of wills the one being
planted on strict construction and the other on liberal construction. A late example of the former
views may be found in the decision in Rodriguez vs. Alcala (1930), 55 Phil., 150, sanctioning a
literal enforcement of the law. The basic case in the other direction,predicated on reason,
is Abangan vs. Abangan (1919), 40 Phil., 476, oft-cited approvingly in later decisions." In the
Abangan case, unanimous court, speaking through Mr. Justice Avancea, later Chief Justice,
observed: "The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door
against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their
truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as
to attain these primodial ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact
that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So
when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever,
that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of
the testator's last will, must be disregarded."
Subsequent decisions which followed and adopted the Abangan principle were numerous: Avera
vs. Garcia(1921), 42 Phil., 145; Aldaba vs. Roque (1922), 43 Phil., 378; Unson vs. Abella (1922,)
43 Phil., 494; Pecson vs. Coronel (1923), 45 Phil., 216; Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios (1924), 46
Phil., 922; Nayve vs. Mojal (1924), 47 Phil., 152; De Gala vs. Gonzales (1929), 53 Phil.,
104; Rey vs. Cartegana (1931), 56 Phil., 282; Ticson vs. Gorostiza (1932), 57 Phil., 437;
Testamentaria de M. Ozoa (1933), 57 J. F., 1007; Sebastian vs. Paganiban(1934), 59 Phil.,
653; Rodriguez vs. Yap (1939)1, 40 Off. Gaz., 1st Suppl. No. 3, p. 194; Grey vs. Fabia (1939)2, 40
Off. Gaz., 1st Suppl. No. 3, p. 196; Leynez vs. Leynez (1939)3, 40 Off. Gaz., 3rd Suppl. No. 7, p.
51; Martir vs. Martir (1940)4, 40 Off. Gaz., 7th Suppl. No. 11, p. 215; Sabado vs.
Fernandez (1941)5, 40 Off. Gaz., 1844;Mendoza vs. Pilapil (1941)6 40 Off. Gaz., 1855; Alcala vs.
De Villa (1941)7, 40 Off. Gaz., 14th Suppl. No. 23, p. 131; and Lopez vs. Liboro (1948)8, 46 Off.
Gaz., Suppl. No. 1, p. 211.
The majority decision says, and we quote: "If we cure a deficiency by means of inferences, when
are we going to stop making inferences to supply fatal deficiencies in wills? Where are we to
draw the line?" These same questions might well have been asked in the case above cited by
the opponents of the new trends. But the so-called liberal rule does not offer any puzzle or
difficulty, nor does it open the door to serious consequences. The decisions we have cited to tell
us when and where to stop; the dividing line is drawn with precision. They say "Halt" when and
where evidence aliunde to fill a void in any part of the document is attempted. They only permit a
probe, an exploration within the confines of the will, to ascertain its meaning and to determine
the existence or absence of the formalities of law. They do not allow the courts to go outside the
will or to admit extrinsic evidence to supply missing details that should appear in the will itself.
This clear, sharp limitation eliminates uncertainly and ought to banish any fear of dire results.
The case at hand comes within the bounds thus defined. If the witnesses here purposely omitted
or forgot that the testator signed the will in their presence, the testator said that he did and the
witnesses by their signatures in the will itself said it was so. No extraneous proof was necessary
and none was introduced or taken into consideration.
To regard the letter rather than the spirit of the will and of the law behind it was the thing that led
to unfortunate consequences. It was the realization of the injustice of the old way that impelled
this court, so we believe, to forsake the antiquated, outworn worship of form in preference to
substance. It has been said, and experience has known, that the mechanical system of
construction has operated more to defeat honest wills than prevent fraudulent ones. That, it must
be conceded, is the effect in this case of this court's rejection of the will under consideration. For

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the adverse party concedes the genuineness of the document. At least, the genuineness is
super obvious, and there is not the slightest insinuation of undue pressure, mental incapacity of
the testator of fraud.
It is said that for the testator to certify that he signed the will in the witnesses' presence "would
be like lifting one's self by his own bootstraps." The simile, we say with due respect, does not
look to us quite well placed. Under physical law a man cannot raise his body from the ground by
his own bare hands without the aid of some mechanical appliance, at least not for more than a
flitting moment. But there is no impossibility or impropriety in one attesting to his own act unless
forbidden by rules of positive law. The rationale of our dissent is that he is not. If we were to
make a metaphorical comparison, it would be more appropriate to say that a man can and
generally does himself pull the bootstraps to put the boots on.
Coming to execution of wills, we see no legitimate practical reason for objecting to the testator
instead of the witnesses certifying that he signed the will in the presence of the latter. The will is
the testator's and the intervention of attesting witnesses is designed merely to protect the
testator's and not anybody else's interest.
If the sole purpose of the statute is to make it certain that the testator has definite and complete
intention to pass his property, and to prevent, as far as possible, any chance of substituting one
instrument for another (1 Page on Wills, 481), What better guaranty of the genuineness of the
will can there be than a certification by the testator himself in the body of the will so long as the
testator's signature is duly authenticated? Witnesses may sabotage the will by muddling it or
attestation clause. For the testator, who is desirous of making a valid will, to do so would be a
contradiction. If the formalities are only a means to an end and not the end themselves, and that
end is achieved by another method slightly different from the prescribed manner, what has been
done by the testator and the witnesses in the execution of the instant will should satisfy both law
and conscience. The chief requirements of statutes are writing, signature by the testator, and
attestation and signature of three witnesses. Whether the courts profess to follow the harsher
rule, whether to follow the milder rule, they agree on one thing that as long as the testator
performs each of those acts the courts should require no more. (1 Page on Wills, 481, 484.)
Paras, Feria, Montemayor and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.

RESOLUTION

March 20, 1953

TUASON, J.:
This appeal is before us on a motion for reconsideration of this court's decision. Whereas
formerly six justices voted for reversal and five for affirmance of the probate court's order
admitting the will to probate, the vote upon reconsideration was six for affirmance and five for
reversal, thereby making the dissenting opinion, which had been filed, the prevailing rule of the

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case. Under the circumstances, this resolution will largely be confined to a restatement of that
dissenting opinion.
The will in question was presented for probate in the Court of First Instance of Manila in 1943
with Roberto Toledo y Gil, decedent's nephew, and Pilar Gil Vda. de Murciano, decedent's sister
opposing the application. Toledo's legal right to intervene was questioned by the proponent of
the will, and the objection was sustained in an order which was affirmed by this court in G. R. No.
L-254. As a result of the latter decision, Toledo was eliminated from the case and did not appear
when the trial was resumed.
The proceeding seems to have held in abeyance pending final disposition of Toledo's appeal,
and early in 1945, before the application was heard on the merit, the record, along with the will,
was destroyed, necessitating its reconstitution after liberation. In the reconstitution, a stipulation
of facts was submitted in which, according to the appealed order, "both parties . . . agreed that
the will as transcribed in the record on appeal in Case G. R. No. L-254 is true and a correct copy.
The will consisted of only two pages, and the attestation clause as thus copied reads:
NOSOTROS los que suscribimos, todos mayores de edad, certificamos: que el
testamento que precede escrito en la lengua castellana que canoce la testador,
compuesto de dos paginas utiles con la clausula de atestigamiento paginadas
correlativamente en letras y numeros en la parte superior de la casilla, asi como todas
las hojas del mismo, en nuestra presencia y que cada uno de nosotros hemos
atestiguado y firmado dicho documento y todas las hojas del mismo en presencia del
testador y en la de cada uno de nosotros.
(Fdo.) ALFREDO T. RIVERA.
(Fdo.) RAMON MENDIOLA.
(Fdo.) MARIANO OMAA
It will be noted from the above copy that the last of the compound sentence is truncated and
meaningless. This defect is the main basis of the appellant's sole assignment of error.
Counsel for appellee contend that the phrase "han sido firmadas por el testador" or equivalent
expression between the words "del mismo" and the words "en nuestra presencia" should be
inserted if the attestation clause is to be complete and have sense. With this insertion the
attestation clause would read ". . ., asi como todas las hojas del mismo han sido firmadas por el
testador en nuestra presencia . . ." The point is well taken.
It seems obvious that the missing phrase was left out from the copy. The probabilities of error in
the copy are enhanced by the fact that the form of the Will was not controversy in Toledo's
appeal. The form of the will being immaterial, it is easily conceivable that little or no care was
employed in transcribing the document in the agreement or record on appeal. The absence of
the signature of the testator on the first page of the copy is an additional proof that little or no
pain taken to insure accuracy in the transcription. The appearance of "la testadora" in the copy
instead of "el testador" is another indication of the haste and carelessness in the transcription.
Quite aside from all this, the testator was presumed to know the law, as the trial court says.
Certainly, Attorney Mariano Omaa, who drew the instrument and signed it as an attesting

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witness, knew the law and, by the context thereof, has shown familiarity with the rules of
grammar and ability to express his idea properly. In the light of these circumstances and of
further fact that the clause was brief and, by its importance, must have been written with utmost
concern, so important an omission as to make the clause or sentence senseless could not have
been made, intentionally or otherwise, in the original.
There is insinuation that the appellee in agreeing that the will read as it was "reproduced in the
Record on appeal" is bound by the agreement. This is not an absolute rule. The binding effect of
a stipulation on the parties does not go to the extent of barring either of them from impeaching it
on the score of clerical error or clear mistake. The mistake just pointed out clearly brings the
case within the exceptions of the rule. The able counsel for the proponent of the will could not
possibly have subscribed to the agreement if they had noticed the incomplete sentence in the
copy without making an objection or reservation.
The problem posed by the omission in question is governed, not by the law of wills which
requires certain formalities to be fulfilled in the execution, but by the rules of construction
applicable to statutes and documents in general. And this rule would obtain whether the
omission occurred in the original document or in the copy alone. In either case, the court may
and should correct the error by supplying the omitted word or words.
In Testamentaria del finado Emiliano Alcala, a similar situation arose and the court said:
Es evidente que leyendo la clausula de atestiguacion se nota a simple vista que en su
redaccion se ha incurrido en omisiones que la razon y el sentido cumon pueden suplirlas
sin altenar ni tergiversar la intencion tanto del testador como la de los tres testigos que
intervenieron en el otorgamiento de la misma. Teniendo en cuenta la fraseologia de la
segunda parte de la clausula se observara que las omisiones, aunque son
substanciales, consisten en meros errores gramaticales que los tribunales, en el
ejercicio de su discrecion y en la aplicacion de las reglas de interpretacion de
documentos, pueden subsanarlos para dar efectividad a la intencion y hacer que el
conjunto de los terminos de la clausula de atestacion surtan efectos.
La interpretacion que se acaba de dar a la clausula de atestacion y la correccion de los
errores gramanticales de que misma adolece, incluyedo la insercion del verbo
"firmamos" que se omitio involuntariamente, esta de acurdo con las reglas
fundamentales de interpretacion de documentos segun las cuales se debe hacer
prevalecer siempre la intencion del que haya redactado el instrumento (art 286, Cod. de
Proc. Civil; Pecson contra Coronel, 45 Jur. Fil., 224; 28 R. C. L., sec. 187, pages. 225,
226).
La solucion que se acaba de dar al asunto es la que se halla mas conforme con la
justicia en vista de que no se ha presentado prueba alguna que insinue siquiera que en
el otorgamiento del testamiento se ha cometido dolo o fraude con el animo de perjudicar
a cualquiera. Testamentaria de Emiliano Alcala, 40 Gaz. Of., 14. Supplemento, No. 23,
pags. 131, 132.)
From 69 C. J. 82, 83, we quote: "Words omitted from a will may be supplied by the court
whenever necessary to effectuate the testator's intention as expressed in the will: but not where
the effect of inserting the words in the will would alter or defeat such intention, or change the
meaning of words that are clear and unequivocal." On pages 50 and 51, the same work says:
"To aid the court in ascertaining and giving effect to the testator's intention in the case of an
ambiguous will, certain rules been established for guidance in the construction or interpretation

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to be placed upon such a will, and in general a will should be construed according to these
established rules of construction." And referring to construction of statues which, as has been
said, is applicable to construction of documents, C. J. S., in Vol. 59, p. 992, tells us that "Where it
appears from the context that certain words have been inadvertently from a statute, the court
may supply such words as are necessary to complete the sense, and to express the legislative
intent."
Adding force to the above principle is the legal presumption that the will is in accordance with
law. (2 Page on Wills 840; 57 Am. Jur., 720.)
But let it be assumed, for the sake of this decision only, that the attestation clause was drawn
exactly as it was copied in Toledo's record on appeal, was the mistake fatal? Was it, or was it
not, cured by the testator's own declaration? to wit: "En testimonio de lo cual, firmo este mi
testamento y en el margen izquierdo de cada una de sus dos paginas utiles con la clausula de
atestiguamiento en presencia de los testigos, quienes a su vez firmaron cada una de dichas
paginas y la clausula de atestiguamiento en mi presencia cada uno de ellos con la de los
demas, hoy en Porac, Pampanga, I. F., el dia 27 de marzo de mil novecientos treinta y nueve."
The answer is in the negative.
As early as 1922 a similar case, in which the validity of the will was sustained, found its way into
this court. SeeAldaba vs. Roque, 43 Phil., 378. That case was more than foursquare behind the
case at bar. There the departure from the statutory formality was more radical, in that the testator
took charge of writing the entire attestation clause in the body of the will, the witnesses limiting
their role to signing the document below the testator's signature. Here, at the most, the testator
took away from the witnesses only a small part of their assigned task, leaving to them the rest.
Referring to "the lack of attestation clause required by law," this court, in a unanimous decision in
banc, through Mr. Justice Villamor said in the Adalba-Roque case (syllabus):
When the attestation clause is signed by the witnesses to the instruments, besides the testator,
such attestation clause is valid and constitutes a substantial compliance with the provisions of
section 1 of Act No. 2645, even though the facts recited in said attestation clause appear to have
been made by the testator himself.
That ruling should set the present case at rest unless we want to revert to the old, expressly
abandoned doctrine, in a long line of what we believe to be better-considered decisions.
This court noted in Dichoso de Ticson vs. De Gorostiza (1922), 57 Phil., 437, "that there have
been noticeable in the Philippines two divergent tendencies in the lie of wills the one being
planted on strict construction and the other on liberal construction. A late example of the former
views be found in the decision in Rodriguez vs. Alcala(1930), 55 Phil., 150, sanctioning a literal
enforcement of the law. The basic rule in the other direction, predicated on reason, is Abangan
vs. Abangan (1919), 40 Phil., 476, oft-cited approvingly in later decisions."
In the Abangan case, a unanimous court, speaking through Mr. Justice Avancea, later Chief
Justice, observed:
"The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad
faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and
authenticity. Therefore the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain
these primodial ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not
the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an

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interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds
nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the
testator's last will, must be disregarded."
Subsequent decisions which followed and adopted the Abangan principle were: Avera vs.
Garcia (1921), 42 Phil., 145; Aldaba vs. Roque (1922), 43 Phil., 378; Unson vs. Abella (1922), 43
Phil., 494; Pecson vs. Coronel (1923), 45 Phil., 216; Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios (1924), 46
Phil., 922; Neyve vs. Mojal (1924), 47 Phil., 152; De Gala vs. Gonzales (1929), 53 Phil.,
104; Rey vs. Cartagena (1931), 56 Phil., 282; Ticson vs. Gorostiza (1932), 57 Phil., 437;
Testamentaria de N. Ozoa (1933), 57 J. F., 1007; Sebastian vs. Panganiban (1934), 59 Phil.,
653; Rodriguez vs. Yap (1939), 40 Off. Gaz., 1st Suppl. No. 3, p. 194; Grey vs. Fabia (1939), 40
Off. Gaz., 1st Suppl., No. 3, p. 196; Leynez vs. Leynez (1939), 40 Off. Gaz., 3rd Suppl. No. 7, p.
51; Martir vs. Martir (1940), 40 Off. Gaz., 7th Suppl. No. 11, p. 215; Sabado vs.
Fernandez (1941), 40 Off. Gaz., 1844; Mendoza vs. Pilapil (1941), 40 Off. Gaz., 1855; Alcala vs.
De Villa (1941), 40 Off. Gaz., 14th Suppl. No. 23, p. 131; and Lopez vs. Liboro (1948), 46 Off.
Gaz., Suppl. No. 1, p. 211.
It is objected that "If we cure a deficiency by means of inferences, when are we going to stop
making inferences to supply fatal deficiencies in wills? Where are we to draw the line?" These
same question might well have been asked by the opponents of the new trends in the cases
above cited. But the so-called liberal rule does not offer any puzzle or difficulty, nor does it open
the door to serious consequences. The later decisions do tell us when and where to stop; they
draw the dividing line with precision. They do not allow evidence aliunde to fill a void in any part
of the document or supply missing details that should appear in the will itself. They only permit a
probe into the will, an exploration within its confines, to ascertain its meaning or to determine the
existence or absence of the requisite formalities of law. This clear, sharp limitation eliminates
uncertainty and ought to banish any fear of dire results.
The case at hand comes within the bounds thus defined if the witnesses here purposely omitted
or forgot to say that the testator signed the will in their presence, the testator said that he did and
the witnesses by their signatures in the will itself said it was so. No extraneous proof was
necessary and none was introduced or taken into consideration.
To regard the letter rather than the spirit of the will and of the law behind it was the thing that led
to unfortunate consequences. It was the realization of the injustice of the old way that impelled
this court, so we believe, to forsake the antiquated, outworn worship of form in preference to
substance. It has been said, and experience has shown, that the mechanical system of
construction has operated more to defeat honest wills than prevent fraudulent ones. That, must
be conceded, would be the effect in this case if the will under consideration were rejected. For
the adverse party now concedes the genuineness of the document. At any rate, the genuineness
is super obvious, and there is not the slightest insinuation of undue pressure, mental incapacity
of the testator, or fraud.
It is said that for the testator to certify that he signed the will in the witnesses' presence "would
be like lifting one's self by his own bootstraps." The simile does not look to us quite well placed.
There is no impossibility or impropriety in one attesting to his own act unless forbidden by rules
of positive law. The rationale of this decision is that he is not. If we were to make a metaphorical
comparison, it would be more correct to say that a man can and generally does himself pull the
bootstraps when he puts his boots on.
Coming to execution of wills, we see no legitimate, practical reason for objecting to the testator
instead of the witnesses certifying that he signed the will in the presence of the latter. The will is

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of the testator's own making, the intervention of attesting witnesses being designed merely to
protect his interest. If the sole purpose of the statute in requiring the intervention of witnesses is
to make it certain that the testator has definite and complete intention to pass his property, and to
prevent, as far as possible, any chance of substituting one instrument for another (1 Page on
Wills, 481), what better guaranty of the genuineness of the will can there be than a certification
by the testator himself in the body of the will so long as the testator's signature is duly
authenticated? Witnesses may sabotage the will by muddling and bungling it or the attestation
clause. For the testator, who is desirous of making a valid will, to do so would be a contradiction.
If the formalities are only a means to an end and not the end themselves, and that end is
achieved by another method slightly from the prescribed manner, what has been done by the
testator and the witnesses in the execution of the instant will should satisfy both law and
conscience.
A second ground of attack on the questioned will is that the first page or sheet thereof does not
bear the testator's signature. The discussion on the correctness of the copy of the attestation
clause amply answers this objection in fact, the appellee's case is much stronger on this point for
the reason that there is not only speculative but also positive basis for the conclusion that the
testator's signature was affixed to the first page of the original. Both the testator and the attesting
witnesses stated in the will and in the attestation clause, respectively, that the former signed both
pages or sheets of the testament.
Upon the foregoing consideration, the order of the probate court is affirmed with costs.
A motion dated February 17, 1953, was filed after the motion for reconsideration was deliberated
and voted upon, in behalf of the minor children of Carlos Worrel, who was a residuary legatee
under the will and who is alleged to have died on February 6, 1949. The motion prays that a
guardian ad litem be appointed for the said children, and allowed to intervene and file "A
Supplementary Memorandum in Support of Appellant's (Appellee's?) Motion for reconsideration."
Counsel for the appellant objects to the motion on the ground that the movants having only a
contingent interest under the will are not of right entitled to intervene.
As this case has already been considerably delayed and thoroughly considered and discussed
from all angles, it is the sense of the court that the children's intervention with the consequent
further delay of the decision would not serve the best interest of the parties. For this reason, the
motion is denied.
Paras, Feria, Montemayor, Bautista Angelo and Labrador, JJ., concur.
Padilla and Reyes, JJ., dissent.

JUGO, PABLO and BENGZON, JJ., dissenting:


I dissent on the ground set forth in my opinion rendered in this case.

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G.R. No. L-56249 May 29, 1987
IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED REV. FATHER TEODORO
ARANAS, RAMONA B. VDA. DE ARANAS, ADELIA B. ARANAS-FERNANDEZ, HEIRS OF
THE LATE RODULFO B. ARANAS, ETC., ET AL., petitioners,
vs.
VICENTE B. ARANAS AND HON. LUIS B. MANTA, respondents.

PARAS, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari which seeks to declare the orders of respondent Judge dated July
16, 1980 and September 23, 1980 as an exercise of a gross abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction, by ruling that the properties under Group C of the testate estate of the late
Fr.Teodoro Aranas are subject to remunerative legacies.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
Fr. Teodoro Aranas, a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, died on January 19, 1953. He had
executed on June 6, 1946 his Last Will and Testament which was admitted to probate on August
31, 1956. In said Last Will and Testament, Fr. Teodoro Aranas stipulated the following:
A. The return to Aniceto Aranas or his heirs of all properties acquired by Fr. Aranas from his
brother Aniceto Aranas and ten (10) parcels of land described in the Will inherited by the testator
from his parents.
B. The return to Carmelo Aranas or his heirs of all properties acquired by Fr. Aranas from his
brother Carmelo Aranas and ten (10) parcels of land described in the Will inherited by the
testator from his parents.
C. The special administration of the remainder of the estate of the testator by Vicente Aranas, a
faithful and serviceable nephew and designating him also as recipient of 1/2 of the produce of
said properties after deducting the expenses for the administration and the other 1/2 of the
produce to be given to the Catholic Church for the eternal repose of the testator's soul. Said
pertinent provision 1 reads as follows:
Fourth. It is my will that the lands I had bought from other persons should be
converged and placed under a "special administrator." The special administrator
of these lands, for his office, should receive one half of all the produce from
which shall be deducted the expenses for the administration, and the other half of
the produce should be received by the Roman Catholic Church and should be
spent for my soul, Vicente B. Aranas (Tingting), because he is a faithful and
serviceable nephew, should be the first special administrator of said properties,
without bond, until his death or until he should not want to hold the said office
anymore. Anyone of the sons of my brother Carmelo Aranas can hold the said
office of special administrator, and none other than they. Their father, my brother
Carmelo Aranas shall be the one to decide who among them shall hold the said
office, but upon the death of my said brother Carmelo Aranas, his said sons will
have power to select the one among them ourselves. The special administration
is perpetual.

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The lower court in its Order 2 dated November 17, 1977 ruled, upon petitioners' (in Sp. Proc. No.
303) "Motion for the Declaration of Heirs and Partition; and for Removal of the Administrator (Vicente
Aranas) and/or for his Permission to Resign, and appointment of His Successor" that the "perpetual
inalienability and administration of the portion of the estate of the late Rev. Fr. Teodoro Aranas,
administered by Vicente Aranas, is nun and void after twenty years from January 19, 1954 ... " and
declared in the same order the heirs of the late Fr. Teodoro Aranas. It also declared that "the removal
of Vicente Aranas will, therefore, not serve the ends of justice and for the best interest of all the heirs,
particularly with respect to the portion of the estate taken by the heirs of Aniceto Aranas, represented
by the petitioners herein and the rest of the heirs of Carmelo, represented by the intervenors, coheirs
of Administrator Vicente Aranas." 3
However, the abovesaid Order was subsequently set aside upon the "Urgent Motion for
Reconsideration and to Declare Testate and Intestate Heirs of the late Fr. Teodoro Aranas," filed
by the administrator Vicente Aranas on the allegation that said order was violative of due process
and without legal and factual basis because only the issue for the removal of the administrator
was heard and not the matter of the declaration of heirs. Thus, the lower court declared in its
Order, 4 dated July 16, 1980 that the Order dated November 17, 1977 is "set aside and in the interest
of justice, reopened in order that other heirs, successors-in-interest of Felino Aranas, 5 could likewise
assert their claims, as in the case of the heirs of Aniceto Aranas and Carmelo Aranas." 6
Their Motion for Reconsideration having been denied by the lower court in its order dated
September 23, 1980, petitioners now come before Us by certiorari raising the issue that the
lower court erred in setting aside its order dated November 17, 1977 and in not applying the
provisions on Usufruct of the New Civil Code with respect to the properties referred to as Group
"C" in the Last Will and Testament.
The court ruled in its questioned order that this particular group of properties (Group "C") is
subject to the following:
1. Remunerative legacy by way of usufruct of the net proceeds of 1/2 of the
estate after deducting expenses for administration in favor of Vicente Aranas,
during his lifetime and shall continue an administrator of the estate, and, who,
upon his death or refusal to continue such usufruct, may be succeeded by any of
the brothers of the administrator as selected by their father, Carmelo Aranas, if
still alive or one selected by his sons if, he, Carmelo, is dead; Pursuant to the
Will. (Article 562, 563, 564 and 603 of the New Civil Code).
2. Legacy in favor of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the Archbishop
diocese of Cagayan de Oro City Represented by the Reverend Archbishop
Patrick H. Cronin over one-half of the proceeds of the properties under Group
"C." (Article 603, New Civil Code) and to last for a period of Fifty years from the
effective date of the legacy, Article 605, New Civil Code). (Annex "L-14," p. 87,
Rollo)
Assailing the aforementioned ruling, petitioners rely heavily on the doctrine laid down in Art. 870
of the New Civil Code to wit:
Art. 870. The dispositions of the testator declaring all or part of the estate
inalienable for more than twenty years are void.
A cursory reading of the English translation of the Last Will and Testament shows that it was the
sincere intention and desire of the testator to reward his nephew Vicente Aranas for his faithful

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and unselfish services by allowing him to enjoy one-half of the fruits of the testator's third group
of properties until Vicente's death and/or refusal to act as administrator in which case, the
administration shall pass to anyone chosen by Carmelo Aranas among his sons and upon
Carmelo's death, his sons will have the power to select one among themselves. Vicente Aranas
therefore as a usufructuary has the right to enjoy the property of his uncle with all the benefits
which result from the normal enjoyment (or exploitation) of another's property, with the obligation
to return, at the designated time, either the same thing, or in special cases its equivalent. This
right of Vicente to enjoy the fruits of the properties is temporary and therefore not perpetual as
there is a limitation namely his death or his refusal. Likewise his designation as administrator of
these properties is limited by his refusal and/or death and therefore it does not run counter to Art.
870 of the Civil Code relied upon by the petitioners. Be it noted that Vicente Aranas is not
prohibited to dispose of the fruits and other benefits arising from the usufruct. Neither are the
naked owners (the other heirs) of the properties, the usufruct of which has been given to Vicente
Aranas prohibited from disposing of said naked ownership without prejudice of course to
Vicente's continuing usufruct. To void the designation of Vicente Aranas as usufructuary and/or
administrator is to defeat the desire and the dying wish of the testator to reward him for his
faithful and unselfish services rendered during the time when said testator was seriously ill or
bed-ridden. The proviso must be respected and be given effect until the death or until the refusal
to act as such of the instituted usufructuary/administrator, after which period, the property can be
properly disposed of, subject to the limitations provided in Art. 863 of the Civil Code concerning a
fideicommissary substitution, said Article says:
A fideicommissary substitution by virtue of which the fiduciary or first heir
instituted is entrusted with the obligation to preserve and to transmit to a second
heir the whole or part of the inheritance, shall be valid and shall take effect,
provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir
originally instituted, and provided further, that the fiduciary or first heir and the
second heir are living at the time of the death of the testator.
It is contended by petitioners that the ruling made by respondent court dated November 17, 1977
was already final and not subject to correction as what was set aside and to be reheard was only
regarding the determination of additional heirs. Such contention is not worthy of credence.
Respondents in their Memorandum allege and it is not disputed by petitioners that the order of
November 17, 1977 has not yet become final because it was received only on January 12, 1978
by the counsel for respondent Vicente Aranas and the Motion for Reconsideration and to declare
testamentary and intestate heirs dated January 17, 1978 was filed by the said respondent within
the reglementary period. Besides the validity or invalidity of the usufructuary dispositions would
affect the determination of heirs.
As to petitioners' allegation that the order of July 16, 1980 is without basis, the record shows that
during the hearing of the urgent motion for reconsideration and to declare testamentary and
intestate heirs, it was proven conclusively by the said respondent Vicente B. Aranas that he was
instituted as a remunerative legatee per mandate of the Last Will and Testament by way of
usufructuary. Likewise the right of the Roman Catholic Church as the other usufructuary legatee
for the duration of the statutory lifetime of a corporation, that is, 50 years from the date of the
effectivity of said legacy, was also established. 7
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby dismissed.
SO ORDERED.
Fernando, Gutierrez, Jr., Padilla, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.

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G.R. No. 1439

March 19, 1904

ANTONIO CASTAEDA, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
JOSE E. ALEMANY, defendant-appellant.
Ledesma, Sumulong and Quintos for appellant.
The court erred in holding that all legal formalities had been complied with in the execution of the
will of Doa Juana Moreno, as the proof shows that the said will was not written in the presence
of under the express direction of the testratrix as required by section 618 of the Code of Civil
Procedure.
Antonio V. Herrero for appellee.
The grounds upon which a will may be disallowed are limited to those mentioned in section 634
of the Code of Civil Procedure.
WILLARD, J.:
(1) The evidence in this case shows to our satisfaction that the will of Doa Juana Moreno was
duly signed by herself in the presence of three witnesses, who signed it as witnesses in the
presence of the testratrix and of each other. It was therefore executed in conformity with law.
There is nothing in the language of section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure which supports
the claim of the appellants that the will must be written by the testator himself or by someone
else in his presence and under his express direction. That section requires (1) that the will be in
writing and (2) either that the testator sign it himself or, if he does sign it, that it be signed by
some one in his presence and by his express direction. Who does the mechanical work of writing
the will is a matter of indifference. The fact, therefore, that in this case the will was typewritten in
the office of the lawyer for the testratrix is of no consequence. The English text of section 618 is
very plain. The mistakes in translation found in the first Spanish edition of the code have been
corrected in the second.
(2) To establish conclusively as against everyone, and once for all, the facts that a will was
executed with the formalities required by law and that the testator was in a condition to make a
will, is the only purpose of the proceedings under the new code for the probate of a will. (Sec.
625.) The judgment in such proceedings determines and can determine nothing more. In them
the court has no power to pass upon the validity of any provisions made in the will. It can not
decide, for example, that a certain legacy is void and another one valid. It could not in this case
make any decision upon the question whether the testratrix had the power to appoint by will a
guardian for the property of her children by her first husband, or whether the person so
appointed was or was not a suitable person to discharge such trust.
All such questions must be decided in some other proceeding. The grounds on which a will may
be disallowed are stated the section 634. Unless one of those grounds appears the will must be
allowed. They all have to do with the personal condition of the testator at the time of its execution
and the formalities connected therewith. It follows that neither this court nor the court below has
any jurisdiction in his proceedings to pass upon the questions raised by the appellants by the
assignment of error relating to the appointment of a guardian for the children of the deceased.

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It is claimed by the appellants that there was no testimony in the court below to show that the will
executed by the deceased was the same will presented to the court and concerning which this
hearing was had. It is true that the evidence does not show that the document in court was
presented to the witnesses and identified by them, as should have been done. But we think that
we are justified in saying that it was assumed by all the parties during the trial in the court below
that the will about which the witnesses were testifying was the document then in court. No
suggestion of any kind was then made by the counsel for the appellants that it was not the same
instrument. In the last question put to the witness Gonzales the phrase "this will" is used by the
counsel for the appellants. In their argument in that court, found on page 15 of the record, they
treat the testimony of the witnesses as referring to the will probate they were then opposing.
The judgment of the court below is affirmed, eliminating therefrom, however, the clause "el cual
debera ejecutarse fiel y exactamente en todas sus partes." The costs of this instance will be
charged against the appellants.
Arellano, C. J., Torres, Cooper, Mapa, McDonough and Johnson, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-6801

March 14, 1912

JULIANA BAGTAS, plaintiffs-appellee,


vs.
ISIDRO PAGUIO, ET AL., defendants-appellants.
Salas and Kalaw for appellants.
Jose Santiago for appellee.
TRENT, J.:
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of the Province of Bataan,
admitting to probate a document which was offered as the last will and testament of Pioquinto
Paguio y Pizarro. The will purports to have been executed in the pueblo of Pilar, Province of
Bataan, on the 19th day of April, 1908. The testator died on the 28th of September, 1909, a year
and five months following the date of the execution of the will. The will was propounded by the
executrix, Juliana Bagtas, widow of the decedent, and the opponents are a son and several
grandchildren by a former marriage, the latter being the children of a deceased daughter.
The basis of the opposition to the probation of the will is that the same was not executed
according to the formalities and requirements of the law touching wills, and further that the
testator was not in the full of enjoyment and use of his mental faculties and was without the
mental capacity necessary to execute a valid will.
The record shows that the testator, Pioquinto Paguio, for some fourteen of fifteen years prior to
the time of his death suffered from a paralysis of the left side of his body; that a few years prior to
his death his hearing became impaired and that he lost the power of speech. Owing to the

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paralysis of certain muscles his head fell to one side, and saliva ran from his mouth. He retained
the use of his right hand, however, and was able to write fairly well. Through the medium of signs
he was able to indicate his wishes to his wife and to other members of his family.
At the time of the execution of the will there were present the four testamentary witnesses,
Agustin Paguio, Anacleto Paguio, and Pedro Paguio, and attorney, Seor Marco, and one
Florentino Ramos. Anacleto Paguio and the attorney have since died, and consequently their
testimony was not available upon the trial of the case in the lower court. The other three
testamentary witnesses and the witness Florentino Ramos testified as to the manner in which
the will was executed. According to the uncontroverted testimony of these witnesses the will was
executed in the following manner:
Pioquinto Paguio, the testator, wrote out on pieces of paper notes and items relating to the
disposition of his property, and these notes were in turn delivered to Seor Marco, who
transcribed them and put them in form. The witnesses testify that the pieces of paper upon which
the notes were written are delivered to attorney by the testator; that the attorney read them to the
testator asking if they were his testamentary dispositions; that the testator assented each time
with an affirmative movement of his head; that after the will as a whole had been thus written by
the attorney, it was read in a loud voice in the presence of the testator and the witnesses; that
Seor Marco gave the document to the testator; that the latter, after looking over it, signed it in
the presence of the four subscribing witnesses; and that they in turn signed it in the presence of
the testator and each other.
These are the facts of record with reference to the execution of the will and we are in perfect
accord with the judgment of the lower court that the formalities of the Code of Civil Procedure
have been fully complied with.
This brings us now to a consideration of appellants' second assignment of error, viz, the
testator's alleged mental incapacity at the time of the execution of the will. Upon this point
considerable evidence was adduced at the trial. One of the attesting witnesses testified that at
the time of the execution of the will the testator was in his right mind, and that although he was
seriously ill, he indicated by movements of his head what his wishes were. Another of the
attesting witnesses stated that he was not able to say whether decedent had the full use of his
mental faculties or not, because he had been ill for some years, and that he (the witnesses) was
not a physician. The other subscribing witness, Pedro Paguio, testified in the lower court as a
witness for the opponents. He was unable to state whether or not the will was the wish of the
testator. The only reasons he gave for his statement were the infirmity and advanced age of the
testator and the fact that he was unable to speak. The witness stated that the testator signed the
will, and he verified his own signature as a subscribing witness.
Florentino Ramos, although not an attesting witness, stated that he was present when the will
was executed and his testimony was cumulative in corroboration of the manner in which the will
was executed and as to the fact that the testator signed the will. This witness also stated that he
had frequently transacted matters of business for the decedent and had written letters and made
inventories of his property at his request, and that immediately before and after the execution of
the will he had performed offices of his character. He stated that the decedent was able to
communicate his thoughts by writing. The testimony of this witness clearly indicates the
presence of mental capacity on the part of the testator. Among other witnesses for the opponents
were two physician, Doctor Basa and Doctor Viado. Doctor Basa testified that he had attended
the testator some four or five years prior to his death and that the latter had suffered from a
cerebral congestion from which the paralysis resulted. The following question was propounded to
Doctor Basa:

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Q.
Referring to mental condition in which you found him the last time you attended
him, do you think he was in his right mind?
A.
I can not say exactly whether he was in his right mind, but I noted some mental
disorder, because when I spoke to him he did not answer me.
Doctor Basa testified at more length, but the substance of his testimony is that the testator had
suffered a paralysis and that he had noticed some mental disorder. He does not say that the
testator was not in his right mind at the time of the execution of the will, nor does he give it at his
opinion that he was without the necessary mental capacity to make a valid will. He did not state
in what way this mental disorder had manifested itself other than that he had noticed that the
testator did not reply to him on one occasion when he visited him.
Doctor Viado, the other physician, have never seen the testator, but his answer was in reply to a
hypothetical question as to what be the mental condition of a person who was 79 years old and
who had suffered from a malady such as the testator was supposed to have had according to the
testimony of Doctor Basa, whose testimony Doctor Viado had heard. He replied and discussed
at some length the symptoms and consequences of the decease from which the testator had
suffered; he read in support of his statements from a work by a German Physician, Dr. Herman
Eichost. In answer, however, to a direct question, he stated that he would be unable to certify to
the mental condition of a person who was suffering from such a disease.
We do not think that the testimony of these two physicians in any way strengthens the contention
of the appellants. Their testimony only confirms the fact that the testator had been for a number
of years prior to his death afflicted with paralysis, in consequence of which his physician and
mental strength was greatly impaired. Neither of them attempted to state what was the mental
condition of the testator at the time he executed the will in question. There can be no doubt that
the testator's infirmities were of a very serious character, and it is quite evident that his mind was
not as active as it had been in the earlier years of his life. However, we can not include from this
that he wanting in the necessary mental capacity to dispose of his property by will.
The courts have been called upon frequently to nullify wills executed under such circumstances,
but the weight of the authority is in support if the principle that it is only when those seeking to
overthrow the will have clearly established the charge of mental incapacity that the courts will
intervene to set aside a testamentary document of this character. In the case of Bugnao vs.
Ubag (14 Phil. Rep., 163), the question of testamentary capacity was discussed by this court.
The numerous citations there given from the decisions of the United States courts are especially
applicable to the case at bar and have our approval. In this jurisdiction the presumption of law is
in favor of the mental capacity of the testator and the burden is upon the contestants of the will to
prove the lack of testamentary capacity. (In the matter of the will of Cabigting, 14 Phil. Rep., 463;
in the matter of the will of Butalid, 10 Phil. Rep., 27; Hernaez vs. Hernaez, 1 Phil. Rep., 689.)
The rule of law relating to the presumption of mental soundness is well established, and the
testator in the case at bar never having been adjudged insane by a court of competent
jurisdiction, this presumption continues, and it is therefore incumbent upon the opponents to
overcome this legal presumption by proper evidence. This we think they have failed to do. There
are many cases and authorities which we might cite to show that the courts have repeatedly held
that mere weakness of mind and body, induced by age and disease do not render a person
incapable of making a will. The law does not require that a person shall continue in the full
enjoyment and use of his pristine physical and mental powers in order to execute a valid will. If
such were the legal standard, few indeed would be the number of wills that could meet such
exacting requirements. The authorities, both medical and legal, are universal in statement that

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the question of mental capacity is one of degree, and that there are many gradations from the
highest degree of mental soundness to the lowest conditions of diseased mentality which are
denominated as insanity and idiocy.
The right to dispose of property by testamentary disposition is as sacred as any other right which
a person may exercise and this right should not be nullified unless mental incapacity is
established in a positive and conclusive manner. In discussing the question of testamentary
capacity, it is stated in volume 28, 70, of the American and English Encyclopedia of Law, that
Contrary to the very prevalent lay impression, perfect soundness of mind is not essential
to testamentary capacity. A testator may be afflicted with a variety of mental weaknesses,
disorders, or peculiarities and still be capable in law of executing a valid will. (See the
numerous cases there cited in support of this statement.)
The rule relating to testamentary capacity is stated in Buswell on Insanity, section 365, and
quoted with approval in Campbell vs. Campbell (130 Ill., 466), as follows:
To constitute a sound and disposing mind, it is not necessary that the mind shall be
wholly unbroken, unimpaired, or unshattered by disease or otherwise, or that the testator
should be in the full possession of his reasoning faculties.
In note, 1 Jarman on Wills, 38, the rule is thus stated:
The question is not so much, that was the degree of memory possessed by the testator,
as, had he a disposing memory? Was he able to remember the property he was about to
bequeath, the manner of disturbing it, and the objects of his bounty? In a word, were his
mind and memory sufficiently sound to enable him to know and understand the business
in which he was engaged at the time when he executed his will. (See authorities there
cited.)
In Wilson vs. Mitchell (101 Penn., 495), the following facts appeared upon the trial of the case:
The testator died at the age of nearly 102 years. In his early years he was an intelligent and well
informed man. About seven years prior to his death he suffered a paralytic stroke and from that
time his mind and memory were mush enfeebled. He became very dull of hearing and in
consequence of the shrinking of his brain he was affected with senile cataract causing total
blindness. He became filthy and obscene in his habits, although formerly he was observant of
the properties of life. The court, in commenting upon the case, said:
Neither age, nor sickness, nor extreme distress, nor debility of body will affect the
capacity to make a will, if sufficient intelligence remains. The failure of memory is not
sufficient to create the incapacity, unless it be total, or extend to his immediate family or
property. . . .
xxx

xxx

xxx

Dougal (the testator) had lived over one hundred years before he made the will, and his
physical and mental weakness and defective memory were in striking contrast with their
strength in the meridian of his life. He was blind; not deaf, but hearing impaired; his mind
acted slowly, he was forgetful or recent events, especially of names, and repeated
questions in conversation; and sometimes, when aroused for sleep or slumber, would
seem bewildered. It is not singular that some of those who had known him when he was

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remarkable for vigor and intelligence, are of the opinion that his reason was so far gone
that he was incapable of making a will, although they never heard him utter an irrational
expression.
In the above case the will was sustained. In the case at bar we might draw the same contrast as
was pictured by the court in the case just quoted. The striking change in the physical and mental
vigor of the testator during the last years of his life may have led some of those who knew him in
his earlier days to entertain doubts as to his mental capacity to make a will, yet we think that the
statements of the witnesses to the execution of the will and statements of the conduct of the
testator at that time all indicate that he unquestionably had mental capacity and that he
exercised it on this occasion. At the time of the execution of the will it does not appear that his
conduct was irrational in any particular. He seems to have comprehended clearly what the
nature of the business was in which he was engaged. The evidence show that the writing and
execution of the will occupied a period several hours and that the testator was present during all
this time, taking an active part in all the proceedings. Again, the will in the case at bar is perfectly
reasonable and its dispositions are those of a rational person.
For the reasons above stated, the order probating the will should be and the same is hereby
affirmed, with costs of this instance against the appellants.
Arellano, C.J., Torres, Mapa, Johnson, Carson and Moreland, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-10806

July 6, 1918

MONICA BONA, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
HOSPICIO BRIONES, ET AL., objectors-appellees.
Ramon Pimentel for appellant.
Ocampo and De la Rosa for appellees.
TORRES, J.:
Counsel for Monica Bona, the widow by the second marriage of the deceased Francisco Briones
who died on August 14, 1913, applied for the probate of the will which the said deceased
husband on September 16, 1911, executed during his lifetime; for the fixing of a day for the
hearing and presentation of evidence after all the interested parties had been cited; and then for
the approval of the partition had been cited; and then for the approval of the partition property
made by the testator in the said will. By an order dated January 20, 1915, Monica Bona's petition
was granted and a date set for the trial and other necessary proceedings for the probate of said
will.
Counsel for Hospicio, Gregoria, and Carmen, all surnamed Briones, the legitimate children by
the first marriage of the testator, by a pleading dated March 5, 1915, opposed the probate of the
will presented by the widow of the deceased Briones, alleging that the said will was executed

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before two witnesses only and under unlawful and undue pressure or influence exercised upon
the person of the testator who thus signed through fraud and deceit; and he prayed that for that
reason the said will be declared null and of no value, with costs against the petitioners.
The trial of the case opened and in the presence of counsel for both parties, Gregorio Bustilla,
one of the witnesses of the said will, was examined and he stated under oath: That he as well as
Sixto Barrameda and Domingo de la Fuente, was actually present as attesting witness when
Francisco Briones executed his will in the month of September in his (Bustilla's) house situated
in the municipality of Bao, Ambos Camarines; that Francisco Briones knowing of the presence of
notary Domingo de la Fuente in the house, he went upstairs and announced himself; that on
being asked what he wanted, Briones stated that he wanted to execute his will; that after Briones
and the notary had talked with each other, the former left and after a while returned bringing with
him some paper; that then Domingo de la Fuente, under the direction of Francisco Briones,
began to draft the will, which when finished was signed by the latter in the presence of the
notary, of the declarant, and of another witness, Sixto Barrameda; that then the three witnesses
the declarant, de la Fuente, and Barrameda signed in the presence of each other. The
declarant identified the signature placed on the will by the testator Briones and those of the other
witnesses Sixto Barrameda and Domingo dela Fuente, who all signed in the presence of the
testator himself. He stated further that the testator at that moment was in his sound judgment
and not forced to execute the will. He identified the document Exhibit A as the will executed by
Francisco Briones and the signature of the latter as the one placed by the testator. By agreement
of both parties it was made to appear in the record that, if the witnesses Sixto Barrameda and
Domingo de la Fuente were called, they would have testified in the same terms as witness
Gregorio Bustilla.
In view of the above, the judge rendered judgment, dated March 27, 1915, denying probate to
the will Exhibit A as executed by Francisco Briones. From the judgment, counsel for Monica
Bona appealed and prayed to be allowed to sue further as a pauper; whereupon, by order of
March 31, 1915, the judge admitted the appeal, ordered the original records to be brought up,
and reiterated his order of December 28, 1913, declaring Bona as a pauper, for the purposes of
the appeal interposed.
The whole issue discussed by the parties and submitted for the decision of this court resolves
itself as to whether or not in the execution of the will in question the solemnities prescribed by
section 618 of Act No. 190 have been observed.
But before proceeding further it is indispensable to note that the will in question was executed by
Francisco Briones on September 16, 1911, as already stated and the order denying probate was
rendered on March 27, 1915, both dated being prior to that of Act No. 2645 amending said
section 618 and promulgated on February 24, 1916, which took effect only from July first of the
last named year: so that, in order to explain whether or not the above-mentioned will was
executed in accordance with the law then in force, the last named law cannot be applied and the
will in question should be examined in accordance with, and under the rules of, the law in force
at the time of its execution.
The oft-repeated section 618 of Act No. 190 says:
No will, except as provided in the preceding section, shall be valid to pass any estate,
real or personal, nor charge or affect the same, unless it be in writing and signed by the
testator, or by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and
attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the
testator and of each other. But the absence of such form of attestation shall not render

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the will invalid if it is proven that the will was in fact signed and attested as in this section
provided.
A mere reading of the last four paragraphs or parts of the will Exhibit A shows in a clear manner
that the said will in its form and contents expresses without shadow of doubt the will of the
testator; and that in its execution the solemnities prescribed by the above-mentioned section 618
of Act No. 190 have been observed.
Even though Domingo de la Fuente drafted the will and intervened in its preparation as a notary,
by the order and under the express direction of the testator, it is nevertheless true that he did it
as a witness to the execution of the said will with positive and concrete acts, while the two other
witnesses Gregorio Bustilla and Sixto Barrameda merely attested all that appeared in the second
of the four paragraphs mentioned; for in its they certify that the foregoing testament contains the
last will of the testator Francisco Briones; that the latter told them that before and at the time that
he dictated his will, there was no inducement nor threat by anybody; and that as he did not know
how to write the Spanish language, said testator requested Domingo de la Fuente to write the
will, and he did it as it is now drafted, certifying also, that the testator Briones signed his will
voluntarily with his own hand, in the presence of the declarants who, as witnesses, signed the
instrument on the date expressed. Domingo de la Fuente on his part declared that the two said
witnesses formally swore before him on the certification which precedes the said will and,
according to this testimony as shown in the records and the testimony of the above-mentioned
witnesses, the said Domingo de la Fuente wrote and drafted the said will Exhibit A by the order
and under the direction of the testator Francisco Briones, who signed in the presence of the
witnesses, Bustilla and Barrameda and of Notary Domingo de la Fuente, all of whom
immediately signed also in the presence of the testator, each doing it in the presence of each
other. So that, although it is not shown expressly that Domingo de la Fuente was an attesting
witness to the will, yet it cannot be denied that it was he who wrote it by the order and under the
direction of the testator; that he was a witness to its execution from the first to its last line; and
that he was perfectly aware of the fact that all that he had written in the document Exhibit A
expresses the genuine and true will of the testator. He saw and was present when the latter
signed his will, as also when the two witnesses Bustilla and Barrameda affixed their signatures;
said witnesses also saw and were present when Domingo de la Fuente signed at the end of the
said document.
The name of Domingo de la Fuente appears as that of a notary who certifies as to the certainty
of the will made by Francisco Briones and of the signatures of the testator as well as of the
witnesses at its end; and as the law does not require that one of the witnesses must necessarily
be a notary, and it cannot be denied that Domingo de la Fuente attested the execution and the
signing of the will not only by the testator but also by the attesting witnesses, it cannot but be
admitted that Domingo de la Fuente intervened, attested, and signed the testament as a witness.
This is a case in which the judicial criterion should be inspired in the sense that it is not defeated,
and if the wish of the testator is so manifest and express as in the instant case, it is not proper
nor just to invalidate the will of Francisco Briones merely because of some small defect in form
which is not essential nor of great importance, such as the failure to state therein that Domingo
de la Fuente was also a witness to the said will when he signed it twice. As a matter of act, he
understood the contents of the will better than the two other attesting witnesses, for he really
was a witness and he attested the execution of the will during its making until it was terminated
and signed by the testator, by the witnesses, and by himself, even though he did it in the
capacity of a notary.

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The last paragraph of section 618 of Act No. 190 supplies a legal basis to support the validity of
the will in question with the conditions for its probate because, notwithstanding the existence of
such defect merely in the form and not in the substance, the certification of authenticity and the
very text of the will show in a clear and indubitable manner that the will Exhibit A contains the last
will of the testator, and that it was signed by the latter and attested as being true and legitimate
not only the two witnesses Bustilla and Barrameda but also by the one who wrote it, Domingo de
la Fuente, who was also a truthful and reliable witness, even though he be called a notary public.
The requisites established by Act No. 2645, which amended the oft-repeated section 618 cannot
be required in the probate of the will here, inasmuch as this document was executed in
September, 1911, five years before said amendatory law began to take effect (July 1, 1916),
while the testator died on August 14, 1913, two years and some months before the enforcement
of the said law; and so, the only law applicable to the present case is the provision contained in
section 618 of Act No. 190, and in accordance with the provisions of this section, the said will
should be probated; for it has been presented to the court many months before the amendatory
act went into effect.
It is well-known that the principle that a new law shall not have retroactive effect only governs the
rights arising from acts done under the rule of the former law; but if the right be declared for the
first time by a subsequent law it shall take effect from that time even though it has arisen from
acts subject to the former laws, provided that it does not prejudice another acquired right of the
same origin.
It is well-known that hereditary rights are not born nor does the will produce any effect until the
moment of the death of the person whose inheritance is concerned. (Decision rendered in
cassation by the supreme court of Spain on June 24, 1897.)
In view of these facts, it follows that the judgment appealed from should be reversed and it
should be declared as we hereby declare that the will Exhibit A has been executed in due form
by Francisco Briones on September 16, 1911, and that the said will contains and expresses the
last will and testamentary wishes of the deceased testator. Consequently, let the records be
returned to the court wherefrom they came with a certified copy of this resolution in order that the
judge, upon petition by the proper party, may provide for the necessary proceedings with respect
to the inheritance, and the clerk of the court may issue certified copies of the said testament;
without any special ruling as to costs. so ordered.
Johnson, Carson, Street, Malcolm, Avancea and Fisher, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-24561 June 30, 1970


MARINA DIZON-RIVERA, executrix-appellee,
vs.
ESTELA DIZON, TOMAS V. DIZON, BERNARDITA DIZON, JOSEFINA DIZON, ANGELINA
DIZON and LILIA DIZON, oppositors-appellants.
Punzalan, Yabut & Eusebio for executrix-appellee.
Leonardo Abola for oppositors-appellants.

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TEEHANKEE, J.:
Appeal from orders of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga approving the Executrixappellee's project of partition instead of Oppositors-Appellants' proposed counter-project of
partition. 1
On January 28, 1961, the testatrix, Agripina J. Valdez, a widow, died in Angeles, Pampanga, and
was survived by seven compulsory heirs, to wit, six legitimate children named Estela Dizon,
Tomas V. Dizon, Bernardita Dizon, Marina Dizon (herein executrix-appellee), Angelina Dizon and
Josefina Dizon, and a legitimate granddaughter named Lilia Dizon, who is the only legitimate
child and heir of Ramon Dizon, a pre-deceased legitimate son of the said decedent. Six of these
seven compulsory heirs (except Marina Dizon, the executrix-appellee) are the oppositorsappellants.
The deceased testatrix left a last will executed on February 2, 1960 and written in the Pampango
dialect. Named beneficiaries in her will were the above-named compulsory heirs, together with
seven other legitimate grandchildren, namely Pablo Rivera, Jr., Gilbert D. Garcia, Cayetano
Dizon, Francisco Rivera, Agripina Ayson, Jolly Jimenez and Laureano Tiambon.
In her will, the testatrix divided, distributed and disposed of all her properties appraised at
P1,801,960.00 (except two small parcels of land appraised at P5,849.60, household furniture
valued at P2,500.00, a bank deposit in the sum of P409.95 and ten shares of Pampanga Sugar
Development Company valued at P350.00) among her above-named heirs.
Testate proceedings were in due course commenced 2 and by order dated March 13, 1961, the last
will and testament of the decedent was duly allowed and admitted to probate, and the appellee
Marina Dizon-Rivera was appointed executrix of the testatrix' estate, and upon her filing her bond and
oath of office, letters testamentary were duly issued to her.
After the executrix filed her inventory of the estate, Dr. Adelaido Bernardo of Angeles, Pampanga
was appointed commissioner to appraise the properties of the estate. He filed in due course his
report of appraisal and the same was approved in toto by the lower court on December 12, 1963
upon joint petition of the parties.
The real and personal properties of the testatrix at the time of her death thus had a total
appraised value of P1,811,695.60, and the legitime of each of the seven compulsory heirs
amounted to P129,362.11. 3 (/7 of the half of the estate reserved for the legitime of legitimate children and
descendants). 4 In her will, the testatrix "commanded that her property be divided" in accordance with her
testamentary disposition, whereby she devised and bequeathed specific real properties comprising
practically the entire bulk of her estate among her six children and eight grandchildren. The appraised
values of the real properties thus respectively devised by the testatrix to the beneficiaries named in
her will, are as follows:
1. Estela Dizon ....................................... P 98,474.80
2. Angelina Dizon .................................. 106,307.06
3. Bernardita Dizon .................................. 51,968.17
4. Josefina Dizon ...................................... 52,056.39
5. Tomas Dizon ....................................... 131,987.41
6. Lilia Dizon .............................................. 72,182.47
7. Marina Dizon ..................................... 1,148,063.71

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8. Pablo Rivera, Jr. ...................................... 69,280.00
9. Lilia Dizon, Gilbert Garcia,
Cayetano Dizon, Francisco Rivera,
Agripina Ayson, Dioli or Jolly
Jimenez, Laureano Tiamzon ................. 72,540.00
Total Value ...................... P1,801,960.01
The executrix filed her project of partition dated February 5, 1964, in substance adjudicating the
estate as follows:
(1) with the figure of P129,254.96 as legitime for a basis Marina (exacultrixappellee) and Tomas (appellant) are admittedly considered to have received in
the will more than their respective legitime, while the rest of the appellants,
namely, Estela, Bernardita, Angelina, Josefina and Lilia received less than their
respective legitime;
(2) thus, to each of the latter are adjudicated the properties respectively given
them in the will, plus cash and/or properties, to complete their respective
legitimes to P129,254.96; (3) on the other hand, Marina and Tomas are
adjudicated the properties that they received in the will less the cash and/or
properties necessary to complete the prejudiced legitime mentioned in number 2
above;
(4) the adjudications made in the will in favor of the grandchildren remain
untouched.
<re||an1w>

On the other hand oppositors submitted their own counter-project of partition


dated February 14, 1964, wherein they proposed the distribution of the estate on
the following basis:
(a) all the testamentary dispositions were proportionally reduced to the value of
one-half () of the entire estate, the value of the said one-half () amounting to
P905,534.78; (b) the shares of the Oppositors-Appellants should consist of their
legitime, plus the devises in their favor proportionally reduced; (c) in payment of
the total shares of the appellants in the entire estate, the properties devised to
them plus other properties left by the Testatrix and/or cash are adjudicated to
them; and (d) to the grandchildren who are not compulsory heirs are adjudicated
the properties respectively devised to them subject to reimbursement by Gilbert
D. Garcia, et al., of the sums by which the devise in their favor should be
proportionally reduced.
Under the oppositors' counter-project of partition, the testamentary disposition made by the
testatrix of practically her whole estate of P1,801,960.01, as above stated, were proposed to be
reduced to the amounts set forth after the names of the respective heirs and devisees totalling
one-half thereof as follows:
1. Estela Dizon ........................................... P 49,485.56
2. Angelina Dizon ......................................... 53,421.42
3. Bernardita Dizon ....................................... 26,115.04
4. Josefina Dizon .......................................... 26,159.38
5. Tomas V. Dizon ......................................... 65,874.04
6. Lilia Dizon .................................................. 36,273.13

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7. Marina Dizon ........................................... 576,938.82
8. Pablo Rivera, Jr. ......................................... 34,814.50
9. Grandchildren Gilbert Garcia et al .......... 36,452.80
T o t a l ................................................... P905,534.78
while the other half of the estate (P905,534.78) would be deemed as constituting the legitime of
the executrix-appellee and oppositors-appellants, to be divided among them in seven equal parts
of P129,362.11 as their respective legitimes.
The lower court, after hearing, sustained and approved the executrix' project of partition, ruling
that "(A)rticles 906 and 907 of the New Civil Code specifically provide that when the legitime is
impaired or prejudiced, the same shall be completed and satisfied. While it is true that this
process has been followed and adhered to in the two projects of partition, it is observed that the
executrix and the oppositors differ in respect to the source from which the portion or portions
shall be taken in order to fully restore the impaired legitime. The proposition of the oppositors, if
upheld, will substantially result in a distribution of intestacy, which is in controversion of Article
791 of the New Civil Code" adding that "the testatrix has chosen to favor certain heirs in her will
for reasons of her own, cannot be doubted. This is legally permissible within the limitation of the
law, as aforecited." With reference to the payment in cash of some P230,552.38, principally by
the executrix as the largest beneficiary of the will to be paid to her five co-heirs, the oppositors
(excluding Tomas Dizon), to complete their impaired legitimes, the lower court ruled that "(T)he
payment in cash so as to make the proper adjustment to meet with the requirements of the law
in respect to legitimes which have been impaired is, in our opinion, a practical and valid solution
in order to give effect to the last wishes of the testatrix."
From the lower court's orders of approval, oppositors-appellants have filed this appeal, and raise
anew the following issues: .
1. Whether or not the testamentary dispositions made in the testatrix' will are in the nature of
devises imputable to the free portion of her estate, and therefore subject to reduction;
2. Whether the appellants are entitled to the devise plus their legitime under Article 1063, or
merely to demand completion of their legitime under Article 906 of the Civil Code; and
3. Whether the appellants may be compelled to accept payment in cash on account of their
legitime, instead of some of the real properties left by the Testatrix;
which were adversely decided against them in the proceedings below.
The issues raised present a matter of determining the avowed intention of the testatrix which is
"the life and soul of a will." 5 In consonance therewith, our Civil Code included the new provisions
found in Articles 788 and 791 thereof that "(I)f a testamentary disposition admits of different
interpretations, in case of doubt, that interpretation by which the disposition is to be operative shall be
preferred" and "(T)he words of a will are to receive an interpretation which will give to every
expression some effect, rather than one which will render any of the expressions inoperative; and of
two modes of interpreting a will, that is to be preferred which will prevent intestacy." In Villanueva vs.
Juico 6 for violation of these rules of interpretation as well as of Rule 123, section 59 of the old Rules
of Court, 7 the Court, speaking through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, overturned the lower court's decision and stressed that "the
intention and wishes of the testator, when clearly expressed in his will, constitute the fixed law of interpretation, and all questions raised
at the trial, relative to its execution and fulfillment, must be settled in accordance therewith, following the plain and literal meaning of the
testator's words, unless it clearly appears that his intention was otherwise." 8

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The testator's wishes and intention constitute the first and principal law in the matter of
testaments, and to paraphrase an early decision of the Supreme Court of Spain, 9 when expressed
clearly and precisely in his last will amount to the only law whose mandate must imperatively be faithfully obeyed and complied with by
his executors, heirs and devisees and legatees, and neither these interested parties nor the courts may substitute their own criterion for
the testator's will. Guided and restricted by these fundamental premises, the Court finds for the appellee.

1. Decisive of the issues at bar is the fact that the testatrix' testamentary disposition was in the
nature of a partition of her estate by will. Thus, in the third paragraph of her will, after
commanding that upon her death all her obligations as well as the expenses of her last illness
and funeral and the expenses for probate of her last will and for the administration of her
property in accordance with law, be paid, she expressly provided that "it is my wish and I
command that my property be divided" in accordance with the dispositions immediately
thereafter following, whereby she specified each real property in her estate and designated the
particular heir among her seven compulsory heirs and seven other grandchildren to whom she
bequeathed the same. This was a valid partition 10 of her estate, as contemplated and authorized in
the first paragraph of Article 1080 of the Civil Code, providing that "(S)hould a person make a partition
of his estate by an act inter vivos or by will, such partition shall be respected, insofar as it does not
prejudice the legitime of the compulsory heirs." This right of a testator to partition his estate is subject
only to the right of compulsory heirs to their legitime. The Civil Code thus provides the safeguard for
the right of such compulsory heirs:
ART. 906. Any compulsory heir to whom the testator has left by any title less than
the legitime belonging to him may demand that the same be fully satisfied.
ART. 907. Testamentary dispositions that impair or diminish the legitime of the
compulsory heirs shall be reduced on petition of the same, insofar as they may
be inofficious or excessive.
This was properly complied with in the executrix-appellee's project of partition,
wherein the five oppositors-appellants namely Estela, Bernardita, Angelina,
Josefina and Lilia, were adjudicated the properties respectively distributed and
assigned to them by the testatrix in her will, and the differential to complete their
respective legitimes of P129,362.11 each were taken from the cash and/or
properties of the executrix-appellee, Marina, and their co-oppositor-appellant,
Tomas, who admittedly were favored by the testatrix and received in the partition
by will more than their respective legitimes.
2. This right of a testator to partition his estate by will was recognized even in Article 1056 of the
old Civil Code which has been reproduced now as Article 1080 of the present Civil Code. The
only amendment in the provision was that Article 1080 "now permits any person (not a testator,
as under the old law) to partition his estate by actinter vivos." 11 This was intended to repeal the
then prevailing doctrine 12 that for a testator to partition his estate by an actinter vivos, he must first
make a will with all the formalities provided by law. Authoritative commentators doubt the efficacy of
the amendment 13 but the question does not here concern us, for this is a clear case of partition by
will, duly admitted to probate, which perforce must be given full validity and effect. Aside from the
provisions of Articles 906 and 907 above quoted, other codal provisions support the executrixappellee's project of partition as approved by the lower court rather than the counter-project of
partition proposed by oppositors-appellants whereby they would reduce the testamentary disposition
or partition made by the testatrix to one-half and limit the same, which they would consider as mere
devises or legacies, to one-half of the estate as the disposable free portion, and apply the other half
of the estate to payment of the legitimes of the seven compulsory heirs. Oppositors' proposal would
amount substantially to a distribution by intestacy and pro tanto nullify the testatrix' will, contrary to
Article 791 of the Civil Code. It would further run counter to the provisions of Article 1091 of the Civil

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Code that "(A) partition legally made confers upon each heir the exclusive ownership of the property
adjudicated to him."

3. In Habana vs. Imbo, 14 the Court upheld the distribution made in the will of the deceased testator
Pedro Teves of two large coconut plantations in favor of his daughter, Concepcion, as against
adverse claims of other compulsory heirs, as being a partition by will, which should be respected
insofar as it does not prejudice the legitime of the compulsory heirs, in accordance with Article 1080
of the Civil Code. In upholding the sale made by Concepcion to a stranger of the plantations thus
partitioned in her favor in the deceased's will which was being questioned by the other compulsory
heirs, the Court ruled that "Concepcion Teves by operation of law, became the absolute owner of said
lots because 'A partition legally made confers upon each heir the exclusive ownership of the property
adjudicated to him' (Article 1091, New Civil Code), from the death of her ancestors, subject to rights
and obligations of the latter, and, she can not be deprived of her rights thereto except by the methods
provided for by law (Arts. 657, 659, and 661, Civil Code). 15 Concepcion Teves could, as she did, sell
the lots in question as part of her share of the proposed partition of the properties, especially when,
as in the present case, the sale has been expressly recognized by herself and her co-heirs ..."
4. The burden of oppositors' contention is that the testamentary dispositions in their favor are in
the nature of devises of real property, citing the testatrix' repeated use of the words "I bequeath"
in her assignment or distribution of her real properties to the respective heirs. From this
erroneous premise, they proceed to the equally erroneous conclusion that "the legitime of the
compulsory heirs passes to them by operation of law and that the testator can only dispose of
the free portion, that is, the remainder of the estate after deducting the legitime of the
compulsory heirs ... and all testamentary dispositions, either in the nature of institution of heirs or
of devises or legacies, have to be taken from the remainder of the testator's estate constituting
the free portion." 16
Oppositors err in their premises, for the adjudications and assignments in the testatrix' will of
specific properties to specific heirs cannot be considered all devises, for it clearly appear from
the whole context of the will and the disposition by the testatrix of her whole estate (save for
some small properties of little value already noted at the beginning of this opinion) that her clear
intention was to partition her whole estate through her will. The repeated use of the words "I
bequeath" in her testamentary dispositions acquire no legal significance, such as to convert the
same into devises to be taken solely from the free one-half disposable portion of the estate.
Furthermore, the testatrix' intent that her testamentary dispositions were by way of adjudications
to the beneficiaries as heirs and not as mere devisees, and that said dispositions were therefore
on account of the respective legitimes of the compulsory heirs is expressly borne out in the
fourth paragraph of her will, immediately following her testamentary adjudications in the third
paragraph in this wise: "FOURTH: I likewise command that in case any of those I named as my
heirs in this testament any of them shall die before I do, his forced heirs under the law enforced
at the time of my death shall inherit the properties I bequeath to said deceased." 17
Oppositors' conclusions necessarily are in error. The testamentary dispositions of the testatrix,
being dispositions in favor of compulsory heirs, do not have to be taken only from the free
portion of the estate, as contended, for the second paragraph of Article 842 of the Civil Code
precisely provides that "(O)ne who has compulsory heirsmay dispose of his estate provided he
does not contravene the provisions of this Code with regard to the legitime of said heirs." And
even going by oppositors' own theory of bequests, the second paragraph of Article 912 Civil
Code covers precisely the case of the executrix-appellee, who admittedly was favored by the
testatrix with the large bulk of her estate in providing that "(T)he devisee who is entitled to a
legitime may retain the entire property,provided its value does not exceed that of the disposable
portion and of the share pertaining to him as legitime." For "diversity of apportionment is the
usual reason for making a testament; otherwise, the decedent might as well die intestate." 18

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Fundamentally, of course, the dispositions by the testatrix constituted a partition by will, which by
mandate of Article 1080 of the Civil Code and of the other cited codal provisions upholding the
primacy of the testator's last will and testament, have to be respected insofar as they do not
prejudice the legitime of the other compulsory heirs.
Oppositors' invoking of Article 1063 of the Civil Code that "(P)roperty left by will is not deemed
subject to collation, if the testator has not otherwise provided, but the legitime shall in any case
remain unimpaired" and invoking of the construction thereof given by some authorities that "'not
deemed subject to collation' in this article really means not imputable to or chargeable against
the legitime", while it may have some plausibility 19 in an appropriate case, has no application in the
present case. Here, we have a case of a distribution and partition of the entire estate by the testatrix,
without her having made any previous donations during her lifetime which would require collation to
determine the legitime of each heir nor having left merely some properties by will which would call for
the application of Articles 1061 to 1063 of the Civil Code on collation. The amount of the legitime of
the heirs is here determined and undisputed.
5. With this resolution of the decisive issue raised by oppositors-appellants, the secondary
issues are likewise necessarily resolved. Their right was merely to demand completion of their
legitime under Article 906 of the Civil Code and this has been complied with in the approved
project of partition, and they can no longer demand a further share from the remaining portion of
the estate, as bequeathed and partitioned by the testatrix principally to the executrix-appellee.
Neither may the appellants legally insist on their legitime being completed with real properties of
the estate instead of being paid in cash, per the approved project of partition. The properties are
not available for the purpose, as the testatrix had specifically partitioned and distributed them to
her heirs, and the heirs are called upon, as far as feasible to comply with and give effect to the
intention of the testatrix as solemnized in her will, by implementing her manifest wish of
transmitting the real properties intact to her named beneficiaries, principally the executrixappellee. The appraisal report of the properties of the estate as filed by the commissioner
appointed by the lower court was approved in toto upon joint petition of the parties, and hence,
there cannot be said to be any question and none is presented as to fairness of the
valuation thereof or that the legitime of the heirs in terms of cash has been understated. The
plaint of oppositors that the purchasing value of the Philippine peso has greatly declined since
the testatrix' death in January, 1961 provides no legal basis or justification for overturning the
wishes and intent of the testatrix. The transmission of rights to the succession are transmitted
from the moment of death of the decedent (Article 777, Civil Code) and accordingly, the value
thereof must be reckoned as of then, as otherwise, estates would never be settled if there were
to be a revaluation with every subsequent fluctuation in the values of the currency and properties
of the estate. There is evidence in the record that prior to November 25, 1964, one of the
oppositors, Bernardita, accepted the sum of P50,000.00 on account of her inheritance, which,
per the parties' manifestation, 20 "does not in any way affect the adjudication made to her in the
projects of partition of either party as the same is a mere advance of the cash that she should receive
in both projects of partition." The payment in cash by way of making the proper adjustments in order
to meet the requirements of the law on non-impairment of legitimes as well as to give effect to the last
will of the testatrix has invariably been availed of and sanctioned. 21 That her co-oppositors would
receive their cash differentials only now when the value of the currency has declined further, whereas
they could have received them earlier, like Bernardita, at the time of approval of the project of partition
and when the peso's purchasing value was higher, is due to their own decision of pursuing the
present appeal.
ACCORDINGLY, the orders appealed from are hereby affirmed. Without cost.

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Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando, Barredo and
Villamor, JJ., concu

G.R. No. L-22036 April 30, 1979


TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE REVEREND FATHER PASCUAL RIGOR. THE PARISH
PRIEST OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF VICTORIA, TARLAC, petitioner-appellant,
vs.
BELINA RIGOR, NESTORA RIGOR, FRANCISCA ESCOBAR DE RIGOR and JOVITA
ESCOBAR DE FAUSTO,respondents-appellees.
D. Taedo, Jr. for appellants.
J. Palanca, Sr. for appellee.

AQUINO, J.:
This case is about the efficaciousness or enforceability of a devise of ricelands located at
Guimba, Nueva Ecija, with a total area of around forty- four hectares That devise was made in
the will of the late Father Pascual Rigor, a native of Victoria Tarlac, in favor of his nearest male
relative who would study for the priesthood.
The parish priest of Victoria, who claimed to be a trustee of the said lands, appealed to this Court
from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the order of the probate court declaring that
the said devise was inoperative (Rigor vs. Parish Priest of the Roman Catholic Church of
Victoria, Tarlac, CA-G.R. No. 24319-R, August 1, 1963).
The record discloses that Father Rigor, the parish priest of Pulilan, Bulacan, died on August 9,
1935, leaving a will executed on October 29, 1933 which was probated by the Court of First
Instance of Tarlac in its order of December 5, 1935. Named as devisees in the will were the
testators nearest relatives, namely, his three sisters: Florencia Rigor-Escobar, Belina RigorManaloto and Nestora Rigor-Quiambao. The testator gave a devise to his cousin, Fortunato
Gamalinda.
In addition, the will contained the following controversial bequest (paragraphing supplied to
facilitate comprehension of the testamentary provisions):
Doy y dejo como legado CUATRO (4) PARCELAS de terreno palayeros situados
en el municipiooo de Guimba de la provinciaaa de NUEVA ECIJA, cuyo num. de
CERTIFICADO DE TRANSFERENCIA DE TITULO SON; Titulo Num. 6530,
mide 16,249 m. cuadrados de superficie Titulo Num. 6548, mide 242,998 m.
cuadrados de superficie y annual 6525, mide 62,665 m. cuadrados de superficie;
y Titulo Num. 6521, mide 119,251 m. cuadrados de superficie; a cualquier
pariente mio varon mas cercano que estudie la carrera eclesiatica hasta

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ordenarse de Presbiterado o sea Sacerdote; las condiciones de estate legado
son;
(1.a) Prohibe en absoluto la venta de estos terrenos arriba situados objectos de
este legado;
(2.a) Que el legatario pariente mio mas cercano tendra derecho de empezar a
gozar y administrar de este legado al principiar a curzar la Sagrada Teologio, y
ordenado de Sacerdote, hasta su muerte; pero que pierde el legatario este
derecho de administrar y gozar de este legado al dejar de continuar sus estudios
para ordenarse de Presbiterado (Sacerdote).
Que el legatario una vez Sacerdote ya estara obligado a celebrar cada ao
VEINTE (20) Misas rezadas en sufragio de mi alma y de mis padres difuntos, y si
el actual legatario, quedase excomulgado, IPSO FACTO se le despoja este
legado, y la administracion de esto pasara a cargo del actual Parroco y sus
sucesores de la Iglecia Catolica de Victoria, Tarlac.
Y en intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado segun lo arriba
queda expresado, pasara la administracion de este legado a cargo del actual
Parroco Catolico y sus sucesores, de Victoria, Tarlac.
El Parroco administrador de estate legado, acumulara, anualmente todos los
productos que puede tener estate legado, ganando o sacando de los productos
anuales el CINCO (5) por ciento para su administracion, y los derechos
correspondientes de las VEINTE (20) Misas rezadas que debiera el Parroco
celebrar cada ao, depositando todo lo restante de los productos de estate
legado, en un banco, a nombre de estate legado.
To implement the foregoing bequest, the administratix in 1940 submitted a project containing the
following item:
5. LEGACY OF THE CHURCH
That it be adjudicated in favor of the legacy purported to be given to the nearest
male relative who shall take the priesthood, and in the interim to be administered
by the actual Catholic Priest of the Roman Catholic Church of Victoria, Tarlac,
Philippines, or his successors, the real properties hereinbelow indicated, to wit:

Title No.

Lot
No.

Area
in
Has.

Tax
Dec.

Ass.
Valu
e

T6530

3663

1.62
49

1874
0

P
340.
00

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T6548

3445C

24.2
998

1873
0

7,29
0.00

T6525

3670

6.26
65

1873
6

1,88
0.00

T6521

3666

11.9
251

1873
3

3,58
0.00

Total amount and value 44.1163 P13,090.00


Judge Roman A. Cruz in his order of August 15, 1940, approving the project of partition, directed
that after payment of the obligations of the estate (including the sum of P3,132.26 due to the
church of the Victoria parish) the administratrix should deliver to the devisees their respective
shares.
It may be noted that the administratrix and Judge Cruz did not bother to analyze the meaning
and implications of Father Rigor's bequest to his nearest male relative who would study for the
priesthood. Inasmuch as no nephew of the testator claimed the devise and as the administratrix
and the legal heirs believed that the parish priest of Victoria had no right to administer the
ricelands, the same were not delivered to that ecclesiastic. The testate proceeding remained
pending.
About thirteen years after the approval of the project of partition, or on February 19, 1954, the
parish priest of Victoria filed in the pending testate proceeding a petition praying for the
appointment of a new administrator (succeeding the deceased administration Florencia Rigor),
who should deliver to the church the said ricelands, and further praying that the possessors
thereof be ordered to render an accounting of the fruits. The probate court granted the petition. A
new administrator was appointed. On January 31, 1957 the parish priest filed another petition for
the delivery of the ricelands to the church as trustee.
The intestate heirs of Father Rigor countered with a petition dated March 25, 1957 praying that
the bequest be d inoperative and that they be adjudged as the persons entitled to the said
ricelands since, as admitted by the parish priest of Victoria, "no nearest male relative of" the
testator "has ever studied for the priesthood" (pp. 25 and 35, Record on Appeal). That petition
was opposed by the parish priest of Victoria.
Finding that petition to be meritorious, the lower court, through Judge Bernabe de Aquino,
declared the bequest inoperative and adjudicated the ricelands to the testator's legal heirs in his
order of June 28, 1957. The parish priest filed two motions for reconsideration.
Judge De Aquino granted the respond motion for reconsideration in his order of December 10,
1957 on the ground that the testator had a grandnephew named Edgardo G. Cunanan (the
grandson of his first cousin) who was a seminarian in the San Jose Seminary of the Jesuit

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Fathers in Quezon City. The administrator was directed to deliver the ricelands to the parish
priest of Victoria as trustee.
The legal heirs appealed to the Court of Appeals. It reversed that order. It held that Father Rigor
had created a testamentary trust for his nearest male relative who would take the holy orders but
that such trust could exist only for twenty years because to enforce it beyond that period would
violate "the rule against perpetuities. It ruled that since no legatee claimed the ricelands within
twenty years after the testator's death, the same should pass to his legal heirs, citing articles 888
and 912(2) of the old Civil Code and article 870 of the new Civil Code.
The parish priest in this appeal contends that the Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the
testator created a public charitable trust and in not liberally construing the testamentary
provisions so as to render the trust operative and to prevent intestacy.
As refutation, the legal heirs argue that the Court of Appeals d the bequest inoperative because
no one among the testator's nearest male relatives had studied for the priesthood and not
because the trust was a private charitable trust. According to the legal heirs, that factual finding
is binding on this Court. They point out that appellant priest's change of theory cannot be
countenanced in this appeal .
In this case, as in cases involving the law of contracts and statutory construction, where the
intention of the contracting parties or of the lawmaking body is to be ascertained, the primary
issue is the determination of the testator's intention which is the law of the case (dicat testor et
erit lex. Santos vs. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209, 215; Rodriguez vs. Court of Appeals, L-28734,
March 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 546).
The will of the testator is the first and principal law in the matter of testaments. When his
intention is clearly and precisely expressed, any interpretation must be in accord with the plain
and literal meaning of his words, except when it may certainly appear that his intention was
different from that literally expressed (In re Estate of Calderon, 26 Phil. 333).
The intent of the testator is the cardinal rule in the construction of wills." It is "the life and soul of
a will It is "the first greatest rule, the sovereign guide, the polestar, in giving effect to a will". (See
Dissent of Justice Moreland in Santos vs. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209, 223, 237-8.)
One canon in the interpretation of the testamentary provisions is that "the testator's intention is to
be ascertained from the words of the wilt taking into consideration the circumstances under
which it was made", but excluding the testator's oral declarations as to his intention (Art. 789,
Civil Code of the Philippines).
To ascertain Father Rigor's intention, it may be useful to make the following re-statement of the
provisions of his will.
1. that he bequeathed the ricelands to anyone of his nearest male relatives who would pursue an
ecclesiastical career until his ordination as a priest.
2. That the devisee could not sell the ricelands.
3. That the devisee at the inception of his studies in sacred theology could enjoy and administer
the ricelands, and once ordained as a priest, he could continue enjoying and administering the

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same up to the time of his death but the devisee would cease to enjoy and administer the
ricelands if he discontinued his studies for the priesthood.
4. That if the devisee became a priest, he would be obligated to celebrate every year twenty
masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of Father Rigor and his parents.
5. That if the devisee is excommunicated, he would be divested of the legacy and the
administration of the riceland would pass to the incumbent parish priest of Victoria and his
successors.
6. That during the interval of time that there is no qualified devisee as contemplated above, the
administration of the ricelands would be under the responsibility of the incumbent parish priest of
Victoria and his successors, and
7. That the parish priest-administrator of the ricelands would accumulate annually the products
thereof, obtaining or getting from the annual produce five percent thereof for his administration
and the fees corresponding to the twenty masses with prayers that the parish priest would
celebrate for each year, depositing the balance of the income of the devise in the bank in the
name of his bequest.
From the foregoing testamentary provisions, it may be deduced that the testator intended to
devise the ricelands to his nearest male relative who would become a priest, who was forbidden
to sell the ricelands, who would lose the devise if he discontinued his studies for the priesthood,
or having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated, and who would be obligated to say
annually twenty masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of the testator and his parents.
On the other hand, it is clear that the parish priest of Victoria would administer the ricelands only
in two situations: one, during the interval of time that no nearest male relative of the testator was
studying for the priesthood and two, in case the testator's nephew became a priest and he was
excommunicated.
What is not clear is the duration of "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado",
or how long after the testator's death would it be determined that he had a nephew who would
pursue an ecclesiastical vocation. It is that patent ambiguity that has brought about the
controversy between the parish priest of Victoria and the testator's legal heirs.
Interwoven with that equivocal provision is the time when the nearest male relative who would
study for the priesthood should be determined. Did the testator contemplate only his nearest
male relative at the time of his death? Or did he have in mind any of his nearest male relatives
at anytime after his death?
We hold that the said bequest refers to the testator's nearest male relative living at the time of
his death and not to any indefinite time thereafter. "In order to be capacitated to inherit, the heir,
devisee or legatee must be living at the moment the succession opens, except in case of
representation, when it is proper" (Art. 1025, Civil Code).
The said testamentary provisions should be sensibly or reasonably construed. To construe them
as referring to the testator's nearest male relative at anytime after his death would render the
provisions difficult to apply and create uncertainty as to the disposition of his estate. That could
not have been his intention.

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In 1935, when the testator died, his nearest leagal heirs were his three sisters or second-degree
relatives, Mrs. Escobar, Mrs. Manaloto and Mrs. Quiambao. Obviously, when the testator
specified his nearest male relative, he must have had in mind his nephew or a son of his sister,
who would be his third-degree relative, or possibly a grandnephew. But since he could not
prognosticate the exact date of his death or state with certitude what category of nearest male
relative would be living at the time of his death, he could not specify that his nearest male
relative would be his nephew or grandnephews (the son of his nephew or niece) and so he had
to use the term "nearest male relative".
It is contended by the legal heirs that the said devise was in reality intended for Ramon
Quiambao, the testator's nephew and godchild, who was the son of his sister, Mrs. Quiambao.
To prove that contention, the legal heirs presented in the lower court the affidavit of Beatriz
Gamalinda, the maternal grandmother of Edgardo Cunanan, who deposed that after Father
Rigor's death her own son, Valentin Gamalinda, Jr., did not claim the devise, although he was
studying for the priesthood at the San Carlos Seminary, because she (Beatriz) knew that Father
Rigor had intended that devise for his nearest male relative beloning to the Rigor family (pp. 105114, Record on Appeal).
Mrs. Gamalinda further deposed that her own grandchild, Edgardo G. Cunanan, was not the one
contemplated in Father Rigor's will and that Edgardo's father told her that he was not consulted
by the parish priest of Victoria before the latter filed his second motion for reconsideration which
was based on the ground that the testator's grandnephew, Edgardo, was studying for the
priesthood at the San Jose Seminary.
Parenthetically, it should be stated at this juncture that Edgardo ceased to be a seminarian in
1961. For that reason, the legal heirs apprised the Court of Appeals that the probate court's
order adjudicating the ricelands to the parish priest of Victoria had no more leg to stand on (p.
84, Appellant's brief).
Of course, Mrs. Gamalinda's affidavit, which is tantamount to evidence aliunde as to the
testator's intention and which is hearsay, has no probative value. Our opinion that the said
bequest refers to the testator's nephew who was living at the time of his death, when his
succession was opened and the successional rights to his estate became vested, rests on a
judicious and unbiased reading of the terms of the will.
Had the testator intended that the "cualquier pariente mio varon mas cercano que estudie la
camera eclesiatica" would include indefinitely anyone of his nearest male relatives born after his
death, he could have so specified in his will He must have known that such a broad provision
would suspend for an unlimited period of time the efficaciousness of his bequest.
What then did the testator mean by "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario
acondicionado"? The reasonable view is that he was referring to a situation whereby his nephew
living at the time of his death, who would like to become a priest, was still in grade school or in
high school or was not yet in the seminary. In that case, the parish priest of Victoria would
administer the ricelands before the nephew entered the seminary. But the moment the testator's
nephew entered the seminary, then he would be entitled to enjoy and administer the ricelands
and receive the fruits thereof. In that event, the trusteeship would be terminated.
Following that interpretation of the will the inquiry would be whether at the time Father Rigor died
in 1935 he had a nephew who was studying for the priesthood or who had manifested his desire
to follow the ecclesiastical career. That query is categorically answered in paragraph 4 of
appellant priest's petitions of February 19, 1954 and January 31, 1957. He unequivocally alleged

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therein that "not male relative of the late (Father) Pascual Rigor has ever studied for the
priesthood" (pp. 25 and 35, Record on Appeal).
Inasmuch as the testator was not survived by any nephew who became a priest, the unavoidable
conclusion is that the bequest in question was ineffectual or inoperative. Therefore, the
administration of the ricelands by the parish priest of Victoria, as envisaged in the wilt was
likewise inoperative.
The appellant in contending that a public charitable trust was constituted by the testator in is
favor assumes that he was a trustee or a substitute devisee That contention is untenable. A
reading of the testamentary provisions regarding the disputed bequest not support the view that
the parish priest of Victoria was a trustee or a substitute devisee in the event that the testator
was not survived by a nephew who became a priest.
It should be understood that the parish priest of Victoria could become a trustee only when the
testator's nephew living at the time of his death, who desired to become a priest, had not yet
entered the seminary or, having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated. Those two
contingencies did not arise, and could not have arisen in this case because no nephew of the
testator manifested any intention to enter the seminary or ever became a priest.
The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that this case is covered by article 888 of the old Civil Code,
now article 956, which provides that if "the bequest for any reason should be inoperative, it shall
be merged into the estate, except in cases of substitution and those in which the right of
accretion exists" ("el legado ... por qualquier causa, no tenga efecto se refundira en la masa de
la herencia, fuera de los casos de sustitucion y derecho de acrecer").
This case is also covered by article 912(2) of the old Civil Code, now article 960 (2), which
provides that legal succession takes place when the will "does not dispose of all that belongs to
the testator." There being no substitution nor accretion as to the said ricelands the same should
be distributed among the testator's legal heirs. The effect is as if the testator had made no
disposition as to the said ricelands.
The Civil Code recognizes that a person may die partly testate and partly intestate, or that there
may be mixed succession. The old rule as to the indivisibility of the testator's win is no longer
valid. Thus, if a conditional legacy does not take effect, there will be intestate succession as to
the property recovered by the said legacy (Macrohon Ong Ham vs. Saavedra, 51 Phil. 267).
We find no merit in the appeal The Appellate Court's decision is affirmed. Costs against the
petitioner.
SO ORDERED
Fernando, C.J.(Actg. ), Barredo (Actg. Chairman), Antonio, Concepcion, Jr., and Santos, JJ.,
concur.
Abad Santos, J., took no part.

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G.R. No. L-22595

November 1, 1927

Testate Estate of Joseph G. Brimo, JUAN MICIANO, administrator, petitioner-appellee,


vs.
ANDRE BRIMO, opponent-appellant.
Ross, Lawrence and Selph for appellant.
Camus and Delgado for appellee.

ROMUALDEZ, J.:
The partition of the estate left by the deceased Joseph G. Brimo is in question in this case.
The judicial administrator of this estate filed a scheme of partition. Andre Brimo, one of the
brothers of the deceased, opposed it. The court, however, approved it.
The errors which the oppositor-appellant assigns are:
(1) The approval of said scheme of partition; (2) denial of his participation in the inheritance; (3)
the denial of the motion for reconsideration of the order approving the partition; (4) the approval
of the purchase made by the Pietro Lana of the deceased's business and the deed of transfer of
said business; and (5) the declaration that the Turkish laws are impertinent to this cause, and the
failure not to postpone the approval of the scheme of partition and the delivery of the deceased's
business to Pietro Lanza until the receipt of the depositions requested in reference to the Turkish
laws.
The appellant's opposition is based on the fact that the partition in question puts into effect the
provisions of Joseph G. Brimo's will which are not in accordance with the laws of his Turkish
nationality, for which reason they are void as being in violation or article 10 of the Civil Code
which, among other things, provides the following:
Nevertheless, legal and testamentary successions, in respect to the order of succession
as well as to the amount of the successional rights and the intrinsic validity of their
provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is in
question, whatever may be the nature of the property or the country in which it may be
situated.
But the fact is that the oppositor did not prove that said testimentary dispositions are not in
accordance with the Turkish laws, inasmuch as he did not present any evidence showing what
the Turkish laws are on the matter, and in the absence of evidence on such laws, they are
presumed to be the same as those of the Philippines. (Lim and Lim vs. Collector of Customs, 36
Phil., 472.)

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It has not been proved in these proceedings what the Turkish laws are. He, himself,
acknowledges it when he desires to be given an opportunity to present evidence on this point; so
much so that he assigns as an error of the court in not having deferred the approval of the
scheme of partition until the receipt of certain testimony requested regarding the Turkish laws on
the matter.
The refusal to give the oppositor another opportunity to prove such laws does not constitute an
error. It is discretionary with the trial court, and, taking into consideration that the oppositor was
granted ample opportunity to introduce competent evidence, we find no abuse of discretion on
the part of the court in this particular. There is, therefore, no evidence in the record that the
national law of the testator Joseph G. Brimo was violated in the testamentary dispositions in
question which, not being contrary to our laws in force, must be complied with and executed.
lawphil.net

Therefore, the approval of the scheme of partition in this respect was not erroneous.
In regard to the first assignment of error which deals with the exclusion of the herein appellant as
a legatee, inasmuch as he is one of the persons designated as such in will, it must be taken into
consideration that such exclusion is based on the last part of the second clause of the will, which
says:
Second. I like desire to state that although by law, I am a Turkish citizen, this citizenship
having been conferred upon me by conquest and not by free choice, nor by nationality
and, on the other hand, having resided for a considerable length of time in the Philippine
Islands where I succeeded in acquiring all of the property that I now possess, it is my
wish that the distribution of my property and everything in connection with this, my will,
be made and disposed of in accordance with the laws in force in the Philippine islands,
requesting all of my relatives to respect this wish, otherwise, I annul and cancel
beforehand whatever disposition found in this will favorable to the person or persons who
fail to comply with this request.
The institution of legatees in this will is conditional, and the condition is that the instituted
legatees must respect the testator's will to distribute his property, not in accordance with the laws
of his nationality, but in accordance with the laws of the Philippines.
If this condition as it is expressed were legal and valid, any legatee who fails to comply with it, as
the herein oppositor who, by his attitude in these proceedings has not respected the will of the
testator, as expressed, is prevented from receiving his legacy.
The fact is, however, that the said condition is void, being contrary to law, for article 792 of the
civil Code provides the following:
Impossible conditions and those contrary to law or good morals shall be considered as
not imposed and shall not prejudice the heir or legatee in any manner whatsoever, even
should the testator otherwise provide.
And said condition is contrary to law because it expressly ignores the testator's national law
when, according to article 10 of the civil Code above quoted, such national law of the testator is
the one to govern his testamentary dispositions.

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Said condition then, in the light of the legal provisions above cited, is considered unwritten, and
the institution of legatees in said will is unconditional and consequently valid and effective even
as to the herein oppositor.
It results from all this that the second clause of the will regarding the law which shall govern it,
and to the condition imposed upon the legatees, is null and void, being contrary to law.
All of the remaining clauses of said will with all their dispositions and requests are perfectly valid
and effective it not appearing that said clauses are contrary to the testator's national law.
Therefore, the orders appealed from are modified and it is directed that the distribution of this
estate be made in such a manner as to include the herein appellant Andre Brimo as one of the
legatees, and the scheme of partition submitted by the judicial administrator is approved in all
other respects, without any pronouncement as to costs.
So ordered.
Street, Malcolm, Avancea, Villamor and Ostrand, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-23678

June 6, 1967

TESTATE ESTATE OF AMOS G. BELLIS, deceased.


PEOPLE'S BANK and TRUST COMPANY, executor.
MARIA CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM PALMA BELLIS, oppositors-appellants,
vs.
EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-appellees.
Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for oppositors appellants.
Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for heirs-appellees E. A. Bellis, et al.
Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, et al.
J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & Trust Company.
Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for appellee A. B. Allsman.
BENGZON, J.P., J.:
This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question purely of law, from an order of the Court of First
Instance of Manila dated April 30, 1964, approving the project of partition filed by the executor in
Civil Case No. 37089 therein.
1wph1.t

The facts of the case are as follows:

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Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States." By
his first wife, Mary E. Mallen, whom he divorced, he had five legitimate children: Edward A.
Bellis, George Bellis (who pre-deceased him in infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and
Anna Bellis Allsman; by his second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived him, he had three
legitimate children: Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three
illegitimate children: Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis.
On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the Philippines, in which he directed that
after all taxes, obligations, and expenses of administration are paid for, his distributable estate
should be divided, in trust, in the following order and manner: (a) $240,000.00 to his first wife,
Mary E. Mallen; (b) P120,000.00 to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina
Bellis, Miriam Palma Bellis, or P40,000.00 each and (c) after the foregoing two items have been
satisfied, the remainder shall go to his seven surviving children by his first and second wives,
namely: Edward A. Bellis, Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G.
Bellis, Walter S. Bellis, and Dorothy E. Bellis, in equal shares.
1wph1.t

Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G. Bellis died a resident of San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.
His will was admitted to probate in the Court of First Instance of Manila on September 15, 1958.
The People's Bank and Trust Company, as executor of the will, paid all the bequests therein
including the amount of $240,000.00 in the form of shares of stock to Mary E. Mallen and to the
three (3) illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis,
various amounts totalling P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their respective legacies, or a total
of P120,000.00, which it released from time to time according as the lower court approved and
allowed the various motions or petitions filed by the latter three requesting partial advances on
account of their respective legacies.
On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration, the executor submitted and filed its
"Executor's Final Account, Report of Administration and Project of Partition" wherein it
reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary E. Mallen by the delivery to her of
shares of stock amounting to $240,000.00, and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina
Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis in the amount of P40,000.00 each or a total of P120,000.00. In
the project of partition, the executor pursuant to the "Twelfth" clause of the testator's Last Will
and Testament divided the residuary estate into seven equal portions for the benefit of the
testator's seven legitimate children by his first and second marriages.
On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective
oppositions to the project of partition on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as
illegitimate children and, therefore, compulsory heirs of the deceased.
Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition despite notice to him, proof of service of which is
evidenced by the registry receipt submitted on April 27, 1964 by the executor.1
After the parties filed their respective memoranda and other pertinent pleadings, the lower court,
on April 30, 1964, issued an order overruling the oppositions and approving the executor's final
account, report and administration and project of partition. Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code,
it applied the national law of the decedent, which in this case is Texas law, which did not provide
for legitimes.
Their respective motions for reconsideration having been denied by the lower court on June 11,
1964, oppositors-appellants appealed to this Court to raise the issue of which law must apply
Texas law or Philippine law.

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In this regard, the parties do not submit the case on, nor even discuss, the doctrine of renvoi,
applied by this Court in Aznar v. Christensen Garcia, L-16749, January 31, 1963. Said doctrine is
usually pertinent where the decedent is a national of one country, and a domicile of another. In
the present case, it is not disputed that the decedent was both a national of Texas and a domicile
thereof at the time of his death.2 So that even assuming Texas has a conflict of law rule providing
that the domiciliary system (law of the domicile) should govern, the same would not result in a
reference back (renvoi) to Philippine law, but would still refer to Texas law. Nonetheless, if Texas
has a conflicts rule adopting the situs theory (lex rei sitae) calling for the application of the law of
the place where the properties are situated, renvoi would arise, since the properties here
involved are found in the Philippines. In the absence, however, of proof as to the conflict of law
rule of Texas, it should not be presumed different from ours.3 Appellants' position is therefore not
rested on the doctrine of renvoi. As stated, they never invoked nor even mentioned it in their
arguments. Rather, they argue that their case falls under the circumstances mentioned in the
third paragraph of Article 17 in relation to Article 16 of the Civil Code.
Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national law of the
decedent, in intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the order of
succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the
will; and (d) the capacity to succeed. They provide that
ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country
where it is situated.
However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of
succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of
testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose
succession is under consideration, whatever may he the nature of the property and
regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.
ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent.
Appellants would however counter that Art. 17, paragraph three, of the Civil Code, stating that
Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for
their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective
by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a
foreign country.
prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of the Civil Code afore-quoted. This is not correct.
Precisely, Congressdeleted the phrase, "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the next
preceding article" when they incorporated Art. 11 of the old Civil Code as Art. 17 of the new Civil
Code, while reproducing without substantial change the second paragraph of Art. 10 of the old
Civil Code as Art. 16 in the new. It must have been their purpose to make the second paragraph
of Art. 16 a specific provision in itself which must be applied in testate and intestate succession.
As further indication of this legislative intent, Congress added a new provision, under Art. 1039,
which decrees that capacity to succeed is to be governed by the national law of the decedent.
It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our
System of legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign
nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to
the decedent's national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones.

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Appellants would also point out that the decedent executed two wills one to govern his Texas
estate and the other his Philippine estate arguing from this that he intended Philippine law to
govern his Philippine estate. Assuming that such was the decedent's intention in executing a
separate Philippine will, it would not alter the law, for as this Court ruled in Miciano v. Brimo, 50
Phil. 867, 870, a provision in a foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be distributed
in accordance with Philippine law and not with his national law, is illegal and void, for his national
law cannot be ignored in regard to those matters that Article 10 now Article 16 of the Civil
Code states said national law should govern.
The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A.,
and that under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the
intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be
determined under Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of
Amos G. Bellis.
Wherefore, the order of the probate court is hereby affirmed in toto, with costs against
appellants. So ordered.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ.,
concur.

[G.R. No. 847. February 12, 1903. ]


EULALIO HERNAEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ROSENDO HERNAEZ, Defendant-Appellee.
Ramon N . Orozco, for Appellant.
Ramon Avancea, for Appellee.
SYLLABUS
1. DESCENT; COLLATION. An heir can not be required to bring into collation property claimed as his
own unless the evidence shows clearly that he acquired the same gratuitously from the deceased.

DECISION

ARELLANO, C.J. :

This action was brought in connection with the proceedings on the administration of the interstate estate
of Pedro Hernaez, father of the plaintiff and of the defendant. The purpose of the action is to obtain the
inclusion in the estate by collation of the values of the Naga and Panaogao properties, owned by the
defendant, that the same may be included in the inventory of the mass of the intestate succession. The
facts set up in the complaint are the following: (1) That as Rosendo Hernaez was a poor man after his
return from his student life in Manila, he was supported by his father. (2) That shortly afterwards he
purchased the Naga estate, he at that time not being engaged in any profitable trade or industry. (3)
That he was the administrator of the property of his parents. (4) That the money with which he
purchased the Naga estate belonged to his father. (5) That the Panaogao estate was purchased by
Rosendo after the death of his father.

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The legal principle upon which the plaintiff relies is that established by article 1035 of the Civil Code, in
accordance with which a forced heir in certain cases is required to bring into the mass of the succession
properties or moneys which he may have received gratuitously from the decedent during the lifetime of
the latter. Therefore it is evident that of the facts set up in the complaint the only one relevant to the
issue is the fourth, concerning the acquisition of the Naga estate. With respect to the fifth, as to the
Panaogao estate, apart from the fact of its irrelevancy, it is not apparent what connection the simple
statement that a forced heir acquired the said estate after the death of the causante can possibly have
with the question of collation.
But, whatever might be said about the facts alleged, none of them have been proven. In the replication
an allegation was added to the effect that Rosendo Hernaez was never in partnership with Julian
Hernaez, his brother, this fact having been set up in the answer of the defendant.
Two witnesses, Miguel Solis and Severino Duran, testified that they had never seen any articles of
copartnership recorded in a public or private instrument. Rosendo, however, in answering
interrogatories, testified that he had been an industrial partner and that no written articles had been
executed. Of the nine witnesses presented by the defendant, Domingo and Magdalena Hernaez and
Peregrina Jarapa, the latter a nephew and the former brothers of both the contending parties, denied
that Rosendo purchased the Naga estate with money belonging to his father, but testified that it was
purchased with money acquired by his own labors.
The Naga and Panaogao estates were acquired by the defendant, the first from his brother Julian on the
25th of November, 1881, and the second from Pedro Garganera on the 2d of November, 1898. There is
not the slightest indication that the money with which these estates were purchased was or could be
other than that of the purchaser himself. (Public instruments on pp. 350 and 401 of the record.)
It not having been proven that the property which it is sought to require one of the forced heirs, the
defendant herein, to bring into collation was acquired gratuitously from the intestate, the action can not
be maintained.
We therefore dismiss the complaint, with the costs of both instances to the plaintiff. So ordered.
Torres, Cooper, Willard, Mapa and Ladd, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 4445

September 18, 1909

CATALINA BUGNAO, proponent-appellee,


vs.
FRANCISCO UBAG, ET AL., contestants-appellants.
Rodriguez and Del Rosario for appellants.
Fernando Salas for appellee.
CARSON, J.:
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Oriental Negros, admitting to
probate a document purporting to be the last will and testament of Domingo Ubag, deceased.
The instrument was propounded by his widow, Catalina Bugnao, the sole beneficiary thereunder,
and probate was contested by the appellants, who are brothers and sisters of the deceased, and
who would be entitled to share in the distribution of his estate, if probate were denied, as it
appears that the deceased left no heirs in the direct ascending or descending line.

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Appellants contend that the evidence of record is not sufficient to establish the execution of the
alleged will in the manner and form prescribed in section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure; and
that at the time when it is alleged that the will was executed, Ubag was not of sound mind and
memory, and was physically and mentally incapable of making a will.
The instrument propounded for probate purports to be the last will and testament of Domingo
Ubag, signed by him in the presence of three subscribing and attesting witnesses, and appears
upon its face to have been duly executed in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Civil
Procedure touching the making of wills.
Two of the subscribing witnesses, Victor J. Bingtoy and Catalino Mario, testified in support of
the will, the latter being the justice of the peace of the municipality wherein it was executed; and
their testimony was corroborated in all important details by the testimony of the proponent
herself, who was present when the will was made. It does not appear from the record why the
third subscribing witness was not called; but since counsel for the contestants makes no
comment upon his absence, we think it may safely be inferred that there was some good and
sufficient reason therefore. In passing, however, it may be well to observe that, when because of
death, sickness, absence, or for any other reason, it is not practicable to call to the witness stand
all the subscribing witnesses to a will offered for probate, the reason for the absence of any of
these witnesses should be made to appear of record, and this especially in cases such as the
one at bar, wherein there is a contests.
The subscribing witnesses gave full and detailed accounts of the execution of the will and swore
that the testator, at the time of its execution, was of sound mind and memory, and in their
presence attached his signature thereto as his last will and testament, and that in his presence
and in the presence of each other, they as well as the third subscribing witness. Despite the
searching and exhaustive cross-examination to which they were subjected, counsel for
appellants could point to no flaw in their testimony save an alleged contradiction as to a single
incident which occurred at or about the time when the will was executed a contradiction,
however, which we think is more apparent than real. One of the witnesses stated that the
deceased sat up in bed and signed his name to the will, and that after its execution food was
given him by his wife; while the other testified that he was assisted into a sitting position, and
was given something to eat before he signed his name. We think the evidence discloses that his
wife aided the sick man to sit up in bed at the time when he signed his name to the instrument,
and that he was given nourishment while he was in that position, but it is not quite clear whether
this was immediately before or after, or both before and after he attached his signature to the
will. To say that the sick man sat up or raised himself up in bed is not necessarily in conflict with
the fact that he received assistance in doing so; and it is not at all improbable or impossible that
nourishment might have been given to him both before and after signing the will, and that one
witness might remember the former occasion and the other witness might recall the latter,
although neither witness could recall both. But, however this may have been, we do not think
that a slight lapse of memory on the part of one or the other witness, as to the precise details of
an unimportant incident, to which his attention may not have been particularly directed, is
sufficient to raise a doubt as to the veracity of these witnesses, or as to the truth and accuracy of
their recollection of the fact of the execution of the instrument. Of course, a number of
contradictions in the testimony of alleged subscribing witnesses to a will as to the circumstances
under which it was executed, or even a single contradiction as to a particular incident, where the
incident was of such a nature that the intention of any person who was present must have been
directed to it, and where the contradictory statements in regard to it are so clear and explicit as
to negative the possibility or probability of mistake, might well be sufficient to justify the
conclusion that the witnesses could not possibly have been present, together, at the time when it
is alleged the will was executed; but the apparent contradictions in the testimony of the
witnesses in the case at bar fall far short of raising a doubt a to their veracity, and on the other

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hand their testimony as a whole gives such clear, explicit, and detailed account of all that
occurred, and is so convincing and altogether satisfactory that we have no doubt that the trial
judge who heard them testify properly accepted their testimony as worthy of entire confidence
and belief.
The contestants put upon the stand four witnesses for the purpose of proving that at the time
and on the occasion when the subscribing witnesses testified that the will was executed, these
witnesses were not in the house with the testator, and that the alleged testator was at that time in
such physical and mental condition that it was impossible for him to have made a will. Two of
these witnesses, upon cross-examination, admitted that they were not in the house at or
between the hours of four and six in the afternoon of the day on which the will is alleged to have
been made, this being the time at which the witnesses in support of the will testified that it was
executed. Of the other witnesses, one is a contestant of the will, Macario Ubag, a brother of the
testator, and the other, Canuto Sinoy, his close relative. These witnesses swore that they were in
the house of the deceased, where he was lying ill, at or about the time when it is alleged that the
will was executed, and that at that time the alleged subscribing witnesses were not in the house,
and the alleged testator was so sick that he was unable to speak, to understand, or to make
himself understood, and that he was wholly incapacitated to make a will. But the testimony of
Macario Ubag is in our opinion wholly unworthy of credence. In addition to his manifest interest
in the result of the investigation, it clearly discloses a fixed and settled purpose to overthrow the
will at all costs, and to that end an utter disregard of the truth, and readiness to swear to any fact
which he imagined would aid in securing his object. An admittedly genuine and authentic
signature of the deceased was introduced in evidence for comparison with the signature
attached to the will, but this witness in his anxiety to deny the genuineness of the signature of his
brother to the will, promptly and positively swore that the admittedly genuine signature was not
his brother's signature, and only corrected his erroneous statement in response to a somewhat
suggestive question by his attorney which evidently gave him to understand that his former
answer was likely to prejudice his own cause. On cross-examination, he was forced to admit that
because his brother and his brother's wife (in those favor the will was made) were Aglipayanos,
he and his other brothers and sisters had not visited them for many months prior to the one
particular occasion as to which testified; and he admitted further, that, although he lived near at
hand, at no time thereafter did he or any of the other members of his family visit their dying
brother, and that they did not even attend the funeral. If the testimony of this witness could be
accepted as true, it would be a remarkable coincidence indeed, that the subscribing witnesses to
the alleged will should have falsely pretended to have joined in its execution on the very day, and
at the precise hour, when this interested witness happened to pay his only visit to his brother
during his last illness, so that the testimony of this witness would furnish conclusive evidence in
support of the allegations of the contestants that the alleged will was not executed at the time
and place or in the manner and form alleged by the subscribing witnesses. We do not think that
the testimony of this witness nor any of the other witnesses for the contestants is sufficient to
raise even a doubt as to the truth of the testimony of the subscribing witnesses as to the fact of
the execution of the will, or as to the manner and from in which it was executed.
In the course of the proceedings, an admittedly genuine signature of the deceased was
introduced in evidence, and upon a comparison of this signature with the signature attached to
the instrument in question, we are wholly of the opinion of the trial judge, who held in this
connection as follows:
No expert evidence has been adduced with regard to these two signatures, and the
presiding judge of this court does not claim to possess any special expert knowledge in
the matter of signatures; nevertheless, the court has compared these two signatures,
and does not find that any material differences exists between the same. It is true that
the signature which appears in the document offered for authentication discloses that at

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the time of writing the subscriber was more deliberate in his movements, but two facts
must be acknowledge: First, that the testator was seriously ill, and the other fact, that for
some reason which is not stated the testator was unable to see, and was a person who
was not in the habit of signing his name every day.
These facts should sufficiently explain whatever difference may exist between the two
signatures, but the court finds that the principal strokes in the two signatures are
identical.
That the testator was mentally capable of making the will is in our opinion fully established by the
testimony of the subscribing witnesses who swore positively that, at the time of its execution, he
was of sound mind and memory. It is true that their testimony discloses the fact that he was at
that time extremely ill, in an advanced stage of tuberculosis complicated with severe intermittent
attacks of asthma; that he was too sick to rise unaided from his bed; that he needed assistance
even to rise himself to a sitting position; and that during the paroxysms of asthma to which he
was subject he could not speak; but all this evidence of physical weakness in no wise
establishes his mental incapacity or a lack of testamentary capacity, and indeed the evidence of
the subscribing witnesses as to the aid furnished them by the testator in preparing the will, and
his clear recollection of the boundaries and physical description of the various parcels of land set
out therein, taken together with the fact that he was able to give to the person who wrote the will
clear and explicit instructions as to his desires touching the disposition of his property, is strong
evidence of his testamentary capacity.
Counsel for appellant suggests that the fact that the alleged will leaves all the property of the
testator to his widow, and wholly fails to make any provision for his brothers or sisters, indicates
a lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence; and because of the inherent improbability
that a man would make so unnatural and unreasonable a will, they contend that this fact
indirectly corroborates their contention that the deceased never did in fact execute the will. But
when it is considered that the deceased at the time of his death had no heirs in the ascending or
descending line; that a bitter family quarrel had long separated him from his brothers and sisters,
who declined to have any relations with the testator because he and his wife were adherents of
the Aglipayano Church; and that this quarrel was so bitter that none of his brothers or sisters,
although some of them lived in the vicinity, were present at the time of his death or attended his
funeral; we think the fact that the deceased desired to leave and did leave all of his property to
his widow and made no provision for his brothers and sisters, who themselves were grown men
and women, by no means tends to disclose either an unsound mind or the presence of undue
influence on the part of his wife, or in any wise corroborates contestants' allegation that the will
never was executed.
It has been said that "the difficulty of stating standards or tests by which to determine the degree
of mental capacity of a particular person has been everywhere recognized, and grows out of the
inherent impossibility of measuring mental capacity, or its impairment by disease or other
causes" (Greene vs. Greene, 145 III., 264, 276); and that "it is probable that no court has ever
attempted to lay down any definite rule in respect to the exact amount of mental capacity
requisite for the making of a valid will, without appreciating the difficulty of the undertaking"
(Trish vs. Newell, 62 III., 196, 203).
Between the highest degree of soundness of mind and memory which unquestionably carries
with it full testamentary capacity, and that degree of mental aberration generally known as
insanity or idiocy, there are numberless degrees of mental capacity or incapacity, and while on
one hand it has been held that "mere weakness of mind, or partial imbecility from the disease of
body, or from age, will not render a person incapable of making a will, a weak or feeble minded

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person may make a valid will, provided he has understanding memory sufficient to enable him to
know what he is about, and how or to whom he is disposing of his property" (Lodge vs.Lodge, 2
Houst. (Del.), 418); that, "To constitute a sound and disposing mind, it is not necessary that the
mind should be unbroken or unimpaired, unshattered by disease or otherwise"
(Sloan vs. Maxwell, 3 N. J. Eq., 563); that "it has not been understood that a testator must
possess these qualities (of sound and disposing mind and memory) in the highest degree. . . .
Few indeed would be the wills confirmed, if this is correct. Pain, sickness, debility of body, from
age or infirmity, would, according to its violence or duration, in a greater or less degree, break in
upon, weaken, or derange the mind, but the derangement must be such as deprives him of the
rational faculties common to man" (Den. vs. Vancleve, 5 N. J. L.,680); and, that "Sound mind
does not mean a perfectly balanced mind. The question of soundness is one of degree"
(Boughton vs. Knight, L. R.,3 P. & D., 64; 42 L. J. P., 25); on the other hand, it has been held that
"testamentary incapacity does not necessarily require that a person shall actually be insane or of
an unsound mind. Weakness of intellect, whether it arises from extreme old age from disease, or
great bodily infirmities or suffering, or from all these combined, may render the testator incapable
of making a valid will, providing such weakness really disqualifies her from knowing or
appreciating the nature, effects, or consequences of the act she is engaged in" (Manatt vs. Scott,
106 Iowa, 203; 68 Am. St. Rep., 293, 302).
But for the purposes of this decision it is not necessary for us to attempt to lay down a definition
of testamentary capacity which will cover all possible cases which may present themselves,
because, as will be seen from what has already been said, the testator was, at the time of
making the instrument under consideration, endowed with all the elements of mental capacity set
out in the following definition of testamentary capacity which has been frequently announced in
courts of last resort in England and the United States; and while is some cases testamentary
capacity has been held to exist in the absence of proof of some of these elements, there can be
no question that, in the absence of proof of very exceptional circumstances, proof of the
existence of all these elements in sufficient to establish the existence of testamentary capacity.
Testamentary capacity is the capacity to comprehend the nature of the transaction which
the testator is engaged at the time, to recollect the property to be disposed of and the
person who would naturally be supposed to have claims upon the testator, and to
comprehend the manner in which the instrument will distribute his property among the
objects of his bounty.
(Cf. large array of cases cited in support of this definition in the Encyclopedia of Law, vol. 23, p.
71, second edition.)
In our opinion, the evidence of record establishes in a strikingly conclusive manner the execution
of the instrument propounded as the last will and testament of the deceased; that it was made in
strict conformity with the requisites prescribed by law; and that, at the time of its execution, the
deceased was of sound mind and memory, and executed the instrument of his own free will and
accord.
The order probating the will should be land is hereby affirmed, with the cost of this instance
against the appellants.
Arellano, C. J., Torres, Johnson, and Moreland, JJ., concur.

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