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54.

Federico Azaola v. Cesario Singson


G.R. No. L-14003; August 5, 1960

FACTS:
When Fortunata Vda de Yance died, Francisco Azaola filed a petition for the probate of
the former’s will, whereby Maria Milgaros Azaola was made the sole heir as against the
nephew of the deceased Cesario Singson. Francisco witnessed that one month before
the death of the testator, the same was handed to him and his wife.

The opposition to the probate was on the ground that (1) the execution of the will was
procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the petitioner and
his wife, and (2) that the testatrix did not seriously intend the instrument to be her last
will, and that the same was actually written either on the 5th or 6th day of August
1957and not on November 20, 1956 as appears on the will.

The probate was denied on the ground that under Article 811 of the Civil Code, the
proponent must present three witnesses who could declare that the will and the
signature are in the writing of the testatrix, the probate being contested.

ISSUE/S:
1. WON the proponent was bound to produce more than one witness
2. WON 811 is mandatory

HELD:
1. No. Since the authenticity of the will was not being contested. But even if the
genuineness of the holographic will were contested, we are of the opinion that Article
811 of our present Civil Code cannot be interpreted as to require the compulsory
presentation of three witnesses to identify the handwriting of the testator, under penalty
of having the probate denied. Since no witness may have been present at the execution
of a holographic will, none being required by law (Art. 810, new Civil Code), it
becomes obvious that the existence of witness possessing the requisite qualifications is
a matter beyond the control of the proponent.

It may be true that the rule of this article (requiring that three witnesses be presented if
the will is contested and only one if no contest is had) was derived from the rule
established for ordinary testaments. But it cannot be ignored that the requirement can
be considered mandatory only in the case of ordinary testaments, precisely because the
presence of at least three witnesses at the execution of ordinary wills is made by law
essential to their validity (Art. 805). Where the will is holographic, no witness need be
present (Art. 10), and the rule requiring production of three witnesses must be deemed
merely permissive if absurd results are to be avoided.

Again, under Article 811, the resort to expert evidence is conditioned by the words “if
the Court deem it necessary”, which reveal that what the law deems essential is that the
Court should be convinced of the will’s authenticity. Where the prescribed number of
witnesses is produced and the court is convinced by their testimony that the ill is
genuine, it may consider it unnecessary to call for expert evidence. On the other hand, if
no competent witness is available, or none of those produced is convincing, the Court
may still, and in fact it should, resort to handwriting experts. The duty of the Court, in
fine, is to exhaust all available lines of inquiry, for the state is as much interested as the
proponent that the true intention of the testator be carried into effect.

2. The rule of the first paragraph of Article 811 of the Civil Code is merely directory
and is not mandatory.

Considering, however, that this is the first occasion in which this Court has been called
upon to construe the import of said article, the interest of justice would be better served,
in our opinion, by giving the parties ample opportunity to adduce additional evidence,
including expert witnesses, should the Court deem them necessary.

55.
Kalaw vs Relova

Topic: Insertions, Cancellations, Erasures and Alterations (Art. 814)

Doctrine: When the holographic Will in dispute had only one substantial provision,
which was altered by substituting the original heir with another, but which alteration
did not carry the requisite of full authentication by the full signature of the testator,
the effect must be that the entire Will is voided or revoked for the simple reason that
nothing remains in the Will after that which could remain valid. To state that the Will
as first written should be given efficacy is to disregard the seeming change of mind of
the testatrix.

Facts: On Sept 1971, herein private respondent, Gregorio Kalaw, claiming to be


the sole heir of his deceased Sister, Natividad Kalaw, filed a petition for the probate
of her holographic will. But the proceeding was objected by one Rosa Kalaw. It
appears that the holographic will, as first written a) named her (Rosa), also a sister of
the testatrix as sole heir, and that (b) she was also named as sole executrix. However,
the will appears to contain 2 alterations. First, Rosa's name, designated as the sole heir
was crossed out and instead "Rosario" was written above it. Such was not initialed.
Second, Rosa's name was crossed out as sole executrix and Gregorio's name was
written above it. This alteration was initialed by the testator.

Thus, her opposition was based on the fact that the will containing alterations,
corrections, and insertion is without the proper authentication by the fill signature of
the testatrix as required by Art. 814 w/c reads: “In case of any insertion, cancellation,
erasure or alteration in a holographic will the testator must authenticate the same by
his full signature”

She now argues that the holographic will, as first written, should be given effect
and probated so that she could be the sole heir thereunder. TC denied petition to
probate

Issue: WON the original unaltered text after subsequent alterations and insertions
were voided by the TC for lack of authentication by the full signature of the testatrix,
should be probated or not, with Rosa as sole heir?

Held & Rationale: No. Generally, when a number of erasures, corrections,


cancellation, or insertions are made by the testator in the will but the same have not
been noted or authenticated with his full signature, only the particular words erased,
corrected, altered will be invalidated, not the entirety of the will. This general rule has
exceptions, as in this case. When the holographic will had only one substantial
provision, which was altered by substituting the original heir with another, and the
same did not carry the requisite full signature of the testator, or simply put, where the
change affects the essence of the will of the testator, the entirety of the will is voided
or revoked. To rule that the first will should be given effect is to disregard the
testatrix' change of mind. However, this change of mind cannot be given effect either
as she failed to authenticate it in accordance with Art. 814, or by affixing her full
signature.
Dispositive: Petition failed

Additional Important Note:

General Rules:

When a number of erasures, corrections, cancellation, or insertions are made by the


testator in the will but the same have not been noted or authenticated with his full
signature, only the particular words erased, corrected, altered will be invalidated, not
the entirety of the will.

Exception:
1. Where the change affects the essence of the will of the testator; Note: When the
holographic will had only one substantial provision, which was altered by substituting
the original heir with another, and the same did not carry the requisite full signature of
the testator, the entirety of the will is voided or revoked.

Reason: What was cancelled here was the very essence of the will; it amounted to the
revocation of the will. Therefore, neither the altered text nor the original unaltered
text can be given effect. (Kalaw v. Relova, G.R. No. L-40207, Sept. 28, 1984)

2. Where the alteration affects the date of the will or the signature of the testator.

3. If the words written by a 3rd person were contemporaneous with the execution of
the will, even though authenticated by the testator, the entire will is void for violation
of the requisite that the holographic will must be entirely in the testator’s handwriting.

56.

Gonzales v. CA
G.R. No. L-37453 May 25, 1979
Guerrero, J. (Ponente)

Facts:
1. Petitioner Rizalina Gonzales and Lutgarda Santiago (Private respondent) are the
nieces of the deceased Isabel Gabriel who died a widow. A will was thereafter
submitted to probate. The said will was typewritten, in Tagalog and appeared to have
been executed in April 1961 or two months prior to the death of Isabel. It consisted of
5 pages including the attestation and acknowledgment, with the signature of testatrix
on page 4 and the left margin of all the pages.

2. Lutgarda was named as the universal heir and executor. The petitioner opposed the
probate.
3. The lower court denied the probate on the ground that the will was not executed
and attested in accordance with law on the issue of the competency and credibility of
the witnesses.

Issue: Whether or not the credibility of the subscribing witnesses is material to the
validity of a will

RULING: No. The law requires only that witnesses posses the qualifications under
Art. 820 (NCC) and none of the disqualifications of Art. 802. There is no requirement
that they are of good standing or reputation in the community, for trustworthiness,
honesty and uprightness in order that his testimony is believed and accepted in court.
For the testimony to be credible, it is not mandatory that evidence be established on
record that the witnesses have good standing in the the community. Competency is
distinguished from credibility, the former being determined by Art. 820 while the
latter does not require evidence of such good standing. Credibility depends on the
convincing weight of his testimony in court.

57.

GR No. 76464
Maloto vs CA
Facts: Adriana Maloto died leaving as heirs her niece and nephews, the petitioners
Aldina Maloto- Casiano and Constancio, Maloto, and the private respondents Panfilo
Maloto and Felino Maloto. Believing that the deceased did not leave behind a last will
and testament, these four heirs commenced an intestate proceeding for the settlement
of their aunt’s estate. While the case was still in progress, they executed an
extrajudicial settlement of Adriana’s estate dividing it into four equal parts among
themselves. They presented the same and successfully gained court approval. Three
years later, a document was discovered entitled “KATAPUSAN NGA
PAGBUBULAT-AN (Testamento),” purporting to be the last will and testament of
Adriana. Malotos oppposed the probate of the Will stating among others that the said
will was revoked. Two witnesses were presented to prove that the will was burned by
Adriana herself.

Issue: Whether or not the will was validly revoked.

Held: No, the will was not validly revoked. A valid revocation must be done with
animus revocandi or the intention to revoke coupled with an overt physical act of
burning, tearing, obliterating, or cancelling the will carried out by the testator or by
another person in his presence and under his express direction. The document or
papers burned by Adriana’s maid, Guadalupe, was not satisfactorily established–that
such was the will of Adriana Maloto. And that the burning was not proven to have
been done under the express direction of Adriana. Also the burning was not in her
presence. Both witnesses stated that they were the only ones present at the place
where papers were burned. The act done by the witnesses could not have constituted a
valid revocation of Adriana’s Will.

58.

Gago vs. Mamuyac


G.R. No. L-26317 January 29, 1927
Johnson, J. (Ponente)

Facts:
1. Previously, Francisco Gago filed a petition for the probate of a will of Miguel
Mamuyac executed on July 27, 1918. The oppositors alleged that the said will was
already annulled and revoked. It appeared that on April 16, 1919, the deceased
executed another will. The lower court denied the probate of the first will on the ground
of the existence of the second will.

2. Another petition was filed to seek the probate of the second will. The oppositors
alleged that the second will presented was merely a copy. According to the witnesses,
the said will was allegedly revoked as per the testimony of Jose Tenoy, one of the
witnesses who typed the document. Another witness testified that on December 1920
the original will was actually cancelled by the testator.

3. The lower court denied the probate and held that the same has been annulled and
revoked.

Issue: Whether or not there was a valid revocation of the will

RULING: Yes. The will was already cancelled in 1920. This was inferred when after
due search, the original will cannot be found. When the will which cannot be found in
shown to be in the possession of the testator when last seen, the presumption is that in
the absence of other competent evidence, the same was deemed cancelled or destroyed.
The same presumption applies when it is shown that the testator has ready access to the
will and it can no longer be found after his death.

59.

Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals

Facts:
1. Martin Hugo died on 1974 and he left a will wherein he instituted Sofia
Nepomuceno as the sole and only executor. It was also provided therein that he was
married to Rufina Gomez with whom he had 3 children.
2. Petitioner (Sofia) filed for the probate of the will but the legal wife and her children
opposed alleging that the will was procured through improper and undue influence
and that there was an admission of concubinage with the petitioner.

3. The lower court denied the probate on the ground of the testator's admission of
cohabitation, hence making the will invalid on its face. The Court of Appeals reversed
and held that the will is valid except the devise in favor of the petitioner which is null
and void in violation of Art. 739 and 1028.

Issue: Whether or not the court can pass on the intrinsic validity of a will

RULING: Yes, as an exception. But the general rule is that the court's area of inquiry
is limited to the an examination and resolution of the extrinsic validity of the will.
This general rule is however not inflexible and absolute. Given exceptional
circumstances, the probate court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it
to do and may pass upon certain provisions of the will. The will itself admitted on its
face the relationship between the testator and the petitioner.

The will was validly executed in accordance with law but the court didn't find it to
serve a practical purpose to remand the nullified provision in a separate action for that
purpose only since in the probate of a will, the court does not ordinarily look into the
intrinsic validity of its provisions.

The devisee is invalid by virtue of Art. 739 which voids a donation made between
persons guilty of adultery/concubinage at the time of the donations. Under Art, 1028
it is also prohibited.