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CASE TITLE: VDA DE RAMOS vs CA

TOPIC: Conflicting Testimonies of Witnesses

DOCTRINE: As a rule, if any or all of the subscribing witnesses testify against the due execution of the
will, or do not remember having attested to it, or are otherwise of doubtful credibility, the will may,
nevertheless, be allowed if the court is satisfied from the testimony of other witnesses and from all the
evidence presented that the will was executed and attested in the manner required by law.

FACTS: The late Eugenia Danila left a will wherein she instituted among others Adelaida Nista as one of
the instituted heirs. Nista petitioned before the court to admit the will to probate. The petition was opposed
by Buenaventura Guerra and Marcelina Guerra. The two oppositors claimed that they were the legally
adopted children of Danila; that the said will sought to be probated by Nista was obtained through fraud.
The two parties talked and they came up with a compromise agreement which essentially stated that
Nista is admitting the invalidity of the will. The compromise agreement was approved by the trial court
BUT Rosario de Ramos et al – the other instituted heirs and devisees – intervened. The trial court
allowed the intervention and set aside the compromise agreement. Rosario de Ramos et al alleged that
the Guerras repudiated their shares when they abandoned Danila and committed acts of ingratitude
against her.
Eventually, the probate court admitted the will to probate. The decision was appealed by the Guerras.
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the probate court. The CA ruled that there was a failure to
prove that Danila was in the presence of the instrumental witnesses when she signed the will – this was
because two of the instrumental witnesses (Sarmiento and Paz) testified in court that the will was already
signed by Danila when they affixed their signatures.
HOWEVER, Atty. Ricardo Barcenas, the Notary Public before whom the will was executed and who
assisted in the execution, vehemently assailed the testimony of the two witnesses. He affirmed Danila
and the three instrumental witnesses were in each other’s presence when the will was signed by them.
Another lawyer, who was also present during the execution of the will, corroborated the testimony of Atty.
Barcenas.

ISSUE: WON the last testament and its accompanying codicil were valid, considering the complicated
circumstances that two of the attesting witnesses testified against their due execution while other non-
subscribing witnesses testified to the contrary.

RULING: YES. There is ample and satisfactory evidence to prove that the will and codicil were executed
in accordance with the formalities required by law. It appears positively and convincingly that the
documents were prepared by a lawyer, Atty. Manuel Alvero The execution of the same was evidently
supervised by his associate, Atty. Ricardo Barcenas and before whom the deeds were also
acknowledged. The solemnity surrounding the execution of a will is attended by some intricacies not
usually within the comprehension of an ordinary layman. The object is to close the door against bad faith
and fraud, to avoid substitution of the will and testament, and to guarantee their truth and authenticity.

The attestation clause was signed by the instrumental witnesses. This serves as their admissions of the
due execution of the will and thus preventing them from prevaricating later on by testifying against the
will’s due execution.

The execution of the same was evidently supervised by Atty. Ricardo Barcenas and before whom the
deeds were also acknowledged. The solemnity surrounding the execution of a will is attended by some
intricacies not usually within the comprehension of an ordinary layman. The object is to close the door
against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of the will and testament, and to guarantee their truth
and authenticity. There is a presumption in the regularity of the performance of a lawyer with his duty as a
notary public. There has been no evidence to show that Barcenas has been remiss in his duty nor were
there any allegations of fraud against him. In fact, the authenticity of Danila’s and the witnesses’ signature
was never questioned.
The attestation clauses, far from being deficient, were properly signed by the attesting witnesses. Neither
is it disputed that these witnesses took turns in signing the will and codicil in the presence of each other
and the testatrix. Both instruments were duly acknowledged before a Notary Public who was all the time
present during the execution.

Subscribing witnesses may forget or exaggerate what they really know, saw, heard or did; they may be
biased and, therefore, tell only half-truths to mislead the court or favor one party to the prejudice of the
others. As a rule, if any or all of the subscribing witnesses testify against the due execution of the will, or
do not remember having attested to it, or are otherwise of doubtful credibility, the will may, nevertheless,
be allowed if the court is satisfied from the testimony of other witnesses and from all the evidence
presented that the will was executed and attested in the manner required by law.

In weighing the testimony of the attesting witnesses to a will, the statements of a competent attorney, who
has been charged with the responsibility of seeing to the proper execution of the instrument, is entitled to
greater weight than the testimony of a person casually called to participate in the act, supposing of course
that no motive is revealed that should induce the attorney to prevaricate. The reason is that the mind of
the attorney being conversant of the instrument, is more likely to become fixed on details, and he is more
likely than other persons to retain those incidents in his memory.

DISPOSITIVE: WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Court of Appeals is hereby reversed in so far
its it disallowed the probate of the will and codicil. With costs against respondents.