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Contents

Flora v Prado ......................................................................................................................................... 1


De Borja v Vda de Borja ........................................................................................................................ 6
Bailon-Casilao v CA .............................................................................................................................. 16
Alejandrino v CA .................................................................................................................................. 22
Mondonido v Roda.............................................................................................................................. 31
Barretto v Tuason................................................................................................................................ 32
Tordilla v Tordilla................................................................................................................................. 61
Jaboneta v Gustilo ............................................................................................................................... 63
Nera v Rimando................................................................................................................................... 66
De Gala v De Gala ................................................................................................................................ 67
Garcia v Lacuesta ................................................................................................................................ 74
ORALS .......................................................................................................................................................... 75
Uson v Del Rosario .............................................................................................................................. 75
Ibarle v Po ........................................................................................................................................... 77
Nacar v Nistal ...................................................................................................................................... 78
Torres v Lopez ..................................................................................................................................... 85
Dorotheo v CA ................................................................................................................................... 112
Balus v Balus...................................................................................................................................... 116
Unionbank v Santibanez ................................................................................................................... 121

Flora v Prado
FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 156879. January 20, 2004]

FLORDELIZA CALPATURA FLORA, DOMINADOR CALPATURA and TOMAS


CALPATURA, JR., Heirs of TOMAS CALPATURA, SR., petitioners, vs. ROBERTO,
ERLINDA, DANIEL, GLORIA, PATRICIO, JR. and EDNA, all surnamed PRADO and
NARCISA PRADO, respondents.

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

The property under litigation is the northern half portion of a residential land consisting of
552.20 square meters, more or less, situated at 19th Avenue, Murphy, Quezon City and covered
by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 71344 issued on August 15, 1963 by the Register of Deeds of
Quezon City in the name of Narcisa Prado and her children by her first husband, Patricio Prado,
Sr., namely, Roberto, Erlinda, Daniel, Gloria, Patricio, Jr. and Edna, respondents herein.
The pertinent facts are as follows:
On December 19, 1959, Patricio Prado, Sr. died. Narcisa subsequently married Bonifacio
Calpatura. In order to support her minor children with her first husband, Narcisa and her brother-
in-law, Tomas Calpatura, Sr., executed on April 26, 1968 an Agreement of Purchase and
Sale whereby the former agreed to sell to the latter the northern half portion of the property for
the sum of P10,500.00.[1] On July 28, 1973, Narcisa executed a Deed of Absolute Sale in favor
of Tomas over the said property.[2]
In 1976, Tomas daughter, Flordeliza Calpatura Flora, built a two-storey duplex with
firewall[3] on the northern half portion of the property. Respondents, who occupied the southern
half portion of the land, did not object to the construction. Flordeliza Flora and her husband
Wilfredo declared the property for taxation purposes[4] and paid the corresponding taxes
thereon.[5]Likewise, Maximo Calpatura, the son of Tomas cousin, built a small house on the
northern portion of the property.
On April 8, 1991, respondents filed a complaint for declaration of nullity of sale and delivery
of possession of the northern half portion of the subject property against petitioners Flordeliza
Calpatura Flora, Dominador Calpatura and Tomas Calpatura, Jr. before the Regional Trial Court
of Quezon City, Branch 100, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-91-8404.[6]Respondents alleged that
the transaction embodied in the Agreement to Purchase and Sale between Narcisa and Tomas
was one of mortgage and not of sale; that Narcisas children tried to redeem the mortgaged
property but they learned that the blank document which their mother had signed was
transformed into a Deed of Absolute Sale; that Narcisa could not have sold the northern half
portion of the property considering that she was prohibited from selling the same within a period
of 25 years from its acquisition, pursuant to the condition annotated at the back of the title; [7] that
Narcisa, as natural guardian of her children, had no authority to sell the northern half portion of
the property which she and her children co-owned; and that only P5,000.00 out of the
consideration of P10,500.00 was paid by Tomas.
In their answer, petitioners countered that Narcisa owned 9/14 of the property, consisting of
as her share in the conjugal partnership with her first husband and 1/7 as her share in the estate
of her deceased husband; that the consideration of the sale in the amount of P10,500.00 had
been fully paid as of April 1, 1968; that Narcisa sold her conjugal share in order to support her
minor children; that Narcisas claim was barred by laches and prescription; and that the
Philippine Homesite and Housing Corporation, not the respondents, was the real party in
interest to question the sale within the prohibited period.
On April 2, 1997, the court a quo[8] dismissed the complaint. It found that the sale was valid;
that the Agreement to Purchase and Sale and the Deed of Absolute Sale were duly executed;
that the sum of P10,500.00 as selling price for the subject property was fully paid there being no
demand for the payment of the remaining balance; that the introduction of improvements
thereon by the petitioners was without objection from the respondents; and that Roberto and
Erlinda failed to contest the transaction within four years after the discovery of the alleged fraud
and reaching the majority age in violation of Article 1391 of the Civil Code.[9]
Petitioners appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals, where it was docketed as CA-
G.R. CV No. 56843. On October 3, 2002, a decision[10] was rendered by the Court of Appeals
declaring that respondents were co-owners of the subject property, thus the sale was valid only
insofar as Narcisas 1/7 undivided share thereon was concerned. The dispositive portion of the
said decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that the sale in
dispute is declared valid only with respect to the one-seventh (1/7) share of plaintiff-appellant
NARCISA H. PRADO in the subject property, which is equivalent to 78.8857 square meters. In
all other respects, the same decision stands. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.[11]

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied in a Resolution dated
January 14, 2003.[12] Hence this petition for review on the following assigned errors:
I

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


IN MODIFYING THE DECISION RENDERED BY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT WITHOUT
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THAT, ASIDE FROM THE DECLARATION OF THE
VALIDITY OF THE SALE, THE PETITIONERS HEREIN HAVE TAKEN ACTUAL POSSESSION
OF THE SAID ONE-HALF (1/2) TO THE EXCLUSION OF THE RESPONDENTS AND
INTRODUCED IMPROVEMENTS THEREON.

II

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


IN MODIFYING THE DECISION RENDERED BY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT WITHOUT
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL STATEMENT IN THE
SALE THAT THE SAME PERTAINS TO THE CONJUGAL SHARE OF RESPONDENT
NARCISA PRADO AND THE OTHER RESPONDENTS HAD NO FINANCIAL CAPACITY TO
ACQUIRE THE SAID PROPERTY SINCE THEY WERE MINORS THEN AT THE ISSUANCE
OF THE SAID TCT NO. 71344 ON AUGUST 15, 1963.

III

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


IN NOT DECLARING THE HEREIN RESPONDENTS GUILTY OF LACHES IN FILING THE
INSTANT CASE ONLY ON APRIL 8, 1991, THAT IS 18 YEARS AFTER THE SAID SALE WITH
THE PETITIONERS TAKING ACTUAL POSSESSION OF SAID PORTION OF THE
PROPERTY.

IV
THAT THE DECISION OF THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS WILL UNDULY ENRICH THE
RESPONDENTS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE HEREIN PETITIONERS.[13]

At the outset, it must be stressed that only questions of law may be raised in petitions for
review before this Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. [14] It was thus error for petitioners
to ascribe to the Court of Appeals grave abuse of discretion. This procedural lapse
notwithstanding, in the interest of justice, this Court shall treat the issues as cases of reversible
error.[15]
The issues for resolution are: (1) Is the subject property conjugal or paraphernal? (2) Is the
transaction a sale or a mortgage? (3) Assuming that the transaction is a sale, what was the area
of the land subject of the sale?
Article 160 of the Civil Code, which was in effect at the time the sale was entered into,
provides that all property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership
unless it is proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife. Proof of acquisition
during the marriage is a condition sine qua non in order for the presumption in favor of conjugal
ownership to operate.[16]
In the instant case, while Narcisa testified during cross-examination that she bought the
subject property from Peoples Homesite Housing Corporation with her own funds, [17] she,
however admitted in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and the Deed of Absolute Sale that
the property was her conjugal share with her first husband, Patricio, Sr.[18] A verbal assertion
that she bought the land with her own funds is inadmissible to qualify the terms of a written
agreement under the parole evidence rule.[19] The so-called parole evidence rule forbids any
addition to or contradiction of the terms of a written instrument by testimony or other evidence
purporting to show that, at or before the execution of the parties written agreement, other or
different terms were agreed upon by the parties, varying the purport of the written
contract. Whatever is not found in the writing is understood to have been waived and
abandoned.[20]
Anent the second issue, the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Narcisa in favor of Tomas
is contained in a notarized[21] document. In Spouses Alfarero, et al. v. Spouses Sevilla, et
al.,[22] it was held that a public document executed and attested through the intervention of a
notary public is evidence of the facts in a clear, unequivocal manner therein
expressed. Otherwise stated, public or notarial documents, or those instruments duly
acknowledged or proved and certified as provided by law, may be presented in evidence without
further proof, the certificate of acknowledgment being prima facie evidence of the execution of
the instrument or document involved. In order to contradict the presumption of regularity of a
public document, evidence must be clear, convincing, and more than merely preponderant.
It is well-settled that in civil cases, the party that alleges a fact has the burden of proving
it.[23] Except for the bare allegation that the transaction was one of mortgage and not of sale,
respondents failed to adduce evidence in support thereof. Respondents also failed to controvert
the presumption that private transactions have been fair and regular.[24]
Furthermore, Narcisa, in fact did not deny that she executed an Affidavit allowing spouses
Wilfredo and Flordeliza Flora to construct a firewall between the two-storey duplex and her
house sometime in 1976. The duplex was made of strong materials, the roofing being
galvanized sheets. While the deed of sale between Tomas and Narcisa was never registered
nor annotated on the title, respondents had knowledge of the possession of petitioners of the
northern half portion of the property. Obviously, respondents recognized the ownership of
Tomas, petitioners predecessor-in-interest.
Respondents belatedly claimed that only P5,000.00 out of the P10,500.00 consideration
was paid. Both the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and the Deed of Absolute Sale state that
said consideration was paid in full. Moreover, the presumption is that there was sufficient
consideration for a written contract.[25]
The property being conjugal, upon the death of Patricio Prado, Sr., one-half of the subject
property was automatically reserved to the surviving spouse, Narcisa, as her share in the
conjugal partnership. Particios rights to the other half, in turn, were transmitted upon his death
to his heirs, which includes his widow Narcisa, who is entitled to the same share as that of each
of the legitimate children. Thus, as a result of the death of Patricio, a regime of co-ownership
arose between Narcisa and the other heirs in relation to the property. The remaining one-half
was transmitted to his heirs by intestate succession. By the law on intestate succession, his six
children and Narcisa Prado inherited the same at one-seventh (1/7) each pro
indiviso.[26]Inasmuch as Narcisa inherited one-seventh (1/7) of her husband's conjugal share in
the said property and is the owner of one-half (1/2) thereof as her conjugal share, she owns a
total of 9/14 of the subject property. Hence, Narcisa could validly convey her total undivided
share in the entire property to Tomas. Narcisa and her children are deemed co-owners of the
subject property.
Neither can the respondents invoke the proscription of encumbering the property within 25
years from acquisition. In Sarmiento, et al. v. Salud, et al.,[27] it was held that:

xxx The condition that the appellees Sarmiento spouses could not resell the property except to
the Peoples Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC for short) within the next 25 years after
appellees purchasing the lot is manifestly a condition in favor of the PHHC, and not one in favor
of the Sarmiento spouses. The condition conferred no actionable right on appellees herein,
since it operated as a restriction upon their jus disponendi of the property they bought, and thus
limited their right of ownership. It follows that on the assumption that the mortgage to appellee
Salud and the foreclosure sale violated the condition in the Sarmiento contract, only the PHHC
was entitled to invoke the condition aforementioned, and not the Sarmientos. The validity or
invalidity of the sheriff's foreclosure sale to appellant Salud thus depended exclusively on the
PHHC; the latter could attack the sale as violative of its right of exclusive reacquisition; but it
(PHHC) also could waive the condition and treat the sale as good, in which event, the sale can
not be assailed for breach of the condition aforestated.

Finally, no particular portion of the property could be identified as yet and delineated as the
object of the sale considering that the property had not yet been partitioned in accordance with
the Rules of Court.[28] While Narcisa could validly sell one half of the subject property, her share
being 9/14 of the same, she could not have particularly conveyed the northern portion thereof
before the partition, the terms of which was still to be determined by the parties before the trial
court.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals on October 3, 2002, as well as the
Resolution dated January 14, 2003 is PARTLY AFFIRMED subject to the following
MODIFICATIONS:
1) Narcisa Prado is entitled to 9/14 of the residential land consisting of 552.20 square
meters, more or less, situated at 19th Avenue, Murphy, Quezon City and covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 71344;
2) the sale of the undivided one half portion thereof by Narcisa Prado in favor of Tomas
Calpatura, Sr. is valid.
Furthermore, the case is REMANDED to the court of origin, only for the purpose of determining
the specific portion being conveyed in favor of Tomas Calpatura, Sr. pursuant to the partition
that will be agreed upon by the respondents.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Panganiban, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

De Borja v Vda de Borja

G.R. No. L-28040 August 18, 1972

TESTATE ESTATE OF JOSEFA TANGCO, JOSE DE BORJA, administrator-appellee; JOSE DE


BORJA, as administrator, CAYETANO DE BORJA, MATILDE DE BORJA and CRISANTO DE
BORJA (deceased) as Children of Josefa Tangco, appellees,
vs.
TASIANA VDA. DE DE BORJA, Special Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Francisco de
Borja,appellant. .

G.R. No L-28568 August 18, 1972

TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE FRANCISCO DE BORJA, TASIANA O. VDA. DE DE BORJA,


special Administratrix appellee,
vs.
JOSE DE BORJA, oppositor-appellant.

G.R. No. L-28611 August 18, 1972

TASIANA 0. VDA. DE BORJA, as Administratrix of the Testate Estate of the late Francisco de
Borja,plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
JOSE DE BORJA, as Administrator of the Testate Estate of the late Josefa Tangco, defendant-
appellant.

L-28040

Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir for administrator-appellee.

Quiogue & Quiogue for appellee Matilde de Borja.

Andres Matias for appellee Cayetano de Borja.

Sevilla & Aquino for appellant.

L-28568

Sevilla & Aquino for special administratrix-appellee.


Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir for oppositor-appellant.

L-28611

Sevilla & Aquino for plaintiff-appellee.

Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir and David Gueverra for defendant-appellant.

REYES, J.B.L., J.:p

Of these cases, the first, numbered L-28040 is an appeal by Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja,
special administratrix of the testate estate of Francisco de Borja, 1 from the approval of a compromise
agreement by the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch I, in its Special Proceeding No. R-7866, entitled,
"Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco, Jose de Borja, Administrator".

Case No. L-28568 is an appeal by administrator Jose Borja from the disapproval of the same
compromise agreement by the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch II, in its Special
Proceeding No. 832, entitled, "Testate Estate of Francisco de Borja, Tasiana O. Vda. de de Borja,
Special Administratrix".

And Case No. L-28611 is an appeal by administrator Jose de Borja from the decision of the Court of
First Instance of Rizal, Branch X, in its Civil Case No. 7452, declaring the Hacienda Jalajala
Poblacion, which is the main object of the aforesaid compromise agreement, as the separate and
exclusive property of the late Francisco de Borja and not a conjugal asset of the community with his
first wife, Josefa Tangco, and that said hacienda pertains exclusively to his testate estate, which is
under administrator in Special Proceeding No. 832 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija,
Branch II.

It is uncontested that Francisco de Borja, upon the death of his wife Josefa Tangco on 6 October
1940, filed a petition for the probate of her will which was docketed as Special Proceeding No. R-
7866 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch I. The will was probated on 2 April 1941. In 1946,
Francisco de Borja was appointed executor and administrator: in 1952, their son, Jose de Borja, was
appointed co-administrator. When Francisco died, on 14 April 1954, Jose became the sole
administrator of the testate estate of his mother, Josefa Tangco. While a widower Francisco de Borja
allegedly took unto himself a second wife, Tasiana Ongsingco. Upon Francisco's death, Tasiana
instituted testate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, where, in 1955, she was
appointed special administratrix. The validity of Tasiana's marriage to Francisco was questioned in
said proceeding.

The relationship between the children of the first marriage and Tasiana Ongsingco has been
plagued with several court suits and counter-suits; including the three cases at bar, some eighteen
(18) cases remain pending determination in the courts. The testate estate of Josefa Tangco alone
has been unsettled for more than a quarter of a century. In order to put an end to all these litigations,
a compromise agreement was entered into on 12 October 1963, 2 by and between "[T]he heir and son
of Francisco de Borja by his first marriage, namely, Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of the
Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco," and "[T]he heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his
second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, assisted by her lawyer, Atty. Luis Panaguiton Jr."
The terms and conditions of the compromise agreement are as follows:

AGREEMENT
THIS AGREEMENT made and entered into by and between

The heir and son of Francisco de Borja by his first marriage, namely, Jose de Borja
personally and as administrator of the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco,

AND

The heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second marriage,
Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, assisted by her lawyer, Atty. Luis Panaguiton Jr.

WITNESSETH

THAT it is the mutual desire of all the parties herein terminate and settle, with finality,
the various court litigations, controversies, claims, counterclaims, etc., between them
in connection with the administration, settlement, partition, adjudication and
distribution of the assets as well as liabilities of the estates of Francisco de Borja and
Josefa Tangco, first spouse of Francisco de Borja.

THAT with this end in view, the parties herein have agreed voluntarily and without
any reservations to enter into and execute this agreement under the following terms
and conditions:

1. That the parties agree to sell the Poblacion portion of the Jalajala properties
situated in Jalajala, Rizal, presently under administration in the Testate Estate of
Josefa Tangco (Sp. Proc. No. 7866, Rizal), more specifically described as follows:

Linda al Norte con el Rio Puwang que la separa de la jurisdiccion del


Municipio de Pililla de la Provincia de Rizal, y con el pico del Monte
Zambrano; al Oeste con Laguna de Bay; por el Sur con los herederos
de Marcelo de Borja; y por el Este con los terrenos de la Familia
Maronilla

with a segregated area of approximately 1,313 hectares at the amount of P0.30 per
square meter.

2. That Jose de Borja agrees and obligates himself to pay Tasiana Ongsingco Vda.
de de Borja the total amount of Eight Hundred Thousand Pesos (P800,000)
Philippine Currency, in cash, which represent P200,000 as his share in the payment
and P600,000 as pro-rata shares of the heirs Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde, all
surnamed de Borja and this shall be considered as full and complete payment and
settlement of her hereditary share in the estate of the late Francisco de Borja as well
as the estate of Josefa Tangco, Sp. Proc. No. 832-Nueva Ecija and Sp. Proc. No.
7866-Rizal, respectively, and to any properties bequeathed or devised in her favor by
the late Francisco de Borja by Last Will and Testament or by Donation Inter Vivos or
Mortis Causa or purportedly conveyed to her for consideration or otherwise. The
funds for this payment shall be taken from and shall depend upon the receipt of full
payment of the proceeds of the sale of Jalajala, "Poblacion."

3. That Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja hereby assumes payment of that


particular obligation incurred by the late Francisco de Borja in favor of the
Rehabilitation Finance Corporation, now Development Bank of the Philippines,
amounting to approximately P30,000.00 and also assumes payment of her 1/5 share
of the Estate and Inheritance taxes on the Estate of the late Francisco de Borja or
the sum of P3,500.00, more or less, which shall be deducted by the buyer of Jalajala,
"Poblacion" from the payment to be made to Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja under
paragraph 2 of this Agreement and paid directly to the Development Bank of the
Philippines and the heirs-children of Francisco de Borja.

4. Thereafter, the buyer of Jalajala "Poblacion" is hereby authorized to pay directly to


Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja the balance of the payment due her under
paragraph 2 of this Agreement (approximately P766,500.00) and issue in the name
of Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, corresponding certified checks/treasury
warrants, who, in turn, will issue the corresponding receipt to Jose de Borja.

5. In consideration of above payment to Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, Jose


de Borja personally and as administrator of the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco, and
Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, for themselves and for their heirs, successors,
executors, administrators, and assigns, hereby forever mutually renounce, withdraw,
waive, remise, release and discharge any and all manner of action or actions, cause
or causes of action, suits, debts, sum or sums of money, accounts, damages, claims
and demands whatsoever, in law or in equity, which they ever had, or now have or
may have against each other, more specifically Sp. Proceedings Nos. 7866 and
1955, CFI-Rizal, and Sp. Proc. No. 832-Nueva Ecija, Civil Case No. 3033, CFI
Nueva Ecija and Civil Case No. 7452-CFI, Rizal, as well as the case filed against
Manuel Quijal for perjury with the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, the intention being to
completely, absolutely and finally release each other, their heirs, successors, and
assigns, from any and all liability, arising wholly or partially, directly or indirectly, from
the administration, settlement, and distribution of the assets as well as liabilities of
the estates of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco, first spouse of Francisco de
Borja, and lastly, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja expressly and specifically
renounce absolutely her rights as heir over any hereditary share in the estate of
Francisco de Borja.

6. That Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, upon receipt of the payment under
paragraph 4 hereof, shall deliver to the heir Jose de Borja all the papers, titles and
documents belonging to Francisco de Borja which are in her possession and said
heir Jose de Borja shall issue in turn the corresponding receive thereof.

7. That this agreement shall take effect only upon the fulfillment of the sale of the
properties mentioned under paragraph 1 of this agreement and upon receipt of the
total and full payment of the proceeds of the sale of the Jalajala property "Poblacion",
otherwise, the non-fulfillment of the said sale will render this instrument NULL AND
VOID AND WITHOUT EFFECT THEREAFTER.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have her unto set their hands in the City
of Manila, Philippines, the 12th of October, 1963.

On 16 May 1966, Jose de Borja submitted for Court approval the agreement of 12 October 1963 to
the Court of First Instance of Rizal, in Special Proceeding No. R-7866; and again, on 8 August 1966,
to the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, in Special Proceeding No. 832. Tasiana Ongsingco
Vda. de de Borja opposed in both instances. The Rizal court approved the compromise agreement,
but the Nueva Ecija court declared it void and unenforceable. Special administratrix Tasiana
Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja appealed the Rizal Court's order of approval (now Supreme Court G.R.
case No. L-28040), while administrator Jose de Borja appealed the order of disapproval (G.R. case
No. L-28568) by the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija.

The genuineness and due execution of the compromised agreement of 12 October 1963 is not
disputed, but its validity is, nevertheless, attacked by Tasiana Ongsingco on the ground that: (1) the
heirs cannot enter into such kind of agreement without first probating the will of Francisco de Borja;
(2) that the same involves a compromise on the validity of the marriage between Francisco de Borja
and Tasiana Ongsingco; and (3) that even if it were valid, it has ceased to have force and effect.

In assailing the validity of the agreement of 12 October 1963, Tasiana Ongsingco and the Probate
Court of Nueva Ecija rely on this Court's decision in Guevara vs. Guevara. 74 Phil. 479, wherein the
Court's majority held the view that the presentation of a will for probate is mandatory and that the
settlement and distribution of an estate on the basis of intestacy when the decedent left a will, is
against the law and public policy. It is likewise pointed out by appellant Tasiana Ongsingco that
Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Revised Rules explicitly conditions the validity of an extrajudicial
settlement of a decedent's estate by agreement between heirs, upon the facts that "(if) the
decedentleft no will and no debts, and the heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by their
judicial and legal representatives ..." The will of Francisco de Borja having been submitted to the
Nueva Ecija Court and still pending probate when the 1963 agreement was made, those
circumstances, it is argued, bar the validity of the agreement.

Upon the other hand, in claiming the validity of the compromise agreement, Jose de Borja stresses
that at the time it was entered into, on 12 October 1963, the governing provision was Section 1, Rule
74 of the original Rules of Court of 1940, which allowed the extrajudicial settlement of the estate of a
deceased person regardless of whether he left a will or not. He also relies on the dissenting opinion
of Justice Moran, in Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 Phil. 479, wherein was expressed the view that if the
parties have already divided the estate in accordance with a decedent's will, the probate of the will is
a useless ceremony; and if they have divided the estate in a different manner, the probate of the will
is worse than useless.

The doctrine of Guevara vs. Guevara, ante, is not applicable to the case at bar. This is apparent
from an examination of the terms of the agreement between Jose de Borja and Tasiana Ongsingco.
Paragraph 2 of said agreement specifically stipulates that the sum of P800,000 payable to Tasiana
Ongsingco —

shall be considered as full — complete payment — settlement of her hereditary


share in the estate of the late Francisco de Borja as well as the estate of Josefa
Tangco, ... and to any properties bequeathed or devised in her favor by the late
Francisco de Borja by Last Will and Testament or by Donation Inter Vivos or Mortis
Causa or purportedly conveyed to her for consideration or otherwise.

This provision evidences beyond doubt that the ruling in the Guevara case is not applicable to the
cases at bar. There was here no attempt to settle or distribute the estate of Francisco de Borja
among the heirs thereto before the probate of his will. The clear object of the contract was merely
the conveyance by Tasiana Ongsingco of any and all her individual share and interest, actual or
eventual in the estate of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco. There is no stipulation as to any
other claimant, creditor or legatee. And as a hereditary share in a decedent's estate is transmitted or
vested immediately from the moment of the death of such causante or predecessor in interest (Civil
Code of the Philippines, Art. 777) 3 there is no legal bar to a successor (with requisite contracting
capacity) disposing of her or his hereditary share immediately after such death, even if the actual extent
of such share is not determined until the subsequent liquidation of the estate. 4 Of course, the effect of
such alienation is to be deemed limited to what is ultimately adjudicated to the vendor heir. However, the
aleatory character of the contract does not affect the validity of the transaction; neither does the
coetaneous agreement that the numerous litigations between the parties (the approving order of the Rizal
Court enumerates fourteen of them, Rec. App. pp. 79-82) are to be considered settled and should be
dismissed, although such stipulation, as noted by the Rizal Court, gives the contract the character of a
compromise that the law favors, for obvious reasons, if only because it serves to avoid a multiplicity of
suits.

It is likewise worthy of note in this connection that as the surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja,
Tasiana Ongsingco was his compulsory heir under article 995 et seq. of the present Civil Code.
Wherefore, barring unworthiness or valid disinheritance, her successional interest existed
independent of Francisco de Borja's last will and testament and would exist even if such will were
not probated at all. Thus, the prerequisite of a previous probate of the will, as established in the
Guevara and analogous cases, can not apply to the case of Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja.

Since the compromise contract Annex A was entered into by and between "Jose de Borja personally
and as administrator of the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco" on the one hand, and on the other, "the
heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda.
de de Borja", it is clear that the transaction was binding on both in their individual capacities, upon
the perfection of the contract, even without previous authority of the Court to enter into the same.
The only difference between an extrajudicial compromise and one that is submitted and approved by
the Court, is that the latter can be enforced by execution proceedings. Art. 2037 of the Civil Code is
explicit on the point:

8. Art. 2037. A compromise has upon the parties the effect and authority of res
judicata; but there shall be no execution except in compliance with a judicial
compromise.

It is argued by Tasiana Ongsingco that while the agreement Annex A expressed no


definite period for its performance, the same was intended to have a resolutory
period of 60 days for its effectiveness. In support of such contention, it is averred that
such a limit was expressly stipulated in an agreement in similar terms entered into by
said Ongsingco with the brothers and sister of Jose de Borja, to wit, Crisanto, Matilde
and Cayetano, all surnamed de Borja, except that the consideration was fixed at
P600,000 (Opposition, Annex/Rec. of Appeal, L-28040, pp. 39- 46) and which
contained the following clause:

III. That this agreement shall take effect only upon the consummation of the sale of
the property mentioned herein and upon receipt of the total and full payment of the
proceeds of the sale by the herein owner heirs-children of Francisco de Borja,
namely, Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde, all surnamed de Borja; Provided that if no
sale of the said property mentioned herein is consummated, or the non-receipt of the
purchase price thereof by the said owners within the period of sixty (60) days from
the date hereof, this agreement will become null and void and of no further effect.

Ongsingco's argument loses validity when it is considered that Jose de Borja was not a party to this
particular contract (Annex 1), and that the same appears not to have been finalized, since it bears no
date, the day being left blank "this — day of October 1963"; and while signed by the parties, it was
not notarized, although plainly intended to be so done, since it carries a proposed notarial ratification
clause. Furthermore, the compromise contract with Jose de Borja (Annex A), provides in its par. 2
heretofore transcribed that of the total consideration of P800, 000 to be paid to Ongsingco, P600,000
represent the "prorata share of the heirs Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde all surnamed de Borja"
which corresponds to the consideration of P600,000 recited in Annex 1, and that circumstance is
proof that the duly notarized contract entered into wit Jose de Borja under date 12 October 1963
(Annex A), was designed to absorb and supersede the separate unformalize agreement with the
other three Borja heirs. Hence, the 60 days resolutory term in the contract with the latter (Annex 1)
not being repeated in Annex A, can not apply to the formal compromise with Jose de Borja. It is
moreover manifest that the stipulation that the sale of the Hacienda de Jalajala was to be made
within sixty days from the date of the agreement with Jose de Borja's co-heirs (Annex 1) was plainly
omitted in Annex A as improper and ineffective, since the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) that was
to be sold to raise the P800,000 to be paid to Ongsingco for her share formed part of the estate of
Francisco de Borja and could not be sold until authorized by the Probate Court. The Court of First
Instance of Rizal so understood it, and in approving the compromise it fixed a term of 120 days
counted from the finality of the order now under appeal, for the carrying out by the parties for the
terms of the contract.

This brings us to the plea that the Court of First Instance of Rizal had no jurisdiction to approve the
compromise with Jose de Borja (Annex A) because Tasiana Ongsingco was not an heir in the estate
of Josefa Tangco pending settlement in the Rizal Court, but she was an heir of Francisco de Borja,
whose estate was the object of Special Proceeding No. 832 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva
Ecija. This circumstance is irrelevant, since what was sold by Tasiana Ongsingco was only her
eventual share in the estate of her late husband, not the estate itself; and as already shown, that
eventual share she owned from the time of Francisco's death and the Court of Nueva Ecija could not
bar her selling it. As owner of her undivided hereditary share, Tasiana could dispose of it in favor of
whomsoever she chose. Such alienation is expressly recognized and provided for by article 1088 of
the present Civil Code:

Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger before the
partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be subrogated to the rights of the purchaser
by reimbursing him for the price of the sale, provided they do so within the period of
one month from the time they were notified in writing of the sale of the vendor.

If a sale of a hereditary right can be made to a stranger, then a fortiori sale thereof to a coheir could
not be forbidden.

Tasiana Ongsingco further argues that her contract with Jose de Borja (Annex "A") is void because it
amounts to a compromise as to her status and marriage with the late Francisco de Borja. The point
is without merit, for the very opening paragraph of the agreement with Jose de Borja (Annex "A")
describes her as "the heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second marriage,
Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja", which is in itself definite admission of her civil status. There is
nothing in the text of the agreement that would show that this recognition of Ongsingco's status as
the surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja was only made in consideration of the cession of her
hereditary rights.

It is finally charged by appellant Ongsingco, as well as by the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija
in its order of 21 September 1964, in Special Proceedings No. 832 (Amended Record on Appeal in
L-28568, page 157), that the compromise agreement of 13 October 1963 (Annex "A") had been
abandoned, as shown by the fact that, after its execution, the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija,
in its order of 21 September 1964, had declared that "no amicable settlement had been arrived at by
the parties", and that Jose de Borja himself, in a motion of 17 June 1964, had stated that the
proposed amicable settlement "had failed to materialize".

It is difficult to believe, however, that the amicable settlement referred to in the order and motion
above-mentioned was the compromise agreement of 13 October 1963, which already had been
formally signed and executed by the parties and duly notarized. What the record discloses is that
some time after its formalization, Ongsingco had unilaterally attempted to back out from the
compromise agreement, pleading various reasons restated in the opposition to the Court's approval
of Annex "A" (Record on Appeal, L-20840, page 23): that the same was invalid because of the lapse
of the allegedly intended resolutory period of 60 days and because the contract was not preceded by
the probate of Francisco de Borja's will, as required by this Court's Guevarra vs. Guevara ruling; that
Annex "A" involved a compromise affecting Ongsingco's status as wife and widow of Francisco de
Borja, etc., all of which objections have been already discussed. It was natural that in view of the
widow's attitude, Jose de Borja should attempt to reach a new settlement or novatory agreement
before seeking judicial sanction and enforcement of Annex "A", since the latter step might ultimately
entail a longer delay in attaining final remedy. That the attempt to reach another settlement failed is
apparent from the letter of Ongsingco's counsel to Jose de Borja quoted in pages 35-36 of the brief
for appellant Ongsingco in G.R. No. 28040; and it is more than probable that the order of 21
September 1964 and the motion of 17 June 1964 referred to the failure of the parties' quest for a
more satisfactory compromise. But the inability to reach a novatory accord can not invalidate the
original compromise (Annex "A") and justifies the act of Jose de Borja in finally seeking a court order
for its approval and enforcement from the Court of First Instance of Rizal, which, as heretofore
described, decreed that the agreement be ultimately performed within 120 days from the finality of
the order, now under appeal.

We conclude that in so doing, the Rizal court acted in accordance with law, and, therefore, its order
should be upheld, while the contrary resolution of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija should
be, and is, reversed.

In her brief, Tasiana Ongsingco also pleads that the time elapsed in the appeal has affected her
unfavorably, in that while the purchasing power of the agreed price of P800,000 has diminished, the
value of the Jalajala property has increased. But the fact is that her delay in receiving the payment of
the agreed price for her hereditary interest was primarily due to her attempts to nullify the agreement
(Annex "A") she had formally entered into with the advice of her counsel, Attorney Panaguiton. And
as to the devaluation de facto of our currency, what We said in Dizon Rivera vs. Dizon, L-24561, 30
June 1970, 33 SCRA 554, that "estates would never be settled if there were to be a revaluation with
every subsequent fluctuation in the values of currency and properties of the estate", is particularly
opposite in the present case.

Coming now to Case G.R. No. L-28611, the issue is whether the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion),
concededly acquired by Francisco de Borja during his marriage to his first wife, Josefa Tangco, is
the husband's private property (as contended by his second spouse, Tasiana Ongsingco), or
whether it forms part of the conjugal (ganancial) partnership with Josefa Tangco. The Court of First
Instance of Rizal (Judge Herminio Mariano, presiding) declared that there was adequate evidence to
overcome the presumption in favor of its conjugal character established by Article 160 of the Civil
Code.

We are of the opinion that this question as between Tasiana Ongsingco and Jose de Borja has
become moot and academic, in view of the conclusion reached by this Court in the two preceding
cases (G.R. No. L-28568), upholding as valid the cession of Tasiana Ongsingco's eventual share in
the estate of her late husband, Francisco de Borja, for the sum of P800,000 with the accompanying
reciprocal quit-claims between the parties. But as the question may affect the rights of possible
creditors and legatees, its resolution is still imperative.

It is undisputed that the Hacienda Jalajala, of around 4,363 hectares, had been originally acquired
jointly by Francisco de Borja, Bernardo de Borja and Marcelo de Borja and their title thereto was duly
registered in their names as co-owners in Land Registration Case No. 528 of the province of Rizal,
G.L.R.O. Rec. No. 26403 (De Barjo vs. Jugo, 54 Phil. 465). Subsequently, in 1931, the Hacienda
was partitioned among the co-owners: the Punta section went to Marcelo de Borja; the Bagombong
section to Bernardo de Borja, and the part in Jalajala proper (Poblacion) corresponded to Francisco
de Borja (V. De Borja vs. De Borja 101 Phil. 911, 932).

The lot allotted to Francisco was described as —

Una Parcela de terreno en Poblacion, Jalajala: N. Puang River; E. Hermogena


Romero; S. Heirs of Marcelo de Borja O. Laguna de Bay; containing an area of
13,488,870 sq. m. more or less, assessed at P297,410. (Record on Appeal, pages 7
and 105)

On 20 November 1962, Tasiana O. Vda. de Borja, as Administratrix of the Testate Estate of


Francisco de Borja, instituted a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Civil Case No. 7452)
against Jose de Borja, in his capacity as Administrator of Josefa Tangco (Francisco de Borja's first
wife), seeking to have the Hacienda above described declared exclusive private property of
Francisco, while in his answer defendant (now appellant) Jose de Borja claimed that it was conjugal
property of his parents (Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco), conformably to the presumption
established by Article 160 of the Philippine Civil Code (reproducing Article 1407 of the Civil Code of
1889), to the effect that:

Art. 160. All property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal
partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the
wife.

Defendant Jose de Borja further counterclaimed for damages, compensatory, moral and exemplary,
as well as for attorney's fees.

After trial, the Court of First Instance of Rizal, per Judge Herminio Mariano, held that the plaintiff had
adduced sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption, and declared the Hacienda de Jalajala
(Poblacion) to be the exclusive private property of the late Francisco de Borja, and his Administratrix,
Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, to be entitled to its possession. Defendant Jose de Borja then
appealed to this Court.

The evidence reveals, and the appealed order admits, that the character of the Hacienda in question
as owned by the conjugal partnership De Borja-Tangco was solemnly admitted by the late Francisco
de Borja no less than two times: first, in the Reamended Inventory that, as executor of the estate of
his deceased wife Josefa Tangco, he filed in the Special Proceedings No. 7866 of the Court of First
Instance of Rizal on 23 July 1953 (Exhibit "2"); and again, in the Reamended Accounting of the
same date, also filed in the proceedings aforesaid (Exhibit "7"). Similarly, the plaintiff Tasiana O.
Vda. de Borja, herself, as oppositor in the Estate of Josefa Tangco, submitted therein an inventory
dated 7 September 1954 (Exhibit "3") listing the Jalajala property among the "Conjugal Properties of
the Spouses Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco". And once more, Tasiana Ongsingco, as
administratrix of the Estate of Francisco de Borja, in Special Proceedings No. 832 of the Court of
First Instance of Nueva Ecija, submitted therein in December, 1955, an inventory wherein she listed
the Jalajala Hacienda under the heading "Conjugal Property of the Deceased Spouses Francisco de
Borja and Josefa Tangco, which are in the possession of the Administrator of the Testate Estate of
the Deceased Josefa Tangco in Special Proceedings No. 7866 of the Court of First Instance of
Rizal" (Exhibit "4").

Notwithstanding the four statements aforesaid, and the fact that they are plain admissions against
interest made by both Francisco de Borja and the Administratrix of his estate, in the course of
judicial proceedings in the Rizal and Nueva Ecija Courts, supporting the legal presumption in favor of
the conjugal community, the Court below declared that the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) was not
conjugal property, but the private exclusive property of the late Francisco de Borja. It did so on the
strength of the following evidences: (a) the sworn statement by Francis de Borja on 6 August 1951
(Exhibit "F") that —

He tomado possession del pedazo de terreno ya delimitado (equivalente a 1/4 parte,


337 hectareas) adjunto a mi terreno personal y exclusivo (Poblacion de Jalajala,
Rizal).

and (b) the testimony of Gregorio de Borja, son of Bernardo de Borja, that the entire Hacienda had
been bought at a foreclosure sale for P40,100.00, of which amount P25,100 was contributed by
Bernardo de Borja and P15,000. by Marcelo de Borja; that upon receipt of a subsequent demand
from the provincial treasurer for realty taxes the sum of P17,000, Marcelo told his brother Bernardo
that Francisco (son of Marcelo) wanted also to be a co-owner, and upon Bernardo's assent to the
proposal, Marcelo issue a check for P17,000.00 to pay the back taxes and said that the amount
would represent Francisco's contribution in the purchase of the Hacienda. The witness further
testified that —

Marcelo de Borja said that that money was entrusted to him by Francisco de
Borja when he was still a bachelor and which he derived from his business
transactions. (Hearing, 2 February 1965, t.s.n., pages 13-15) (Emphasis supplied)

The Court below, reasoning that not only Francisco's sworn statement overweighed the admissions
in the inventories relied upon by defendant-appellant Jose de Borja since probate courts can not
finally determine questions of ownership of inventoried property, but that the testimony of Gregorio
de Borja showed that Francisco de Borja acquired his share of the original Hacienda with his private
funds, for which reason that share can not be regarded as conjugal partnership property, but as
exclusive property of the buyer, pursuant to Article 1396(4) of Civil Code of 1889 and Article 148(4)
of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

The following shall be the exclusive property of each spouse:

xxx xxx xxx

(4) That which is purchased with exclusive money of the wife or of the husband.

We find the conclusions of the lower court to be untenable. In the first place, witness Gregorio de
Borja's testimony as to the source of the money paid by Francisco for his share was plain hearsay,
hence inadmissible and of no probative value, since he was merely repeating what Marcelo de Borja
had told him (Gregorio). There is no way of ascertaining the truth of the statement, since both
Marcelo and Francisco de Borja were already dead when Gregorio testified. In addition, the
statement itself is improbable, since there was no need or occasion for Marcelo de Borja to explain
to Gregorio how and when Francisco de Borja had earned the P17,000.00 entrusted to Marcelo. A
ring of artificiality is clearly discernible in this portion of Gregorio's testimony.

As to Francisco de Borja's affidavit, Exhibit "F", the quoted portion thereof (ante, page 14) does not
clearly demonstrate that the "mi terreno personal y exclusivo (Poblacion de Jalajala, Rizal) " refers
precisely to the Hacienda in question. The inventories (Exhibits 3 and 4) disclose that there were two
real properties in Jalajala owned by Francisco de Borja, one of 72.038 sq. m., assessed at P44,600,
and a much bigger one of 1,357.260.70 sq. m., which is evidently the Hacienda de Jalajala
(Poblacion). To which of these lands did the affidavit of Francisco de Borja (Exhibit "F") refer to? In
addition, Francisco's characterization of the land as "mi terreno personal y exclusivo" is plainly self-
serving, and not admissible in the absence of cross examination.

It may be true that the inventories relied upon by defendant-appellant (Exhibits "2", "3", "4" and "7")
are not conclusive on the conjugal character of the property in question; but as already noted, they
are clear admissions against the pecuniary interest of the declarants, Francisco de Borja and his
executor-widow, Tasiana Ongsingco, and as such of much greater probative weight than the self-
serving statement of Francisco (Exhibit "F"). Plainly, the legal presumption in favor of the conjugal
character of the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) now in dispute has not been rebutted but actually
confirmed by proof. Hence, the appealed order should be reversed and the Hacienda de Jalajala
(Poblacion) declared property of the conjugal partnership of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco.

No error having been assigned against the ruling of the lower court that claims for damages should
be ventilated in the corresponding special proceedings for the settlement of the estates of the
deceased, the same requires no pro announcement from this Court.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appealed order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal in Case
No. L-28040 is hereby affirmed; while those involved in Cases Nos. L-28568 and L-28611 are
reversed and set aside. Costs against the appellant Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja in all three (3)
cases.

Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio and
Esguerra, JJ., concur.

Fernando, J., took no part.

Bailon-Casilao v CA

G.R. No. 78178 April 15, 1988

DELIA BAILON-CASILAO, LUZ PAULINO-ANG, EMMA PAULINO-YBANEZ, NILDA PAULINO-


TOLENTINO, and SABINA BAILON, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and CELESTINO AFABLE, respondents.

Veronico E. Rubio for petitioners.

Mario G. Fortes for private-respondent.

CORTES, J.:

The fate of petitioners' claim over a parcel of land rests ultimately on a determination of whether or
not said petitioners are chargeable with such laches as may effectively bar their present action.
The petitioners herein filed a case for recovery of property and damages with notice of lis
pendens on March 13, 1981 against the defendant and herein private respondent, Celestino Afable.
The parcel of land involved in this case, with an area of 48,849 square meters, is covered by Original
Certificate of Title No. 1771 issued on June 12, 1931, in the names of Rosalia, Gaudencio, Sabina
Bernabe, Nenita and Delia, all surnamed Bailon, as co-owners, each with a 1/6 share. Gaudencio
and Nenita are now dead, the latter being represented in this case by her children. Luz, Emma and
Nilda. Bernabe went to China in 1931 and had not been heard from since then [Decision of the Court
of Appeals, Rollo, p. 39].

It appears that on August 23, 1948, Rosalia Bailon and Gaudencio Bailon sold a portion of the said
land consisting of 16,283 square meters to Donato Delgado. On May 13, 1949, Rosalia Bailon alone
sold the remainder of the land consisting of 32,566 square meters to Ponciana V. Aresgado de
Lanuza. On the same date, Lanuza acquired from Delgado the 16,283 square meters of land which
the latter had earlier acquired from Rosalia and Gaudencio. On December 3, 1975, John Lanuza,
acting under a special power of attorney given by his wife, Ponciana V. Aresgado de Lanuza, sold
the two parcels of land to Celestino Afable, Sr.

In all these transfers, it was stated in the deeds of sale that the land was not registered under the
provisions of Act No. 496 when the fact is that it is. It appears that said land had been successively
declared for taxation first, in the name of Ciriaca Dellamas, mother of the registered co-owners, then
in the name of Rosalia Bailon in 1924, then in that of Donato Delgado in 1936, then in Ponciana de
Lanuza's name in 1962 and finally in the name of Celestino Afable, Sr. in 1983.

In his answer to the complaint filed by the herein petitioners, Afable claimed that he had acquired the
land in question through prescription and contended that the petitioners were guilty of laches.He
later filed a third-party complaint against Rosalia Bailon for damages allegedly suffered as a result of
the sale to him of the land.

After trial, the lower court rendered a decision:

1. Finding and declaring Celestino Afable, a co-owner of the land described in


paragraph III of the complaint having validly bought the two-sixth (2/6) respective
undivided shares of Rosalia Bailon and Gaudencio Bailon;

2. Finding and declaring the following as pro-indiviso co-owners, having 1/6 share
each, of the property described in paragraph III of the complaint, to wit:

a. Sabina Bailon

b. Bernabe Bailon

c. Heirs of Nenita Bailon-Paulino

d. Delia Bailon-Casilao;

3. Ordering the segregation of the undivided interests in the property in order to


terminate co-ownership to be conducted by any Geodetic Engineer selected by the
parties to delineate the specific part of each of the co-owners.

4. Ordering the defendant to restore the possession of the plaintiffs respective shares
as well as all attributes of absolute dominion;
5. Ordering the defendant to pay the following:

a. P5,000.00 as damages;

b. P2,000.00 as attorney's fees and;

c. to pay the costs.

[Decision of the Trial Court, Rollo, p. 37-38].

On appeal, the respondent Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court insofar as it
held that prescription does not he against plaintiffs-appellees because they are co-owners of the
original vendors. However, the appellate court declared that, although registered property cannot be
lost by prescription, nevertheless, an action to recover it may be barred by laches, citing the ruling
in Mejia de Lucaz v. Gamponia[100 Phil. 277 (1956)]. Accordingly, it held the petitioners guilty of
laches and dismissed their complaint. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari of the decision of
the Court of Appeals.

The principal issue to be resolved in this case concerns the applicability of the equitable doctrine of
laches. Initially though, a determination of the effect of a sale by one or more co-owners of the entire
property held in common without the consent of all the co-owners and of the appropriate remedy of
the aggrieved co-owners is required.

The rights of a co-owner of a certain property are clearly specified in Article 493 of the Civil
Code.Thus:

Art. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the acts and
benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate assign or mortgage it and
even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are
involved. But the effect of the alienation or mortgage, with respect to the co-owners,
shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division upon the
termination of the co-ownership. [Emphasis supplied.]

As early as 1923, this Court has ruled that even if a co-owner sells the whole property as his, the
sale will affect only his own share but not those of the other co-owners who did not consent to the
sale [Punsalan v. Boon Liat 44 Phil. 320 (1923)]. This is because under the aforementioned codal
provision, the sale or other disposition affects only his undivided share and the transferee gets only
what would correspond to his grantor in the partition of the thing owned in common.[Ramirez v.
Bautista, 14 Phil. 528 (1909)]. Consequently, by virtue of the sales made by Rosalia and Gaudencio
Bailon which are valid with respect to their proportionate shares, and the subsequent transfers which
culminated in the sale to private respondent Celestino Afable, the said Afable thereby became a co-
owner of the disputed parcel of land as correctly held by the lower court since the sales produced
the effect of substituting the buyers in the enjoyment thereof [Mainit v. Bandoy, 14 Phil. 730 (1910)].

From the foregoing, it may be deduced that since a co-owner is entitled to sell his undivided share, a
sale of the entire property by one co-owner without the consent of the other co-owners is not null
and void. However, only the rights of the co-owner-seller are transferred, thereby making the buyer a
co-owner of the property.

The proper action in cases like this is not for the nullification of the sale or for the recovery of
possession of the thing owned in common from the third person who substituted the co-owner or co-
owners who alienated their shares, but the DIVISION of the common property as if it continued to
remain in the possession of the co-owners who possessed and administered it [Mainit v.
Bandoy, supra.]

Thus, it is now settled that the appropriate recourse of co-owners in cases where their consent were
not secured in a sale of the entire property as well as in a sale merely of the undivided shares of
some of the co-owners is an action. for PARTITION under Rule 69 of the Revised Rules of Court.
Neither recovery of possession nor restitution can be granted since the defendant buyers are
legitimate proprietors and possessors in joint ownership of the common property claimed [Ramirez v.
Bautista, supra].

As to the action for petition, neither prescription nor laches can be invoked.

In the light of the attendant circumstances, defendant-appellee's defense of prescription is a vain


proposition. Pursuant to Article 494 of the Civil Code, '(n)o co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the
co-ownership. Such co-owner may demand at anytime the partition of the thing owned in common,
insofar as his share is concerned.' [Emphasis supplied.] In Budiong v. Bondoc [G.R. No. L-27702,
September 9, 1977, 79 SCRA 241, this Court has interpreted said provision of law to mean that the
action for partition is imprescriptible or cannot be barred by prescription. For Article 494 of the Civil
Code explicitly declares: "No prescription shall lie in favor of a co-owner or co- heir so long as he
expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership."

Furthermore, the disputed parcel of land being registered under the Torrens System, the express
provision of Act No. 496 that '(n)o title to registered land in derogation to that of the registered owner
shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession' is squarely applicable. Consequently,
prescription will not lie in favor of Afable as against the petitioners who remain the registered owners
of the disputed parcel of land.

It is argued however, that as to the petitioners Emma, Luz and Nelda who are not the registered co-
owners but merely represented their deceased mother, the late Nenita Bailon, prescription
lies.Respondents bolster their argument by citing a decision of this Court in Pasion v.
Pasion [G.R.No. L-15757, May 31, 1961, 2 SCRA 486, 489] holding that "the imprescriptibility of a
Torrens title can only be invoked by the person in whose name the title is registered" and that 'one
who is not the registered owner of a parcel of land cannot invoke imprescriptibility of action to claim
the same.'

Reliance on the aforesaid Pasion case is futile. The ruling therein applies only against transferees
other than direct issues or heirs or to complete strangers. The rational is clear:

If prescription is unavailing against the registered owner, it must be equally


unavailing against the latter's hereditary successors, because they merely step into
the shoes of the decedent by operation of law (New Civil Code, Article 777; Old Civil
Code, Article 657), the title or right undergoing no change by its transmission mortis
causa [Atus, et al., v. Nunez, et al., 97 Phil. 762, 764].

The latest pronouncement of this Court in Umbay v. Alecha [G. R. No. 67284, March 18, 1985, 135
SCRA 427, 429], which was promulgated subsequent to the Pasion case reiterated
the Atus doctrine. Thus:

Prescription is unavailing not only against the registered owner but also against his
hereditary successors, because they merely step into the shoes of the decedent by
operation of law and are merely the continuation of the personality of their
predecessor-in-interest. [Barcelona v. Barcelona, 100 Phil. 251, 257].

Laches is likewise unavailing as a shield against the action of herein petitioners.

Well-stated in this jurisdiction are the four basic elements of laches, namely: (1) conduct on the part
of the defendant or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which complaint is
made and for which the complainant seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the corporations
complainant's rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice of the defendant's conduct
and having been afforded an opportunity to institute suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part
of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and, (4)
injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant, or the suit is
not held to be barred [Go China Gun, et al. v. Co Cho et al., 96 Phil. 622 (1955)].

While the first and last elements are present in this case, the second and third elements are missing.

The second element speaks of delay in asserting the complainant's rights. However, the mere fact of
delay is insufficient to constitute, laches. It is required that (1) complainant must have
had knowledge of the conduct of defendant or of one under whom he claims and (2) he must have
been afforded an opportunity to institute suit. This court has pointed out that laches is not concerned
with the mere lapse of time. Thus:

Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable length of time
to do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have been done earlier;
it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time warranting a
presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to
assert it. Tijam, et al., v. Sibonghanoy, G.R. No. L-21450, April 25, 1968, 23 SCRA
29,35; Tendo v. Zamacoma, G.R. No. L-63048, August 7, 1985, 138 SCRA 78, 90].

The doctrine of "laches" or of "stale demands" is based upon grounds of public policy
which requires for the peace of society, the discouragement of stale claims and
unlike the statute of limitations, isnot a mere question of time but is principally a
question of inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be enforced or
asserted," [Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, supra, p. 35]. [Emphasis supplied.]

It must be noted that while there was delay in asserting petitioners' rights, such delay was not
attended with any knowledge of the sale nor with any opportunity to bring suit. In the first place,
petitioners had no notice of the sale made by their eldest sister. It is undisputed that the petitioner
co-owners had entrusted the care and management of the parcel of land to Rosalia Bailon who was
the oldest among them [TSN, July 27, 1983, p. 14]. In fact, Nicanor Lee, a son of Rosalia, who was
presented as a witness by the plaintiffs-petitioners, testified on cross-examination that his mother
was only the administrator of the land as she is the eldest and her brothers and sisters were away
[TSN, October 5, 1983, p. 15]. Indeed, when Delia Bailon-Casilao left Sorsogon in 1942 after she got
married, it was only in 1983 that she returned. Sabina on the other hand, is said to be living in
Zamboanga while Bernabe who left for China in 1931 has not been heard from since then.
Consequently, when Rosalia, from whom the private respondent derived his title, made the disputed
sales covering the entire property, the herein petitioners were unaware thereof.

In the second place, they were not afforded an opportunity to bring suit inasmuch as until 1981, they
were kept in the dark about the transactions entered into by their sister. It was only when Delia
Bailon-Casilao returned to Sorsogon in 1981 that she found out about the sales and immediately,
she and her co-petitioners filed the present action for recovery of property. The appellate court thus
erred in holding that 'the petitioners did nothing to show interest in the land." For the administration
of the parcel of land was entrusted to the oldest co-owner who was then in possession thereof
precisely because the other co-owners cannot attend to such a task as they reside outside of
Sorsogon where the land is situated. Her co-owners also allowed her to appropriate the entire
produce for herself because it was not even enough for her daily consumption [TSN, October 5,
1983, pp. 17-18]. And since petitioner was the one receiving the produce, it is but natural that she
was the one to take charge of paying the real estate taxes. Now, if knowledge of the sale by Rosalia
was conveyed to the petitioners only later, they cannot be faulted for the acts of their co-owner who
failed to live up to the trust and confidence expected of her. In view of the lack of knowledge by the
petitioners of the conduct of Rosalia in selling the land without their consent in 1975 and the
absence of any opportunity to institute the proper action until 1981, laches may not be asserted
against the petitioners.

The third element of laches is likewise absent. There was no lack of knowledge or notice on the part
of the defendant that the complainants would assert the right on which they base the suit. On the
contrary, private respondent is guilty of bad faith in purchasing the property as he knew that the
property was co-owned by six persons and yet, there were only two signatories to the deeds of sale
and no special authorization to self was granted to the two sellers by the other co-owners.

Even as the land here was misrepresented in the deeds of sale as "unregistered," the truth was that
Afable already had notice that the land was titled in the name of six persons by virtue of the
Certificate of Title which was already in his possession even before the sale. Such fact is apparent
from his testimony before the court a quo:

COURT:

Q: From whom did you get the certificate of Title?

A: When it was mortgaged by Ponciana Aresgado.

Q: It was mortgaged to you before you bought it?

A: Yes, Your Honor. (TSN, March 5, 1984, p. 12) When cross-


examined, he stated:

Q: Mr. Witness, the original Certificate of Title was given to you in the
year 1974, was it not?

A: 1975.

Q: In 1975, you already discovered that the title was in the name of
several persons, is it not?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: When you discovered that it is in the name of several persons, you


filed a case in court for authority to cancel the title to be transferred in
your name, is it not?

A: Yes, sir.
Q: And that was denied by the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon
because there was ordinary one signatory to the deed of sale instead
of six, was it not?

A: Not one but two signatories.

[Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon, Rollo, p. 35]

Such actual knowledge of the existence of other co-owners in whose names the lot subject of the
sale was registered should have prompted a searching inquiry by Afable considering the well- known
rule in this jurisdiction that:

... a person dealing with a registered land has a right to rely upon the face of the
Torrens certificate of title and to dispense with the need of inquiring further, except
when the party concerned has actual knowledge of facts and circumstances that
would impel a reasonably cautions man to make such inquiry. [Gonzales v. IAC and
Rural Bank of Pavia, Inc., G.R. No. 69622, January 29, 1988).

Moreover, the undisputed fact is that petitioners are relatives of his wife. As a genuine gesture of
good faith, he should have contacted the petitioners who were still listed as co-owners in the
certificate of title which was already in his possession even before the sale. In failing to exercise
even a minimum degree of ordinary prudence required by the situation, he is deemed to have
bought the lot at his own risk. Hence any prejudice or injury that may be occasioned to him by such
sale must be borne by him.

Indeed, aware of the flaws impairing his title, Afable went to the herein petitioner Delia Bailon-
Casilao, asking the latter to sign a document obviously to cure the flaw [TSN, July 27, 1983, p.6].
Later, he even filed a petition in the Court of First Instance to register the title in his name which was
denied as aforesaid.

It may be gleaned from the foregoing examination of the facts that Celestino Afable is not a buyer in
good faith. Laches being an equitable defense, he who invokes it must come to the court with clean
hands.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby GRANTED, the challenged decision of the Court
of Appeals is SET ASIDE, and the decision of the trial court is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Bidin, JJ., concur.

Alejandrino v CA
THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 114151. September 17, 1998]


MAURICIA ALEJANDRINO, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HON.
BENIGNO G. GAVIOLA, RTC-9, CEBU CITY, and LICERIO P. NIQUE, respondents.

DECISION
ROMERO, J.:

Questioned in this petition for review on certiorari is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals
which ruled that the trial court, in an action for quieting of title, did not act in excess of
jurisdiction when it issued an order for the segregation of property, after the finality of its
decision.
The facts show that the late spouses Jacinto Alejandrino and Enrica Labunos left their six
children named Marcelino, Gregorio, Ciriaco, Mauricia, Laurencia and Abundio a 219-square-
meter lot in Mambaling, Cebu City identified as Lot No. 2798 and covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 19658. Upon the demise of the Alejandrino spouses, the property should
have been divided among their children with each child having a share of 36.50 square meters.
However, the estate of the Alejandrino spouses was not settled in accordance with the
procedure outlined in the Rules of Court.
Petitioner Mauricia (one of the children) allegedly purchased 12.17 square meters of
Gregorios share, 36.50 square meters of Ciriacos share and 12.17 square meters of Abundios
share thereby giving her a total area of 97.43 square meters, including her own share of 36.50
square meters. It turned out, however, that a third party named Licerio Nique, the private
respondent in this case, also purchased portions of the property, to wit: 36.50 square meters
from Laurencia, 36.50 square meters from Gregorio through Laurencia, 12.17 square meters
from Abundio also through Laurencia and 36.50 square meters from Marcelino or a total area of
121.67 square meters of the Alejandrino property.[2]
However, Laurencia (the alleged seller of most of the 121.67 square meters of the property)
later questioned the sale in an action for quieting of title and damages against private
respondent Nique. It was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-7038 in the Regional Trial Court of
Cebu City, Branch 9, presided by Judge Benigno G. Gaviola. In due course, the lower court
rendered a decision on November 27, 1990 disposing of the case as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby renders judgment in favor of defendant and against
plaintiff, dismissing the complaint filed by plaintiff against defendant, and on the
Counterclaim and prayer of defendant in its Answer, the Court hereby declares
defendant as the owner in fee simple of the share of plaintiff Laurencia Alejandrino
and the shares of Marcelino, Gregorio and Abundio, all surnamed Alejandrino, of the
parcel of land known as Lot No. 2798 and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.
19658 which 4 shares totals an area of 146 square meters more or less; and the
Court further Orders plaintiff to:
1. Vacate the premises subject of the complaint and surrender the property to
defendant to the extent of the 4 shares aforementioned;
2. Pay the defendant the amount of P15,000.00 as litigation and necessary
expenses; the sum of P10,000.00 as reimbursement for attorneys fees;
the sum of P10,000.00 as moral damages and P10,000.00 as
exemplary damages;
3. Plus costs.
SO ORDERED.[3]

Laurencia appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals under CA-G.R. CV No. 33433 but
later withdrew the same.[4] On April 13, 1992, the Court of Appeals considered the appeal
withdrawn in accordance with Rule 50 of the Rules of Court.[5]
Meanwhile, herein petitioner Mauricia Alejandrino filed on May 5, 1992 before the Regional
Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch VII, a complaint for redemption and recovery of properties with
damages against private respondent Nique that was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-11673.
Adelino B. Sitoy, Laurencias counsel in Civil Case No. CEB-7038, filed Civil Case No. CEB-
11673 for petitioner Mauricia.
The amended complaint in the latter case dated May 17, 1992 alleged that private
respondent Nique never notified petitioner Mauricia of the purchase of 121.67 square meters of
the undivided Lot No. 2798 nor did he give petitioner Mauricia the preemptive right to buy the
area as a co-owner of the same lot. As such co-owner, petitioner Mauricia manifested her
willingness to deposit with the court the amount of P29,777.78, the acquisition cost of the
portion purchased by private respondent Nique. Petitioner Mauricia also alleged that she
demanded from private respondent the area of around 24.34 square meters that the latter had
unduly, baselessly and maliciously claimed as his own but which, as part of Lot No. 2798,
actually belongs to her. The amended complaint prayed that petitioner Mauricia be allowed to
redeem the area of 121.67 square meters under the redemption price of P29,777.78 and that
private respondent Nique be ordered to execute the necessary documents for the redemption
and the eventual transfer of certificate of title to her. The amended complaint further prayed for
the return to petitioner Mauricia of the 24.34-square-meter portion of the lot and for damages
amounting to P115,000 and attorneys fees of P30,000.
On August 2, 1993, the lower court granted the motion to admit the amended complaint and
forthwith ordered the defendant therein to file an amended answer.
In Civil Case No. CEB-7038 in the meantime, private respondent filed a motion for the
segregation of the 146-square-meter portion of the property that had been declared by the trial
court as his own by virtue of purchase. On May 6, 1993, the trial court issued an order the
pertinent portions of which read as follows:

ORDER

For resolution is a `Motion to Order Segregation of 146 Square Meters In Lot No. 2798
dated January 15, 1993 filed by defendant and the `Opposition thereto dated February
2, 1992 by plaintiff. Movant-defendant also filed a rejoinder dated February 15, 1993 to
the Opposition.
After going over the allegations in the motion, the opposition thereto and the rejoinder
as well as the records of the case, particularly the decision rendered by this Court and
the Order dated October 28, 1992, denying the motion for reconsideration filed by
plaintiffs and allowing the issuance of a writ of execution, the Court is inclined to Grant
the instant motion.
xxxxxxxxxxxx

In addition thereto, the Court makes the following observation:


1. Plaintiff (oppositor) has a total share of 146 square meters. This is admitted by her in
her complaint (par. 4 thereof). In the decision rendered by this Court, this share
now belongs to defendant movant by way of sale. The decision of this Court has
long become final.

2. The total area of the land is 219 sq. meters (par. 2 of complaint), thus, the share of
Mauricia Alejandrino is only 73 square meters.

3. As early as June 10, 1983, Mauricia Alejandrino and Laurencia Alejandrino had
entered into an 'Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate' whereby they agreed to divide
the land subject of this case with Laurencia Alejandrino owning 146 square
meters in the frontage and Mauricia Alejandrino owning 75 square meters in the
back portion (Exh. '16', Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate, par. 1) (underscoring
supplied), and that the parties assure each other and their successor in interest
that a right of way of two meters is granted to each party by the other
permanently (Exh. '16', par. 2).This partition is signed by the parties and their
witnesses. Although not notarized, it is certainly valid as between the parties,
Maurecia (sic) Alejandrino, being an immediate party, may not renege on this.

4. Since the share of defendant Licerio P. Nique is specifically known to be 146 square
meters, and that its location shall be on the `frontage of the property while the 73
square meters of Maurecia (sic) Alejandrino shall be at the back portion, then,
the Court cannot see its way clear, why the 146 sq. meters share of defendant
may not be segregated.

5. The contention by oppositor that the `segregation of defendants share of 146 sq.
meters from Lot No. 2798 was not decreed in the judgment is a rather narrow
way of looking at the judgment.Paragraph 1 of the dispositive portion of the
judgment by this Court, Orders plaintiff to `vacate the premises subject of the
complaint and surrender the property to defendant to the extent of the 4 shares
aforementioned. The 4 shares of Laurencia Alejandrino of 146 sq. meters can be
segregated because Laurencia and Maurecia had already executed an
extrajudicial partition indicating where their respective shares shall be located
(Exh. `16). To deny the segregation is to make the decision of this Court just
about valueless is not altogether useless. The matter of allowing the segregation
should be read into the decision.

The bottomline is still that plaintiff Laurencia, despite the fact that the decision of this
Court had long become final; and despite the fact that she even withdraw (sic) her
appeal, she still is enjoying the fruits of the property to the exclusion of the rightful
owner.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby Grants the motion. The defendant Licerio Nique may
proceed to segregate his 2146 (sic) sq. meters from Lot NO. 2798 covered by TCT No.
19658, by having the same surveyed by a competent Geodetic Engineer, at the
expense of movant-defendant.
SO ORDERED.[6]
Petitioner Mauricia questioned this order of the lower court in a petition for certiorari and
prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction filed before the Court of
Appeals. In due course, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition in a Decision promulgated
on August 25, 1993.
The Court of Appeals stated that, in issuing the questioned order of May 6, 1993, the
respondent court was merely performing its job of seeing to it that execution of a final judgment
must conform to that decreed in the dispositive part of the decision. It ratiocinated thus:
x x x. In ordering the segregation of the 146 square meters, respondent Judge correctly
referred to the text of the decision to ascertain which portion of the land covered by TCT
No. 19658 was actually sold by Laurencia Alejandrino (sister of herein petitioner
Mauricia) to private respondent Nique. The respondent Judge did not err in relying upon
Exhibit `16', the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement, dated June 10, 1983, mentioned in
page 3 of the Decision. Pertinent portion of Exhibit `16 reads:
`NOW, THEREFORE, the above-named parties-heirs hereby stipulates
(sic), declare and agree as follows:

`1. That the parties have agreed to divide the parcel of land with Laurencia Alejandrino owning
146 square meters in the frontage and Mauricia Alejandrino 73 square meters in the back
portions;

`2. That the parties mutually and reciprocally assure each other and their successor of interest
(sic) that a right of way of two meters is granted to each party to the other permanently.
(underscoring supplied, Annex `1, Comment, p. 65, Rollo)

duly signed by herein petitioner and witnessed by private respondent Nique. It readily
reveals that when Laurencia subsequently sold her shares to herein private respondent,
per the Deed of Absolute Sale dated October 29, 1986 (Exhs. `B and `10), the parties
must have referred to the 146 square meters in the frontage described in said
document, Exhibit `16. Laurencia had no authority to sell more, or, less, than that
agreed upon in the extrajudicial settlement between her and herein petitioner Mauricia.
Insofar as the latter is concerned, she is estopped from claiming that said extrajudicial
settlement was a fatally defective instrument because it was not notarized nor
published. What is important is that private respondent personally knew about
Laurencia and Mauricias agreement because he was a witness to said agreement and
he relied upon it when he purchased the 146 square meters from Laurencia.
It cannot be validly claimed by petitioner that she was deprived of her property without
due process of law considering that private respondent is merely segregating the
portion of the land actually sold to him by Laurencia Alejandrino and it does not affect
the 73 square meters that properly pertain to petitioner.
Moreover, the Supreme Court has ruled that where there is ambiguity caused by an
omission or mistake in the dispositive portion of a decision the court may clarify such
ambiguity by an amendment even after the judgment had become final, and for this
purpose it may resort to the pleadings filed by the parties, the courts finding of facts and
conclusions of law as expressed in the body of the decision (Republic Surety and
Insurance Co., Inc., et al., versus Intermediate Appellate Court, et al., 152 SCRA 309).
The assailed order, in effect, clarifies the exact location of the 146 square meters
pursuant to Exhibit `16. Respondent court did not act in excess of its jurisdiction.
Hence, writs of certiorari and prohibition do not lie in this case.[7]
Petitioner Mauricia filed a motion for the reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision.
However, on February 15, 1994, the Court of Appeals denied the same for lack of merit there
being no new ground or compelling reason that justifies a reconsideration of its Decision.[8]
In the instant petition for review on certiorari, petitioner assails the decision of the Court of
Appeals, contending that the lower court acted beyond its jurisdiction in ordering the
segregation of the property bought by private respondent as the same was not decreed in its
judgment, which had long become final and executory. Petitioner argues that partition of the
property cannot be effected because private respondent is also a defendant in Civil Case No.
CEB-11673. She asserts that Exhibit 16, the extrajudicial settlement of estate referred to in the
questioned order of the lower court, was not discussed in the decision of the lower court and
even if it were, she could not be bound thereby considering that she was not a party litigant in
Civil Case No. CEB-7038. She questions the validity of the deed of extrajudicial settlement
because it was not notarized or published.
In his comment on the petition, private respondent alleges that although petitioner was not
a party litigant in Civil Case No. CEB-7038, she is estopped from questioning the decision in
that case and filing the instant petition because she had knowledge of the existence of said
case where res judicata had set in. He adds that the instant petition was filed in violation of
Circular No. 28-91 on forum shopping in that the Petitioner in the instant petition whose counsel
is also the counsel of plaintiff-appellant Laurencia Alejandrino in CA-G.R. CV No. x x x, had filed
a civil action Civil Case No. CEB-11673 x x x for REDEMPTION & RECOVERY OF
PROPERTIES WITH DAMAGES, which is presently pending before Branch 7 of the Regional
Trial Court of Cebu City. He asserts that the lower court did not exceed its jurisdiction and/or
commit grave abuse of discretion in granting his motion for segregation of the 146 square
meters of the land involved that rightfully belonged to him in accordance with the decision of the
lower court. He charges counsel for petitioner with exhibiting unethical conduct and practice in
appearing as counsel for petitioner in Civil Case No. CEB-11673 after he had appeared for
complainant Laurencia in CA-G.R. CV No. 33433 or Civil Case No. CEB-7038.
Under the circumstances of this case, the ultimate issue that needs determination is
whether or not as an heir of the Alejandrino property, Laurencia may validly sell specific portions
thereof to a third party.
Article 1078 of the Civil Code provides that where there are two or more heirs, the whole
estate of the decedent is, before partition, owned in common by such heirs, subject to the
payment of the debts of the deceased. Under a co-ownership, the ownership of an undivided
thing or right belongs to different persons.[9] Each co-owner of property which is held pro
indiviso exercises his rights over the whole property and may use and enjoy the same with no
other limitation than that he shall not injure the interests of his co-owners. The underlying
rationale is that until a division is made, the respective share of each cannot be determined and
every co-owner exercises, together with his co-participants, joint ownership over the pro
indiviso property, in addition to his use and enjoyment of the same.[10]
Although the right of an heir over the property of the decedent is inchoate as long as the
estate has not been fully settled and partitioned,[11] the law allows a co-owner to exercise rights
of ownership over such inchoate right. Thus, the Civil Code provides:

ART. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits and
benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even
substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are involved. But
the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co-owners, shall be limited
to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the co-
ownership.

With respect to properties shared in common by virtue of inheritance, alienation of a pro


indiviso portion thereof is specifically governed by Article 1088 that provides:
ART. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger before the
partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by
reimbursing him for the price of the sale, provided they do so within the period of one
month from the time they were notified in writing of the sale by the vendor.
In the instant case, Laurencia was within her hereditary rights in selling her pro
indiviso share in Lot No. 2798. However, because the property had not yet been partitioned in
accordance with the Rules of Court, no particular portion of the property could be identified as
yet and delineated as the object of the sale. Thus, interpreting Article 493 of the Civil Code
providing that an alienation of a co-owned property shall be limited to the portion which may be
allotted to (the seller) in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership, the Court said:
x x x (p)ursuant to this law, a co-owner has the right to alienate his pro-indiviso share
in the co-owned property even without the consent of the other co-owners.
Nevertheless, as a mere part owner, he cannot alienate the shares of the other co-
owners. The prohibition is premised on the elementary rule that `no one can give what
he does not have (Nemo dat quod non habet). Thus, we held in Bailon-
Casilao vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 78178, April 15, 1988, 160 SCRA 738,
745), viz:

`x x x since a co-owner is entitled to sell his undivided share, a sale of the entire property by one
co-owner without the consent of the other co-owners is not null and void. However, only the
rights of the co-owner-seller are transferred, thereby making the buyer a co-owner of the
property.

`The proper action in cases like this is not for the nullification of the sale or for the recovery of
possession of the thing owned in common from the third person who substituted the co-owner
or co-owners who alienated their shares, but the DIVISION of the common property of the co-
owners who possessed and administered it.[12]

The legality of Laurencias alienation of portions of the estate of the Alejandrino spouses
was settled in Civil Case No. CEB-7038. The decision in that case had become final and
executory with Laurencias withdrawal of her appeal. When private respondent filed a motion for
the segregation of the portions of the property that were adjudged in his favor, private
respondent was in effect calling for thepartition of the property. However, under the law, partition
of the estate of a decedent may only be effected by (1) the heirs themselves extrajudicially, (2)
by the court in an ordinary action for partition, or in the course of administration proceedings, (3)
by the testator himself, and (4) by the third person designated by the testator.[13]
The trial court may not, therefore, order partition of an estate in an action for quieting of title.
As there is no pending administration proceedings, the property of the Alejandrino spouses can
only be partitioned by the heirs themselves in an extrajudicial settlement of estate. However,
evidence on the extrajudicial settlement of estate was offered before the trial court and it
became the basis for the order for segregation of the property sold to private respondent.
Petitioner Mauricia does not deny the fact of the execution of the deed of extrajudicial
settlement of the estate. She only questions its validity on account of the absence of
notarization of the document and the non-publication thereof.
On extrajudicial settlement of estate, Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Rules of Court provides:
If the decedent left no will and no debts and the heirs are all of age, or the minors are
represented by their judicial or legal representatives duly authorized for the purpose,
the parties may, without securing letters of administration, divide the estate among
themselves as they see fit by means of a public instrument filed in the office of the
register of deeds, and should they disagree, they may do so in an ordinary action for
partition. x x x.
The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be published in a
newspaper of general circulation in the manner provided in the next succeeding
section; but no extrajudicial settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not
participated therein or had no notice thereof.
Notarization of the deed of extrajudicial settlement has the effect of making it a public
document[14] that can bind third parties. However, this formal requirement appears to be
superseded by the substantive provision of the Civil Code that states:
ART. 1082. Every act which is intended to put an end to indivision among co-heirs and
legatees or devisees is deemed to be a partition, although it should purport to be a sale,
an exchange, a compromise, or any other transaction.
By this provision, it appears that when a co-owner sells his inchoate right in the co-
ownership, he expresses his intention to put an end to indivision among (his) co-heirs. Partition
among co-owners may thus be evidenced by the overt act of a co-owner of renouncing his right
over the property regardless of the form it takes. In effect, Laurencia expressed her intention to
terminate the co-ownership by selling her share to private respondent.
Moreover, the execution of the deed of extrajudicial settlement of the estate reflected the
intention of both Laurencia and petitioner Mauricia to physically divide the property. Both of
them had acquired the shares of their brothers and therefore it was only the two of them that
needed to settle the estate. The fact that the document was not notarized is no hindrance to its
effectivity as regards the two of them. The partition of inherited property need not be embodied
in a public document. In this regard, Tolentino subscribes to that opinion when he states as
follows:
x x x. We believe, however, that the public instrument is not essential to the validity of
the partition. This is not one of those contracts in which form is of the essence. The
public instrument is necessary only for the registration of the contract, but not for its
validity. The validity of an oral contract among the heirs, terminating the co-ownership,
has been recognized by the Supreme Court in a decision x x x (where) that tribunal
said: `An agreement among the heirs that a certain lot should be sold and its proceeds
paid to one of them is a valid oral contract, and the same has the force of law between
the parties from and after the original assent thereto, and no one of them may
withdraw or oppose its execution without the consent of all.

In a still later case, the Supreme Court held that `partition among heirs or renunciation of an
inheritance by some of them is not exactly a conveyance for the reason that it does not involve
transfer of property from one to the other, but rather a confirmation or ratification of title or right
to property by the heir renouncing in favor of another heir accepting and receiving the
inheritance. Hence, the court concluded, `it is competent for the heirs of an estate to enter into
an oral agreement for distribution of the estate among themselves.[15]

The deed of extrajudicial settlement executed by Mauricia and Laurencia evidence their
intention to partition the property. It delineates what portion of the property belongs to each
other. That it was not notarized is immaterial in view of Mauricias admission that she did
execute the deed of extrajudicial settlement. Neither is the fact that the trial court only
mentioned the existence of such document in its decision in Civil Case No. CEB-7028. That
document was formally offered in evidence and the court is deemed to have duly
considered[16] it in deciding the case. The court has in its favor the presumption of regularity of
the performance of its task that has not been rebutted by petitioner Mauricia. Neither may the
fact that the other heirs of the Alejandrino spouses, named Marcelino, Gregorio, Ciriaco and
Abundio did not participate in the extrajudicial settlement of estate affect its validity. In her
amended complaint in Civil Case No. CEB-11673, petitioner Mauricia herself admitted having
acquired by purchase the rights over the shares of her brothers.
On the part of Laurencia, the court found that she had transmitted her rights over portions
she had acquired from her brothers to private respondent Nique. The sale was made after the
execution of the deed of extrajudicial settlement of the estate that private respondent himself
witnessed. The extrajudicial settlement of estate having constituted a partition of the property,
Laurencia validly transferred ownership over the specific front portion of the property with an
area of 146 square meters.
The trial court, therefore, did not abuse its discretion in issuing the order for the segregation
of the property. In so doing, it was merely reiterating the partition of the property by petitioner
Mauricia and her sister Laurencia that was embodied in the deed of extrajudicial settlement of
estate. The order may likewise be deemed as a clarification of its decision that had become final
and executory. Such clarification was needed lest proper execution of the decision be rendered
futile.
The Court finds no merit in the issue of forum shopping raised by private respondent.
Forum shopping exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final
judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other.[17] Because the judgment in Civil
Case No. CEB-7028 is already final and executory, the existence of res judicata is determinative
of whether or not petitioner is guilty of forum shopping. For the principle of res judicata to apply,
the following must be present: (1) a decision on the merits; (2) by a court of competent
jurisdiction; (3) the decision is final; and (4) the two actions involve identical parties, subject
matter and causes of action.[18] The fourth element is not present in this case. The parties are
not identical because petitioner was not impleaded in Civil Case No. CEB-7028. While the
subject matter may be the same property of the Alejandrino spouses, the causes of action are
different. Civil Case No. CEB-7028 is an action for quieting of title and damages while Civil
Case No. CEB-11673 is for redemption and recovery of properties.
It appears moreover, that private respondents argument on forum shopping is anchored on
the fact that counsel for both plaintiffs in those two cases is one and the same, thereby implying
that the same counsel merely wanted to prevail in the second case after having failed to do so
in the first. The records show, however, that Laurencia executed an affidavit[19] consenting to the
appearance of her counsel in any case that petitioner Mauricia might file against private
respondent. She affirmed in that affidavit that she could be included even as a defendant in any
case that petitioner Mauricia would file because she fully agree(d) with whatever cause of action
Mauricia would have against private respondent. Such a statement can hardly constitute a
proper basis for a finding of forum shopping, much less evidence of misconduct on the part of
counsel. As noted earlier, the two cases have different causes of action and the two plaintiffs
who would have conflicting claims under the facts of the case actually presented a united stand
against private respondent. If there is any charge that could be leveled against counsel, it is his
lack of thoroughness in pursuing the action for quieting of title. As counsel for plaintiff therein, he
could have impleaded petitioner Mauricia knowing fully well her interest in the property involved
in order to avoid multiplicity of suits. However, such an omission is not a sufficient ground for
administrative sanction.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED for lack of
merit. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J. (Chairman), Kapunan, and Purisima, JJ., concur.

Mondonido v Roda
GR No. L-5561 January 26, 1954

LAZARO MONDOÑIDO, plaintiff-appellant,


vs. PRESCA Alaura VDA. RODA, as administrator of the Intestate Ricardo Roda -defendant appealed.

D. Jesus P. Garcia for appellant.


Messrs. Pelaez Pelaez Pelaez and in appellee.

PAUL J. :

24 and February 27, 1929 Ricardo de Roda awarded two public deeds (Exhs. A and B), forcing Lazaro
Mondoñido sell a portion of land which was to inherit from their grandparents, getting P200 as advance
payment.While the granting of such deeds were already in liquidation in the Court of First Instance of
Cebu property of his grandfather Eduardo de Roda. With minor differences, the first document is
written as the second.

On March 29, 1950 the plaintiff filed suit asking the fulfillment of the two contracts. The defendant, as
administrator of the relict goods Ricardo de Roda, presented two defenses: (a) that such deeds are null
as it concerned future inheritances, and (b) that the action is prescribed.

According to the agreement made, Eduardo de Roda and Antonina Sepulveda grandparents were
Ricardo de Roda. Edward died in 1905, leaving children and grandchildren as heirs. Ricardo, on behalf of
his father, inherited the 3/24 part of the assets of its abuelo.Ricardo died in 1933, and in 1935 the relics
were distributed goods Eduardo.Ricardo his late grandfather and his sister Roberta received in that to $
or their participation in the inheritance of Eduardo, which was run by the widow of Richard, giving this
to Roberta their participation in the products of such heritage.

Antonina Sepulveda died in 1940; its assets were liquidated and in 1948 a court awarded to their heirs,
children and grandchildren. In this contract the widow of Ricardo de Roda had received no participation
because she and Roberta had agreed that the participation of Ricardo and Roberta goods Eduardo de
Roda would stay in the hands of the widow of Richard and the participation of the brothers themselves
Antonina goods Sepulveda Roberta would receive.
After considering the facts and agreement of the two scripts, the court dismissed the claim for the
reason that these writings dealt on future inheritance. Against the plaintiff appealed this decision
arguing that these scriptures refer to relict Eduardo Roda goods and not to those of Eduardo and
Antonina husbands. No doubt they are written in a way that one can not be sure if Ricardo sold his
interest in the property of her late grandfather Eduardo only or those of their grandparents Eduardo and
Antonina; but even if he had promised to sell his interest in the property from his grandfather and
grandmother, the promise of sale regarding the assets of the latter is null and gun denin value because it
refers to sale of future inheritance. "On future inheritance - says the Spanish Civil Code - may not,
however, conclude other contracts than those whose purpose is to practice the division between living
under a flow 1056. art." (Article 1271, par 2nd Arroyo.. against Gerona, 58 Jur Fil, 245;..
Tordilla against .. Tordilla, 60 Jur Fil, 172.) Antonina Ricardo Sepulveda lived even if awarded the
scriptures; but they are not zero in terms of assets recibria Ricardo intestate his grandfather Eduardo,
because these relics goods were already in the process of liquidation when the rights to Ricardo
otorgo.Los succession are transmitted by operation of law from the moment death (art. 657, Cod. Civ.
Spanish.) Ricardo already owned the 3/24 parts of such property, by way of genuine, present and no
future inheritance.

The defense of prescription should be estimated. Since 1935 when the widow of Ricardo de Roda had
received the participation of her late husband in real relict of the late Eduardo de Roda and the
complainant could enforce the scriptures (Exhs A and B), but he did but only in March 24, 1950 in which
he presented his demand. They have already passed 15 years; the army said action had to be brought
within a period of ten years pursuant to Article 43, paragraph 1, of the Code of Civil Procedure.

The complainant's claim that he must return the amount of P200 as prepayment baseless. If the
applicant had requested performance of the scriptures within the period set by law and the defendant
would not have met, then there would consequido compliance agreement or, failing that, the return of
P200 plus damages in that have been incurred.

For these reasons, the decision appelada with costs against the appellant is confirmed.

Paras, Pres., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, Juice, Bautista Angelo and Labrador, JJ., concur.

Barretto v Tuason

G.R. Nos. L-36811, 36827, 36840, 36872 March 31, 1934

ANTONIO MA. BARRETTO Y ROCHA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellees,


vs.
AUGUSTO H. TUASON Y DE LA PAZ, ET AL., defendants-appellants;
BENITO LEGARDA Y ROCES, administrator of the estate of the deceased Benito Legarda y de
la Paz, ET AL.,
ESTANISLAOA ARENAS, ET AL., and ANA BARCINAS TORRES, (alias ANA BARCINAS
PEREZ) ET AL.,intervenors-appellants;
ERIBERTO TUASON, ET AL., intervenors-appellees.

Araneta, De Joya, Zaragoza and Araneta and Jose Yulo for defendants-appellants.
Eusebio Orense and Nicolas Belmonte for intervenors- appellants Legarda de la Paz et al.
Feria and La O for intervenors-appellees Arenas et al.
J.A. Wolfson for intervenors-appellants Barcinas Torres et al.
Antonio Sanz and Courtney Whitney for plaintiffs-appellees.
Duran, Lim and Tuason for intervenors-appellees G. Maga et al.
No appearance for the other intervenors-appellees.

IMPERIAL, J.:

For the third time, there is presented for our consideration the mayorazgo founded by the deceased
Don Antonio Tuason. The first occasion was when both plaintiffs and defendants appealed from a
decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila, dismissing the complaint and the counterclaim filed,
without costs. The appeals thus interposed were docketed under No. 23923, and the decision
promulgated on March 23, 1926, is published in full in volume 50 Philippine Reports, page 888 et
seq. the second occasion was when some of the defendants instituted a certiorari proceeding
against the Court of First Instance of Manila, some of the plaintiffs, and other intervenors, because of
the appointment, at the latter's instance, of the Bank of the Philippine Islands as receiver of all the
properties constituting the mayorazgo. Said proceeding was docketed under No. 32423, and the
decision promulgated on February 7, 1930, is published in full in volume 54 Philippine Reports, page
408 et seq.1And the third is brought about by four appeals taken by the defendants and some
intervenors from certain portions of the decision and order rendered by the court during the new trial
held pursuant to our resolution of which we shall hereafter have occasion to speak.

The four appeals now before us were docketed separately, but for a better understanding of the
questions which we propose to resolve, we have thought it convenient to render a single decision
wherein each appeal will be discussed individually.

PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS

Before entering upon a consideration of the appeals, it is convenient to set out some fundamental
facts which have been submitted, discussed, and resolved in the decision rendered in the original
and principal case, and which are of the utmost importance to bear in mind in resolving the
questions raised anew in the appeals. These facts are:

The mayorazgo was founded by Don Antonio Tuason on February 25, 1794.

On June 4 of the same year the founder died in the City of Manila.

The mayorazgo was approved by Royal Cedula of August 20, 1795.

On October 11, 1820, the Statute of Civil Disentailments was promulgated in Spain, was extended to
the Philippine Islands, and took effect therein on March 1, 1864, by virtue of a Royal Decree of
October 31, 1863.

The properties of the mayorazgo consist of the Haciendas de Santa Mesa y Diliman, Hacienda de
Mariquina, and two urban properties situated on Rosario Street, Manila. By agreement of the parties,
the assessed value of the said properties is:

Haciendas de Santa Mesa y Diliman P3,550,646.00

Hacienda de Mariquina 1,507,140.00


Properties on Rosario Street 542,382.00
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5,600,168.00

After the promulgation of the decision in the principal case, the defendants filed a motion of
reconsideration and various persons filed motions of intervention asking at the same time that they
be admitted as intervenors for the purpose of participating in one-fifth of the properties. The
resolution published in volume 50 Philippine Reports, page 959 et seq., was adopted, wherein (page
963) the following fundamental conclusions, established in the decision, were reiterated:

Resolving, therefore, said motion for reconsideration, we reiterate the following conclusions,
declaring finally:

(1) That the first-born possessor of this mayorazgo was a mere usufructuary of the entailed
properties.

(2) That this mayorazgo was a fideicomiso.

(3) That the charge to distribute the fifth of the revenues from said properties was a family
trust.

(4) That article 4 of the Disentailing Law of October 11, 1820 is applicable to the present
case.

(5) That the fifth of the properties into which, by virtue of said law, the fifth of the revenue
was converted on March 1, 1864, when the Disentailing Law became effective in the
Philippines, has remained and subsists as a fideicomiso up to the present date.

(6) That the plaintiffs' right of action has not prescribed.

(7) That the registration of the entailed properties under Act No. 496 must, with respect to the
fifth of the said properties conserved up to the present time as a fideicomiso, be held to have
been made in favor of the beneficiaries of said fifth part.

(8) That the plaintiffs, as well as any other descendants of the founder, are entitled to
participate in the fifth of the properties of this mayorazgo in accordance with the sixth clause
of the deed of foundation and article 4 of the Disentailing Law.

The motion of reconsideration was denied in so far as it was incompatible with the final and
fundamental conclusions arrived at in the decision and in the resolution, but the motion for a new
trial of the intervenors — who appeared in order that they or any other person entitled to participate
in one-fifth of the properties may intervene, either by filing other complaints of intervention or by
amending the complaint filed — was granted. The dispositive part of said resolution reads literally as
follows:

ORDER

In view of the foregoing, it is ordered:


(a) That the motion for reconsideration filed by counsel for the defendants is denied in so far
as it is incompatible with the fundamental conclusions we have arrived at in the present
cause and enumerated in the preceding resolution.

(b) That the dispositive part of our decision in this cause be set aside.

(c) That the record in the present case, together with the petitions of intervention mentioned,
be returned to the Court of First Instance of Manila in order that the new parties may
intervene in this cause and prove their alleged rights, and that the original plaintiffs may, if
they so desire, amend their complaint.

(d) That the plaintiffs take the necessary steps to include as parties to this cause all such
known and unknown persons who may have the right to participate in the said fifth part of the
properties of this foundation, requiring them to appear and prove their rights.

(e) That said Court of First Instance proceed to try this cause and render judgment as to the
amount to which the original parties and those who may intervene may be entitled as their
participation in the fifth of the properties of this mayorazgo.

(f) That the stipulation of facts subscribed on August 30, 1924 by Attorneys Sanz and Blanco
on behalf of the plaintiffs and Araneta & Zaragoza on behalf of the defendants, for all intents
and purposes and with respect to the parties affected, is held as subsisting, as well as the
oral and documentary evidence presented by the parties during the original trial of the cause,
the original parties as well as o hereafter may intervene, being entitled to introduce such
additional evidence as they may desire upon the subject matter of the trial herein ordered.
(Barretto vs.Tuason, 50 Phil., 888, 966, 967.)

The case was remanded to the court of origin for the purpose above-mentioned, and after the filing
of many complaints of intervention by a number of persons claiming to be relatives of the founder
and of his younger children and, therefore, entitled to participate in one-fifth of the properties, on
suggestion of counsel for the parties the court appointed Modesto Reyes as referee, and upon his
death, Attorney Crispin Oben. Both referees filed their written reports, although that of the former
does not resolve the major portion of the questions raised due to his premature death, and at the
trial various objections were interposed which were resolved by the court. In its decision the court
approved most of the findings and recommendations of the last referee, but modified others which in
its opinion were not supported either by the proven facts or the applicable law. The defendants and
some of the intervenors, not being likewise agreeable to certain portions of the decision and order
thus promulgated, have taken the four appeals now before us.

G.R. No. L-36811

APPEAL OF THE INTERVENORS SURNAMED LEGARDA Y DE LA PAZ

The appellants in this case are the brother and sisters Benito, Consuelo. Rita, surnamed Legarda y
de la Paz. These intervenors claim participations in one-fifth of the properties in two capacities: First.
is descendants of the younger son Pablo Tuason, and, second, for having inherited from their
parents the participations in one-fifth of the properties which were sold to the latter by certain
relatives of the founder. They likewise claim the share to which they would be entitled in the
participations of certain relatives of the younger daughter, Eustaquia Ma. Tuason, who sold said
participations to the defendants. We will hereafter have occasion to pass on this contention in
discussing the four assigned error.
The following is an enumeration of the names of the vendors of their participations in favor of the
parents of the appellants, giving the dates of the respective deeds:

1. DOROTEA TUASON, by a deed of absolute sale executed by her in favor of Benito


Legarda and Teresa de la Paz.dated September 13, 1881. (Exhibit A-Legarda.)

2. ISABEL ARENAS, by a deed of absolute sale executed by her and her husband Francisco
Esteban, in favor of the spouses Benito Legarda and de la Paz, dated October 2, 1884
Exhibit B-Legarda.)

3. The brothers ENRIQUE. SEVERINO, and DOMINGO, surnamed FRANCO, by a deed of


absolute sale executed by them in favor of the spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa de la
Paz, dated November 7, 1884. (Exhibit C-Legarda.)

4. The sisters BALBINA SANTOS TUASON and MAGDALENA SANTOS TUASON, by a


deed of absolute sale executed by them in favor of the spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa
de la Paz, dated January 23, 1885. (Exhibit D-Legarda.)

5. APOLINARIA TUASON, by a deed of absolute sale, executed by her in favor of the


spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa de la Paz, dates February 17, 1885. (Exhibit F-
Legarda.)

6. ESTEBAN DUARTE, ISIDRA MARIA DUARTE, and ALEJANDRO DUARTE, by a deed of


absolute sale executed by them in favor of the spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa de la
Paz, dated February 17, 1885. (Exhibit F-Legarda.)

7. TOMASA TUASON DE TOBIAS, who was then a widow, by a deed of absolute sale
executed by her in favor of the spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa de la Paz, dated
October 3, 1888. (Exhibit G-Legarda.)

8. LUIS TUASON and PEDRO TUASON, by a deed of absolute sale executed by them in
favor of the spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa de la Paz, dated April 7, 1886. (Exhibit H-
Legarda.)

9. ALEJANDRO, ANACLETO, TEODORICO, MARIA, AND DIONISIA, surnamed CAMACHO


y TUASON, and TOMAS, ENCARNACION, MARIA, and MERCEDES, surnamed
MACARANAS y TUASON, by a deed of absolute sale executed by them in favor of the
spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa de la Paz, dated August 11, 1886. (Exhibit I-Legarda.)

10. FELIPE G. ALCALDE, by a deed of absolute sale executed by him in favor of the said
spouses, dated October 27, 1886. (Exhibit J-Legarda.)

11. QUINTINA CASTILLO VIUDA DE JUAN N. C. REYES, by a deed of absolute sale


executed by her in favor of the spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa de la Paz, dated April
25, 1888. (Exhibit K-Legarda.)

The vendor, Quintina Castillo Viuda de Juan N. C. Reyes, who had a participation in the
entailed properties as descendant in the direct line of the founder, acquired the participation
of the latter, the said vendor Quintina Castillo having been declared the sole and universal
heir by will of the said Juan N. C. Reyes, as evidenced by Exhibit K-1-Legarda.
12. TEODORA EIZMENDI, by a deed of absolute sale executed by her in favor of the
spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa de la Pam, dated October 3, 1888. (Exhibit L-Legarda.)

13. PETRONA MARIA DUARTE, by a deed of absolute sale executed by her in favor of the
said spouses Benito Legarda and Teresa de la Paz, dated October 8, 1888. (Exhibit L-1-
Legarda.)

14. AVELINO TUASON alias ANDRES AVELINO TUASON, by a deed of absolute sale
executed by him in favor of the father of the herein intervenors, Benito Legarda, dated March
5, 1883. (Exhibit M-Legarda.)

Of the said sales, only those executed by the following were impugned: (1) Isabel Arenas; (2)
Tomasa Tuason de Tobias; (3) Luis Tuason and Pedro Tuason; (4) Alejandro, Anacleto, Teodorico,
Maria, and Dionisia, surnamed Camacho y Tuason, and Tomas, Encarnacion, Maria, and Mercedes,
surnamed Macaranas y Tuason; (5) Felipe G. Alcalde, and (6) Teodora Eizmendi. The impugners of
the sales are relatives of the vendors who would be entitled to succeed there in their respective
participations.

The appellants impute the following errors to the appealed decision:

I. In finding that Tomasa Tuason de Tobias, Luis Tuason, and Pedro Tuason, who sold their
participations in the properties in litigation to the father and mother of the intervenors
Legarda y de la Paz, were already receiving the revenue on the date the Disentailing Statute
took effect.

II. In declaring null and void as to one-half of the participations sold, instead of valid in their
entirety, the sale made by Tomasa de Tobias (Exhibit G-Legarda) and that executed by Luis
and Pedro Tuason (Exhibit H- Legarda), and in not adjudicating to the intervenors Legarda y
de la Paz the entire participations corresponding to said vendors.

III. In excluding from the sales the participations corresponding to the vendors in the portions
belonging to the younger children without succession of the founder, and in not adjudicating
said participations to the intervenors Legarda y de la Paz.

IV. In not adjudicating to the intervenors Legarda y de la Paz the participations sold by some
descendants of the founder's daughter, Eustaquia Maria Tuason, and in the event of the
distribution of said participations among the descendants, in general, of the founder, in not
adjudicating to said intervenors the participations which would, therefore, correspond to the
vendors of the Legardas.

V. In not adjudicating to the intervenors Legarda y de la Paz the participation corresponding


to the vendor Dorotea Tuason as descendant of Santos Luciano Tuason.

VI. In not ordering the defendants to pay legal interest.

VII. In denying the motion for a new trial.

The first two assigned errors are intimately related, as they refer to the sales of their participations
executed by Tomasa Tuason de Tobias, Luis Tuason, and Pedro Tuason. Referee Oben held in his
report that the sales made by said vendors did not transfer more than one-half of their participations,
because on the dates of the sales they were the ones who received the revenue and they could not
dispose of more than one-half of their participations, reserving the other half in favor of their
immediate successors, in accordance with the provisions of article 4, in connection with articles 2
and 3, of the Disentailing Statute. The court entertained the same opinion.

In support of their contention, the appellants advance the following reasons: (1) That the said
vendors were not the ones who received the revenue on March 1, 1864, when the Disentailing
Statute took effect; consequently, the reservation of one-half is not applicable to the sales in
question; (2) that the present action of the impugners to invalidate the sales as to one-half thereof
has already prescribed; (3) that the appellants have acquired by prescription of owner ship the entire
participations sold; and (4) that the inaction of the impugners of the sales for a period of years
without exercising their alleged right estops them from claiming the participations sold, under the
doctrine known as estoppel by laches.

Although we have examined the oral and documentary evidence adduced, to ascertain whether
Tomasa Tuason de Tobias, Luis Tuason, and Pedro Tuason were in fact the ones who received the
revenue when the Disentailing Statute took effect — and we are in a position to state that the first of
said vendors was not in fact the one who received the revenue on said date but the Tuason brothers
— nevertheless, we do not make any pronouncement on this question in view of the fact that the first
two assigned errors under consideration should be resolved in connection with the other arguments
relative to prescription of action and ownership and estoppel by laches.

It will be recalled that the deed of sale of the participation of Tomasa Tuason de Tobias was
executed on October 3, 1888, and the sale of those of the brothers Luis and Pedro Tuason on April
7, 1886; the complaints of intervention which assailed the validity of the sales of said participations
for the first time were filed in 1927, hence, approximately forty-one years have elapsed from the first
sale to the date its validity was impugned for the first time, and about thirty years from the execution
of the second sale to the said date.

The right now exercised by the impugners of the sales is a personal action whose prescription
should be governed by the laws in force at the time of the execution of the deeds of sale, that is,
April 7, 1886, and October 3, 1888, namely, Law 5, Title 8, Book 11, of the Novisima Recopilacion,
and Law 21, Title 29, Partida 3, which provide for the period of ten years (Crusado vs. Bustos and
Escaler, 34 Phil., 17).

Article 1939 of the present Civil Code provides:

ART. 1939. Prescription which began to run before the publication of this Code shall be
governed by the prior law; but if, after this Code took effect, all the time required by the same
for prescription bas elapsed, it shall be sufficient even if according to such prior law a longer
period of time would have been required.

And article 1301 of the same Code provides:

ART. 1301. The action of annulment shall last four years.

The term shall commence to run —

In cases of intimidation or violence from the day on which it has ceased;

In those of error or deceit or falsity of consideration., from the date of the consummation of
the contract;
When the purpose of the action is to invalidate the un authorized contracts of a married
woman, from the date of the dissolution of the marriage;

With respect to contracts made by minors or incapacitated persons, from the date they were
released from guardianship.

According to these provisions, the action of annulment, admitting that it had not yet prescribed when
the Civil Code took effect in these Islands on December 7, 1889 (Mijares vs. Nery, 3 Phil., 195),
should have commenced by the impugners of the sales within the four (4) years following the taking
effect of the Civil Code, which was not done.

The rules of prescription found in the Code of Civil Procedure, Act No. 190, are not applicable to the
action of annulment under consideration, because according to section 38 thereof, the prescriptive
period provided in former statutes should be applied to rights of action which have already accrued
before it went into effect.

From the foregoing it clearly follows that the action of annulment instituted and relied upon by the
impugners of the said sales has already prescribed, both under the Laws of the Partidas and
the Novisima Recopilacion and under the provisions of the Civil Code, and in the latter case, even
the supposition that the prescriptive period for an action of annulment of contracts had been
extended to ten years, instead of four, in accordance with the provisions of section 43, No. 1, of the
Code of Civil Procedure. (Willard, Notes on Civil Code; Brillantes vs. Margarejo and Belmonte, 36
Phil. 202.)

But the impugners of the sales argue that they do not in fact institute an action of annulment, but
merely use the same as a defense, hence, they are not affected by the laws of prescription. In the
able report of referee Oben, this phase of the question was discussed at length, and he came to
conclusion, as did the court, that the impugners of the sales have in fact brought an action of
annulment. Without going into another extended discussion, we believe it will suffice to state, to
demonstrate the same conclusion, that in the instant case those in the enjoyment of the
participations sold as well as the ownership thereof are the appellants and not the impugners of the
sales, and that to recover the rights lost under the deeds of sale they executed, the latter have to
avail themselves of an action of annulment. In this sense, at least, they should be under stood as
bringing the action instead of simply defending themselves, aside from the indisputable fact that, to
recover the participations which they sold, they found it necessary to file complaints of intervention,
which are really complaints under the letter and spirit of section 121 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

As to the question of acquisitive prescription, likewise invoked by the appellants, we hold that due to
the long lapse of time they have acquired by prescription whatever rights the impugners of the sales
had in the participations which they sold.

Addressing ourselves to appellants' last argument, it should again be stated that they and their
predecessors have enjoyed the revenue corresponding to the participations which they have
acquired and that during the period that has elapsed, the vendors and impugners of the sales have
done nothing to recover their alleged rights. Such conduct insurmountably bars the instant action of
annulment under the doctrine of estoppel by laches. In the case of Buenaventura vs. David (37 Phil.,
435), speaking of the said doctrine, we said:

. . . The assertion of doubtful claims, after long delay, cannot be favored by the courts. Time
inevitably tends to obliterate occurrences from the memory of witnesses, and even where the
recollection appears to be entirely clear, the true clue to the resolution of a case may be
hopelessly lost. These considerations constitute one of the pillars of the doctrine long familiar
in equity jurisprudence to the effect that laches or unreasonable delay on the part of a
plaintiff in seeking to enforce a right is not only persuasive of a want of merit but may,
according to the circumstances, be destructive of the right itself. Vigilantibus non
dormientibus equitas subvenit.

And in the case of Tuason vs. Marquez (45 Phil., 381), the same principle was again applied as
follows:

The equitable doctrine termed with questionable propriety "estoppel by laches," has
particular applicability to the fact before us. Inexcusable delay in asserting a right and
acquiescence in existing conditions are a bar to legal action. . . .

We see no good reason why the said equitable doctrine should not be applied to the case at bar.
The impugners of said sales have let pass a number of years from the accrual of their right of action
to annul the sales without exercising such right, and have voluntarily permitted appellants'
predecessors in interest to enjoy the participations sold; in which circumstances it is the duty of the
courts to restrict, instead of encourage, the granting of a right already lost.

The third assigned error refer to the sales executed by some descendants of the founder who sold
the participations that would come to them as descendants likewise of the younger children of the
founder. The court at first approved the report of referee Oben declaring valid the sales of the
participations coming from the younger children with succession as well as from those without
succession. But the court, in its order of April 8, 1931, modified its decision declaring invalid the
sales of the participations coming from the younger children without succession. From this latter
resolution the appeal was taken. The reason alleged by the court in support of its last order was, that
the said sales were illegal because they conveyed rights not known and determined at the time of
the execution of the deeds of sale. We do not see the force of this argument. If the sales were valid
as to the participations coming from the younger children with succession, with more reason should
the sales of the participations coming from the younger children who died without succession be
declared equally valid, as in both cases the sale of existing rights, known and determinable, was
involved, as said participations, so far as the vendors were concerned, arose and were acquired by
the latter from the death of their predecessors in interest, the younger children. (Article 657 of the
Civil Code.) For this reason we find the third error tenable and sustain the validity of the sales of said
participations.

The plaintiffs and the defendants had stipulated when the original case was heard that the younger
daughter, Eustaquia Ma. Tuason, died without succession, but it developed that the said deceased
in fact left descendants some of whom sold their participations to the defendants. The referee stated
in his report that such participations have neither been sold nor legally acquired by the defendants
because they were estopped by their stipulation with the plaintiffs to the effect that said younger
daughter died without descendants. The court differed from this and held in its decision that there
was no such estoppel, and that the defendants validly acquired the participations sold to them. The
herein appellants, Legarda brothers and sisters, by their fourth assigned error, now attempt to
reverse the finding of the court that the defendants are not thus estopped. And appellants' purpose is
obvious: if the sales are invalidated, the participations, subject matter thereof, would be distributed
among all the relatives of the said younger daughter, and appellants will naturally receive a certain
aliquot part thereof.

We agree with the court that the defendants are not estopped just because they stipulated that
Eustaquia Ma. Tuason left no succession. And this proposition is clear by simply taking into account
that the defendants never agreed that they had not purchased the participations of the descendants
of the said younger daughter. The stipulation referred only and exclusively to the succession or
descendants of the said younger daughter and cannot be logically extended to the sales made by
several of her descendants. Moreover, as properly observed by the court, to sustain appellants'
theory would result in the absurd case of the other descendants of said younger daughter who did
not sell their participations being deprived thereof just because the original parties stipulated that
their predecessor in interest left no succession. We, therefore, rule that the fourth assigned error is
untenable.

The fifth error relates to the participations of Dorotea Tuason which she sold to the appellants. This
vendor was entitled to a double participation coming from two sources, to wit, from the younger
children Santos Luciano Tuason and Felix Bolois Tuason. In amendatory report of referee Oben the
participation of this vendor as descendants of Santos Luciano Tuason was overlooked. The
appellants filed a motion of reconsideration asking, among other things, that the participation of said
vendor as descendant of Santos Luciano Tuason be likewise adjudicated to them. The court granted
the motion, but in its order it was stated that the participation of Dorotea Tuason coming from Felix
Bolois Tuason will be adjudicated to the appellants, instead of that coming from Santos Luciano
Tuason. In other words there was a transposition of names, hence, appellants state in their brief that
this involves a mere correction of a clerical error.

In view of the foregoing we find the fifth assigned error well-founded.

In their sixth assigned error the appellants contend that the defendants are bound to pay them legal
interest on the amounts of money to be adjudicated to them as their participations in the one-fifth,
alleging as a reason therefor that the defendants were guilty of delay from the taking effect of the
Disentailing Statute ordering the distribution and delivery of the fifth to the persons entitled to it,
among whom were said appellants.

The contention is without merit in view of the fact that in the decision rendered in the original case, it
was held that the plaintiffs, whose position was like that of the herein appellants, were entitled to an
accounting of the expenses and revenues of said properties and to receive that corresponding
revenues, from January 1, 1923, until the defend ants deliver to them their participations in the
properties of the foundation. The revenues thus adjudicated were in lieu of legal interest claimed by
the plaintiffs. For these reasons, the sixth assigned error is untenable.

The seventh and last assigned error need not be discussed being a corollary of the preceding ones.

Recapitulating all that has been said so far, it results:

1. That the sales of their participations made by Tomasa Tuason de Tobias, Luis Tuason and
Pedro Tuason in favor of the appellants, are valid in their entirety and should, therefore, be
adjudicated to the latter; thus resolving favorably the first two errors assigned;

2. That the sales made by some descendants of the founder, of their participations coming
from the younger children without succession, are likewise valid, and said participations
should be adjudicated to the appellants. This also resolves favorably the third assigned error;

3. That the participation of Dorotea Tuason as descendant of Santos Luciano Tuason should
be adjudicated to the appellants; thereby resolving favorably the fifth assigned error; and

4. That the fourth and sixth assigned errors are overruled as untenable.

G. R. No. 36827
APPEAL OF THE INTERVENOR ANA BARCINAS TORRES (alias ANA BARCINAS PEREZ) AND
OTHERS

It will be recalled, from what has been said in connection with the first appeal, that Eustaquia Ma.
Tuason died leaving succession, notwithstanding the stipulation to the contrary by the plaintiffs and
the defendants at the trial of the principal case. The herein appellants are descendants of the
younger daughter Eustaquia Ma. Tuason. All of them, with the exemption of Tomas Barcinas y
Reyes, are descendants of Tomas Barcinas, who, with the said Tomas Barcinas y Reyes, sold all
their rights, interest, and participation in one-fifth of the revenue of themayorazgo through their
attorney-in-fact Manuel de los Reyes, in favor of the estate of Teresa de la Paz.

Said appellants attribute to the appealed decision the following errors:

I. We hereby adopt as our own all of the pertinent assignments of errors of the other
intervenors in G.R. Nos. 36811 and 36840, which are applicable to the intervenors here and,
by reference, hereby incorporate their arguments in support of said errors.

II. The lower court erred in holding the sale executed by Manuel de los Reyes, pretending to
act under and by virtue of aforesaid void power of attorney, valid, and in failing to hold same
null and void.

III. The lower court erred in holding the sale executed by Manuel de los Reyes, pretending to
act under and by virtue of aforesaid void power of attorney, valid, and in failing to hold same
null and void.

IV. The lower court erred in interpreting aforesaid sale executed by Manuel de los Reyes,
pretending to act under aforesaid void power of attorney, and in so interpreting said sale as
to deprive these intervenors of their true rights under the mayorazgo founded by Don Antonio
Tuason.

Exhibit Tuason-1 shows that on June 8, 1894, the said Tomas Barcinas y Cruz, Tomas Barcinas y
Reyes, Benita Barcinas y Cruz, and Maria Manibusan y Barcinas, through their attorney-in-fact
Manuel de los Reyes, sold all their participations in one-fifth of the revenue of the mayorazgo which
they had in possession as descendants of the younger daughter Eustaquia Ma Tuason, including all
their rights and interest in the said one-fifth of the revenue, for the sum of P5,000. In the said deed of
sale there was reproduced in full the power of attorney which said vendors had conferred on their
attorney-in-fact Manuel de los Reyes, executed on July 4, 1893, in the City of Agaña, capital of
Marianas Islands, before the judge of first instance acting as notary in the absence of the notary of
said district.

The appellants contend that the sale is null and void because the power of attorney which the
vendors conferred on their agent was not ratified before a notary but before a judge of first instance.
The referee, in passing upon the legal point involved, said:

In order that the sale made by Manuel de los Reyes behalf of the Barcinas may be valid, a
written power of attorney was sufficient, without the necessity of converting said power of
attorney into a public document. (Section 335, No. 5, Code of Civil Procedure; article 1278,
Civil Code. Without dis therefore, whether or not under the laws in force in the Marianas
Islands in 1893, the judge of first instance could act as notary public, the indisputable fact
remains that those named as grantors in the instrument in question executed said power of
attorney; and this execution of the written power of attorney was sufficient to authorize the
attorney-in-fact Manuel de los Reyes to execute a valid sale of the property of his principals.
The undersigned is of the opinion, therefore, that the deed Exhibit Tuason-1 legally
transferred to the estate of Doña Teresa de la Paz what appears in said deed, belonging to
the grantors therein named:

The court affirmed the conclusion of the referee in the following language:

The court agrees with the referee that, notwithstanding the execution of the power of
attorney in the City of Agaña before the judge of first instance of the Marianas Islands the
sale was valid, because according to the said Exhibit Tuason-1, the judge of first instance of
said Islands, "Acted with the witnesses then present, Don Manuel Aflague and Don Juan del
Rosario, in the capacity of notary public" in the absence of this official in that
district (emphasis ours). The intervenors Barcinas, represented by Attorney Wolfson, have
not shown that on the date of the execution of the power of attorney, June 8, 1894, there was
a notary in the City of Agaña; on the contrary, said Exhibit Tuason-1 shows that there was no
such notary in the district, hence, the judge of first instance acted in that capacity. There
being no notary, we cannot insist that the power of attorney be executed before a notary. It
was sufficient that it be executed before the judge of first instance acting in the capacity of
notary public. Wherefore, the court is of the same opinion as the referee, that the sale
executed by the intervenors Barcinas, Exhibit Tuason-1, in favor of the estate of Doña
Teresa de la Paz is valid.

The appellants have not cited any law especially applicable to the Marianas Islands at the time the
power of attorney in question was executed, whereby the intervention of a notary in the execution of
said kind of document was made absolutely necessary. In 1893 the present Civil Code was already
in force in the country, and the provisions thereof applicable to the subject are as follows:

ART. 1710. An agency may be express or implied.

An express agency may be created by a public or private instrument or even orally.

The acceptance may also be express or implied, the latter being inferred from the acts of the
agent.

ART. 1713. An agency created in general terms only includes acts of administration.

In order to compromise, alienate, mortgage, or to execute any other act of strict ownership,
an express power is required.

The power to compromise does not give authority to submit the matter to arbitrators or
friendly adjusters.

The pertinent portion of section 335 of the Code of Civil Procedure, provides:

SEC. 335. Agreements invalid unless made in writing. — In the following cases an
agreement hereafter made shall be unenforceable by action unless the same, or some note
or memorandum thereof, be in writing, and subscribed by the party charged, or by his agent;
evidence, therefore, of the agreement cannot be received without the writing, or secondary
evidence of its contents:

xxx xxx xxx


5. An agreement for the leasing for a longer period than one year, or for the sale of real
property, or of an interest therein, and such agreement, if made by the agent of the party
sought to be charged, is invalid unless the authority of the agent be in writing and subscribed
by the party sought to be charged.

It, therefore, follows that under the legal provisions above quoted, the power conferred upon Manuel
de los Reyes is valid although no notary public intervened in its execution. And the sale executed by
said attorney-in-fact is likewise valid because in the execution of the corresponding deed the
essential requisites provided by law were complied with.

The above refuses appellants second, third, fourth assigned errors relating to the validity of the
power of attorney and the deed of sale of the participations already referred to.

The first assignment does not specify any error committed by the court and the appellants only make
and re produce therein, as their own, the assignments of error of the intervenors-appellants in G.R.
Nos. 36811 and 36840. It is not incumbent upon us to consider seriously an assignment of error of
this nature, although the assignments of error made by the other appellants will be considered and
resolved in due time.

In resume, we find the four assigned errors of these appellants untenable.

G.R. No. 36840

APPEAL OF ESTANISLAOA ARENAS AND OTHERS

The herein appellants are likewise descendants of the founder of the mayorazgo, Some of them
directly sold to the defendants their participations in one-fifth of the revenue and all their rights and
interest in the mayorazgo; the others are descendants of other relatives of the founder who likewise
sold their participations in one-fifth of the revenue and all their rights and interest in the mayorazgo in
favor of the same defendants. The deeds evidencing the sales have been marked as Exhibits 2, 3,
4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17.

The appellants impugn all the sales as null and void and in their brief assign the following errors:

I. The court erred in holding that, by the deeds of sale executed by the intervenors-
appellants, or their predecessors in interest, in favor of the defendants and the predecessors
in interest of the intervenors Legarda and sisters, the participations of the former in
the ownership and dominion of one-fifth of the properties of the mayorazgo were sold and in
not declaring said sales null and void.

II. The court erred in finding that on the date of the execution of the sale made by Israel
Arenas the latter had no immediate successor and in disapproving the report of the referee
on this question.

III. The court erred in finding that Camila Tuason died after the year 1864, when the
Disentailing Statute took effect in the Philippines, and not in 1863 as found by the referee."

In support of the first assigned error, the following propositions are advanced: (1) That the vendors
intended to sell only their participations in one-fifth of the revenue and, not the ownership or other
rights which they had in themayorazgo, consequently, the sales were null and void for lack of said
vendors' consent; (2) that the purchasers were administrators or trustees of the properties of
the mayorazgo, and, therefore, fall under the prohibition found in article 1459 of the Civil Code; (3)
that the purchasers the spouses Legarda, at the time they purchased the participations of some of
the intervenors, were legal administrators of the properties of the mayorazgo, and, therefore, lacked
the capacity to buy in accordance with the provisions of the Novisima Recopilacion then applicable;
(4) that the purchasers obtained the vendors' consent through fraud, and (5) that the said are
moreover null and void under the express provisions of article 4, in connection with article 3, of the
Disentailing Matute, for lack of prior formal appraisal and partition of the properties constituting the
fifth of the mayorazgo.

Considering the view we have taken in respect of the first assigned error, a view which we will
hereafter set forth, it would seem unnecessary to answer the arguments advanced by the appellants.
However, we will briefly state the following:

After a careful examination of all the deeds of sale, we hold. as did the referee and the court, that the
vendors sold not only their participations in the revenue but also all their rights and interest in the
properties of themayorazgo. In other words, said vendors in fact sold their participations and rights in
the ownership of themayorazgo, to which the one-fifth of the revenue was converted in view of the
enforcement of the Disentailing Statute in the Islands.

The purchasers, strictly speaking, were not legal administrators or fiduciaries of the rights sold to
them by the vendors, at least in the sense in which the prohibition then existing was expressed and
established. As the court correctly stated, the purchasers, in connection with the transactions, acted
as mere coproprietors or tenants in common, and the right to buy which they then exercised was
expressly recognized by law.

The fraud imputed to the purchasers has not been proved; the evidence shows that the vendors had
full knowledge of the rights which they sold and that thereby they conveyed to the vendees all the
interest which they could have in the mayorazgo.

And with respect to the lack of formal appraisal and partition of one-fifth of the properties of
the mayorazgo, prior to the sales, requisites found in article 4, in connection with article 3, of the
Disentailing Statute, it is sufficient to state our opinion that non-compliance therewith should not
produce either the effect or the meaning attributed to them by the appellants. It seems to us that the
court was right in interpreting that the appraisal, partition, and intervention of the immediate
successor are required only in cases in which the actual possessor of properties or the one who
receives the revenue desires to dispose of his participations in a specific and particular form, but not
when, as in the case under consideration, undivided and indeterminate rights or participations were
sold. In case of an hereditary estate, for instance, a coheir may sell his successory right, although
undetermined, without the necessity either of a prior appraisal or partition of said estate or notice to
or intervention by the other coheirs.

We will now briefly state the view we have taken of the first assigned error. The most recent sales
impugned were made between the year 1905 and 1910; the oldest deeds were executed between
the years 1891 and 1898. On the other hand, the appellants challenged the validity of said sales for
the first time in January and February, 1929. Theretofore, at least, nineteen years had elapsed as to
the sale effected in 1910. We hold that the lapse of the period of nineteen years is more than that
required for the prescription of the action of annulment began by the appellants through their
complaints of intervention, and in support of this holding we recur here to all that we said on the
subject in resolving the appeal interposed by the intervenors Legarda. We are likewise of the opinion
that the appellants are now barred from claiming any right in connection with said sales under the
doctrine of estoppel by laches. We repeat what we said on this point in the appeal of the Legardas,
to the effect that the validity of sales may not be questioned anew after the purchasers have enjoyed
the participations sold and the fruits thereof for many years.

The second and third assigned errors refer to the sales made by Isabel Arenas and Alejandro
Camacho and brothers, respectively. The intervenor-appellant Rafael Arenas contends that the sale
executed by his mother Isabel Arenas is null and void as to one-half because said vendor had an
immediate successor at the time of the sale. The Camachos, in turn, allege that the sale they
executed is likewise null and void as to one-half because, contrary to the finding of the court, they
were the ones who received the revenue at the time the Disentailing Statute took effect, and they
contend in this connection that their mother Camila Tuason died in 1863 and not after 1873, as
found by the court. We do not find it necessary to discuss the question of fact thus raised, because
in both cases prescription and the rule of estoppel by laches are applicable against the appellants.
On both grounds we rule that the appellants may not now question the validity of the aforesaid sales.

It follows from what has been said that the three errors assigned by the appellants are overruled as
not well-founded.

G.R. No. 36872

APPEAL OF THE DEFENDANTS AUGUSTO H. TUASON Y DELA PAZ AND OTHERS

This appeal is interposed by the defendants who were the possessors of all the properties of
the mayorazgo at the time the principal case was instituted and before the Bank of the Philippine
Islands was appointed receiver. Said appellants impute to the appealed decision and order the
following error:

FIRST ERROR

The lower court erred in not passing upon certain vital issues on the ground that they had
been definitely concluded.

SECOND ERROR

The trial court erred in not finding that the fifth part of the mayorazgo belongs in fee simple to
the defendants.

THIRD ERROR

The trial court erred in distributing the fifth part as follows: three-eighths thereof among all
the descendants of the founder (including those of the first possessor of the mayorazgo) per
stirps of great grandchildren, including those who have already died; and the remaining five
eighths among the descendants of the five younger children of the founder who died leaving
succession, distributing the same per stirps of said children.

FOURTH ERROR

The trial court erred in not finding that the plan of distribution more in conformity with the
provisions of article 4 of the Disentailing Law, would be to assign to each recipient (whether
plaintiff or intervenor) a portion of the one-fifth of the entail in the proportion that the pension
which he used to receive bears to the net income of the fifth on the entail.
FIFTH ERROR

The trial court erred in not distributing the three-eights exclusively among the defendants.

SIXTH ERROR

In case the preceding assignment of error be over ruled, we respectfully submit that the trial
court erred in distributing the three-eights in equal portions per stirps of the great great
grandchildren (tataranietos), including those who have already died, instead of distributing
the same only among those that are living, or, more properly, instead of distributing the same
per stirps of the children of the founder.

SEVENTH ERROR

The trial court erred in not finding what is the value in pesos of the different participations
assigned to the different parties in this case.

EIGHT ERROR

The trial court erred in not finding that the plaintiffs having filed a personal action against the
defendants asking judgment in the sum of five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000), for
damages which the said parties agreed were the value of the one-half of the so-called family
trust are now barred to claim participation in the properties them- selves thereby converting
the action into one in rem.

NINTH ERROR

The trial court erred in finding that the sales executed by Mariano Arenas, Estanislaoa
Arenas, Julio Tuason, Severino, Tuason, Encarnacion Rojo and Candelaria Rojo were null
and void as to one-half thereof.

TENTH ERROR

Assuming that the said sales as to one-half thereof should be declared null and void, the trial
court erred in not condemning the sellers or their successors in interest to return one-half of
the price received by them from the purchasers, plus the legal interest thereof the time of the
sale.

ELEVENTH ERROR

The trial court erred in finding that the sales executed by the intervenors or their
predecessors in interest of any rights that they might have had in the fifth of
the mayorazgo in question, did not cover the right that they had to participate in the three
eighths which originally correspond to the three younger children of the founder who died
without leaving succession.

TWELVE ERROR

The trial court erred in not requiring the referee to file an amended report in conformity with
the order of the trial court dated April 9, 1931.
By way of preliminary observation we will state that it is not our intention to hold that the questions
raised by the appellants in their first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth assigned errors
are res judicata because they have been submitted, discussed at length, and resolved in the
decision rendered in the principal case, because we believe this to be unnecessary; but we
understand, and so decide, that unless it is shown that said questions have been erroneously
resolved and that there exist sufficient reasons justifying that we renounce the conclusions already
reached, it is our duty to adhere to them and to apply the principles laid down in the aforesaid
decision in so far as they are applicable to the same points raised anew in the instant appeal.

The first assignment does not specify any error committed by the court, hence, we are not bound to
resolve any specific question; but in the development of the idea which the appellants have
apparently attempted to bring out, they argue in synthesis that in the resolution granting a new trial
this court again left open for discussion the same points already considered and resolved as well as
the new ones which the parties may desire to raise in the aforesaid new trial. An examination of said
resolution, however, shows just the contrary. In the said resolution the following language was
employed.

Counsel for defendants insist upon their contentions maintained from the beginning and
disposed of in our decision. They raise some points in their briefs, however which require a
few brief-remarks. (Baretto vs. Tuason, 50 Phil., 888, 959.)

xxx xxx xxx

Resolving, therefore, said motion for reconsideration, we reiterate the following conclusions,
declaring finally:

(1) That the first-born possessor of this mayorazgo was a mere usufructuary of the entailed
properties.

(2) That this mayorazgo was a fideicamiso.

(3) That the charge to distribute the fifth of the revenues from said properties was a family
trust.

(4) That article 4 of the Disentailing Law of October 11, 1820 is applicable to the present
case.

(5) That the fifth of the properties into which, by virtue of said law, the fifth of the revenue
was converted on March 1, 1864, when the Disentailing Law became effective in the
Philippines, has remained and subsists as a fideicomiso up to the present date.

(6) That the plaintiffs' right of action has not prescribed.

(7) That the registration of the entailed properties under Act No. 496 must, with respect to the
fifth of the said properties conserved up to the present time as a fideicomiso, be held to have
been made in favor of the beneficiaries of said fifth part.

(8) That the plaintiffs, as well as any other descendants of the founder, are entitled to
participate in the fifth of the properties of this mayorazgo in accordance with the sixth clause
of the deed of foundation and article 4 of the Disentailing Law.
(9) The pronouncements made in our decision with respect as to the amount of the
participation of each claimant shall be set aside in view of the motions of the intervenors
which we about to examine. (Ibid., pp. 963, 964.)

No clearer and more categorical language could have been employed to express the intention of the
court to adhere to and reiterate the conclusions and principles already established in the decision
originally rendered, notwithstanding the motion of reconsideration and new trial. Neither can there be
any doubt as to the questions which the court considered definitely resolved and which should not
be the subject of further discussion.

That this court did not intend to allow the parties to raise anew the fundamental questions already
resolved, and that the new trial should be limited exclusively to a determination of the amount to
which the intervenors could be entitled in the fifth of the properties, is clearly shown by the following
quoted paragraphs which form a part of the order found in the aforesaid resolution:

(a) That the motion for reconsideration filed by counsel for the defendants is denied in so far
as it is incompatible with the fundamental conclusions we have arrived at in the present
cause and enumerated in the preceding resolution.

xxx xxx xxx

(e) That said Court of First Instance proceed to try this cause and render judgment as to the
amount to which the original parties and those who may intervene may be en titled as their
participation in the fifth of the properties of this mayorazgo. (Ibid p. 966.)

Defendants-appellants intimate that the said resolution is without legal force because it was not
concurred in by a sufficient majority of the members then composing this court. A sufficient answer
to this is, that the aforesaid resolution was authorized and concurred in by eight of the nine members
then composing this court.

In the second assigned error, the appellants again insist that the naked ownership of the fifth of the
properties of the mayorazgo belongs to them. This question was already definitely resolved in the
decision as well as in the resolution on the motions of reconsideration and new trial wherein was
stated:

Counsel for defendants allege that the properties of this foundation passed into the hands of
the heir, Jose Victoriano Tuason, completely free, one-half by testamentary inheritance and
the other half by virtue of article 2 of the Disentailing Law. This, however, was not the will of
the testator, Don Jose Severino Tuason, nor the will of his successors, all of whom
respected the mayorazgo and held it as subsisting de facto. In no event could the properties
pass into the hands of the heir Jose Victoriano Tuason completely free. It was necessary to
preserve them intact until they were appraised and the fifth part thereof had been segregated
for distribution among the recipients of the revenues and their immediate successors, in
accordance with the provisions of article 4 of the statute.

It is a fact that the trust subsisted and still subsists. The successive possessors of the entail
have preserved and preserve the properties of the mayorazgo respecting and distributing the
fifth of the revenue among the descendants of the younger children of the founder.

But the entail could not and cannot continue perpetually. Its abolition was decreed by the
statute as of the 1st day of March, 1864. Its perpetual survival would be contrary, not only to
the Disentailing Law of October 11, 1820, but also the Civil Code in force which, under
articles 781 and 785, paragraph 2, positively prohibits perpetual entails.

If up to the present time the entail in question subsists, this has been because the interested
parties have been maintaining it without proceeding to the appraisal and distribution of the
entailed properties, as required by articles 2 and 4 of the Disentailing Law; and in
accordance with the doctrine announced by the Supreme Court of Spain on October 29,
1857, above cited, the properties of this mayorazgo, pre served de facto by the interested
parties as entailed, legally retain this character for the purposes of their partition which must
be effected in accordance with the statute of October 11, 1820.

From what has been said it follows that since March 1, 1864, the date upon which the said
Disentailing Law came into force in the Philippine Islands, the successive possessors of the
properties of this mayorazgoconstituted themselves trustees, charged with the administration
and preservation of the said properties and the distribution of the fifth of the revenue among
the descendants of the younger children of the founder. Consequently, after the entail was
abolished, one-half of the four-fifths of the proof Asgo continued subject to the trust in favor
of its beneficiaries, the heirs of Jose Victoriano Tuason, who was the one called to succeed
immediately to the mayorazgo on the date of its disentailment (article 2, Statute), and the fifth
of the said properties in favor of the beneficiaries, the recipients of the fifth of the revenue in
accordance with the foundation.

Summing up the effects produced with respect to this mayorazgo by the Disentailing Law on
the one hand, and the conduct of the interested parties on the other, we may say first, that
the trust of the naked ownership instituted in favor of the descendants of the founder
indefinitely was abolished, in consequence of the disentailment; and second, that the trust of
the usufruct of the properties became converted into a trust of the properties themselves, the
beneficiaries being the same, but as owners; that is to say, the first-born successor as to
one-half of four-fifths of the said properties, and the descendants of the younger children of
the founder with respect to the remaining fifth. (Ibid., pp. 936-938.)

Resolving, therefore, said motion for reconsideration, we reiterate the following conclusions,
declaring finally:

xxx xxx xxx

(5) That the fifth of the properties into which, by virtue of said law, the fifth of the revenue
was converted on March 1, 1864, when the Disentailing Law became effective in the
Philippines, has remained and subsists as a fideicomiso up to the present date.

xxx xxx xxx

(7) That the registration of the entailed properties under Art No. 496 must, with respect to the
fifth of the said properties conserved up to the present time as a fideicomiso, be held to have
been made in favor of the beneficiaries of said fifth part.

(8) That the plaintiffs, as well as any other descendants of the founder, are entitled to
participate in the fifth of the properties of this mayorazgo in accordance with the sixth clause
of the deed of foundation and article 4 of the Disentailing Law. (Ibid., pp. 963, 964.)

The arguments now advanced by the appellants in sup port of their second assigned error are not
entirely new because they were already brought out when the question was submitted and
discussed in the principal case and we do not find therein any weighty reasons justifying our
repudiation of the conclusions and principles established in the decision rendered in the original
case.

The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth assigned errors may be jointly considered because they all refer to
the distribution of the one-fifth of the properties. In the paragraphs here after quoted of the original
decision, it will be seen that the distribution of the fifth and those entitled to it under the instrument of
foundation were already dealt with and resolved:

PERSONS ENTITLED TO THE REMEDY

The recipients of the fifth of the revenues are indicated in the sixth clause of the instrument of
foundation, the text of which we again transcribe:

"It shall be his duty to set apart one-fifth of the net revenue derived from the entail each year,
and that one-fifth part shall be divided into eight parts, giving one to each of my eight
children, and in their absence, to my grandchildren, but upon the understanding that if one or
more of my children should die without succession, the part belonging to them shall be
distributed among my children and other descendants of mine according to their needs and
as prudence may dictate to him, so that, when the time arrives that none of my children are
alive, it shall then be always understood that said fifth part shall be applied to all those of my
descendants who are poor, the apportionment to be made by him prudently according to
their needs and therefore the possessor of the entail is hereby charged to discharge this duty
with conscientious scruple." (Ibid., pp. 941, 942.)

xxx xxx xxx

If the descendants of the younger children, subsequent to the grandchildren of the founder,
are granted under certain circumstances the right to possess the mayorazgo itself, with all its
properties, we do not see how it can be said that these descendants, subsequent to
grandchildren, the sons of sons, were prohibited from receiving a fifth of the revenues of said
properties.

It is our understanding that the intention of the founder was not to restrict the grant of the
usufruct of the fifth of the revenue by limiting it to a certain number of generations of the
younger children, but that he intended to extend it to all of the descendants of the latter. If
this is so we should apply to the case the rule of law of the Partidas (Rule 28, Title 34,
7th Partido), which says: "Privilegia recipiunt largum interpretationem voluntati consonan
concedentis." (Privileges are to be interpreted with liberality in accordance with the will of him
who grants them.)

Furthermore, that the present plaintiffs are entitled to receive the fifth of the revenues has
been repeatedly recognized by the defendants when they purchased, in 1905, from Don
Jose Rocha y Ruiz, and in 1916 from Doña Remedios Aragon y Rocha their respective
participations in the fifth of the revenue, according to paragraph 16 of the stipulation of facts,
and while in the years 1917 to 1921 the said defendants delivered to Don Antonio Maria
Barretto y Rocha, and to Don Santiago, Don Julio and Don Andres Rocha y Ruiz Delgado,
and their sister, Doña Rosario; and in the years 1917 to 1922, to Doña Isabel, Doña
Enriqueta, Doña Carmen, Don Antonio, Don Alfredo and Don Clodoaldo Rocha y Pereyra,
Don Francisco Beech y Rojo, Don Ciriaco, Don Cayetano, Don Pablo Leon and Don Tomas
Tuason, and to the minors Doña Consuelo, Don Juan, Doña Rosario and Doña Carmen
Tuason, and Doña Victoria Rufina, Doña Ana Consolacion Tuason, and Doña Asuncion
Romana Tuason widow of Caballero, their respective participations in the fifth of the
revenue, as appears from the cross-complaint of the defendants, admitted in para graph 8 of
the stipulation of facts.

And it appears that the said Don Jose Rocha y Ruiz was the son of Don Lorenzo Rocha, a
grandson, in turn, of Doña Gregoria N. Tuason (Exhibit 6 and paragraphs 2 and 16 of the
stipulation of facts): that Doña Remedios Aragon y Rocha is a relative of the founder (Exhibit
7, admitted in paragraph 16 of the stipulation of facts) ; and that the said recipients of the fifth
of the revenue from the year 1917 to 1921 and from the year 1917 to 1922, are all
descendants of grandchildren of the younger children of the founder. (Paragraphs 2 to 30,
admitted in paragraph 1 of the stipulation of facts.) (Ibid., pp. 944, 945.)

xxx xxx xxx

Passing to the amount of the Participation which is due them respectively, for the purpose of
determining this point we must have regard to the intention of the founder, as it is expressed
in the instrument creating the mayorazgo. It was his will that the fifth of the revenue should
he divided into eight parts, and that to each of his children, other than his first born, one part
should be given. Upon the death of each of these children, by virtue of the provisions of the
instrument of foundation, and by operation of law, their right to an eighth part of the revenue
which they received during their lifetime was transmitted to their heirs. That is, each of these
eight portions of the fifth of the revenue was transmitted from succession to succession,
within the stirps of each of the eight younger children who died leaving succession. The heirs
of a younger son or daughter could legally participate in the eight part corresponding to
another stirps, as long " heirs in the direct line of this stirps survived; that is to say, each of
the eight portions of the fifth, except those corresponding to young children born without
succession. The heirs of a younger child could not legally participate in the eight
corresponding to another stirps, while heirs of this stirps in, the direct line survive. That is to
say, each one of the said eight parts of the fifth, except those corresponding to the younger
children dying without succession, was preserved and transmitted from generation to
generation within each respective stirps.

This plan of division of participation, based upon the will of the founder and the precepts of
the law, is that which in our judgment must continue to prevail, and is that which we shall
follow in determining the proportion which corresponds to the plaintiffs in the half of the fifth
of the properties of this foundation.

Of the eight younger children four died without sucession and the other four are the
descendants of the plaintiffs in this cause. Hence, four of the eight portions, that is, one-half
of the fifth of the properties of this foundation, belong to the plaintiffs herein under the plan of
division which has just been indicated. The other four portions, that is, the one-half of the
said fifth, which would have corresponded to the stirps of the other four younger children, if
they had died leaving succession, accrue, so to speak, both to the defendants of the younger
children leaving succession and to the other descendants of the founder.

The distribution of this accretion is made in obedience to a plan distinct from that above
indicated, because the founder, foreseeing the contingency, did not prescribe a quota for
each stirps of his younger children, but ordered that it he delivered to descendants of both
classes without distinction of line or stirps. Consequently, this one-half in accretion should be
distributed among the descendants of the founder in general, who are the plaintiffs and some
of the defendants, but bearing in mind the different rights with which each heir participates,
by reason of the greater or lesser proximity of his relationship to the founder, for the purpose
of determining if he is to inherit per capita or per stirpes. We say some of the defendants,
because with the exception of the ten mentioned in paragraph 5 of the complaint, the other
defendants are either persons whose relationship has not been determined (paragraph 6 of
the complaint) or have refused to become parties to this action (paragraph 30 of the
complaint).

From what has been said it follows that one-half of the fifth of the properties corresponding to
the younger sons leaving succession, four-fortieth parts (4/40) of the whole of the properties
of this foundation must be divided into four equal portions, because one portion, or one-
fortieth part (1/40) corresponds to each stirps of the said four younger children. The other
one-half of the said fifth, that is to say, the other four-fortieth parts (4/40) of the whole of the
properties of this foundation must be distributed in general among the plaintiffs and some of
the defendants, taking into consideration the circumstances of their respective heirships.
(Ibid., pp. 946-948.)

The foregoing paragraphs contain conclusions of fact and of law established after a careful study of
the provisions found in the foundation and of the laws applicable to the case, and are squarely
applicable to the facts recently proved at the new trial, except that five-eighths of the fifth should be
divided among the descendants of the five (5) younger children with succession and the remaining
three-eighths of the fifth among the relatives in general of the founder, because it developed that the
younger daughter Eustaquia Ma. Tuason had left heirs, contrary to the stipulation of the plaintiffs and
the defendants.

The arguments advanced by the appellants in support of said assignments of error do not justify, in
our opinion, a different result from that already reached; in truth they are merely repetitions of the
same arguments already brought out by counsel for the same appellants.

In the seventh assigned error, it is contended that the court erred in not reducing the respective
participations of the parties to figures or pesos. It is true that the court did not undertake the
arithmetical operations involved there in. but we cannot conceive of this as an error subject to
modification or reversal, in view of the fact that there was then no necessity therefor, and that such
work could be easily entrusted to the referee after this decision has become final and the records
remanded to the court.

By their eighth assigned error the defendants-appellants again reproduce their original special
defense to the effect that the plaintiffs could not convert the personal action for damages which they
had originally commenced into an action in rem, and that said plaintiffs are barred from claiming any
participation in the properties of themayorazgo.

This point was likewise considered and resolved in the decision in the principal case, wherein it was
said:

In addition to the arguments mentioned heretofore, counsel for defendants interpose as


obstacles to the action of plaintiffs the registration of the title to the properties of
the mayorazgo in favor of the defendants, mentioned in paragraph 11 of the first special
defense, under Act No. 496, and the prescription of this action. The defendants Doña Paz
Tuason de Gonzales, Doña Consuelo Tuason de Quimson, Don Juan Tuason and Doña
Albina Tuason inter pose as a defense to this action the contention that the plaintiffs filed no
claim whatever in the proceedings had upon the testamentary estate of Don Juan Jose
Tuason de la Paz, the father of the said defendants. which testamentary proceedings were
finally disposed of and filed June 25, 1920.
If, as we have found and decided, the successive possessors of the properties of
this mayorazgo were and have been mere trustees of the said properties, holding them in
trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries, part of whom are the recipients of the fifth of the
revenues, and their descendants, the registration of the title to said properties under Act No.
496 in favor of the said defendant must be deemed to have been effected for the benefit of
the beneficiaries of said properties, part of whom are the present plaintiffs. The doctrine
established by this court in the case of Severino vs. Severino (44 Phil., 343), is applicable to
this feature of the case.

Although the plaintiffs endeavored to demonstrate that the said defendants registered the
title by fraud, it is our opinion that the alleged fraud has not been proven in this action.
Nevertheless, the existence of fraud is unnecessary to arrant the declaration that registration
of the Title under Act No. 496 is not a legal obstacle to this action brought by plaintiffs, and
the adjudication in favor of those among them who are entitled thereto of the portion
pertaining to them of the properties so registered. It was said in the case of Gilbert vs.
Hewetson (79 Minn., 326), cited with approval in the case of Severino vs. Severino, supra:

"A receiver, trustee attorney, agent, or any other person occupying fiduciary relations
respecting property or per sons, is utterly disabled from acquiring for his own benefit the
property committed to his custody for management. This rule is entirely independent of the
fact whether any fraud has intervened. No fraud in fact need be shown, and no excuse will
be heard from the trustee." (Emphasis ours.)

With respect to the plea of prescription, counsel for defendants contend that inasmuch as
plaintiffs, prior to the filing of the present complaint, had made no effort to enforce their rights
since the 1st day of March, 1864, their action is barred. But from the records it that up to the
year 1922 the defendant have been recognizing in the entries in their books, and in deeds,
such as Exhibits 6 and 7, signed by Don Augusto Tuason de la Paz, as grantee, the right of
the descendants of the younger children of the founder to the fifth of the revenue, and
therefore the trust which this charge implies; furthermore, said defendants made payments
on account of the fifth of the revenue. These acts of recognition and payments, made during
the said period of time, prevent the operation of prescription. Section 50, Code of Civil
Procedure.)

Furthermore, this being a case which deals with a trust which subsisted from the time of its
foundation and by virtue thereof up to March 1, 1864, and thereafter down to the present
time by the express will of the present parties, the defense of prescription cannot be
entertained. By virtue of the said trust the possession of the said defendants could not be
regarded as a basis for an acquisitive prescription in their favor against the plaintiffs because
such possession has not been nor is it under claim of ownership, but a title held in the name
and on behalf of the beneficiaries, some of whom are the plaintiffs in general. For this reason
the defense of prescription cannot be enforced between the trustee and the beneficiaries
while the trust relations continue, as was impliedly held in the case of the Government of the
Philippine Islands vs. Abadilla(46 Phil., 642.) (Ibid., pp. 938-940.)

Strictly speaking there was no alteration in the nature of the action then commenced by the plaintiffs.
They claimed indemnity for damages in the amount of half a million pesos believing that the
registration of the real properties of the mayorazgo in favor of the defendants and the issuance of
the corresponding certificates of title, made the latter the exclusive owners thereof; but this court
held that a trust being involved, the titles should be under stood as issued in favor of all the co-
proprietors, among them the plaintiffs, and in view of this ruling the plaintiffs were declared entitled,
not to an indemnity, but to a participation in one-fifth of the aforesaid properties. From this it follows
that, although the plaintiffs were granted a relief different from that they had asked for, the rights
which they invoked from the very beginning and upon which they based the action which they
began, were, nevertheless, the same to wit, their rights as relatives or descendants of the founder of
the mayorazgo. They erred in the choice of the remedy to which they were entitled, but they did not
change the essential ground of the action. In either case the right which they wanted to enforce was
the same, but it developed that the adequate remedy was not the, one they asked for but that
granted to them by the court.

In their ninth assigned error the appellants contend that the court erred in declaring null and void as
to one-half the sales of their participations executed by the intervenors Mariano Arenas, Estanislaoa
Arenas, Julio Tuason, Severino Tuason, Encarnacion Rojo, and Candelaria Rojo in favor of the said
defendants-appellants.

The referee in fact declared said sales null and void as to one-half, either because the vendors were
the ones who received the revenue or because they had immediate successors at the time the
Disentailing Statute took effect in the Islands. The court sustained the referee.

Without going into an extended discussion, we rule that the said intervenors-vendors cannot now
question the validity of the aforesaid sales because their action has pre scribed and they are now in
estoppel by laches. All that we said in this connection in the appeal of the Legardas may be taken as
reproduced herein. The most recent sale was made in 1916 and the first complaint of intervention
questioning the validity of the sales was filed in 1926, that is, after the lapse of more than ten years.
During all this time the defendants were in the enjoyment of the said participations without any
protest or claim of any kind from any of the vendors. The time that has elapsed is more than that
required for the prescription of the action to annul the sales, and estops the intervenors-vendors
from questioning their validity.

We find the error assigned tenable.

The tenth assigned error requires no discussion because it was made conditionally, that is, in the
event that the preceding one is not well-founded and is not sustained.

Various intervenors or their predecessors sold their participations in the fifth of the mayorazgo which
came from the younger children with succession as well as from those without succession, favor of
the defendants. The referee last appointed was of the opinion that the sales of the participations
which came from the younger children with succession, were valid, but not those which came from
the younger children who died without succession. In its decision the court disapproved this
conclusion and held that all the sales were valid. But in its order of April 8, 1931, in passing upon
different motions of reconsideration, it concurred in the opinion of the referee and ruled that the sales
of the participations coming from the younger children without succession were null and void
because undetermined rights were transmitted thereby.

We rule that the eleventh assigned error is well founded and that the sales in question are as valid
as those made of the participations coming. from the younger children with succession. And on this
point we repeat what we already said in the appeal of the Legardas, in resolving a similar case, that
pursuant to the provisions of article 657 of the Civil Code, successory rights are transmitted from the
death of the person leaving the hereditary estate, where fore. it cannot be said that in the
aforementioned sales undetermined rights were conveyed. It is true that on the dates of the sales,
the amount of the participations sold were not yet determined, but doubtless it could be fixed and
reduced to figures through the appraisal and liquidation provided for by the Disentailing Statute.
The twelve and last assigned error states that the court should have required the referee to file an
amended report pursuant to the order of April 8, 1931. The error, if any is no ground for either
modification or reversal. There is no doubt that the referee should file his amended and final report,
but this may be prepared and submitted for approval after the appeals have been disposed of and
the present decision has become final. We find no merit in this assigned error.

Summarizing what has been said in connection with this appeal we have:

1. That the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eight, tenth and twelfth assigned
error are without merit and must be as they are hereby overruled;

2. That the sales executed by Mariano Arenas, Estanislao Arenas, Julio Tuason, Severino
Tuason, Encarnacion Rojo and Candelaria Rojo in favor of the defendants are valid in their
entirety; thereby sustaining the ninth assigned error; and

3. That the sales executed by certain intervenors or their predecessors of their participations
coming from the younger children without succession, in favor of the defendants, are valid;
thereby sustaining likewise the eleventh assigned error.

JUDGMENT

In view of all the foregoing considerations, and disposing finally of all the appeals interposed, it is
ordered:

In case G.R. No. 36811

1. That the appealed decision and order be amended, in the sense that the sales executed
by Tomasa Tuason de Tobias, Luis Tuason, and Pedro Tuason, in favor of the intervenors
Legarda, are valid, and that the participations sold thereby should be adjudicated in favor of
said purchasers;

2. That the appealed decision and order be modified, in the sense that the sales executed in
favor of the intervenors Legarda of the participations coming from the younger children
without succession, are valid, and, consequently, said participations should be adjudicated in
favor of the said intervenors;

3. That the appealed decision and order be modified, in the ant of Santos Luciano Tuason,
should be adjudicated in favor of the intervenors-appellants, and

4. That the appealed decision and order, in so far as they have been affected by the appeal
interposed but have not been modified, are hereby affirmed;

In case G.R. No. 36827

1. That the aforesaid appealed decision, in so far as it has been affected by the appeal interposed by
the intervenors-appellants in this case, is hereby affirmed;

In case G.R. No. 36840

1. That the decision of the court is hereby affirmed in so far as it has been affected by the appeal
interposed in this case by the intervenors-appellants Estanislaoa Arenas and others;
In case G.R. No. 36872

1. That the appealed decision and order are hereby amended, in the sense that the sales
executed by Mariano Arenas, Estanislaoa Arenas, Julio Tuason, Severino Tuason,
Encarnacion Rojo, and Candelaria Rojo, in favor of the defendants-appellants, are valid in
their entirety, and consequently. the participations transferred thereby should be adjudicated
to the said purchasers.

2. That the said appealed decision and order be amended in the sense that the sales
executed in favor of the defend ants-appellants of the participations coming from the younger
children without succession, are valid in their entirety, and therefore, said participations
should be adjudicated in favor of said defendants-appellants; and

3. That the said decision and order in so far as they have been affected by the appeal
interposed in this case but have not been modified. are hereby affirmed.

It is likewise ordered that the court of origin take the necessary steps looking to the adjudication and
distribution among the parties entitled thereto of their respective participations, to the end that
this mayorazgo case may be definitely closed.

Without costs in this instance. So ordered.

Avanceña, C.J., Malcolm, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

STREET, J., concurring:

In view of the fact that our order granting a new trial, reported in Baretto vs. Tuason (50 Phil., 888,
966), is considered by the court to be so limited as to prevent further consideration of the
fundamentals, I deem it unnecessary to repeat the consideration which led me to dissent in part from
the conclusions reached at the former hearing, and I therefore now concur.

HULL, J., with whom concur GODDARD and DIAZ, JJ., concurring:

I am constrained to concur in the result, feeling bound by the law of the case as it exist in this
jurisdiction. (SeeCompagnie Franco-Indochinoise vs. Deutsch-Australische Dampschiffs Gesllschaft,
39 Phil., 474, and Zarate vs. Director of Lands, 39 Phil., 747.) If I were free to vote on the merits, I
would deny all relief to plaintiffs.

VICKERS, J., concurring:

In the above entitled cases I voted to affirm the decisions of the lower court, with the modifications
proposed by the ponente, and I hereby authorize the Chief Justice or the Justice acting in his place
to certify that I voted in said cases as hereinabove stated.

I certify that Justice J.C. Vickers took part in the consideration of the above enumerated cases, and
voted to affirm the appealed decision, as modified in the prevailing opinion. — AVANCEÑA, C.J.
ABAD SANTOS, J., dissenting:

I regret that I am unable to agree with the prevailing opinion in this case which is not only well-written
but manifests conscientious and painstaking labor. In my judgment, however, it suffers from one vital
defect which is that of having assumed as correct and binding the rulings laid down and conclusions
reached in Barretto vs. Tuason (50 Phil., 888.) I am of the opinion (1) that these rulings and
conclusions are fundamentally erroneous, and (2) that this court is not bound by them.

1. Granting that, as held in the case cited, the mayorazgo involved in this case as a family trust, the
trust ceased on March 1, 1864, when the Disentailing Law of October 11, 1820, became effective in
the Philippines. As declared by this court in that case on page 936: "But the entail could not and
cannot continue perpetually. Its abolition was decreed by the statute as of the 1st day of March,
1864. Its perpetual survival would contrary, not only to the Disentailing Law of October 11, 1820, but
also the Civil Code in force which, under articles 781 and 785, paragraph 2, positively prohibits
perpetual entails." After March 1, 1864, the trust, as such, could not legally exist, irrespective of the
subsequent conduct of the parties concerned.

The effect of the effect of the Disentailing Law was to vest in the cestui or beneficiary both the
beneficial and legal ownership of the trust property, subject only to the conditions prescribed under
articles 2 and 3 of the Law as to the right of alienation. This gave the cestui his heirs or assigns, the
right to possession of the trust property. The exercise of this right was subject to the law on the
prescription of actions for the enforcement of rights of such nature. The record shows that the
original action in these cases was not brought until August 2, 1923, long after the statute of
limitations had run against it.

Even granting that after the termination of the family trust, a resulting trust arose by reason of the
subsequent conduct of the parties concerned, it appears from the stipulation of facts that such a
resulting trust was repudiated ten years prior to the filing of the original complaint in these cases;
and, by the prevailing cases, the general statutes of limitations are applicable to resulting trusts. (39
Cyc., 606.) "It is generally held that the rule that the statute of limitations does not run in favor of a
trustee against the cestui que trust applies only to express trusts, and that implied or constructive
trusts are within the operation of the statute, so that a suit to impose and enforce such a trust may
become barred. Thus `whenever a person takes possession of property in his own and is afterward
by matter of evidence or by construction of law changed into a trustee', the statute may be pleaded.
This is true a fortiori where plaintiff seeks his remedy in a court of law having no equity jurisdiction. In
the case of a constructive or implied trust, except where the trust is imposed on the ground of fraud
which is not immediately discovered, or there has been a fraudulent concealment of the cause of
action, the statute begins to run in favor of the party chargeable as trustee from the time when the
wrong is done by which he becomes thus chargeable, or the time when the beneficiary can assert
his rights; not from the time when demand is made on the trustee, or the trust is repudiated by him,
for no repudiation of an implied or constructive trust is ordinarily necessary to mature a right of action
and set the statute in motion." (20 Cyc., 1155-1158.)

2. This court is not bound by the rules laid down and conclusions reached in Barretto vs. Tuason,
supra. In this connection, it should be observed at the outset that nothing has been adjudicated in
that case. It is true that, at first, an adjudication was made therein, but on motion for a
reconsideration it was ordered:

xxx xxx xxx

(b) That the dispositive part of our decision in this cause be set aside.
(c) That the record in the present case, together with the petitions of intervention mentioned,
be returned to the Court of First Instance of Manila in order that the new parties may
intervene in this cause and prove their alleged rights, and that the original plaintiffs may, if
they so desire, amend their complaint.

xxx xxx xxx

(e) That said Court of First Instance proceed to try this cause and render judgment as to the
amount to which the original parties and those who may intervene may be entitled as their
participation in the fifth of the properties of this mayorazgo.

xxx xxx xxx

It seems clear, therefore, that the case should not as it in fact does not, a precedent.

Moreover, it should be borne in mind that the common law doctrine of stare decisis has not strictly
followed in this jurisdiction. What has been followed here is the American theory of precedent which
recognizes that "Case Law is not wholly bound by the rules of past generations. It is a `myth of the
law', that stare decisis is impregnable or is anything more than a salutary maxim to promote justice.
Although `certainty is the very essence of the law', the law may be changed by the courts by
reversing or modifying a rule when the rule has been demonstrated to be erroneous either through
failure of adequate presentation of proper consideration, or consideration out of due time of the
earlier case, or when through changed conditions it has become obviously harmful or detrimental to
society.' " (Pound, "Some Recent Phases of the Evolution of Case Law", Yale Law Journal [1922],
vol. XXXI, pp. 361, 363.)

In Hertz vs. Woodman (218 U. S., 205, 212; 30 Sup. Ct., 621, 622 [1910]), the Supreme Court of the
United States, through Justice Lurton said: "The Circuit Court of Appeals was obviously not bound to
follow its own prior decision. The rule of stare decisis, though one tending to consistency and
uniformity of decision, is not flexible. Whether it shall be followed or departed from is a question
entirely within the discretion of the court, which is again called upon to consider a question once
decided."

And in Adams Exp. Co. vs. Beckwith (100 Ohio St., 348, 351, 352; 126 N. E., 300, 301, [1919], the
Supreme Court of Ohio said: "A decided case is worth as much as it weighs in reason and
righteousness, and no more. It is not enough to say `thus saith the court.' It must prove its right to
control in any given situation by the degree in which its supports the rights of a party violated and
serves the causes of justice as to all parties concerned."

The present tendency of American decisions is strongly away from the strict English doctrine of stare
decisis, and towards the civilian theory of precedents. (Goodhart, Essays in Jurisprudence and the
Common Law, pp. 50, 51, 65.) The civilian theory, as exemplified by the French practice, has been
stated by Prof. Lambert of the University of Lyons in an article published in the Yale Law Journal: "In
France, the judicial precedent does not, ipso facto, bind either the tribunals which established it nor
the lower courts; and the Court of Cassation itself retains the right to go back on its own decisions.
The courts of appeal may oppose a doctrine proclaimed by the Court of Cassation, and this
opposition has sometimes led to a change of opinion on the part of the higher court. The practice of
the courts does not become a source of the law until it is definitely fixed by the repetition of
precedents which are in agreement on a single point." ("The Case Method in Canada and the
Possibilities of its Adoptation to the Civil Law", Yale Law Journal [1929], vol. XXXIX, pp. 1, 14.)

In a recent case, speaking of the doctrine of stare decisis, this court said:
Is the court with new membership compelled to follow blindly the doctrine of the Velasco
case? The rule ofstare decisis is entitled to respect. Stability in the law, particularly in the
business field, is desirable. But idolatrous reverence for precedent, simply as precedent, no
longer rules. More important than anything else is that the court should be right. And
particularly it is not wise to subordinate legal reason to case law and by so doing perpetuate
error when it is brought to mind that the views now expressed conform in principle to the
original decision and that since the first decision to the contrary was sent forth there has
existed a respectable opinion of non-conformity in the court. Indeed, on at least one occasion
has the court broken away from the revamped doctrine, while even in the last case in point
the court was evenly divided as it was possible to be and still reach a decision. (Philippine
Trust Company and Smith, Bell & Companyvs. Mitchell, p. 30, ante.)

In conclusion, I believe that whatever rights of action the plaintiffs in these cases might have had,
have either been bared by laches or prescribed. Hence they should take nothing by their actions.

BUTTE, J., dissenting:

I am of the opinion that the assignments of error of the defendants-appellants numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,


6 and 8 should be sustained and I, therefore, dissent.

A Torrens title was issued to the defendants-appellants in 1915 under the provisions of the Land
Registration Act (Act No. 496). This court has repeatedly held that such titles are final, irrevocable
and incontestable.

From 1878, when Doña Teresa de la Paz succeeded to the estate of her child, Jose Victoriano
Tuason, she held possession as owner until her death in 1890 when the property passed to the
defendants all of whom are direct descendants of Doña Teresa de la Paz, From 1878 to 1923 when
the present action was commenced — that is for forty-five years, the defendants and their
predecessors in title held possession as owners. They have, therefore, acquired a title by
prescription. (Articles 446, 447, 1959 and 1960, Civil Code. See also Kineald vs. Cabututan, 35 Phil.,
383, 406.)

The sixth clause of the instrument creating this estate tail (mayorazgo) dated February 25, 1794, did
not create a family trust. Nor is there any evidence showing that the appellees or their predecessors
in title come within the language of the sixth clause of that instrument which, at most, might be
construed to be precatory trust. Nor was that precatory trust indeterminable. The possible
beneficiaries thereof no longer existed in March 1, 1864 when the Spanish Statute of Disentailment
was extended to the Philippine Islands. It is to be noted that article 4 of the Statute of Disentailment
provided for the termination of family trust.

The Statute of Disentailment, effective in the Philippines on March 1, 1864, abolished estates tail
and provided that all properties entailed are restored to the class of absolutely free properties. The
possessors of entailed estates were empowered at once to freely dispose of one-half of the entailed
property, the other half to pass to the immediate successor to the title, who was empowered to
dispose of it freely as owner. Under these provisions, after the death of Jose Tuason, his heir, on
January 25, 1879, Teresa de la Paz took the title in fee simple to all the properties involved in this
entailed estate. The plaintiffs, who at this late date seek to impress said title with a trust, are guilty of
extreme laches.

The Torrens title issued to the defendants in 1915 should be sustained.


Tordilla v Tordilla
EN BANC

G.R. No. 39547. May 3, 1934

In re Intestate estate of the deceased Francisco Tordilla, GAUDENCIA TORDILLA, Petitioner-


Appellee, v. MOISES TORDILLA, opponent-appellant.

Manly & Reyes for Appellant.

Ocampo & Cea and Buenaventura Blancaflor for Appellee.

SYLLABUS

1. DESCENT AND DISTRIBUTION; PROPERTY SUBJECT TO COLLATION; ASSESSMENT OF PROPERTY


DONATED. — Appellant’s contention in his third assignment of error that, where certain value is stated in a
deed of donation, that value cannot be questioned when the properties are brought into collation, is
incorrect, as article 1045 of the Civil Code provides for the assessment of the property at its actual value at
the time of the donation. The actual value at the time of the donation is a question of fact which must be
established by proof the same as any other fact.

2. ID.; ID.; FRUITS AND INTEREST. — The fruits and interest produced by property subject to collation must
be ascertained under article 1049 of the Civil Code. (See Guinguing v. Abuton and Abuton, 48 Phil., 144.)

3. ID.; CONTRACTS WITH RESPECT TO FUTURE INHERITANCE. — The second portion of contract Exhibit H
clearly relates to the anticipated future inheritance and, therefore, is null and void under the provisions of
article 1271 of the Civil Code.

4. ID.; ARTICLE 840, CIVIL CODE, STILL IN FORCE. — The attention of the court was not called to any case
in which article 840 of the Civil Code has been treated as entirely and completely repealed, and In re
Intestate Estate of Tad-Y (46 Phil., 557), followed.

DECISION

HULL, J.:

This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur providing for the
distribution of the estate of one Francisco Tordilla, who died intestate in Naga, Camarines Sur, on December
18, 1925, leaving as his only heirs his widow, a legitimate son, the defendant and appellant, and a
recognized natural daughter, petitioner and appellee.

It might be said by way of introduction that the record is voluminous and that many questions of fact could
have been clearly established by direct means rather than to leave the question in doubt by presenting only
circumstantial evidence. This is especially true as to the first and second assignments of error which read: jgc:cha nrob les.co m.ph

"I. In including in the partition that residential lot containing 3352 square meters and more fully described
as parcel (2) in the decision (69-70 R. A.) .

II. In including ten (10) carabaos and six (6) cattle (Items 8 and 9 in Dec. at pp. 70-71 R. A.) among the
properties partitioned and in not holding that said animals do not exist and never came to the possession of
the estate."cralaw virtua1aw l ibra ry

In a prior proceeding between the deceased and a third party, the third party was given a right to
repurchase the land there in question. But the fact, standing alone, does not remove the lot from the
properties left by the deceased. The fact is whether or not the third party had exercised his option to
repurchase. That fact was well known to appellant and was easily susceptible of definite and accurate proof.
He has seen fit to leave the record in doubt and, therefore, the finding of the trial court will not be
disturbed.

The same remarks are true as to the number of carabaos and cattle that the deceased had at the time of his
death.

The contention of appellant in the third assignment of error is that, where a certain value is stated in a deed
of donation, that value cannot be questioned when the properties are brought into collation. This is
incorrect, as article 1045 of the Civil Code provides for the assessment of the property at its actual valuation
at the time of donation. The recital in the deed cannot therefore be controlling. The actual value at the time
of the donation is a question of fact which must be established by proof the same as any other fact.

The fourth assignment of error is not well taken. The original testimony was taken by a commissioner, and
the report of the commissioner with the evidence was stricken from the files on motion for appellant.
Thereafter the parties agreed to submit the case for the decision of the trial court on the evidence taken by
the commissioner. Such a procedure waived the erroneous ruling on evidence by the commissioner. The
appellant should have reserved the right to introduced additional evidence and should have tendered the
proper evidence in the trial court. The trial court, with much experience, and after study of the evidence
produced, held that the actual value of one of the properties was greater than that recited in the deed of
donation, and also fixed the fruits and income from the donated properties at a higher figure than appellant
thought just. The fruits and interest produced by property subject to collation must be ascertained under
article 1049 of the Civil Code. (See Guinguing v. Abuton and Abuton, 48 Phil., 144.) There is some doubt in
our mind as to the real value of the parcel in question and the amount of the income from the donated
properties. But we cannot state from the fragmentary evidence which has been brought to our attention that
the opinion of the trial court is contrary to the weight of the evidence, and, in case those figures are
incorrect, what are the correct figures.

On the questions of fact dealt with in the fifth and sixth assignments of error, after due consideration, we
have determined to be guided by the judgment of the trial court.

The seventh, eighth, and ninth assignments of error refer to the validity of Exhibit H, a contract entered into
between the appellee and the appellant in another case and signed shortly before the death of their father.
The contract is in the nature of a compromise and covered two items, namely, first, the support of the
natural daughter which the brother agreed to assume for one year and, second, a proposed division of their
future inheritance upon the death of their father. It is assumed that appellant has complied with his terms of
the contract, and the father died before the obligation of the brother terminated. The second portion of the
contract Exhibit H clearly relates to the anticipated future inheritance and, therefore, is null and void under
the provisions of article 1271 of the Civil Code which reads:jgc:chanro bles. com.ph

"ART. 1271. All things, even future ones, which are not out of the commerce of man, may be the subject-
matter of contracts.

"Nevertheless, no contract may be entered into with respect to future inheritances, except those the object
of which is to make a division intervivos of the estate, in accordance with article 1056.

"Any services not contrary to law or to good morals may also be the subject-matter of a contract." cralaw virtua1aw l ibra ry

The action of the trial court in holding Exhibit H to be uncontroverted and predicating its final action on the
terms of that document was erroneous and contrary to law.

The tenth assignment of error reads: "In adjudicating to the natural daughter the same share or amount of
properties as that adjudicated to the legitimate son." This assignment of error is based on article 840 of the
Civil Code which provides: jg c:chan roble s.com .ph

"ART. 840. When the testator leaves legitimate children or descendants, and also natural children, legally
acknowledged, each of the latter shall be entitled to one-half of the portion pertaining to each of the
legitimate children who have not received any betterment, provided that a sufficient amount remains of the
disposable portion, from which it must be taken, after the burial and funeral expenses have been paid.
"The legitimate children may pay the portion pertaining to the natural ones in cash, or in other property of
the estate, at a fair valuation."
cralaw virtua 1aw lib rary

Appellee contends that article 840 of the Civil Code has been repealed by the Code of Civil Procedure, based
on the statement of this court in Concepcion v. Jose (46 Phil., 809). It is true that in the majority decision in
that case it speaks of article 840 being repealed. While, with the question there considered, namely, from
where the funeral expenses should be taken, the Code of Civil Procedure changed the rule as to those items
from what had formerly been in the Civil Code, by reading the whole decision we have no hesitancy in
saying that what the court then had in mind was not a repeal of the article but in fact merely a modification
thereof. In the case of In re Intestate Estate of Tad-Y, found in the same volume (46 Phil., 557), this court,
speaking through the Chief Justice, applied article 840 of the Civil Code in the following language: jgc:chanro bles. com.ph

"To determine the share that pertains to the natural child which is but one-half of the portion that in quality
and quantity belongs to the legitimate child not bettered, the latter’s portion must first be ascertained. If a
widow shares in the inheritance, together with only one legitimate child, as in the instant case, the child
gets, according to the law, the third constituting the legitimate in full ownership, and the third available for
betterment in naked ownership, the usufruct of which goes to the widow. Then the natural child must get
one-half of the free third in full ownership and the other half of this third in naked ownership, from which
third his portion must be taken, so far as possible, after deducting the funeral and burial expenses. . . . ." cralaw virtua1aw l ibra ry

Our attention has not been called to any case in which this court has treated article 840 as entirely and
completely repealed.

We are therefore of the opinion that this case must be disposed of according to the above quotation from
the case of Tad-Y.

The eleventh assignment of error relates to a matter of accountancy which the court ordered to take place
after its original decision had become in force and needs no further discussion at this time.

The decision and orders of the trial court must therefore be reversed and the case remanded for further
proceedings consonant with this opinion. Costs against appellee. So ordered.

Malcolm, Villa-Real, Imperial and Goddard, JJ., concur.

Jaboneta v Gustilo

G.R. No. 1641 January 19, 1906

GERMAN JABONETA, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
RICARDO GUSTILO, ET AL., defendants-appellees.

Ledesma, Sumulong and Quintos for appellant.


Del-Pan, Ortigas and Fisher for appellees.

CARSON, J.:

In these proceedings probate was denied the last will and testament of Macario Jaboneta,
deceased, because the lower court was of the opinion from the evidence adduced at the hearing that
Julio Javellana, one of the witnesses, did not attach his signature thereto in the presence of Isabelo
Jena, another of the witnesses, as required by the provisions of section 618 of the Code of Civil
Procedure.

The following is a copy of the evidence which appears of record on this particular point, being a part
of the testimony of the said Isabeo Jena:

Q. 1641 Who first signed the will?

A. 1641 I signed it first, and afterwards Aniceto and the others.

Q. 1641 Who were those others to whom you have just referred?

A. 1641 After the witness Aniceto signed the will I left the house, because I was in a
hurry, and at the moment when I was leaving I saw Julio Javellana with the pen in his hand
in position ready to sign (en actitud de firmar). I believe he signed, because he was at the
table. . . .

Q. 1641 State positively whether Julio Javellana did or did not sign as a witness to the
will.

A. 1641 I can't say certainly, because as I was leaving the house I saw Julio Javellana
with the pen in his hand, in position ready to sign. I believe he signed.

Q. 1641 Why do you believe Julio Javellana signed?

A. 1641 Because he had the pen in his hand, which was resting on the paper, though I
did not actually see him sign.

Q. 1641 Explain this contradictory statement.

A. 1641 After I signed I asked permission to leave, because I was in a hurry, and while
I was leaving Julio had already taken the pen in his hand, as it appeared, for the purpose of
signing, and when I was near the door I happened to turn my face and I saw that he had his
hand with the pen resting on the will, moving it as if for the purpose of signing.

Q. 1641 State positively whether Julio moved his hand with the pen as if for the
purpose of signing, or whether he was signing

A. I believe he was signing.

The truth and accuracy of the testimony of this witness does not seem to have been questioned by
any of the parties to the proceedings, but the court, nevertheless, found the following facts:

On the 26th day of December, 1901, Macario Jaboneta executed under the following
circumstances the document in question, which has been presented for probate as his will:

Being in the house of Arcadio Jarandilla, in Jaro, in this province, he ordered that the
document in question be written, and calling Julio Javellana, Aniceto Jalbuena, and Isabelo
Jena as witnesses, executed the said document as his will. They were all together, and were
in the room where Jaboneta was, and were present when he signed the document, Isabelo
Jena signing afterwards as a witness, at his request, and in his presence and in the
presence of the other two witnesses. Aniceto Jalbuena then signed as a witness in the
presence of the testator, and in the presence of the other two persons who signed as
witnesses. At that moment Isabelo Jena, being in a hurry to leave, took his hat and left the
room. As he was leaving the house Julio Javellana took the pen in his hand and put himself
in position to sign the will as a witness, but did not sign in the presence of Isabelo Jena; but
nevertheless, after Jena had left the room the said Julio Javellana signed as a witness in the
presence of the testator and of the witness Aniceto Jalbuena.

We can not agree with so much of the above finding of facts as holds that the signature of Javellana
was not signed in the presence of Jena, in compliance with the provisions of section 618 of the Code
of Civil Procedure. The fact that Jena was still in the room when he saw Javellana moving his hand
and pen in the act of affixing his signature to the will, taken together with the testimony of the
remaining witnesses which shows that Javellana did in fact there and then sign his name to the will,
convinces us that the signature was affixed in the presence of Jena. The fact that he was in the act
of leaving, and that his back was turned while a portion of the name of the witness was being written,
is of no importance. He, with the other witnesses and the testator, had assembled for the purpose of
executing the testament, and were together in the same room for that purpose, and at the moment
when the witness Javellana signed the document he was actually and physically present and in such
position with relation to Javellana that he could see everything which took place by merely casting
his eyes in the proper direction, and without any physical obstruction to prevent his doing so,
therefore we are of opinion that the document was in fact signed before he finally left the room.

The purpose of a statutory requirement that the witness sign in the presence of the testator is
said to be that the testator may have ocular evidence of the identity of the instrument
subscribed by the witness and himself, and the generally accepted tests of presence are
vision and mental apprehension. (See Am. & Eng. Enc. of Law, vol. 30, p. 599, and cases
there cited.)

In the matter of Bedell (2 Connoly (N.Y.), 328) it was held that it is sufficient if the witnesses are
together for the purpose of witnessing the execution of the will, and in a position to actually see the
testator write, if they choose to do so; and there are many cases which lay down the rule that the
true test of vision is not whether the testator actually saw the witness sign, but whether he might
have seen him sign, considering his mental and physical condition and position at the time of the
subscription. (Spoonemore vs. Cables, 66 Mo., 579.)

The principles on which these cases rest and the tests of presence as between the testator and the
witnesses are equally applicable in determining whether the witnesses signed the instrument in
the presence of each other, as required by the statute, and applying them to the facts proven in
these proceedings we are of opinion that the statutory requisites as to the execution of the
instrument were complied with, and that the lower court erred in denying probate to the will on the
ground stated in the ruling appealed from.

We are of opinion from the evidence of record that the instrument propounded in these proceedings
was satisfactorily proven to be the last will and testament of Macario Jaboneta, deceased, and
that it should therefore be admitted to probate.

The judgment of the trial court is reversed, without especial condemnation of costs, and after twenty
days the record will be returned to the court form whence it came, where the proper orders will be
entered in conformance herewith. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Mapa, and Johnson, JJ., concur.


Nera v Rimando

G.R. No. L-5971 February 27, 1911

BEATRIZ NERA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellees,


vs.
NARCISA RIMANDO, defendant-appellant.

Valerio Fontanilla and Andres Asprer for appellant.


Anacleto Diaz for appellees.

CARSON, J.:

The only question raised by the evidence in this case as to the due execution of the instrument
propounded as a will in the court below, is whether one of the subscribing witnesses was present in
the small room where it was executed at the time when the testator and the other subscribing
witnesses attached their signatures; or whether at that time he was outside, some eight or ten feet
away, in a large room connecting with the smaller room by a doorway, across which was hung a
curtain which made it impossible for one in the outside room to see the testator and the other
subscribing witnesses in the act of attaching their signatures to the instrument.

A majority of the members of the court is of opinion that this subscribing witness was in the small
room with the testator and the other subscribing witnesses at the time when they attached their
signatures to the instrument, and this finding, of course, disposes of the appeal and necessitates the
affirmance of the decree admitting the document to probate as the last will and testament of the
deceased.

The trial judge does not appear to have considered the determination of this question of fact of vital
importance in the determination of this case, as he was of opinion that under the doctrine laid down
in the case of Jaboneta vs. Gustilo (5 Phil. Rep., 541) the alleged fact that one of the subscribing
witnesses was in the outer room when the testator and the other describing witnesses signed the
instrument in the inner room, had it been proven, would not be sufficient in itself to invalidate the
execution of the will. But we are unanimously of opinion that had this subscribing witness been
proven to have been in the outer room at the time when the testator and the other subscribing
witnesses attached their signatures to the instrument in the inner room, it would have been invalid as
a will, the attaching of those signatures under circumstances not being done "in the presence" of the
witness in the outer room. This because the line of vision from this witness to the testator and the
other subscribing witnesses would necessarily have been impeded by the curtain separating the
inner from the outer one "at the moment of inscription of each signature."

In the case just cited, on which the trial court relied, we held that:

The true test of presence of the testator and the witnesses in the execution of a will is not
whether they actually saw each other sign, but whether they might have been seen each
other sign, had they chosen to do so, considering their mental and physical condition and
position with relation to each other at the moment of inscription of each signature.

But it is especially to be noted that the position of the parties with relation to each other at the
moment of the subscription of each signature, must be such that they may see each other sign if
they choose to do so. This, of course, does not mean that the testator and the subscribing witnesses
may be held to have executed the instrument in the presence of each other if it appears that they
would not have been able to see each other sign at that moment, without changing their relative
positions or existing conditions. The evidence in the case relied upon by the trial judge discloses that
"at the moment when the witness Javellana signed the document he was actually and physically
present and in such position with relation to Jaboneta that he could see everything that took place by
merely casting his eyes in the proper direction and without any physical obstruction to prevent his
doing so." And the decision merely laid down the doctrine that the question whether the testator and
the subscribing witnesses to an alleged will sign the instrument in the presence of each other does
not depend upon proof of the fact that their eyes were actually cast upon the paper at the moment of
its subscription by each of them, but that at that moment existing conditions and their position with
relation to each other were such that by merely casting the eyes in the proper direction they could
have seen each other sign. To extend the doctrine further would open the door to the possibility of all
manner of fraud, substitution, and the like, and would defeat the purpose for which this particular
condition is prescribed in the code as one of the requisites in the execution of a will.

The decree entered by the court below admitting the instrument propounded therein to probate as
the last will and testament of Pedro Rimando, deceased, is affirmed with costs of this instance
against the appellant.

Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Moreland and Trent, JJ., concur.

De Gala v De Gala

G.R. No. L-27989 February 8, 1928

Intestate of the deceased Pedro de Gala.


SINFOROSO DE GALA, petitioner-appellee,
vs.
GENEROSO DE GALA and JOSEFA ALABASTRO, opponents-appellants.

Jose G. Generoso and Araneta & Zaragoza for appellants.


Abad Santos, Camus, Delgado & Recto for appellee.

STREET, J.:

This is an administration proceeding from the Court of First Instance of the Province of Tayabas
whereby the petitioner, Sinforoso de Gala, seeks to enforce the liquidation of the estate of his father,
Pedro de Gala, deceased, against Josefa Alabastro, as widow, and Generoso de Gala, a son of the
decedent and half-brother of the plaintiff, and to recover from them the hereditary portion which the
plaintiff alleges pertains to him in said estate. Opposition was made to the proceeding by the two
defendants, and this opposition finally took the form of a motion to exclude the plaintiff from the
participation in the estate on the ground that he had no heritable interest therein. Upon considering
this motion the trial court sustained the plaintiff's right and denied the motion. From this order the
defendants appealed.

The first point raised in the appellants' bill of exceptions has reference to a matter of procedure,
which, in the view we take of the case, is not necessary to the decision. We therefore provisionally
assume that no error was committed by the trial judge in entertaining the motion which gave origin to
the appealed order; and we pass at once to the consideration of the question of substantive law
involved in the case. The facts are unfortunately few and undisputed.

It appears that Pedro de Gala died intestate in the City of Manila on or about July 23, 1919, leaving
an estate in the Province of Tayabas and in the City of Manila, consisting of real and personal
property. It is stated in the petition that the value of this estate is approximately five hundred
thousands pesos (P500,000), with an annual income of about fifty thousand pesos (P50,000). The
defendants do not admit that the value of the estate reaches the amount stated, but it is evidently
large. The plaintiff, Sinforoso de Gala, is a natural son of Pedro de Gala and was born on June 17,
1879, while Generoso de Gala, one of the defendants herein, is a legitimate son of Pedro de Gala
and was born on July 17, 1881. As already stated, the other defendant, Josefa Alabastro, is the
widow of Pedro de Gala

The plaintiff, Sinforoso de Gala, was never recognized as a natural son by the voluntary act of his
father, Pedro de Gala, in life; and in order to enforce recognition the plaintiff, on august 29, 1917,
instituted an action against his father to compel recognition. While this litigation was pending Pedro
de Gala died, and Josefa Alabastro and Generoso de Gala were substituted as defendants. When
the cause was finally heard in the Supreme Court, upon appeal from a judgment of the Court of First
Instance, which had been unfavorable to the plaintiff, said judgment was reversed and judgment was
here entered requiring the defendants to recognize the plaintiff as the natural son of Pedro de Gala
(De Gala, 42 Phil., 771). Pursuant to said judgment, and in order to obtain his share in the estate of
his deceased father, the present proceeding was begun.

The right of the plaintiff to participate in the estate of his deceased father is based upon articles 134
and 942 in relation with article 840 of the Civil Code, defining the heritable portion of a recognized
natural child in case of the concurrence of such heir with one or more legitimate children. In this
connection it will be remembered that the right of a recognized natural child to inherit any part of the
estate of his father was, in Spanish law, first conferred by the Civil Code, which went into effect in
the Philippine Islands on December 8, 1889.

In support of the plaintiff's right to participate in the estate, reference is made to subsection 12 of the
transitory provisions of the Civil Code wherein it is stated, in effect, that the estates of those who die,
with or without will, subsequently to the taking effect of the Civil Code, shall be allotted and divided
according to the Code, and that the legal portion given by the Code shall be respected. The
defendants on the contrary question the heritable right of the plaintiff, basing their contention on No.
1 of the transitory provisions, as interpreted by this court in Rocha vs. Tuason and Rocha de
Despujols (39 Phil., 976).

The transitory provisions thus brought under discussion are vital to the case and are therefore here
reproduced:

Changes introduced by this Code prejudicial to rights acquired under prior civil law shall not
have rotroactive effect.

For the application of the corresponding legislation in cases not expressly determined in the
Code, the following rule shall be observed:

1. Rights originating, according to prior legislation, in acts that occurred under the regimen of
such legislation shall be governed thereby, even if the Code regulates them in some other
way or does not recognize them. But if the right shall have been declared for the first time in
this Code, it shall have effect at once, although the fact originating it may have occurred
under the former regimen, whenever it is not prejudicial to any other acquired right of equal
origin.

xxx xxx xxx

12. Rights to the inheritance of one who may have died, with or without a will, before this
Code goes into effect, shall be governed by prior legislation. The inheritance of those dying
afterwards, with or without a will, shall be allotted and divided in accordance with this Code,
but in harmony, in so far as the latter permits it, with the testamentary dispositions. Therefore
legal portions, betterments, and legacies shall be respected; but their amounts shall be
reduced when it is not possible in any other manner to give to each participant in the
inheritance the share pertaining to him according to this Code.

From the facts already stated it will be seen that both the natural and the legitimate son of Pedro de
Gala were born before the Civil Code went into effect in these Islands; while the death of the father
and the enforced judicial recognition of the natural son occurred under the regimen of said Code. It
is a tenable assumption that the legal recognition of the plaintiff as a natural son should be
considered as effective from the date of the filing of the complaint in 1917; but if not to so, it was at
least effective from the date of the judgment entered in 1992. For the purposes of this suit the point
is unimportant, since it is clear that in any case legal recognition did not occur until long after the
Civil Code became effective in these Islands.

As the death of Pedro de Gala and the opening of the succession to his estate occurred under the
regimen of the Civil Code, we are of the opinion that No. 12 of the Transitory Provisions is of exact
and particular application, and that there is nothing in No. 1 of the same provisions which supplies
any obstacle to the application of No. 12 to the facts of this case. In paragraph No. 12 it is expressly
declared that the estates of those who die after the Code becomes effective shall be distributed
according to the Code and that legal portions shall be respected. This language can have no other
meaning than that the hereditary portion given to the recognized natural child By No. 3 of article 134
of the Civil Code shall be recognized as valid, for the circumstance that the plaintiff in this case,
though beginning his action for acknowledgement within the life of his father, did not succeed in
obtaining a judgment compelling recognition until after his father was dead cannot be considered in
any wise prejudicial to him. That No. 12 of the Transitory Provisions is applicable to the estates of
persons dying after the Civil Code went into effect is recognized in decisions of the Supreme Court
of Spain dated respectively March 20, 1897, and June 24, 1897; and this doctrine is expounded by
Manresa in his comment upon No. 12 as follows:

Here is the legal reason and at the same time the determination of the scope and meaning of
the rule of which we speak. It does not mean that the succession shall be governed by one
or the other law according to whether the ancestor may have died before or after the Code
went into effect, nor was there are need of making such a statement, because this is already
provided for in rule 2, and what is provided for in the present rule by way of exception to what
is provided for in the former is that the rights of forced heirs to the inheritance in successions
opened after the Civil Code went into effect shall always be governed by the provisions of
the latter, to which end the provisions of wills executed before May 1st, 1889, referring to the
rights of said heirs, will be adjusted to the provisions of said Code.

The reason of that is obvious, because in the matter of succession there is no vested right
until the succession is opened that is, till the death of the person whose inheritance is in
question, as we have already said on another occasion, and by the present it is made to
conform with the precepts of modern legislation, harmonizing it and making it compatible with
the transcedent reform effected by the Civil Code.
The Supreme Court, in its decision of June 24, 1897, giving the same explanation to the
present rule, declared that the principle of the irretroactivity of the new law governs only such
rights as originated under the regimen of the old law, it being well known that hereditary
rights do not vest until the death of the person whose inheritance is in question. Therefore,
they cannot be governed by the old law if the death is posterior to the new, which is the very
thing we have stated as being the foundation of juridicial reason of this precept.

Directing our attention now to No. 1 of the Transitory Provisions, which is supposed by the
appellants to be incompatible with the right asserted by the plaintiff, we note first that proposition No.
1 of a more general nature than proposition No. 12, since the latter provides a particular rule for the
distribution of the estates of persons dying after the Code enters into effect, while No. 1 states a
general rule for harmonizing certain competing rights. In accordance then with the rule that the
particular governs the general, No. 12 must control over No. 1.

It will be noted that, under No. 1, where there are two competing rights, one of which is given for the
first time by the Code, the law looks to the acts in which the two competing rights may have
originated, and when it is found that the acts which gave origin to the competing rights occurred prior
to the adoption of the Code, the right newly recognized in the Code cannot be given effect, because
prejudicial to the other right. In the case before us, while it is evident that the successional right of
the legitimate son, Generoso de Gala, did not become vested until the death of his father, yet it is
also clear that this right is derived from a fact which occurred under law anterior to the Code,
namely, the fact that said son was born with the status of legitimate son. It is this fact which
originated the successional right of this heir. But with respect to the natural son, Sinforoso de Gala, it
is equally obvious that the act that gave origin to his successional right was the enforced judicial
recognition resulting from the civil action begun by the plaintiff in 1917. This act occurred under the
Code. In this connection it must be remembered that the fact of birth does not give the natural child
any heritable right whatever in the estate of his father. This is equally true of both the old and the
new law. It is the recognition of the natural child that originates his right of succession, recognized
for the first time in the Code. As a consequence the two competing successional rights in this case
do not have the same origin in respect to the estate of law under which they occurred, since one had
its origin in an act occuring under the anterior legislation while the other had its origin in an act
occuring under the Code.

Upon analyzing the language of No. 1 of the Transitory Provisions it will be noted that it is only when
the two competing rights have their origin in acts occuring under the old regime that the restriction
applies which prohibits the right newly granted in the Code from having it due effect. If the acts
originating the two rights occur under the Code, or if either occurs under the Code, the Code
provision must rule, and the right newly given by it prevails. It is obvious, for instance, that if, in the
case before us, the legitimate soon had been born after the Code entered into effect, the provisions
of the Code would have prevailed; also that the same result would have followed in such case even
if the act of recognition of the natural so had occurred prior to the date when the Code took effect.

But it is supposed that the decision of this court in the case of Rocha vs. Tuason and Rocha de
Despujols (39 Phil., 976), is inconsistent with the right of the plaintiff. This is a mistake. In the case
mentioned both the natural and the legitimate child were born under the regimen of the old law, and
in addition to this there had been a tacit recognition of the natural child — which was valid under said
law — long prior to the date when the Civil Code went into effect. Both the competing right in that
case therefore had their origin in acts which occurred under the earlier regimen; and this
circumstance makes the very case for the application of the restriction upon the new right which is
expressed in the closing words of No. 1 of the Transitory Provisions. It may be noted that three
members of the court dissented in Rocha vs. Tuason and Rocha de Despujols, a circumstance
which detracts in some measure from the weight of the precedent; and the attorneys for the appellee
have drawn in question the correctness of the judgment. Into this controversy it is not necessary to
enter. We may observe, however, that the opinion of the court in the case referred to makes no
reference to No. 12 of the Transitory Provisions, which if reflectively weighed, might have been
found pertinent to the decision.

The order appealed from is in our opinion without error, and it is accordingly affirmed, with costs. So
ordered.

Johnson, Ostrand, Johns, Romualdez and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

MALCOLM, J., concurring:

I concur on the ground that the parties having expressly stipulated and admitted that Sinforo de Gala
is a natural son of the deceased Pedro de Gala, and as such entitled to a certain portion of the
estate, are now estopped to deny those facts. The appellants cannot be permitted to advance a new
theory of the case at this late date intended to demonstrate that Sinforo de Gala has no right to the
inheritance left by Pedro de Gala. Suits should move forward not backward. There must be an end
to litigation sometime. Although opposing interests have succeeded in keeping Sinforo de Gala out
of all participation in his inheritance for ten years, they should no longer be allowed to do so. There
is no need of the Court deciding any of the nice legal questions presented.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-30289 March 26, 1929

SERAPIA DE GALA, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
APOLINARIO GONZALES and SINFOROSO ONA, opponents-appellants.

Sumulong, Lavides & Hilado for petitioner-appellant.


Godofredo Reyes for opponent-appellant Gonzales.
Ramon Diokno for opponent-appellant Ona.

OSTRAND, J.:

On November 23, 1920, Severina Gonzales executed a will in which Serapia de Gala, a niece of Severina, was designated
executrix. The testatrix died in November, 1926, leaving no heirs by force of law, and on December 2, 1926, Serapia, through her
counsel, presented the will for probate. Apolinario Gonzales, a nephew of the deceased, filed an opposition to the will on the ground
that it had not been executed in conformity with the provisions of section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. On April 2, 1927,
Serapia de Gala was appointed special administratrix of the estate of the deceased. She returned an inventory of the estate on
March 31, 1927, and made several demands upon Sinforoso Ona, the surviving husband of the deceased, for the delivery to her of
the property inventoried and of which he was in possession.

On September 20, 1928, the Court of First Instance ordered Sinforoso Ona to deliver to Serapia de Gala all the property left by the
deceased. Instead of delivering the property as ordered, Sinforoso filed a motion asking the appointment of Serapia de Gala as
special administratrix be cancelled and that he, Sinforoso, be appointed in her stead. The motion was opposed by both Apolinario
Gonzales and by Serapia de Gala, but on March 3, 1928, it was nevertheless granted, Serapia was removed, and Sinforoso was
appointed special administrator in her place, principally on the ground that he had possession of the property in question and that
his appointment would simplify the proceedings.

In the meantime and after various continuances and delays, the court below in an order dated January 20, 1928, declared the will
valid and admitted it to probate. All of the parties appealed, Serapia de Gala from the order removing her from the office of special
administratrix, and Apolinario Gonzales and Sinforoso Ona from the order probating the will.

Serapia's appeal requires but little discussion. The burden of the argument of her counsel is that a special administrator cannot be
removed except for one or more of the causes stated in section 653 of the Code of Civil Procedure. But that section can only apply
to executors and regular administrators, and the office of a special administrator is quite different from that of regular administrator.
The appointment of a special administrator lies entirely in the sound discretion of the court; the function of such an administrator is
only to collect and preserve the property of the deceased and to return an inventory thereof; he cannot be sued by a creditor and
cannot pay any debts of the deceased. The fact that no appeal can be taken from the appointment of a special administrator
indicates that both his appointment and his removal are purely discretionary, and we cannot find that the court below abused its
discretion in the present case. In removing Serapia de Gala and appointing the present possessor of the property pending the final
determination of the validity of the will, the court probably prevented useless litigation.

The appellants Sinforoso Ona and Apolinario Gonzales argue that the will in question was not executed in the form prescribed by
section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act No. 2645. That section reads as follows:

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 written in the language or dialect known by the testator and signed by him, or by the
testator's name written 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. The testator or the person
requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and
every page thereof, on the left margin, and said pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part
of each sheet. The attestation 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 signed the will and all pages thereof in the
presence of the testator and of each other.

The principal points raised by the appeal are (1) that the person requested to sign the name of the testatrix signed only the latter's
name and not her own; (2) that the attestation clause does not mention the placing of the thumb-mark of the testatrix in the will; and
(3) that the fact that the will had been signed in the presence of the witnesses was not stated in the attestation clause but only in the
last paragraph of the body of the will.

The first point can best be answered by quoting the language of this court in the case of the Estate of Maria Salva, G. R. No.
26881:1

An examination of the will in question disclosed that it contains five pages. The name of the old woman, Maria Salva, was
written on the left hand margin of the first four pages and at the end of the will. About in the center of her name she placed
her thumb-mark. About in the center of her name she placed her thumb-mark. The three witnesses likewise signed on the
left-hand margin and at the end of the will.

On these facts, the theory of the trial judge was that under the provisions of section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as
amended by Act No. 2645, it was essential to the validity of the will that the person writing the name of the maker of the
will also sign. Under the law prior to the amendment, it had been held by this court that where a testator is unable to write
and his name is signed by another at his request, in his presence and in that of the subscribing witnesses thereto, it is
unimportant, so far as the validity of the will is concerned, whether the person who writes the name of the testator signs
his own or not. (Barut vs. Cabacungan (1912), 21 Phil., 461). But his Honor, the trial judge emphasizes that the
amendment introduced into the law the following sentence: 'The testator or the person requested by him to write his name
and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, on the left margin . .
..' This requirement, it is said, was not lived up to in this instance.

There is, however, an entirely different view which can be taken of the situation. This is that the testatrix placed her
thumb-mark on the will in the proper places. When, therefore, the law says that the will shall be 'signed' by the testator or
testatrix, the law is fulfilled not only by the customary written signature but by the testator or testatrix' thumb-mark. The
construction put upon the word 'signed' by most courts is the original meaning of a signum or sign, rather than the
derivative meaning of a sign manual or handwriting. A statute requiring a will to be 'signed' is satisfied if the signature is
made by the testator's mark. (28 R. C. L., pp. 116-117).

The opinion quoted is exactly in point. The testatrix thumb-mark appears in the center of her name as written by Serapia de Gala on
all of the pages of the will.

The second and third points raised by Sinforoso Ona and Apolinario Gonzales are sufficiently refuted by quoting the last clause of
the body of the will together with the attestation clause, both of which are written in the Tagalog dialect. These clauses read as
follows:

Sa katunayang ang kasulatang ito, na may anim na dahon, ay siyang naglalaman ng aking huling tagubilin, at sa hindi ko
kaalamang lumagda ng aking pangalan, ipinamanhik ko sa aking pamankin na si Serapia de Gala na isulat ang aking
pangalan at apellido, at sa tapat ay inilagda ko ang titik ng kanang daliri kong hinlalaki, sa walkas at sa bawat isa sa anim
(6) na dahon ng kasulatang ito, at ito's ginawa niya sa kautusan at sa harap ko at ng tatlong saksing nagpapatutuo sa huli
ngayon ika dalawang po't tatlo ng Nobiembre ng 1920.

(Sgd.) SEVERINA GONZALES

Pinatutunayan namin na ang kasulatang ito na binubuo ng anim (6) na dahon na pinirmahan sa harap namin ni Serapia
de Gala sa kahilingan ni Severina Gonzales sa wakas at sa mga gilid ng bawa't isa sa anim (6) na dahon at isinaysay na
ang kasulatang ito ay siyang huling habilin o testamento ni Severina Gonzales, ay pinirmahan namin, bilang mga saksi sa
wakas at sa gilid ng bawa't dahon sa harap at sa kahilingan ng tinurang testadora, at ang bawat isa sa amin ay pumirma
sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, ngayon ika dalawang po't tatlo ng noviembre ng taong 1920 ng taong 1920.

(Sgd.) ELEUTERIO NATIVIDAD


JUAN SUMULONG
FRANCISCO NATIVIDAD

The translation in English of the clauses quoted reads as follows:

In virtue of this will, consisting of six pages, that contains my last wish, and because of the fact that I cannot sign my
name, I request my niece Serapia de Gala to write my name, and above this I placed my right thumb-mark at the end of
this will and to each of the six pages of this document, and this was done at my direction and in the presence of three
attesting witnesses, this 23rd of November, 1920.

(Sgd.) SEVERINA GONZALES

We certify that this document, which is composed of six (6) sheets and was signed in our presence by Serapia de Gala at
the request of Severina Gonzales at the end and on the margins of each of the six (6) sheets and was declared to contain
the last will and testament of Severina Gonzales, was signed by us as witnesses at the end and on the margins of each
sheet in the presence and at the request of said testatrix, and each of us signed in the presence of all and each of us, this
23rd day of November of the year 1920.

(Sgd.) ELEUTERIO NATIVIDAD


JUAN SUMULONG
FRANCISCO NATIVIDAD

As will be seen, it is not mentioned in the attestation clause that the testatrix signed by thumb-mark, but it does there appear that the
signature was affixed in the presence of the witnesses, and the form of the signature is sufficiently described and explained in the
last clause of the body of the will. It maybe conceded that the attestation clause is not artistically drawn and that, standing alone, it
does not quite meet the requirements of the statute, but taken in connection with the last clause of the body of the will, it is fairly
clear and sufficiently carries out the legislative intent; it leaves no possible doubt as to the authenticity of the document.

The contention of the appellants Sinforoso Ona and Apolinario Gonzales that the fact that the will had been signed in the presence
of the witnesses was not stated in the attestation clause is without merit; the fact is expressly stated in that clause.

In our opinion, the will is valid, and the orders appealed from are hereby affirmed without costs. So ordered.

Johnson, Street, Malcolm, Johns, Romualdez and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.


Garcia v Lacuesta

G.R. No. L-4067 November 29, 1951

In the Matter of the will of ANTERO MERCADO, deceased. ROSARIO GARCIA, petitioner,
vs.
JULIANA LACUESTA, ET AL., respondents.

Elviro L. Peralta and Hermenegildo A. Prieto for petitioner.


Faustino B. Tobia, Juan I. Ines and Federico Tacason for respondents.

PARAS, C.J.:

This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals disallowing the will of Antero Mercado
dated January 3, 1943. The will is written in the Ilocano dialect and contains the following attestation
clause:

We, the undersigned, by these presents to declare that the foregoing testament of Antero
Mercado was signed by himself and also by us below his name and of this attestation clause
and that of the left margin of the three pages thereof. Page three the continuation of this
attestation clause; this will is written in Ilocano dialect which is spoken and understood by the
testator, and it bears the corresponding number in letter which compose of three pages and
all them were signed in the presence of the testator and witnesses, and the witnesses in the
presence of the testator and all and each and every one of us witnesses.

In testimony, whereof, we sign this statement, this the third day of January, one thousand
nine hundred forty three, (1943) A.D.

(Sgd.) NUMERIANO EVANGELISTA (Sgd.) "ROSENDA CORTES

(Sgd.) BIBIANA ILLEGIBLE

The will appears to have been signed by Atty. Florentino Javier who wrote the name of Antero
Mercado, followed below by "A reugo del testator" and the name of Florentino Javier. Antero
Mercado is alleged to have written a cross immediately after his name. The Court of Appeals,
reversing the judgement of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte, ruled that the attestation
clause failed (1) to certify that the will was signed on all the left margins of the three pages and at the
end of the will by Atty. Florentino Javier at the express request of the testator in the presence of the
testator and each and every one of the witnesses; (2) to certify that after the signing of the name of
the testator by Atty. Javier at the former's request said testator has written a cross at the end of his
name and on the left margin of the three pages of which the will consists and at the end thereof; (3)
to certify that the three witnesses signed the will in all the pages thereon in the presence of the
testator and of each other.

In our opinion, the attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Antero Mercado
caused Atty. Florentino Javier to write the testator's name under his express direction, as required by
section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The herein petitioner (who is appealing by way of
certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals) argues, however, that there is no need for such
recital because the cross written by the testator after his name is a sufficient signature and the
signature of Atty. Florentino Javier is a surplusage. Petitioner's theory is that the cross is as much a
signature as a thumbmark, the latter having been held sufficient by this Court in the cases of De
Gala vs. Gonzales and Ona, 53 Phil., 104; Dolar vs. Diancin, 55 Phil., 479; Payad vs. Tolentino, 62
Phil., 848; Neyra vs. Neyra, 76 Phil., 296 and Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil., 429.

It is not here pretended that the cross appearing on the will is the usual signature of Antero Mercado
or even one of the ways by which he signed his name. After mature reflection, we are not prepared
to liken the mere sign of the cross to a thumbmark, and the reason is obvious. The cross cannot and
does not have the trustworthiness of a thumbmark.

What has been said makes it unnecessary for us to determine there is a sufficient recital in the
attestation clause as to the signing of the will by the testator in the presence of the witnesses, and by
the latter in the presence of the testator and of each other.

Wherefore, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed, with against the petitioner. So ordered.

Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.

ORALS
Uson v Del Rosario

G.R. No. L-4963 January 29, 1953

MARIA USON, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MARIA DEL ROSARIO, CONCEPCION NEBREDA, CONRADO NEBREDA, DOMINADOR
NEBREDA, AND FAUSTINO NEBREDA, Jr., defendants-appellants.

Priscilo Evangelista for appellee.


Brigido G. Estrada for appellant.

BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:

This is an action for recovery of the ownership and possession of five (5) parcels of land situated in
the Municipality of Labrador, Province of Pangasinan, filed by Maria Uson against Maria del Rosario
and her four children named Concepcion, Conrado, Dominador, and Faustino, surnamed Nebreda,
who are all of minor age, before the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan.

Maria Uson was the lawful wife of Faustino Nebreda who upon his death in 1945 left the lands
involved in this litigation. Faustino Nebreda left no other heir except his widow Maria Uson. However,
plaintiff claims that when Faustino Nebreda died in 1945, his common-law wife Maria del Rosario
took possession illegally of said lands thus depriving her of their possession and enjoyment.

Defendants in their answer set up as special defense that on February 21, 1931, Maria Uson and
her husband, the late Faustino Nebreda, executed a public document whereby they agreed to
separate as husband and wife and, in consideration of their separation, Maria Uson was given a
parcel of land by way of alimony and in return she renounced her right to inherit any other property
that may be left by her husband upon his death (Exhibit 1).
After trial, at which both parties presented their respective evidence, the court rendered decision
ordering the defendants to restore to the plaintiff the ownership and possession of the lands in
dispute without special pronouncement as to costs. Defendants interposed the present appeal.

There is no dispute that Maria Uson, plaintiff-appellee, is the lawful wife of Faustino Nebreda, former
owner of the five parcels of lands litigated in the present case. There is likewise no dispute that
Maria del Rosario, one of the defendants-appellants, was merely a common-law wife of the late
Faustino Nebreda with whom she had four illegitimate children, her now co-defendants. It likewise
appears that Faustino Nebreda died in 1945 much prior to the effectivity of the new Civil Code. With
this background, it is evident that when Faustino Nebreda died in 1945 the five parcels of land he
was seized of at the time passed from the moment of his death to his only heir, his widow Maria
Uson (Article 657, old Civil Code).As this Court aptly said, "The property belongs to the heirs at the
moment of the death of the ancestor as completely as if the ancestor had executed and delivered to
them a deed for the same before his death" (Ilustre vs. Alaras Frondosa, 17 Phil., 321). From that
moment, therefore, the rights of inheritance of Maria Uson over the lands in question became
vested.

The claim of the defendants that Maria Uson had relinquished her right over the lands in question
because she expressly renounced to inherit any future property that her husband may acquire and
leave upon his death in the deed of separation they had entered into on February 21, 1931, cannot
be entertained for the simple reason that future inheritance cannot be the subject of a contract nor
can it be renounced (1 Manresa, 123, sixth edition; Tolentino on Civil Code, p. 12; Osorio vs. Osorio
and Ynchausti Steamship Co., 41 Phil., 531).

But defendants contend that, while it is true that the four minor defendants are illegitimate children of
the late Faustino Nebreda and under the old Civil Code are not entitled to any successional rights,
however, under the new Civil Code which became in force in June, 1950, they are given the status
and rights of natural children and are entitled to the successional rights which the law accords to the
latter (article 2264 and article 287, new Civil Code), and because these successional rights were
declared for the first time in the new code, they shall be given retroactive effect even though the
event which gave rise to them may have occurred under the prior legislation (Article 2253, new Civil
Code).

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 vested or acquired right of the same origin. Thus, said article provides that "if a right
should be declared for the first time in this Code, it shall be effective at once, even though the act or
event which gives rise thereto may have been done or may have occurred under the prior legislation,
provided said new right does not prejudice or impair any vested or acquired 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 death of her late husband and this is so
because of the imperative provision of the law which commands that the rights to succession are
transmitted from the moment of death (Article 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 impairment of the vested right of Maria Uson over the lands in dispute.

As regards the claim that Maria Uson, while her deceased husband was lying in state, in a gesture of
pity or compassion, agreed to assign the lands in question to the minor children for the reason that
they were acquired while the deceased was living with their mother and Maria Uson wanted to
assuage somewhat the wrong she has done to them, this much can be said; apart from the fact that
this claim is disputed, we are of the opinion that said assignment, if any, partakes of the nature of a
donation of real property, inasmuch as it involves no material consideration, and in order that it may
be valid it shall be made in a public document and must be accepted either in the same document or
in a separate one (Article 633, old Civil Code). Inasmuch as this essential formality has not been
followed, it results that the alleged assignment or donation has no valid effect.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is affirmed, without costs.

Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor, Reyes, Jugo and Labrador, JJ., concur.

Ibarle v Po

G.R. No. L-5064 February 27, 1953

BIENVENIDO A. IBARLE, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
ESPERANZA M. PO, defendant-appellant.

Quirico del Mar for appellant.


Daniel P. Tumulak and Conchita F. Miel appellee.

TUASON, J.:

This action commenced in the Court of First Instance of Cebu to annul a deed of sale conveying to
the defendant, in consideration of P1,700, one undivided half of a parcel of land which previously
had been sold, along with the other half, by the same vendor to the plaintiff's grantors. judgment was
against the plaintiff.

The case was submitted for decision upon an agreed statement of facts, the pertinent parts of which
are thus summarized in the appealed decision:

1st. — That Leonard j. Winstanley and Catalina Navarro were husband and wife, the former
having died on June 6, 1946 leaving heir the surviving spouse and some minor children;

2nd. — hat upon the death of L.J. Winstanley, he left a parcel of land described under
Transfer Certificate of title No. 2391 of the Registry of Deeds of the Province of Cebu;

3rd. — That the above mentioned property was a conjugal property;

4th. — That on April 15, 1946, the surviving spouse Catalina Navarro Vda. de Winstanley
sold the entire parcel of land to the spouses Maria Canoy, alleging among other things, that
she needed money for the support of her children;

5th. — That on May 24, 1947, the spouses Maria Canoy and Roberto Canoy sold the same
parcel of land to the plaintiff in this case named Bienvenido A. Ebarle;

6th. — That the two deeds of sale referred to above were not registered and have never
been registered up to the date;
7th. — That on January 17, 1948 surviving spouse Catalina Navarro Vda. de Winstanley,
after her appointment as guardian of her children by this court (Special proceeding no. 212-
R) sold one-half of the land mentioned above to Esperanza M. Po, defendant in the instant
case, which portion belongs to the children of the above named spouses.

As stated by the trial Judge, the sole question for determination is the validity of the sale to
Esperanza M. Po, the last purchaser. This question in turn depends upon the validity of the prior ale
to Maria Canoy and Roberto Canoy.

Article 657 of the old Civil Code provides: "The rights to the succession of a person are transmitted
from the moment of his death." in a slightly different language, this article is incorporated in the new
Civil Code as article 777.

Manresa, commending on article 657 of the Civil Code of Spain, says:

The moment of death is the determining factor when the heirs acquire a definite right to the
inheritance, whether such right be pure or contingent. It is immaterial whether a short or long
period of time lapses between the death of the predecessor and the entry into possession of
the property of the inheritance because the right is always deemed to be retroactive from the
moment of death. (5 Manresa, 317.)

The above provision and comment make it clear that when Catalina Navarro Vda. de Winstanley
sold the entire parcel to the Canoy spouses, one-half of it already belonged to the seller's children.
No formal or judicial declaration being needed to confirm the children's title, it follows that the first
sale was null and void in so far as it included the children's share.

On the other hand, the sale to the defendant having been made by authority of the competent court
was undeniably legal and effective. The fact that it has not been recorded is of no consequence. If
registration were necessary, still the non-registration would not avail the plaintiff because it was due
to no other cause than his own opposition.

The decision will be affirmed subject to the reservation, made in said decision, of the right of the
plaintitff and/or the Canoy spouses to bring such action against Catalina Navarro Vda. de Winstanley
as may be appropriate for such damages as they may have incurred by reason of the voiding of the
sale in their favor.

Paras, C.J., Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, Jugo, Bautista Angelo and
Labrador, JJ.,concur.

Nacar v Nistal

G.R. No. L-33006 December 8, 1982

NICANOR NACAR, petitioner,


vs.
CLAUDIO A. NISTAL as Municipal Judge of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, PROVINCIAL
SHERIFF of Agusan del Sur, ILDEFONSO JAPITANA and ANTONIO DOLORICON, respondents.

Tranquilino O. Calo, Jr. for petitioner.


Ildefonso Japitana and Antonio Boloricon for respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

Nicanor Nacar filed this petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus with preliminary injunction
to annul an order of the respondent judge of the municipal court of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur
directing the attachment of seven (7) carabaos, to effect the return of four (4) carabaos seized under
the questioned order, and to stop the respondent judge from further proceeding in Civil Case No. 65.

Respondent Ildefonso Japitana filed the complaint in Civil Case No. 65 and entitled it "Claim Against
the Estate of the Late Isabelo Nacar With Preliminary Attachment:" On the basis of this complaint,
including an allegation "that defendant are (sic) about to remove and dispose the above-named
property (seven carabaos) with intent to defraud plaintiff herein", and considering that Mr. Japitana
had given security according to the Rules of Court, Judge Nistal issued the order commanding the
provincial sheriff to attach the seven (7) heads of cattle in the possession of petitioner Nicanor
Nacar. Actually only four (4) carabaos were attached because three (3) carabaos had earlier been
slaughtered during the rites preceding the burial of the late Isabelo Nacar.

Nicanor Nacar filed a motion to dismiss, to dissolve writ of preliminary attachment, and to order the
return of the carabaos. Private respondent Japitana filed an opposition to this motion while
intervenor Antonio Doloricon filed a complaint in intervention asserting that he was the owner of the
attached carabaos and that the certificates of ownership of large cattle were in his name.

The respondent Judge denied the motion to dismiss prompting Mr. Nacar to come to the Supreme
Court.

In a resolution dated January 12, 1971, this Court, upon the posting of a bond in the amount of
P1,000.00, directed the issuance of a preliminary mandatory injunction. The respondents were
enjoined from further enforcing the writ of attachment and to return the seized carabaos. The judge
was restrained from further proceeding with Civil Case No. 65.

We find the petition meritorious.

The pertinent portions of the complaint filed by Mr. Japitana with the municipal court read as follows:

ILDEFONSO JAPITANA Civil Case No. 65 Plaintiff,

FOR:

— Versus —

CLAIM AGAINST THE ESTATE NICANOR NACAR THE LATE ISABELO NACAR
WITH Defendant. PRELIMINARY ATTACHMENT x ---------------------------------x

COMPLAINT

COMES NOW the undersigned plaintiff and before this Honorable Court, respectfully
avers:
xxx xxx xxx

That at various dates since the year 1968, the defendant have (sic) incurred
indebtedness to the plaintiff in the total sum of TWO THOUSAND SEVEN
HUNDRED NINETY ONE (P2,791.00) PESOS, which said amount had long been
overdue for payment, and which the defendant up to this date have (sic) not been
able to pay, despite repeated demands from the plaintiff;

That the defendant Isabelo Nacar died last April, 1970 leaving among other things
personal property consisting seven (7) heads of carabaos now in the possession of
the defendant Nicanor Nacar;

That plaintiff herein file a claim against the estate of the late Isabelo Nacar to recover
the aforementioned sum of P2,791.99;

That defendant are (sic) about to remove and dispose the above mentioned property
with intent to defraud plaintiff herein;

That plaintiff is willing to put up a bond for the issuance of a preliminary attachment in
an amount to be fixed by the Court, not exceeding the sum of P 2,791.00 which is the
plaintiff's claim herein;

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that pending the hearing of this case, a writ of
preliminary attachment be issued against the properties of the defendant to serve as
security for the payment or satisfaction of any judgment that may be recovered
herein; and that after due hearing on the principal against the defendant for the sum
of P 2,791,00 with legal interest from September 15, 1970 plus costs of this suit.
(Annex "A", p. 7 rollo).

In his motion to dismiss, the petitioner raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction and absence of a cause
of action. Mr. Nacar averred that the indebtedness mentioned in the complaint was alleged to have
been incurred by the late Isabelo Nacar and not by Nicanor Nacar. There was, therefore, no cause
of action against him. The petitioner also stated that a municipal court has no jurisdiction to entertain
an action involving a claim filed against the estate of a deceased person.

The same grounds have been raised in this petition. Mr. Nacar contends:

xxx xxx xxx

9. That the respondent judge acted without jurisdiction.The municipal courts or


inferior courts have NO jurisdiction to settle the estate of deceased persons. The
proper remedy is for the creditor to file the proper proceedings in the court of first
instance and file the corresponding claim. But assuming without admitting that the
respondent judge had jurisdiction, it is very patent that he committed a very grave
abuse of discretion and totally disregarded the provisions of the Rules of Court and
decisions of this honorable Court when he issued an ex-parte writ of preliminary
attachment, when there is no showing that the plaintiff therein has a sufficient cause
of action, that there is no other security for the claim sought to be enforced by the
plaintiff; or that the amount claimed in the action is as much as the sum for which the
order is prayed for above all legal counterclaims; There was no bond to answer for
whatever damages that herein petitioner may suffer; (Rollo, pp. 3- 4).
xxx xxx xxx

The respondent judge tried to avoid the consequences of the issues raised in the motion to dismiss
by stating that although the title of the complaint styled it a claim against the estate of the late
Isabelo Nacar, the allegations showed that the nature of the action was really for the recovery of an
indebtedness in the amount of P2,791.99.

The rule cited by the judge is correctly stated but it is hardly relevant to the contents of the complaint
filed by Mr. Japitana.

It is patent from the portions of the complaint earlier cited that the allegations are not only vague and
ambiguous but downright misleading. The second paragraph of the body of the complaint states that
the defendant (herein petitioner Nicanor Nacar) at various dates since the year 1968 incurred debts
to the plaintiff in the sum of P2,791.00. And yet, in the subsequent paragraphs, one clearly gathers
that the debts were actually incurred by the late Isabelo Nacar, who died several months before the
filing of the complaint. The complaint which the respondent judge reads as one for the collection of a
sum of money and all the paragraphs of which are incidentally unnumbered, expressly states as a
material averment:

xxx xxx xxx

That plaintiff herein file (sic) a claim against the estate of the late Isabelo Nacar to recover the
aforementioned sum of P2,791.00;

xxx xxx xxx

Under the circumstances of this case, respondent Japitana has no cause of action against petitioner
Nacar.Mathay v. Consolidated Bank and Trust Company (58 SCRA 559) gives the elements of a
valid cause of action:

A cause of action is an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right of
the other. Its essential elements are, namely: (1) the existence of a legal right in the
plaintiff, (2) a correlative legal duty in the defendant, and (3) an act or omission of the
defendant in violation of plaintiff's right with consequential injury or damage to the
plaintiff for which he may maintain an action for the recovery of damages or other
appropriate relief. ( Ma-ao Sugar Central Co., Inc. vs. Barrios, et al., 79 Phil. 666,
667; Ramitere et al. vs. Montinola Vda. de Yulo, et al., L-19751, February 28, 1966,
16 SCRA 251, 255). On the other hand, Section 3 of Rule 6 of the Rules of Court
provides that the complaint must state the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiff's
cause of action. Hence, where the complaint states ultimate facts that constitute the
three essential elements of a cause of action, the complaint states a cause of action;
(Community Investment and Finance Corp. vs. Garcia, 88 Phil. 215, 218) otherwise,
the complaint must succumb to a motion to dismiss on that ground.

Indeed, although respondent Japitana may have a legal right to recover an indebtedness due him,
petitioner Nicanor Nacar has no correlative legal duty to pay the debt for the simple reason that there
is nothing in the complaint to show that he incurred the debt or had anything to do with the creation
of the liability. As far as the debt is concerned, there is no allegation or showing that the petitioner
had acted in violation of Mr. Japitana's rights with consequential injury or damage to the latter as
would create a cause of action against the former.
It is also patent from the complaint that respondent Japitana filed the case against petitioner Nacar
to recover seven (7) heads of carabaos allegedly belonging to Isabelo Nacar which Japitana wanted
to recover from the possession of the petitioner to answer for the outstanding debt of the late Isabelo
Nacar. This matter, however, is only ancillary to the main action. The ancillary matter does not cure
a fatal defect in the complaint for the main action is for the recovery of an outstanding debt of the
late lsabelo Nacar due respondent Japitana, a cause of action about which petitioner Nacar has
nothing to do.

In fact the fatal defect in the complaint was noticed by the respondent court when it advised
respondent Japitana to amend his complaint to conform with his evidence and from the court's
admission that it was inclined to dismiss the case were it not for the complaint in intervention of
respondent Doloricon. Respondent Doloricon filed his complaint for intervention on the ground that
the four carabaos, subject of the writ of attachment, were actually his carabaos. Thus, the
respondent court in its Order denying the petitioner's motion to dismiss, to dissolve writ of
preliminary attachment and in order the return of the carabaos said:

... Antonio Doloricon manifested before this Court that he is filing a third-party
complaint alleging that he is the true and lawful owner of the carabaos in questions.

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, this Court for the interest of both parties will not
for the meantime dismiss this case. Antonio Doloricon is hereby given 10 days from
receipt hereof within which to file his third-party complaint. The plaintiff who in his
opposition to defendant's motion to dismiss pray (sic) for the custody of the
carabaos. This Court further requires plaintiff to put up the additional bond of P
I,000.00 after which the latter may be entitled of (sic) the custody of the carabaos
subject of litigation pending final termination of this case. (Rollo, pp. 18-19)

The respondent court's reason for not dismissing the case is contrary to applicable precedents on
the matter. We ruled in Mathay v. Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, supra:

Section I, Rule 16 of the Rules of Court, providing in part that:

Within the time for pleading a motion to dismiss may be made on any
of the following grounds; ...

(g) That the complaint states no cause of action. ...

explicitly requires that the sufficiency of the complaint must be tested exclusively on the basis of the
complaint itself and no other should be considered when the ground for motion to dismiss is that the
complaint states no cause of action. Pursuant thereto this Court has ruled that:

As a rule the sufficiency of the complaint, when challenged in a


motion to dismiss, must be determined exclusively on the basis of the
facts alleged therein' (Uy Chao vs. De La Rama Steamship Co., Inc.,
L-14495, September 29, 1962, 6 SCRA 69, 72. See also De Jesus, et
al. vs. Belarmino et al., 95 Phil. 365, 371; Dalandan, et at. vs. Julio, et
al., L- 19101, February 29, 1964, 10 SCRA 400; Ramitere et al. vs.
Montinola Vda. de Yulo, et al., L-19751, February 28, 1966, 16 SCRA
250, 254; Acuna vs. Batac Producers Cooperative Marketing
Association, Inc., et al., L-20338, June 30, 1967, 20 SCRA 526, 531)
Hence, it was error for the respondent court not to dismiss the case simply because respondent
Doloricon filed the complaint for intervention alleging that he owned the carabaos.

Moreover, even assuming that respondent Japitana had a legal right to the carabaos which were in
the possession of petitioner Nacar, the proper procedure would not be to file an action for the
recovery of the outstanding debts of the late Isabelo Nacar against his stepfather, the petitioner
Nacar as defendant. As we said in Maspil v. Romero (61 SCRA 197):

Appropriate actions for the enforcement or defense of rights must be taken in


accordance with procedural rules and cannot be left to the whims or caprices of
litigants. It cannot even be left to the untrammeled discretion of the courts of justice
without sacrificing uniformity and equality in the application and effectivity thereof.

Considering the foregoing, the respondent court's denial of the motion to dismiss the complaint and
its issuance of a writ of attachment based on the allegations of the complaint are improper. With this
conclusion, we find no need to discuss the other issue on whether or not the procedural rules on the
issuance of a writ of attachment were followed by the respondent court in issuing the subject writ of
attachment.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted. The preliminary mandatory injunction issued on
January 13, 1971 is made permanent and the cash bond filed by the petitioner in connection
therewith is ordered returned to him.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana and Relova, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

VASQUEZ, J., concurring:

I concur in the result.

The fundamental error committed by the private respondents was in pursuing their claim in an
ordinary action; and that by the respondent municipal judge in entertaining the same.

As can be seen from the caption and the body of the complaint filed in Civil Case No. 65, the claim
of the private respondents was not against herein petitioner Nicanor Nacar but against the estate of
the deceased Isabelo Nacar. It is a claim for money arising from unpaid indebtedness granted on
various dates. Isabelo Nacar died before the said complaint was filed. It does not appear that any
proceeding has been filed to settle his estate.

Under these facts, the filing of an ordinary action to recover said claim is not allowed in any court.
Even if settlement proceedings had been taken to settle the estate of Isabelo Nacar, the suit to
recover the claim of the private respondents may not be filed against the administrator or executor of
his estate. This is expressly provided for in Section 1 of Rule 87 of the Rules of Court, as follows:

No action upon a claim for the recovery of money or debt or interest thereon shall be
commenced against the executor or administrator; ... .

The claim of private respondents, being one arising from a contract, may be pursued only by filing
the same in the administration proceedings that may be taken to settle the estate of the deceased
Isabelo Nacar. If such a proceeding is instituted and the subject claim is not filed therein within the
period prescribed, the same shall be deemed "barred forever." (Sec. 5, Rule 86, Rules of Court).
Even if this action were commenced during the lifetime of Isabelo Nacar, the same shall have to be
dismissed, and the claim prosecuted in the proper administration proceedings (Sec. 21, Rule
3, Ibid.).

It would seem that the main purpose of the private respondents in filing Civil Case No. 65 was to
attach the seven carabaos owned by Isabelo Nacar. A case had to be filed in order to justify the
issuance of a writ of attachment, unfortunately, said remedy may not be allowed. The carabaos, if
really owned by Isabelo Nacar, pertained to his estate upon his death. The claim of the private
respondents may only be satisfied by a voluntary act on the part of the heirs of Isabelo Nacar, or
pursued in the appropriate settlement proceedings. A municipal court may not entertain such a
proceeding, it not being vested, under the law then in force, with probate jurisdiction.

Civil Case No. 65 should accordingly be dismissed and the writ of attachment issued therein
dissolved.

Separate Opinions

VASQUEZ, J., concurring:

I concur in the result.

The fundamental error committed by the private respondents was in pursuing their claim in an
ordinary action; and that by the respondent municipal judge in entertaining the same.

As can be seen from the caption and the body of the complaint filed in Civil Case No. 65, the claim
of the private respondents was not against herein petitioner Nicanor Nacar but against the estate of
the deceased Isabelo Nacar. It is a claim for money arising from unpaid indebtedness granted on
various dates. Isabelo Nacar died before the said complaint was filed. It does not appear that any
proceeding has been filed to settle his estate.

Under these facts, the filing of an ordinary action to recover said claim is not allowed in any court.
Even if settlement proceedings had been taken to settle the estate of Isabelo Nacar, the suit to
recover the claim of the private respondents may not be filed against the administrator or executor of
his estate. This is expressly provided for in Section 1 of Rule 87 of the Rules of Court, as follows:

No action upon a claim for the recovery of money or debt or interest thereon shall be
commenced against the executor or administrator; ... .
The claim of private respondents, being one arising from a contract, may be pursued only by filing
the same in the administration proceedings that may be taken to settle the estate of the deceased
Isabelo Nacar. If such a proceeding is instituted and the subject claim is not filed therein within the
period prescribed, the same shall be deemed "barred forever." (Sec. 5, Rule 86, Rules of Court).
Even if this action were commenced during the lifetime of Isabelo Nacar, the same shall have to be
dismissed, and the claim prosecuted in the proper administration proceedings (Sec. 21, Rule
3, Ibid.).

It would seem that the main purpose of the private respondents in filing Civil Case No. 65 was to
attach the seven carabaos owned by Isabelo Nacar. A case had to be filed in order to justify the
issuance of a writ of attachment, unfortunately, said remedy may not be allowed. The carabaos, if
really owned by Isabelo Nacar, pertained to his estate upon his death. The claim of the private
respondents may only be satisfied by a voluntary act on the part of the heirs of Isabelo Nacar, or
pursued in the appropriate settlement proceedings. A municipal court may not entertain such a
proceeding, it not being vested, under the law then in force, with probate jurisdiction.

Civil Case No. 65 should accordingly be dismissed and the writ of attachment issued therein
dissolved.

Torres v Lopez

G.R. No. L-24569 February 26, 1926

MANUEL TORRES, petitioner-appellant and


LUZ LOPEZ DE BUENO, appellant,
vs.
MARGARITA LOPEZ, opponent-appellee.

Araneta & Zaragoza for appellant.


Marcaida, Capili & Ocampo and Thomas Cary Welch for appellee.

MALCOLM, J.:

This case concerns the probate of the alleged will of the late Tomas Rodriguez y Lopez.

Tomas Rodriguez died in the City of Manila Philippine Islands. On February 25, 1924, leaving a
considerable estate. Shortly thereafter Manuel Torres, one of the executors named in the will asked
that the will of Rodriguez be allowed. Opposition was entered by Margarita Lopez, the first cousin of
the deceased on the grounds: (1) That the testator lacked mental capacity because at the time
of senile dementia and was under guardianship; (2) that undue influence had been exercised by the
persons benefited in the document in conjunction with others who acted in their behalf; and (3) that
the signature of Tomas Rodriguez to the document was obtained through fraud and deceit. After a
prolonged trial judgment was rendered denying the legalization of the will. In the decision of the trial
judge appeared, among others, these findings:

All this evidence taken together with the circumstances that before and at the time Tomas
Rodriguez was caused to sign the supposed will Exhibit A, and the copies thereof there
already existed a final judgment as to his mental condition wherein he was declared
physically and mentally incapacitated to take care of himself and manage his estate shows in
a clear and conclusive manner that at the time of signing the supposed will of Tomas
Rodriguez did not possess such mental capacity as was necessary to be able him to dispose
of his property by the supposed will.

But even supposing as contended by petitioner's counsel that Tomas Rodriguez was at the
time of execution of the will, competent to make a will, the court is of the opinion that the will
cannot be probated for it appears from the declaration of the attesting witness Elias Bonoan
that when the legatee Luz Lopez presented the supposed will, Exhibit A, to Tomas
Rodriguez, she told him to sign said Exhibit A because it was a document relative to the
complaint against one Castito, which Exhibit 4, then pending in the justice of the peace court,
and for the further reason that said Tomas Rodriguez was then under guardianship, due to
his being mentally and physically incapacitated and therefore unable to manage his property
and take care of himself. It must also be taken into account that Tomas Rodriguez was an
old man 76 years of age, and was sick in the hospital when his signature to the supposed will
was obtained. All of this shows that the signature of Tomas Rodriguez appearing in the will
was obtained through fraudulent and deceitful representations of those who were interested
in it. (Record on Appeal, p. 23)

From the decision and judgment above-mentioned the proponents have appealed. Two errors are
specified, viz: (1) The court below erred in holding that at the time of signing his will, Tomas
Rodriguez did not possess the mental capacity necessary to make the same, and (2) the court below
erred in holding that the signatures of Tomas Rodriguez to the will were obtained through fraudulent
and deceitful representations, made by persons interested in the executions of said will.

The record is voluminous — close to two thousand typewritten pages, with a varied assortment of
exhibits. One brief contains two hundred seventy-four pages, the other four hundred fifteen pages.
The usual oral argument has been had. The court must scale this mountains of evidence more or
less relevant and of argument intense and prolific to discover the fertile valleys of fact and principle.

The topics suggested by the assignments of error — Testamentary Capacity and Undue Influence —
will be taken up separately and in order. An attempt will be made under each subject first to make
findings of fact quite separate and apart from those of the judge and second to make findings of law
and the law by rendering judgment.

I. TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY

A. Facts. — For a long time prior to October, 1923, Tomas Rodriguez was in feeble health. His
breakdown was undoubtedly due to organic weakness, to advancing years and to an accident which
occurred in 1921 (Exhibit 6). Ultimately, on August 10 1923, on his initiative, Tomas Rodriguez
designated Vicente F. Lopez as the administrator of his property (Exhibit 7).

On October 22, 1923, Margarita Lopez petitioned the Court of First Instance of Manila to name a
guardian for Tomas Rodriguez because of his age and pathological state. This petition was opposed
by Attorney Gregorio Araneta acting on behalf of Tomas Rodriguez for the reason that while
Rodriguez was far from strong on account of his years, he was yet capable of looking after his
property with the assistance of his administrator, Vicente F. Lopez. The deposition of Tomas
Rodriguez was taken and a perusal of the same shows that he was able to answer nearly all of the
questions propounded intelligently (Exhibit 5-g). A trial had at which considerable oral testimony for
the petitioner was received. At the conclusion of the hearing, an order was issued by the presiding
judge, declaring Tomas Rodriguez incapacitated to take care of himself and to manage his property
and naming Vicente F. Lopez as his guardian. (Exhibit 37).
Inasmuch as counsel for the appellee make such of one incident which occurred in connection with
the guardianship proceedings, it may as well be mentioned here as later. This episode concerns the
effort of deputy sheriff Joaquin Garcia to make service on Tomas Rodriguez on October 31, 1923.
We will let the witness tell in his own words what happened on the occasions in question:

I found him lying down on his bed. . . . And when it (the cleaning of his head) was finished, I
again entered his room, and told him that I had an order of the court which I wanted to read
as I did read to him, but after reading the order he asked me what the order meant; 'I read it
to you so that you may appear before the court, understand,' then I read it again, but he
asked what the order said; in view of that fact I left the order and departed from the house.
(S. R., p. 642.)

To return to our narrative — possibly inspired by the latter portion of the order of Judge Diaz, Tomas
Rodriguez was taken to the Philippine General Hospital on November 27, 1923. There he was to
remain sick in bed until his death. The physician in charge during this period was Dr. Elias Domingo.
In the clinical case record of the hospital under the topic "Diagnosis (in full)," we find the following
"Senility; Hernia inguinal; Decubitus" (Exhibit 8).

On the door of the patient's room was placed a placard reading — "No visitors, except father,
mother, sisters, and brothers." (Testimony of head nurse physician, there were permitted to visit the
patient only the following named persons: Santiago Lopez, Manuel Ramirez, Romana Lopez, Luz
Lopez de Bueno, Remedio Lopez, Benita Lopez, Trinidad Vizcarra, Apolonia Lopez, Antonio Haman,
and Gregorio Araneta ((Exhibit 9). The list did not include the names of Margarita Lopez and her
husband Antonio Ventura. Indeed the last named persons experienced considerable difficulty in
penetrating in to the room of Rodriguez.

Santiago Lopez states that on one occasion when he was visiting Tomas Rodriguez in the hospital ,
Rodriguez expressed to him a desire to make a will and suggested that the matter be taken up with
Vicente F. Lopez (S. R., p. 550). This information Santiago Lopez communicated to Vicente F.
Lopez, who then interviewed Maximino Mina, a practicing attorney in the City of Manila, for the
purpose of securing him to prepare the will. In accordance with this request, Judge Mina conferred
with Tomas Rodriguez in the hospital in December 16th and December 29th. He ascertained the
wishes of Rodriguez and wrote up a testament in rough draft. The attorney expected to return to the
hospital on December 31st to have the will executed but was unable to do so on account of having
to make a trip to the provinces. Accordingly, the papers were left with Santiago Lopez.

In corroboration of the above statements, we transcribe a portion of Judge Mina's testimony which
has not been challenged in any way:

ARANETA: Q. Will you please tell your motive for holding an interview with Vicente Lopez?

MAXIMINO MINA: A. Then I arrived in the house of Vicente Lopez, after the usual greeting
and other unimportant things, he consulted me or presented the question as to whether or
not D. Tomas could make his will, having announced his desire to do so. I told him that it
seemed that we were not called upon to decide or give an opinion as to whether or not he
can make a will; it is a question to be submitted to the court, but as he had announced his
desire, it is our duty to comply with it. Then he requested me to do what was necessary to
comply with his wishes: I told him I was to see him; then we agreed that on the morning next
to the following evening that is on the 16th, I should go to the General Hospital and so I did.

Q. Did you go to the hospital in the evening of the 16th? — A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you meet D. Tomas? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did D. Tomas tell you his desire to make a will?

OCAMPO: Leading.

ARANETA: I withdraw. What, if anything, did D. Tomas tell you on that occasion when you
saw him there? — A. He told me that.

Q. Please tell us what conversation you had with D. Tomas Rodriguez? — A. The
conversation I had with him that evening — according to my best recollection — I cannot tell
the exact words and perhaps the order. After the usual greetings, Good evening, D. Tomas, '
Good evening,' How are you,' ' How do you do? Very well, just came here in the name of D.
Vicente Lopez why does he not come. He cannot come because he has many things to do,
and besides it is hard for him and makes him tired, so he told me to come.' Mina, your
tenant, attorney.' Are you an attorney? Yes.' Where do you live? I live in Quiapo.' Oh, in
Quiapo, a good district, it is gay a commercial place you must have some business there
because that is a commercial place. Unfortunately, I have none, D. Tomas.' Well, you must
be have because the profession alone does not give enough. Where is your office? I work in
the office of Mr. Chicote. That Mr. Chicote must be rich, it seems to me that he is. The
profession gives almost nothing it is better to have properties. I am an attorney but do not
depend upon my profession. I interrupted D. Tomas saying, since you want to make a will,
when and to whom do you want to leave your fortune? Then he said, To whom else? To my
cousin Vicente Lopez and his daughter Luz Lopez. Which properties do you want to give to
your cousin and niece? All my properties, Won't you specify the property to be given to each
of them? What for? All my property. Don't you have any other relatives? Yes, sir I have.
Won't you give any to those relatives? What for? was his answer. Well, do you want to
specify said properties, to say what they are? and he again said, What for? they know them,
he is my attorney-in-fact as to all property. I also said, Well and as legacy won't you give
property to other persons? answers, I think, something, they will know it. After being asked,
Whom do you think, would you want to be your executor? After hesitating a little, This Torres,
Manuel or Santiago Lopez also. Then I asked him, What is your religion? He answered,
Roman Apostolic Catholic, and then he also asked me, and your? Also Roman Apostolic
Catholic, Where have you studied?' 'In the University of Santo Tomas.' 'It is convenient to
preserve the Catholic religion that our descendants have left us. And you, what did you have
anything more to say as to your testamentary dispositions? No, he answered. Then I remind
him, 'You know that Vicente Lopez has sent me to get these dispositions of yours, and he
said, Yes, do it.' I asked him, When do you want it done? Later on, I will send for you. After
this believing to have done my duty, I bade him good-bye.

Q. Did you have any other occasion to see him? — A. Yes.

Q. When? — A. On December 29, 1923, also in the evening.

Q. Why did you go to see him? — A. Because as I had not received any message either
from Vicente Lopez or Tomas Rodriguez, as I had received notices in connection with the
few cases I had in the provinces particularly in Tayabas, which compelled me to be absent
from Manila until January 1st at least, for I might be there for several days, so I went to the
General Hospital of my own accord — since I had not received any messages from them —
with a rough draft which I had prepared in accordance with what he had told me in our
conversation. After the greetings, I told him, Here I am D. Tomas; this is the rough draft of
your will in accordance with your former statements to me in order to submit it to you. Do you
want to read it?' 'Please do me the favor of reading it. I read it slowly to him in order that he
could understand it . After reading, Is it all right, that is the way,— few words — you see it
takes only a few minutes; now I can execute the will. We can do it takes only a few minutes.'
In view of that statement of his, I called his attention, ' But we don't have witnesses, D.
Tomas.' I looked out through the door to see if I could call some witnesses but it was late
then and it was thought better to do it on the 31st of December. Then we talked about other
things, and he again asked. Where were you born? I told him in Quiapo. Ah, good district,
and especially now that the fiesta of Quiapo is coming near,' and then I interrupted him, Yes,
the fiesta of the Holy Child and of Our Lady of Mount Carmel' because we also talked about
the fiesta of San Sebastian. I again reminded him that we could not do it because the
witnesses were not there and he explained, Good Christmas present, isn't it?' I did not tell
him anything and in view of that I did not deem it necessary to stay there any longer.

Q. With whom did you make the arrangement to make the will on the evening of the 31st of
December — you said that it was agreed that the will be executed on the evening of
December 31st? — A. With Santiago Lopez and Don Tomas.

Q. Was the will executed on the 31st of December? — A. What happened is this: In view of
that agreement, I fixed up the draft which I had, dating it the 31st of December, putting
everything in order; we agreed that Santiago would meet me on 31st day between five and
six in the evening or a little before, but it happened that before the arrival of that date
Santiago Lopez came and told me that I need not trouble about going to the General
Hospital; because it could not be carried out for the reason that certain requisites were
lacking. In view of this and bearing always in mind that on the following day I had to go to the
provinces, I told Santiago Lopez that I would leave the papers with him because I might go to
the provinces.

Q. What may be the meaning of those words good Christmas present? — A. They are given
a Christmas present when Christmas comes or on the occasion of Christmas.

Q. I show you this document which is marked Exhibit A, tell me if that is the will or copy of
the will which you delivered to Santiago Lopez on December 21, 31, 1923? — A. With the
exception of the words '3 de enero de 1924' It seems to be literally identical. (S. R. pp. 244-
249.)

As the witness stated, the will which was prepared by him is identical with that signed by the testator
and the attesting witnesses with the single exception of the change of the date from December 31,
1923, to January 3, 1924. Two copies besides the original of the will were made. The will is brief and
simple in terminology.

For purposes of record, we copy the will as here translated into English:

ONLY PAGE

In the City of Manila, Philippines Islands, this January 3, 1924, I, Tomas Rodriguez, of age
and resident of the City of Manila, Philippine Islands, do freely and voluntarily make this my
will and testament in the Spanish language which I know, with the following clauses:

First I declare that I am a Roman Apostolic Catholic, and order that my body be buried in
accordance with my religion, standing and circumstances.
Second. I name my cousin Vicente F. Lopez and his daughter Luz Lopez de Bueno as my
only universal heirs of all my property.

Third. I appoint D. Manuel Torres and D. Santiago Lopez as my prosecutors.

In witness whereof I sign this typewritten will, consisting of one single page, in the presence
of the witness who sign below.

(Sgd.) TOMAS RODRIGUEZ

(Left marginal signatures:)


TOMAS RODRIGUEZ
ELIAS BONOAN
V. L. LEGARDA
A. DE ASIS

We hereby certify that on the date and in the place above indicated, Don Tomas Rodriguez
executed this will, consisting of one single typewritten page, having signed at the bottom of
the will in the presence of us who saw as witnesses the execution of this will, we signed at
the bottom thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other.

(Sgd.) V. L. LEGARDA
ELIAS BONOAN
A. DE ASIS
(Exhibit A.)

On the afternoon of January 3, 1924 there gathered in the quarters of Tomas Rodriguez in the
Philippine General Hospital, Santiago Lopez and Dr. A. De Asis, attesting witness; and Dr. Elias
Fernando Calderon, Dr. Elias Domingo and Dr. Florentino Herrera, physicians, there for purposes of
observation. (Testimony of Elias Bonoan, S. R., p. 8 of Vl. Legarda, S. R. p. 34. ) Possibly also Mrs.
Luz Lopez de Bueno and Mrs. Nena Lopez were present; at least they were hovering in the
background.

As to what actually happened, we have in the record two absolutely contradictory accounts. One
emanates from the attesting witness, Doctor Bonoan. The other is the united testimony of all
remaining persons who were there.

Doctor Elias Bonoan was the first witness called at the trial. He testified on direct examination as to
formal matters, such as the identification of the signatures to the will .On cross-examination, he
rather started the proponents of the will by stating that Luz Lopez de Bueno told Tomas Rodriguez to
sign the document it concerned a complaint against Castito and that nobody read the will to the
testator. Doctor Bonoan's testimony along this line is as follows:

QUESTIONS.

MARCAIDA : Q. Why were you a witness to the will of Tomas Rodriguez?

Araneta: I object to the question as being immaterial.

Court: Objection overruled.


Dr. Bonoan: A. Because I was called up by Mrs. Luz by telephone telling me to be in the
hospital at 3 o'clock sharp in the afternoon of the 3d of January.

Q. Who is that Luz whom you have mentioned? — A. Luz Lopez, daughter of Vicente Lopez.

Q. What day, January 3, 1924? A. Yes, sir.

Q. When did Luz Lopez talk to you in connection with your going to the hospital? — A. On
the morning of the 3d she called me up by telephone.

Q. On the morning? — A. On the morning.

Q. Before January 3, 1924, when the will of Tomas Rodriguez was signed, did Luz Lopez
talk to you? A. Yes, sir.

Q. How many days approximately before was it? — A. I cannot tell the day, it was
approximately one week before, — on that occasion when I was called up by her about the
deceased Vicente Lopez.

Q. What did she tell you when you went to the house of Vicente Lopez one week
approximately before signing the will? - A. That Tomas Rodriguez would make a will.

Q. Don't you know where the will of Tomas Rodriguez was made? - A. In the General
Hospital.

Q. Was that document written in the hospital? — A. I have not seen it.

Q. When you went to the General Hospital on January 3, 1924, who were the persons you
met in the room where the patients was ? — A. I met one of the nieces of the deceased
Tomas Rodriguez, Mrs. Nena Lopez and Dna. Luz Lopez.

Q. Were those the only persons? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. What time approximately did you go to the General Hospital on January 3d? — A. A
quarter to 3.

Q. After you, who came? — A. Antonio de Asis, Doctor Herrera, later on Doctor Calderon
arrived with Doctor Elias Domingo and lastly Santiago Lopez came and then Mr. Legarda.

Q. When you entered the room of the patient, D. Tomas Rodriguez, in the General Hospital
in what position did you find him?— A. He was lying down.

Q. Did you greet D. Tomas Rodriguez? A. I did.

Q. Did D. Tomas Rodriguez answer you? — A. Dna. Nena immediately answered in advance
and introduced me to him saying that I was the brother of his godson.

Q. Did other persons whom you have mentioned, viz, Messrs. Calderon, Herrera, Domingo,
De Asis and Legarda greet Tomas Rodriguez?
ARANETA: I object to the question as being improper cross-examination. It has not been the
subject of the direct examination.

COURT: Objection overruled.

ARANETA: Exception.

A. No, sir, they joined us.

Q. What was D. Tomas told when he signed the will.? — A. To sign it.

Q. Who told D. Tomas to sign the will? — A. Luz Lopez.

Q. What did Luz Lopez tell Tomas Rodriguez in order that he should sign the will? — A. She
told him to sign the document; the deceased Tomas Rodriguez before signing the document
asked what that was which he was to sign.

Q. What did anybody answer to that question of D. Tomas? — A. Luz Lopez told him to sign
it because it concerned a complaint against Castito. D. Tomas said, 'What is this?" And Luz
Lopez answered, 'You sign this document, uncle Tomas, because this is about the complaint
against Castito.

Q. Then Tomas Rodriguez signed the will? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. Who had the will? Who was holding it? — A. Mr. Vicente Legarda had it his own hands.

Q. Was the will signed by Tomas Rodriguez lying down, on his feet or seated? — A. Lying
down.

Q. Was the will read by Tomas Rodriguez or any person present at the time of signing the
will, did they read it to him? — A. Nobody read the will to him.

Q. Did not D. Tomas read the will? — A. I have not seen it.

Q. Were you present? — A. Yes, sir. ( S. R. p. 8)

As it would be quite impracticable to transcribe the testimony of all the others who attended the
making of the will, we will let Vicente L. Legarda, who appears to have assumed the leading role, tell
what transpired. He testified in part:

ARANETA : Q. Who exhibited to you those documents, Exhibits A, A-1, and A-2?

LEGARDA: A. Santiago Lopez.

Q. Did he show you the same document? — A. First that is to say the first document he
presented to me was a rough draft, a tentative will, and it was dated December 31st, and I
called his attention to the fact that the date was not December 31, 1923, and that it was
necessary to change the date to January 3, 1924, and it was done.

Q. And it was then, was it not when Exhibits A, A-1, and A-2 were written? — A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you any know where it was written? — A. In the General Hospital.

Q. Did any time elapse from your making the suggestion that the document which you
delivered to Santiago Lopez be written until those three Exhibits A, A-1, and A-2 were
presented to you? — A. About nine or ten minutes approximately.

Q. The time to make it clean? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. Where were you during that time? — A. In the room of D. Tomas Rodriguez.

Q. Were you talking with him during that time. — A. Yes, sir.

Q. About what things were you talking with him? — A. He was asking me about my health,
that of my family how my family was my girl, whether we were living in Pasay, he asked me
about the steamer Ildefonso, he said that it was a pity that it had been lost because he knew
that my father-in-law was the owner of the steamer Ildefonso.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. When those documents, Exhibit A, A-1, and A-2, that is the original and two copies of the
will signed by D. Tomas Rodriguez were written clean, will you please tell what happened?
— A. When Santiago Lopez gave them to me clean, I approached D. Tomas Rodriguez and
told him: Don Tomas, here is this will which is ready for your signature.

Q. What did D. Tomas do when you said that his will you were showing to him was ready? —
A. The first thing he asked was: the witnesses? Then I called the witnesses — Gentlemen,
please come forward, and they came forward, and I handed the documents to D. Tomas. D.
Tomas got up and then took his eyeglasses, put them on and as he saw that the electric
lamp at the center was not sufficiently clear, he said: 'There is no more light;' then somebody
came forward bringing an electric lamp.

Q. What did D. Tomas do when that electric lamp was put in place? — A. The eyeglasses
were adjusted again and then he began to read, and as he could not read much for a long
time, for he unexpectedly felt tired and took off the eyeglasses, and as I saw that the poor
man was tired, I suggested that it be read to him and he stopped reading and I read the will
to him.

Q. What happened after you had read it to him? — A. He said to me, 'Well, it is all right. It is
my wish and my will. Don't you have any pen?' I asked a pen of those who were there and
handed it to D. Tomas.

Q. Is it true that Tomas Rodriguez asked at that time 'What is that which I am going to sign?'
and Luz Lopez told him: 'It is in connection with the complaint against Castito?' — A. It is not
true, no, sir.

Q. During the signing of the will, did you hear Luz Lopez say anything to Tomas Rodriguez?
— A. No, Sir, she said nothing.

Q. According to you, Tomas Rodriguez signed of his own accord? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did nobody tell him to sign? — A. Nobody.


Q. What happened after the signing of the will by Tomas Rodriguez? — A. I called the
witnesses and we signed in the presence of each other and of Tomas Rodriguez.

Q. After the signing of the will, did you have any conversation with Tomas Rodriguez? — A.
Doctor Calderon asked D. Tomas Rodriguez some questions.

Q. Do you remember the questions and the conversation held between Doctor Calderon and
D. Tomas after the signing of the will? — A. I remember that afterwards Doctor Calderon
talked to him about business. He asked him how the business of making loans at 18 per
cent. It seems that Tomas Rodriguez answered: That loan at 18 per cent is illegal, it is usury.
(S. R., p. 38.)

In addition to the statements under oath made by Mr. Legarda, an architect and engineer in the
Bureau of Public Works and professor of engineering and architecture in the University of Santo
Tomas, suffice it to say that Luz Lopez de Bueno denied categorically the statements attributed to
her by Doctor Bonoan (S. R., p. 568). In this stand, she is corroborated by Doctor Calderon,
Domingo, and Herrera, the attending physicians. On this point, Doctor Calderon the Director of the
Philippine General Hospital and Dean of the College of Medicine in the University of the Philippines,
testified:

Mr. ARANETA: Q. What have you seen or heard with regard to the execution of the will?

Dr. CALDERON: A. Mr. Legarda handled the will to D. Tomas Rodriguez. D. Tomas asked
for his eyeglass, wanted to read and it was extremely hard for him to do so. Mr. Legarda
offered to read the will, it was read to him and he heard that in that will Vicente Lopez and
Luz Lopez were appointed heirs; we also saw him sign that will, and he signed not only the
original but also the other copies of the will and we also saw how the witnesses signed the
will; we heard that D. Tomas asked for light at that moment; he heard that D. Tomas asked
for light at that moment; he was at that time in a perfect mental state. And we remained there
after the will was executed. I asked him, 'How do you feel, how are you? Well I am well, ' he
answered. ' How is the business? There is a crisis at there is one good business, namely,
that of making loans at the rate of 18 per cent, 'and he answered, 'That is usury.; When a
man answers in that way, ' That is usury it shows that he is all right.

Q. Were you present when Mr. Legarda handed the will to him? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did any person there tell Don Tomas that was a complaint to be filed against one Castito?
— A. No, sir, I have not heard anything of the kind.

Q. It was said here that when the will was handed to him, D. Tomas Rodriguez asked what
that was which he was to sign and that Luz Lopez answered, 'That is but a complaint in
connection with Castito.' Is that true? — A. I have not heard anything of the kind.

Q. Had anybody told that to the deceased, would you have heard it? A. Yes, sir.

Q. Was Luz Lopez there? — A. I don't remember having seen her; I am not sure; D.
Santiago Lopez and the three witnesses were there; I don't remember that Luz Lopez was
there.

Q. Had anybody told that to the deceased, would you have heard it? — A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you remember whether he was given a pen or he himself asked for it? — A. I don't
know; it is a detail which I don't remember well; so that whether or not he was given a pen or
he himself asked for it, I do not remember.

Q. But did he sign without hesitation ? — A. With no hesitation.

Q. Did he sign without anybody having indicated to him where he was to sign? — A. Yes,
without anybody having indicated it to him.

Q. Do you know whether D. Tomas Rodriguez asked for more light before signing? — A. He
asked for more lights, as I have said before.

Q. Do you remember that detail? — A. Yes, sir. They first lighted the lamps, but as the light
was not sufficient, he asked for more light.

Q. Do you remember very well that he asked for light? — A. Yes, sir. (S. R. p.993).

A clear preponderance of the evidence exists in favor of the testimony of Vicente Legarda,
corroborated as it is by other witnesses of the highest standing in the community. The only
explanation we can offer relative to the testimony of Doctor Bonoan is that possibly he may have
arrived earlier than the others with the exception of Luz Lopez de Bueno, and that Luz Lopez de
Bueno may have made some sort of an effort to influence Tomas Rodriguez. There is however no
possible explanation of the statement of Doctor Bonoan to the effect that no one read the will to
Rodriguez when at least five other persons recollect that Vicente Legarda read it to him and recall
the details connected with the reading.

There is one curious occurrence which transpired shortly after the making of the will which should
here be mentioned. It is that on January 7, 1923 (1924), Luz Lopez de Bueno signed a document in
favor of Doctor Bonoan in the amount of one thousand pesos (P1,000). This paper reads as follow:

Be it know by these present:

That I, Luz Lopez de Bueno in consideration of the services which at my instance


were and will when necessary be rendered by Dr. Elias Bonoan in connection with
the execution of the will of my uncle, Don Tomas Rodriguez and the due probate
thereof, do hereby agree to pay said doctor, by way of remuneratory donation, the
sum of one thousand pesos (P1,000), Philippine currency, as soon as said services
shall have been fully rendered and I shall be in possession of the inheritance which
in said will is given to me.

In witness whereof, I sign this document which was freely and spontaneously
executed by me in Manila, this January 7, 1923.

(Sgd.) LUZ LOPEZ DE BUENO


(Exhibit 1)

There is a sharp conflict of testimony, as is natural between Doctor Bonoan and Luz Lopez de
Bueno relative to the execution of the above document. We shall not attempt to settle these
differences as in the final analysis it will not affect the decision one way or the other. The most
reasonable supposition is that Luz Lopez de Bueno imprudently endeavored to bring over Doctor
Bonoan to her side of the race by signing and giving to him Exhibit 1. But the event cannot easily be
explained away.

Tomas Rodriguez passed away in the Philippine General Hospital, as we said on February 25, 1924.
Not even prior to his demise the two actions in the Lopez family had prepared themselves for a fight
over the estate. The Luz Lopez faction had secured the services of Doctor Domingo, the physician in
charge of the Department of Insane of San Lazaro Hospital an Assistant Professor of Nervous and
Mental Diseases in the University of the Philippines, as attending physician; as associated with him
for purposes of investigation Dr. Fernando Calderon the Director of the Philippine General Hospital
and Dr. Florentino Herrera, a physician in active practice in the City of Manila; and had arranged to
have two members of the medical fraternity, Doctors De Asis and Bonoan as attesting witnesses.
The Margarita Lopez faction had taken equal precautions by calling a witnesses in the guardship
proceedings Dr. Sixto de los Angeles Professor and Chief of the Department of Legal Medicine in
the University of the Philippines, and Dr. Samuel Tietze, with long experience in mental diseases;
thereafter by continuing Doctors de Los Angeles and Tietze to examine Tomas Rodriguez and by
associating with them Dr. William Burke, a well-known physician of the City of Manila. Skilled
lawyers were available to aid and abet the medical experts. Out of such situations, do will contests
arise.

An examination of the certificates made by the two sets of physicians and of their testimony shows
that on most facts they concur. Their deductions from these facts disclose a substantial divergence
of opinion. It is a hopeless task to try to reconcile the views of these distinguished gentlemen who
honestly arrived at definite but contradictory conclusions. The best that we can do under the
circumstances is to set forth the findings of the Calderon committed on the hand and of the De Los
Angeles committee on the other.

Doctors Calderon, Domingo and Herrera examined Tomas Rodriguez individually and jointly before
the date when the will was executed. All of them, as we have noticed were, present at the signing of
the will to note the reactions of the testator. On the same day that the will was accomplished, the
three doctors signed the following certificate:

The undersigned, Drs. of Medicine, with offices in the City of Manila, and engaged in the
practice of their profession do hereby certify:

That they have jointly examined Mr. Tomas Rodriguez, confined in the General Hospital,
floor No. 3, room No. 361 on three different occasion and on different days and have found
that said patient is suffering from anemia, hernia inguinal, chronic dyspepsia and senility.

As to his mental state the result of the different tests to which this patient was submitted is
that his intellectual faculties are sound, except that his memory is weak, which is almost a
loss for recent facts, or events which have recently occurred, due to his physical condition
and old age.

They also certify that they were present at the time he signed his will on January 3, 1924, at
1:25 p.m. and have found his mental state in the same condition as was found by the
undersigned in their former examination and that in executing said will the testator and full
knowledge of the contents thereof.

In testimony whereof, we sign in Manila this January 3, 1924.


(Sgd.) FLORENTINO HERRERA
Tuberias 1264
Quiapo

(Sgd.) Dr. FERNANDO CALDERON


General Hospital
Manila

(Sgd.) Dr. ELIAS DOMINGO


613 Remedios
Malate

(Exhibit E in relation with Exhibits C and D.)

Doctor Calderon while on the witness-stand expressed a definite opinion as to the mentality
of Tomas Rodriguez What follows is possibly the most significant of the doctor's statements:

Dr. CALDERON testifying after interruption:

A. I was naturally interested in finding out the true mental state of Tomas Rodriguez and that
was the chief reason why I accepted and gave my cooperation to Messrs. Elias Domingo
and Florentino Herrera because had I found that Tomas Rodriguez and Florentino Herrera
because had I found that Tomas Rodriguez was really insane, I should have ordered his
transfer to the San Lazaro Hospital or to other places, and would not have left him in the
General Hospital. Pursuant to my desire, I saw Tomas Rodriguez in his room alone twice to
have interviews with his, he begging a person whom I knew since several years ago; at the
end of the interviews I became convinced that there was nothing wrong with him; I had not
seen anything indicating that he was insane and for this reason I accepted the request of my
companions and joined them; we have been on five different occasions examining Tomas
Rodriguez jointly from the physical standpoint but chiefly from the standpoint of his mental
state; I have been there with Messrs. Herrera and Elias Domingo, examining Tomas
Rodriguez and submitting to a mental test on the 28, 29, 10 and 31 of December and the
22nd of January, 1924 — five consecutive days in which he have been together besides my
particular visits.

Q. Will you place state the result of the observation you made alone before those made by
the three of you jointly? — A. I asked Tomas Rodriguez some questions when I went alone
there, I asked him were he was living formerly and he well remembered that in Intramuros,
Calle Real; I asked him whether he remembered one Calderon who was living in the upper
floor of the house and then he told me yes; than I asked him about his tenant by the name of
Antonio Jimenez and he told me yes, — now I remember that he had two daughters, Matilde
and Paz. Then I told him that I had been living in the house of the gentlemen, Antonio
Jimenez already dead — in the upper story of the house belonged to Tomas Rodriguez; I
told him that Antonio Jimenez was his tenant of the upper story, that is that he was living on
the ground floor and Antonio Jimenez upstairs and he remembered all of this I also began to
talk of my brother, Felipe Calderon, who he said of course that he knew; he remembered him
because he was his companion and was a successful attorney. This was when I had an
interview with him. Then in order to observe better and to be sure of my judgment or opinion
about the mental state of Tomas Rodriguez, I saw him again and we began to speak of
something which I don't remember now. In fine, we talked of things of interest and as I had
finally accepted the request of Drs. Elias Domino and Florentino Herrera to join then the first
and second time that Herrera, Domingo and myself went there, no stenographic notes were
taken of what happened there.

Q. So that before joining Doctors Herrera and Domingo you had already paid two visits to the
patient? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. From the result f the conversation you had with Tomas Rodriguez on those two visits what
is your opinion as to his mental capacity? — A. That he was sick; that he was weak, but I
have found absolutely no incoherence in his ideas; he answered my questions well and as I
was observing him there were times when he did not remember things of the present —
because this must be admitted — but on the other hand he had a wonderful memory of past
events; in talking with him, you would not notice in the conversation any alteration in his mind
nor that man had lost the reasoning power or logic.

Q. Did you notice any loss of memory, or that his memory was weakening about things of the
past? — A. About things of the past, I mean that you talk to him now about specific matters,
and after about five or ten minutes he no longer remembers what had been talked of.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Do you remember the conversation you had with him for the first time when the three of
you paid a visit to the patient? — A. I don't remember the details, but I do remember the
questions I put to him. I asked D. Tomas Rodriguez: You are an old man aged, sick: Yes, I
am thinking to make a will. But why don't you decide? There is no hurry there is time to make
a will, 'he said. Then in case you decide to make a will, to whom are you going to leave your
property? Don't you have any relatives? I have a relative, Vicente Lopez, my first cousin, and
Margarita Lopez my first cousin they are brothers.' In that case, to whom, do you want to
leave your property? Why, I don't have much, very little, but I am decided to leave it to my
cousin, Vicente Lopez and his daughter Luz Lopez. Why would you not give anything to
Margarita Lopez? No because her husband is very bad, 'to use his exact language is very
bad.'

Q. Did you talk with him on that occasion about his estate? — A. Yes, sir, he told me that he
had three estates, — one on Calle Magallanes, another on Calle Cabildo and the third on
Calle Juan Luna and besides he had money in the Monte de Piedad and Hogar Filipino.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. From the question made by you and the answers given by Mr. Tomas Rodriguez on that
occasion, what is your opinion as to his mental capacity? — A. The following: That the
memory of Tomas Rodriguez somewhat failed as to things of the present, but is all right with
regard to matters or facts of the past; that his ideas were incoherent; that the thought with
logic, argued even with power and generally in some of the interviews I have arrived at the
conclusion that Tomas Rodriguez had an initiative of his own, did not need that anybody
should make him any suggestion because he answered in such a way that if you permit me
now to show you my stenographic notes, they will prove to you conclusively that he had an
initiative of his own and had no need of anybody making him any question. (S. R. p. 72.)

Doctor Elias Domingo, who was the attending physician for Tomas Rodriguez throughout all the time
that Rodriguez in the hospital had examined him, was likewise certain that Rodriguez possessed
sufficient mentality to make a will. Among other things, Doctor Domingo testified:
ARANETA: Q. Have you known D. Tomas Rodriguez?

Dr. DOMINGO: A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you attend D. Tomas Rodriguez as physician? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. When did you begin to attend him as physician? — A. On November 28, until his death.

Q. On November 28 or October 28, 1923, do you remember? — A. I had been attending him
as physician from November 28th although it true that I had opportunities to see and
examine him during the months of October and November.

Q. What was the object of your visits or attendance during the months of October and
November? — A. It was for the purpose of observing his mental state.

Q. Did you really examine his mental condition or capacity during the months of October and
November? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. How many times did you visit him? — A. I don't remember exactly but I visited him about
five or six times.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Please tell us the result of your examination during those months of October and
November? — A. I examined him physically and mentally; I am not going to tell here the
physically result but the result of the mental examination, and that is: General Conduct: In
most of the times that I have seen him I found him lying on his bed, smoking a cigarette and
asked for a bottle of lemonade from time to time; I also observed that he was very careful
when throwing the ash of the cigarette, seeing to it that it did not fall on the blankets; he also
was careful not to throw the stub of the cigarette in any place to avoid fire; I made more
observations as to his general conduct and I found that sometimes Don Tomas could move
within the place although with certain difficulty. On two occasions I found him seated, once
seated at the table, seated in the chair, and other on a rocking chair. I also examined his
manner of talking and to all questions that I put to him he answered with a coherence and in
a relevant manner, although sometimes he showed eagerness and certain delay. I based
these points of my declaration on the questions which are usually asked when making a
mental examination for instance I asked him, What is your name, 'and he correctly answered
Tomas Rodriguez; I asked him if he was married and he answered 'No;' I asked him his
profession and he answered that formerly he was an attorney but that at the time I was
making the examination he was not practising the profession; I asked him with what he
supported himself and he said that he lived upon his income, he said verbatim, 'I live on my
income.' I also asked him what the amount of him income was and he answered that it was
about P900; I asked him what the source of this income was and he said that it came from
his property.

Q. Did you ask him about his property? — A. No, at that time.

Q. Proceed. — A. I also observed his emotional status and effectivity. I found it rather
superficial, and he oftentimes got angry due to his physical disease; I asked him if he had
any relatives and he answered correctly saying that he had. He mentioned Vicente Lopez,
Margarita Lopez, and Luz Lopez. As to his memory. His memory of the past. He very easily
remembered past events and when he described them he did it with such pleasure the he
used to smile afterwards — if it was a fact upon which one must smile, His memory of recent
facts was very much lessened. I say this because on various occasions and not having
known me when he had a better memory, after I had seen him thrice he remembered my
name and he recognized me. Insight and judgment. I arrived at the conclusion that he had
fair knowledge of himself because he knew that he was sick and could not be moving with
ease, but he believed that he could perform with sufficient ease mental acts; his judgment
was also all right because I asked him this question: 'Supposing that you could find a bill of
P5 in the vestibule of a hotel, what would you do with it ?' He told me that he would take the
bill and give it to the manager in order that the latter may look for the owner if possible. His
reasoning. I found that he showed a moderated retardation in the flow of his thought,
especially with regard to recent events, but was quite all right as to past events, His capacity,
He believed that he was capable of thinking properly although what did not permit him to do
so was his physical decrepit condition. The conclusion is that his memory is lost for recent
events tho not totally and diminution of his intellectual vigor. This is in few words the result of
my examination.

Tomas Rodriguez was likewise examined thoroughly by Doctors De los Angeles, Tietze, and Burke.
Doctor De los Angeles had been a witness in the gurardianship proceedings and had seen the
patient of November 6 and 7, 1923. Doctor Tietze had also been a witness in the guardianship case
and had visited the patient on November 9 and 12, 1923, and on January 15, 1924. Doctors Tietze
and Burke together examined Rodriguez on January 17, 20, and 24, 1924. The three physicians
conducted a joint examination result, on March 15, 1924, they prepared and signed the following:

MEDICAL CERTIFICATE

In the Matter of Tomas Rodriguez y Lopez, male, 76 years of age, single and residing or
being confined in the Philippine General Hospital.

We, the undersigned Doctors, Sixto de los Angeles, W. B. Burke, and Samuel Tietze, do
hereby certify as follows:

1. That we are physicians, duly registered under the Medical Act, and are in the actual
practice of the medical profession in the Philippines.

2. That on January 27th and 28th, and February 10th, 1924, at the Philippine General
Hospital, we three have with care the diligence jointly and personally examined the person of
said Tomas Rodriguez y Lopez; and previous to these dated, we have separately and partly
jointly observed and examined said patient on various occasions; Dr. Sixto de los Angeles, at
the patient's home, 246 Magallanes St., Manila, on November 6th and 7th , 1923; Dr.
Samuel Tietze, at the patient's home on November 9th and 12th, 1923, and at the Philippine
General Hospital no January 17th, 20th, and 24, 1924; and as a result of the medical
examinations and the history of the case we found and hereby certify to the following
conclusions:

(a) That he was of unsound mind suffering from senile dementia, or of mental impairment
exceeding to a pathological extent the unusual conditions and changes found to occur in the
involutional period of life.

(b) That he was under the influence of the above condition continuously, at least from
November, 1923, till the date of our joint reexamination, January 27th and 28th, and
February 10th, 1924; and that he would naturally have continued without improvement, as
these cases of insanity are due to organic pathological changes of the brain. This form of
mental disease is progressive in its pathological tendency, going on to progressive atropy
and degeneration of the brain, the mental symptoms, of course, running parallel with such
pathological basis.

(c) That on account of such disease and conditions his mind and memory were so greatly
impaired as to make him unable to know or to appreciate sufficiently the nature, effect, and
consequences of the business he was engaged in; to understand and comprehend the
extent and condition of his properties; to collect and to hold in his mind the particulars and
details of his business transactions and his relations to the persons who were or might have
been the objects of his bounty; and to free himself from the influences of importunities,
threats and ingenuities, so that with a relatively less resistance, he might had been induced
to do what others would not have done.

3. We have diagnosed this case as senile demential of the simple type, approaching the
deteriorated stage upon the following detailed mental examination:

(a) Disorder of memory. — There was almost an absolute loss of memory of recent events,
to the extent that things and occurrences seen or observed only a few minutes previously
were completely forgotten. Faces and names of person introduced to him were not
remembered after a short moment even without leaving his bedside . He showed no
comprehension of the elemental routine required in the management of his properties, i.e.:
who were the lessees of his houses, what rents they were paying, who was the administrator
of his properties, in what banks he deposited his money or the amount of money deposited in
such banks. Regarding his personal relation, he forgot that Mr. Antonio Ventura is the
husband of his nearest woman cousin; the Mrs. Margarita Lopez was married, saying that
the latter was single or spinster, in spite of the fact that formerly, during the past twenty-five
years, he was aware of their marriage life, He did not know the names of the sons and
daughters of Mr. Vicente Lopez, one of his nearest relatives, even failing to name Mrs. Luz
Lopez de Bueno, a daughter of said Vicente Lopez, and who now appears to be the only
living beneficiary of his will. He also stated that Mr. Vicente Lopez frequently visited him in
the hospital, though the latter died on January 7th, 1924. He did not recognized and
remember the name and face of Doctor Domingo, his own physician. However, the memory
for remote events was generally good, which is a characteristic symptom of senile dementia.

(b) Disorientation of time, place and persons. — He could not name the date when asked
(day or month); could not name the hospital wherein he was confined; and failed to
recognize the fact that Doctor Domingo was his physician.

(c) Disorders of perception. — He was almost completely indifferent to what was going on
about him. He also failed to recognize the true value of objects shown him, that is he failed to
recognized the 'Saturday Evening Post' nor would he deny that it was a will when presented
as such. He also failed to show normal intellectual perception. Making no effort to correlate
facts or to understand matters discussed in their proper light.

(d) Emotional deterioration. — The patient was not known during his time of physical
incapacity to express in any way or lament the fact that he was unable to enjoy the
happiness that was due him with his wealth. As a matter of fact, he showed complete
indifference. He showed loss of emotional control by furious outbreaks over trifling matter
and actually behaved like a child; for example, if his food did not arrive immediately of when
his cigar was not lit soon, he would becomes abusive in his language and show marked
emotional outburst. If the servants did not immediately answer his call, he would break down
and cry as a child.

(e) Symptoms of decreased intellectual capacity. — There was a laxity of the internal
connection of ideas. The patient has shown no insight regarding his own condition. He did
not appreciate the attitude of the parties concerned in his case; he would on several
occasion become suspicious and fail to comprehend the purpose of our examination. He was
inconsistent in his ideas and failed to grasp the meaning of his own statements. When
questioned whether he would make a will, he stated to Doctor Tietze that he intended to
bequeath his money to San Juan de Dios Hospital and Hospicio de San Jose. When He was
informed, however, that he had made a will on January 31, 1924, he denied the latter
statement, and failed to explain the former. Although for a long time confined to bed and
seriously ill for a long period, he expressed himself as sound physically and mentally, and in
the false belief that he was fully able to administer his business personally.

His impairment of the intellectual field was further shown by his inability, despite his
knowledge of world affairs, to appreciate the relative value of the statement made by Doctor
Tietze as follows: 'We have here a cheque of P2,000 from the King of Africa payable to you
so that you may deposit it in the bank. Do you want to accept the cheque?' His answer was
as follows: 'Now I cannot give my answer. It may be a surprise.' Such answer given by a man
after long experience in business life, who had handled real estate property, well versed in
the transaction of cheques, certainly shows a breaking down of the above field. No proper
question were asked why the cheque was given by the King, who the King was, why he was
selected by the King of Africa, or if there is a King of Africa at present. He further shows
doubt in his mental capability by the following questions and answers:

"MARCAIDA: P. ¿Tiene usted actualmente algún asunto en los tribunales de justicia


de Manila? -- R. No recuerdo en este momento.

"P. De tener usted algún asunto propio en los tribunales de justicia de Manila, ¿a
qué abogado confiaría usted la defensa del mismo?--R. Al Sr. Marcaida, como
conocido antiguo.

"P. ¿Ha hablado usted y conferenciado alguna vez o varias veces en estos días, o
sea desde el 25 de octubre de 1923 hasta hoy, con algún abogado para que le
defendiera algún asunto ante el Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Manila?--R. Con
ninguno, porque en caso de nombrar, nombraría al Sr. Marcaida. (P. 5, deposition,
Nov. 19, 1923.)

"ARANETA: P. ¿No recuerda usted que usted me ha encomendado como abogado


para que me oponga a que le declaren a usted loco o incapacitado?--R. Sí, señor,
quien ha solicitado? (P. 9, deposition, Nov. 19, 1923.)

"Dr. DOMINGO: P. ¿Don Tomás, me conoce usted? ¿Se acuerda usted que soy el
Doctor Domingo?--R. Sí. (P. 7, sten. N., Jan. 28, 1924.)

"P. ¿Quién soy, Don Tomás, usted me conoce?--R. No sé. (P. 6, sten. N., Feb. 10,
1924.)

"Dr. ÁNGELES: P. ¿Me conoce usted, D. Tomás?--R. Le conozco de vista. (P. 6,


sten. N., Jan. 28, 1924.)
"P. Nos vamos a despedir ya, Don Tomás, de usted. Yo soy el Doctor Ángeles, ¿me
conoce usted?--R. De nombre.

"P. Este es el Doctor Burke, ¿le conoce usted?--R. De nombre.

"P. Este es el Doctor Domingo, ¿le conoce usted?--R. De vista.

"P. Este es el Doctor Burke, ¿recuerda usted su nombre?--R. No. (P. 10, sten. N.,
Jan. 28, 1924.)

"P.¿Usted conoce a este Doctor? (Señalando al Doctor Burke).--R. De vista; su


nombre ya lo he olvidado, ya no me acuerdo.

"P.¿Usted nos ve a los tres? (Doctores Ángeles, Burke y Tietze).--R. Ya lo creo.

"Dr. BURKE: P. ¿Qué profesión tenemos? (Señalando a los Sres. Ángeles, Burke y
Tietze).--R. YO creo que son doctores.

"P. ¿Y lso dos? (Señalando a los Doctores Ángeles y Tietze).--R. No. sé.

"P. ¿Y este señor? (Señalando al Doctor Ángeles).--R. No me acuerdo en este


momento. (P. 4. And 5, sten. N., Feb. 10, 1924.)

(f) Other facts bearing upon the history of the case obtained by investigation of Doctor
Angeles:

I. Family History. — His parents were noted to be of nervous temper and irritable.

II. Personal history. — He was a lawyer, but did not pursue his practice, devoting the greater
part of his life to collecting antiquities, He was generally regarded by his neighbors as miserly
and erratic in the ordinary habits of life. He lead a very unhygienic life, making no attempt to
clean the filth of dirt that was around him. He was neglectful in personal habits. On April,
1921, he suffered an injury to his forehead, from which he became temporarily unconscious,
and was confined in the Philippine General Hospital for treatment. He frequently complained
of attacks of dizziness and headache, following this injury; suffered form a large hernia; and
about two years ago, he was fined for failure in filing his income tax, from which incident, we
have reason to believe, the onset of his mental condition took place. This incident itself can
most probably be considered as a failure of memory. His condition became progressively
worse up to his death.

4. The undersigned have stated all the above facts contained in this certificate to the best of
our knowledge and belief.

Manila, P.I., March 15, 1924.

(Sgd.) SIXTO DE LOS ANGELES


W.B. BURKE, M.D.
SAMUEL TIETZE

(Exhibit 33 in relation with Exhibits 28 and 29.)


Another angle to the condition of the patient on or about January 3, 1924, is disclosed by the
treatment record kept daily by the nurses, in which appear the nurse's remarks. (Exhibits 8-A, 8-B,
and 8-C.) In this connection, the testimony of the nurses is that Rodriguez was in the habit for no
reason at all of calling "Maria, where are my 50 centavos, where is my key." In explanation of the
observation made by the nurses, the nurse Apolonio Floreza testified.

Direct questions of Attorney OCAMPO:

Q. Among your observations on the 1st of January, 1924, you say 'with pains all over the
body, and uttered some incoherent words of the same topics whenever is awakened.' How
could you observe that he had pains all over the body?

APOLONIO FLOREZA, nurse: A. I observed that by the fact that whenever I touched the
body of the patient he complained of some pain.

Q. On what part of the body did you touch him? — A. On all the parts of his body.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. How did you touch him, strongly or not? — A. Slightly.

Q. When you touched him slightly, what did he do? — A. He said that it was aching.

Q. What words did he say when, according to your note, he uttered incoherent words
whenever he awakes? — A. As for instance, 'Maria,' repeating it 'Where are my 50 centavos,
where is my key?'

Q. Did you hear him talk of Maria? — A. Only the word Maria.

Q. How long approximately was he talking uttering the name of 'Maria, Where are my 50
centavos,' and where is my key? — A. For two or three minutes.

Q. Can you tell the court whether on those occasions when he said the name of Maria he
said other words and was talking with somebody? — A. He was talking to himself.

Q. This remark on Exhibit 8-B when was it written by you? A. January 2, 1924.

Q. In the observation correspondingly to January 2, 1924 you say, 'With pains over the body,'
and later on talked too much whenever patient is awakened.' How did you happen to know
the pain which you have noted here? A. The pains all over the body, I have observed them
when giving him baths.

Q. Besides saying that it ached when you touched the body, do you know whether he did
any extraordinary thing? A. You mean to say acts?

Q. Acts or words? A. Yes, sir, like those words which I have already said which he used to
say — Maria, the key, 50 centavos.

Q. You say that he called Maria. What did he say about Maria on that date January 2, 1924?
— A. He used to say Maria where is Maria?
Q. On that date January 2, 1924, did you answer him when he said Maria? — A. No sir.

Q. In this observation of yours appearing on page 8-C you say among other things with pain
all over the body and shouted whenever he is given injection.' Did you really observe this in
the patient? — A. Yes, sir.

Q. How did he shout?

ARANETA: Objection as being immaterial.

COURT: Overruled.

ARANETA: Exception.

A. In a loud voice.

Q. Besides shouting do you remember whether he said anything? — A . He repeated the


same words I have said before — Maria the 50 centavos the key.

Q. When did this observation occur which appear on page 8-C? — A. On January 3, 1924.
(S. R. p. 5595.)

On certain facts pertaining to the condition of Tomas Rodriguez there is no dispute. On January 3,
1924, Rodriguez had reached the advanced age of 76 years. He was suffering from anemia, hernia
inguinal, chronic dypsia, and senility. Physically he was a wreck.

As to the mental state of Tomas Rodriguez on January 3, 1924, Doctors Calderon, Domingo and
Herrera admit that he was senile. They, together with Doctors De los Angeles, Tietze, and Burke,
further declare that his memory however for remote events was generally good. He was given to
irrational exclamations symptomatic of a deceased mind.

While, however, Doctors Calderon Domingo, and Herrera certify that the intellectual faculties of the
patient are "sound, except that his memory is weak," and that in executing the will the testator had
full understanding of the act he was performing and full knowledge of the contents thereof, Doctors
De Los Angeles, Tietze and Burke certify that Tomas Rodriguez was of unsound mind and that they
diagnosed his case as senile dementia of the simple type approaching the deteriorated stage.
Without attempting at this stage to pass in judgment on the antagonistic conclusions of the medical
witnesses, or on other disputed point, insofar as the facts are concerned, a resolution of the case
comes down to this: Did Tomas Rodriguez on January 3, 1924, possess sufficient mentality to make
a will, or had he passed so far along in senile dementia as to require the court to find him of
unsound? We leave the facts in this situation to pass on to a discussion of the legal phases of the
case.

B. Law. — The Code of Civil Procedure prescribes as a requisite to the allowance of a will that the
testator be of "sound mind" (Code of Civil Procedure, sec. 614). A "sound mind" is a "disposing
mind." One of the grounds for disallowing a will is "If the testator was insane or otherwise mentally
incapable of the execution." (Code of Civil Procedure, sec. 634 [2].) Predicated on these statutory
provisions, this court has adopted the following definition of testamentary capacity: "'Testamentary
capacity is the capacity to comprehend the nature of the transaction in which the testator is engaged
at the time, to recollect the property to be disposed of and the persons 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.'" (Bugnao vs. Ubag [1909], 14 Phil., 163,
followed in Bagtas vs. Paguio [1912], 46 Phil., 701.) The mental capacity of the testator is
determined as of the date of the execution of his will (Civil Code, art. 666).

Various tests of testamentary capacity have been announced by the courts only later to be rejected
as incomplete. Of the specific tests of capacity, neither old age, physical infirmities, feebleness of
mind, weakness of the memory, the appointment of a guardian, nor eccentricities are sufficient singly
or jointly to show testamentary incapacity. Each case rests on its own facts and must be decided by
its own facts.

There is one particular test relative to the capacity to make a will which is of some practical utility.
This rule concerns the nature and rationality of the will. Is the will simple or complicated? Is it natural
or unnatural? The mere exclusion of heirs will not, however, in itself indicate that the will was the
offspring of an unsound mind.

On the issue of testamentary capacity, the evidence should be permitted to take a wide range in
order that all facts may be brought out which will assist in determining the question. The testimony of
subscribing witnesses to a will concerning the testator's mental condition is entitled to great weight
where they are truthful and intelligent. The evidence of those present at the execution of the will and
of the attending physician is also to be relied upon. (Alexander on Willis, vol. I, pp. 433, 484;
Wharton & Stille's Medical Jurisprudence, vol. I pp. 100 et seq.)

The presumption is that every adult is sane. 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. (Hernaez vs. Hernaez [1903], 1 Phil., 689; Bagtas vs. Paguio, supra.)

Counsel for the appellee make capital of the testator being under guardianship at the time he made
his will. Citing section 306 of the Code of Civil Procedure and certain authorities, they insist that the
effect of the judgment is conclusive with respect to the condition of the person. To this statement we
cannot write down our conformity. The provisions of the cited section were taken from California, and
there the Supreme court has never held what is now urged upon us by the appellee. The rule
announced that in some states, by force of statute, the finding of insanity is conclusive as to the
existence of insanity during the continuance of adjudication, is found to rest on local statutes, of
which no counterpart is found in the Philippines. (32 C.J., 647; Gridley vs. Boggs [1882], 62 Cal.,
190; In the matter of the Estate of Johnson [1881], 57 Cal., 529.) Even where the question of
insanity is out in issue in the guardianship proceedings, the most that can be said for the finding is
that it raises a presumption of incapacity to make a will but does not invaluable the testament if
competency can be shown. The burden of providing sanity in such case is cast upon the proponents.

It is here claimed that the unsoundness of mind of the testator was the result of senile dementia.
This is the form of mental decay of the aged upon which will are most often contested. A Newton,
Paschal, a Cooley suffering under the variable weather of the mind, the flying vapors of incipient
lunacy," would have proved historic subjects for expert dispute. Had Shakespeare's King Lear made
a will, without any question it would have invited litigation and doubt.

Senile dementia usually called childishness has various forms and stages. To constitute
complete senile dementiathere must be such failure of the mind as to deprive the testator of
intelligent action,. In the first stages of the diseases, a person may possess reason and have will
power. (27 L. R. A., N. S. [1910], p. 89; Wharton & Stille's Medical Jurisprudence, vol. I. pp. 791 et
seq.; Schouler on Wills, vol. I, pp. 145 et seq.)
It is a rather remarkable coincidence that of all the leading cases which have gone forth from this
court, relating to the testator having a sound and disposing mind, and which have been brought to
our notice by counsel, every one of them has allowed the will, even when it was necessary to
reverse the judgment of the trial court. A study of these cases discloses a consistent tendency to
protect the wishes of the deceased whenever it be legally possible. These decisions also show great
tenderness on the part of the court towards the last will and testament of the aged. (See Hernaez vs.
Hernaez [1903], 1 Phil., 689, per Arellano, C. J., In the matter of the will o f Butalid [1908] 10 Phil.,
27 per Arellano, C. J.; Bugnao vs. Ubag [1909] 14. Phil., 163, per Carson, J.; Macapinlac vs.
Alimurong [1910], 16 Phil., 41, per Arellano, C.J.; Bagtas vs. Paguio [1912], 22 Phil., 227, per Trent,
J.; Galvez vs. Galvez [1913], 26 Phil., 243, per Torres, J.; Samson vs. Corrales Tan Quintin [1923],
44 Phil., 573, per Ostrand, J.; and Jocson vs. Jocson [1922], 46 Phil., 701, per Villamor, J.) Because
of their peculiar applicability, we propose to make particular mention of four of the earlier cases of
this court.

In the case of Hernaez vs. Hernaez supra the subject of the action was the will executed by Dona
Juana Espinosa. The annulment of the will was sought first upon the ground of the incapacity of the
testatrix. She was over 80 years of age, so ill that three days extreme unction, and two days
afterwards she died. Prior thereto she walked in a stooping attitude and gave contradictory orders,"
as a result of her senile debility." The chief Justice reached the conclusion that neither from the facts
elicited by the interrogatories nor the documents presented "can the conclusion be reached that the
testatrix was deprived of her mental faculties." The will was held valid and efficacious.

In the case of In the matter of the will of Butalid, supra, the will was contested for the reason that
Dominga Butalid at the date of the execution of the document was not in the date of the execution of
the document was not in the free use of her intellectual powers, she being over 90 years of age,
lying in bed seriously ill, senseless and unable to utter a single word so that she did not know what
she was doing when she executed the will while the document was claimed to have been executed
under the influence and by the direction of one of the heirs designated in the will. Yet after an
examination of the evidence in the will. Yet after an examination of the evidence in the will. The
Chief Justice rendered judgment reversing the judgment appealed from and declaring the will
presented for legalization to be valid and sufficient.

In the case of Bugnao vs. Ubag, supra the court gave credence to the testimony of the subscribing
witnesses who swore positively that at the time of the execution of the will the testator was of sound
mind and memory. Based on these and other facts, Mr. Justice Carson, speaking for court, laid
down the following legal principles:

Between the highest degree of soundness of mind and memory which unquestionably
carries with it full testamentary known as insanity or idiocy there are numberless degrees of
mental capacity or incapacity and while on one hand it had been held that mere weakness of
mind or partial imbecility from disease of body, or from age, will to render a person incapable
of making a will a weak or feeble minded person may make a valid will provided he has
understanding and 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 be unbroken or unimpaired, unshattered by disease or otherwise (Sloan
vs. Maxwell, # 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 it 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. P. 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 of suffering, or from all these combined, may render
the testator in capable of making a valid will, providing such weakness really disqualifies for
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).

In the case of Nagtas vs. Paquio, supra, the record shows that the testator for some fourteen or
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 had lost the power of speech.
However, he retained the use of his hand and could write fairly well. Through the medium of signs,
he was able to indicate his wishes to his family. The will was attacked n the ground that the testator
lacked mental capacity at the time of its execution. The will was nevertheless admitted to probate,
Mr. Justice Trent, speaking for the court, announcement the following pertinent legal doctrines:

* * * 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 the statement that the question of mental capacity is one of degree and that
there are many graduations 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 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, page 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 weakness,
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 Buswel 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 Jarnan on Wills, 38, the rule is thus stated:

The question is not so much, what 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
bequeth the manner of distributing it and the object 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 much 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 proprieties 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 to 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 of recent events, especially of names and repeated questions
in conversation; and sometimes, when aroused from sleep or slumber, would seem
bewildered. It is not singular that some of those who had known him when he was
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 contract
as was pictured by the court in the case just quoted. . . .

The particular difference between all of the Philippine case which are cited and the case at bar are
that in none of the Philippine cases was there any declaration of incomplicated and in none of them
were the facts quite as complicated as they are here. A case in point where the will was contested,
because the testator was not of sound and disposing mind and memory and because at the time of
the making of the will he was acting under the undue influence of his brothers and where he had a
guardian when he executed his will, is Ames' Will ([1902] 40 Ore., 495). Mr. Justice Moore,
delivering the opinion of the court, in part said:

It is contended by contestant's counsel that on the day said pretended will purports to have
been executed, Lowell was declared incompetent by a court which had jurisdiction of the
person and subject-matter and that the decree therein appointing a guardian of his person
and estate raises the distable presumption that he did not possess sufficient testamentary
capacity at the time to overcome which required evidence so strong as to leave no
reasonable doubt as to his capacity to make a valid will, and the testimony introduced by the
proponent being insufficient for that purpose the court erred in admitting it to probate.

The appointment of a guardian of a person alleged to be non compos mentis, by a court


having jurisdiction must necessarily create a presumption of the mental infirmity of the ward;
but such decree does not conclusively show that the testamentary capacity of the person
under guardianship is entirely destroyed and the presumption thus created may be overcome
by evidence proving that such person at the time he executed a will was in fact of sound and
disposing mind and memory: Stone vs. Damon, 12 Mass., 487; Breed vs. Pratt, 18 Pick, 115:
In re Slinger's Will, 72 Wis., 22 (37 N. W. 236).
The testimony shows that the testator retained a vivid recollection of the contents of the
books he had read and studied when he was young but that he could not readily recall to his
mind the ordinary incidents of his later life. The depth and intensity of mental impression
always depend upon and are measured by the degree of attention given to the perception of
truth, which demands reflection; and hence the inability of a person to recollect events and
hence the inability is evidence of mental decay, because it manifest a want of power on
concentration of the mind. The aged live in the past and the impression retained in their
minds are those that were made in their younger days, because at that period of their lives
they were able to exercise will power by giving attention. While the inability of a person of
advanced years to remember recent events distinctly undoubtedly indicates a decay of the
human faculties, it does not conclusively establish senile dementia, which is something more
than a mere loss of mental power, resulting from old age and is not only a feeble condition of
the mind but a derangement thereof. . . . The rule is settled in this state that if a testator at
the time he executes his will understand the business in which he is engaged and has a
knowledge of his property and how he wishes to dispose of it among those entitled to his
bounty, he possess sufficient testamentary capacity, notwithstanding his old age, sickness
debility of body, or extreme distress.

xxx xxx xxx

It is contented by contestant's counsel that if Lowell at the time he executed the pretended
will, was not wholly lacking in testamentary capacity, he was, in consequence of age ill
health, debility of body and infirmity of will power, Andrew and Joseph having knowledge
thereof took advantage of his physical and mental condition and unduly influenced him to
device and bequeth his property in the manner indicated, attempting thereby to deprive the
contestant of all interest therein except such as was given her by statute. . . . Assuming that
he was easily persuaded and that his brothers and the persons employed by them to care for
him took advantage of his enfeebled condition and prejudiced his mind against the
contestant did such undue influence render the will therefore executed void? . . . When a will
has been properly executed, it is the duty of the courts to uphold it, if the testator possessed
a sound and disposing mind and memory and was free from restraint and not acting under
undue influence notwithstanding sympathy for persons legally entitled to the testator's bounty
and a sense of innate justice might suggest a different testamentary disposition.

Believing, as we do, that the findings of the circuit court are supported by the weight of the
testimony its decree is affirmed.

Insofar as the law on testamentary capacity to make a will is concerned and carrying alone one step
further the question suggested at the end of the presentation of the facts on the same subject a
resolution of the case comes down to this: Did Tomas Rodriguez on January 3, 1924, possess
sufficient mentality to make a will which would meet the legal test regarding testamentary capacity
and have the proponents of the will carried successfully the burden of proof and shown him to be of
sound mind on that date?

II. UNDUE INFLUENCE

A. Facts. — The will was attacked on the further ground of undue influence exercised by the persons
benefited in the will in collaboration with others. The trial judge found this allegation to have been
established and made it one of the bases of his decision. it is now for us to say if the facts justify this
finding.
Tomas Rodriguez voluntary named Vicente F. Lopez as his administrator. The latter subsequently
became his guardian. There is every indication that of all his relatives Tomas Rodriguez reposed the
most confidence in Vicente F. Lopez and his daughter Luz Lopez de Bueno. Again, it was Vicente F.
Lopez, who, on the suggestion of Rodriguez secured Maximino Mina to prepare the will, and it was
Luz Lopez de Bueno who appears to have gathered the witnesses and physicians for the execution
of the will. This faction of the Lopez family was also a favor through the orders of Doctor Domingo as
to who could be admitted to see the patient.

The trial judge entertained the opinion that there existed "a preconceived plan on the part of the
persons who surrounded Tomas Rodriguez" to secure his signature to the testament. The trial judge
may be correct in this supposition. It is hard to believe, however, that men of the standing of Judge
Mina, Doctors Calderon, Domingo, Herrera, and De Asis and Mr. Legarda would so demean
themselves and so fully their characters and reputation as to participate in a scheme having for its
purpose to delude and to betray an old man in his age, rather named was acting according to the
best of his ability to assist in a legitimate act in a legitimate manner. Moreover, considering the
attitude of Tomas Rodriguez toward Margarita Lopez and her husband and his apparent enmity
toward them, it seems fairly evident that even if the will had been made in previous years when
Rodriguez was more nearly in his prime, he would have prepared somewhat a similar document.

B. LAW. — One of the grounds for disallowing a will is that it was procured by undue and improper
pressure and influence on the art of the beneficiary or some other person for his benefit (Code of
Civil Procedure, sec., 634[4]). Undue influence, as here mentioned in connection with the law of wills
and as further mentioned in the Civil Code (art. 1265), may be defined as that which compelled the
testator to do that which is against the will from fear the desire of peace or from other feeling which
is unable to resist.

The theory of undue influence is totally rejected as not proved.

III. JUDGMENT

To restate the combined issued of fact and law in this case pertaining to testamentary capacity: Did
Tomas Rodriguez on January 3, 1924, possess sufficient mentality to make a will which would meet
the legal test regarding testamentary capacity and have the proponents of the will carried
successfully the burden of proof and shown him to be of sound mind on that date?

Two of the subscribing witnesses to the will, one a physician clearly to the regular manner in which
the will was executed and to the testator's mental condition. The other subscribing witness, also, a
physician on the contrary testified to a fact which, if substantiated, would require the court to disallow
the will. The attending physician and three other eminent members of the medical fraternity, who
were present at the execution of the will, expressed opinions entirely favorable to the capacity of the
testator. As against this we have the professional speculations of three other equally eminent
members of the medical profession when the will was executed. The advantage on those facts is all
with those who offer the will for probate.

The will was short. It could easily be understood by a person in physical distress. It was reasonable,
that is, it was reasonable if we take into account the evident prejustice of the testator against the
husband of Margarita Lopez.

With special reference of the definition of testamentary capacity, we may say this: On January 3,
1924, Tomas Rodriguez, in our opinion comprehended the nature of the transaction in which he was
engaged. He had two conferences with his lawyer, Judge Mina, and knew what the will was to
contain. The will was read to him by Mr. Legarda. He signed the will and its two copies in the proper
places at the bottom and on the left margin. At that time the testator recollected the property to be
disposed of and the persons who would naturally be supposed to have claims upon him While for
some months prior to the making of the will he had not manage his property he seem to have
retained a distinct recollection of what it consisted and of his income. Occasionally his memory failed
him with reference to the names of his relatives. Ordinarily, he knew who they were, he seemed to
entertain a prediliction towards Vicente F. Lopez as would be natural since Lopez was nearest in
which the instrument distributed the property naming the objects of his bounty. His conversations
with Judge Mina disclosed as insistence on giving all of his property to the two persons whom he
specified.

On January 3, 1924, Tomas Rodriguez may have been of advanced years, may have been
physically decrepit, may have been weak in intellect, may have suffered a loss of memory, may have
had a guardian and may have a been extremely eccentric, but he still possessed the spark of reason
and of life, that strength of mind to form a fixed intention and to summon his enfeebled thoughts to
enforce that intention, which the law terms "testamentary capacity." That in effect is the definite
opinion which we reach after an exhaustive and exhausting study of a tedious record, after weighing
the evidence for the oppositors, and after giving to the case the serious consideration which it
deserves.

The judgment of the trial court will be set aside and the will of Tomas Rodriguez will be admitted to
probate without special pronouncement as to costs in this instance.

Avanceña, C. J., Johnson, Villamor, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

STREET AND OSTRAND, JJ., dissenting:

We are of the opinion that the judgment which is the subject of appeal in this case is in all respects
correct and should be affirmed. The testator was clearly suffering from senile dementia and lacked
the "disposing mind and memory" the possession of which is a condition precedent to the exercise of
testamentary power.

Dorotheo v CA

G.R. No. 108581 December 8, 1999

LOURDES L. DOROTHEO, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, NILDA D. QUINTANA, for Herself and as Attorney-in-Fact of VICENTE
DOROTHEO and JOSE DOROTHEO, respondents.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
May a last will and testament admitted to probate but declared intrinsically void in an order that has
become final and executory still be given effect? This is the issue that arose from the following
antecedents:

Private respondents were the legitimate children of Alejandro Dorotheo and Aniceta Reyes. The
latter died in 1969 without her estate being settled. Alejandro died thereafter. Sometime in 1977,
after Alejandro's death, petitioner, who claims to have taken care of Alejandro before he died, filed a
special proceeding for the probate of the latter's last will and testament. In 1981, the court issued an
order admitting Alejandro's will to probate. Private respondents did not appeal from said order. In
1983, they filed a "Motion To Declare The Will Intrinsically Void." The trial court granted the motion
and issued an order, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Order is hereby issued declaring Lourdes


Legaspi not the wife of the late Alejandro Dorotheo, the provisions of the last will and
testament of Alejandro Dorotheo as intrinsically void, and declaring the oppositors
Vicente Dorotheo, Jose Dorotheo and Nilda Dorotheo Quintana as the only heirs of
the late spouses Alejandro Dorotheo and Aniceta Reyes, whose respective estates
shall be liquidated and distributed according to the laws on intestacy upon payment
of estate and other taxes due to the government. 1

Petitioner moved for reconsideration arguing that she is entitled to some compensation since she
took care of Alejandro prior to his death although she admitted that they were not married to each
other. Upon denial of her motion for reconsideration, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals, but
the same was dismissed for failure to file appellant's brief within the extended period
granted. 2 This dismissal became final and executory on February 3, 1989 and a corresponding entry of
judgment was forthwith issued by the Court of Appeals on May 16, 1989. A writ of execution was issued
by the lower court to implement the final and executory Order. Consequently, private respondents filed
several motions including a motion to compel petitioner to surrender to them the Transfer Certificates of
Titles (TCT) covering the properties of the late Alejandro. When petitioner refused to surrender the TCT's,
private respondents filed a motion for cancellation of said titles and for issuance of new titles in their
names. Petitioner opposed the motion.

An Order was issued on November 29, 1990 by Judge Zain B. Angas setting aside the final and
executory Order dated January 30, 1986, as well as the Order directing the issuance of the writ of
execution, on the ground that the order was merely "interlocutory", hence not final in character. The
court added that the dispositive portion of the said Order even directs the distribution of the estate of
the deceased spouses. Private respondents filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied in
an Order dated February 1, 1991. Thus, private respondents filed a petition before the Court of
Appeals, which nullified the two assailed Orders dated November 29, 1990 and February 1, 1991.

Aggrieved, petitioner instituted a petition for review arguing that the case filed by private respondents
before the Court of Appeals was a petition under Rule 65 on the ground of grave abuse of discretion
or lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner contends that in issuing the two assailed orders, Judge Angas
cannot be said to have no jurisdiction because he was particularly designated to hear the case.
Petitioner likewise assails the Order of the Court of Appeals upholding the validity of the January 30,
1986 Order which declared the intrinsic invalidity of Alejandro's will that was earlier admitted to
probate.

Petitioner also filed a motion to reinstate her as executrix of the estate of the late Alejandro and to
maintain thestatus quo or lease of the premises thereon to third parties. 3 Private respondents
opposed the motion on the ground that petitioner has no interest in the estate since she is not the lawful
wife of the late Alejandro.
The petition is without merit. A final and executory decision or order can no longer be disturbed or
reopened no matter how erroneous it may be. In setting aside the January 30, 1986 Order that has
attained finality, the trial court in effect nullified the entry of judgment made by the Court of Appeals.
It is well settled that a lower court cannot reverse or set aside decisions or orders of a superior court,
for to do so would be to negate the hierarchy of courts and nullify the essence of review. It has been
ruled that a final judgment on probated will, albeit erroneous, is binding on the whole world. 4

It has been consistently held that if no appeal is taken in due time from a judgment or order of the
trial court, the same attains finality by mere lapse of time. Thus, the order allowing the will became
final and the question determined by the court in such order can no longer be raised anew, either in
the same proceedings or in a different motion. The matters of due execution of the will and the
capacity of the testator acquired the character ofres judicata and cannot again be brought into
question, all juridical questions in connection therewith being for once and forever closed. 5 Such final
order makes the will conclusive against the whole world as to its extrinsic validity and due execution. 6

It should be noted that probate proceedings deals generally with the extrinsic validity of the will
sought to be probated, 7 particularly on three aspects:

n whether the will submitted is indeed, the decedent's


last will and testament;

n compliance with the prescribed formalities for the


execution of wills;

n the testamentary capacity of the testator; 8

n and the due execution of the last will and testament. 9

Under the Civil Code, due execution includes a determination of whether the testator was of sound
and disposing mind at the time of its execution, that he had freely executed the will and was not
acting under duress, fraud, menace or undue influence and that the will is genuine and not a
forgery, 10 that he was of the proper testamentary age and that he is a person not expressly prohibited by
law from making a will. 11

The intrinsic validity is another matter and questions regarding the same may still be raised even
after the will has been authenticated. 12 Thus, it does not necessarily follow that an extrinsically valid last
will and testament is always intrinsically valid. Even if the will was validly executed, if the testator provides
for dispositions that deprives or impairs the lawful heirs of their legitime or rightful inheritance according to
the laws on succession, 13 the unlawful provisions/dispositions thereof cannot be given effect. This is
specially so when the courts had already determined in a final and executory decision that the will is
intrinsically void. Such determination having attained that character of finality is binding on this Court
which will no longer be disturbed. Not that this Court finds the will to be intrinsically valid, but that a final
and executory decision of which the party had the opportunity to challenge before the higher tribunals
must stand and should no longer be reevaluated. Failure to avail of the remedies provided by law
constitutes waiver. And if the party does not avail of other remedies despite its belief that it was aggrieved
by a decision or court action, then it is deemed to have fully agreed and is satisfied with the decision or
order. As early as 1918, it has been declared that public policy and sound practice demand that, at the
risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts must at some point of time fixed by law 14become final
otherwise there will be no end to litigation. Interes rei publicae ut finis sit litium — the very object of which
the courts were constituted was to put an end to controversies. 15 To fulfill this purpose and to do so
speedily, certain time limits, more or less arbitrary, have to be set up to spur on the slothful. 16 The only
instance where a party interested in a probate proceeding may have a final liquidation set aside is when
he is left out by reason of circumstances beyond his control or through mistake or inadvertence not
imputable to negligence, 17 which circumstances do not concur herein.

Petitioner was privy to the suit calling for the declaration of the intrinsic invalidity of the will, as she
precisely appealed from an unfavorable order therefrom. Although the final and executory Order of
January 30, 1986 wherein private respondents were declared as the only heirs do not bind those
who are not parties thereto such as the alleged illegitimate son of the testator, the same
constitutes res judicata with respect to those who were parties to the probate proceedings. Petitioner
cannot again raise those matters anew for relitigation otherwise that would amount to forum-
shopping. It should be remembered that forum shopping also occurs when the same issue had
already been resolved adversely by some other court. 18 It is clear from the executory order that the
estates of Alejandro and his spouse should be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession.

Petitioner posits that the January 30, 1986 Order is merely interlocutory, hence it can still be set
aside by the trial court. In support thereof, petitioner argues that "an order merely declaring who are
heirs and the shares to which set of heirs is entitled cannot be the basis of execution to require
delivery of shares from one person to another particularly when no project of partition has been
filed." 19 The trial court declared in the January 30, 1986 Order that petitioner is not the legal wife of
Alejandro, whose only heirs are his three legitimate children (petitioners herein), and at the same time it
nullified the will. But it should be noted that in the same Order, the trial court also said that the estate of
the late spouses be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. Accordingly, it has no option but to
implement that order of intestate distribution and not to reopen and again re-examine the intrinsic
provisions of the same will.

It can be clearly inferred from Article 960 of the Civil Code, on the law of successional rights that
testacy is preferred to intestacy. 20 But before there could be testate distribution, the will must pass the
scrutinizing test and safeguards provided by law considering that the deceased testator is no longer
available to prove the voluntariness of his actions, aside from the fact that the transfer of the estate is
usually onerous in nature and that no one is presumed to give — Nemo praesumitur donare. 21 No
intestate distribution of the estate can be done until and unless the will had failed to pass both its extrinsic
and intrinsic validity. If the will is extrinsically void, the rules of intestacy apply regardless of the intrinsic
validity thereof. If it is extrinsically valid, the next test is to determine its intrinsic validity — that is whether
the provisions of the will are valid according to the laws of succession. In this case, the court had ruled
that the will of Alejandro was extrinsically valid but the intrinsic provisions thereof were void. Thus, the
rules of intestacy apply as correctly held by the trial court.

Furthermore, Alejandro's disposition in his will of the alleged share in the conjugal properties of his
late spouse, whom he described as his "only beloved wife", is not a valid reason to reverse a final
and executory order. Testamentary dispositions of properties not belonging exclusively to the
testator or properties which are part of the conjugal regime cannot be given effect. Matters with
respect to who owns the properties that were disposed of by Alejandro in the void will may still be
properly ventilated and determined in the intestate proceedings for the settlement of his and that of
his late spouse's estate.

Petitioner's motion for appointment as administratrix is rendered moot considering that she was not
married to the late Alejandro and, therefore, is not an heir.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Kapunan and Pardo, JJ., concur.


Balus v Balus

THIRD DIVISION

CELESTINO BALUS, G.R. No. 168970


Petitioner,
Present:

CORONA, J., Chairperson,


- versus - VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
PERALTA, and
MENDOZA, JJ.
SATURNINO BALUS andLEONARDA
BALUS VDA. DE CALUNOD, Promulgated:
Respondents.
January 15, 2010

x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Assailed in the present petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the
Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated May 31, 2005 in CA-G.R. CV No. 58041 which
set aside the February 7, 1997 Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lanao del Norte,
Branch 4 in Civil Case No. 3263.

The facts of the case are as follows:


Herein petitioner and respondents are the children of the spouses Rufo and Sebastiana Balus.
Sebastiana died on September 6, 1978, while Rufo died on July 6, 1984.
On January 3, 1979, Rufo mortgaged a parcel of land, which he owns, as security for a loan he
obtained from the Rural Bank of Maigo, Lanao del Norte (Bank). The said property was
originally covered by Original Certificate of Title No. P-439(788) and more particularly described
as follows:
A parcel of land with all the improvements thereon, containing an area of 3.0740
hectares, more or less, situated in the Barrio of Lagundang, Bunawan, Iligan City,
and bounded as follows: Bounded on the NE., along line 1-2, by Lot 5122, Csd-
292; along line 2-12, by Dodiongan River; along line 12-13 by Lot 4649, Csd-292;
and along line 12-1, by Lot 4661, Csd-292. x x x [2]

Rufo failed to pay his loan. As a result, the mortgaged property was foreclosed and was
subsequently sold to the Bank as the sole bidder at a public auction held for that
purpose.On November 20, 1981, a Certificate of Sale[3] was executed by the sheriff in favor of
the Bank. The property was not redeemed within the period allowed by law. More than two
years after the auction, or on January 25, 1984, the sheriff executed a Definite Deed of Sale[4] in
the Bank's favor. Thereafter, a new title was issued in the name of the Bank.

On October 10, 1989, herein petitioner and respondents executed an Extrajudicial Settlement of
Estate[5] adjudicating to each of them a specific one-third portion of the subject property
consisting of 10,246 square meters. The Extrajudicial Settlement also contained provisions
wherein the parties admitted knowledge of the fact that their father mortgaged the subject
property to the Bank and that they intended to redeem the same at the soonest possible time.

Three years after the execution of the Extrajudicial Settlement, herein respondents bought the
subject property from the Bank. On October 12, 1992, a Deed of Sale of Registered Land[6] was
executed by the Bank in favor of respondents. Subsequently, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT)
No. T-39,484(a.f.)[7] was issued in the name of respondents.Meanwhile, petitioner continued
possession of the subject lot.

On June 27, 1995, respondents filed a Complaint[8] for Recovery of Possession and Damages
against petitioner, contending that they had already informed petitioner of the fact that they were
the new owners of the disputed property, but the petitioner still refused to surrender possession
of the same to them. Respondents claimed that they had exhausted all remedies for the
amicable settlement of the case, but to no avail.

On February 7, 1997, the RTC rendered a Decision[9] disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, ordering the plaintiffs to execute a


Deed of Sale in favor of the defendant, the one-third share of the property in
question, presently possessed by him, and described in the deed of partition, as
follows:

A one-third portion of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-39,484


(a.f.), formerly Original Certificate of Title No. P-788, now in the
name of Saturnino Balus and Leonarda B. Vda. de Calunod,
situated at Lagundang, Bunawan, Iligan City, bounded on the
North by Lot 5122; East by shares of Saturnino Balus and
Leonarda Balus-Calunod; South by Lot 4649, Dodiongan River;
West by Lot 4661, consisting of 10,246 square meters, including
improvements thereon.

and dismissing all other claims of the parties.


The amount of P6,733.33 consigned by the defendant with the Clerk of Court is
hereby ordered delivered to the plaintiffs, as purchase price of the one-third
portion of the land in question.

Plaintiffs are ordered to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.[10]

The RTC held that the right of petitioner to purchase from the respondents his share in the
disputed property was recognized by the provisions of the Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate,
which the parties had executed before the respondents bought the subject lot from the Bank.

Aggrieved by the Decision of the RTC, herein respondents filed an appeal with the CA.

On May 31, 2005, the CA promulgated the presently assailed Decision, reversing and setting
aside the Decision of the RTC and ordering petitioner to immediately surrender possession of
the subject property to the respondents. The CA ruled that when petitioner and respondents did
not redeem the subject property within the redemption period and allowed the consolidation of
ownership and the issuance of a new title in the name of the Bank, their co-ownership was
extinguished.

Hence, the instant petition raising a sole issue, to wit:

WHETHER OR NOT CO-OWNERSHIP AMONG THE PETITIONER AND THE


RESPONDENTS OVER THE PROPERTY PERSISTED/CONTINUED TO EXIST
(EVEN AFTER THE TRANSFER OF TITLE TO THE BANK) BY VIRTUE OF THE
PARTIES' AGREEMENT PRIOR TO THE REPURCHASE THEREOF BY THE
RESPONDENTS; THUS, WARRANTING THE PETITIONER'S ACT OF
ENFORCING THE AGREEMENT BY REIMBURSING THE RESPONDENTS OF
HIS (PETITIONER'S) JUST SHARE OF THE REPURCHASE PRICE.[11]
The main issue raised by petitioner is whether co-ownership by him and respondents over the
subject property persisted even after the lot was purchased by the Bank and title thereto
transferred to its name, and even after it was eventually bought back by the respondents from
the Bank.

Petitioner insists that despite respondents' full knowledge of the fact that the title over the
disputed property was already in the name of the Bank, they still proceeded to execute the
subject Extrajudicial Settlement, having in mind the intention of purchasing back the property
together with petitioner and of continuing their co-ownership thereof.

Petitioner posits that the subject Extrajudicial Settlement is, in and by itself, a contract between
him and respondents, because it contains a provision whereby the parties agreed to continue
their co-ownership of the subject property by redeeming or repurchasing the same from the
Bank. This agreement, petitioner contends, is the law between the parties and, as such, binds
the respondents. As a result, petitioner asserts that respondents' act of buying the disputed
property from the Bank without notifying him inures to his benefit as to give him the right to claim
his rightful portion of the property, comprising 1/3 thereof, by reimbursing respondents the
equivalent 1/3 of the sum they paid to the Bank.
The Court is not persuaded.

Petitioner and respondents are arguing on the wrong premise that, at the time of the execution
of the Extrajudicial Settlement, the subject property formed part of the estate of their deceased
father to which they may lay claim as his heirs.

At the outset, it bears to emphasize that there is no dispute with respect to the fact that the
subject property was exclusively owned by petitioner and respondents' father, Rufo, at the time
that it was mortgaged in 1979. This was stipulated by the parties during the hearing conducted
by the trial court on October 28, 1996.[12] Evidence shows that a Definite Deed of Sale[13] was
issued in favor of the Bank on January 25, 1984, after the period of redemption expired. There
is neither any dispute that a new title was issued in the Bank's name before Rufo died on July 6,
1984. Hence, there is no question that the Bank acquired exclusive ownership of the contested
lot during the lifetime of Rufo.

The rights to a person's succession are transmitted from the moment of his death.[14] In addition,
the inheritance of a person consists of the property and transmissible rights and obligations
existing at the time of his death, as well as those which have accrued thereto since the opening
of the succession.[15] In the present case, since Rufo lost ownership of the subject property
during his lifetime, it only follows that at the time of his death, the disputed parcel of land no
longer formed part of his estate to which his heirs may lay claim. Stated differently, petitioner
and respondents never inherited the subject lot from their father.

Petitioner and respondents, therefore, were wrong in assuming that they became co-owners of
the subject lot. Thus, any issue arising from the supposed right of petitioner as co-owner of the
contested parcel of land is negated by the fact that, in the eyes of the law, the disputed lot did
not pass into the hands of petitioner and respondents as compulsory heirs of Rufo at any given
point in time.

The foregoing notwithstanding, the Court finds a necessity for a complete determination of the
issues raised in the instant case to look into petitioner's argument that the Extrajudicial
Settlement is an independent contract which gives him the right to enforce his right to claim a
portion of the disputed lot bought by respondents.

It is true that under Article 1315 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, contracts are perfected by
mere consent; and from that moment, the parties are bound not only to the fulfillment of what
has been expressly stipulated but also to all the consequences which, according to their nature,
may be in keeping with good faith, usage and law.

Article 1306 of the same Code also provides that the contracting parties may establish such
stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they may deem convenient, provided these are
not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy.

In the present case, however, there is nothing in the subject Extrajudicial Settlement to indicate
any express stipulation for petitioner and respondents to continue with their supposed co-
ownership of the contested lot.

On the contrary, a plain reading of the provisions of the Extrajudicial Settlement would not, in
any way, support petitioner's contention that it was his and his sibling's intention to buy the
subject property from the Bank and continue what they believed to be co-ownership thereof. It is
a cardinal rule in the interpretation of contracts that the intention of the parties shall be accorded
primordial consideration.[16] It is the duty of the courts to place a practical and realistic
construction upon it, giving due consideration to the context in which it is negotiated and the
purpose which it is intended to serve.[17] Such intention is determined from the express terms of
their agreement, as well as their contemporaneous and subsequent acts.[18] Absurd and illogical
interpretations should also be avoided.[19]

For petitioner to claim that the Extrajudicial Settlement is an agreement between him and his
siblings to continue what they thought was their ownership of the subject property, even after
the same had been bought by the Bank, is stretching the interpretation of the said Extrajudicial
Settlement too far.

In the first place, as earlier discussed, there is no co-ownership to talk about and no property to
partition, as the disputed lot never formed part of the estate of their deceased father.

Moreover, petitioner's asseveration of his and respondents' intention of continuing with their
supposed co-ownership is negated by no less than his assertions in the present petition that on
several occasions he had the chance to purchase the subject property back, but he refused to
do so. In fact, he claims that after the Bank acquired the disputed lot, it offered to re-sell the
same to him but he ignored such offer. How then can petitioner now claim that it was also his
intention to purchase the subject property from the Bank, when he admitted that he refused the
Bank's offer to re-sell the subject property to him?

In addition, it appears from the recitals in the Extrajudicial Settlement that, at the time of the
execution thereof, the parties were not yet aware that the subject property was already
exclusively owned by the Bank. Nonetheless, the lack of knowledge on the part of petitioner and
respondents that the mortgage was already foreclosed and title to the property was
already transferred to the Bank does not give them the right or the authority to unilaterally
declare themselves as co-owners of the disputed property; otherwise, the disposition of the
case would be made to depend on the belief and conviction of the party-litigants and not on the
evidence adduced and the law and jurisprudence applicable thereto.

Furthermore, petitioner's contention that he and his siblings intended to continue their supposed
co-ownership of the subject property contradicts the provisions of the subject Extrajudicial
Settlement where they clearly manifested their intention of having the subject property divided
or partitioned by assigning to each of the petitioner and respondents a specific 1/3 portion of the
same. Partition calls for the segregation and conveyance of a determinate portion of the
property owned in common. It seeks a severance of the individual interests of each co-owner,
vesting in each of them a sole estate in a specific property and giving each one a right to enjoy
his estate without supervision or interference from the other.[20] In other words, the purpose of
partition is to put an end to co-ownership,[21] an objective which negates petitioner's claims in
the present case.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals,
dated May 31, 2005 in CA-G.R. CV No. 58041, is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
Unionbank v Santibanez
SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 149926. February 23, 2005]

UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. EDMUND SANTIBAEZ and FLORENCE
SANTIBAEZ ARIOLA, respondents.

DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court
which seeks the reversal of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated May 30, 2001 in CA-
G.R. CV No. 48831 affirming the dismissal[2] of the petitioners complaint in Civil Case No. 18909
by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 63.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
On May 31, 1980, the First Countryside Credit Corporation (FCCC) and Efraim M.
Santibaez entered into a loan agreement[3] in the amount of P128,000.00. The amount was
intended for the payment of the purchase price of one (1) unit Ford 6600 Agricultural All-
Purpose Diesel Tractor. In view thereof, Efraim and his son, Edmund, executed a promissory
note in favor of the FCCC, the principal sum payable in five equal annual amortizations
of P43,745.96 due on May 31, 1981 and every May 31st thereafter up to May 31, 1985.
On December 13, 1980, the FCCC and Efraim entered into another loan agreement, [4] this
time in the amount of P123,156.00. It was intended to pay the balance of the purchase price of
another unit of Ford 6600 Agricultural All-Purpose Diesel Tractor, with accessories, and one (1)
unit Howard Rotamotor Model AR 60K. Again, Efraim and his son, Edmund, executed a
promissory note for the said amount in favor of the FCCC. Aside from such promissory note,
they also signed a Continuing Guaranty Agreement[5] for the loan dated December 13, 1980.
Sometime in February 1981, Efraim died, leaving a holographic will.[6] Subsequently in
March 1981, testate proceedings commenced before the RTC of Iloilo City, Branch 7, docketed
as Special Proceedings No. 2706. On April 9, 1981, Edmund, as one of the heirs, was
appointed as the special administrator of the estate of the decedent.[7] During the pendency of
the testate proceedings, the surviving heirs, Edmund and his sister Florence Santibaez Ariola,
executed a Joint Agreement[8] dated July 22, 1981, wherein they agreed to divide between
themselves and take possession of the three (3) tractors; that is, two (2) tractors for Edmund
and one (1) tractor for Florence. Each of them was to assume the indebtedness of their late
father to FCCC, corresponding to the tractor respectively taken by them.
On August 20, 1981, a Deed of Assignment with Assumption of Liabilities[9] was executed
by and between FCCC and Union Savings and Mortgage Bank, wherein the FCCC as the
assignor, among others, assigned all its assets and liabilities to Union Savings and Mortgage
Bank.
Demand letters[10] for the settlement of his account were sent by petitioner Union Bank of
the Philippines (UBP) to Edmund, but the latter failed to heed the same and refused to pay.
Thus, on February 5, 1988, the petitioner filed a Complaint[11] for sum of money against the heirs
of Efraim Santibaez, Edmund and Florence, before the RTC of Makati City, Branch 150,
docketed as Civil Case No. 18909. Summonses were issued against both, but the one intended
for Edmund was not served since he was in the United States and there was no information on
his address or the date of his return to the Philippines.[12] Accordingly, the complaint was
narrowed down to respondent Florence S. Ariola.
On December 7, 1988, respondent Florence S. Ariola filed her Answer[13] and alleged that
the loan documents did not bind her since she was not a party thereto. Considering that the joint
agreement signed by her and her brother Edmund was not approved by the probate court, it
was null and void; hence, she was not liable to the petitioner under the joint agreement.
On January 29, 1990, the case was unloaded and re-raffled to the RTC of Makati City,
Branch 63.[14] Consequently, trial on the merits ensued and a decision was subsequently
rendered by the court dismissing the complaint for lack of merit. The decretal portion of the RTC
decision reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING the complaint for lack of merit. [15]

The trial court found that the claim of the petitioner should have been filed with the probate
court before which the testate estate of the late Efraim Santibaez was pending, as the sum of
money being claimed was an obligation incurred by the said decedent. The trial court also found
that the Joint Agreement apparently executed by his heirs, Edmund and Florence, on July 22,
1981, was, in effect, a partition of the estate of the decedent. However, the said agreement was
void, considering that it had not been approved by the probate court, and that there can be no
valid partition until after the will has been probated. The trial court further declared that petitioner
failed to prove that it was the now defunct Union Savings and Mortgage Bank to which the
FCCC had assigned its assets and liabilities. The court also agreed to the contention of
respondent Florence S. Ariola that the list of assets and liabilities of the FCCC assigned to
Union Savings and Mortgage Bank did not clearly refer to the decedents account. Ruling that
the joint agreement executed by the heirs was null and void, the trial court held that the
petitioners cause of action against respondent Florence S. Ariola must necessarily fail.
The petitioner appealed from the RTC decision and elevated its case to the Court of
Appeals (CA), assigning the following as errors of the trial court:
1. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE JOINT AGREEMENT
(EXHIBIT A) SHOULD BE APPROVED BY THE PROBATE COURT.
2. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE CAN BE NO VALID
PARTITION AMONG THE HEIRS UNTIL AFTER THE WILL HAS BEEN
PROBATED.
3. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE DEFENDANT HAD
WAIVED HER RIGHT TO HAVE THE CLAIM RE-LITIGATED IN THE ESTATE
PROCEEDING.[16]
The petitioner asserted before the CA that the obligation of the deceased had passed to his
legitimate children and heirs, in this case, Edmund and Florence; the unconditional signing of
the joint agreement marked as Exhibit A estopped respondent Florence S. Ariola, and that she
cannot deny her liability under the said document; as the agreement had been signed by both
heirs in their personal capacity, it was no longer necessary to present the same before the
probate court for approval; the property partitioned in the agreement was not one of those
enumerated in the holographic will made by the deceased; and the active participation of the
heirs, particularly respondent Florence S. Ariola, in the present ordinary civil action was
tantamount to a waiver to re-litigate the claim in the estate proceedings.
On the other hand, respondent Florence S. Ariola maintained that the money claim of the
petitioner should have been presented before the probate court.[17]
The appellate court found that the appeal was not meritorious and held that the petitioner
should have filed its claim with the probate court as provided under Sections 1 and 5, Rule 86 of
the Rules of Court. It further held that the partition made in the agreement was null and void,
since no valid partition may be had until after the will has been probated. According to the CA,
page 2, paragraph (e) of the holographic will covered the subject properties (tractors) in generic
terms when the deceased referred to them as all other properties. Moreover, the active
participation of respondent Florence S. Ariola in the case did not amount to a waiver. Thus, the
CA affirmed the RTC decision, viz.:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Makati City, Branch 63, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.[18]

In the present recourse, the petitioner ascribes the following errors to the CA:
I.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE JOINT


AGREEMENT SHOULD BE APPROVED BY THE PROBATE COURT.

II.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE CAN BE NO VALID


PARTITION AMONG THE HEIRS OF THE LATE EFRAIM SANTIBAEZ UNTIL AFTER THE
WILL HAS BEEN PROBATED.

III.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE RESPONDENT HAD
WAIVED HER RIGHT TO HAVE THE CLAIM RE-LITIGATED IN THE ESTATE PROCEEDING.

IV.

RESPONDENTS CAN, IN FACT, BE HELD JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH THE
PRINCIPAL DEBTOR THE LATE EFRAIM SANTIBAEZ ON THE STRENGTH OF THE
CONTINUING GUARANTY AGREEMENT EXECUTED IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER-
APPELLANT UNION BANK.

V.
THE PROMISSORY NOTES DATED MAY 31, 1980 IN THE SUM OF P128,000.00 AND
DECEMBER 13, 1980 IN THE AMOUNT OF P123,000.00 CATEGORICALLY ESTABLISHED
THE FACT THAT THE RESPONDENTS BOUND THEMSELVES JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY
LIABLE WITH THE LATE DEBTOR EFRAIM SANTIBAEZ IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER UNION
BANK.[19]

The petitioner claims that the obligations of the deceased were transmitted to the heirs as
provided in Article 774 of the Civil Code; there was thus no need for the probate court to
approve the joint agreement where the heirs partitioned the tractors owned by the deceased
and assumed the obligations related thereto. Since respondent Florence S. Ariola signed the
joint agreement without any condition, she is now estopped from asserting any position contrary
thereto. The petitioner also points out that the holographic will of the deceased did not include
nor mention any of the tractors subject of the complaint, and, as such was beyond the ambit of
the said will. The active participation and resistance of respondent Florence S. Ariola in the
ordinary civil action against the petitioners claim amounts to a waiver of the right to have the
claim presented in the probate proceedings, and to allow any one of the heirs who executed the
joint agreement to escape liability to pay the value of the tractors under consideration would be
equivalent to allowing the said heirs to enrich themselves to the damage and prejudice of the
petitioner.
The petitioner, likewise, avers that the decisions of both the trial and appellate courts failed
to consider the fact that respondent Florence S. Ariola and her brother Edmund executed loan
documents, all establishing the vinculum juris or the legal bond between the late Efraim
Santibaez and his heirs to be in the nature of a solidary obligation. Furthermore, the Promissory
Notes dated May 31, 1980 and December 13, 1980 executed by the late Efraim Santibaez,
together with his heirs, Edmund and respondent Florence, made the obligation solidary as far as
the said heirs are concerned. The petitioner also proffers that, considering the express
provisions of the continuing guaranty agreement and the promissory notes executed by the
named respondents, the latter must be held liable jointly and severally liable thereon. Thus,
there was no need for the petitioner to file its money claim before the probate court. Finally, the
petitioner stresses that both surviving heirs are being sued in their respective personal
capacities, not as heirs of the deceased.
In her comment to the petition, respondent Florence S. Ariola maintains that the petitioner is
trying to recover a sum of money from the deceased Efraim Santibaez; thus the claim should
have been filed with the probate court. She points out that at the time of the execution of the
joint agreement there was already an existing probate proceedings of which the petitioner knew
about. However, to avoid a claim in the probate court which might delay payment of the
obligation, the petitioner opted to require them to execute the said agreement.
According to the respondent, the trial court and the CA did not err in declaring that the
agreement was null and void. She asserts that even if the agreement was voluntarily executed
by her and her brother Edmund, it should still have been subjected to the approval of the court
as it may prejudice the estate, the heirs or third parties. Furthermore, she had not waived any
rights, as she even stated in her answer in the court a quo that the claim should be filed with the
probate court. Thus, the petitioner could not invoke or claim that she is in estoppel.
Respondent Florence S. Ariola further asserts that she had not signed any continuing
guaranty agreement, nor was there any document presented as evidence to show that she had
caused herself to be bound by the obligation of her late father.
The petition is bereft of merit.
The Court is posed to resolve the following issues: a) whether or not the partition in the
Agreement executed by the heirs is valid; b) whether or not the heirs assumption of the
indebtedness of the deceased is valid; and c) whether the petitioner can hold the heirs liable on
the obligation of the deceased.
At the outset, well-settled is the rule that a probate court has the jurisdiction to determine all
the properties of the deceased, to determine whether they should or should not be included in
the inventory or list of properties to be administered.[20] The said court is primarily concerned
with the administration, liquidation and distribution of the estate.[21]
In our jurisdiction, the rule is that there can be no valid partition among the heirs until after
the will has been probated:

In testate succession, there can be no valid partition among the heirs until after the will has
been probated. The law enjoins the probate of a will and the public requires it, because unless a
will is probated and notice thereof given to the whole world, the right of a person to dispose of
his property by will may be rendered nugatory. The authentication of a will decides no other
question than such as touch upon the capacity of the testator and the compliance with those
requirements or solemnities which the law prescribes for the validity of a will.[22]

This, of course, presupposes that the properties to be partitioned are the same properties
embraced in the will.[23] In the present case, the deceased, Efraim Santibaez, left a holographic
will[24] which contained, inter alia, the provision which reads as follows:

(e) All other properties, real or personal, which I own and may be discovered later after my
demise, shall be distributed in the proportion indicated in the immediately preceding paragraph
in favor of Edmund and Florence, my children.

We agree with the appellate court that the above-quoted is an all-encompassing provision
embracing all the properties left by the decedent which might have escaped his mind at that
time he was making his will, and other properties he may acquire thereafter. Included therein
are the three (3) subject tractors. This being so, any partition involving the said tractors among
the heirs is not valid. The joint agreement[25] executed by Edmund and Florence, partitioning the
tractors among themselves, is invalid, specially so since at the time of its execution, there was
already a pending proceeding for the probate of their late fathers holographic will covering the
said tractors.
It must be stressed that the probate proceeding had already acquired jurisdiction over all
the properties of the deceased, including the three (3) tractors. To dispose of them in any way
without the probate courts approval is tantamount to divesting it with jurisdiction which the Court
cannot allow.[26] Every act intended to put an end to indivision among co-heirs and legatees or
devisees is deemed to be a partition, although it should purport to be a sale, an exchange, a
compromise, or any other transaction.[27] Thus, in executing any joint agreement which appears
to be in the nature of an extra-judicial partition, as in the case at bar, court approval is
imperative, and the heirs cannot just divest the court of its jurisdiction over that part of the
estate. Moreover, it is within the jurisdiction of the probate court to determine the identity of the
heirs of the decedent.[28] In the instant case, there is no showing that the signatories in the joint
agreement were the only heirs of the decedent. When it was executed, the probate of the will
was still pending before the court and the latter had yet to determine who the heirs of the
decedent were. Thus, for Edmund and respondent Florence S. Ariola to adjudicate unto
themselves the three (3) tractors was a premature act, and prejudicial to the other possible heirs
and creditors who may have a valid claim against the estate of the deceased.
The question that now comes to fore is whether the heirs assumption of the indebtedness
of the decedent is binding. We rule in the negative. Perusing the joint agreement, it provides
that the heirs as parties thereto have agreed to divide between themselves and take possession
and use the above-described chattel and each of them to assume the indebtedness
corresponding to the chattel taken as herein after stated which is in favor of First Countryside
Credit Corp.[29] The assumption of liability was conditioned upon the happening of an event, that
is, that each heir shall take possession and use of their respective share under the agreement.
It was made dependent on the validity of the partition, and that they were to assume the
indebtedness corresponding to the chattel that they were each to receive. The partition being
invalid as earlier discussed, the heirs in effect did not receive any such tractor. It follows then
that the assumption of liability cannot be given any force and effect.
The Court notes that the loan was contracted by the decedent. The petitioner, purportedly a
creditor of the late Efraim Santibaez, should have thus filed its money claim with the probate
court in accordance with Section 5, Rule 86 of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides:

Section 5. Claims which must be filed under the notice. If not filed barred; exceptions. All claims
for money against the decedent, arising from contract, express or implied, whether the same be
due, not due, or contingent, all claims for funeral expenses for the last sickness of the decedent,
and judgment for money against the decedent, must be filed within the time limited in the notice;
otherwise they are barred forever, except that they may be set forth as counterclaims in any
action that the executor or administrator may bring against the claimants. Where an executor or
administrator commences an action, or prosecutes an action already commenced by the
deceased in his lifetime, the debtor may set forth by answer the claims he has against the
decedent, instead of presenting them independently to the court as herein provided, and mutual
claims may be set off against each other in such action; and if final judgment is rendered in
favor of the defendant, the amount so determined shall be considered the true balance against
the estate, as though the claim had been presented directly before the court in the
administration proceedings. Claims not yet due, or contingent, may be approved at their present
value.

The filing of a money claim against the decedents estate in the probate court is
mandatory.[30] As we held in the vintage case of Py Eng Chong v. Herrera:[31]

This requirement is for the purpose of protecting the estate of the deceased by informing the
executor or administrator of the claims against it, thus enabling him to examine each claim and
to determine whether it is a proper one which should be allowed. The plain and obvious design
of the rule is the speedy settlement of the affairs of the deceased and the early delivery of the
property to the distributees, legatees, or heirs. `The law strictly requires the prompt presentation
and disposition of the claims against the decedent's estate in order to settle the affairs of the
estate as soon as possible, pay off its debts and distribute the residue.[32]

Perusing the records of the case, nothing therein could hold private respondent Florence S.
Ariola accountable for any liability incurred by her late father. The documentary evidence
presented, particularly the promissory notes and the continuing guaranty agreement, were
executed and signed only by the late Efraim Santibaez and his son Edmund. As the petitioner
failed to file its money claim with the probate court, at most, it may only go after Edmund as co-
maker of the decedent under the said promissory notes and continuing guaranty, of course,
subject to any defenses Edmund may have as against the petitioner. As the court had not
acquired jurisdiction over the person of Edmund, we find it unnecessary to delve into the matter
further.
We agree with the finding of the trial court that the petitioner had not sufficiently shown that
it is the successor-in-interest of the Union Savings and Mortgage Bank to which the FCCC
assigned its assets and liabilities.[33] The petitioner in its complaint alleged that by virtue of the
Deed of Assignment dated August 20, 1981 executed by and between First Countryside Credit
Corporation and Union Bank of the Philippines[34] However, the documentary evidence[35] clearly
reflects that the parties in the deed of assignment with assumption of liabilities were the FCCC,
and the Union Savings and Mortgage Bank, with the conformity of Bancom Philippine Holdings,
Inc. Nowhere can the petitioners participation therein as a party be found. Furthermore, no
documentary or testimonial evidence was presented during trial to show that Union Savings and
Mortgage Bank is now, in fact, petitioner Union Bank of the Philippines. As the trial court
declared in its decision:

[T]he court also finds merit to the contention of defendant that plaintiff failed to prove or did not
present evidence to prove that Union Savings and Mortgage Bank is now the Union Bank of the
Philippines. Judicial notice does not apply here. The power to take judicial notice is to [be]
exercised by the courts with caution; care must be taken that the requisite notoriety exists; and
every reasonable doubt upon the subject should be promptly resolved in the negative. (Republic
vs. Court of Appeals, 107 SCRA 504).[36]

This being the case, the petitioners personality to file the complaint is wanting.
Consequently, it failed to establish its cause of action. Thus, the trial court did not err in
dismissing the complaint, and the CA in affirming the same.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is hereby DENIED. The assailed Court
of Appeals Decision is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.