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G.R. No.

L-7188

August 9, 1954

In re: Will and Testament of the deceased REVEREND SANCHO ABADIA. SEVERINA A. VDA. DE ENRIQUEZ, ET AL., petitioners-appellees, vs. MIGUEL ABADIA, ET AL., oppositors-appellants. Manuel A. Zosa, Luis B. Ladonga, Mariano A. Zosa and B. G. Advincula for appellants. C. de la Victoria for appellees. MONTEMAYOR, J.: On September 6, 1923, Father Sancho Abadia, parish priest of Talisay, Cebu, executed a document purporting to be his Last Will and Testament now marked Exhibit "A". Resident of the City of Cebu, he died on January 14, 1943, in the municipality of Aloguinsan, Cebu, where he was an evacuee. He left properties estimated at P8,000 in value. On October 2, 1946, one Andres Enriquez, one of the legatees in Exhibit "A", filed a petition for its probate in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. Some cousins and nephews who would inherit the estate of the deceased if he left no will, filed opposition. During the hearing one of the attesting witnesses, the other two being dead, testified without contradiction that in his presence and in the presence of his co-witnesses, Father Sancho wrote out in longhand Exhibit "A" in Spanish which the testator spoke and understood; that he (testator) signed on he left hand margin of the front page of each of the three folios or sheets of which the document is composed, and numbered the same with Arabic numerals, and finally signed his name at the end of his writing at the last page, all this, in the presence of the three attesting witnesses after telling that it was his last will and that the said three witnesses signed their names on the last page after the attestation clause in his presence and in the presence of each other. The oppositors did not submit any evidence. The learned trial court found and declared Exhibit "A" to be a holographic will; that it was in the handwriting of the testator and that although at the time it was executed and at the time of the testator's death, holographic wills were not permitted by law still, because at the time of the hearing and when the case was to be decided the new Civil Code was already in force, which Code permitted the execution of holographic wills, under a liberal view, and to carry out the intention of the testator which according to the trial court is the controlling factor and may override any defect in form, said trial court by order dated January 24, 1952, admitted to probate Exhibit "A", as the Last Will and Testament of Father Sancho Abadia. The oppositors are appealing from that decision; and because only questions of law are involved in the appeal, the case was certified to us by the Court of Appeals. The new Civil Code (Republic Act No. 386) under article 810 thereof provides that a person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated and signed by the testator himself and need not be witnessed. It is a fact, however, that at the time that Exhibit "A" was executed in 1923 and at the time that Father Abadia died in 1943, holographic wills were not permitted, and the law at the time imposed certain requirements for the execution of wills, such

as numbering correlatively each page (not folio or sheet) in letters and signing on the left hand margin by the testator and by the three attesting witnesses, requirements which were not complied with in Exhibit "A" because the back pages of the first two folios of the will were not signed by any one, not even by the testator and were not numbered, and as to the three front pages, they were signed only by the testator. Interpreting and applying this requirement this Court in the case of In re Estate of Saguinsin, 41 Phil., 875, 879, referring to the failure of the testator and his witnesses to sign on the left hand margin of every page, said: . . . . This defect is radical and totally vitiates the testament. It is not enough that the signatures guaranteeing authenticity should appear upon two folios or leaves; three pages having been written on, the authenticity of all three of them should be guaranteed by the signature of the alleged testatrix and her witnesses. And in the case of Aspe vs. Prieto, 46 Phil., 700, referring to the same requirement, this Court declared: From an examination of the document in question, it appears that the left margins of the six pages of the document are signed only by Ventura Prieto. The noncompliance with section 2 of Act No. 2645 by the attesting witnesses who omitted to sign with the testator at the left margin of each of the five pages of the document alleged to be the will of Ventura Prieto, is a fatal defect that constitutes an obstacle to its probate. What is the law to apply to the probate of Exh. "A"? May we apply the provisions of the new Civil Code which not allows holographic wills, like Exhibit "A" which provisions were invoked by the appellee-petitioner and applied by the lower court? But article 795 of this same new Civil Code expressly provides: "The validity of a will as to its form depends upon the observance of the law in force at the time it is made." The above provision is but an expression or statement of the weight of authority to the affect that the validity of a will is to be judged not by the law enforce at the time of the testator's death or at the time the supposed will is presented in court for probate or when the petition is decided by the court but at the time the instrument was executed. One reason in support of the rule is that although the will operates upon and after the death of the testator, the wishes of the testator about the disposition of his estate among his heirs and among the legatees is given solemn expression at the time the will is executed, and in reality, the legacy or bequest then becomes a completed act. This ruling has been laid down by this court in the case of In re Will of Riosa, 39 Phil., 23. It is a wholesome doctrine and should be followed. Of course, there is the view that the intention of the testator should be the ruling and controlling factor and that all adequate remedies and interpretations should be resorted to in order to carry out said intention, and that when statutes passed after the execution of the will and after the death of the testator lessen the formalities required by law for the execution of wills, said subsequent statutes should be applied so as to validate wills defectively executed according to the law in force at the time of execution. However, we should not forget that from the day of the death of the testator, if he leaves a will, the title of the legatees and devisees under it becomes a vested right, protected under the due process clause of the constitution against a subsequent change in

the statute adding new legal requirements of execution of wills which would invalidate such a will. By parity of reasoning, when one executes a will which is invalid for failure to observe and follow the legal requirements at the time of its execution then upon his death he should be regarded and declared as having died intestate, and his heirs will then inherit by intestate succession, and no subsequent law with more liberal requirements or which dispenses with such requirements as to execution should be allowed to validate a defective will and thereby divest the heirs of their vested rights in the estate by intestate succession. The general rule is that the Legislature can not validate void wills (57 Am. Jur., Wills, Sec. 231, pp. 192-193). In view of the foregoing, the order appealed from is reversed, G.R. No. L-4113 June 30, 1952

Testamentaria del finado William R. Giberson. LELA G. DALTON, solicitante-apelante, vs. SPRING GIBERSON, opositor-apelado. Los hechos aparecen relacionados en la decision del Tribunal. Sres. C. D. Johnston y A. P. Deen en representacion de la apelante. D. Francisco E. F. Remotique en representacion del apelado. PABLO, J.: Lela G. Dalton presento' en 10 de febrero de 1949 una solicitud en el Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Cebupidiendo la legalizacion de un documento que, segun alega ella, es testamento olografo de William R. Giberson, otorgadoen 29 de abril de 1920 en San Francisco, California; que Giberson era ciudadano del estado de Illinois, Estados Unidos, y residente de Cebu; y que fallecio en 6 de agosto de 1943 en el campo de concentracion de la Universidad de Sto, Tomas, Manila, Filipinas. Spring Giberson, hijo legitimo de William R. Giberson, presento un oposicion alegando que el testamento es apocrifo; que no representa la verdadera voluntad del finado Giberson: y que no ha sido otor gado de acuerdo con la ley. En 1. de julio de 1949, el opositor presento una mocionpidiendo el sobreseimiento de la solicitud, alegando que, antes de que un testamento otorgado en pais extranjeropueda ser legalizado en las Islas Filipinas, debe demostrarse que dicho testamento habia sido legalizado previamenteen dicho pais, de acuerdo con el articulo 1 de la Regla 78; que la solicitud no alega que el testamento habia sido ya legalizado en California. La solicitante se opuso a la mocion de sobreseimiento. En 20 de junio de 1950 el Juez sobreseyo la solicitud, declarando: ". . . under our existing rules only those wills that have previously been proved and allowed in the United States, or any state or territory thereof, or any foreign country, according to the laws of such state, territory, or country, may be allowed, filed or recorded in the proper court of first instance in the Philippines. . . ." Contra esta orden la solicitante apela.

El opositor, en apoyo de su teoria, sostiene que el articulo 635 del Codigo de Procedimiento Civil ha sido derogado por la Regla 78, en virtud de la seccion 13, Articulo VIII de la Constitucion. Dicho articulo 635 del Codigo de Procedimiento Civil dice asi: El testamento otorgado fuera de las Islas Filipinas, que pudiere autenticarse y legalizarse conforme a las leyes del estado o pais en donde se otorgo, podra autenticarse, legalizarse y registrarse en las Islas Filipinas, y tendra la misma eficacia quesi se hubiere otorgado de conformidad con las leyes de estas Islas. Este articulo y ha sido aplicado en la causa de Babcock Templeton contra Rider Babcock, 52 Jur. Fil., 134, en la cual se declaro que el testamento otorgado en California y que podia legalizarse en dicho estado, puede ser legalizado en Filipinas. En el asunto de Varela contra Varela Calderon, 57 Jur. Fil., 291, se legalizo el testamento otorgado en Paris, Francia, por el finado Dr. Francisco Varela Calderon porque era un testamento que podiaser legalizado de acuerdo con las leyes de Francia. Una persona puede disponer de sus bienes para despues de su muerte por testamento. El otorgamiento de un testamentoes un acto juridico que puede realizarse en Filipinas o en el extranjero; si se otorga en pais extranjero, tiene que hacerse de acuerdo con las leyes de dicho pais, que es regla universalmente adoptada. El extranjero puede disponer para despues de su muerte de sus bienes en Filipinas por testamento y no es forzoso que lo otorgue en Filipinas; puede hacerlo en su propio pais o en otro, pero de acuerdo con las leyes del pais en que lo otorga. El articulo 635 del Codigo de Procedimiento Civil, respetando la libertad del testador de otorgar su testamento en cualquier lugar, dispone que el testamento que puede legalizarse en un pais extranjero en consonancia con las leyes de dicho pais puede legalizsarse tambien en Filipinas. Esa disposicion es sustantiva, crea los derechos de los beneficiarios del testamento: se les asegura poder legalizar en Filipinas los testamentos otorgadosfuera de las Islas si pueden ser legalizados en el pais en que fueron otorgados, dandoles causa de accion para pedirjudicialmente el cumplimiento de la ultima voluntad del testador sea cual fuere el lugar de su otorgamiento. Sinesa disposicion quedaria truncada la facultad de testar. Al enmendar este Tribunal el Codigo de Procedimiento Civil, solamente enmendo la parte procesal, pero no la parte sustantiva. "La ley sustantiva no puede ser enmendadapor reglas de procedimiento." (Reyes contra Viuda de Luz,* 16 Lawyer Journal, 623.) For tanto, queda aun subsistente como derecho sustantivo el articulo635 del Codigo de Procedimiento Civil. Y el articulo 637 dice asi: "Los testamentos autenticados y legalizados en los Estados Unidos, o en cualquier estado o territorio de los mismos, o en un estado o paisextranjero, de conformidad con las leyes de dicho estado, territorio o pais, podran ser legalizados, registrados yarchivados en el Juzgado de Primera Instancia de la provinciaen que el testador tuviere bienes muebles, o inmuebles efectados por dichos testamentos." Este articulono esta en conflicto con el articulo 635; en realidad, noes mas que su corolario. Si un testamento otorgado en pais extranjero que puede legalizarse de acuerdo con las leyes de dicho pais puede tambien legalizarse en las Islas Filipinas, con mayor razon los testamentos ya legalizadosen paises extranjeros de acuerdo con las leyes de dichos paises, pueden legalizarse tambien en Filipinas.

El articulo 1 de la Regla 78 no es mas que una transplantacion del articulo 637 del Codigo de Procedimiento Civil. Reproducimos las dos disposiciones: RULE 78, SECTION 1. Wills proved outside Philippines may be allowed here. Wills proved and allowed in a foreign country,according to the laws of such country, may be allowed, filed, and recorded by the proper Court of First Instance in the Philippines. SEC. 637. Wills proved outside islands may be allowed here. Wills proved and allowed in the United States, or any State or Territory thereof, or in a foreign state or country, according to the laws of such State, Territory, or country, may be allowed, filed,and recorded in the Court of First Instance of the province in which the testator has real or personal estate on which such will may operate. Las palabras subrayadas en la segunda disposicion son las que no aparecen en la primera. El articulo 1 de la Regla 78 no impide que puede legalizarse en Filipinas un testamento otorgado en un pais extranjero,si puede ser legalizado de acuerdo con las leyes de dicho pais, ni exige que sea previamente legalizado en dicho pais. Es insostenible, por tanto, la teoria del opositor. Se revoca la orden apelada con costas contra el apelado. G.R. No. L-20234 December 23, 1964

PAULA DE LA CERNA, ET AL., petitioners, vs. MANUELA REBACA POTOT, ET AL., and THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. Philip M. Alo and Crispin M. Menchavez for petitioners. Nicolas Jumapao for respondents. REYES, J.B.L., J.: Appeal by Paula de la Cerna and others from a decision of the Court of Appeals, Sixth Division (C.A.-G.R. No. 23763-R) reversing that of the Court of First Instance of Cebu (Civ. Case No. R3819) and ordering the dismissal of an action for partition. The factual background appears in the following portion of the decision of the Court of Appeals (Petition, Annex A, pp. 2-4): It appears that on May 9, 1939, the spouses, Bernabe de la Serna and Gervasia Rebaca, executed a joint last will and testament in the local dialect whereby they willed that "our two parcels of land acquired during our marriage together with all improvements thereon shall be given to Manuela Rebaca, our niece, whom we have nurtured since childhood, because God did not give us any child in our union, Manuela Rebaca being married to Nicolas Potot", and that "while each of the testators is yet living, he or she will continue

to enjoy the fruits of the two lands aforementioned", the said two parcels of land being covered by Tax No. 4676 and Tax No. 6677, both situated in sitio Bucao, barrio Lugo, municipality of Borbon, province of Cebu. Bernabe dela Serna died on August 30, 1939, and the aforesaid will was submitted to probate by said Gervasia and Manuela before the Court of First Instance of Cebu which, after due publication as required by law and there being no opposition, heard the evidence, and, by Order of October 31, 1939; in Special Proceedings No. 499, "declara legalizado el documento Exhibit A como el testamento y ultima voluntad del finado Bernabe de la Serna con derecho por parte du su viuda superstite Gervasia Rebaca y otra testadora al propio tiempo segun el Exhibit A de gozar de los frutos de los terranos descritos en dicho documents; y habido consideracion de la cuantia de dichos bienes, se decreta la distribucion sumaria de los mismos en favor de la logataria universal Manuela Rebaca de Potot previa prestacion por parte de la misma de una fianza en la sum de P500.00 para responder de cualesquiera reclamaciones que se presentare contra los bienes del finado Bernabe de la Serna de los aos desde esta fecha" (Act Esp. 499, Testamentaria Finado Bernabe de la Serna) Upon the death of Gervasia Rebaca on October 14, 1952, another petition for the probate of the same will insofar as Gervasia was concerned was filed on November 6, 1952, being Special Proceedings No. 1016-R of the same Court of First Instance of Cebu, but for failure of the petitioner, Manuela R. Potot and her attorney, Manuel Potot to appear, for the hearing of said petition, the case was dismissed on March 30, 1954 Spec. Proc. No. 1016-R, In the matter of the Probate of the Will of Gervasia Rebaca). The Court of First Instance ordered the petition heard and declared the testament null and void, for being executed contrary to the prohibition of joint wills in the Civil Code (Art. 669, Civil Code of 1889 and Art. 818, Civil Code of the Philippines); but on appeal by the testamentary heir, the Court of Appeals reversed, on the ground that the decree of probate in 1939 was issued by a court of probate jurisdiction and conclusive on the due execution of the testament. Further, the Court of Appeals declared that: ... . It is true the law (Art. 669, old Civil Code; Art. 818, new Civil Code). prohibits the making of a will jointly by two or more persons either for their reciprocal benefit or for the benefit of a third person. However, this form of will has long been sanctioned by use, and the same has continued to be used; and when, as in the present case, one such joint last will and testament has been admitted to probate by final order of a Court of competent jurisdiction, there seems to be no alternative except to give effect to the provisions thereof that are not contrary to law, as was done in the case of Macrohon vs. Saavedra, 51 Phil. 267, wherein our Supreme Court gave effect to the provisions of the joint will therein mentioned, saying, "assuming that the joint will in question is valid." Whence this appeal by the heirs intestate of the deceased husband, Bernabe de la Cerna. The appealed decision correctly held that the final decree of probate, entered in 1939 by the Court of First Instance of Cebu (when the testator, Bernabe de la Cerna, died), has conclusive effect as to his last will and testament despite the fact that even then the Civil Code already decreed the invalidity of joint wills, whether in favor of the joint testators, reciprocally, or in favor of a third party (Art. 669, old Civil Code). The error thus committed by the probate court

was an error of law, that should have been corrected by appeal, but which did not affect the jurisdiction of the probate court, nor the conclusive effect of its final decision, however erroneous. A final judgment rendered on a petition for the probate of a will is binding upon the whole world (Manalo vs. Paredes, 47 Phil. 938; In re Estates of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156); and public policy and sound practice demand that at the risk of occasional errors judgment of courts should become final at some definite date fixed by law. Interest rei publicae ut finis set litium (Dy Cay vs. Crossfield, 38 Phil, 521, and other cases cited in 2 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court (1963 Ed., p. 322). Petitioners, as heirs and successors of the late Bernabe de la Cerna, are concluded by the 1939 decree admitting his will to probate. The contention that being void the will cannot be validated, overlooks that the ultimate decision on Whether an act is valid or void rests with the courts, and here they have spoken with finality when the will was probated in 1939. On this court, the dismissal of their action for partition was correct. But the Court of Appeals should have taken into account also, to avoid future misunderstanding, that the probate decree in 1989 could only affect the share of the deceased husband, Bernabe de la Cerna. It could not include the disposition of the share of the wife, Gervasia Rebaca, who was then still alive, and over whose interest in the conjugal properties the probate court acquired no jurisdiction, precisely because her estate could not then be in issue. Be it remembered that prior to the new Civil Code, a will could not be probated during the testator's lifetime. It follows that the validity of the joint will, in so far as the estate of the wife was concerned, must be, on her death, reexamined and adjudicated de novo, since a joint will is considered a separate will of each testator. Thus regarded, the holding of the court of First Instance of Cebu that the joint will is one prohibited by law was correct as to the participation of the deceased Gervasia Rebaca in the properties in question, for the reasons extensively discussed in our decision in Bilbao vs. Bilbao, 87 Phil. 144, that explained the previous holding in Macrohon vs. Saavedra, 51 Phil. 267. Therefore, the undivided interest of Gervasia Rebaca should pass upon her death to her heirs intestate, and not exclusively to the testamentary heir, unless some other valid will in her favor is shown to exist, or unless she be the only heir intestate of said Gervasia. It is unnecessary to emphasize that the fact that joint wills should be in common usage could not make them valid when our Civil Codes consistently invalidated them, because laws are only repealed by other subsequent laws, and no usage to the contrary may prevail against their observance (Art. 5, Civ. Code of 1889; Art. 7, Civil Code of the Philippines of 1950). WITH THE FOREGOING MODIFICATION, the judgment of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 23763-R is affirmed. No Costs. G.R. No. L-16749 January 31, 1963

IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN, DECEASED.

ADOLFO C. AZNAR, Executor and LUCY CHRISTENSEN, Heir of the deceased, Executor and Heir-appellees, vs. HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA, oppositor-appellant. M. R. Sotelo for executor and heir-appellees. Leopoldo M. Abellera and Jovito Salonga for oppositor-appellant. LABRADOR, J.: This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Hon. Vicente N. Cusi, Jr., presiding, in Special Proceeding No. 622 of said court, dated September 14, 1949, approving among things the final accounts of the executor, directing the executor to reimburse Maria Lucy Christensen the amount of P3,600 paid by her to Helen Christensen Garcia as her legacy, and declaring Maria Lucy Christensen entitled to the residue of the property to be enjoyed during her lifetime, and in case of death without issue, one-half of said residue to be payable to Mrs. Carrie Louise C. Borton, etc., in accordance with the provisions of the will of the testator Edward E. Christensen. The will was executed in Manila on March 5, 1951 and contains the following provisions: 3. I declare ... that I have but ONE (1) child, named MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN (now Mrs. Bernard Daney), who was born in the Philippines about twenty-eight years ago, and who is now residing at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. 4. I further declare that I now have no living ascendants, and no descendants except my above named daughter, MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY. xxx xxx xxx

7. I give, devise and bequeath unto MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, now married to Eduardo Garcia, about eighteen years of age and who, notwithstanding the fact that she was baptized Christensen, is not in any way related to me, nor has she been at any time adopted by me, and who, from all information I have now resides in Egpit, Digos, Davao, Philippines, the sum of THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P3,600.00), Philippine Currency the same to be deposited in trust for the said Maria Helen Christensen with the Davao Branch of the Philippine National Bank, and paid to her at the rate of One Hundred Pesos (P100.00), Philippine Currency per month until the principal thereof as well as any interest which may have accrued thereon, is exhausted.. xxx xxx xxx

12. I hereby give, devise and bequeath, unto my well-beloved daughter, the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY (Mrs. Bernard Daney), now residing as aforesaid at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., all the income from the rest, remainder, and residue of my property and estate, real, personal and/or mixed, of

whatsoever kind or character, and wheresoever situated, of which I may be possessed at my death and which may have come to me from any source whatsoever, during her lifetime: .... It is in accordance with the above-quoted provisions that the executor in his final account and project of partition ratified the payment of only P3,600 to Helen Christensen Garcia and proposed that the residue of the estate be transferred to his daughter, Maria Lucy Christensen. Opposition to the approval of the project of partition was filed by Helen Christensen Garcia, insofar as it deprives her (Helen) of her legitime as an acknowledged natural child, she having been declared by Us in G.R. Nos. L-11483-84 an acknowledged natural child of the deceased Edward E. Christensen. The legal grounds of opposition are (a) that the distribution should be governed by the laws of the Philippines, and (b) that said order of distribution is contrary thereto insofar as it denies to Helen Christensen, one of two acknowledged natural children, one-half of the estate in full ownership. In amplification of the above grounds it was alleged that the law that should govern the estate of the deceased Christensen should not be the internal law of California alone, but the entire law thereof because several foreign elements are involved, that the forum is the Philippines and even if the case were decided in California, Section 946 of the California Civil Code, which requires that the domicile of the decedent should apply, should be applicable. It was also alleged that Maria Helen Christensen having been declared an acknowledged natural child of the decedent, she is deemed for all purposes legitimate from the time of her birth. The court below ruled that as Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United States and of the State of California at the time of his death, the successional rights and intrinsic validity of the provisions in his will are to be governed by the law of California, in accordance with which a testator has the right to dispose of his property in the way he desires, because the right of absolute dominion over his property is sacred and inviolable (In re McDaniel's Estate, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952, and In re Kaufman, 117 Cal. 286, 49 Pac. 192, cited in page 179, Record on Appeal). Oppositor Maria Helen Christensen, through counsel, filed various motions for reconsideration, but these were denied. Hence, this appeal. The most important assignments of error are as follows: I THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN IGNORING THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT THAT HELEN IS THE ACKNOWLEDGED NATURAL CHILD OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN AND, CONSEQUENTLY, IN DEPRIVING HER OF HER JUST SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE. II THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ENTIRELY IGNORING AND/OR FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THE EXISTENCE OF SEVERAL FACTORS, ELEMENTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES CALLING FOR THE APPLICATION OF INTERNAL LAW.

III THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW, PARTICULARLY UNDER THE RENVOI DOCTRINE, THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE TESTAMENTARY DISPOSITION OF THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN SHOULD BE GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF THE PHILIPPINES. IV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE SCHEDULE OF DISTRIBUTION SUBMITTED BY THE EXECUTOR IS CONTRARY TO THE PHILIPPINE LAWS. V THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT UNDER THE PHILIPPINE LAWS HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA IS ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF (1/2) OF THE ESTATE IN FULL OWNERSHIP. There is no question that Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United States and of the State of California at the time of his death. But there is also no question that at the time of his death he was domiciled in the Philippines, as witness the following facts admitted by the executor himself in appellee's brief: In the proceedings for admission of the will to probate, the facts of record show that the deceased Edward E. Christensen was born on November 29, 1875 in New York City, N.Y., U.S.A.; his first arrival in the Philippines, as an appointed school teacher, was on July 1, 1901, on board the U.S. Army Transport "Sheridan" with Port of Embarkation as the City of San Francisco, in the State of California, U.S.A. He stayed in the Philippines until 1904. In December, 1904, Mr. Christensen returned to the United States and stayed there for the following nine years until 1913, during which time he resided in, and was teaching school in Sacramento, California. Mr. Christensen's next arrival in the Philippines was in July of the year 1913. However, in 1928, he again departed the Philippines for the United States and came back here the following year, 1929. Some nine years later, in 1938, he again returned to his own country, and came back to the Philippines the following year, 1939. Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1wph1.t

Being an American citizen, Mr. Christensen was interned by the Japanese Military Forces in the Philippines during World War II. Upon liberation, in April 1945, he left for the United States but returned to the Philippines in December, 1945. Appellees Collective Exhibits "6", CFI Davao, Sp. Proc. 622, as Exhibits "AA", "BB" and "CC-Daney"; Exhs. "MM", "MM-l", "MM-2-Daney" and p. 473, t.s.n., July 21, 1953.) In April, 1951, Edward E. Christensen returned once more to California shortly after the making of his last will and testament (now in question herein) which he executed at his lawyers' offices in Manila on March 5, 1951. He died at the St. Luke's Hospital in the City of Manila on April 30, 1953. (pp. 2-3) In arriving at the conclusion that the domicile of the deceased is the Philippines, we are persuaded by the fact that he was born in New York, migrated to California and resided there for nine years, and since he came to the Philippines in 1913 he returned to California very rarely and only for short visits (perhaps to relatives), and considering that he appears never to have owned or acquired a home or properties in that state, which would indicate that he would ultimately abandon the Philippines and make home in the State of California. Sec. 16. Residence is a term used with many shades of meaning from mere temporary presence to the most permanent abode. Generally, however, it is used to denote something more than mere physical presence. (Goodrich on Conflict of Laws, p. 29) As to his citizenship, however, We find that the citizenship that he acquired in California when he resided in Sacramento, California from 1904 to 1913, was never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the United States (not a state) until 1946 and the deceased appears to have considered himself as a citizen of California by the fact that when he executed his will in 1951 he declared that he was a citizen of that State; so that he appears never to have intended to abandon his California citizenship by acquiring another. This conclusion is in accordance with the following principle expounded by Goodrich in his Conflict of Laws. The terms "'residence" and "domicile" might well be taken to mean the same thing, a place of permanent abode. But domicile, as has been shown, has acquired a technical meaning. Thus one may be domiciled in a place where he has never been. And he may reside in a place where he has no domicile. The man with two homes, between which he divides his time, certainly resides in each one, while living in it. But if he went on business which would require his presence for several weeks or months, he might properly be said to have sufficient connection with the place to be called a resident. It is clear, however, that, if he treated his settlement as continuing only for the particular business in hand, not giving up his former "home," he could not be a domiciled New Yorker. Acquisition of a domicile of choice requires the exercise of intention as well as physical presence. "Residence simply requires bodily presence of an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one's domicile." Residence, however, is a term used with many shades of meaning, from the merest temporary presence to the most permanent abode, and it is not safe to insist that any one use et the only proper one. (Goodrich, p. 29)

The law that governs the validity of his testamentary dispositions is defined in Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which is as follows: ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country where said property may be found. The application of this article in the case at bar requires the determination of the meaning of the term "national law" is used therein. There is no single American law governing the validity of testamentary provisions in the United States, each state of the Union having its own private law applicable to its citizens only and in force only within the state. The "national law" indicated in Article 16 of the Civil Code above quoted can not, therefore, possibly mean or apply to any general American law. So it can refer to no other than the private law of the State of California. The next question is: What is the law in California governing the disposition of personal property? The decision of the court below, sustains the contention of the executor-appellee that under the California Probate Code, a testator may dispose of his property by will in the form and manner he desires, citing the case of Estate of McDaniel, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952. But appellant invokes the provisions of Article 946 of the Civil Code of California, which is as follows: If there is no law to the contrary, in the place where personal property is situated, it is deemed to follow the person of its owner, and is governed by the law of his domicile. The existence of this provision is alleged in appellant's opposition and is not denied. We have checked it in the California Civil Code and it is there. Appellee, on the other hand, relies on the case cited in the decision and testified to by a witness. (Only the case of Kaufman is correctly cited.) It is argued on executor's behalf that as the deceased Christensen was a citizen of the State of California, the internal law thereof, which is that given in the abovecited case, should govern the determination of the validity of the testamentary provisions of Christensen's will, such law being in force in the State of California of which Christensen was a citizen. Appellant, on the other hand, insists that Article 946 should be applicable, and in accordance therewith and following the doctrine of the renvoi, the question of the validity of the testamentary provision in question should be referred back to the law of the decedent's domicile, which is the Philippines. The theory of doctrine of renvoi has been defined by various authors, thus: The problem has been stated in this way: "When the Conflict of Laws rule of the forum refers a jural matter to a foreign law for decision, is the reference to the purely internal

rules of law of the foreign system; i.e., to the totality of the foreign law minus its Conflict of Laws rules?" On logic, the solution is not an easy one. The Michigan court chose to accept the renvoi, that is, applied the Conflict of Laws rule of Illinois which referred the matter back to Michigan law. But once having determined the the Conflict of Laws principle is the rule looked to, it is difficult to see why the reference back should not have been to Michigan Conflict of Laws. This would have resulted in the "endless chain of references" which has so often been criticized be legal writers. The opponents of the renvoi would have looked merely to the internal law of Illinois, thus rejecting the renvoi or the reference back. Yet there seems no compelling logical reason why the original reference should be the internal law rather than to the Conflict of Laws rule. It is true that such a solution avoids going on a merry-go-round, but those who have accepted the renvoi theory avoid this inextricabilis circulas by getting off at the second reference and at that point applying internal law. Perhaps the opponents of the renvoi are a bit more consistent for they look always to internal law as the rule of reference. Strangely enough, both the advocates for and the objectors to the renvoi plead that greater uniformity will result from adoption of their respective views. And still more strange is the fact that the only way to achieve uniformity in this choice-of-law problem is if in the dispute the two states whose laws form the legal basis of the litigation disagree as to whether the renvoi should be accepted. If both reject, or both accept the doctrine, the result of the litigation will vary with the choice of the forum. In the case stated above, had the Michigan court rejected the renvoi, judgment would have been against the woman; if the suit had been brought in the Illinois courts, and they too rejected the renvoi, judgment would be for the woman. The same result would happen, though the courts would switch with respect to which would hold liability, if both courts accepted the renvoi. The Restatement accepts the renvoi theory in two instances: where the title to land is in question, and where the validity of a decree of divorce is challenged. In these cases the Conflict of Laws rule of the situs of the land, or the domicile of the parties in the divorce case, is applied by the forum, but any further reference goes only to the internal law. Thus, a person's title to land, recognized by the situs, will be recognized by every court; and every divorce, valid by the domicile of the parties, will be valid everywhere. (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, Sec. 7, pp. 13-14.) X, a citizen of Massachusetts, dies intestate, domiciled in France, leaving movable property in Massachusetts, England, and France. The question arises as to how this property is to be distributed among X's next of kin. Assume (1) that this question arises in a Massachusetts court. There the rule of the conflict of laws as to intestate succession to movables calls for an application of the law of the deceased's last domicile. Since by hypothesis X's last domicile was France, the natural thing for the Massachusetts court to do would be to turn to French statute of distributions, or whatever corresponds thereto in French law, and decree a distribution

accordingly. An examination of French law, however, would show that if a French court were called upon to determine how this property should be distributed, it would refer the distribution to the national law of the deceased, thus applying the Massachusetts statute of distributions. So on the surface of things the Massachusetts court has open to it alternative course of action: (a) either to apply the French law is to intestate succession, or (b) to resolve itself into a French court and apply the Massachusetts statute of distributions, on the assumption that this is what a French court would do. If it accepts the so-called renvoi doctrine, it will follow the latter course, thus applying its own law. This is one type of renvoi. A jural matter is presented which the conflict-of-laws rule of the forum refers to a foreign law, the conflict-of-laws rule of which, in turn, refers the matter back again to the law of the forum. This is renvoi in the narrower sense. The German term for this judicial process is 'Ruckverweisung.'" (Harvard Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 523-571.) After a decision has been arrived at that a foreign law is to be resorted to as governing a particular case, the further question may arise: Are the rules as to the conflict of laws contained in such foreign law also to be resorted to? This is a question which, while it has been considered by the courts in but a few instances, has been the subject of frequent discussion by textwriters and essayists; and the doctrine involved has been descriptively designated by them as the "Renvoyer" to send back, or the "Ruchversweisung", or the "Weiterverweisung", since an affirmative answer to the question postulated and the operation of the adoption of the foreign law in toto would in many cases result in returning the main controversy to be decided according to the law of the forum. ... (16 C.J.S. 872.) Another theory, known as the "doctrine of renvoi", has been advanced. The theory of the doctrine of renvoi is that the court of the forum, in determining the question before it, must take into account the whole law of the other jurisdiction, but also its rules as to conflict of laws, and then apply the law to the actual question which the rules of the other jurisdiction prescribe. This may be the law of the forum. The doctrine of the renvoi has generally been repudiated by the American authorities. (2 Am. Jur. 296) The scope of the theory of renvoi has also been defined and the reasons for its application in a country explained by Prof. Lorenzen in an article in the Yale Law Journal, Vol. 27, 1917-1918, pp. 529-531. The pertinent parts of the article are quoted herein below: The recognition of the renvoi theory implies that the rules of the conflict of laws are to be understood as incorporating not only the ordinary or internal law of the foreign state or country, but its rules of the conflict of laws as well. According to this theory 'the law of a country' means the whole of its law. xxx xxx xxx

Von Bar presented his views at the meeting of the Institute of International Law, at Neuchatel, in 1900, in the form of the following theses:

(1) Every court shall observe the law of its country as regards the application of foreign laws. (2) Provided that no express provision to the contrary exists, the court shall respect: (a) The provisions of a foreign law which disclaims the right to bind its nationals abroad as regards their personal statute, and desires that said personal statute shall be determined by the law of the domicile, or even by the law of the place where the act in question occurred. (b) The decision of two or more foreign systems of law, provided it be certain that one of them is necessarily competent, which agree in attributing the determination of a question to the same system of law. xxx xxx xxx

If, for example, the English law directs its judge to distribute the personal estate of an Englishman who has died domiciled in Belgium in accordance with the law of his domicile, he must first inquire whether the law of Belgium would distribute personal property upon death in accordance with the law of domicile, and if he finds that the Belgian law would make the distribution in accordance with the law of nationality that is the English law he must accept this reference back to his own law. We note that Article 946 of the California Civil Code is its conflict of laws rule, while the rule applied in In re Kaufman, Supra, its internal law. If the law on succession and the conflict of laws rules of California are to be enforced jointly, each in its own intended and appropriate sphere, the principle cited In re Kaufman should apply to citizens living in the State, but Article 946 should apply to such of its citizens as are not domiciled in California but in other jurisdictions. The rule laid down of resorting to the law of the domicile in the determination of matters with foreign element involved is in accord with the general principle of American law that the domiciliary law should govern in most matters or rights which follow the person of the owner. When a man dies leaving personal property in one or more states, and leaves a will directing the manner of distribution of the property, the law of the state where he was domiciled at the time of his death will be looked to in deciding legal questions about the will, almost as completely as the law of situs is consulted in questions about the devise of land. It is logical that, since the domiciliary rules control devolution of the personal estate in case of intestate succession, the same rules should determine the validity of an attempted testamentary dispostion of the property. Here, also, it is not that the domiciliary has effect beyond the borders of the domiciliary state. The rules of the domicile are recognized as controlling by the Conflict of Laws rules at the situs property, and the reason for the recognition as in the case of intestate succession, is the general convenience of the doctrine. The New York court has said on the point: 'The general principle that a dispostiton of a personal property, valid at the domicile of the owner, is valid anywhere, is one of the universal application. It had its origin in that international

comity which was one of the first fruits of civilization, and it this age, when business intercourse and the process of accumulating property take but little notice of boundary lines, the practical wisdom and justice of the rule is more apparent than ever. (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, Sec. 164, pp. 442-443.) Appellees argue that what Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines pointed out as the national law is the internal law of California. But as above explained the laws of California have prescribed two sets of laws for its citizens, one for residents therein and another for those domiciled in other jurisdictions. Reason demands that We should enforce the California internal law prescribed for its citizens residing therein, and enforce the conflict of laws rules for the citizens domiciled abroad. If we must enforce the law of California as in comity we are bound to go, as so declared in Article 16 of our Civil Code, then we must enforce the law of California in accordance with the express mandate thereof and as above explained, i.e., apply the internal law for residents therein, and its conflict-of-laws rule for those domiciled abroad. It is argued on appellees' behalf that the clause "if there is no law to the contrary in the place where the property is situated" in Sec. 946 of the California Civil Code refers to Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines and that the law to the contrary in the Philippines is the provision in said Article 16 that the national law of the deceased should govern. This contention can not be sustained. As explained in the various authorities cited above the national law mentioned in Article 16 of our Civil Code is the law on conflict of laws in the California Civil Code, i.e., Article 946, which authorizes the reference or return of the question to the law of the testator's domicile. The conflict of laws rule in California, Article 946, Civil Code, precisely refers back the case, when a decedent is not domiciled in California, to the law of his domicile, the Philippines in the case at bar. The court of the domicile can not and should not refer the case back to California; such action would leave the issue incapable of determination because the case will then be like a football, tossed back and forth between the two states, between the country of which the decedent was a citizen and the country of his domicile. The Philippine court must apply its own law as directed in the conflict of laws rule of the state of the decedent, if the question has to be decided, especially as the application of the internal law of California provides no legitime for children while the Philippine law, Arts. 887(4) and 894, Civil Code of the Philippines, makes natural children legally acknowledged forced heirs of the parent recognizing them. The Philippine cases (In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156; Riera vs. Palmaroli, 40 Phil. 105; Miciano vs. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867; Babcock Templeton vs. Rider Babcock, 52 Phil. 130; and Gibbs vs. Government, 59 Phil. 293.) cited by appellees to support the decision can not possibly apply in the case at bar, for two important reasons, i.e., the subject in each case does not appear to be a citizen of a state in the United States but with domicile in the Philippines, and it does not appear in each case that there exists in the state of which the subject is a citizen, a law similar to or identical with Art. 946 of the California Civil Code. We therefore find that as the domicile of the deceased Christensen, a citizen of California, is the Philippines, the validity of the provisions of his will depriving his acknowledged natural child, the appellant, should be governed by the Philippine Law, the domicile, pursuant to Art. 946 of the Civil Code of California, not by the internal law of California..

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby reversed and the case returned to the lower court with instructions that the partition be made as the Philippine law on succession provides. Judgment reversed, with costs against appellees. G.R. No. L-23678 June 6, 1967

TESTATE ESTATE OF AMOS G. BELLIS, deceased. PEOPLE'S BANK and TRUST COMPANY, executor. MARIA CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM PALMA BELLIS, oppositors-appellants, vs. EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-appellees. Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for oppositors appellants. Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for heirs-appellees E. A. Bellis, et al. Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, et al. J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & Trust Company. Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for appellee A. B. Allsman. BENGZON, J.P., J.: This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question purely of law, from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila dated April 30, 1964, approving the project of partition filed by the executor in Civil Case No. 37089 therein.1wph1.t The facts of the case are as follows: Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States." By his first wife, Mary E. Mallen, whom he divorced, he had five legitimate children: Edward A. Bellis, George Bellis (who pre-deceased him in infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman; by his second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived him, he had three legitimate children: Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three illegitimate children: Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis. On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the Philippines, in which he directed that after all taxes, obligations, and expenses of administration are paid for, his distributable estate should be divided, in trust, in the following order and manner: (a) $240,000.00 to his first wife, Mary E. Mallen; (b) P120,000.00 to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam Palma Bellis, or P40,000.00 each and (c) after the foregoing two items have been satisfied, the remainder shall go to his seven surviving children by his first and second wives, namely: Edward A. Bellis, Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis, and Dorothy E. Bellis, in equal shares.1wph1.t Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G. Bellis died a resident of San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. His will was admitted to probate in the Court of First Instance of Manila on September 15, 1958.

The People's Bank and Trust Company, as executor of the will, paid all the bequests therein including the amount of $240,000.00 in the form of shares of stock to Mary E. Mallen and to the three (3) illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis, various amounts totalling P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their respective legacies, or a total of P120,000.00, which it released from time to time according as the lower court approved and allowed the various motions or petitions filed by the latter three requesting partial advances on account of their respective legacies. On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration, the executor submitted and filed its "Executor's Final Account, Report of Administration and Project of Partition" wherein it reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary E. Mallen by the delivery to her of shares of stock amounting to $240,000.00, and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis in the amount of P40,000.00 each or a total of P120,000.00. In the project of partition, the executor pursuant to the "Twelfth" clause of the testator's Last Will and Testament divided the residuary estate into seven equal portions for the benefit of the testator's seven legitimate children by his first and second marriages. On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective oppositions to the project of partition on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as illegitimate children and, therefore, compulsory heirs of the deceased. Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition despite notice to him, proof of service of which is evidenced by the registry receipt submitted on April 27, 1964 by the executor.1 After the parties filed their respective memoranda and other pertinent pleadings, the lower court, on April 30, 1964, issued an order overruling the oppositions and approving the executor's final account, report and administration and project of partition. Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied the national law of the decedent, which in this case is Texas law, which did not provide for legitimes. Their respective motions for reconsideration having been denied by the lower court on June 11, 1964, oppositors-appellants appealed to this Court to raise the issue of which law must apply Texas law or Philippine law. In this regard, the parties do not submit the case on, nor even discuss, the doctrine of renvoi, applied by this Court in Aznar v. Christensen Garcia, L-16749, January 31, 1963. Said doctrine is usually pertinent where the decedent is a national of one country, and a domicile of another. In the present case, it is not disputed that the decedent was both a national of Texas and a domicile thereof at the time of his death.2 So that even assuming Texas has a conflict of law rule providing that the domiciliary system (law of the domicile) should govern, the same would not result in a reference back (renvoi) to Philippine law, but would still refer to Texas law. Nonetheless, if Texas has a conflicts rule adopting the situs theory (lex rei sitae) calling for the application of the law of the place where the properties are situated, renvoi would arise, since the properties here involved are found in the Philippines. In the absence, however, of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should not be presumed different from ours.3 Appellants' position is therefore not rested on the doctrine of renvoi. As stated, they never invoked nor even mentioned it in their

arguments. Rather, they argue that their case falls under the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Article 17 in relation to Article 16 of the Civil Code. Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national law of the decedent, in intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the order of succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the capacity to succeed. They provide that ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may he the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found. ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent. Appellants would however counter that Art. 17, paragraph three, of the Civil Code, stating that Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country. prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of the Civil Code afore-quoted. This is not correct. Precisely, Congress deleted the phrase, "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the next preceding article" when they incorporated Art. 11 of the old Civil Code as Art. 17 of the new Civil Code, while reproducing without substantial change the second paragraph of Art. 10 of the old Civil Code as Art. 16 in the new. It must have been their purpose to make the second paragraph of Art. 16 a specific provision in itself which must be applied in testate and intestate succession. As further indication of this legislative intent, Congress added a new provision, under Art. 1039, which decrees that capacity to succeed is to be governed by the national law of the decedent. It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our System of legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones. Appellants would also point out that the decedent executed two wills one to govern his Texas estate and the other his Philippine estate arguing from this that he intended Philippine law to govern his Philippine estate. Assuming that such was the decedent's intention in executing a separate Philippine will, it would not alter the law, for as this Court ruled in Miciano v. Brimo,

50 Phil. 867, 870, a provision in a foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be distributed in accordance with Philippine law and not with his national law, is illegal and void, for his national law cannot be ignored in regard to those matters that Article 10 now Article 16 of the Civil Code states said national law should govern. The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and that under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis. Wherefore, the order of the probate court is hereby affirmed in toto, with costs against appellants. So ordered. Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-54919 May 30, 1984 POLLY CAYETANO, petitioner, vs. HON. TOMAS T. LEONIDAS, in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of Branch XXXVIII, Court of First Instance of Manila and NENITA CAMPOS PAGUIA, respondents. Ermelo P. Guzman for petitioner. Armando Z. Gonzales for private respondent.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari, seeking to annul the order of the respondent judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXXVIII, which admitted to and allowed the probate of the last will and testament of Adoracion C. Campos, after an exparte presentation of evidence by herein private respondent. On January 31, 1977, Adoracion C. Campos died, leaving her father, petitioner Hermogenes Campos and her sisters, private respondent Nenita C. Paguia, Remedios C. Lopez and Marieta C. Medina as the surviving heirs. As Hermogenes Campos was the only compulsory heir, he executed an Affidavit of Adjudication under Rule 74, Section I of the Rules of Court whereby he adjudicated unto himself the ownership of the entire estate of the deceased Adoracion Campos.

Eleven months after, on November 25, 1977, Nenita C. Paguia filed a petition for the reprobate of a will of the deceased, Adoracion Campos, which was allegedly executed in the United States and for her appointment as administratrix of the estate of the deceased testatrix. In her petition, Nenita alleged that the testatrix was an American citizen at the time of her death and was a permanent resident of 4633 Ditman Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.; that the testatrix died in Manila on January 31, 1977 while temporarily residing with her sister at 2167 Leveriza, Malate, Manila; that during her lifetime, the testatrix made her last wig and testament on July 10, 1975, according to the laws of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., nominating Wilfredo Barzaga of New Jersey as executor; that after the testatrix death, her last will and testament was presented, probated, allowed, and registered with the Registry of Wins at the County of Philadelphia, U.S.A., that Clement L. McLaughlin, the administrator who was appointed after Dr. Barzaga had declined and waived his appointment as executor in favor of the former, is also a resident of Philadelphia, U.S.A., and that therefore, there is an urgent need for the appointment of an administratrix to administer and eventually distribute the properties of the estate located in the Philippines. On January 11, 1978, an opposition to the reprobate of the will was filed by herein petitioner alleging among other things, that he has every reason to believe that the will in question is a forgery; that the intrinsic provisions of the will are null and void; and that even if pertinent American laws on intrinsic provisions are invoked, the same could not apply inasmuch as they would work injustice and injury to him. On December 1, 1978, however, the petitioner through his counsel, Atty. Franco Loyola, filed a Motion to Dismiss Opposition (With Waiver of Rights or Interests) stating that he "has been able to verify the veracity thereof (of the will) and now confirms the same to be truly the probated will of his daughter Adoracion." Hence, an ex-parte presentation of evidence for the reprobate of the questioned will was made. On January 10, 1979, the respondent judge issued an order, to wit:
At the hearing, it has been satisfactorily established that Adoracion C. Campos, in her lifetime, was a citizen of the United States of America with a permanent residence at 4633 Ditman Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124, (Exhibit D) that when alive, Adoracion C. Campos executed a Last Will and Testament in the county of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., according to the laws thereat (Exhibits E-3 to E-3-b) that while in temporary sojourn in the Philippines, Adoracion C. Campos died in the City of Manila (Exhibit C) leaving property both in the Philippines and in the United States of America; that the Last Will and Testament of the late Adoracion C. Campos was admitted and granted probate by the Orphan's Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas, the probate court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, County of Philadelphia, U.S.A., and letters of administration were issued in favor of Clement J. McLaughlin all in accordance with the laws of the said foreign country on procedure and allowance of wills (Exhibits E to E-10); and that the petitioner is not suffering from any disqualification which would render her unfit as administratrix of the estate in the Philippines of the late Adoracion C. Campos.

WHEREFORE, the Last Will and Testament of the late Adoracion C. Campos is hereby admitted to and allowed probate in the Philippines, and Nenita Campos Paguia is hereby appointed Administratrix of the estate of said decedent; let Letters of Administration with the Will annexed issue in favor of said Administratrix upon her filing of a bond in the amount of P5,000.00 conditioned under the provisions of Section I, Rule 81 of the Rules of Court.

Another manifestation was filed by the petitioner on April 14, 1979, confirming the withdrawal of his opposition, acknowledging the same to be his voluntary act and deed. On May 25, 1979, Hermogenes Campos filed a petition for relief, praying that the order allowing the will be set aside on the ground that the withdrawal of his opposition to the same was secured through fraudulent means. According to him, the "Motion to Dismiss Opposition" was inserted among the papers which he signed in connection with two Deeds of Conditional Sales which he executed with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP). He also alleged that the lawyer who filed the withdrawal of the opposition was not his counsel-of-record in the special proceedings case. The petition for relief was set for hearing but the petitioner failed to appear. He made several motions for postponement until the hearing was set on May 29, 1980. On May 18, 1980, petitioner filed another motion entitled "Motion to Vacate and/or Set Aside the Order of January 10, 1979, and/or dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. In this motion, the notice of hearing provided:
Please include this motion in your calendar for hearing on May 29, 1980 at 8:30 in the morning for submission for reconsideration and resolution of the Honorable Court. Until this Motion is resolved, may I also request for the future setting of the case for hearing on the Oppositor's motion to set aside previously filed.

The hearing of May 29, 1980 was re-set by the court for June 19, 1980. When the case was called for hearing on this date, the counsel for petitioner tried to argue his motion to vacate instead of adducing evidence in support of the petition for relief. Thus, the respondent judge issued an order dismissing the petition for relief for failure to present evidence in support thereof. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied. In the same order, respondent judge also denied the motion to vacate for lack of merit. Hence, this petition. Meanwhile, on June 6,1982, petitioner Hermogenes Campos died and left a will, which, incidentally has been questioned by the respondent, his children and forced heirs as, on its face, patently null and void, and a fabrication, appointing Polly Cayetano as the executrix of his last will and testament. Cayetano, therefore, filed a motion to substitute herself as petitioner in the instant case which was granted by the court on September 13, 1982.

A motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that the rights of the petitioner Hermogenes Campos merged upon his death with the rights of the respondent and her sisters, only remaining children and forced heirs was denied on September 12, 1983. Petitioner Cayetano persists with the allegations that the respondent judge acted without or in excess of his jurisdiction when:
1) He ruled the petitioner lost his standing in court deprived the Right to Notice (sic) upon the filing of the Motion to Dismiss opposition with waiver of rights or interests against the estate of deceased Adoracion C. Campos, thus, paving the way for the hearing ex-parte of the petition for the probate of decedent will. 2) He ruled that petitioner can waive, renounce or repudiate (not made in a public or authenticated instrument), or by way of a petition presented to the court but by way of a motion presented prior to an order for the distribution of the estate-the law especially providing that repudiation of an inheritance must be presented, within 30 days after it has issued an order for the distribution of the estate in accordance with the rules of Court. 3) He ruled that the right of a forced heir to his legitime can be divested by a decree admitting a will to probate in which no provision is made for the forced heir in complete disregard of Law of Succession 4) He denied petitioner's petition for Relief on the ground that no evidence was adduced to support the Petition for Relief when no Notice nor hearing was set to afford petitioner to prove the merit of his petition a denial of the due process and a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. 5) He acquired no jurisdiction over the testate case, the fact that the Testator at the time of death was a usual resident of Dasmarias, Cavite, consequently Cavite Court of First Instance has exclusive jurisdiction over the case (De Borja vs. Tan, G.R. No. L-7792, July 1955).

The first two issues raised by the petitioner are anchored on the allegation that the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion when he allowed the withdrawal of the petitioner's opposition to the reprobate of the will. We find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent judge. No proof was adduced to support petitioner's contention that the motion to withdraw was secured through fraudulent means and that Atty. Franco Loyola was not his counsel of record. The records show that after the firing of the contested motion, the petitioner at a later date, filed a manifestation wherein he confirmed that the Motion to Dismiss Opposition was his voluntary act and deed. Moreover, at the time the motion was filed, the petitioner's former counsel, Atty. Jose P. Lagrosa had long withdrawn from the case and had been substituted by Atty. Franco Loyola who in turn filed the motion. The present petitioner cannot, therefore, maintain that the old man's attorney of record was Atty. Lagrosa at the time of filing the motion. Since the withdrawal was in order, the respondent judge acted correctly in hearing the probate of the will ex-parte, there being no other opposition to the same.

The third issue raised deals with the validity of the provisions of the will. As a general rule, the probate court's authority is limited only to the extrinsic validity of the will, the due execution thereof, the testatrix's testamentary capacity and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. The intrinsic validity of the will normally comes only after the court has declared that the will has been duly authenticated. However, where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the court should meet the issue. (Maninang vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478). In the case at bar, the petitioner maintains that since the respondent judge allowed the reprobate of Adoracion's will, Hermogenes C. Campos was divested of his legitime which was reserved by the law for him. This contention is without merit. Although on its face, the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner and thus, the respondent judge should have denied its reprobate outright, the private respondents have sufficiently established that Adoracion was, at the time of her death, an American citizen and a permanent resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Therefore, under Article 16 par. (2) and 1039 of the Civil Code which respectively provide: Art. 16 par. (2).
xxx xxx xxx However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.

Art. 1039.
Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent.

the law which governs Adoracion Campo's will is the law of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., which is the national law of the decedent. Although the parties admit that the Pennsylvania law does not provide for legitimes and that all the estate may be given away by the testatrix to a complete stranger, the petitioner argues that such law should not apply because it would be contrary to the sound and established public policy and would run counter to the specific provisions of Philippine Law. It is a settled rule that as regards the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will, as provided for by Article 16(2) and 1039 of the Civil Code, the national law of the decedent must apply. This was squarely applied in the case of Bellis v. Bellis (20 SCRA 358) wherein we ruled:

It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our system of legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones. xxx xxx xxx The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and under the law of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law, the Philippine Law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis.

As regards the alleged absence of notice of hearing for the petition for relief, the records wig bear the fact that what was repeatedly scheduled for hearing on separate dates until June 19, 1980 was the petitioner's petition for relief and not his motion to vacate the order of January 10, 1979. There is no reason why the petitioner should have been led to believe otherwise. The court even admonished the petitioner's failing to adduce evidence when his petition for relief was repeatedly set for hearing. There was no denial of due process. The fact that he requested "for the future setting of the case for hearing . . ." did not mean that at the next hearing, the motion to vacate would be heard and given preference in lieu of the petition for relief. Furthermore, such request should be embodied in a motion and not in a mere notice of hearing. Finally, we find the contention of the petition as to the issue of jurisdiction utterly devoid of merit. Under Rule 73, Section 1, of the Rules of Court, it is provided that:
SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the province in which he resided at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.

Therefore, the settlement of the estate of Adoracion Campos was correctly filed with the Court of First Instance of Manila where she had an estate since it was alleged and proven that Adoracion at the time of her death was a citizen and permanent resident of Pennsylvania, United States of America and not a "usual resident of Cavite" as alleged by the petitioner. Moreover, petitioner is now estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the probate court in the petition for relief. It is a settled rule that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief, against his opponent and after failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction. (See Saulog Transit, Inc. vs. Hon. Manuel Lazaro, et al., G. R. No. 63 284, April 4, 1984). WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari a

G.R. No. L-22036 April 30, 1979 TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE REVEREND FATHER PASCUAL RIGOR. THE PARISH PRIEST OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF VICTORIA, TARLAC, petitioner-appellant, vs. BELINA RIGOR, NESTORA RIGOR, FRANCISCA ESCOBAR DE RIGOR and JOVITA ESCOBAR DE FAUSTO, respondents-appellees. D. Taedo, Jr. for appellants. J. Palanca, Sr. for appellee.

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

(2.a) Que el legatario pariente mio mas cercano tendra derecho de empezar a gozar y administrar de este legado al principiar a curzar la Sagrada Teologio, y ordenado de Sacerdote, hasta su muerte; pero que pierde el legatario este derecho de administrar y gozar de este legado al dejar de continuar sus estudios para ordenarse de Presbiterado (Sacerdote). Que el legatario una vez Sacerdote ya estara obligado a celebrar cada ao VEINTE (20) Misas rezadas en sufragio de mi alma y de mis padres difuntos, y si el actual legatario, quedase excomulgado, IPSO FACTO se le despoja este legado, y la administracion de esto pasara a cargo del actual Parroco y sus sucesores de la Iglecia Catolica de Victoria, Tarlac. Y en intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado segun lo arriba queda expresado, pasara la administracion de este legado a cargo del actual Parroco Catolico y sus sucesores, de Victoria, Tarlac. El Parroco administrador de estate legado, acumulara, anualmente todos los productos que puede tener estate legado, ganando o sacando de los productos anuales el CINCO (5) por ciento para su administracion, y los derechos correspondientes de las VEINTE (20) Misas rezadas que debiera el Parroco celebrar cada ao, depositando todo lo restante de los productos de estate legado, en un banco, a nombre de estate legado.

To implement the foregoing bequest, the administratix in 1940 submitted a project containing the following item:
5. LEGACY OF THE CHURCH That it be adjudicated in favor of the legacy purported to be given to the nearest male relative who shall take the priesthood, and in the interim to be administered by the actual Catholic Priest of the Roman Catholic Church of Victoria, Tarlac, Philippines, or his successors, the real properties hereinbelow indicated, to wit:
Ti tl e N o. T6 5 3 0 T6 5 4 8 T6 5 2 5 T6 5 Lo t No . Area in Has. Ta x De c. Ass. Valu e

36 63

1.62 49

18 74 0

P 340.0 0

34 45 -C

24.2 998

18 73 0

7,290 .00

36 70

6.26 65

18 73 6

1,880 .00

36 66

11.9 251

18 73 3

3,580 .00

2 1

Total amount and value 44.1163 P13,090.00

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

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

3. That the devisee at the inception of his studies in sacred theology could enjoy and administer the ricelands, and once ordained as a priest, he could continue enjoying and administering the same up to the time of his death but the devisee would cease to enjoy and administer the ricelands if he discontinued his studies for the priesthood. 4. That if the devisee became a priest, he would be obligated to celebrate every year twenty masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of Father Rigor and his parents. 5. That if the devisee is excommunicated, he would be divested of the legacy and the administration of the riceland would pass to the incumbent parish priest of Victoria and his successors. 6. That during the interval of time that there is no qualified devisee as contemplated above, the administration of the ricelands would be under the responsibility of the incumbent parish priest of Victoria and his successors, and 7. That the parish priest-administrator of the ricelands would accumulate annually the products thereof, obtaining or getting from the annual produce five percent thereof for his administration and the fees corresponding to the twenty masses with prayers that the parish priest would celebrate for each year, depositing the balance of the income of the devise in the bank in the name of his bequest. From the foregoing testamentary provisions, it may be deduced that the testator intended to devise the ricelands to his nearest male relative who would become a priest, who was forbidden to sell the ricelands, who would lose the devise if he discontinued his studies for the priesthood, or having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated, and who would be obligated to say annually twenty masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of the testator and his parents. On the other hand, it is clear that the parish priest of Victoria would administer the ricelands only in two situations: one, during the interval of time that no nearest male relative of the testator was studying for the priesthood and two, in case the testator's nephew became a priest and he was excommunicated. What is not clear is the duration of "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado", or how long after the testator's death would it be determined that he had a nephew who would pursue an ecclesiastical vocation. It is that patent ambiguity that has brought about the controversy between the parish priest of Victoria and the testator's legal heirs. Interwoven with that equivocal provision is the time when the nearest male relative who would study for the priesthood should be determined. Did the testator contemplate only his nearest male relative at the time of his death? Or did he have in mind any of his nearest male relatives at anytime after his death?

We hold that the said bequest refers to the testator's nearest male relative living at the time of his death and not to any indefinite time thereafter. "In order to be capacitated to inherit, the heir, devisee or legatee must be living at the moment the succession opens, except in case of representation, when it is proper" (Art. 1025, Civil Code). The said testamentary provisions should be sensibly or reasonably construed. To construe them as referring to the testator's nearest male relative at anytime after his death would render the provisions difficult to apply and create uncertainty as to the disposition of his estate. That could not have been his intention. In 1935, when the testator died, his nearest leagal heirs were his three sisters or second-degree relatives, Mrs. Escobar, Mrs. Manaloto and Mrs. Quiambao. Obviously, when the testator specified his nearest male relative, he must have had in mind his nephew or a son of his sister, who would be his third-degree relative, or possibly a grandnephew. But since he could not prognosticate the exact date of his death or state with certitude what category of nearest male relative would be living at the time of his death, he could not specify that his nearest male relative would be his nephew or grandnephews (the son of his nephew or niece) and so he had to use the term "nearest male relative". It is contended by the legal heirs that the said devise was in reality intended for Ramon Quiambao, the testator's nephew and godchild, who was the son of his sister, Mrs. Quiambao. To prove that contention, the legal heirs presented in the lower court the affidavit of Beatriz Gamalinda, the maternal grandmother of Edgardo Cunanan, who deposed that after Father Rigor's death her own son, Valentin Gamalinda, Jr., did not claim the devise, although he was studying for the priesthood at the San Carlos Seminary, because she (Beatriz) knew that Father Rigor had intended that devise for his nearest male relative beloning to the Rigor family (pp. 105-114, Record on Appeal). Mrs. Gamalinda further deposed that her own grandchild, Edgardo G. Cunanan, was not the one contemplated in Father Rigor's will and that Edgardo's father told her that he was not consulted by the parish priest of Victoria before the latter filed his second motion for reconsideration which was based on the ground that the testator's grandnephew, Edgardo, was studying for the priesthood at the San Jose Seminary. Parenthetically, it should be stated at this juncture that Edgardo ceased to be a seminarian in 1961. For that reason, the legal heirs apprised the Court of Appeals that the probate court's order adjudicating the ricelands to the parish priest of Victoria had no more leg to stand on (p. 84, Appellant's brief). Of course, Mrs. Gamalinda's affidavit, which is tantamount to evidence aliunde as to the testator's intention and which is hearsay, has no probative value. Our opinion that the said bequest refers to the testator's nephew who was living at the time of his death, when his succession was opened and the successional rights to his estate became vested, rests on a judicious and unbiased reading of the terms of the will.

Had the testator intended that the "cualquier pariente mio varon mas cercano que estudie la camera eclesiatica" would include indefinitely anyone of his nearest male relatives born after his death, he could have so specified in his will He must have known that such a broad provision would suspend for an unlimited period of time the efficaciousness of his bequest. What then did the testator mean by "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado"? The reasonable view is that he was referring to a situation whereby his nephew living at the time of his death, who would like to become a priest, was still in grade school or in high school or was not yet in the seminary. In that case, the parish priest of Victoria would administer the ricelands before the nephew entered the seminary. But the moment the testator's nephew entered the seminary, then he would be entitled to enjoy and administer the ricelands and receive the fruits thereof. In that event, the trusteeship would be terminated. Following that interpretation of the will the inquiry would be whether at the time Father Rigor died in 1935 he had a nephew who was studying for the priesthood or who had manifested his desire to follow the ecclesiastical career. That query is categorically answered in paragraph 4 of appellant priest's petitions of February 19, 1954 and January 31, 1957. He unequivocally alleged therein that "not male relative of the late (Father) Pascual Rigor has ever studied for the priesthood" (pp. 25 and 35, Record on Appeal). Inasmuch as the testator was not survived by any nephew who became a priest, the unavoidable conclusion is that the bequest in question was ineffectual or inoperative. Therefore, the administration of the ricelands by the parish priest of Victoria, as envisaged in the wilt was likewise inoperative. The appellant in contending that a public charitable trust was constituted by the testator in is favor assumes that he was a trustee or a substitute devisee That contention is untenable. A reading of the testamentary provisions regarding the disputed bequest not support the view that the parish priest of Victoria was a trustee or a substitute devisee in the event that the testator was not survived by a nephew who became a priest. It should be understood that the parish priest of Victoria could become a trustee only when the testator's nephew living at the time of his death, who desired to become a priest, had not yet entered the seminary or, having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated. Those two contingencies did not arise, and could not have arisen in this case because no nephew of the testator manifested any intention to enter the seminary or ever became a priest. The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that this case is covered by article 888 of the old Civil Code, now article 956, which provides that if "the bequest for any reason should be inoperative, it shall be merged into the estate, except in cases of substitution and those in which the right of accretion exists" ("el legado ... por qualquier causa, no tenga efecto

se refundira en la masa de la herencia, fuera de los casos de sustitucion y derecho de acrecer"). This case is also covered by article 912(2) of the old Civil Code, now article 960 (2), which provides that legal succession takes place when the will "does not dispose of all that belongs to the testator." There being no substitution nor accretion as to the said ricelands the same should be distributed among the testator's legal heirs. The effect is as if the testator had made no disposition as to the said ricelands. The Civil Code recognizes that a person may die partly testate and partly intestate, or that there may be mixed succession. The old rule as to the indivisibility of the testator's win is no longer valid. Thus, if a conditional legacy does not take effect, there will be intestate succession as to the property recovered by the said legacy (Macrohon Ong Ham vs. Saavedra, 51 Phil. 267). We find no merit in the appeal The Appellate Court's decision is affirmed. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED

GUINTO VS. MEDINA FACTS: Leon Guinto filed an action for forcible entry against Santiago Medina. The trial court ruled in favor of Guinto.However, Guinto still appealed because the trial court dismissed his claim for damages. While the case was onappeal, Medina died. Medina was substituted by his heirs.ISSUE: WON the heirs of Medina are liable for damages to Guinto in excess of the inheritance they receivedRULING: The heirs of Medina, having been merely substituted in his place at the time of his death, their liability for damages is only to the extent of the value of the property they might have received, if any, from him.

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 codefendants. 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. G.R. No. L-41171 July 23, 1987

INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE VITO BORROMEO, PATROCINIO BORROMEO-HERRERA, petitioner, vs. FORTUNATO BORROMEO and HON. FRANCISCO P. BURGOS, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch II, respondents. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x No. L-55000 July 23, 1987

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF VITO BORROMEO, DECEASED, PILAR N. BORROMEO, MARIA B. PUTONG, FEDERICO V. BORROMEO, JOSE BORROMEO,

CONSUELO B. MORALES, AND CANUTO V. BORROMEO, JR., heirs-appellants, vs. FORTUNATO BORROMEO, claimant-appellee. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x No. L-62895 July 23, 1987

JOSE CUENCO BORROMEO, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HON. FRANCISCO P. BURGOS, As presiding Judge of the (now) Regional Trial Court, Branch XV, Region VII, RICARDO V. REYES, as Administrator of the Estate of Vito Borromeo in Sp. Proc. No. 916-R, NUMERIANO G. ESTENZO and DOMINGO L. ANTIGUA, respondents. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x No. L-63818 July 23, 1987

DOMINGO ANTIGUA AND RICARDO V. REYES, as Administrator of the Intestate Estate of VITO BORROMEO, Sp. Proceedings No. 916-R, Regional Trial Court of Cebu, joined by HON. JUDGE FRANCISCO P. BURGOS, as Presiding Judge of Branch XV of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, as a formal party, and ATTYS. FRANCIS M. ZOSA, GAUDIOSO RUIZ and NUMERIANO ESTENZO, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, JOSE CUENCO BORROMEO, and PETRA O. BORROMEO, respondents. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x No. L-65995 July 23, 1987

PETRA BORROMEO, VITALIANA BORROMEO, AMELINDA BORROMEO, and JOSE CUENCO BORROMEO, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE FRANCISCO P. BURGOS, Presiding Judge of Branch XV, Regional Trial Court of Cebu; RICARDO V. REYES, Administrator of the Estate of VITO BORROMEO in Sp. Proc. No. 916-R; and DOMINGO L. ANTIGUA, respondents. GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: These cases before us all stem from SP. PROC. NO. 916-R of the then Court of First Instance of Cebu. G.R. No. 41171

Vito Borromeo, a widower and permanent resident of Cebu City, died on March 13, 1952, in Paranaque, Rizal at the age of 88 years, without forced heirs but leaving extensive properties in the province of Cebu. On April 19, 1952, Jose Junquera filed with the Court of First Instance of Cebu a petition for the probate of a one page document as the last will and testament left by the said deceased, devising all his properties to Tomas, Fortunato and Amelia, all surnamed Borromeo, in equal and undivided shares, and designating Junquera as executor thereof. The case was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 916-R. The document, drafted in Spanish, was allegedly signed and thumbmarked by the deceased in the presence of Cornelio Gandionco, Eusebio Cabiluna, and Felixberto Leonardo who acted as witnesses. Oppositions to the probate of the will were filed. On May 28, 1960, after due trial, the probate court held that the document presented as the will of the deceased was a forgery. On appeal to this Court, the decision of the probate court disallowing the probate of the will was affirmed in Testate Estate of Vito Borromeo, Jose H. Junquera et al. v. Crispin Borromeo et al. (19 SCRA 656). The testate proceedings was converted into an intestate proceedings. Several parties came before the court filing claims or petitions alleging themselves as heirs of the intestate estate of Vito Borromeo. The following petitions or claims were filed: 1. On August 29, 1967, the heirs of Jose Ma. Borromeo and Cosme Borromeo filed a petition for declaration of heirs and determination of heirship. There was no opposition filed against said petition. 2. On November 26, 1967, Vitaliana Borromeo also filed a petition for declaration as heir. The heirs of Jose Ma. Borromeo and Cosme Borromeo filed an opposition to this petition. 3. On December 13, 1967, Jose Barcenilla, Jr., Anecita Ocampo de Castro, Ramon Ocampo, Lourdes Ocampo, Elena Ocampo, Isagani Morre, Rosario Morre, Aurora Morre, Lila Morre, Lamberto Morre, and Patricia Morre, filed a petition for declaration of heirs and determination of shares. The petition was opposed by the heirs of Jose and Cosme Borromeo. 4. On December 2, 1968, Maria Borromeo Atega, Luz Borromeo, Hermenegilda Borromeo Nonnenkamp, Rosario Borromeo, and Fe Borromeo Queroz filed a claim. Jose Cuenco Borromeo, Crispin Borromeo, Vitaliana Borromeo and the heirs of Carlos Borromeo represented by Jose Talam filed oppositions to this claim. When the aforementioned petitions and claims were heard jointly, the following facts were established:

1. Maximo Borromeo and Hermenegilda Galan, husband and wife (the latter having predeceased the former), were survived by their eight (8) children, namely, Jose Ma. Borromeo Cosme Borromeo Pantaleon Borromeo Vito Borromeo Paulo Borromeo Anecita Borromeo Quirino Borromeo and Julian Borromeo 2. Vito Borromeo died a widower on March 13, 1952, without any issue, and all his brothers and sisters predeceased him. 3. Vito's brother Pantaleon Borromeo died leaving the following children: a. Ismaela Borromeo,who died on Oct. 16, 1939 b. Teofilo Borromeo, who died on Aug. 1, 1955, or 3 years after the death of Vito Borromeo. He was married to Remedios Cuenco Borromeo, who died on March 28, 1968. He had an only son-Atty. Jose Cuenco Borromeo one of the petitioners herein. c. Crispin Borromeo, who is still alive. 4. Anecita Borromeo, sister of Vito Borromeo, died ahead of him and left an only daughter, Aurora B. Ocampo, who died on Jan. 30, 1950 leaving the following children: a. Anecita Ocampo Castro b. Ramon Ocampo c. Lourdes Ocampo d. Elena Ocampo, all living, and e. Antonieta Ocampo Barcenilla (deceased), survived by claimant Jose Barcenilla, Jr.

5. Cosme Borromeo, another brother of Vito Borromeo, died before the war and left the following children: a. Marcial Borromeo b. Carlos Borromeo,who died on Jan. 18, 1965,survived by his wife, Remedios Alfonso, and his only daughter, Amelinda Borromeo Talam c. Asuncion Borromeo d. Florentina Borromeo, who died in 1948. e. Amilio Borromeo, who died in 1944. f. Carmen Borromeo, who died in 1925. The last three died leaving no issue. 6. Jose Ma. Borromeo, another brother of Vito Borromeo, died before the war and left the following children: a. Exequiel Borromeo,who died on December 29, 1949 b. Canuto Borromeo, who died on Dec. 31, 1959, leaving the following children: aa. Federico Borromeo bb. Marisol Borromeo (Maria B. Putong, Rec. p. 85) cc. Canuto Borromeo, Jr. dd. Jose Borromeo ee. Consuelo Borromeo ff. Pilar Borromeo gg. Salud Borromeo hh. Patrocinio Borromeo Herrera c. Maximo Borromeo, who died in July, 1948 d. Matilde Borromeo, who died on Aug. 6, 1946 e. Andres Borromeo, who died on Jan. 3, 1923, but survived by his children:

aa. Maria Borromeo Atega bb. Luz Borromeo cc. Hermenegilda Borromeo Nonnenkamp dd. Rosario Borromeo ee. Fe Borromeo Queroz On April 10, 1969, the trial court, invoking Art. 972 of the Civil Code, issued an order declaring the following, to the exclusion of all others, as the intestate heirs of the deceased Vito Borromeo: 1. Jose Cuenco Borromeo 2. Judge Crispin Borromeo 3. Vitaliana Borromeo 4. Patrocinio Borromeo Herrera 5. Salud Borromeo 6. Asuncion Borromeo 7. Marcial Borromeo 8. Amelinda Borromeo de Talam, and 9. The heirs of Canuto Borromeo The court also ordered that the assets of the intestate estate of Vito Borromeo shall be divided into 4/9 and 5/9 groups and distributed in equal and equitable shares among the 9 abovenamed declared intestate heirs. On April 21 and 30, 1969, the declared heirs, with the exception of Patrocinio B. Herrera, signed an agreement of partition of the properties of the deceased Vito Borromeo which was approved by the trial court, in its order of August 15, 1969. In this same order, the trial court ordered the administrator, Atty Jesus Gaboya, Jr., to partition the properties of the deceased in the way and manner they are divided and partitioned in the said Agreement of Partition and further ordered that 40% of the market value of the 4/9 and 5/9 of the estate shall be segregated. All attorney's fees shall be taken and paid from this segregated portion. On August 25, 1972, respondent Fortunato Borromeo, who had earlier claimed as heir under the forged will, filed a motion before the trial court praying that he be declared as one of the heirs of the deceased Vito Borromeo, alleging that he is an illegitimate son of the deceased and that in the

declaration of heirs made by the trial court, he was omitted, in disregard of the law making him a forced heir entitled to receive a legitime like all other forced heirs. As an acknowledged illegitimate child, he stated that he was entitled to a legitime equal in every case to four-fifths of the legitime of an acknowledged natural child. Finding that the motion of Fortunato Borromeo was already barred by the order of the court dated April 12, 1969 declaring the persons named therein as the legal heirs of the deceased Vito Borromeo, the court dismissed the motion on June 25, 1973. Fortunato Borromeo filed a motion for reconsideration. In the memorandum he submitted to support his motion for reconsideration, Fortunato changed the basis for his claim to a portion of the estate. He asserted and incorporated a Waiver of Hereditary Rights dated July 31, 1967, supposedly signed by Pilar N. Borromeo, Maria B. Putong, Jose Borromeo, Canuto V. Borromeo, Jr., Salud Borromeo, Patrocinio Borromeo-Herrera, Marcial Borromeo, Asuncion Borromeo, Federico V. Borromeo, Consuelo B. Morales, Remedios Alfonso and Amelinda B. Talam In the waiver, five of the nine heirs relinquished to Fortunato their shares in the disputed estate. The motion was opposed on the ground that the trial court, acting as a probate court, had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the claim; that respondent Fortunato Borromeo is estopped from asserting the waiver agreement; that the waiver agreement is void as it was executed before the declaration of heirs; that the same is void having been executed before the distribution of the estate and before the acceptance of the inheritance; and that it is void ab initio and inexistent for lack of subject matter. On December 24, 1974, after due hearing, the trial court concluding that the five declared heirs who signed the waiver agreement assigning their hereditary rights to Fortunato Borromeo had lost the same rights, declared the latter as entitled to 5/9 of the estate of Vito Borromeo. A motion for reconsideration of this order was denied on July 7, 1975. In the present petition, the petitioner seeks to annul and set aside the trial court's order dated December 24, 1974, declaring respondent Fortunato Borromeo entitled to 5/9 of the estate of Vito Borromeo and the July 7, 1975 order, denying the motion for reconsideration. The petitioner argues that the trial court had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the claim of respondent Fortunato Borromeo because it is not a money claim against the decedent but a claim for properties, real and personal, which constitute all of the shares of the heirs in the decedent's estate, heirs who allegedly waived their rights in his favor. The claim of the private respondent under the waiver agreement, according to the petitioner, may be likened to that of a creditor of the heirs which is improper. He alleges that the claim of the private respondent under the waiver agreement was filed beyond the time allowed for filing of claims as it was filed only sometime in 1973, after there had been a declaration of heirs (April 10, 1969), an agreement of partition (April 30, 1969), the approval of the agreement of partition and an order directing the administrator to partition the estate (August 15, 1969), when in a mere memorandum, the existence of the waiver agreement was brought out.

It is further argued by the petitioner that the document entitled " waiver of Hereditary Rights" executed on July 31, 1967, aside from having been cancelled and revoked on June 29, 1968, by Tomas L. Borromeo, Fortunato Borromeo and Amelia Borromeo, is without force and effect because there can be no effective waiver of hereditary rights before there has been a valid acceptance of the inheritance the heirs intend to transfer. Pursuant to Article 1043 of the Civil Code, to make acceptance or repudiation of inheritance valid, the person must be certain of the death of the one from whom he is to inherit and of his right to the inheritance. Since the petitioner and her co-heirs were not certain of their right to the inheritance until they were declared heirs, their rights were, therefore, uncertain. This view, according to the petitioner, is also supported by Article 1057 of the same Code which directs heirs, devicees, and legatees to signify their acceptance or repudiation within thirty days after the court has issued an order for the distribution of the estate. Respondent Fortunato Borromeo on the other hand, contends that under Article 1043 of the Civil Code there is no need for a person to be first declared as heir before he can accept or repudiate an inheritance. What is required is that he must first be certain of the death of the person from whom he is to inherit and that he must be certain of his right to the inheritance. He points out that at the time of the signing of the waiver document on July 31, 1967, the signatories to the waiver document were certain that Vito Borromeo was already dead as well as of their rights to the inheritance as shown in the waiver document itself. With respect to the issue of jurisdiction of the trial court to pass upon the validity of the waiver of hereditary rights, respondent Borromeo asserts that since the waiver or renunciation of hereditary rights took place after the court assumed jurisdiction over the properties of the estate it partakes of the nature of a partition of the properties of the estate needing approval of the court because it was executed in the course of the proceedings. lie further maintains that the probate court loses jurisdiction of the estate only after the payment of all the debts of the estate and the remaining estate is distributed to those entitled to the same. The prevailing jurisprudence on waiver of hereditary rights is that "the properties included in an existing inheritance cannot be considered as belonging to third persons with respect to the heirs, who by fiction of law continue the personality of the former. Nor do such properties have the character of future property, because the heirs acquire a right to succession from the moment of the death of the deceased, by principle established in article 657 and applied by article 661 of the Civil Code, according to which the heirs succeed the deceased by the mere fact of death. More or less, time may elapse from the moment of the death of the deceased until the heirs enter into possession of the hereditary property, but the acceptance in any event retroacts to the moment of the death, in accordance with article 989 of the Civil Code. The right is vested, although conditioned upon the adjudication of the corresponding hereditary portion." (Osorio v. Osorio and Ynchausti Steamship Co., 41 Phil., 531). The heirs, therefore, could waive their hereditary rights in 1967 even if the order to partition the estate was issued only in 1969. In this case, however, the purported "Waiver of Hereditary Rights" cannot be considered to be effective. For a waiver to exist, three elements are essential: (1) the existence of a right; (2) the knowledge of the existence thereof; and (3) an intention to relinquish such right. (People v. Salvador, (CA) 53 O.G. No. 22, p. 8116, 8120). The intention to waive a right or advantage must

be shown clearly and convincingly, and when the only proof of intention rests in what a party does, his act should be so manifestly consistent with, and indicative of an intent to, voluntarily relinquish the particular right or advantage that no other reasonable explanation of his conduct is possible (67 C.J., 311). (Fernandez v. Sebido, et al., 70 Phil., 151, 159). The circumstances of this case show that the signatories to the waiver document did not have the clear and convincing intention to relinquish their rights, Thus: (1) On October 27, 1967. Fortunato, Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo filed a pleading entitled "Compliance" wherein they submitted a proposal for the amicable settlement of the case. In that Compliance, they proposed to concede to all the eight (8) intestate heirs of Vito Borromeo all properties, personal and real, including all cash and sums of money in the hands of the Special Administrator, as of October 31, 1967, not contested or claimed by them in any action then pending in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. In turn, the heirs would waive and concede to them all the 14 contested lots. In this document, the respondent recognizes and concedes that the petitioner, like the other signatories to the waiver document, is an heir of the deceased Vito Borromeo, entitled to share in the estate. This shows that the "Waiver of Hereditary Rights" was never meant to be what the respondent now purports it to be. Had the intent been otherwise, there would not be any reason for Fortunato, Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo to mention the heirs in the offer to settle the case amicably, and offer to concede to them parts of the estate of the deceased; (2) On April 21 and 30, 1969, the majority of the declared heirs executed an Agreement on how the estate they inherited shall be distributed. This Agreement of Partition was approved by the trial court on August 15, 1969; (3) On June 29, 1968, the petitioner, among others, signed a document entitled Deed of Assignment" purporting to transfer and assign in favor of the respondent and Tomas and Amelia Borromeo all her (Patrocinio B. Herrera's) rights, interests, and participation as an intestate heir in the estate of the deceased Vito Borromeo. The stated consideration for said assignment was P100,000.00; (4) On the same date, June 29, 1968, the respondent Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo (assignees in the aforementioned deed of assignment) in turn executed a "Deed of Reconveyance" in favor of the heirs-assignors named in the same deed of assignment. The stated consideration was P50,000.00; (5) A Cancellation of Deed of Assignment and Deed of Reconveyance was signed by Tomas Borromeo and Amelia Borromeo on October 15, 1968, while Fortunato Borromeo signed this document on March 24, 1969. With respect to the issue of jurisdiction, we hold that the trial court had jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of the waiver agreement. It must be noted that in Special Proceedings No. 916-R the lower court disallowed the probate of the will and declared it as fake. Upon appeal, this Court affirmed the decision of the lower court on March 30, 1967, in G.R. No. L-18498. Subsequently, several parties came before the lower court filing claims or petitions alleging themselves as heirs of the intestate estate of Vito Borromeo. We see no impediment to the trial court in exercising jurisdiction and trying the said claims or petitions. Moreover, the jurisdiction of the trial court extends to matters incidental and collateral to the exercise of its recognized powers in handling the settlement of the estate. In view of the foregoing, the questioned order of the trial court dated December 24, 1974, is hereby SET ASIDE. G.R. No. 55000

This case was originally an appeal to the Court of Appeals from an order of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch 11, dated December 24, 1974, declaring the waiver document earlier discussed in G.R. No. 41171 valid. The appellate court certified this case to this Court as the questions raised are all of law. The appellants not only assail the validity of the waiver agreement but they also question the jurisdiction of the lower court to hear and decide the action filed by claimant Fortunato Borromeo. The appellants argue that when the waiver of hereditary right was executed on July 31, 1967, Pilar Borromeo and her children did not yet possess or own any hereditary right in the intestate estate of the deceased Vito Borromeo because said hereditary right was only acquired and owned by them on April 10, 1969, when the estate was ordered distributed. They further argue that in contemplation of law, there is no such contract of waiver of hereditary right in the present case because there was no object, which is hereditary right, that could be the subject matter of said waiver, and, therefore, said waiver of hereditary right was not only null and void ab initio but was inexistent. With respect to the issue of jurisdiction, the appellants contend that without any formal pleading filed by the lawyers of Fortunato Borromeo for the approval of the waiver agreement and without notice to the parties concerned, two things which are necessary so that the lower court would be vested with authority and jurisdiction to hear and decide the validity of said waiver agreement, nevertheless, the lower court set the hearing on September 25, 1973 and without asking for the requisite pleading. This resulted in the issuance of the appealed order of December 24, 1974, which approved the validity of the waiver agreement. The appellants contend that this constitutes an error in the exercise of jurisdiction. The appellee on the other hand, maintains that by waiving their hereditary rights in favor of Fortunato Borromeo, the signatories to the waiver document tacitly and irrevocably accepted the inheritance and by virtue of the same act, they lost their rights because the rights from that moment on became vested in Fortunato Borromeo. It is also argued by the appellee that under Article 1043 of the Civil Code there is no need for a person to be declared as heir first before he can accept or repudiate an inheritance. What is required is that he is certain of the death of the person from whom he is to inherit, and of his right to the inheritance. At the time of the signing of the waiver document on July 31, 1967, the signatories to the waiver document were certain that Vito Borromeo was already dead and they were also certain of their right to the inheritance as shown by the waiver document itself. On the allegation of the appellants that the lower court did not acquire jurisdiction over the claim because of the alleged lack of a pleading invoking its jurisdiction to decide the claim, the appellee asserts that on August 23, 1973, the lower court issued an order specifically calling on all oppositors to the waiver document to submit their comments within ten days from notice and setting the same for hearing on September 25, 1973. The appellee also avers that the claim as to a

5/9 share in the inheritance involves no question of title to property and, therefore, the probate court can decide the question. The issues in this case are similar to the issues raised in G.R. No. 41171. The appellants in this case, who are all declared heirs of the late Vito Borromeo are contesting the validity of the trial court's order dated December 24, 1974, declaring Fortunato Borromeo entitled to 5/9 of the estate of Vito Borromeo under the waiver agreement. As stated in G.R. No. 41171, the supposed waiver of hereditary rights can not be validated. The essential elements of a waiver, especially the clear and convincing intention to relinquish hereditary rights, are not found in this case. The October 27, 1967 proposal for an amicable settlement conceding to all the eight (8) intestate heirs various properties in consideration for the heirs giving to the respondent and to Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo the fourteen (14) contested lots was filed inspite of the fact that on July 31, 1967, some of the heirs had allegedly already waived or sold their hereditary rights to the respondent. The agreement on how the estate is to be distributed, the June 29, 1968 deed of assignment, the deed of reconveyance, and the subsequent cancellation of the deed of assignment and deed of reconveyance all argue against the purported waiver of hereditary rights. Concerning the issue of jurisdiction, we have already stated in G.R. No. 41171 that the trial court acquired jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of the waiver agreement because the trial court's jurisdiction extends to matters incidental and collateral to the exercise of its recognized powers in handling the settlement of the estate. The questioned order is, therefore, SET ASIDE. G.R. No. 62895 A motion dated April 28, 1972, was filed by Atty. Raul M. Sesbreno, representative of some of the heirs-distributees, praying for the immediate closure of Special Proceeding No. 916-R. A similar motion dated May 29, 1979 was filed by Atty. Jose Amadora. Both motions were grounded on the fact that there was nothing more to be done after the payment of all the obligations of the estate since the order of partition and distribution had long become final. Alleging that respondent Judge Francisco P. Burgos failed or refused to resolve the aforesaid motions, petitioner Jose Cuenco Borromeo-filed a petition for mandamus before the Court of Appeals to compel the respondent judge to terminate and close Special Proceedings No. 916-R. Finding that the inaction of the respondent judge was due to pending motions to compel the petitioner, as co-administrator, to submit an inventory of the real properties of the estate and an accounting of the cash in his hands, pending claims for attorney's fees, and that mandamus will not lie to compel the performance of a discretionary function, the appellate court denied the

petition on May 14, 1982. The petitioner's motion for reconsideration was likewise denied for lack of merit. Hence, this petition. The petitioner's stand is that the inaction of the respondent judge on the motion filed on April 28, 1972 for the closure of the administration proceeding cannot be justified by the filing of the motion for inventory and accounting because the latter motion was filed only on March 2, 1979. He claimed that under the then Constitution, it is the duty of the respondent judge to decide or resolve a case or matter within three months from the date of its submission. The respondents contend that the motion to close the administration had already been resolved when the respondent judge cancelled all settings of all incidents previously set in his court in an order dated June 4, 1979, pursuant to the resolution and restraining order issued by the Court of Appeals enjoining him to maintain status quo on the case. As stated in G.R. No. 41171, on April 21 and 30, 1969, the declared heirs, with the exception of Patrocinio B. Herrera, signed an agreement of partition of the properties of the deceased Vito Borromeo which was approved by the trial court, in its order dated August 15, 1969. In this same order, the trial court ordered the administrator, Atty. Jesus Gaboya, Jr., to partition the properties of the deceased in the way and manner they are divided and partitioned in the said Agreement of Partition and further ordered that 40% of the market value of the 4/9 and 5/9 of the estate shall be segregated and reserved for attorney's fees. According to the manifestation of Judge Francisco Burgos dated July 5, 1982, (p. 197, Rollo, G. R. No. 41171) his court has not finally distributed to the nine (9) declared heirs the properties due to the following circumstances: 1. The court's determination of the market value of the estate in order to segregate the 40% reserved for attorney's fees; 2. The order of December 24, 1974, declaring Fortunato Borromeo as beneficiary of the 5/9 of the estate because of the waiver agreement signed by the heirs representing the 5/9 group which is still pending resolution by this Court (G.R. No. 4117 1); 3. The refusal of administrator Jose Cuenco Borromeo to render his accounting; and 4. The claim of Marcela Villegas for 1/2 of the estate causing annotations of notices of lis pendens on the different titles of the properties of the estate. Since there are still real properties of the estate that were not vet distributed to some of the declared heirs, particularly the 5/9 group of heirs due to the pending resolution of the waiver agreement, this Court in its resolution of June 15, 1983, required the judge of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch 11, to expedite the determination of Special Proceedings No. 916-R and ordered the co-administrator Jose Cuenco Borromeo to submit an inventory of real properties of the estate and to render an accounting of cash and bank deposits realized from rents of several properties.

The matter of attorney's fees shall be discussed in G.R. No. 65995. Considering the pronouncements stated in: 1. G.R. No. 41171 & G.R. No. 55000, setting aside the Order of the trial court dated December 24, 1974; 2. G.R. No. 63818, denying the petition for review seeking to modify the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court insofar as it disqualifies and inhibits Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further hearing the Intestate Estate of Vito Borromeo and ordering the remand of the case to the Executive,Judge of the Regional trial Court of Cebu for reraffling; and 3. G.R. No. 65995, granting the petition to restrain the respondents from further acting on any and all incidents in Special proceedings No. 916-11 because of the affirmation of the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court in G.R. No. 63818. the trial court may now terminate and close Special Proceedings No. 916-R, subject to the submission of an inventory of the real properties of the estate and an accounting of the call and bank deposits of the petitioner, as co-administrator of the estate, if he has not vet done so, as required by this Court in its Resolution dated June 15, 1983. This must be effected with all deliberate speed. G.R. No. 63818 On June 9, 1979, respondents Jose Cuenco Borromeo and Petra 0. Borromeo filed a motion for inhibition in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch 11, presided over by Judge Francisco P. Burgos to inhibit the judge from further acting in Special Proceedings No. 916-R. 'The movants alleged, among others, the following: xxx xxx xxx

6. To keep the agitation to sell moving, Atty. Antigua filed a motion for the production of the certificates of title and to deposit the same with the Branch Clerk of Court, presumably for the ready inspection of interested buyers. Said motion was granted by the Hon. Court in its order of October 2, 1978 which, however, became the subject of various motions for reconsideration from heirs-distributees who contended that as owners they cannot be deprived of their titles for the flimsy reasons advanced by Atty, Antigua. In view of the motions for reconsideration, Atty Antigua ultimately withdraw his motions for production of titles. 7. The incident concerning the production of titles triggered another incident involving Atty. Raul H. Sesbreno who was then the counsel of herein movants Petra O. Borromeo and Amelinda B. Talam In connection with said incident, Atty. Sesbreno filed a pleading which the tion. presiding, Judge Considered direct contempt because among others, Atty. Sesbreno insinuated that the Hon. Presiding Judge stands to receive "fat commission"

from the sale of the entire property. Indeed, Atty. Sesbreno was seriously in danger of being declared in contempt of court with the dim prospect of suspension from the practice of his profession. But obviously to extricate himself from the prospect of contempt and suspension. Atty. Sesbreno chose rapproachment and ultimately joined forces with Atty. Antigua, et al., who, together, continued to harass administrator xxx xxx xxx

9. The herein movants are informed and so they allege, that a brother of the Hon. Presiding Judge is married to a sister of Atty. Domingo L. Antigua. 10. There is now a clear tug of war bet ween Atty. Antigua, et al. who are agitating for the sale of the entire estate or to buy out the individual heirs, on the one hand, and the herein movants, on the other, who are not willing to sell their distributive shares under the terms and conditions presently proposed. In this tug of war, a pattern of harassment has become apparent against the herein movants, especially Jose Cuenco Borromeo. Among the harassments employed by Atty Antigua et al. are the pending motions for the removal of administrator Jose Cuenco Borromeo, the subpoena duces tecum issued to the bank which seeks to invade into the privacy of the personal account of Jose Cuenco Borromeo, and the other matters mentioned in paragraph 8 hereof. More harassment motions are expected until the herein movants shall finally yield to the proposed sale. In such a situation, the herein movants beg for an entirely independent and impartial judge to pass upon the merits of said incidents. 11. Should the Hon. Presiding Judge continue to sit and take cognizance of this proceeding, including the incidents above-mentioned, he is liable to be misunderstood as being biased in favor of Atty Antigua, et al. and prejudiced against the herein movants. Incidents which may create this impression need not be enumerated herein. (pp. 39-41, Rollo) The motion for inhibition was denied by Judge Francisco P. Burgos. Their motion for reconsideration having been denied, the private respondents filed a petition for certiorari and/or prohibition with preliminary injunction before the Intermediate Appellate Court. In the appellate court, the private respondents alleged, among others, the following: xxx xxx xxx

16. With all due respect, petitioners regret the necessity of having to state herein that respondent Hon. Francisco P. Burgos has shown undue interest in pursing the sale initiated by Atty. Domingo L. Antigua, et al. Significantly, a brother of respondent Hon. Francisco P. Burgos is married to a sister of Atty. Domingo L. Antigua. 17. Evidence the proposed sale of the entire properties of the estate cannot be legally done without the conformity of the heirs-distributees because the certificates of title are already registered in their names Hence, in pursuit of the agitation to sell, respondent

Hon. Francisco P. Burgos urged the heirs-distributees to sell the entire property based on the rationale that proceeds thereof deposited in the bank will earn interest more than the present income of the so called estate. Most of the heirs-distributees, however. have been petitioner timid to say their piece. Only the 4/9 group of heirs led by Jose Cuenco Borromeo have had the courage to stand up and refuse the proposal to sell clearly favored by respondent Hon. Francisco P. Burgos. xxx xxx xxx

20. Petitioners will refrain from discussing herein the merits of the shotgun motion of Atty. Domingo L. Antigua as well as other incidents now pending in the court below which smack of harassment against the herein petitioners. For, regardless of the merits of said incidents, petitioners respectfully contend that it is highly improper for respondent Hon. Francisco P. Burgos to continue to preside over Sp. Proc. No. 916-R by reason of the following circumstances: (a) He has shown undue interest in the sale of the properties as initiated by Atty. Domingo L. Antigua whose sister is married to a brother of respondent. (b) The proposed sale cannot be legally done without the conformity of the heirsdistributees, and petitioners have openly refused the sale, to the great disappointment of respondent. (c) The shot gun motion of Atty. Antigua and similar incidents are clearly intended to harass and embarrass administrator Jose Cuenco Borromeo in order to pressure him into acceding to the proposed sale. (d) Respondent has shown bias and prejudice against petitioners by failing to resolve the claim for attorney's fees filed by Jose Cuenco Borromeo and the late Crispin Borromeo. Similar claims by the other lawyers were resolved by respondent after petitioners refused the proposed sale. (pp. 41-43, Rollo) On March 1, 1983, the appellate court rendered its decision granting the petition for certiorari and/or prohibition and disqualifying Judge Francisco P. Burgos from taking further cognizance of Special Proceedings No. 916-R. The court also ordered the transmission of the records of the case to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Region VII for re-raffling. A motion for reconsideration of the decision was denied by the appellate court on April 11, 1983. Hence, the present petition for review seeking to modify the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court insofar as it disqualifies and inhibits Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further hearing the case of Intestate Estate of Vito Borromeo and orders the remand of the case to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu for re-raffling. The principal issue in this case has become moot and academic because Judge Francisco P. Burgos decided to retire from the Regional Trial Court of Cebu sometime before the latest

reorganization of the judiciary. However, we decide the petition on its merits for the guidance of the judge to whom this case will be reassigned and others concerned. The petitioners deny that respondent Jose Cuenco Borromeo has been harassed. They contend that Judge Burgos has benn shown unusual interest in the proposed sale of the entire estate for P6,700,000.00 in favor of the buyers of Atty. Antigua. They claim that this disinterest is shown by the judge's order of March 2, 1979 assessing the property of the estate at P15,000,000.00. They add that he only ordered the administrator to sell so much of the properties of the estate to pay the attorney's fees of the lawyers-claimants. To them, the inhibition of Judge Burgos would have been unreasonable because his orders against the failure of Jose Cuenco Borromeo, as administrator, to give an accounting and inventory of the estate were all affirmed by the appellate court. They claim that the respondent court, should also have taken judicial notice of the resolution of this Court directing the said judge to "expedite the settlement and adjudication of the case" in G.R. No. 54232. And finally, they state that the disqualification of judge Burgos would delay further the closing of the administration proceeding as he is the only judge who is conversant with the 47 volumes of the records of the case. Respondent Jose Cuenco Borromeo, to show that he had been harassed. countered that Judge Burgos appointed Ricardo V. Reyes as co-administrator of the estate on October 11, 1972, yet Borromeo was singled out to make an accounting of what t he was supposed to have received as rentals for the land upon which the Juliana Trade Center is erected, from January, 1977 to February 1982, inclusive, without mentioning the withholding tax for the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In order to bolster the agitation to sell as proposed by Domingo L. Antigua, Judge Burgos invited Antonio Barredo, Jr., to a series of conferences from February 26 to 28, 1979. During the conferences, Atty. Antonio Barredo, Jr., offered to buy the shares of the heirsdistributees presumably to cover up the projected sale initiated by Atty. Antigua. On March 2, 1979, or two days after the conferences, a motion was filed by petitioner Domingo L. Antigua praying that Jose Cuenco Borromeo be required to file an inventory when he has already filed one to account for cash, a report on which the administrators had already rendered: and to appear and be examined under oath in a proceeding conducted by Judge Burgos lt was also prayed that subpoena duces tecum be issued for the appearance of the Manager of the Consolidated Bank and Trust Co., bringing all the bank records in the name of Jose Cuenco Borromeo jointly with his wife as well as the appearance of heirs-distributees Amelinda Borromeo Talam and another heir distributee Vitaliana Borromeo. Simultaneously with the filing of the motion of Domingo Antigua, Atty. Raul H. Sesbreno filed a request for the issuance of subpoena duces tecum to the Manager of Consolidated Bank and 'Trust Co., Inc.; Register of Deeds of Cebu City; Register of Deeds for the Province of Cebu and another subpoena duces tecum to Atty. Jose Cuenco Borromeo. On the same date, the Branch Clerk of Court issued a subpoena duces tecum to the Managert of the bank, the Register of deeds for the City of Cebu, the Register of Deeds for the Province, of Cebu. and to Jose Cuenco Borromeo.

On the following day, March 3, 1979, Atty Gaudioso v. Villagonzalo in behalf of the heirs of Marcial Borromeo who had a common cause with Atty Barredo, Jr., joined petitioner Domingo L. Antigua by filing a motion for relief of the administrator. On March 5, 1979, Atty. Villagonzalo filed a request for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum to private respondent Jose Cuenco Borromeo to bring and produce all the owners" copies of the titles in the court presided order by Judge Burgos. Consequently. the Branch Clerk of Court issued a subpoena duces tecum commanding Atty. Jose Cuenco Borromeo to bring and produce the titles in court. All the above-incidents were set for hearing on June 7, 1979 but on June 14, 1979, before the date of the hearing, Judge Burgos issued an order denying the private respondents' motion for reconsideration and the motion to quash the subpoena.1avvphi1 It was further argued by the private respondents that if ,judge Francisco P. Burgos is not inhibited or disqualified from trying Sp. Proc. No. 916-R, there would be a miscarriage of justice Because for the past twelve years, he had not done anything towards the closure of the estate proceedings except to sell the properties of the heirs-distributees as initiated by petitioner Domingo L. Antigua at 6.7 million pesos while the Intestate Court had already evaluated it at 15 million pesos. The allegations of the private respondents in their motion for inhibition, more specifically, the insistence of the trial judge to sell the entire estate at P6,700,000.00, where 4/9 group of heirs objected, cannot easily be ignored. Suspicion of partiality on the part of a trial judge must be avoided at all costs. In the case of Bautista v. Rebeuno (81 SCRA 535), this Court stated: ... The Judge must maintain and preserve the trust and faith of the parties litigants. He must hold himself above reproach and suspicion. At the very first sign of lack of faith and trust to his actions, whether well grounded or not, the Judge has no other alternative but inhibit himself from the case. A judge may not be legally Prohibited from sitting in a litigation, but when circumstances appear that will induce doubt to his honest actuations and probity in favor or of either partly or incite such state of mind, he should conduct a careful self-examination. He should exercise his discretion in a way that the people's faith in the Courts of Justice is not impaired, "The better course for the Judge under such circumstances is to disqualify himself "That way he avoids being misunderstood, his reputation for probity and objectivity is preserve ed. what is more important, the Ideal of impartial administration of justice is lived up to. In this case, the fervent distrust of the private respondents is based on sound reasons. As Earlier stated, however, the petition for review seeking to modify the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court insofar as it disqualifies and inhibits Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further hearing the Intestate Estate of Vito Borromeo case and ordering the remand of the case to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court for re-raffling should be DENIED for the decision is not only valid but the issue itself has become moot and academic.

G.R. No. 65995 The petitioners seek to restrain the respondents from further acting on any and all incidents in Special Proceedings No. 916-R during the pendency of this petition and No. 63818. They also pray that all acts of the respondents related to the said special proceedings after March 1, 1983 when the respondent Judge was disqualified by the appellate court be declared null and void and without force and effect whatsoever. The petitioners state that the respondent Judge has set for hearing all incidents in Special Proceedings No. 916-R, including the reversion from the heirs-distributees to the estate, of the distributed properties already titled in their names as early as 1970, notwithstanding the pending inhibition case elevated before this Court which is docketed as G.R. No. 63818. The petitioners further argue that the present status of Special Proceeding No. 916-R requires only the appraisal of the attorney's fees of the lawyers-claimants who were individually hired by their respective heirs-clients, so their attorney's fees should be legally charged against their respective clients and not against the estate. On the other hand, the respondents maintain that the petition is a dilatory one and barred by res judicata because this Court on July 8, 1981, in G.R. No. 54232 directed the respondent Judge to expedite the settlement and liquidation of the decedent's estate. They claim that this resolution, which was already final and executory, was in effect reversed and nullified by the Intermediate Appellate Court in its case-AC G.R.-No. SP - 11145 when it granted the petition for certiorari and or prohibition and disqualified Judge Francisco P. Burgos from taking further cognizance of Special Proceedings No. 916R as well as ordering the transmission of the records of the case to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Region VII for re-raffling on March 1, 1983, which was appealed to this Court by means of a Petition for Review (G.R. No. 63818). We agree with the petitioners' contention that attorney's fees are not the obligation of the estate but of the individual heirs who individually hired their respective lawyers. The portion, therefore, of the Order of August 15, 1969, segregating the exhorbitantly excessive amount of 40% of the market value of the estate from which attorney's fees shall be taken and paid should be deleted. Due to our affirmance of the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court in G.R. No. 63818, we grant the petition. WHEREFORE, (1) In G.R. No. 41171, the order of the respondent judge dated December 24, 1974, declaring the respondent entitled to 5/9 of the estate of the late Vito Borromeo and the order dated July 7, 1975, denying the petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the aforementioned order are hereby SET ASIDE for being NULL and VOID; (2) In G.R. No. 55000, the order of the trial court declaring the waiver document valid is hereby SET ASIDE;

(3) In G.R. No. 63818, the petition is hereby DENIED. The issue in the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court disqualifying and ordering the inhibition of Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further hearing Special Proceedings No. 916-R is declared moot and academic. The judge who has taken over the sala of retired Judge Francisco P. Burgos shall immediately conduct hearings with a view to terminating the proceedings. In the event that the successor-judge is likewise disqualified, the order of the Intermediate Appellate Court directing the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu to reraffle the case shall be implemented: (4) In G.R. No. 65995, the petition is hereby GRANTED. 'The issue seeking to restrain Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further acting in G.R. No. 63818 is MOOT and ACADEMIC: (5) In G.R, No, 62895, the trial court is hereby ordered to speedily terminate the close Special Proceedings No. 916-R, subject to the submission of an inventory of the real properties of the estate and an accounting of the cash and bank deposits by the petitioneradministrator of the estate as required by this Court in its Resolution dated June 15, 1983; and (6) The portion of the Order of August 15, 1969, segregating 40% of the market value of the estate from which attorney's fees shall be taken and paid should be, as it is hereby DELETED. The lawyers should collect from the heirs-distributees who individually hired them, attorney's fees according to the nature of the services rendered but in amounts which should not exceed more than 20% of the market value of the property the latter acquired from the estate as beneficiaries. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 24955 September 4, 1926

JULIAN SOLLA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, vs. URSULA ASCUETA, ET AL., defendants-appellants. Marcelino Lontok for plaintiffs-appellants. Antonio Belmonte, Miguel Florentino, Jose A. Espiritu and Camus, Delgado and Recto for defendants-appellants. VILLA-REAL, J.: These are two appeals by the plaintiffs and defendants, respectively, from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur, the dispositive part of which is as follows: The court finds that the plaintiffs Rosenda Lagmay and Silvestra Sajor are the surviving legatees of the testratrix Maria Solla; that the plaintiff Julian Solla and Lucia Solla are heirs of Sergio Solla; Ambrosio Lagmay is the heir of the deceased Cayetana Solla;

Francisco Serna, 2. and Juana Baclig of the deceased Josefa Solla; Pedro Serna and Agapita Serna of the deceased Jacinto Serna, and that Pedro Garcia is nephew and heir of the deceased Matias Seveda. That the defendant Ursula is the widow of the deceased Leandro Serano; that the other defendants Simeon, Cesario, Santiago, Primitiva and Maxima, surnamed Serrano, are the children and heirs of the said Leandro Serrano, who died on August 5, 1921; that Simeon Serrano is the executor of Leandro Serrano and possesses the property claimed by the plaintiffs. That Leandro Serrano during his lifetime also possessed and enjoyed the said property up to the day of his death; that this property, the possession or delivery of which is sought by the plaintiffs, should be separated from the estate of Leandro Serrano, with the exception of the parcel of land bought from Matias Seveda, Exhibit 5; and the defendants, especially Simeon Serrano, are ordered to separate and deliver the same to each and everyone of the plaintiffs together with one-half of the fruits, or the value thereof, from September 5, 1921; that the parcels of land referred to are indicated in Maria Solla's will Exhibit B and more particularly described in plaintiffs' Exhibit A. It is ordered that a partition, in accordance with the law, be made of the land in which the plaintiffs have a participation. It is also ordered that the defendants, especially, the executor Simeon Serrano, deliver to the plaintiffs their respective share in cash or in other property, as a legacy, with one-half of the costs against each of the two parties. It is ordered. In support of their appeal, the defendants-appellants assigned the following supposed errors as committed by the trial court in its judgment, to wit: 1. The trial court erred in holding that the lack of appropriate description of each parcel of land claimed is no bar to this action, and that said defect was ignored in the stipulation of facts; 2. The trial court erred in holding that at the trial of the case the attorneys for both parties also agreed before the court that the latter might decide the case on Exhibit A is evidence of the plaintiffs, and in holding that said Exhibit A is a correct statement of the property left by the deceased Maria Solla and that the attorney for the defendants admitted it as such; 3. The trial court erred in not considering in its judgment Exhibits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the defendants as evidence, and considering the document Exhibit 4 of said defendants as deficient, weak and worthless evidence; 4. The trial court in not holding that the action of the plaintiffs in this case has prescribed; 5. The trial court erred in interpreting and holding that paragraph 3 of Leandro Serrano's will, Exhibit C, ordered the delivery of the legacies left by Maria Solla in her will Exhibit B, to the plaintiffs, and that said paragraph affects each and everyone of the parcels of land in the property deeds of Leandro Serano, Exhibits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, and in holding that the said paragraph 3 of Leandro Serrano's will cancels all of the rights acquired by him, and is the immediate cause of the action brought by the plaintiffs;

6. The trial court erred in not holding that the third clause of Leandro Serrano's will, Exhibit C, refers only to the pious bequests specified in Maria Solla's will, Exhibit B; 7. The trial court erred in ordering the separation and delivery of the unidentified and undetermined estate of Leandro Serrano, together with half of the fruits or their value from September 5, 1921, and in ordering the partition of the unidentified and undetermined property between the parties without designating the shares; 8. The lower court erred in ordering the defendants to separate and deliver the property in question to the plaintiffs, as well as one-half of the fruits of the same from September 5, 1921; 9. The lower court erred in not holding the same of the property of Maria Solla was inherited by Leandro Serrano by universal title and some by renunciation and sale by the legatees, which title was further protected and cleared by acquisitive prescription, and in not holding that said property of Maria Solla was merged with the estate which passed into the hands of the universal heir Leandro Serrano; 10. The lower court erred in holding that the property in question does not belong to the estate of Leandro Serrano; 11. The lower court erred in issuing the order of December 13, 1924 reinstating Rosenda Lagmay as one of the plaintiffs, and in holding that Lucia Solla is one of the plaintiffs when her name as such plaintiff had been stricken out; 12. The lower court erred in not considering the last amendment presented by the plaintiffs to their amended complaint; 13. The lower court erred in not considering the amended answer of the defendants of October 14, 1924; 14. The lower court erred in denying the motion for dismissal of September 3, 1924; and 15. The lower court erred in denying the motion for a new trial filed by the defendants. On the other hand, the plaintiff-appellants, in support of their appeal, assign the following supposed errors as committed by the trial court in its judgment, to wit: (1) The trial court committed an error in holding that the silence of the plaintiffs leads to the belief that they consented to the exclusive enjoyment of the said property by Leandro Serrano; and (2) in not ordering the defendants, as heirs of Leandro Serrano, to render an account to the plaintiffs of the products of the lands of the deceased Maria Solla from the time the said Leandro Serrano took possession thereof as executor of the deceased Maria Solla. The case having been called for trial on October 15, 1924, the parties submitted the following statement of facts and petitioned the court to render judgment thereon:

AGREEMENT Both parties admit the following facts to be true: 1. Da. Maria Solla died in June, 1883, in the municipality of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, leaving a will executed and recorded in accordance with the laws then in force, but which had not been probated in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure. 2. There were named in said will, as legatees, Sergio Soll, Cayetano Solla, Josefa Solla, Jacinto Serna, Rosenda Lagmay, Silvestra Sajor and Matias Seveda, and Leandro Serrano, as universal heir, with their shares given them by the will above-mentioned. 3. Said legatees or their descendants or heirs did not judicially claim their legacies during the life-time of Leandro Serrano, of which he had taken possession, neither was any testamentary proceeding instituted for the settlement of the estate left by Maria Solla and that Leandro Serrano did not deliver the legacies in question, which he possessed in his name until his death, having declared the property for taxation as his own and collected the income therefrom for himself. 4. That the plaintiffs Julian Solla, Lucia Solla, Ambrosio Lagmay, Rosenda Lagmay, Francisco Serna, 2. Juana Baclig, Pedro Serna, Agapita Serna and Pedro Garcia are the descendants or heirs of some of the original legatees, two of whom are the plaintiffs Silvestra Sajor and Rosenda Lagmay; and the defendants are heirs of Leandro Serrano. 5. That the said legacies produce 35 uyones of play net annually, and maguey, which the plaintiffs claim amount to P1,000 as against P300 claimed by the defendants. 6. That the property of the legacy situated in Cabugao passed into possession of Simeon Serrano by virtue of Leandro Serrano's will as executor thereof, and that said legacies have been and are mixed with other property of the estate of Leandro Serrano. The plaintiffs present as evidence their Exhibits B and C and the defendants also present as evidence their Exhibits 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Therefore, both parties pray Honorable Court to render upon the stipulation of facts, the facts proven by the documentary evidence, and in accordance with law, with the costs against defeated party. Vigan, October 14, 1924. (Sgd.) ANTONIO DIRECTO Attorney for the plaintiffs (Sgd.) MIGUEL FLORENTINO

ANT. BELMONTE Attorneys for the defendants Later in the morning of the same day the parties again appeared before the court, and the following proceedings were had: A little after ten. COURT. Attorneys Antonio Belmonte and Antonio Directo again appear and ask the court to receive their respective documentary evidence in this case. Attorney Directo presents Exhibit A, which is certified copy of the clerk of the court and is made a part of the complaint. exhibit B is a certified copy of Mria Solla's will and plaintiffs' Exhibit C is a certified copy of Leandro Serrano's will. BELMONTE. I agree with the stipulation of facts that these documents are integral parts thereof and the court should consider them as such. COURT. Have you any objection? BELMONTE. There is an agreement between both parties that there will be no objection, that is to say, that all the evidence may be admitted as part of the stipulation. COURT. The exhibits mentioned in the stipulation are admitted as part of the same. BELMONTE. The defense also presents Exhibit 1, as evidence and as an integral part of the statement of facts, which is a duly registered possessory information; Exhibit 2 is also a duly registered possessory information; Exhibit 4 is a public document wherein the legatees renounced the legacies in question; Exhibit 5 is a deed of sale; Exhibit 6 is a Spanish translation of Exhibit 5; Exhibit 7 is a composition title issued by the State, all of which refer to the land in question. COURT. Each and every one of the exhibits presented by the Attorney Belmonte also forms a part of the stipulation of facts between both attorneys and are admitted. BELMONTE. And with this presentation of evidence we submit the case for the decision of the court. Exhibit A mentioned by the parties in their second appearance, consists of a list of the property which it is said was left by the deceased Maria Solla. Exhibit B is the nuncupative of the said deceased Maria Solla executed on April 19, 1883. Exhibit C is the will of Leonardo Serrano, universal heir of Maria Solla, executed August 22, 1921.

Exhibit 1 is a possessory information proceeding covering 15 parcels of land situated in the municipality of Cabugao, Province of Ilocos Sur, instituted by Leandro Serrano on April 1, 1895, and registered in the registry of deeds on April 25, 1895. Leandro Serrano, in his application, claims to be the absolute owner in fee simple of said 15 parcels. Said petition is supported by the testimony of Julio Solla, Apolonio Solla, Mauro Solla and Juan Solla, children of Sergio Solla, one of the legatees named by the deceased Maria Solla. Exhibit 2 is another possessory information proceeding covering 36 parcels of land situated in the municipality of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, instituted by Leandro Serrano on March 20, 1895 and registered in the registry of deeds on May 20, 1895. Leandro Serrano, in his petition, also claims to be absolute owner in fee simple of the said 36 parcels ands is supported by the testimony of Juan Solla, son of the legatee Sergio Solla. Exhibit 3 is another possessory information proceeding covering 65 parcels situated within the municipality of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, instituted by Leandro Serrano on March 26, 1895 and registered in the registry of deeds on April 24, 1895. Leandro Serrano, in his petition, claims to be the absolute owner in fee of said land. Exhibit 4 is the record of certain proceedings of the president of the municipality of Cabugao at the instance of Leandro Serrano in which formal renunciation of their respective legacies is made by the legatees named in Maria Solla's will. Exhibit 5 is a deed of sale made by Matias Sevedea in favor of Leandro Serrano of one parcel of land instituted in Cabugao which he had received from Maria Solla as a legacy. Exhibit 7 is a royal title issued by the Spanish Government in favor of Leandro Serrano to six parcels of land situated in the barrio of Alongoong of the municipality of Cabugao of the Province of Ilocos Sur. It also appears from the record that Leandro Serrano took possession of the property left by Maria Solla immediately after her death which occurred on June 11, 1883, and continued in possession of the same until his death, which took place on August 5, 1921, having instituted possessory information proceedings, declared the property for taxation, paid the land tax on the same and enjoyed its products exclusively. On account of the intimate relation between them, we shall consider the first two assignments of error together. The defendants-appellants that the trial court erred in considering plaintiffs' Exhibit A as a part of the stipulation of facts, disregarding the complete absence of a description of the land which they to recover. From folio 2 of the transcript of the stenographic notes it appears that on the morning of October 16, 1924 the attorney for the defendants, Mr. Antonio Belmonte, agreed to the admission of all of the documentary evidence presented at that time as a part of the agreement, among which is found the document Exhibit A, which contains a list of the supposed legacies left by the

deceased Maria Solla, to the predecessors in interest of the plaintiffs, with their respective descriptions, which were the subject-matter of the complaint herein, leaving to the sound discretion of the court to weigh the same. It is true that the court found that six of the parcels described therein were the exclusive property of Leandro Serrano and are covered by the royal title, Exhibit 7 of the defendants, but this does not in any manner mean that the other parcels were not those left by the testratix Maria Solla to her brothers and nephews. Therefore, the first and second assignments of error are groundless. In regard to the third assignment of error of the defendants-appellants that Exhibits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 having been presented as evidence by the defendants and admitted by the plaintiffs as an integral part of the stipulation of facts, it was an error not to give full weight to said documents. The fourth assignment of error of the defendants-appellants raises the question of prescription of the plaintiffs' action. It appears from the stipulation of facts that, aside from the renunciation mad by the legatees of their respective legacies, according to Exhibit 4, Leandro Serrano was in possession of the property left by Maria Solla from June 11, 1883 until August 5, 1921, having obtained a possessory information in his favor, which was duly registered in the registry of deeds, exclusively enjoyed the products thereof, declared it as his property for the purpose of taxation and paid the corresponding land tax thereon, without any of the legatees or their successors in interest having formally nor judicially claimed any title thereto or asked for any share of the products, or contributed to the payment of the land tax. Furthermore, in the possessory information proceedings wherein Leandro Serrano claimed to be the absolute owner in fee simple of the lands involved therein, the children of Sergio Solla, one of the legates of the deceased Maria Solla, testified in support of the petitions. So that under the provisions of articles 1940 and 1957 of the Civil Code, as well as the provisions of sections 38, 40 and 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the plaintiffs have lost by, extinctive prescription, not only all right of action to recover the ownership of the property left to their predecessors in interest, but also whatever right of ownership they have had to the same because of Leandro Serrano's exclusive, open, peaceful and continuous possession which was adverse to all the world including the legatees and their successors, for the period of thirty-nine years under claim of ownership, evidenced not only by his applications for possessory information, but also by his exclusive enjoyment of the products of said property, even if it is considered that the legatees have not renounced their part in the legacy has given him, by operation of law, exclusive and absolute title to the said properties. (Bargayo vs. Camumot, 40 Phil., 857, 869.) The fifth and sixth assignments of error raise the question of the true interpretation of the provisions of the last will of the testratix Maria Solla in regard to the obligation imposed upon the universal heir named by her, Leandro Serrano, and of the provisions of the last will of the latter in regard to the obligation imposed by him upon his heir, and executor Simeon Serrano, one of the herein defendants-appellants.

The following are the pertinent parts of Maria Solla's will: I also and order that there be given, in the way of legacies, to my brother Sergio Solla and sisters Cayetana Solla and Josefa Solla, to my nephew Jacinto Serna and to Rosenda Lagmay and Silvestra Sajor whom I have raised, and to my servant Matias Seveda, distributed in the following manner . . . I also declare that I have no forced heirs, my parents and my two sons having died, and I am at liberty to name any their I care to and whom I consider proper. Therefore not having anyone who inspires me with confidence and is willing to comply strictly with my orders and requests in this will, I desire and hereby name Leandro Serrano, my grandson, as my universal heir who is a legitimate son of my son Modesto Solosa, and is single; and besides I have raised him from infancy, and have not yet given him anything notwithstanding that he has always been with me, always helping me; and I desire him to comply with the obligation to give or deliver to the parish priest of this town a sufficient sum of money necessary for a yearly novena for an ordinary require mass for the first eight days thereof and on the ninth, or last day, a solemn requiem mass, with vigil and a large bier, for these masses and for the repose of my soul and those of my parents, husband, children and other relatives. I repeat and insist that my heir shall execute and comply with this request without fail. And at the hour of his death he will insist that his heirs comply with all that I have here ordered. The pertinent parts of the will of Leandro Serrano (Exhibit C) are as follows: Third. I command my executor to put all of my property in order, separating first the property of his deceased grandmother Capitana Maria Solla, because she directed in her will that her property be distributed strictly in conformity with her wishes and as she earnestly requested the compliance of her bequests I obligate my heirs to comply with the same; for that reason it is my wish and I really should like to deliver it to my granddaughter, Corazon Serrano, my adopted daughter, but as she is already dead, I deliver it to her father Simeon Serrano because among my children he is the only one who is very obedient to me and I hope he will comply with all my orders and those of his grandmother Maria Solla. In fact he is the only one of my children who was able to help me in all my troubles and he is the most obedient one of them; because, although I became angry with him and threatened him many times, he paid no attention to my reprimands. Such is not the case with my other children, who, when I became a little angry, each time drifted farther away and have never offered me any help, which had accused me much pain, but, nevertheless, they continue to be my children and I do not exclude them. xxx xxx xxx

Fifth. On occupation of the fact that all of the property of the deceased Capitana Solla was given to my son Simeon I order him not to forget annually all the souls of the relatives of my grandmother and also of nine and to have a mass said on the first and ninth days of the yearly novena and that he erect a first class bier. xxx xxx xxx

I insistently order that the property of my deceased grandmother Capitana Maria be disposed of in conformity with all the provisions of her will and of mine. As may be seen Maria Solla named grandson Leandro Serrano in her will as her universal heir to her property and ordered him to strictly comply with her orders and requests and that at the hour of his death to make the same insistence upon his heirs to comply with all that she has ordered. As may also be seen Leandro Serrano named his son Simeon Serrano, as executor of his will and that he directed him to put all of his property in order and to separate that which came from his deceased grandmother Maria Solla, which he gives to his said son Simeon Serrano and orders that same be disposed of exclusively in conformity with the wishes of his said grandmother, not forgetting the souls of all of his grandmother's relatives and of his own for whose repose nine masses were to be said annually during nine days, with a solemn mass on the first and last days. Now, then, what are the orders and requests that Maria Solla wanted the universal heir named by her in her will, Leandro Serrano, to faithfully comply with and to make his heirs comply with, and what are the orders of Maria Solla which Leandro Serrano ordered his executor and heir Simeon Serrano to comply with? In the first place, there is the distribution of the legacies given in her will to her brothers, nephew, protegees and servant. In the second place, the delivery of a sufficient sum of money to the parish of Cabugao for the annual novena, consisting of eight ordinary masses and one solemn requiem mass, together with vigil and bier on the last day for the repose of the soul of the testratix and her parents, children, husband and other relatives; and in the third place, the order that Leandro Serrano demand, with the same insistence, that this heirs comply with all that she had ordered. Leandro Serrano have complied with all of these commands and orders during his lifetime, some wholly and others partially. The orders and requests that he could and should have fully complied with during his lifetime were to distribute the legacies and to order his heirs to comply with all her wishes specified in her will. The order or request that he was able to comply with only partially was to deliver to the parish priest a sufficient sum of money necessary for the annual masses for the repose of the soul of Maria Solla and her parents, husband, children and other relatives. It is not logical to suppose that Maria Solla in ordering Leandro Serrano to insist in his will that his heirs after his death comply with all the requests contained in her said will, referred to the orders and requests that he could and should comply with during his lifetime, because neither is it logical nor reasonable to suppose that she for a moment doubted that the person whom she had named as her universal heir for, according to her, he was the only person in whom she had any confidence would comply with her requests. If that is so, Maria Solla could not have referred to other than the pious orders and requests, because, by reason of their nature, they were the only ones which Leandro Serrano could not wholly comply with during his lifetime, but that his heirs would continue to do so. And Leandro Serrano, in complying with the requests of Maria Solla in his will by ordering his son Simeon Serrano, to whom he bequeathed all of the property received from the former, to comply with all of the requests of the same, could not have meant but those requests which Maria Solla wished complied with by the heirs of Leandro Serrano which are those relating to the pious bequests. She confirms this on the fifth clause of her will

quoted above, in which she says: "On account of the fact that all the property of the deceased Capitana Solla is bequeathed to my son Simeon I order him not to forget the souls of my grandmother's relatives." From this is evidently appears that Leandro Serrano bequeathed all of the property of the deceased Maria Solla to his son Simeon Serrano only in order that he might comply with her pious requests. Furthermore if to ease his conscience it had been Leandro Serrano's desire to deliver the aforesaid legacies to the legatees or to their successors in interest he would have done so during his lifetime or would have said so clearly in his will and would not have given all of his said property to his son Simeon Serrano. In order to determine the testator's intention, the court should place itself as near as possible in his position, and hence, where the language of the will is ambiguous or doubtful, should take into consideration the situation of the testator and the facts and circumstances surrounding him at the time the will executed. (40 Cyc., 1392.) Where the testator's intention is manifest from the context of the will and surrounding circumstances, but is obscured by inapt and inaccurate modes of expression, the language will be subordinated to the intention, and in order to give effect to such intention, as far as possible, the court may depart from the strict wording and read word or phrase in a sense different from that which is ordinarily attributed to it, and for such purpose may mould or change the language of the will. such as restricting its application or supplying omitted words or phrases. (40 Cyc., 1399.) In the present case, it clearly appearing that it was Mari Solla's intention, in ordering her universal heir Leandro Serrano in her will at the hour of his death, to insist upon the compliance of her orders by his heirs, that the latter should comply with her pious orders and that she did not mean her orders concerning her legacies, the compliance of which she had entrusted to Leandro Serrano, we are authorized to restrict the application of the words "all that I have here ordered" used by the said Maria Solla and the words "all her orders" used by Leandro Serrano in their respective wills limiting them to the pious orders and substituting the phrase "in regard to the annual masses" after the words used by both testators, respectively. The trial court, therefore, committed an error in interpreting the order to Leandro Serrano mentioned in his will as applicable to the provisions of Maria Solla's will relative to the legacies and not to pious bequests exclusively. As to the remaining assignments of error, they being merely corollaries of the fifth and sixth, the points raised therein are impliedly decided in our disposition of said two assignments last mentioned. With respect to the appeal of the plaintiffs-appellants, the two assignments of error made therein are without merit in view of the foregoing considerations and the conclusions we have arrived at with regard to the assignments of error made by the defendants-appellants. In view of the foregoing, we are of the opinion that the judgment appealed from must be, as hereby, reversed in all its parts and the complaint dismissed, without special findings as to costs. So ordered.

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.) BIBIANA ILLEGIBLE

(Sgd.) "ROSENDA CORTES

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. EN BANC G.R. No. L-15153 August 31, 1960

In the Matter of the summary settlement of the Estate of the deceased ANACLETA ABELLANA. LUCIO BALONAN, petitioner-appellee, vs. EUSEBIA ABELLANA, et al., oppositors-appellants. T. de los Santos for appellee. Climaco and Climaco for appellants. LABARADOR, J.: Appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga City admitting to probate the will of one Anacleta Abellana. The case was originally appealed to the Court of Appeals where the following assignment of error is made: The appellants respectfully submit that the Trial Court erred in holding that the supposed testament, Exh. "A", was signed in accordance with law; and in admitting the will to probate. In view of the fact that the appeal involves a question of law the said court has certified the case to us.

The facts as found by the trial court are as follows: It appears on record that the last Will and Testament (Exhibit "A"), which is sought to be probated, is written in the Spanish language and consists of two (2) typewritten pages (pages 4 and 5 of the record) double space. The first page is signed by Juan Bello and under his name appears typewritten "Por la testadora Anacleta Abellana, residence Certificate A-1167629, Enero 20, 1951, Ciudad de Zamboanga', and on the second page appears the signature of three (3) instrumental witnesses Blas Sebastian, Faustino Macaso and Rafael Ignacio, at the bottom of which appears the signature of T. de los Santos and below his signature is his official designation as the notary public who notarized the said testament. On the first page on the left margin of the said instrument also appear the signatures of the instrumental witnesses. On the second page, which is the last page of said last Will and Testament, also appears the signature of the three (3) instrumental witnesses and on that second page on the left margin appears the signature of Juan Bello under whose name appears handwritten the following phrase, "Por la Testadora Anacleta Abellana'. The will is duly acknowledged before Notary Public Attorney Timoteo de los Santos. (Emphasis supplied) The appeal squarely presents the following issue: Does the signature of Dr. Juan A. Abello above the typewritten statement "Por la Testadora Anacleta Abellana . . ., Ciudad de Zamboanga," comply with the requirements of law prescribing the manner in which a will shall be executed? The present law, Article 805 of the Civil Code, in part provides as follows: Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself 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 witness in the presence of the testator and of one another. (Emphasis supplied.) The clause "must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence and by his express direction," is practically the same as the provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Act No. 190) which 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 in writing and signed by the testator, 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. . . . (Emphasis supplied). Note that the old law as well as the new require that the testator himself sign the will, or if he cannot do so, the testator's name must be written by some other person in his presence and by his express direction. Applying this provision this Court said in the case of Ex Parte Pedro Arcenas, et al., Phil., 700:

It will be noticed from the above-quoted section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure that where the testator does not know how, or is unable, to sign, it will not be sufficient that one of the attesting witnesses signs the will at the testator's request, the notary certifying thereto as provided in Article 695 of the Civil Code, which, in this respect, was modified by section 618 above referred to, but it is necessary that the testator's name be written by the person signing in his stead in the place where he could have signed if he knew how or was able to do so, and this in the testator's presence and by his express direction; so that a will signed in a manner different than that prescribed by law shall not be valid and will not be allowed to be probated. Where a testator does not know how, or is unable for any reason, to sign the will himself, it shall be signed in the following manner: John Doe by the testator, Richard Doe; or in this form: "By the testator, John Doe, Richard Doe." All this must be written by the witness signing at the request of the testator. Therefore, under the law now in force, the witness Naval A. Vidal should have written at the bottom of the will the full name of the testator and his own name in one forms given above. He did not do so, however, and this is failure to comply with the law is a substantial defect which affects the validity of the will and precludes its allowance, notwithstanding the fact that no one appeared to oppose it. The same ruling was laid down in the case of Cuison vs. Concepcion, 5 Phil., 552. In the case of Barut vs. Cabacungan, 21 Phil., 461, we held that the important thing is that it clearly appears that the name of the testatrix was signed at her express direction; it is unimportant whether the person who writes the name of the testatrix signs his own or not. Cases of the same import areas follows: (Ex Parte Juan Ondevilla, 13 Phil., 479, Caluya vs. Domingo, 27 Phil., 330; Garcia vs. Lacuesta, 90 Phil., 489). In the case at bar the name of the testatrix, Anacleta Abellana, does not appear written under the will by said Abellana herself, or by Dr. Juan Abello. There is, therefore, a failure to comply with the express requirement in the law that the testator must himself sign the will, or that his name be affixed thereto by some other person in his presence and by his express direction. It appearing that the above provision of the law has not been complied with, we are constrained to declare that the said will of the deceased Anacleta Abellana may not be admitted to probate. WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby set aside and the petition for the probate of the will denied. With costs against petitioner. 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. G.R. No. L-36033 November 5, 1982 IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE PROBATE OF THE WILL OF DOROTEA PEREZ, (deceased): APOLONIO TABOADA, petitioner, vs. HON. AVELINO S. ROSAL, as Judge of Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte, (Branch III, Maasin), respondent. Erasmo M. Diola counsel for petition. Hon. Avelino S. Rosal in his own behalf.

GUTIERREZ, JR. J.: This is a petition for review of the orders issued by the Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte, Branch III, in Special Proceedings No. R-1713, entitled "In the Matter of the Petition for Probate of the Will of Dorotea Perez, Deceased; Apolonio Taboada, Petitioner", which denied the probate of the will, the motion for reconsideration and the motion for appointment of a special administrator. In the petition for probate filed with the respondent court, the petitioner attached the alleged last will and testament of the late Dorotea Perez. Written in the CebuanoVisayan dialect, the will consists of two pages. The first page contains the entire testamentary dispositions and is signed at the end or bottom of the page by the testatrix alone and at the left hand margin by the three (3) instrumental witnesses. The second page which contains the attestation clause and the acknowledgment is signed at the end of the attestation clause by the three (3) attesting witnesses and at the left hand margin by the testatrix.

Since no opposition was filed after the petitioner's compliance with the requirement of publication, the trial court commissioned the branch clerk of court to receive the petitioner's evidence. Accordingly, the petitioner submitted his evidence and presented Vicente Timkang, one of the subscribing witnesses to the will, who testified on its genuineness and due execution. The trial court, thru then Presiding Judge Ramon C. Pamatian issued the questioned order denying the probate of the will of Dorotea Perez for want of a formality in its execution. In the same order, the petitioner was also required to submit the names of the intestate heirs with their corresponding addresses so that they could be properly notified and could intervene in the summary settlement of the estate. Instead of complying with the order of the trial court, the petitioner filed a manifestation and/or motion, ex parte praying for a thirty-day period within which to deliberate on any step to be taken as a result of the disallowance of the will. He also asked that the tenday period required by the court to submit the names of intestate heirs with their addresses be held in abeyance. The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the order denying the probate of the will. However, the motion together with the previous manifestation and/or motion could not be acted upon by the Honorable Ramon C. Pamatian due to his transfer to his new station at Pasig, Rizal. The said motions or incidents were still pending resolution when respondent Judge Avelino S. Rosal assumed the position of presiding judge of the respondent court. Meanwhile, the petitioner filed a motion for the appointment of special administrator. Subsequently, the new Judge denied the motion for reconsideration as well as the manifestation and/or motion filed ex parte. In the same order of denial, the motion for the appointment of special administrator was likewise denied because of the petitioner's failure to comply with the order requiring him to submit the names of' the intestate heirs and their addresses. The petitioner decided to file the present petition. For the validity of a formal notarial will, does Article 805 of the Civil Code require that the testatrix and all the three instrumental and attesting witnesses sign at the end of the will and in the presence of the testatrix and of one another? Article 805 of the Civil Code provides:
Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself 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 one another.

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, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. The attestation shall state the number of 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 the instrumental witnesses, and that the lacier witnesses and signed the will and the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to them.

The respondent Judge interprets the above-quoted provision of law to require that, for a notarial will to be valid, it is not enough that only the testatrix signs at the "end" but an the three subscribing witnesses must also sign at the same place or at the end, in the presence of the testatrix and of one another because the attesting witnesses to a will attest not merely the will itself but also the signature of the testator. It is not sufficient compliance to sign the page, where the end of the will is found, at the left hand margin of that page. On the other hand, the petitioner maintains that Article 805 of the Civil Code does not make it a condition precedent or a matter of absolute necessity for the extrinsic validity of the wig that the signatures of the subscribing witnesses should be specifically located at the end of the wig after the signature of the testatrix. He contends that it would be absurd that the legislature intended to place so heavy an import on the space or particular location where the signatures are to be found as long as this space or particular location wherein the signatures are found is consistent with good faith and the honest frailties of human nature. We find the petition meritorious. Undoubtedly, under Article 805 of the Civil Code, the will must be subscribed or signed at its end by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by another 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 one another. It must be noted that the law uses the terms attested and subscribed Attestation consists in witnessing the testator's execution of the will in order to see and take note mentally that those things are, done which the statute requires for the execution of a will and that the signature of the testator exists as a fact. On the other hand, subscription is the signing of the witnesses' names upon the same paper for the purpose of Identification of such paper as the will which was executed by the testator. (Ragsdale v. Hill, 269 SW 2d 911).

Insofar as the requirement of subscription is concerned, it is our considered view that the will in this case was subscribed in a manner which fully satisfies the purpose of Identification. The signatures of the instrumental witnesses on the left margin of the first page of the will attested not only to the genuineness of the signature of the testatrix but also the due execution of the will as embodied in the attestation clause. While perfection in the drafting of a will may be desirable, unsubstantial departure from the usual forms should be ignored, especially where the authenticity of the will is not assailed. (Gonzales v. Gonzales, 90 Phil. 444, 449). The law is to be liberally construed, "the underlying and fundamental objective permeating the provisions on the law on wills in this project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. This objective is in accord with the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will" (Report of the Code commission, p. 103). Parenthetically, Judge Ramon C. Pamatian stated in his questioned order that were not for the defect in the place of signatures of the witnesses, he would have found the testimony sufficient to establish the validity of the will. The objects of attestation and of subscription were fully met and satisfied in the present case when the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin of the sole page which contains all the testamentary dispositions, especially so when the will was properly Identified by subscribing witness Vicente Timkang to be the same will executed by the testatrix. There was no question of fraud or substitution behind the questioned order. We have examined the will in question and noticed that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in writing the will. This would have been a fatal defect were it not for the fact that, in this case, it is discernible from the entire wig that it is really and actually composed of only two pages duly signed by the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses. As earlier stated, the first page which contains the entirety of the testamentary dispositions is signed by the testatrix at the end or at the bottom while the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin. The other page which is marked as "Pagina dos" comprises the attestation clause and the acknowledgment. The acknowledgment itself states that "This Last Will and Testament consists of two pages including this page". In Singson v. Florentino, et al. (92 Phil. 161, 164), this Court made the following observations with respect to the purpose of the requirement that the attestation clause must state the number of pages used:
The law referred to is article 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645, which requires that the attestation clause shall state the number of pages or sheets

upon which the win is written, which requirement has been held to be mandatory as an effective safeguard against the possibility of interpolation or omission of some of the pages of the will to the prejudice of the heirs to whom the property is intended to be bequeathed (In re will of Andrada, 42 Phil., 180; Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405; Gumban vs. Gorecho, 50 Phil. 30; Quinto vs. Morata, 54 Phil. 481; Echevarria vs. Sarmiento, 66 Phil. 611). The ratio decidendi of these cases seems to be that the attestation clause must contain a statement of the number of sheets or pages composing the will and that if this is missing or is omitted, it will have the effect of invalidating the will if the deficiency cannot be supplied, not by evidence aliunde, but by a consideration or examination of the will itself. But here the situation is different. While the attestation clause does not state the number of sheets or pages upon which the will is written, however, the last part of the body of the will contains a statement that it is composed of eight pages, which circumstance in our opinion takes this case out of the rigid rule of construction and places it within the realm of similar cases where a broad and more liberal view has been adopted to prevent the will of the testator from being defeated by purely technical considerations.

Icasiano v. Icasiano (11 SCRA 422, 429) has the following ruling which applies a similar liberal approach:
... Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only (sic) the fact that the testatrix and two other witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the seal of the notary public before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses. The law should not be so strictly and literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of the inadvertence of a single witness over whose conduct she had no control where the purpose of the law to guarantee the Identity of the testament and its component pages is sufficiently attained, no intentional or deliberate deviation existed, and the evidence on record attests to the fun observance of the statutory requisites. Otherwise, as stated in Vda. de Gil. Vs. Murciano, 49 Off. Gaz. 1459, at 1479 (decision on reconsideration) 'witnesses may sabotage the will by muddling or bungling it or the attestation clause.

WHEREFORE, the present petition is hereby granted. The orders of the respondent court which denied the probate of tile will, the motion for reconsideration of the denial of probate, and the motion for appointment of a special administrator are set aside. The respondent court is ordered to allow the probate of the wig and to conduct further proceedings in accordance with this decision. No pronouncement on costs. G.R. No. L-18979 June 30, 1964

IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE JOSEFA VILLACORTE. CELSO ICASIANO, petitioner-appellee, vs. NATIVIDAD ICASIANO and ENRIQUE ICASIANO, oppositors-appellants. Jose W. Diokno for petitioner-appellee. Rosendo J. Tansinin for oppositor-appellant Natividad Icasiano. Jaime R. Nuevas for oppositor-appellant Enrique Icasiano. REYES, J.B.L., J.:

Appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila admitting to probate the document and its duplicate, marked as Exhibits "A" and "A-1", as the true last will and testament of Josefa Villacorte, deceased, and appointing as executor Celso Icasiano, the person named therein as such. This special proceeding was begun on October 2, 1958 by a petition for the allowance and admission to probate of the original, Exhibit "A" as the alleged will of Josefa Villacorte, deceased, and for the appointment of petitioner Celso Icasiano as executor thereof. The court set the proving of the alleged will for November 8, 1958, and caused notice thereof to be published for three (3) successive weeks, previous to the time appointed, in the newspaper "Manila chronicle", and also caused personal service of copies thereof upon the known heirs. On October 31, 1958, Natividad Icasiano, a daughter of the testatrix, filed her opposition; and on November 10, 1958, she petitioned to have herself appointed as a special administrator, to which proponent objected. Hence, on November 18, 1958, the court issued an order appointing the Philippine Trust Company as special administrator. 1wph1.t On February 18, 1959, Enrique Icasiano, a son of the testatrix, also filed a manifestation adopting as his own Natividad's opposition to the probate of the alleged will. On March 19, 1959, the petitioner proponent commenced the introduction of his evidence; but on June 1, 1959, he filed a motion for the admission of an amended and supplemental petition, alleging that the decedent left a will executed in duplicate with all the legal requirements, and that he was, on that date, submitting the signed duplicate (Exhibit "A-1"), which he allegedly found only on or about May 26, 1959. On June 17, 1959, oppositors Natividad Icasiano de Gomez and Enrique Icasiano filed their joint opposition to the admission of the amended and supplemental petition, but by order of July 20, 1959, the court admitted said petition, and on July 30, 1959, oppositor Natividad Icasiano filed her amended opposition. Thereafter, the parties presented their respective evidence, and after several hearings the court issued the order admitting the will and its duplicate to probate. From this order, the oppositors appealed directly to this Court, the amount involved being over P200,000.00, on the ground that the same is contrary to law and the evidence. The evidence presented for the petitioner is to the effect that Josefa Villacorte died in the City of Manila on September 12, 1958; that on June 2, 1956, the late Josefa Villacorte executed a last will and testament in duplicate at the house of her daughter Mrs. Felisa Icasiano at Pedro Guevara Street, Manila, published before and attested by three instrumental witnesses, namely: attorneys Justo P. Torres, Jr. and Jose V. Natividad, and Mr. Vinicio B. Diy; that the will was acknowledged by the testatrix and by the said three instrumental witnesses on the same date before attorney Jose Oyengco Ong, Notary Public in and for the City of Manila; and that the will was actually prepared by attorney Fermin Samson, who was also present during the execution and signing of the decedent's last will and testament, together with former Governor Emilio Rustia of Bulacan, Judge Ramon Icasiano and a little girl. Of the said three instrumental witnesses to the execution of the decedent's last will and testament, attorneys Torres and Natividad were in the Philippines at the time of the hearing, and both testified as to the due

execution and authenticity of the said will. So did the Notary Public before whom the will was acknowledged by the testatrix and attesting witnesses, and also attorneys Fermin Samson, who actually prepared the document. The latter also testified upon cross examination that he prepared one original and two copies of Josefa Villacorte last will and testament at his house in Baliuag, Bulacan, but he brought only one original and one signed copy to Manila, retaining one unsigned copy in Bulacan. The records show that the original of the will, which was surrendered simultaneously with the filing of the petition and marked as Exhibit "A" consists of five pages, and while signed at the end and in every page, it does not contain the signature of one of the attesting witnesses, Atty. Jose V. Natividad, on page three (3) thereof; but the duplicate copy attached to the amended and supplemental petition and marked as Exhibit "A-1" is signed by the testatrix and her three attesting witnesses in each and every page. The testimony presented by the proponents of the will tends to show that the original of the will and its duplicate were subscribed at the end and on the left margin of each and every page thereof by the testatrix herself and attested and subscribed by the three mentioned witnesses in the testatrix's presence and in that of one another as witnesses (except for the missing signature of attorney Natividad on page three (3) of the original); that pages of the original and duplicate of said will were duly numbered; that the attestation clause thereof contains all the facts required by law to be recited therein and is signed by the aforesaid attesting witnesses; that the will is written in the language known to and spoken by the testatrix that the attestation clause is in a language also known to and spoken by the witnesses; that the will was executed on one single occasion in duplicate copies; and that both the original and the duplicate copies were duly acknowledged before Notary Public Jose Oyengco of Manila on the same date June 2, 1956. Witness Natividad who testified on his failure to sign page three (3) of the original, admits that he may have lifted two pages instead of one when he signed the same, but affirmed that page three (3) was signed in his presence. Oppositors-appellants in turn introduced expert testimony to the effect that the signatures of the testatrix in the duplicate (Exhibit "A-1") are not genuine nor were they written or affixed on the same occasion as the original, and further aver that granting that the documents were genuine, they were executed through mistake and with undue influence and pressure because the testatrix was deceived into adopting as her last will and testament the wishes of those who will stand to benefit from the provisions of the will, as may be inferred from the facts and circumstances surrounding the execution of the will and the provisions and dispositions thereof, whereby proponents-appellees stand to profit from properties held by them as attorneys-in-fact of the deceased and not enumerated or mentioned therein, while oppositors-appellants are enjoined not to look for other properties not mentioned in the will, and not to oppose the probate of it, on penalty of forfeiting their share in the portion of free disposal. We have examined the record and are satisfied, as the trial court was, that the testatrix signed both original and duplicate copies (Exhibits "A" and "A-1", respectively) of the will spontaneously, on the same in the presence of the three attesting witnesses, the notary public who acknowledged the will; and Atty. Samson, who actually prepared the documents; that the

will and its duplicate were executed in Tagalog, a language known to and spoken by both the testator and the witnesses, and read to and by the testatrix and Atty. Fermin Samson, together before they were actually signed; that the attestation clause is also in a language known to and spoken by the testatrix and the witnesses. The opinion of expert for oppositors, Mr. Felipe Logan, that the signatures of the testatrix appearing in the duplicate original were not written by the same had which wrote the signatures in the original will leaves us unconvinced, not merely because it is directly contradicted by expert Martin Ramos for the proponents, but principally because of the paucity of the standards used by him to support the conclusion that the differences between the standard and questioned signatures are beyond the writer's range of normal scriptural variation. The expert has, in fact, used as standards only three other signatures of the testatrix besides those affixed to the original of the testament (Exh. A); and we feel that with so few standards the expert's opinion and the signatures in the duplicate could not be those of the testatrix becomes extremely hazardous. This is particularly so since the comparison charts Nos. 3 and 4 fail to show convincingly that the are radical differences that would justify the charge of forgery, taking into account the advanced age of the testatrix, the evident variability of her signatures, and the effect of writing fatigue, the duplicate being signed right the original. These, factors were not discussed by the expert. Similarly, the alleged slight variance in blueness of the ink in the admitted and questioned signatures does not appear reliable, considering the standard and challenged writings were affixed to different kinds of paper, with different surfaces and reflecting power. On the whole, therefore, we do not find the testimony of the oppositor's expert sufficient to overcome that of the notary and the two instrumental witnesses, Torres and Natividad (Dr. Diy being in the United States during the trial, did not testify). Nor do we find adequate evidence of fraud or undue influence. The fact that some heirs are more favored than others is proof of neither (see In re Butalid, 10 Phil. 27; Bugnao vs. Ubag, 14 Phil. 163; Pecson vs. Coronal, 45 Phil. 216). Diversity of apportionment is the usual reason for making a testament; otherwise, the decedent might as well die intestate. The testamentary dispositions that the heirs should not inquire into other property and that they should respect the distribution made in the will, under penalty of forfeiture of their shares in the free part do not suffice to prove fraud or undue influence. They appear motivated by the desire to prevent prolonged litigation which, as shown by ordinary experience, often results in a sizeable portion of the estate being diverted into the hands of non-heirs and speculators. Whether these clauses are valid or not is a matter to be litigated on another occassion. It is also well to note that, as remarked by the Court of Appeals in Sideco vs. Sideco, 45 Off. Gaz. 168, fraud and undue influence are mutually repugnant and exclude each other; their joining as grounds for opposing probate shows absence of definite evidence against the validity of the will. On the question of law, we hold that the inadvertent failure of one witness to affix his signature to one page of a testament, due to the simultaneous lifting of two pages in the course of signing, is not per se sufficient to justify denial of probate. Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only the fact that the testatrix and two other witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the seal of the notary public before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses. The law should not be so strictly and literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of the inadvertence of a single witness

over whose conduct she had no control, where the purpose of the law to guarantee the identity of the testament and its component pages is sufficiently attained, no intentional or deliberate deviation existed, and the evidence on record attests to the full observance of the statutory requisites. Otherwise, as stated in Vda. de Gil. vs. Murciano, 49 Off. Gaz. 1459, at 1479 (decision on reconsideration) "witnesses may sabotage the will by muddling or bungling it or the attestation clause". That the failure of witness Natividad to sign page three (3) was entirely through pure oversight is shown by his own testimony as well as by the duplicate copy of the will, which bears a complete set of signatures in every page. The text of the attestation clause and the acknowledgment before the Notary Public likewise evidence that no one was aware of the defect at the time. This would not be the first time that this Court departs from a strict and literal application of the statutory requirements, where the purposes of the law are otherwise satisfied. Thus, despite the literal tenor of the law, this Court has held that a testament, with the only page signed at its foot by testator and witnesses, but not in the left margin, could nevertheless be probated (Abangan vs. Abangan, 41 Phil. 476); and that despite the requirement for the correlative lettering of the pages of a will, the failure to make the first page either by letters or numbers is not a fatal defect (Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil. 429). These precedents exemplify the Court's policy to require satisfaction of the legal requirements in order to guard against fraud and bid faith but without undue or unnecessary curtailment of the testamentary privilege. The appellants also argue that since the original of the will is in existence and available, the duplicate (Exh. A-1) is not entitled to probate. Since they opposed probate of original because it lacked one signature in its third page, it is easily discerned that oppositors-appellants run here into a dilemma; if the original is defective and invalid, then in law there is no other will but the duly signed carbon duplicate (Exh. A-1), and the same is probatable. If the original is valid and can be probated, then the objection to the signed duplicate need not be considered, being superfluous and irrelevant. At any rate, said duplicate, Exhibit A-1, serves to prove that the omission of one signature in the third page of the original testament was inadvertent and not intentional. That the carbon duplicate, Exhibit A-1, was produced and admitted without a new publication does not affect the jurisdiction of the probate court, already conferred by the original publication of the petition for probate. The amended petition did not substantially alter the one first filed, but merely supplemented it by disclosing the existence of the duplicate, and no showing is made that new interests were involved (the contents of Exhibit A and A-1 are admittedly identical); and appellants were duly notified of the proposed amendment. It is nowhere proved or claimed that the amendment deprived the appellants of any substantial right, and we see no error in admitting the amended petition. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from is affirmed, with costs against appellants. G.R. No. L-32213 November 26, 1973

AGAPITA N. CRUZ, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE GUILLERMO P. VILLASOR, Presiding Judge of Branch I, Court of First Instance of Cebu, and MANUEL B. LUGAY, respondents. Paul G. Gorrez for petitioner. Mario D. Ortiz for respondent Manuel B. Lugay.

ESGUERRA, J.: Petition to review on certiorari the judgment of the Court First Instance of Cebu allowing the probate of the last will a testament of the late Valente Z. Cruz. Petitioner-appellant Agapita N. Cruz, the surviving spouse of the said decease opposed the allowance of the will (Exhibit "E"), alleging the will was executed through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and undue influence; that the said instrument was execute without the testator having been fully informed of the content thereof, particularly as to what properties he was disposing and that the supposed last will and testament was not executed in accordance with law. Notwithstanding her objection, the Court allowed the probate of the said last will and testament Hence this appeal by certiorari which was given due course. The only question presented for determination, on which the decision of the case hinges, is whether the supposed last will and testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit "E") was executed in accordance with law, particularly Articles 805 and 806 of the new Civil Code, the first requiring at least three credible witnesses to attest and subscribe to the will, and the second requiring the testator and the witnesses to acknowledge the will before a notary public. Of the three instrumental witnesses thereto, namely Deogracias T. Jamaloas Jr., Dr. Francisco Paares and Atty. Angel H. Teves, Jr., one of them, the last named, is at the same time the Notary Public before whom the will was supposed to have been acknowledged. Reduced to simpler terms, the question was attested and subscribed by at least three credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other, considering that the three attesting witnesses must appear before the notary public to acknowledge the same. As the third witness is the notary public himself, petitioner argues that the result is that only two witnesses appeared before the notary public to acknowledge the will. On the other hand, private respondent-appellee, Manuel B. Lugay, who is the supposed executor of the will, following the reasoning of the trial court, maintains that there is substantial compliance with the legal requirement of having at least three attesting witnesses even if the notary public acted as one of them, bolstering up his stand with 57 American Jurisprudence, p. 227 which, insofar as pertinent, reads as follows:

It is said that there are, practical reasons for upholding a will as against the purely technical reason that one of the witnesses required by law signed as certifying to an acknowledgment of the testator's signature under oath rather than as attesting the execution of the instrument.

After weighing the merits of the conflicting claims of the parties, We are inclined to sustain that of the appellant that the last will and testament in question was not executed in accordance with law. The notary public before whom the will was acknowledged cannot be considered as the third instrumental witness since he cannot acknowledge before himself his having signed the will. To acknowledge before means to avow (Javellana v. Ledesma, 97 Phil. 258, 262; Castro v. Castro, 100 Phil. 239, 247); to own as genuine, to assent, to admit; and "before" means in front or preceding in space or ahead of. (The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, p. 72; Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language, p. 252; Webster's New International Dictionary 2d. p. 245.) Consequently, if the third witness were the notary public himself, he would have to avow assent, or admit his having signed the will in front of himself. This cannot be done because he cannot split his personality into two so that one will appear before the other to acknowledge his participation in the making of the will. To permit such a situation to obtain would be sanctioning a sheer absurdity. Furthermore, the function of a notary public is, among others, to guard against any illegal or immoral arrangement Balinon v. De Leon, 50 0. G. 583.) That function would defeated if the notary public were one of the attesting instrumental witnesses. For them he would be interested sustaining the validity of the will as it directly involves him and the validity of his own act. It would place him in inconsistent position and the very purpose of acknowledgment, which is to minimize fraud (Report of Code Commission p. 106-107), would be thwarted. Admittedly, there are American precedents holding that notary public may, in addition, act as a witness to the executive of the document he has notarized. (Mahilum v. Court Appeals, 64 0. G. 4017; 17 SCRA 482; Sawyer v. Cox, 43 Ill. 130). There are others holding that his signing merely as notary in a will nonetheless makes him a witness thereon (Ferguson v. Ferguson, 47 S. E. 2d. 346; In Re Douglas Will, N. Y. S. 2d. 641; Ragsdal v. Hill, 269 S. W. 2d. 911, Tyson Utterback, 122 So. 496; In Re Baybee's Estate 160 N. 900; W. Merill v. Boal, 132 A. 721; See also Trenwith v. Smallwood, 15 So. 1030). But these authorities do not serve the purpose of the law in this jurisdiction or are not decisive of the issue herein because the notaries public and witnesses referred to aforecited cases merely acted as instrumental, subscribing attesting witnesses, and not as acknowledging witnesses. He the notary public acted not only as attesting witness but also acknowledging witness, a situation not envisaged by Article 805 of the Civil Code which reads:
ART. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. [Emphasis supplied]

To allow the notary public to act as third witness, or one the attesting and acknowledging witnesses, would have the effect of having only two attesting witnesses to the will which would be in contravention of the provisions of Article 80 be requiring at least three credible witnesses to act as such and of Article 806 which requires that the testator and the required number of witnesses must appear before the notary public to acknowledge the will. The result would be, as has been said, that only two witnesses appeared before the notary public for or that purpose. In the circumstances, the law would not be duly in observed. FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed and the probate of the last will and testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit "E") is declared not valid and hereby set aside. G.R. No. L-51546 January 28, 1980 JOSE ANTONIO GABUCAN, petitioner-appellant, vs. HON. JUDGE LUIS D. MANTA JOSEFA G. VDA. DE YSALINA and NELDA G. ENCLONAR, respondents-appellees. Ignacio A. Calingin for appellant.

AQUINO, J.: This case is about the dismissal of a petition for the probate of a notarial will on the ground that it does not bear a thirty-centavo documentary stamp. The Court of First Instance of Camiguin in its "decision" of December 28, 1977 in Special Proceeding No. 41 for the probate of the will of the late Rogaciano Gabucan, dismissed the proceeding (erroneously characterizes as an "action") The proceeding was dismissed because the requisite documentary stamp was not affixed to the notarial acknowledgment in the will and, hence, according to respondent Judge, it was not admissible in evidence, citing section 238 of the Tax Code, now section 250 of the 1977 Tax Code, which reads:
SEC. 238. Effect of failure to stamp taxable document. An instrument, document, or paper which is required by law to be stamped and which has been signed, issued, accepted, or transferred without being duly stamped, shall not be recorded, nor shall it or any copy thereof or any record of transfer of the same be admitted or used in evidence in any court until the requisite stamp or stamps shall have been affixed thereto and cancelled. No notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths shall add his jurat or acknowledgment to any document subject to documentary stamp tax unless the proper documentary stamps are affixed thereto and cancelled.

The probate court assumed that the notarial acknowledgment of the said will is subject to the thirty-centavo documentary stamp tax fixed in section 225 of the Tax Code, now section 237 of the 1977 Tax Code. Respondent Judge refused to reconsider the dismissal in spite of petitioner's manifestation that he had already attached the documentary stamp to the original of the will. (See Mahilum vs. Court of Appeals, 64 O. G. 4017, 17 SCRA 482, 486.) The case was brought to this Court by means of a petition for mandamus to compel the lower court to allow petitioner's appeal from its decision. In this Court's resolution of January 21, 1980 the petition for mandamus was treated in the interest of substantial and speedy justice as an appeal under Republic Act No. 5440 as well as a special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. We hold that the lower court manifestly erred in declaring that, because no documentary stamp was affixed to the will, there was "no will and testament to probate" and, consequently, the alleged "action must of necessity be dismissed". What the probate court should have done was to require the petitioner or proponent to affix the requisite thirty-centavo documentary stamp to the notarial acknowledgment of the will which is the taxable portion of that document. That procedure may be implied from the provision of section 238 that the nonadmissibility of the document, which does not bear the requisite documentary stamp, subsists only "until the requisite stamp or stamps shall have been affixed thereto and cancelled." Thus, it was held that the documentary stamp may be affixed at the time the taxable document is presented in evidence (Del Castillo vs. Madrilena 49 Phil. 749). If the promissory note does not bear a documentary stamp, the court should have allowed plaintiff's tender of a stamp to supply the deficiency. (Rodriguez vs. Martinez, 5 Phil. 67, 71. Note the holding in Azarraga vs. Rodriguez, 9 Phil. 637, that the lack of the documentary stamp on a document does not invalidate such document. See Cia. General de Tabacos vs. Jeanjaquet 12 Phil. 195, 201-2 and Delgado and Figueroa vs. Amenabar 16 Phil. 403, 405-6.) WHEREFORE, the lower court's dismissal of the petition for probate is reversed and set aside. It is directed to decide the case on the merits in the light of the parties' evidence. No costs. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. L-7179 June 30, 1955

Testate Estate of the Late Apolinaria Ledesma. FELICIDAD JAVELLANA, petitionerappellee,

vs. DOA MATEA LEDESMA, oppositor-appellant. Fulgencio Vega and Felix D. Bacabac for appellant. Benjamin H. Tirot for appellee. REYES, J.B.L., J.: By order of July 23, 1953, the Court of First Instance of Iloilo admitted to probate the documents in the Visayan dialect, marked Exhibits D and E, as the testament and codicil duly executed by the deceased Da. Apolinaria Ledesma Vda. de Javellana, on March 30, 1950, and May 29, 1952, respectively, with Ramon Tabiana, Gloria Montinola de Tabiana and Vicente Yap as witnesses. The contestant, Da. Matea Ledesma, sister and nearest surviving relative of said deceased, appealed from the decision, insisting that the said exhibits were not executed in conformity with law. The appeal was made directly to this Court because the value of the properties involved exceeded two hundred thousand pesos. Originally the opposition to the probate also charged that the testatrix lacked testamentary capacity and that the dispositions were procured through undue influence. These grounds were abandoned at the hearing in the court below, where the issue was concentrated into three specific questions: (1) whether the testament of 1950 was executed by the testatrix in the presence of the instrumental witnesses; (2) whether the acknowledgment clause was signed and the notarial seal affixed by the notary without the presence of the testatrix and the witnesses; and (3) if so, whether the codicil was thereby rendered invalid and ineffective. These questions are the same ones presented to us for resolution. The contestant argues that the Court below erred in refusing credence to her witnesses Maria Paderogao and Vidal Allado, cook and driver, respectively, of the deceased Apolinaria Ledesma. Both testified that on March 30, 1950, they saw and heard Vicente Yap (one of the witnesses to the will) inform the deceased that he had brought the "testamento" and urge her to go to attorney Tabiana's office to sign it; that Da. Apolinaria manifested that she could not go, because she was not feeling well; and that upon Yap's insistence that the will had to be signed in the attorney's office and not elsewhere, the deceased took the paper and signed it in the presence of Yap alone, and returned it with the statement that no one would question it because the property involved was exclusively hers. Our examination of the testimony on record discloses no grounds for reversing the trial Court's rejection of the improbable story of the witnesses. It is squarely contradicted by the concordant testimony of the instrumental witnesses, Vicente Yap, Atty. Ramon Tabiana, and his wife Gloria Montinola, who asserted under oath that the testament was executed by testatrix and witnesses in the presence of each other, at the house of the decedent on General Hughes St., Iloilo City, on March 30, 1950. And it is highly unlikely, and contrary to usage, that either Tabiana or Yap should have insisted that Da. Apolinaria, an infirm lady then over 80 years old, should leave her own house in order to execute her will, when all three witnesses could have easily repaired thither for the purpose. Moreover, the cross-examination has revealed fatal flaws in the testimony of Contestant's witnesses. Both claim to have heard the word "testamento" for the first

time when Yap used it; and they claimed ability to recall that word four years later, despite the fact that the term meant nothing to either. It is well known that what is to be remembered must first be rationally conceived and assimilated (II Moore on Facts, p. 884). Likewise, Maria Paderogao was positive that Yap brought the will, and that the deceased alone signed it, precisely on March 30, 1950; but she could remember no other date, nor give satisfactory explanation why that particular day stuck in her mind. Worse still, Allado claimed to have heard what allegedly transpired between Yap and Da. Apolinaria from the kitchen of the house, that was later proved to have been separated from the deceased's quarters, and standing at a much lower level, so that conversations in the main building could not be distinctly heard from the kitchen. Later, on redirect examination, Allado sought to cure his testimony by claiming that he was upstairs in a room where the servants used to eat when he heard Yap converse with his mistress; but this correction is unavailing, since it was plainly induced by two highly leading questions from contestant's counsel that had been previously ruled out by the trial Court. Besides, the contradiction is hardly consonant with this witness' 18 years of service to the deceased. Upon the other hand, the discrepancies in the testimony of the instrumental witnesses urged upon us by the contestant-appellant, concerning the presence or absence of Aurelio Montinola at the signing of the testament or of the codicil, and the identity of the person who inserted the date therein, are not material and are largely imaginary, since the witness Mrs. Tabiana confessed inability to remember all the details of the transaction. Neither are we impressed by the argument that the use of some Spanish terms in the codicil and testament (like legado, partes iguales, plena propiedad) is proof that its contents were not understood by the testatrix, it appearing in evidence that those terms are of common use even in the vernacular, and that the deceased was a woman of wide business interests. The most important variation noted by the contestants concerns that signing of the certificate of acknowledgment (in Spanish) appended to the Codicil in Visayan, Exhibit E. Unlike the testament, this codicil was executed after the enactment of the new Civil Code, and, therefore, had to be acknowledged before a notary public (Art. 806). Now, the instrumental witnesses (who happen to be the same ones who attested the will of 1950) asserted that after the codicil had been signed by the testatrix and the witnesses at the San Pablo Hospital, the same was signed and sealed by notary public Gimotea on the same occasion. On the other hand, Gimotea affirmed that he did not do so, but brought the codicil to his office, and signed and sealed it there. The variance does not necessarily imply conscious perversion of truth on the part of the witnesses, but appears rather due to a well-established phenomenon, the tendency of the mind, in recalling past events, to substitute the usual and habitual for what differs slightly from it (II Moore on Facts, p. 878; The Ellen McGovern, 27 Fed. 868, 870). At any rate, as observed by the Court below, whether or not the notary signed the certification of acknowledgment in the presence of the testatrix and the witnesses, does not affect the validity of the codicil. Unlike the Code of 1889 (Art. 699), the new Civil Code does not require that the signing of the testator, witnesses and notary should be accomplished in one single act. A comparison of Articles 805 and 806 of the new Civil Code reveals that while testator and witnesses sign in the presence of each other, all that is thereafter required is that "every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses" (Art. 806); i.e., that the latter should avow to the certifying officer the authenticity of their signatures and the

voluntariness of their actions in executing the testamentary disposition. This was done in the case before us. The subsequent signing and sealing by the notary of his certification that the testament was duly acknowledged by the participants therein is no part of the acknowledgment itself nor of the testamentary act. Hence their separate execution out of the presence of the testatrix and her witnesses can not be said to violate the rule that testaments should be completed without interruption (Andalis vs. Pulgueras, 59 Phil. 643), or, as the Roman maxim puts it, "uno codem die ac tempore in eadem loco", and no reversible error was committed by the Court in so holding. It is noteworthy that Article 806 of the new Civil Code does not contain words requiring that the testator and the witnesses should acknowledge the testament on the same day or occasion that it was executed. The decision admitting the will to probate is affirmed, with costs against appellant. G.R. No. L-37453 May 25, 1979 RIZALINA GABRIEL GONZALES, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and LUTGARDA SANTIAGO, respondents. Francisco D. Rilloraza, Jr. for petitioners. Angel A. Sison for private respondent.

GUERRERO, J.: This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals, First Division, 1 promulgated on May 4, 1973 in CA G.R. No. 36523-R which reversed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal dated December 15, 1964 and allowed the probate of the last will and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel. * It appears that on June 24, 1961, herein private respondent Lutgarda Santiago filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal docketed as Special Proceedings No. 3617, for the probate of a will alleged to have been executed by the deceased Isabel Gabriel and designating therein petitioner as the principal beneficiary and executrix. There is no dispute in the records that the late Isabel Andres Gabriel died as a widow and without issue in the municipality of Navotas, province of Rizal her place of residence, on June 7, 1961 at the age of eighty-five (85), having been born in 1876. It is likewise not controverted that herein private respondent Lutgarda Santiago and petitioner Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales are nieces of the deceased, and that private respondent, with her husband and children, lived with the deceased at the latters residence prior an- d up to the time of her death.

The will submitted for probate, Exhibit "F", which is typewritten and in Tagalog, appears to have been executed in Manila on the 15th day of April, 1961, or barely two (2) months prior to the death of Isabel Gabriel. It consists of five (5) pages, including the pages whereon the attestation clause and the acknowledgment of the notary public were written. The signatures of the deceased Isabel Gabriel appear at the end of the will on page four and at the left margin of all the pages. The attestation clause, which is found on page four, reads as follows:
PATUNAY NG MGA SAKSI Kaming mga nakalagdang mga saksi o testigo na ang aming mga tinitirahan ay nakasulat sa gawing kanan at kahilira ng aming mga pangalan sa ibaba nito, ay pagpapatutuo na ipinakilala ipinaalam at ipinahayag sa amin ni Isabel Gabriel na ang kasulatang ito na binubuo ng Limang Dahon (Five Pages) pati na ang dahong ito, na siya niyang TESTAMENTO AT HULING HABILIN, ngayong ika 15 ng Abril, 1961, ay nilagdaan ng nasabing testadora na si Isabel Gabriel ang nasabing testamento sa ibaba o ilalim ng kasulatan na nasa ika apat na dahon (page four) at nasa itaas ng patunay naming ito, at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon (and on the left hand margin of each and every page), sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing testadora, at sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, sa ilalim ng patunay ng mga saksi at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawa't dahon ng testamentong ito.

At the bottom thereof, under the heading "Pangalan", are written the signatures of Matilde D. Orobia, Celso D. Gimpaya and Maria R. Gimpaya, and opposite the same, under the heading "Tirahan", are their respective places of residence, 961 Highway 54, Philamlife, for Miss Orobia, and 12 Dagala St., Navotas, Rizal, for the two Gimpayas. Their signatures also appear on the left margin of all the other pages. The WW is paged by typewritten words as follows: "Unang Dahon" and underneath "(Page One)", "Ikalawang Dahon" and underneath "(Page Two)", etc., appearing at the top of each page. The will itself provides that the testatrix desired to be buried in the Catholic Cemetery of Navotas, Rizal in accordance with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, all expenses to be paid from her estate; that all her obligations, if any, be paid; that legacies in specified amounts be given to her sister, Praxides Gabriel Vda. de Santiago, her brother Santiago Gabriel, and her nephews and nieces, Benjamin, Salud, Rizalina (herein petitioner), Victoria, Ester, Andres, all surnamed Gabriel, and Evangeline, Rudyardo Rosa, Andrea, Marcial, Numancia, Verena an surnamed Santiago. To herein private respondent Lutgarda Santiago, who was described in the will by the testatrix as "aking mahal na pamangkin na aking pinalaki, inalagaan at minahal na katulad ng isang tunay na anak" and named as universal heir and executor, were bequeathed all properties and estate, real or personal already acquired, or to be acquired, in her testatrix name, after satisfying the expenses, debts and legacies as aforementioned. The petition was opposed by Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales, herein petitioner, assailing the document purporting to be the will of the deceased on the following grounds:
1. that the same is not genuine; and in the alternative

2. that the same was not executed and attested as required by law; 3. that, at the time of the alleged execution of the purported wilt the decedent lacked testamentary capacity due to old age and sickness; and in the second alternative 4. That the purported WW was procured through undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the principal beneficiary, and/or of some other person for her benefit.

Lutgarda Santiago filed her Answer to the Opposition on February 1, 1962. After trial, the court a quo rendered judgment, the summary and dispositive portions of which read:
Passing in summary upon the grounds advanced by the oppositor, this Court finds: 1. That there is no iota of evidence to support the contentio that the purported will of the deceased was procured through undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the petitioner, or of some other person for her benefit; 2. That there is insufficient evidence to sustain the contention that at the time of the alleged execution of the purported will, the deceased lacked testamentary capacity due to old age and sickness; 3. That sufficient and abundant evidence warrants conclusively the fact that the purported will of the deceased was not executed and attested as required by law; 4. That the evidence is likewise conclusive that the document presented for probate, Exhibit 'F' is not the purported win allegedly dictated by the deceased, executed and signed by her, and attested by her three attesting witnesses on April 15, 1961. WHEREFORE, Exhibit "F", the document presented for probate as the last wig and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel is here by DISALLOWED.

From this judgment of disallowance, Lutgarda Santiago appealed to respondent Court, hence, the only issue decided on appeal was whether or not the will in question was executed and attested as required by law. The Court of Appeals, upon consideration of the evidence adduced by both parties, rendered the decision now under review, holding that the will in question was signed and executed by the deceased Isabel Gabriel on April 15, 1961 in the presence of the three attesting witnesses, Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya, signing and witnessing the document in the presence of the deceased and of each other as required by law, hence allow ed probate. Oppositor Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales moved for reconsideration 3 of the aforesaid decision and such motion was opposed 4 by petitioner-appellant Lutgarda Santiago. Thereafter. parties submitted their respective Memoranda, 5 and on August 28, 1973, respondent Court, Former Special First Division, by Resolution 6 denied the motion for reconsideration stating that:
The oppositor-appellee contends that the preponderance of evidence shows that the supposed last wig and testament of Isabel Gabriel was not executed in accordance with law because the same was signed on several occasions, that the testatrix did not sign the

will in the presence of all the instrumental witnesses did not sign the will in the presence of each other. The resolution of the factual issue raised in the motion for reconsideration hinges on the appreciation of the evidence. We have carefully re-examined the oral and documentary evidence of record, There is no reason to alter the findings of fact in the decision of this 7 Court sought to be set aside.

In her petition before this Court, oppositor Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales contends that respondent Court abused its discretion and/or acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in reverssing the findings of fact and conclusions of the trial court. The Court, after deliberating on the petition but without giving due course resolved, in the Resolution dated Oct. 11, 1973 to require the respondents to comment thereon, which comment was filed on Nov. 14, 1973. Upon consideration of the allegations, the issues raised and the arguments adduced in the petition, as well as the Comment 8 of private respondent thereon, We denied the petition by Resolution on November 26, 1973, 9 the question raised being factual and for insufficient showing that the findings of fact by respondent Court were unsupported by substantial evidence. Subsequently, or on December 17, 1973, petitioner Rim Gabriel Goes fried a Motion for Reconsideration 10 which private respondent answered by way of her Comment or Opposition 11 filed on January 15, 1974. A Reply and Rejoinder to Reply followed. Finally, on March 27, 1974, We resolved to give due course to the petition. The petitioner in her brief makes the following assignment of errors: I. The respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that the document, Exhibit "F" was executed and attested as required by law when there was absolutely no proof that the three instrumental witnesses were credible witness II. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the finding of the lower court that the preparation and execution of the win Exhibit "F", was unexpected and coincidental. III. The Court of Appeals erred in finding that Atty, Paraiso was not previously furnished with the names and residence certificates of the witnesses as to enable him to type such data into the document Exhibit "F". IV. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the fact that the three typewritten lines under the typewritten words "Pangalan" and "Tinitirahan" were left blank shows beyond cavil that the three attesting witnesses were all present in the same occasion. V. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the trial court's finding that it was incredible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the wilt Exhibit "F , without any note or document, to Atty. Paraiso. VI. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the finding of the trial court that Matilde Orobia was not physically present when the Will Exhibit "F" was allegedly signed on

April 15, 1961 by the deceased Isabel Gabriel and the other witnesses Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. VII. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the trial court gave undue importance to the picture takings as proof that the win was improperly executed. VIII. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the grave contradictions, evasions, and misrepresentations of witnesses (subscribing and notary) presented by the petitioner had been explained away, and that the trial court erred in rejecting said testimonies. IX. The Court of Appeals acted in excess of its appellate jurisdiction or has so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, as to call for an exercise of the power of supervision. X. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the decision of the trial court and admitting to probate Exhibit "F", the alleged last will and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel. It will be noted from the above assignments of errors that the same are substantially factual in character and content. Hence, at the very outset, We must again state the oftrepeated and well-established rule that in this jurisdiction, the factual findings of the Court of Appeals are not reviewable, the same being binding and conclusive on this Court. This rule has been stated and reiterated in a long line of cases enumerated in Chan vs. CA (L-27488, June 30, 1970, 33 SCRA 737, 743) 12 and Tapas vs. CA (L22202, February 27; 1976, 69 SCRA 393), 13 and in the more recent cases of Baptisia vs. Carillo and CA (L32192, July 30, 1976, 72 SCRA 214, 217) and Vda. de Catindig vs. Heirs of Catalina Roque (L-25777, November 26, 1976, 74 SCRA 83, 88). In the case of Chan vs. CA, this Court said: ... from Guico v. Mayuga, a 1936 decision, the opinion being penned by the then Justice Recto, it has been well-settled that the jurisdiction of tills Court in cases brought to us from the Court of Appeals is limited to reviewing and revising the errors of law imputed to it, its findings of fact being conclusive. More specifically, in a decision exactly a month later, this Court, speaking through the then Justice Laurel, it was held that the same principle is applicable, even if the Court of Appeals was in disagreement with the lower court as to the weight of the evidence with a consequent reversal of its findings of fact ... Stated otherwise, findings of facts by the Court of Appeals, when supported by substantive evidence are not reviewable on appeal by certiorari. Said findings of the appellate court are final and cannot be disturbed by Us particularly because its premises are borne out by the record or based upon substantial evidence and what is more, when such findings are correct. Assignments of errors involving factual issues cannot be ventilated in a review of the decision of the Court of Appeals because only legal questions may be raised. The Supreme Court is not at liberty to alter or modify the facts as set forth in the decision of the Court of Appeals sought to be reversed. Where the findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court, a minute scrutiny by the Supreme Court is in order, and resort to duly-proven evidence becomes

necessary. The general rule We have thus stated above is not without some recognized exceptions. Having laid down the above legal precepts as Our foundation, We now proceed to consider petitioner's assignments of errors. Petitioner, in her first assignment, contends that the respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that the document, Exhibit "F", was executed and attested as required by law when there was absolutely no proof that the three instrumental witnesses were credible witnesses. She argues that the require. ment in Article 806, Civil Code, that the witnesses must be credible is an absolute requirement which must be complied with before an alleged last will and testament may be admitted to probate and that to be a credible witness, there must be evidence on record that the witness has a good standing in his community, or that he is honest and upright, or reputed to be trustworthy and reliable. According to petitioner, unless the qualifications of the witness are first established, his testimony may not be favorably considered. Petitioner contends that the term "credible" is not synonymous with "competent" for a witness may be competent under Article 820 and 821 of the Civil Code and still not be credible as required by Article 805 of the same Code. It is further urged that the term "credible" as used in the Civil Code should receive the same settled and well- known meaning it has under the Naturalization Law, the latter being a kindred legislation with the Civil Code provisions on wigs with respect to the qualifications of witnesses. We find no merit to petitioner's first assignment of error. Article 820 of the Civil Code provides the qualifications of a witness to the execution of wills while Article 821 sets forth the disqualification from being a witness to a win. These Articles state:
Art. 820. Any person of sound mind and of the age of eighteen years or more, and not blind, deaf or dumb, and able to read and write, may be a witness to the execution of a will mentioned in article 806 of this Code. "Art. 821. The following are disqualified from being witnesses to a will: (1) Any person not domiciled in the Philippines, (2) Those who have been convicted of falsification of a document, perjury or false testimony.

Under the law, there is no mandatory requirement that the witness testify initially or at any time during the trial as to his good standing in the community, his reputation for trustworthythiness and reliableness, his honesty and uprightness in order that his testimony may be believed and accepted by the trial court. It is enough that the qualifications enumerated in Article 820 of the Civil Code are complied with, such that the soundness of his mind can be shown by or deduced from his answers to the questions propounded to him, that his age (18 years or more) is shown from his appearance, testimony , or competently proved otherwise, as well as the fact that he is not blind, deaf or dumb and that he is able to read and write to the satisfaction of the Court, and that he has none of the disqualifications under Article 821 of the Civil Code. We reject petitioner's contention that it must first be established in the record the good

standing of the witness in the community, his reputation for trustworthiness and reliableness, his honesty and uprightness, because such attributes are presumed of the witness unless the contrary is proved otherwise by the opposing party. We also reject as without merit petitioner's contention that the term "credible" as used in the Civil Code should be given the same meaning it has under the Naturalization Law where the law is mandatory that the petition for naturalization must be supported by two character witnesses who must prove their good standing in the community, reputation for trustworthiness and reliableness, their honesty and uprightness. The two witnesses in a petition for naturalization are character witnesses in that being citizens of the Philippines, they personally know the petitioner to be a resident of the Philippines for the period of time required by the Act and a person of good repute and morally irreproachable and that said petitioner has in their opinion all the qualifications necessary to become a citizen of the Philippines and is not in any way disqualified under the provisions of the Naturalization Law (Section 7, Commonwealth Act No. 473 as amended). In probate proceedings, the instrumental witnesses are not character witnesses for they merely attest the execution of a will or testament and affirm the formalities attendant to said execution. And We agree with the respondent that the rulings laid down in the cases cited by petitioner concerning character witnesses in naturalization proceedings are not applicable to instrumental witnesses to wills executed under the Civil Code of the Philippines. In the case at bar, the finding that each and everyone of the three instrumental witnesses, namely, Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya, are competent and credible is satisfactorily supported by the evidence as found by the respondent Court of Appeals, which findings of fact this Tribunal is bound to accept and rely upon. Moreover, petitioner has not pointed to any disqualification of any of the said witnesses, much less has it been shown that anyone of them is below 18 years of age, of unsound mind, deaf or dumb, or cannot read or write. It is true that under Article 805 of the New Civil Code, every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself 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 one another, While the petitioner submits that Article 820 and 821 of the New Civil Code speak of the competency of a witness due to his qualifications under the first Article and none of the disqualifications under the second Article, whereas Article 805 requires the attestation of three or more credible witnesses, petitioner concludes that the term credible requires something more than just being competent and, therefore, a witness in addition to being competent under Articles 820 and 821 must also be a credible witness under Article 805. Petitioner cites American authorities that competency and credibility of a witness are not synonymous terms and one may be a competent witness and yet not a credible one.

She exacerbates that there is no evidence on record to show that the instrumental witnesses are credible in themselves, that is, that they are of good standing in the community since one was a family driver by profession and the second the wife of the driver, a housekeeper. It is true that Celso Gimpaya was the driver of the testatrix and his wife Maria Gimpaya, merely a housekeeper, and that Matilde Orobia was a piano teacher to a grandchild of the testatrix But the relation of employer and employee much less the humble or financial position of a person do not disqualify him to be a competent testamentary witness. (Molo Pekson and Perez Nable vs. Tanchuco, et al., 100 Phil. 344; Testate Estate of Raymundo, Off. Gaz., March 18,1941, p. 788). Private respondent maintains that the qualifications of the three or more credible witnesses mentioned in Article 805 of the Civil Code are those mentioned in Article 820 of the same Code, this being obvious from that portion of Article 820 which says "may be Q witness to the execution of a will mentioned in Article 805 of this Code," and cites authorities that the word "credible" insofar as witnesses to a will are concerned simply means " competent." Thus, in the case of Suntay vs. Suntay, 95 Phil. 500, the Supreme Court held that "Granting that a will was duly executed and that it was in existence at the time of, and not revoked before, the death of the testator, still the provisions of the lost wig must be clearly and distinctly proved by at least two credible witnesses. 'Credible witnesses' mean competent witnesses and not those who testify to facts from or upon hearsay. " emphasis supplied). In Molo Pekson and Perez Nable vs. Tanchuco, et al., 100 Phil. 344, the Supreme Court held that "Section 620 of the same Code of Civil Procedure provides that any person of sound mind, and of the age of eighteen years or more, and not blind, deaf, or dumb and able to read and write, may be a witness to the execution of a will. This same provision is reproduced in our New Civil Code of 1950, under Art. 820. The relation of employer and employee, or being a relative to the beneficiary in a win, does not disqualify one to be a witness to a will. The main qualification of a witness in the attestation of wills, if other qualifications as to age, mental capacity and literacy are present, is that said witness must be credible, that is to say, his testimony may be entitled to credence. There is a long line of authorities on this point, a few of which we may cite:
A 'credible witness is one who is not is not to testify by mental incapacity, crime, or other cause. Historical Soc of Dauphin County vs. Kelker 74 A. 619, 226 Pix 16, 134 Am. St. Rep. 1010. (Words and Phrases, Vol. 10, p. 340). As construed by the common law, a 'credible witness' to a will means a 'competent witness.' Appeal of Clark, 95 A. 517, 114 Me. 105, Ann. Cas. 1917A, 837. (lbid, p. 341). Expression 'credible witness' in relation to attestation of wins means 'competent witness that is, one competent under the law to testify to fact of execution of will. Vernon's Ann. Civ St. art. 8283. Moos vs. First State Bank of Uvalde, Tex . Civ. App. 60 S.W. 2nd 888, 889. (Ibid, p. 342) The term 'credible', used in the statute of wills requiring that a will shall be attested by two credible witnesses means competent; witnesses who, at the time of attesting the will, are legally competent to testify, in a court of justice, to the facts attested by subscribing the will, the competency being determined as of the date of the execution of the will and not

of the timr it is offered for probate, Smith vs. Goodell 101 N.E. 255, 256, 258 111. 145. (Ibid.) Credible witnesses as used in the statute relating to wills, means competent witnesses that is, such persons as are not legally disqualified from testifying in courts of justice, by reason of mental incapacity, interest, or the commission of crimes, or other cause excluding them from testifying generally, or rendering them incompetent in respect of the particular subject matter or in the particular suit. Hill vs. Chicago Title & Trust co 152 N.E. 545, 546, 322 111. 42. (Ibid. p, 343)

In the strict sense, the competency of a person to be an instrumental witness to a will is determined by the statute, that is Art. 820 and 821, Civil Code, whereas his credibility depends On the appreciation of his testimony and arises from the belief and conclusion of the Court that said witness is telling the truth. Thus, in the case of Vda. de Aroyo v. El Beaterio del Santissimo Rosario de Molo, No. L-22005, May 3, 1968, the Supreme Court held and ruled that: "Competency as a witness is one thing, and it is another to be a credible witness, so credible that the Court must accept what he says. Trial courts may allow a person to testify as a witness upon a given matter because he is competent, but may thereafter decide whether to believe or not to believe his testimony." In fine, We state the rule that the instrumental witnesses in Order to be competent must be shown to have the qualifications under Article 820 of the Civil Code and none of the disqualifications under Article 821 and for their testimony to be credible, that is worthy of belief and entitled to credence, it is not mandatory that evidence be first established on record that the witnesses have a good standing in the community or that they are honest and upright or reputed to be trustworthy and reliable, for a person is presumed to be such unless the contrary is established otherwise. In other words, the instrumental witnesses must be competent and their testimonies must be credible before the court allows the probate of the will they have attested. We, therefore, reject petitioner's position that it was fatal for respondent not to have introduced prior and independent proof of the fact that the witnesses were "credible witnesses that is, that they have a good standing in the community and reputed to be trustworthy and reliable. Under the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth assignments of errors, petitioner disputes the findings of fact of the respondent court in finding that the preparation and execution of the will was expected and not coincidental, in finding that Atty. Paraiso was not previously furnished with the names and residence certificates of the witnesses as to enable him to type such data into the document Exhibit "F", in holding that the fact that the three typewritten lines under the typewritten words "pangalan" and "tinitirahan" were left blank shows beyond cavil that the three attesting witnesses were all present in the same occasion, in holding credible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the will without note or document to Atty. Paraiso, in holding that Matilde Orobia was physically present when the will was signed on April 15, 1961 by the deceased Isabel Gabriel and the other witnesses Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya, in holding that the trial court gave undue importance to the picture takings as proof that the will was improperly executed, and in holding that the grave contradictions, evasions and misrepresentations of the witnesses (subscribing and notary) presented by the petitioner had been explained away.

Since the above errors are factual We must repeat what We have previously laid down that the findings of fact of the appellate court are binding and controlling which We cannot review, subject to certain exceptions which We win consider and discuss hereinafter. We are convinced that the appellate court's findings are sufficiently justified and supported by the evidence on record. Thus, the alleged unnaturalness characterizing the trip of the testatrix to the office of Atty. Paraiso and bringing all the witnesses without previous appointment for the preparation and execution of the win and that it was coincidental that Atty. Paraiso was available at the moment impugns the finding of the Court of Appeals that although Atty. Paraiso admitted the visit of Isabel Gabriel and of her companions to his office on April 15, 1961 was unexpected as there was no prior appointment with him, but he explained that he was available for any business transaction on that day and that Isabel Gabriel had earlier requested him to help her prepare her will. The finding of the appellate court is amply based on the testimony of Celso Gimpaya that he was not only informed on the morning of the day that he witnessed the will but that it was the third time when Isabel Gabriel told him that he was going to witness the making of her will, as well as the testimony of Maria Gimpaya that she was called by her husband Celso Gimpaya to proceed to Isabel Gabriel's house which was nearby and from said house, they left in a car to the lawyer's office, which testimonies are recited in the respondent Court's decision. The respondent Court further found the following facts: that Celso Gimpaya and his wife Maria Gimpaya obtained residence certificates a few days before Exhibit "F" was executed. Celso Gimpaya's residence certificate No. A-5114942 was issued at Navotas, Rizal on April 13, 1961 while Maria Gimpaya's residence certificate No. A-5114974 was issued also at Navotas, Rizal on April 14, 1961. The respondent Court correctly observed that there was nothing surprising in these facts and that the securing of these residence certificates two days and one day, respectively, before the execution of the will on April 15, 1961, far from showing an amazing coincidence, reveals that the spouses were earlier notified that they would be witnesses to the execution of Isabel Gabriel's will. We also agree with the respondent Court's conclusion that the excursion to the office of Atty. Paraiso was planned by the deceased, which conclusion was correctly drawn from the testimony of the Gimpaya spouses that they started from the Navotas residence of the deceased with a photographer and Isabel Gabriel herself, then they proceeded by car to Matilde Orobia's house in Philamlife, Quezon City to fetch her and from there, all the three witnesses (the Gimpayas and Orobia) passed by a place where Isabel Gabriel stayed for about ten to fifteen minutes at the clinic of Dr. Chikiamco before they proceeded to Atty. Cipriano Paraiso's office. It is also evident from the records, as testified to by Atty. Paraiso, that previous to the day that. the will was executed on April 15, 1961, Isabel Gabriel had requested him to help her in the execution of her will and that he told her that if she really wanted to execute her will, she should bring with her at least the Mayor of Navotas, Rizal and a Councilor to be her witnesses and that he (Atty. Paraiso) wanted a medical certificate from a physician notwithstanding the fact that he believed her to be of sound and

disposition mind. From this evidence, the appellate court rightly concluded, thus: "It is, therefore, clear that the presence of Isabel Gabriel and her witnesses Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya including the photographer in the law office of Atty. Paraiso was not coincidental as their gathering was pre-arranged by Isabel Gabriel herself." As to the appellate court's finding that Atty. Paraiso was not previously furnished with the names and residence certificates of the witnesses as to enable him to type such data into the document Exhibit ' L which the petitioner assails as contradictory and irreconcilable with the statement of the Court that Atty. Paraiso was handed a list (containing the names of the witnesses and their respective residence certificates) immediately upon their arrival in the law office by Isabel Gabriel and this was corroborated by Atty. Paraiso himself who testified that it was only on said occasion that he received such list from Isabel Gabriel, We cannot agree with petitioner's contention. We find no contradiction for the, respondent Court held that on the occasion of the will making on April 15, 1961, the list was given immediately to Atty. Paraiso and that no such list was given the lawyer in any previous occasion or date prior to April 15, 1961. But whether Atty. Paraiso was previously furnished with the names and residence certificates of the witnesses on a prior occasion or on the very occasion and date in April 15, 1961 when the will was executed, is of no moment for such data appear in the notarial acknowledgment of Notary Public Cipriano Paraiso, subscribed and sworn to by the witnesses on April 15, 1961 following the attestation clause duly executed and signed on the same occasion, April 15, 1961. And since Exhibit "F" is a notarial will duly acknowledged by the testatrix and the witnesses before a notary public, the same is a public document executed and attested through the intervention of the notary public and as such public document is evidence of the facts in clear, unequivocal manner therein expressed. It has in its favor the presumption of regularity. To contradict all these, there must be evidence that is clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant. (Yturalde vs. Azurin, 28 SCRA 407). We find no such evidence pointed by petitioner in the case at bar. Likewise, the conclusion of the Court of Appeals in holding that the fact that the three typewritten lines under the typewritten words "pangalan ' and "tinitirahan" were left blank shows beyond cavil that the three attesting witnesses were all present in the same occasion merits Our approval because tills conclusion is supported and borne out by the evidence found by the appellate court, thus: "On page 5 of Exhibit "F", beneath the typewritten words "names", "Res. Tax Cert. date issued" and place issued the only name of Isabel Gabriel with Residence Tax certificate No. A-5113274 issued on February 24, 1961 at Navotas Rizal appears to be in typewritten form while the names, residence tax certificate numbers, dates and places of issuance of said certificates pertaining to the three (3) witnesses were personally handwritten by Atty. Paraiso. Again, this coincides with Atty. Paraiso's even the sale must be made to close relatives; and the seventh was the appointment of the appellant Santiago as executrix of the will without bond. The technical description of the properties in paragraph 5 of Exhibit F was

not given and the numbers of the certificates of title were only supplied by Atty. Paraiso. " It is true that in one disposition, the numbers of the Torrens titles of the properties disposed and the docket number of a special proceeding are indicated which Atty. Paraiso candidly admitted were supplied by him, whereupon petitioner contends that it was incredible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the will Exhibit "F" without any note or document to Atty. Paraiso, considering that Isabel Gabriel was an old and sickly woman more than eighty-one years old and had been suffering from a brain injury caused by two severe blows at her head and died of terminal cancer a few weeks after the execution of Exhibit "F". While we can rule that this is a finding of fact which is within the competency of the respondent appellate court in determining the testamentary capacity of the testatrix and is, therefore, beyond Our power to revise and review, We nevertheless hold that the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals that the testatrix dictated her will without any note or memorandum appears to be fully supported by the following facts or evidence appearing on record. Thus, Isabel Gabriel, despite her age, was particularly active in her business affairs as she actively managed the affairs of the movie business ISABELITA Theater, paying the aparatistas herself until June 4, 1961, 3 days before her death. She was the widow of the late Eligio Naval, former Governor of Rizal Province and acted as coadministratrix in the Intestate Estate of her deceased husband Eligio Naval. The text of the win was in Tagalog, a dialect known and understood by her and in the light of all the circumstances, We agree with the respondent Court that the testatrix dictated her will without any note or memorandum, a fact unanimously testified to by the three attesting witnesses and the notary public himself. Petitioner's sixth assignment of error is also bereft of merit. The evidence, both testimonial and documentary is, according to the respondent court, overwhelming that Matilde Orobia was physically present when the will was signed on April 15, 1961 by the testatrix and the other two witnesses, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. Such factual finding of the appellate court is very clear, thus: "On the contrary, the record is replete with proof that Matilde Orobia was physically present when the will was signed by Isabel Gabriel on April '15, 1961 along with her co-witnesses Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. The trial court's conclusion that Orobia's admission that she gave piano lessons to the child of the appellant on Wednesdays and Saturdays and that April 15, 1961 happened to be a Saturday for which reason Orobia could not have been present to witness the will on that day is purely conjectural. Witness Orobia did not admit having given piano lessons to the appellant's child every Wednesday and Saturday without fail. It is highly probable that even if April 15, 1961 were a Saturday, she gave no piano lessons on that day for which reason she could have witnessed the execution of the will. Orobia spoke of occasions when she missed giving piano lessons and had to make up for the same. Anyway, her presence at the law office of Atty. Paraiso was in the morning of April 15, 1961 and there was nothing to preclude her from giving piano lessons on the afternoon of the same day in Navotas, Rizal."

In addition to the testimony of Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya that Matilde was present on April 15, 1961 and that she signed the attestation clause to the will and on the left-hand margin of each of the pages of the will, the documentary evidence which is the will itself, the attestation clause and the notarial acknowledgment overwhelmingly and convincingly prove such fact that Matilde Orobia was present on that day of April 15, 1961 and that she witnessed the will by signing her name thereon and acknowledged the same before the notary public, Atty. Cipriano P. Paraiso. The attestation clause which Matilde Orobia signed is the best evidence as to the date of signing because it preserves in permanent form a recital of all the material facts attending the execution of the will. This is the very purpose of the attestation clause which is made for the purpose of preserving in permanent form a record of the facts attending the execution of the will, so that in case of failure in the memory of the subscribing witnesses, or other casualty they may still be proved. (Thompson on Wills, 2nd ed., Sec. 132; Leynez vs. Leynez, 68 Phil. 745). As to the seventh error assigned by petitioner faulting the Court of Appeals in holding that the trial court gave undue importance to the picture-takings as proof that the win was improperly executed, We agree with the reasoning of the respondent court that: "Matilde Orobia's Identification of the photographer as "Cesar Mendoza", contrary to what the other two witnesses (Celso and Maria Gimpaya) and Atty. Paraiso said that the photographer was Benjamin Cifra, Jr., is at worst a minor mistake attributable to lapse of time. The law does not require a photographer for the execution and attestation of the will. The fact that Miss Orobia mistakenly Identified the photographer as Cesar Mendoza scarcely detracts from her testimony that she was present when the will was signed because what matters here is not the photographer but the photograph taken which clearly portrays Matilde Orobia herself, her co-witnesses Celso Gimpaya. " Further, the respondent Court correctly held: "The trial court gave undue importance to the picture takings, jumping therefrom to the conclusion that the will was improperly executed. The evidence however, heavily points to only one occasion of the execution of the will on April 15, 1961 which was witnessed by Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. These witnesses were quite emphatic and positive when they spoke of this occasion. Hence, their Identification of some photographs wherein they all appeared along with Isabel Gabriel and Atty. Paraiso was superfluous." Continuing, the respondent Court declared: "It is true that the second picture-taking was disclosed at the cross examination of Celso Gimpaya. But this was explained by Atty. Paraiso as a reenactment of the first incident upon the insistence of Isabel Gabriel. Such reenactment where Matilde Orobia was admittedly no longer present was wholly unnecessary if not pointless. What was important was that the will was duly executed and witnessed on the first occasion on April 15, 1961 , " and We agree with the Court's rationalization in conformity with logic, law and jurisprudence which do not require picture-taking as one of the legal requisites for the execution or probate of a will. Petitioner points to alleged grave contradictions, evasions and misrepresentations of witnesses in their respective testimonies before the trial court. On the other hand, the respondent Court of Appeals held that said contradictions, evasions and

misrepresentations had been explained away. Such discrepancies as in the description of the typewriter used by Atty. Paraiso which he described as "elite" which to him meant big letters which are of the type in which the will was typewritten but which was Identified by witness Jolly Bugarin of the N.B.I. as pica the mistake in mentioning the name of the photographer by Matilde Orobia to be Cesar Mendoza when actually it was Benjamin Cifra, Jr. these are indeed unimportant details which could have been affected by the lapse of time and the treachery of human memory such that by themselves would not alter the probative value of their testimonies on the true execution of the will, (Pascual vs. dela Cruz, 28 SCRA 421, 424) for it cannot be expected that the testimony of every person win be Identical and coinciding with each other with regard to details of an incident and that witnesses are not expected to remember all details. Human experience teach us "that contradictions of witnesses generally occur in the details of certain incidents, after a long series of questionings, and far from being an evidence of falsehood constitute a demonstration of good faith. In as much as not all those who witness an incident are impressed in like manner, it is but natural that in relating their impressions, they should not agree in the minor details; hence the contradictions in their testimony." (Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil. 429). It is urged of Us by the petitioner that the findings of the trial court should not have been disturbed by the respondent appellate court because the trial court was in a better position to weigh and evaluate the evidence presented in the course of the trial. As a general rule, petitioner is correct but it is subject to well-established exceptions. The right of the Court of Appeals to review, alter and reverse the findings of the trial court where the appellate court, in reviewing the evidence has found that facts and circumstances of weight and influence have been ignored and overlooked and the significance of which have been misinterpreted by the trial court, cannot be disputed. Findings of facts made by trial courts particularly when they are based on conflicting evidence whose evaluation hinges on questions of credibility of contending witnesses hes peculiarly within the province of trial courts and generally, the appellate court should not interfere with the same. In the instant case, however, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court had overlooked and misinterpreted the facts and circumstances established in the record. Whereas the appellate court said that "Nothing in the record supports the trial court's unbelief that Isabel Gabriel dictated her will without any note or document to Atty. Paraiso;" that the trial court's conclusion that Matilde Orobia could not have witnessed anybody signing the alleged will or that she could not have witnessed Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya sign the same or that she witnessed only the deceased signing it, is a conclusion based not on facts but on inferences; that the trial court gave undue importance to the picture-takings, jumping therefrom to the conclusion that the will was improperly executed and that there is nothing in the entire record to support the conclusion of the court a quo that the will signing occasion was a mere coincidence and that Isabel Gabriel made an appointment only with Matilde Orobia to witness the signing of her will, then it becomes the duty of the appellate court to reverse findings of fact of the trial court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction over the lower courts.

Still the petitioner insists that the case at bar is an exception to the rule that the judgment of the Court of Appeals is conclusive as to the facts and cannot be reviewed by the Supreme Court. Again We agree with the petitioner that among the exceptions are: (1) when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is a grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the presence of each other as required by law. " Specifically, We affirm that on April 15, 1961 the testatrix Isabel Gabriel, together with Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and his wife Maria Gimpaya, and a photographer proceeded in a car to the office of Atty. Cipriano Paraiso at the Bank of P.I. Building, Manila in the morning of that day; that on the way, Isabel Gabriel obtained a medical certificate from one Dr. Chikiamko which she gave to Atty. Paraiso upon arriving at the latter's office and told the lawyer that she wanted her will to be made; that Atty. Paraiso asked Isabel Gabriel to dictate what she wanted to be written in the will and the attorney wrote down the dictation of Isabel Gabriel in Tagalog, a language known to and spoken by her; that Atty. Paraiso read back to her what he wrote as dictated and she affirmed their correctness; the lawyer then typed the will and after finishing the document, he read it to her and she told him that it was alright; that thereafter, Isabel Gabriel signed her name at the end of the will in the presence of the three witnesses Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya and also at the lefthand margin of each and every page of the document in the presence also of the said three witnesses; that thereafter Matilde Orobia attested the will by signing her name at the end of the attestation clause and at the left-hand margin of pages 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the document in the presence of Isabel Gabriel and the other two witnesses, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya; then, Celso Gimpaya signed also the will at the bottom of the attestation clause and at the left-hand margin of the other pages of the document in the presence of Isabel Gabriel, Matilde Orobia and Maria Gimpaya; that Maria Gimpaya followed suit, signing her name at the foot of the attestation clause and at the left-hand margin of every page in the presence of Isabel Gabriel, Matilde Orobia and Celso Gimpaya; that thereafter, Atty. Paraiso notarized the will as Page No. 94, Book No. IV, Series of 1961, in his Notarial Register. On the occasion of the execution and attestation of the will, a photographer took pictures, one Exhibit "G", depicting Matilde Orobia, the testatrix Isabel Gabriel, Celso Gimpaya, Maria Gimpaya and Atty. Paraiso, taken on said occasion of the signing of the will, and another, Exhibit "H", showing Matilde Orobia signing testimony that he had earlier advised Isabel Gabriel to bring with her at least the Mayor and a Councilor of Navotas, Rizal to be her witnesses for he did not know beforehand the Identities of the three attesting witnesses until the latter showed up at his law office with Isabel Gabriel on April 15, 1961. Atty. Paraiso's claim which was not controverted that he wrote down in his own hand the date appearing on page 5 of Exhibit "F" dissipates any lingering doubt that he prepared and ratified the will on the date in question." It is also a factual finding of the Court of Appeals in holding that it was credible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the will, Exhibit "F", without any note or document to Atty. Paraiso as against the contention of petitioner that it was incredible. This ruling of the respondent court is fully supported by the evidence on record as stated in the decision under review, thus: "Nothing in the record supports the trial court's unbelief that

Isabel Gabriel dictated her will without any note or document to Atty. Paraiso. On the contrary, all the three attesting witnesses uniformly testified that Isabel Gabriel dictated her will to Atty. Paraiso and that other than the piece of paper that she handed to said lawyer she had no note or document. This fact jibes with the evidence which the trial court itself believed was unshaken that Isabel Gabriel was of sound disposing memory when she executed her will. Exhibit "F" reveals only seven (7) dispositions which are not complicated but quite simple. The first was Isabel Gabriel's wish to be interred according to Catholic rites the second was a general directive to pay her debts if any; the third provided for P1,000.00 for her sister Praxides Gabriel Vda. de Santiago and P2,000.00 for her brother Santiago Gabriel; the fourth was a listing of her 13 nephews and nieces including oppositorappellee Rizalina Gabriel and the amount for each legatee the fifth was the institution of the petitioner-appellant, Lutgarda Santiago as the principal heir mentioning in general terms seven (7) types of properties; the sixth disposed of the remainder of her estate which she willed in favor of appellant Lutgarda Santiago but prohibiting the sale of such properties to anyone except in extreme situations in which judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting, (6) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee. (Roque vs. Buan, et al., G.R. No. L-22459, Oct. 31, 1967; Ramos vs. Pepsi Cola Bottling Co., G.R. No. L22533, Feb. 9, 1967; Hilarion Jr. vs. City of Manila, G.R. No. L-19570; Sept. 14, 1967). Petitioner's insistence is without merit. We hold that the case at bar does not fall within any of the exceptions enumerated above. We likewise hold that the findings of fact of the respondent appellate court are fully supported by the evidence on record. The conclusions are fully sustained by substantial evidence. We find no abuse of discretion and We discern no misapprehension of facts. The respondent Court's findings of fact are not conflicting. Hence, the well-established rule that the decision of the Court of Appeals and its findings of fact are binding and conclusive and should not be disturbed by this Tribunal and it must be applied in the case at bar in its full force and effect, without qualification or reservation. The above holding simply synthesize the resolutions we have heretofore made in respect ' to petitioner's previous assignments of error and to which We have disagreed and, therefore, rejected. The last assignments of error of petitioner must necessarily be rejected by Us as We find the respondent Court acted properly and correctly and has not departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings as to call for the exercise of the power of supervision by the Supreme Court, and as We find that the Court of Appeals did not err in reversing the decision of the trial court and admitting to probate Exhibit "F", the last will and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel. We rule that the respondent Court's factual findings upon its summation and evaluation of the evidence on record is unassailable that: "From the welter of evidence presented, we are convinced that the will in question was executed on April 15, 1961 in the presence of Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya signing and witnessing

the same in the the will on a table with Isabel Gabriel, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya sitting around the table. Atty. Paraiso, after finishing the notarial act, then delivered the original to Isabel Gabriel and retained the other copies for his file and notarial register. A few days following the signing of the will, Isabel Gabriel, Celso Gimpaya and another photographer arrived at the office of Atty. Paraiso and told the lawyer that she wanted another picture taken because the first picture did not turn out good. The lawyer told her that this cannot be done because the will was already signed but Isabel Gabriel insisted that a picture be taken, so a simulated signing was performed during which incident Matilde Orobia was not present. Petitioner's exacerbation centers on the supposed incredibility of the testimonies of the witnesses for the proponent of the will, their alleged evasions, inconsistencies and contradictions. But in the case at bar, the three instrumental witnesses who constitute the best evidence of the will making have testified in favor of the probate of the will. So has the lawyer who prepared it, one learned in the law and long in the practice thereof, who thereafter notarized it. All of them are disinterested witnesses who stand to receive no benefit from the testament. The signatures of the witnesses and the testatrix have been identified on the will and there is no claim whatsoever and by anyone, much less the petitioner, that they were not genuine. In the last and final analysis, the herein conflict is factual and we go back to the rule that the Supreme Court cannot review and revise the findings of facts of the respondent Court of Appeals. WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED, with costs against the petitioner. DECISION March 28, 1969 G.R. No. L-26808 REV. FATHER LUCIO V. GARCIA, petitioner, vs. HON. CONRADO M. VASQUEZ, respondent. Antonio Enrile Inton and Conrado B. Enriquez for petitioner. No appearance for respondent. FERNANDO, J.: Petitioner in this certiorari proceeding was averse to paying the docket fees in the amount of P940.00 for the probate of a will of the decedent, Gliceria A. del Rosario. He was of the belief that no such fee should be collected as previously another alleged will of the same deceased was filed for probate by another party with the corresponding docket fee having been paid. He would assert, as set forth in the petition, that after [such payment] by the original petitioner, Consuelo Gonzales, there is no more need for [him] to pay additional or separate docket fees for their

petitions, since they all refer to the settlement of only one estate, the Estate of Gliceria A. del Rosario.[[1]] Petitioner had to pay just the same, his belief that he would be thus exempted having failed to command the assent of respondent Judge, the Honorable Conrado M. Vasquez, who issued the following order of November 6, 1965: Oppositor, Father Lucio Garcia is hereby ordered to pay the corresponding fees of the filing of his petition for allowance of will and issuance of letters of administration with the will annexed, dated September 30, 1965 within fifteen (15) days from notice hereof, failure of which the said petition will be considered dismissed.[[2]] Payment was made by him on December 2, 1965, coupled with a reservation that he would seek a definite ruling from us. Hence this petition for certiorari filed on November 9, 1966, the sole question raised being the alleged error of the respondent Judge in ordering the payment of the aforesaid docket fee considering that previously, with reference to an alleged will of the same estate of the decedent in connection with the petition for probate filed, such a fee had been collected. It is petitioners contention that the challenged order of respondent Judge amounted to a grave abuse of discretion correctible by certiorari. Respondent Judge did not even bother to answer the petition. It is understandable why. On its face, it is obviously without merit. A petition for probate of a will having been filed by petitioner, he could not escape the payment of the corresponding docket fee. The argument based on the allegation that there was such a previous payment in connection with another will of the same decedent sought to be probated does not carry the day. It is bereft of any persuasive force. Petitioner should have been aware that there is no escape from the payment of the corresponding docket fee, otherwise, the Court is not called upon to act on a complaint or petition. Nor does it suffice to vary the rule simply because there is only one decedent whose estate is thus to be disposed of by will that must first be probated. It is not farfetched or implausible that a decedent could have left various wills. Under such circumstances, there is nothing inherently objectionable in thus exacting the payment of a docket fee, every time a will is sought to be probated. Petitioner here could have sought the probate of the will presented by him in the same proceeding. He did not; he filed instead a separate action. One last point. The Rules of Court require that for all clerical services in the allowance of will, the fees payable out of the estate shall be collected in accordance with the value of the property involved .[[3]] The specific legal provision is thus clear and unmistakable. It is the clerical service in the allowance of the will that has to be paid for. The docket fees exist for that purpose and must be collected at the outset. There is no exception according to the above legal provision. It needs no interpretation. It must be applied in accordance with the specific language thus employed.[[4]] Respondent Judge acted in accordance with the clear tenor of the controlling legal norm. The alleged grievance of petitioner that there was a grave abuse of discretion does not merit any attention. As a matter of fact, on this point, respondent Judge had no discretion to abuse. The docket fees had to be paid. There is no escape for petitioner. WHEREFORE, this petition for certiorari is denied, with costs against petitioner.

G.R. No. L-38338 January 28, 1985 IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF ANDRES G. DE JESUS AND BIBIANA ROXAS DE JESUS, SIMEON R. ROXAS & PEDRO ROXAS DE JESUS, petitioners, vs. ANDRES R. DE JESUS, JR., respondent. Raul S. Sison Law Office for petitioners. Rafael Dinglasan, Jr. for heir M. Roxas. Ledesma, Guytingco Velasco and Associates for Ledesa and A. R. de Jesus.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition for certiorari to set aside the order of respondent Hon. Jose C. Colayco, Presiding Judge Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXI disallowing the probate of the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. The antecedent facts which led to the filing of this petition are undisputed. After the death of spouses Andres G. de Jesus and Bibiana Roxas de Jesus, Special Proceeding No. 81503 entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Andres G. de Jesus and Bibiana Roxas de Jesus" was filed by petitioner Simeon R. Roxas, the brother of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. On March 26, 1973, petitioner Simeon R. Roxas was appointed administrator. After Letters of Administration had been granted to the petitioner, he delivered to the lower court a document purporting to be the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. On May 26, 1973, respondent Judge Jose Colayco set the hearing of the probate of the holographic Win on July 21, 1973. Petitioner Simeon R. Roxas testified that after his appointment as administrator, he found a notebook belonging to the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus and that on pages 21, 22, 23 and 24 thereof, a letter-win addressed to her children and entirely written and signed in the handwriting of the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus was found. The will is dated "FEB./61 " and states: "This is my win which I want to be respected although it is not written by a lawyer. ... The testimony of Simeon R. Roxas was corroborated by the testimonies of Pedro Roxas de Jesus and Manuel Roxas de Jesus who likewise testified that the letter dated "FEB./61 " is the holographic Will of their deceased mother, Bibiana R. de Jesus. Both recognized the handwriting of their mother and positively Identified her signature. They

further testified that their deceased mother understood English, the language in which the holographic Will is written, and that the date "FEB./61 " was the date when said Will was executed by their mother. Respondent Luz R. Henson, another compulsory heir filed an "opposition to probate" assailing the purported holographic Will of Bibiana R. de Jesus because a it was not executed in accordance with law, (b) it was executed through force, intimidation and/or under duress, undue influence and improper pressure, and (c) the alleged testatrix acted by mistake and/or did not intend, nor could have intended the said Will to be her last Will and testament at the time of its execution. On August 24, 1973, respondent Judge Jose C. Colayco issued an order allowing the probate of the holographic Will which he found to have been duly executed in accordance with law. Respondent Luz Roxas de Jesus filed a motion for reconsideration alleging inter alia that the alleged holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus was not dated as required by Article 810 of the Civil Code. She contends that the law requires that the Will should contain the day, month and year of its execution and that this should be strictly complied with. On December 10, 1973, respondent Judge Colayco reconsidered his earlier order and disallowed the probate of the holographic Will on the ground that the word "dated" has generally been held to include the month, day, and year. The dispositive portion of the order reads:
WHEREFORE, the document purporting to be the holographic Will of Bibiana Roxas de Jesus, is hereby disallowed for not having been executed as required by the law. The order of August 24, 1973 is hereby set aside.

The only issue is whether or not the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is a valid compliance with the Article 810 of the Civil Code which reads:
ART. 810. A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.

The petitioners contend that while Article 685 of the Spanish Civil Code and Article 688 of the Old Civil Code require the testator to state in his holographic Win the "year, month, and day of its execution," the present Civil Code omitted the phrase Ao mes y dia and simply requires that the holographic Will should be dated. The petitioners submit that the liberal construction of the holographic Will should prevail. Respondent Luz Henson on the other hand submits that the purported holographic Will is void for non-compliance with Article 810 of the New Civil Code in that the date must contain the year, month, and day of its execution. The respondent contends that Article

810 of the Civil Code was patterned after Section 1277 of the California Code and Section 1588 of the Louisiana Code whose Supreme Courts had consistently ruled that the required date includes the year, month, and day, and that if any of these is wanting, the holographic Will is invalid. The respondent further contends that the petitioner cannot plead liberal construction of Article 810 of the Civil Code because statutes prescribing the formalities to be observed in the execution of holographic Wills are strictly construed. We agree with the petitioner. This will not be the first time that this Court departs from a strict and literal application of the statutory requirements regarding the due execution of Wills. We should not overlook the liberal trend of the Civil Code in the manner of execution of Wills, the purpose of which, in case of doubt is to prevent intestacy
The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the provisions of the law on wigs in this Project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, but with sufficien safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. This objective is in accord with the modem tendency with respect to the formalities in the execution of wills. (Report of the Code Commission, p. 103)

In Justice Capistrano's concurring opinion in Heirs of Raymundo Castro v. Bustos (27 SCRA 327) he emphasized that:
xxx xxx xxx ... The law has a tender regard for the will of the testator expressed in his last will and testament on the ground that any disposition made by the testator is better than that which the law can make. For this reason, intestate succession is nothing more than a disposition based upon the presumed will of the decedent.

Thus, the prevailing policy is to require satisfaction of the legal requirements in order to guard against fraud and bad faith but without undue or unnecessary curtailment of testamentary privilege Icasiano v. Icasiano, 11 SCRA 422). If a Will has been executed in substantial compliance with the formalities of the law, and the possibility of bad faith and fraud in the exercise thereof is obviated, said Win should be admitted to probate (Rey v. Cartagena 56 Phil. 282). Thus,
xxx xxx xxx ... More than anything else, the facts and circumstances of record are to be considered in the application of any given rule. If the surrounding circumstances point to a regular execution of the wilt and the instrument appears to have been executed substantially in accordance with the requirements of the law, the inclination should, in the absence of any suggestion of bad faith, forgery or fraud, lean towards its admission to probate, although the document may suffer from some imperfection of language, or other non-essential defect. ... (Leynez v. Leynez 68 Phil. 745).

If the testator, in executing his Will, attempts to comply with all the requisites, although compliance is not literal, it is sufficient if the objective or purpose sought to be accomplished by such requisite is actually attained by the form followed by the testator. The purpose of the solemnities surrounding the execution of Wills has been expounded by this Court in Abangan v. Abanga 40 Phil. 476, where we ruled that:
The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. ...

In particular, a complete date is required to provide against such contingencies as that of two competing Wills executed on the same day, or of a testator becoming insane on the day on which a Will was executed (Velasco v. Lopez, 1 Phil. 720). There is no such contingency in this case. We have carefully reviewed the records of this case and found no evidence of bad faith and fraud in its execution nor was there any substitution of Wins and Testaments. There is no question that the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus was entirely written, dated, and signed by the testatrix herself and in a language known to her. There is also no question as to its genuineness and due execution. All the children of the testatrix agree on the genuineness of the holographic Will of their mother and that she had the testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of said Will. The objection interposed by the oppositor-respondent Luz Henson is that the holographic Will is fatally defective because the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the holographic Will is not sufficient compliance with Article 810 of the Civil Code. This objection is too technical to be entertained. As a general rule, the "date" in a holographic Will should include the day, month, and year of its execution. However, when as in the case at bar, there is no appearance of fraud, bad faith, undue influence and pressure and the authenticity of the Will is established and the only issue is whether or not the date "FEB./61" appearing on the holographic Will is a valid compliance with Article 810 of the Civil Code, probate of the holographic Will should be allowed under the principle of substantial compliance. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The order appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the order allowing the probate of the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is reinstated. G.R. No. L-40207 September 28, 1984 ROSA K. KALAW, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE BENJAMIN RELOVA, Presiding Judge of the CFI of Batangas, Branch VI, Lipa City, and GREGORIO K. KALAW, respondents. Leandro H. Fernandez for petitioner.

Antonio Quintos and Jose M. Yacat for respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.: On September 1, 1971, private respondent GREGORIO K. KALAW, claiming to be the sole heir of his deceased sister, Natividad K. Kalaw, filed a petition before the Court of First Instance of Batangas, Branch VI, Lipa City, for the probate of her holographic Will executed on December 24, 1968. The holographic Will reads in full as follows: My Last will and Testament In the name of God, Amen. I Natividad K. Kalaw Filipino 63years of age, single, and a resident of Lipa City, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do hereby declare thus to be my last will and testament. 1. It is my will that I'll be burried in the cemetery of the catholic church of Lipa City. In accordance with the rights of said Church, and that my executrix hereinafter named provide and erect at the expose of my state a suitable monument to perpetuate my memory.
xxx xxx xxx

The holographic Will, as first written, named ROSA K. Kalaw, a sister of the testatrix as her sole heir. Hence, on November 10, 1971, petitioner ROSA K. Kalaw opposed probate alleging, in substance, that the holographic Will contained alterations, corrections, and insertions without the proper authentication by the full signature of the testatrix as required by Article 814 of the Civil Code reading:
Art. 814. In case of any insertion, cancellation, erasure or alteration in a holographic will the testator must authenticate the same by his full signature.

ROSA's position was that the holographic Will, as first written, should be given effect and probated so that she could be the sole heir thereunder. After trial, respondent Judge denied probate in an Order, dated September 3, 197 3, reading in part:
The document Exhibit "C" was submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation for examination. The NBI reported that the handwriting, the signature, the insertions and/or additions and the initial were made by one and the same person. Consequently, Exhibit "C" was the handwriting of the decedent, Natividad K. Kalaw. The only question is whether the win, Exhibit 'C', should be admitted to probate although the alterations and/or

insertions or additions above-mentioned were not authenticated by the full signature of the testatrix pursuant to Art. 814 of the Civil Code. The petitioner contends that the oppositors are estopped to assert the provision of Art. 814 on the ground that they themselves agreed thru their counsel to submit the Document to the NBI FOR EXAMINATIONS. This is untenable. The parties did not agree, nor was it impliedly understood, that the oppositors would be in estoppel. The Court finds, therefore, that the provision of Article 814 of the Civil Code is applicable to Exhibit "C". Finding the insertions, alterations and/or additions in Exhibit "C" not to be authenticated by the full signature of the testatrix Natividad K. Kalaw, the Court will deny the admission to probate of Exhibit "C". WHEREFORE, the petition to probate Exhibit "C" as the holographic will of Natividad K. Kalaw is hereby denied. SO ORDERED.

From that Order, GREGORIO moved for reconsideration arguing that since the alterations and/or insertions were the testatrix, the denial to probate of her holographic Will would be contrary to her right of testamentary disposition. Reconsideration was denied in an Order, dated November 2, 1973, on the ground that "Article 814 of the Civil Code being , clear and explicit, (it) requires no necessity for interpretation." From that Order, dated September 3, 1973, denying probate, and the Order dated November 2, 1973 denying reconsideration, ROSA filed this Petition for Review on certiorari on the sole legal question of whether or not the original unaltered text after subsequent alterations and insertions were voided by the Trial Court for lack of authentication by the full signature of the testatrix, should be probated or not, with her as sole heir. Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and interlineations made by the testator in a holographic Will litem not been noted under his signature, ... the Will is not thereby invalidated as a whole, but at most only as respects the particular words erased, corrected or interlined.1 Manresa gave an Identical commentary when he said "la omision de la salvedad no anula el testamento, segun la regla de jurisprudencia establecida en la sentencia de 4 de Abril de 1895." 2 However, when as in this case, the holographic Will in dispute had only one substantial provision, which was altered by substituting the original heir with another, but which alteration did not carry the requisite of full authentication by the full signature of the testator, the effect must be that the entire Will is voided or revoked for the simple reason that nothing remains in the Will after that which could remain valid. To state that the Will as first written should be given efficacy is to disregard the seeming change of mind of the testatrix. But that change of mind can neither be given effect because she failed to authenticate it in the manner required by law by affixing her full signature, The ruling in Velasco, supra, must be held confined to such insertions, cancellations, erasures or alterations in a holographic Will, which affect only the efficacy of the altered words themselves but not the essence and validity of the Will itself. As it is, with the

erasures, cancellations and alterations made by the testatrix herein, her real intention cannot be determined with certitude. As Manresa had stated in his commentary on Article 688 of the Spanish Civil Code, whence Article 814 of the new Civil Code was derived:
... No infringe lo dispuesto en este articulo del Codigo (el 688) la sentencia que no declara la nulidad de un testamento olografo que contenga palabras tachadas, enmendadas o entre renglones no salvadas por el testador bajo su firnia segun previene el parrafo tercero del mismo, porque, en realidad, tal omision solo puede afectar a la validez o eficacia de tales palabras, y nunca al testamento mismo, ya por estar esa disposicion en parrafo aparte de aquel que determine las condiciones necesarias para la validez del testamento olografo, ya porque, de admitir lo contrario, se Ilegaria al absurdo de que pequefias enmiendas no salvadas, que en nada afectasen a la parte esencial y respectiva del testamento, vinieran a anular este, y ya porque el precepto contenido en dicho parrafo ha de entenderse en perfecta armonia y congruencia con el art. 26 de la ley del Notariado que declara nulas las adiciones apostillas entrerrenglonados, raspaduras y tachados en las escrituras matrices, siempre que no se salven en la forma prevenida, paro no el documento que las contenga, y con mayor motivo cuando las palabras enmendadas, tachadas, o entrerrenglonadas no tengan importancia ni susciten duda alguna acerca del pensamiento del testador, o constituyan meros accidentes de ortografia o de purez escrituraria, sin trascendencia alguna(l). Mas para que sea aplicable la doctrina de excepcion contenida en este ultimo fallo, es preciso que las tachaduras, enmiendas o entrerrenglonados sin salvar saan de pala bras que no afecter4 alteren ni uarien de modo substancial la express voluntad del testador manifiesta en el documento. Asi lo advierte la sentencia de 29 de Noviembre de 1916, que declara nulo un testamento olografo por no estar salvada por el testador la 3 enmienda del guarismo ultimo del ao en que fue extendido (Emphasis ours).

WHEREFORE, this Petition is hereby dismissed and the Decision of respondent Judge, dated September 3, 1973, is hereby affirmed in toto. No costs. SO ORDERED. Plana, Gutierrez, Jr. and De la Fuente, JJ., concur. Relova, J., took no part. G.R. No. L-26317 January 29, 1927

Estate of Miguel Mamuyac, deceased. FRANCISCO GAGO, petitioner-appellant, vs. CORNELIO MAMUYAC, AMBROSIO LARIOSA, FELICIANA BAUZON, and CATALINA MAMUYAC, opponents-appellees. Nicanor Tavora for appellant. Jose Rivera for appellees. JOHNSON, J.:

The purpose of this action was to obtain the probation of a last will and testament of Miguel Mamuyac, who died on the 2d day of January, 1922, in the municipality of Agoo of the Province of La Union. It appears from the record that on or about the 27th day of July, 1918, the said Miguel Mamuyac executed a last will and testament (Exhibit A). In the month of January, 1922, the said Francisco Gago presented a petition in the Court of First Instance of the Province of La Union for the probation of that will. The probation of the same was opposed by Cornelio Mamuyac, Ambrosio Lariosa, Feliciana Bauzon, and Catalina Mamuyac (civil cause No. 1144, Province of La Union). After hearing all of the parties the petition for the probation of said will was denied by the Honorable C. M. Villareal on the 2d day of November, 1923, upon the ground that the deceased had on the 16th day of April, 1919, executed a new will and testament. On the 21st day of February, 1925, the present action was commenced. Its purpose was to secure the probation of the said will of the 16th day of April, 1919 (Exhibit 1). To said petition Cornelio Mamuyac, Ambrosio Lariosa, Feliciana Bauzon, and Catalina Mamuyac presented their oppositions, alleging (a) that the said will is a copy of the second will and testament executed by the said Miguel Mamuyac; (b) that the same had been cancelled and revoked during the lifetime of Miguel Mamuyac and (c) that the said will was not the last will and testament of the deceased Miguel Mamuyac. Upon the issue thus presented, the Honorable Anastacio R. Teodoro, judge, after hearing the respective parties, denied the probation of said will of April 16, 1919, upon the ground that the same had been cancelled and revoked in the year 1920. Judge Teodoro, after examining the evidence adduced, found that the following facts had been satisfactorily proved: That Exhibit A is a mere carbon of its original which remained in the possession of the deceased testator Miguel Mamuyac, who revoked it before his death as per testimony of witness Jose Fenoy, who typed the will of the testator on April 16, 1919, and Carlos Bejar, who saw on December 30, 1920, the original Exhibit A (will of 1919) actually cancelled by the testator Miguel Mamuyac, who assured Carlos Bejar that inasmuch as he had sold him a house and the land where the house was built, he had to cancel it (the will of 1919), executing thereby a new testament. Narcisa Gago in a way corroborates the testimony of Jose Fenoy, admitting that the will executed by the deceased (Miguel Mamuyac) in 1919 was found in the possession of father Miguel Mamuyac. The opponents have successfully established the fact that father Miguel Mamuyac had executed in 1920 another will. The same Narcisa Gago, the sister of the deceased, who was living in the house with him, when cross-examined by attorney for the opponents, testified that the original Exhibit A could not be found. For the foregoing consideration and for the reason that the original of Exhibit A has been cancelled by the deceased father Miguel Mamuyac, the court disallows the probate of Exhibit A for the applicant." From that order the petitioner appealed. The appellant contends that the lower court committed an error in not finding from the evidence that the will in question had been executed with all the formalities required by the law; that the same had been revoked and cancelled in 1920 before his death; that the said will was a mere carbon copy and that the oppositors were not estopped from alleging that fact.

With reference to the said cancellation, it may be stated that there is positive proof, not denied, which was accepted by the lower court, that will in question had been cancelled in 1920. The law does not require any evidence of the revocation or cancellation of a will to be preserved. It therefore becomes difficult at times to prove the revocation or cancellation of wills. The fact that such cancellation or revocation has taken place must either remain unproved of be inferred from evidence showing that after due search the original will cannot be found. Where a will which cannot be found is shown to have been in the possession of the testator, when last seen, the presumption is, in the absence of other competent evidence, that the same was cancelled or destroyed. The same presumption arises where it is shown that the testator had ready access to the will and it cannot be found after his death. It will not be presumed that such will has been destroyed by any other person without the knowledge or authority of the testator. The force of the presumption of cancellation or revocation by the testator, while varying greatly, being weak or strong according to the circumstances, is never conclusive, but may be overcome by proof that the will was not destroyed by the testator with intent to revoke it. In view of the fat that the original will of 1919 could not be found after the death of the testator Miguel Mamuyac and in view of the positive proof that the same had been cancelled, we are forced to the conclusion that the conclusions of the lower court are in accordance with the weight of the evidence. In a proceeding to probate a will the burden of proofs is upon the proponent clearly to establish not only its execution but its existence. Having proved its execution by the proponents, the burden is on the contestant to show that it has been revoked. In a great majority of instances in which wills are destroyed for the purpose of revoking them there is no witness to the act of cancellation or destruction and all evidence of its cancellation perishes with the testator. Copies of wills should be admitted by the courts with great caution. When it is proven, however, by proper testimony that a will was executed in duplicate and each copy was executed with all the formalities and requirements of the law, then the duplicate may be admitted in evidence when it is made to appear that the original has been lost and was not cancelled or destroyed by the testator. (Borromeo vs. Casquijo, G.R. No. L-26063.)1 After a careful examination of the entire record, we are fully persuaded that the will presented for probate had been cancelled by the testator in 1920. Therefore the judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed. And without any finding as to costs, it is so ordered. G.R. No. 76464 February 29, 1988 TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE ADRIANA MALOTO, ALDINA MALOTO CASIANO, CONSTANCIO MALOTO, PURIFICACION MIRAFLOR, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF MOLO, AND ASILO DE MOLO, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, PANFILO MALOTO AND FELINO MALOTO, respondents.

SARMIENTO, J.:

This is not the first time that the parties to this case come to us. In fact, two other cases directly related to the present one and involving the same parties had already been decided by us in the past. In G.R. No. L-30479, 1 which was a petition for certiorari and mandamus instituted by the petitioners herein, we dismissed the petition ruling that the more appropriate remedy of the petitioners is a separate proceeding for the probate of the will in question. Pursuant to the said ruling, the petitioners commenced in the then Court of First Instance of Iloilo, Special Proceeding No. 2176, for the probate of the disputed will, which was opposed by the private respondents presently, Panfilo and Felino both surnamed Maloto. The trial court dismissed the petition on April 30, 1970. Complaining against the dismissal, again, the petitioners came to this Court on a petition for review by certiorari. 2 Acting on the said petition, we set aside the trial court's order and directed it to proceed to hear the case on the merits. The trial court, after hearing, found the will to have already been revoked by the testatrix. Adriana Maloto, and thus, denied the petition. The petitioners appealed the trial court's decision to the Intermediate Appellate Court which, on June 7, 1985, affirmed the order. The petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the adverse decision proved to be of no avail, hence, this petition. For a better understanding of the controversy, a factual account would be a great help. On October 20, 1963, Adriana Maloto died leaving as heirs her niece and nephews, the petitioners Aldina Maloto-Casiano and Constancio, Maloto, and the private respondents Panfilo Maloto and Felino Maloto. Believing that the deceased did not leave behind a last will and testament, these four heirs commenced on November 4, 1963 an intestate proceeding for the settlement of their aunt's estate. The case was instituted in the then Court of First Instance of Iloilo and was docketed as Special Proceeding No. 1736. However, while the case was still in progress, or to be exact on February 1, 1964, the parties Aldina, Constancio, Panfilo, and Felino executed an agreement of extrajudicial settlement of Adriana's estate. The agreement provided for the division of the estate into four equal parts among the parties. The Malotos then presented the extrajudicial settlement agreement to the trial court for approval which the court did on March 21, 1964. That should have signalled the end of the controversy, but, unfortunately, it had not. Three years later, or sometime in March 1967, Atty. Sulpicio Palma, a former associate of Adriana's counsel, the late Atty. Eliseo Hervas, discovered a document entitled "KATAPUSAN NGA PAGBUBULAT-AN (Testamento)," dated January 3,1940, and purporting to be the last will and testament of Adriana. Atty. Palma claimed to have found the testament, the original copy, while he was going through some materials inside the cabinet drawer formerly used by Atty. Hervas. The document was submitted to the office of the clerk of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo on April 1, 1967. Incidentally, while Panfilo and Felino are still named as heirs in the said will, Aldina and Constancio are bequeathed much bigger and more valuable shares in the estate of Adriana than what they received by virtue of the agreement of extrajudicial settlement they had earlier signed. The will likewise gives devises and legacies to other parties,

among them being the petitioners Asilo de Molo, the Roman Catholic Church of Molo, and Purificacion Miraflor. Thus, on May 24, 1967, Aldina and Constancio, joined by the other devisees and legatees named in the will, filed in Special Proceeding No. 1736 a motion for reconsideration and annulment of the proceedings therein and for the allowance of the will When the trial court denied their motion, the petitioner came to us by way of a petition for certiorari and mandamus assailing the orders of the trial court . 3 As we stated earlier, we dismissed that petition and advised that a separate proceeding for the probate of the alleged will would be the appropriate vehicle to thresh out the matters raised by the petitioners. Significantly, the appellate court while finding as inconclusive the matter on whether or not the document or papers allegedly burned by the househelp of Adriana, Guadalupe Maloto Vda. de Coral, upon instructions of the testatrix, was indeed the will, contradicted itself and found that the will had been revoked. The respondent court stated that the presence of animus revocandi in the destruction of the will had, nevertheless, been sufficiently proven. The appellate court based its finding on the facts that the document was not in the two safes in Adriana's residence, by the testatrix going to the residence of Atty. Hervas to retrieve a copy of the will left in the latter's possession, and, her seeking the services of Atty. Palma in order to have a new will drawn up. For reasons shortly to be explained, we do not view such facts, even considered collectively, as sufficient bases for the conclusion that Adriana Maloto's will had been effectively revoked. There is no doubt as to the testamentary capacity of the testatrix and the due execution of the will. The heart of the case lies on the issue as to whether or not the will was revoked by Adriana. The provisions of the new Civil Code pertinent to the issue can be found in Article 830.
Art. 830. No will shall be revoked except in the following cases: (1) By implication of law; or (2) By some will, codicil, or other writing executed as provided in case of wills: or (3) By burning, tearing, cancelling, or obliterating the will with the intention of revoking it, by the testator himself, or by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction. If burned, torn cancelled, or obliterated by some other person, without the express direction of the testator, the will may still be established, and the estate distributed in accordance therewith, if its contents, and due execution, and the fact of its unauthorized destruction, cancellation, or obliteration are established according to the Rules of Court. (Emphasis Supplied.)

It is clear that the physical act of destruction of a will, like burning in this case, does not per se constitute an effective revocation, unless the destruction is coupled with animus revocandi on the part of the testator. It is not imperative that the physical destruction be

done by the testator himself. It may be performed by another person but under the express direction and in the presence of the testator. Of course, it goes without saying that the document destroyed must be the will itself. In this case, while animus revocandi or the intention to revoke, may be conceded, for that is a state of mind, yet that requisite alone would not suffice. "Animus revocandi is only one of the necessary elements for the effective revocation of a last will and testament. The intention to revoke must be accompanied by the overt physical act of burning, tearing, obliterating, or cancelling the will carried out by the testator or by another person in his presence and under his express direction. There is paucity of evidence to show compliance with these requirements. For one, the document or papers burned by Adriana's maid, Guadalupe, was not satisfactorily established to be a will at all, much less the will of Adriana Maloto. For another, the burning was not proven to have been done under the express direction of Adriana. And then, the burning was not in her presence. Both witnesses, Guadalupe and Eladio, were one in stating that they were the only ones present at the place where the stove (presumably in the kitchen) was located in which the papers proffered as a will were burned. The respondent appellate court in assessing the evidence presented by the private respondents as oppositors in the trial court, concluded that the testimony of the two witnesses who testified in favor of the will's revocation appear "inconclusive." We share the same view. Nowhere in the records before us does it appear that the two witnesses, Guadalupe Vda. de Corral and Eladio Itchon, both illiterates, were unequivocably positive that the document burned was indeed Adriana's will. Guadalupe, we think, believed that the papers she destroyed was the will only because, according to her, Adriana told her so. Eladio, on the other hand, obtained his information that the burned document was the will because Guadalupe told him so, thus, his testimony on this point is double hearsay. At this juncture, we reiterate that "(it) is an important matter of public interest that a purported win is not denied legalization on dubious grounds. Otherwise, the very institution of testamentary succession will be shaken to its very foundations ...." 4 The private respondents in their bid for the dismissal of the present action for probate instituted by the petitioners argue that the same is already barred by res adjudicata. They claim that this bar was brought about by the petitioners' failure to appeal timely from the order dated November 16, 1968 of the trial court in the intestate proceeding (Special Proceeding No. 1736) denying their (petitioners') motion to reopen the case, and their prayer to annul the previous proceedings therein and to allow the last will and testament of the late Adriana Maloto. This is untenable. The doctrine of res adjudicata finds no application in the present controversy. For a judgment to be a bar to a subsequent case, the following requisites must concur: (1) the presence of a final former judgment; (2) the former judgment was rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) the former judgment is a judgment on the merits; and (4) there is, between the first and the second action,

Identity of parties, of subject matter, and of cause of action. 5 We do not find here the presence of all the enumerated requisites. For one, there is yet, strictly speaking, no final judgment rendered insofar as the probate of Adriana Maloto's will is concerned. The decision of the trial court in Special Proceeding No. 1736, although final, involved only the intestate settlement of the estate of Adriana. As such, that judgment could not in any manner be construed to be final with respect to the probate of the subsequently discovered will of the decedent. Neither is it a judgment on the merits of the action for probate. This is understandably so because the trial court, in the intestate proceeding, was without jurisdiction to rule on the probate of the contested will . 6 After all, an action for probate, as it implies, is founded on the presence of a will and with the objective of proving its due execution and validity, something which can not be properly done in an intestate settlement of estate proceeding which is predicated on the assumption that the decedent left no will. Thus, there is likewise no Identity between the cause of action in intestate proceeding and that in an action for probate. Be that as it may, it would be remembered that it was precisely because of our ruling in G.R. No. L-30479 that the petitioners instituted this separate action for the probate of the late Adriana Maloto's will. Hence, on these grounds alone, the position of the private respondents on this score can not be sustained. One last note. The private respondents point out that revocation could be inferred from the fact that "(a) major and substantial bulk of the properties mentioned in the will had been disposed of: while an insignificant portion of the properties remained at the time of death (of the testatrix); and, furthermore, more valuable properties have been acquired after the execution of the will on January 3,1940." 7 Suffice it to state here that as these additional matters raised by the private respondents are extraneous to this special proceeding, they could only be appropriately taken up after the will has been duly probated and a certificate of its allowance issued. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered REVERSING and SETTING ASIDE the Decision dated June 7, 1985 and the Resolution dated October 22, 1986, of the respondent Court of Appeals, and a new one ENTERED for the allowance of Adriana Maloto's last will and testament. Costs against the private respondents. This Decision is IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY. G.R. No. L-44680 January 11, 1979 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. DOMINADOR MOLO, defendant-appellant. Pedro Q. Quadra (Counsel de Oficio) for appellant. Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Reynato & Puno and Solicitor Romeo C. de la Cruz for appellee.

PER CURIAM: Automatic review of the death sentence with accessory penalties imposed on September 3, 1976 upon accused-appellant Dominador Molo by Hon. Job B. Mandayag of the Court of First Instance of Romblon, 11th Judicial District, in Criminal Case No. 571 for the murder of Venancio Gapisa on 9 April 1976 at Sitio Dacotan, Barrio Tambac, Romblon, Romblon. The above-named accused was charged with murder in an Information filed by Asst. Provincial Fiscal Cesar M. Solis, on May 31,1976, as follows:
The undersigned Assistant Provincial Fiscal of Romblon accuses DOMINADOR MOLO of the crime of MURDER committed as follows: That on or about the 9th day of April 1976, at around 8:00 o'clock in the evening, at sitio Dacotan, barrio of Tambac municipality of Romblon, province of Romblon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused with treachery and taking advantage of superior strength, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack and assault one Venancio Gapisa, with the use of a bolo as a consequence of which he sustained mortal injuries that resulted in his death thereafter. That the killing was attended with the following aggravating circumstances: (A) Dwelling, for the crime was committed in the house of the offended party who has not given any provocation at all. (B) Recidivism in view of the fact that the accused has been charged for (1) Frustrated Murder before the Court of First instance of Mindoro in Criminal Case V-542 entitled People va. Dominador Molo and convicted thereof on September 2, 1950; and (2) Murder, before the Court of First Instance of Romblon in Criminal Case No. 862 entitled People vs. Dominador Molo and convicted thereof on July 27, 1961. (C) Reiteration, since he has been charged and convicted before different courts in the following criminal cases: (1) Grave Slander, before the Court of First Instance of Romblon in Criminal Case No. V669 and convicted on June 5, 1957. (2) Less Serious Physical Injuries, before the Municipal Court of Romblon, Romblon in Criminal Case No. 839 and convicted on October 9, 1959. (3) Qualified Trespass to Dwelling, before the Municipal Court of Romblon, Romblon in Criminal Case No. 845 and convicted on February 25, 1960. (4) Robbery, before the Court of First Instance of Davao in Criminal Case No. 9982 and convicted on March 1, 1967.

That as a consequence of the aforementioned act committed by the accused. the heirs of the deceased are entitled to recover civil damages pursuant to the provisions of law. CONTRARY TO LAW. Romblon, Romblon, May 31,1976. ( S G D . ) C E S A R M . S O L I S A s s i s t a n t P r o v i n c i a l F i s c

a l

At the trial, the prosecution presented the testimonies of (1) the victim's wife, Simeona Gapisa, an eye-witness to the alleged murder; (2) Alejandro Gapisa, a son of the victim who went to the rescue of his father after he was stabbed by accuseappellant and was able to talk with him before he succumbed to several bolo wounds; (3) Roman man a neighbor of Alejandro; and (4) Dr. Victorio Benedicto, who performed the autopsy and accomplished the Autopsy Report, Exhibits "A" and "A.1 The accused, who offered alibi as a defense, presented his testimony and that of his wife. Barbara Mingo, and Police Patrolman Rodolfo Manunggay and Exhibits 1, a bolo and 1-a, scabbard. The operative facts of the case and the circumstances surrounding the apprehension and investigation of the accused now appellant established by the evidence on record are as follow. In the evening of April 9, 1976 at about 8:00 p.m. at Sitio Dacotan, Barrio Tambac, Municipality of Romblon, Venancio Gapisa and Simeona Rapa-Gapisa, husband and wife, retired to sleep. The couple lived in a typical hut made of bamboo flooring and dilapidated burl walling surrounded by fruit. bearing banana plants. Venancio Gapisa immediately fell asleep because he was tired from clearing the fields, and besides, had drunk tuba on that day. He slept near the door lying on his right side. 1 Not long after the couple had retired, Simeona, who had not yet fallen asleep, heard an indistinct sound of murmur and gnashing of teeth. Although she was seized by fear, she managed to peep through the dilapidated buri wall and saw accused Dominador Molo attired only in short pants. He was alone. Trembling, she immediately lighted a kerosene lamp and placed it on top of the trunk nearby. She tried to awaken her husband, but the latter did not respond. 2 Meanwhile, the accused had already climbed up the house which was only a flight of two steps. The accused forcibly pushed the sliding door and barged into the house. He inquired from Simeona where Venancio was and she replied that he was asleep. Finding Venancio sleeping near the door, he immediately grabbed his left wrist and started hacking at the sleeping old man. Rudely awakened, Venancio quickly stood up and with his right hand reached for his bolo which was atop the table nearby; but he was not able to retaliate in as much as Dominador Molo was quick to hack at him again. Fearing for her own life, Simeona rushed out of the house through the door of the unfinished kitchen to summon help from her son, Alejandro Gapisa, who was at Roman Mangaring's house some 100 meters away. Trembling, she told him that his father was boloed by Boslo, the name by which accused-appellant was known in their locality. 3 Upon being informed, Alejandro and Roman ran towards the house of Venancio, followed by Simeona. Upon arrival, they saw Venancio bleeding profusely and in weakened condition. He was sitting on the floor of the kitchen, defecating in his pants. When Alejandro took him in his arms, Venancio told him that he was boloed by Boslo.

Roman Mangaring who was present also inquired from Venancio who his assailant was and elicited the answer, "Boslo". 4 Venancio was then rushed to the hospital and arrived there at about 1:50 a.m. He expired a few minutes after. 5 An autopsy of the victim disclosed that he died of hemorrhage from multiple incised wounds. The wounds sustained were:
1. Incised wound, 10 cms. in length, gaping about 4 cms., slanting in position with the lower portion located anteriorly, penetrating the bone, at the anterolateral aspect of the distal 3rd of the left arm. 2. Incised wound, about 10 cms. in length, gaping, slanting in position, with the lower and located anteriorly, penetrating the bone, located 3 cms. below the wound mentioned above. 3. Incised wound, about 10 cms. in length, gaping slightly at the anterolateral aspect of the neck, left side, slanting, with the lower and located anteriorly penetrating the muscle layer. 4. Incised wound, about 10 cms. gaping, slightly slanting with the lower end located anteriorly, located 3 cms. below the 3rd wound, fracturing the clavicle, the costo-chondral portion of the 2nd rib and the lateral portion of the sternum, left side. 5. Incised wound, 8 cms. in length, gaping about 4 cms., slanting with the lower end located anteriorly, penetrating the bone, located at the lower end of the distal 3rd of the right arm, anterolateral portion. 6. Incised wound, 5 cms. in length, gaping slightly, slanting with the lower end located anteriorly, penetrating the bone, at the; upper 3rd of the right forearm, anterolateral aspect. 7. Incised wound, 4 cms., superficial, at the anterior portion of the neck, 8. Incised wound 4 cms., superficial, right medial aspect, upper 3rd, right forearm. Internal Findings: Wound No. 4 penetrated the apex of the left lung inflicting a small wound, about 2-3 cms. causing minimal bleeding.

The Cause of Death: Hemorrhage from multiple incised wounds.

The following morning an investigation of the fatal incident was conducted. Pat. Manuel Marino in the presence of Patrolmen Montojo and Antonio Madali took the statement of Simeona Gapisa, who Identified Dominador Molo as the assailant of her deceased husband. 7 Thereafter, PC soldiers and policemen were dispatched to the house of Dominador Molo some one and a half (1-1/2) kilometers away from the scene of the killing. Dominador Molo was placed under arrest and brought by the arresting officers to the poblacion. Investigated at the PC barracks, Molo denied having committed any wrong and having gone to the place of Venancio Gapisa. 8

On April 23, 1976, after additional statements of Alejandro Gapisa, Roman Mangaring and Florencio Guarte were secured, a criminal complaint was filed in the Municipal Court of Romblon. 9 The preliminary examination was conducted by Mayor Peter M. Montojo, for and in the absence of the municipal judge. Thereafter, he issued an order confirming the detention of accused who was then detained in the Municipal jail of Romblon, there being "... reasonable ground to believe that the offense was committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof. 10 The accused waived the second stage of the preliminary investigation. 11 On May 31, 1976, an information, as adverted to above, was filed against Molo accusing him of the crime of murder. 12 After trial, the court a quo relying on the testimony of Simeona Gapisa who was an eye- and ear-witness to the incident and the corroborating testimonies of Alejandro Gapisa and Roman Mangaring, who testified on the antemortem statements of the victim Identifying accused as the assailant; discounting the defense of alibi put forth by the accused and his wife; appreciating the qualifying circumstance of treachery and the aggravating circumstances of dwelling, recidivism and reiteration alleged in the Information, and a mitigating circumstance, voluntary surrender, sentenced the accused on September 3, 1976, as follows:
WHEREFORE, this Court renders judgment finding accused Dominador Molo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder, charged in the information and, since after off-setting the lone mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender with the aggravating circumstance of either dwelling, recidivism or reiteration there remains two aggravating circumstances, sentencing him to suffer the supreme Penalty of death. He is further adjudged to pay the heirs of the deceased Venancio Gapisa, the sum of Twelve Thousand Pesos (P 12,000), and to pay the cost. SO ORDERED.
13

Accused-appellant thru Atty. Pedro Q. Quadra, counsel de oficio now seeks acquittal on the basis of two assigned erors, to wit 1. Appellant was convicted upon proof not beyond reasonable doubt; 2. Identification of the appellant was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
14

1. In support of the first, he argues that while proof of motive is unnecessary if the evidence of Identification is convincing citing People vs. Cunanan, 19 SCRA 769; People vs. Portugueza, 20 SCRA 901; People vs. Jamero, 24 SCRA 206; and People vs. Guardo, 24 SCRA 851 there is, he claims, a total want of motive on appellant's part, as admitted by the victim's wife, Simeona Gapisa, and son, Alejandro Gapisa. 15 2. In support of the second assigned error, appellant contents that his Identity as the assailant was not established beyond reasonable doubt, because of (a) alleged inconsistencies and incredible assertions in Simeona's testimony; (b) physical conditions which rendered it impossible for her to recognized accused-appellant; (c) her alleged admission that she pointed to accuse-appellant as the assailant because he was a hated criminal in their locality; and (d) that the so-called dying declarations should

not have been accorded credence, because the victim could not have Identified his assailant. 16 Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza - who was assisted by Assistant Solicitor General Reynato Puno and Solicitors Romeo S. dela Cruz - after refuting the foregoing assignment of errors submits the following conclusions as to the nature of the offense committed, the qualifying and aggravating circumstances that attended the commission thereof, and, that the accused is not entitled to the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, thus
xxx xxx xxx Since the attack was commenced while Venancio Gapisa was asleep and therefore he could not make a defense, the killing was attended with treachery. Treachery qualifies the killing into murder. (Article 248, Revised Penal Code). Dwelling is an aggravating circumstance because the killing was done in the house of Venancio Gapisa who had not given provocation. (Art. 14 (3), Revised Penal Code). Other aggravating circumstances are recidivism and reiteration. (Article 14, paragraphs 9 and 19, Revised Penal Code). Accused-appellant had been previously convicted of murder, frustrated murder, grave slander, less serious physical injuries, qualified trespass to dwelling and robbery. (pp. 10-12, tsn., July 12, 1976). Accused-appellant is not entitled to the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender. He did not surrender to the authorities. As admitted by him, he was arrested by a combined force of policemen and Philippine Constabulary agents at his residence the day after the killing. (p, 6, tsn., July 29,1976). Since there are three aggravating circumstances and no mitigating circumstance, the 17 penalty properly imposable upon accused-appellant is death.

and recommends that the finding of guilt for the offense of murder and the death sentence imposed upon appellant be affirmed in toto. 18 Now, to consider the merits of the alleged errors. 1. Re the claim that there is no proof of motive on appellant's part. This error may be subsumed under and/or discussed together with the second, since it admits that motive need not be shown where there is positive Identification, which, as We shall explain later, happened in this case. However, by way of traverse, We find the following observations of the Solicitor General well-taken, and therefore well worth adopting.
xxx xxx xxx Appellee concedes that it has failed to show any motive of accused- appellant in killing Venancio Gapisa. Both Simeona Gapisa and Alejandro Gapisa ventured robbery as the motive of accusedappellant (pp. 34, 44, tsn., July 12, 1976). They could not, however, state how much

money was taken, from whom it was taken and how it was taken (pp. 34-38, 44-45, tsn., July 12,1976). Lest it be thought that Simeona Gapisa and Alejandro Gapisa gave false testimony, thus rendering themselves untrustworthy witnesses, it should be pointed out that when they mentioned robbery as the possible motive of accused-appellant, Alejandro Gapisa made it clear that was only his "surmise" (p. 34, tsn., July 12, 1976) while Simeona Gapisa qualified her assertion with the word "maybe" (p. 44, tsn., July 12, 1976). They were not committal or categorical about the matter. Aside from robbery, there was no other possible motive of accused-appellant. Both Simeona Gapisa and Alejandro Gapisa admitted that accused-appellant had no grudge against Venancio Gapisa and his family and vice-versa (pp. 33-34, 53-54, tsn., July 12, 1976). But even in the absence of proof of motive, the conviction of accused- appellant can stand inasmuch as he had been positively Identified by Simeona Gapisa and by the deceased himself through his dying declaration. Motive need not be shown when there is positive Identification. (People vs. Feliciano, 58 SCRA 383; People vs. Dorico, 54 SCRA 19 172). xxx xxx xxx

2. Re the contention that his Identity as assailant was not established beyond reasonable doubt. (a) That there are inconsistencies and incredible assertions in Simeona's testimony.Simeona Gapisa who was present when accused-appellant attacked her husband Venancio with a bolo testified on direct and re-direct examinations by Assistant Provincial Fiscal Cesar M. Solis and on cross and recross examinations by Atty. Alexander Mortel, counsel de oficio of accused, thus
xxx xxx xxx
Fiscal Solis: Q By the way, when you first heard the unusual sound since you were still awake, what did you do? A I lighted a lamp, I first looked at him by peeping thru the wall of our house and once I had recognized his face as that of Dominador Molo I lighted a lamp. Q Was it only the face of Dominador Molo that you recognized outside? A Yes, and he was alone. Q What about his body, did you recognize that body belong to Dominador Molo? A I could see and that was the very body of his including his face because it was bright. Q What provides the brightness that allowed you to recognize him outside the house? A The moon was bright.

Q Now, aside from the unusual murmuring sound, did you hear the sound of grinding teeth? A In fact that was what he had done he was murmuring and at the same time sounding like grinding teeth. Q Now, after you lighted a lamp what else did you do inside? A I stood up and stepped back because he had come up into the house. Q Did you not wake up your husband? A I had but he did not notice. Q Now, what did you do with the lamp after you lighted it? A I placed it on top of our trunk which was towards our head. Q Now, how did you know that Dominador had gone up the house? A Because I saw him going up into our house. Q When he went up the house, what did he do? A Once up the house he held my husband by the arm and suddenly pulled out his bolo from 20 his back and hacked him.

xxx xxx xxx


Q How long have you known him? A Since he was a boy and until he grew up. Q By the way, by what affiliation (sic, should be appelation or name) is he known in your locality? A Boslo. Q If that Dominador Molo the accused in this case known as Boslo is present in the court room, will you be able to point him out in the court? A He is here he is the one sitting. Q Could you not be mistaken? A That is true, it was his very appearance who is looking up in the ceiling.
21

xxx xxx xxx


Atty. Mortel: Q Nevertheless, because the moon was a quarter moon only that night April 9 the illumination any object that could be seen is quite pale not so bright as if there was an alladin lamp, correct? A Yes. Q And as a matter of fact when this person whom you said was making murmuring sounds when you peeped through your window he was being illuminated by the beam of the light of the moon and his face seems to be a yellowish and as clear as if there is an alladin lamp, correct?

A But I know that he was the very one I recognized his face and he is far from the banana plantation and the Moon lights very well on him. Q When the moon lighted very well on him his color was yellowish was it not? A It was indeed his appearance that I saw and that is exactly how he looked. Q And When you looked at him the first time that night he looked lie Dominador Molo? A It was his very own appearance, his appearance never changed. Q And when you saw him you lighted a lamp, is that right? A I lighted a lamp because he was already there and I was afraid of what he had done to us. Q You mean from the very first time that you saw him he was making murmuring sounds you were already afraid that he would do something bad against you and your husband? A Yes, I was already afraid and my skin seemed to shiver.
22

xxx xxx xxx


Q And so when your husband was or rather when your house that night of April 19 was entered into by a person making murmuring sounds outside and boloed to death your husband there was no other conclusion that you made but that it must be Boslo the killer? A Yes, in fact he was the very one it was his very looks. Fiscal Solis: Q And who pushed open that door of yours, was it Dominador Molo or a witch? A He was Dominador Molo, it was his very looks of the same person who pushed the shutter of the door. Q What made you sure that the looks of that person was the one who pushed open the door and went inside and hacked your husband? A He was the one it was his very looks and I saw that it is his looks.
23

xxx xxx xxx


Q Now, what is this basis for positively telling us that is Dominador Molo who killed your husband was it because of rumor circulating in the locality of Cogon and that the assailant as to be Dominador Molo because he has killed or because you saw then Dominador Molo committing the act against your husband? A Not only what was given to me by way of information from other people but because of what 24 I actually saw with my eyes.

xxx xxx xxx


Atty. Mortel: Q Now, according to you when the door was pushed open the person entered and he has the looks of that fellow whom you are pointing to as Dominador Molo, is that correct? A He is the very one.

Q And not only that person who entered the looks of that Dominador Molo the accused in this case but he also has the height that looks like the height of Dominador Molo, is that correct? A Yes and he had his shirt off and shorts on. Q And he has that looks and built of Dominador Molo, is that correct? A Yes, that is his very appearance and could not be altered anymore.
25

xxx xxx xxx

Appellant contents that inconsistencies exist between Simeona's statement given to the police and her foregoing testimony in court, relative to 1) the precise moment when Simeona recognized the accused, 26 and 2) whether there was a conversation between Simeona and the accused. 27 The records show, however, that the alleged statement given to the police was neither offered as evidence nor shown to witness in order to enable her to explain the discrepancies if any in accordance to Section 16, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. The proper bast was, therefore, not laid to impeach Simeona's testimony on the basis of alleged inconsistent statements which she allegedly made before the police. 28 At any rate, We find the alleged inconsistencies inconsequential. Inconsistencies on minor details or on matters that are not of material consequence as to affect the guilt or the innocence of the accused do not detract from the credibility of the witnesses. 29 The discordance in their testimonies on collateral matters heightens their credibility and shows that their testimonies were not coached or rehearsed. 30 Far from being evidence of falsehood, they could justifiably be regarded as a demonstration of good faith. 31 It is also contended that the testimony of Simeona contains inconsistent averments. According to accused-appellant Simeona claimed that she was able to Identify him because of the lamp which was then lighted but that she also declared that the light was put out when the door was opened because of the sudden gust of wind. 32 To support this contention, he quoted Simeona's testimony:
Q And when the door was pushed open there was a sudden gust of wind that entered the house, correct? A There was a consequence of the sudden entry. Q And with that sudden entry and gust of wind carried by this fellow the light was snuffed out, correct? A Yes. (P. 51, tsn., July 12,1976).

A review of the transcript of the testimony shows that the foregoing is an inaccurate representation of Simeona's testimony. For she clarified that her husband was already boloed before the light was snuffed out. Thus, she testified on cross-examination:
Atty. Mortel:

Q And with that sudden entry and gust of wind carried by that fellow the light was snuffed out, correct? A Yes. Q And in the darkness inside this fellow who entered the house began stabbing and boloing your husband, correct? A My husband was already boloed when the light was put out because upon entrance he 33 instantly took hold of my husband's arm and started hacking him all over.

xxx xxx xxx

On re-direct examination, she declared


Fiscal Solis: Q Now, you admitted on cross examination that the lamp was put out now how were you able to know that your husband had attempted to hold his bolo with his right hand and while in that position he was hacked twice by a bolo by the accused Dominador Molo? A That stage occurred when the light was still on so it was still bright.
34

Appellant also alleges that her testimony contains incredible assertions, i.e. that it was very unusual that she remained silent while witnessing the attack on her husband. 35 But the transcripts show that appellant's own counsel below, Atty. Alexander Mortel, during the cross-examination, provided the answer to this misgiving :
xxx xxx xxx
Q When the door was pushed open did you not shout? A No, because I was afraid. Q Afraid of what? A I was afraid because I did not shout for fear that he might bolo me. Q You were tongue-tied? A Yes. Q Because of fear? A Yes. Q Terrible fear? A Yes, it was terrible fear because my body trembled . Q To such extent that you were shocked? A Yes.
36

Appellant also argues that Simeona's account is contrary to physical facts. He claims that if, as she testified, the victim was lying down when attacked, he would sustain stab, not incised wounds. He explains that the natural tendency of a person attacking another who is lying down with a bolo would be to thrust the bolo towards the body and not hack him. 37 This claim is without merit. The Solicitor General's explanation on this point is well-taken. To simply thrust a bolo at a lying person is not as forceful as to hack him with it. The first is an awkward if not difficult movement, but the second is natural and can be done with facility. 38 (b) That conditions rendered it impossible for Simeona to recognize accused-appellant. It is contended that Simeona could not have recognized accused-appellant while he was at the foot of the stairs because the banana plants obstructed the light cast by the moon. 39 This, again, is without merit. Simeona testified that the banana plants did not obstruct the light cast by the moon and the defense did not disprove this fact:
xxx xxx xxx
Atty. Mortel: Q And because of the banana plantation that is covering your yard this quarter moon, the illumination thereof is obstructing a little by this banana plantation? A But the bananas are not directly obstructing the door of our house because they are standing towards the footpath the part of our house was not obstructed of the light cast by the moon . Q Except by the footpath and the surrounding premises of the east side of the house is shaded because the banana plantation are there to obstruct the illumination of the moon, correct? A No, the light coming from the moon could not be obstructed anymore by that plantation because the main door of our house is fronting a yard. Q Nevertheless, because the moon was a quarter moon only that night April 9 the illumination to any object that could be seen is quite pale not so bright as if there was an alladin lamp, correct ? A Yes. Q And as a matter of fact when this person whom you said was making murmuring sounds when you peeped through your window he was being illuminated by the beam of the light of the moon and his face seems to be a yellowish and as clear as if there is an alladin lamp, correct? A But I know that he was the very one I recognized his face and he is far from the banana plantation and the moon lights very well on him. Q When the moon lighted very well on him his color was yellowish was it not? A It was indeed his appearance that I saw and that is exactly how he looked. Q And when you looked at him the first time that night he looked like Dominador Molo? A It was his very own appearance his appearance never changed.
40

Indeed, Simeona had no difficulty in recognizing the accused, considering that their house was only elevated by two steps and at the time she saw him through the dilapidated burl wall he was already at the foot of the stairs. 41 (c) That Simeona pointed to the accused as the killer because he was a hated criminal in the locality. 42 Appellant contends that Simeona pointed to him as the assailant because he was a hated criminal in the locality - not because he was properly Identified as the one who attacked the victim. This claim has no basis in the records. For the testimony of Simeona shows that she was certain of accused-appellant's Identity as assailant and that at one point accused-appellant even inquired from her where her husband was, thus
xxx xxx xxx
Fiscal Solis: Q And who pushed open that door of yours, was it Dominador Molo or a witch? A He was Dominador Molo, it was his very looks of the same person who pushed the shutter of the door. Q What made you sure that the looks of that person was the one who pushed open the door and went inside and hacked your husband? A He was the one it was his very looks and I saw that it is his looks.

xxx xxx xxx


Q Now, what is this basis for positively telling us that it is Dominador Molo who killed your husband was it because of rumor circulating in the locality of Cogon and that the assailant as to be Dominador Molo because he has killed or because you saw then Dominador Molo committing the act against your husband? A Not only what was given to me by way of information from other people but because of what I actually saw with my eyes.

xxx xxx xxx


Atty. Mortel: Q Now, according to you when the door was pushed open the person entered and he has the looks of that fellow whom you are pointing to as Dominador Molo, is that correct. A He is the very one. Q And not only that person who entered has the looks of Dominador Molo the accused in this case but he also has the height that looks like the height of Dominador Molo, is that correct? A Yes and he had his shirt off and shorts on. Q And he has that looks and built of Dominador Molo, is that correct? A Yes, that is his very appearance and could not be altered anymore.

xxx xxx xxx

Court: In your entire testimony you did not mention of any conversation of Dominador Molo as soon as he went up the house, did you not talk to him, did you not converse with him? A No, because he suddenly rushed our house. Q And did he not ask you where is your husband and answered there he is? A That was it he was also asking as he entered. Q So it is clear that you had a conversation with him? A Yes. Q And that is what you stated in the police? A Yes, sir.
43

(d) Re the dying declarations. Appellant claims that the same should not be accorded credence because the victim could not have recognized his assailant, since as testified by Simeona he was asleep when attacked. 44 Again this is inaccurate. It was only at the initial stage of the attack when the victim was asleep, because he was awakened by the first blows and stood up to defend himself Simeona declared:
xxx xxx xxx
Fiscal Solis: Q How many times did you see Dominador bolo your husband on the left arm? A I saw him boloed my husband twice on the left arm and when my husband noticed that he was being hacked he reached for his bolo with his right arm to which instance Dominador Molo noticing that he was going to use a bolo Dominador hacked him again on the right arm. Q Was your husband able to take hold of his bolo? A He was able to take hold of the handle only because at this instance he was hacked by Dominador and so the bolo fell from his hands. Q What hand did your husband use in taking hold of his bolo? A Right arm (sic: should be hand).

xxx xxx xxx


Q But was your husband able to rise from where he was lying to get that bolo? A He was able to rise but he was already weak because his left arm was already wounded.
45

The statements of Venancio Identifying Dominador Molo as his assailant to Alejandro, his son, and Roman, his neighbor are dying declarations. Alejandro Gapisa testified:
xxx xxx xxx
Q What was the position when you found him there?

A He was sitting. Q What else if any did you observe of your father? A When I came up he said, "Ando I have wounds because I was boloed by Boslo. " Q What was his actual physical situation when he uttered these words? A He was already weak, his body was weak. Q How did you observe that he was already very weak, that he was already weak physically? A Because his wounds are big and many. Q Was it bleeding? A It was bleeding but the flow of the blood had declined since they had been drained of blood. Q In your observation was he dying or not? A He was about to die. Q Now, since he had wounds what did you do with these injuries? A Upon arrival I tied his wounds. Q Which injuries did you bind, what did you tie? A The wounds in the arm because it was dangling. Q Which arm the left or the right? A The left. Q What about the right arm? A It had also many wounds. Q What was your father doing there, in that kitchen? A He was sitting. Q Was he doing anything else from sitting ? A I think he was defecating as a result of the pain. Q Did he have his pants on? A Yes.
46

Ad Roman Mangaring declared:


xxx xxx xxx
A I was talking to him as to who boloed him.

Q And his answer to you was Boslo? A Yes. Q He called his assailant as Boslo? A Yes.
47

Considering the nature and extent of the wounds, eight in all, Venancio must have realized the seriousness of his condition and it can therefore be inferred that he made the incrimination under the conciousness of impending death, 48 which, in fact, supervened barely 4-1/2 hours after he was boloed. In resume then the credible and unimpeached testimonies of the victim's widow, Simeona Gapisa, who was an eye-witness to the fatal incident, and that of Alejandro Gapisa, the victim's son, and Roman Mangaring, a neighbor, who both testified on the ante-mortem statements of the victim, establish the guilt of accused-appellant beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder qualified by treachery, and aggravated by circumstances of dwelling, recidivism and reiteration, it appearing that accused has been convicted by final judgment of murder, frustrated murder, grave slander, less serious physical injuries, qualified trespass to dwelling and robbery, and, had served sentences for said crimes. We agree with the Solicitor General that appellant is not entitled the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender. For in order that the same may be properly appreciated in favor of the accused, it must appear that a) he had not been actually arrested; b) he surrendered himself to a person in authority or his agent; and c) his surrender is voluntary, which circumstances are not present in this case. 49 For appellant admitted that on the day after the killing, police authorities surrounded his house and arrested him. The fact that he did not try to escape or did not resist arrest after he was taken into custody by the authorities, does not amount to voluntary surrender. 50 A word about the penalty. It appears that accused-appellant is an incorrigible criminal with clearly anti-social proclivities against which the community has the need if not the right, to defend itself. Where, as in this case, the reformative end of punishment seems to have failed in amending his criminal tendencies he was convicted for frustrated murder in Criminal Case V-542, Mindoro on September 2, 1950; murder in Criminal Case No. 862, Romblon on July 27, 1961; grave slander in Criminal Case No. V-669, Romblon, on June 5, 1957; less serious physical injuries, before the Municipal Court of Romblon, Romblon in Criminal Case No. 839 on October 9, 1959; qualified by trespass to dwelling, before the Municipal Court of Romblon, Romblon in - Criminal Case No. 845 on February 25, 1960 and robbery, before the Court of First Instance of Davao in Criminal Case No. 9982 on March 1, 1967 the imposition of the supreme penalty, is not only justified by the facts of this case, but is required as a measure of social defense. Society had given accused-appellant several chances. It would seem that compassion had not reformed him but had instead made him a hardened criminal and a menace to his fellow men. To spare his life is to endanger the lives and properties of others.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby affirmed IN TOTO, without pronouncement as to costs. G.R. No. L-28040 August 18, 1972 TESTATE ESTATE OF JOSEFA TANGCO, JOSE DE BORJA, administratorappellee; 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 decedent left 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. L28568 and L-28611 are reversed and set aside. Costs against the appellant Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja in all three (3) cases. G.R. No. L-12190 August 30, 1958

TESTATE ESTATE OF FELICIDAD ESGUERRA ALTO-YAP deceased. FAUSTO E. GAN, petitioner-appellant, vs. ILDEFONSO YAP, oppositor-appellee. Benedicto C. Belran, Crispin D. Baizas and Roberto H. Benitez for appellant. Arturo M. Tolentino for appellee. BENGZON, J.: On November 20, 1951, Felicidad Esguerra Alto Yap died of heart failure in the University of Santo Tomas Hospital, leaving properties in Pulilan, Bulacan, and in the City of Manila.

On March 17, 1952, Fausto E. Gan initiated them proceedings in the Manila court of first instance with a petition for the probate of a holographic will allegedly executed by the deceased, substantially in these words: Nobyembre 5, 1951. Ako, si Felicidad E. Alto-Yap, may asawa, at ganap na pag-iisip, ay nagsasalaysay na ang aking kayamanan sa bayan ng Pulilan, Bulacan ay aking ipinamamana sa aking mga kamag-anakang sumusunod: Vicente Esguerra, Sr. ............................................. Fausto E. Gan ......................................................... Rosario E. Gan ......................................................... Filomena Alto .......................................................... 5 Bahagi 2 Bahagi 2 Bahagi 1 Bahagi

Beatriz Alto 1 Bahagi .............................................................. At ang aking lahat ng ibang kayamanan sa Maynila at iba panglugar ay aking ipinamamana sa aking asawang si Idelfonso D. Yap sa kondisyong siya'y magpapagawa ng isang Health Center na nagkakahalaga ng di kukulangin sa halagang P60,000.00 sa bayan ng Pulilan, Bulacan, na nakaukit ang aking pangalang Felicidad Esguerra-Alto. At kung ito ay may kakulangan man ay bahala na ang aking asawa ang magpuno upang matupad ang aking kagustuhan. (Lagda) Felicidad E. Alto-Yap. Opposing the petition, her surviving husband Ildefonso Yap asserted that the deceased had not left any will, nor executed any testament during her lifetime. After hearing the parties and considering their evidence, the Hon. Ramon R. San Jose, Judge,1 refused to probate the alleged will. A seventy-page motion for reconsideration failed. Hence this appeal. The will itself was not presented. Petitioner tried to establish its contents and due execution by the statements in open court of Felina Esguerra, Primitivo Reyes, Socorro Olarte and Rosario Gan Jimenez, whose testimonies may be summarized as follows: Sometime in 1950 after her last trip abroad, Felicidad Esguerra mentioned to her first cousin, Vicente Esguerra, her desire to make a will. She confided however that it would be useless if her

husband discovered or knew about it. Vicente consulted with Fausto E. Gan, nephew of Felicidad, who was then preparing for the bar examinations. The latter replied it could be done without any witness, provided the document was entirely in her handwriting, signed and dated by her. Vicente Esguerra lost no time in transmitting the information, and on the strength of it, in the morning of November 5, 1951, in her residence at Juan Luna Street, Manila, Felicidad wrote, signed and dated a holographic will substantially of the tenor above transcribed, in the presence of her niece, Felina Esguerra (daughter of Vicente), who was invited to read it. In the afternoon of that day, Felicidad was visited by a distant relative, Primitivo Reyes, and she allowed him to read the will in the presence of Felina Esguerra, who again read it. Nine days later, he had other visitors: Socorro Olarte a cousin, and Rosario Gan Jimenez, a niece. To these she showed the will, again in the presence of Felina Esguerra, who read it for the third time. When on November 19, 1951, Felicidad was confined at the U.S.T. Hospital for her last illness, she entrusted the said will, which was contained in a purse, to Felina Esguerra. But a few hours later, Ildefonso Yap, her husband, asked Felina for the purse: and being afraid of him by reason of his well-known violent temper, she delivered it to him. Thereafter, in the same day, Ildefonso Yap returned the purse to Felina, only to demand it the next day shortly before the death of Felicidad. Again, Felina handed it to him but not before she had taken the purse to the toilet, opened it and read the will for the last time.2 From the oppositor's proof it appears that Felicidad Esguerra had been suffering from heart disease for several years before her death; that she had been treated by prominent physicians, Dr. Agerico Sison, Dr. Agustin Liboro and others; that in May 1950 husband and wife journeyed to the United States wherein for several weeks she was treated for the disease; that thereafter she felt well and after visiting interesting places, the couple returned to this country in August 1950. However, her ailment recurred, she suffered several attacks, the most serious of which happened in the early morning of the first Monday of November 1951 (Nov. 5). The whole household was surprised and alarmed, even the teachers of the Harvardian Colleges occupying the lower floors and of by the Yap spouses. Physician's help was hurriedly called, and Dr. Tanjuaquio arrived at about 8:00 a.m., found the patient hardly breathing, lying in bed, her head held high by her husband. Injections and oxygen were administered. Following the doctor's advice the patient stayed in bed, and did nothing the whole day, her husband and her personal attendant, Mrs. Bantique, constantly at her side. These two persons swore that Mrs. Felicidad Esguerra Yap made no will, and could have made no will on that day. The trial judge refused to credit the petitioner's evidence for several reasons, the most important of which were these: (a) if according to his evidence, the decedent wanted to keep her will a secret, so that her husband would not know it, it is strange she executed it in the presence of Felina Esguerra, knowing as she did that witnesses were unnecessary; (b) in the absence of a showing that Felina was a confidant of the decedent it is hard to believe that the latter would have allowed the former to see and read the will several times; (c) it is improbable that the decedent would have permitted Primitivo Reyes, Rosario Gan Jimenez and Socorro Olarte to read her will, when she precisely wanted its contents to remain a secret during her lifetime; (d) it is also improbable that her purpose being to conceal the will from her husband she would carry it

around, even to the hospital, in her purse which could for one reason or another be opened by her husband; (e) if it is true that the husband demanded the purse from Felina in the U.S.T. Hospital and that the will was there, it is hard to believe that he returned it without destroying the will, the theory of the petitioner being precisely that the will was executed behind his back for fear he will destroy it. In the face of these improbabilities, the trial judge had to accept the oppositor's evidence that Felicidad did not and could not have executed such holographic will. In this appeal, the major portion of appellant's brief discussed the testimony of the oppositor and of his witnesses in a vigorous effort to discredit them. It appears that the same arguments, or most of them, were presented in the motion to reconsider; but they failed to induce the court a quo to change its mind. The oppositor's brief, on the other hand, aptly answers the criticisms. We deem it unnecessary to go over the same matters, because in our opinion the case should be decided not on the weakness of the opposition but on the strength of the evidence of the petitioner, who has the burden of proof. The Spanish Civil Code permitted the execution of holographic wills along with other forms. The Code of Civil Procedure (Act 190) approved August 7, 1901, adopted only one form, thereby repealing the other forms, including holographic wills. The New Civil Code effective in 1950 revived holographic wills in its arts. 810-814. "A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed." This is indeed a radical departure from the form and solemnities provided for wills under Act 190, which for fifty years (from 1901 to 1950) required wills to be subscribed by the testator and three credible witnesses in each and every page; such witnesses to attest to the number of sheets used and to the fact that the testator signed in their presence and that they signed in the presence of the testator and of each other. The object of such requirements it has been said, is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to prevent substitution of wills, to guarantee their truth and authencity (Abangan vs. Abangan, 40 Phil., 476) and to avoid those who have no right to succeed the testator would succeed him and be benefited with the probate of same. (Mendoza vs. Pilapil, 40 Off. Gaz., 1855). However, formal imperfections may be brushed aside when authenticity of the instrument is duly proved. (Rodriguez vs Yap, 40 Off. Gaz. 1st Supp. No. 3 p. 194.) Authenticity and due execution is the dominant requirements to be fulfilled when such will is submitted to the courts for allowance. For that purpose the testimony of one of the subscribing witnesses would be sufficient if there is no opposition (Sec. 5, Rule 77). If there is, the three must testify, if available. (Cabang vs. Delfinado, 34 Phil., 291; Tolentino vs. Francisco, 57 Phil., 742). From the testimony of such witnesses (and of other additional witnesses) the court may form its opinion as to the genuineness and authenticity of the testament, and the circumstances its due execution.

Now, in the matter of holographic wills, no such guaranties of truth and veracity are demanded, since as stated, they need no witnesses; provided however, that they are "entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself." The law, it is reasonable to suppose, regards the document itself as material proof of authenticity, and as its own safeguard, since it could at any time, be demonstrated to be or not to be in the hands of the testator himself. "In the probate of a holographic will" says the New Civil Code, "it shall be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three such witnesses shall be required. In the absence of any such witnesses, (familiar with decedent's handwriting) and if the court deem it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to." The witnesses so presented do not need to have seen the execution of the holographic will. They may be mistaken in their opinion of the handwriting, or they may deliberately lie in affirming it is in the testator's hand. However, the oppositor may present other witnesses who also know the testator's handwriting, or some expert witnesses, who after comparing the will with other writings or letters of the deceased, have come to the conclusion that such will has not been written by the hand of the deceased. (Sec. 50, Rule 123). And the court, in view of such contradictory testimony may use its own visual sense, and decide in the face of the document, whether the will submitted to it has indeed been written by the testator. Obviously, when the will itself is not submitted, these means of opposition, and of assessing the evidence are not available. And then the only guaranty of authenticity3 the testator's handwriting has disappeared. Therefore, the question presents itself, may a holographic will be probated upon the testimony of witnesses who have allegedly seen it and who declare that it was in the handwriting of the testator? How can the oppositor prove that such document was not in the testator's handwriting? His witnesses who know testator's handwriting have not examined it. His experts can not testify, because there is no way to compare the alleged testament with other documents admittedly, or proven to be, in the testator's hand. The oppositor will, therefore, be caught between the upper millstone of his lack of knowledge of the will or the form thereof, and the nether millstone of his inability to prove its falsity. Again the proponent's witnesses may be honest and truthful; but they may have been shown a faked document, and having no interest to check the authenticity thereof have taken no pains to examine and compare. Or they may be perjurers boldly testifying, in the knowledge that none could convict them of perjury, because no one could prove that they have not "been shown" a document which they believed was in the handwriting of the deceased. Of course, the competency of such perjured witnesses to testify as to the handwriting could be tested by exhibiting to them other writings sufficiently similar to those written by the deceased; but what witness or lawyer would not foresee such a move and prepare for it? His knowledge of the handwriting established, the witness (or witnesses) could simply stick to his statement: he has seen and read a document which he believed was in the deceased's handwriting. And the court and the oppositor would practically be at the mercy of such witness (or witnesses) not only as to the execution, but also as to the contents of the will. Does the law permit such a situation? The Rules of Court, (Rule 77) approved in 1940 allow proof (and probate) of a lost or destroyed will by secondary evidence the testimony of witnesses, in lieu of the original document. Yet

such Rules could not have contemplated holographic wills which could not then be validly made here. (See also Sec. 46, Rule 123; Art. 830-New Civil Code.) Could Rule 77 be extended, by analogy, to holographic wills? Spanish commentators agree that one of the greatest objections to the holographic will is that it may be lost or stolen4 an implied admission that such loss or theft renders it useless.. This must be so, because the Civil Code requires it to be protocoled and presented to the judge, (Art. 689) who shall subscribe it and require its identity to be established by the three witnesses who depose that they have no reasonable doubt that the will was written by the testator (Art. 691). And if the judge considers that the identity of the will has been proven he shall order that it be filed (Art. 693). All these, imply presentation of the will itself. Art. 692 bears the same implication, to a greater degree. It requires that the surviving spouse and the legitimate ascendants and descendants be summoned so that they may make "any statement they may desire to submit with respect to the authenticity of the will." As it is universally admitted that the holographic will is usually done by the testator and by himself alone, to prevent others from knowing either its execution or its contents, the above article 692 could not have the idea of simply permitting such relatives to state whether they know of the will, but whether in the face of the document itself they think the testator wrote it. Obviously, this they can't do unless the will itself is presented to the Court and to them. Undoubtedly, the intention of the law is to give the near relatives the choice of either complying with the will if they think it authentic, or to oppose it, if they think it spurious.5 Such purpose is frustrated when the document is not presented for their examination. If it be argued that such choice is not essential, because anyway the relatives may oppose, the answer is that their opposition will be at a distinct disadvantage, and they have the right and privilege to comply with the will, if genuine, a right which they should not be denied by withholding inspection thereof from them. We find confirmation of these ideas--about exhibition of the document itself--in the decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of June 5, 1925, which denied protocolization or probate to a document containing testamentary dispositions in the handwriting of the deceased, but apparently mutilated, the signature and some words having been torn from it. Even in the face of allegations and testimonial evidence (which was controverted), ascribing the mutilation to the opponents of the will. The aforesaid tribunal declared that, in accordance with the provision of the Civil Code (Spanish) the will itself, whole and unmutilated, must be presented; otherwise, it shall produce no effect. Considerando que sentado lo anterior, y estableciendose en el parrafo segundo del articulo 688 del Codigo civil, que para que sea valido el testamento olografo debera estar escrito todo el y firmado por testador, con expression del ao, mes y dia en que se otorque, resulta evidente que para la validez y eficacia de esos testamentos, no basta la demostracion mas o menos cumplida de que cuando se otorgaron se Ilenaron todos esos requisitos, sino que de la expresada redaccion el precepto legal, y por el tiempo en que el verbo se emplea, se desprende la necesidad de que el documento se encuentre en

dichas condiciones en el momento de ser presentado a la Autoridad competente, para au adveracion y protocolizacion; y como consecuencia ineludible de ello, forzoso es affirmar que el de autos carece de validez y aficacia, por no estarfirmado por el testador, cualquiera que sea la causa de la falta de firma, y sin perjuicio de las acciones que puedan ejercitar los perjudicados, bien para pedir indemnizacion por el perjuicio a la persona culpable, si la hubiere, o su castigo en via criminal si procediere, por constituir dicha omision un defecto insubsanable . . . . This holding aligns with the ideas on holographic wills in the Fuero Juzgo, admittedly the basis of the Spanish Civil Code provisions on the matter.6 PRECEDENTES LEGALES--Fuero Juzgo, libro segundo, titulo V, ley 15--E depues que los herederos e sus fijos ovieren esta manda, fasta ... annos muestrenla al obispo de la tierra, o al juez fasta VI meses y el obispo o el juez tomen otros tales tres escritos, que fuesen fechos por su mano daquel que fizo la manda; e por aquellos escriptos, si semjara la letra de la manda, sea confirmada la manda. E depues que todo esto fuere connoscido, el obispo o el juez, o otras testimonios confirmen el escripto de la manda otra vez, y en esta manera vala la manda. (Art. 689, Scaevola--Codigo Civil.) (According to the Fuero above, the will itself must be compared with specimens of the testators handwriting.) All of which can only mean: the courts will not distribute the property of the deceased in accordance with his holographic will, unless they are shown his handwriting and signature.7 Parenthetically, it may be added that even the French Civil Law considers the loss of the holographic will to be fatal. (Planiol y Ripert, Derecho Civil Frances, traduccion por Diaz Cruz, 1946, Tomo V, page 555). Taking all the above circumstances together, we reach the conclusion that the execution and the contents of a lost or destroyed holographic will may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have seen and/or read such will.8 Under the provisions of Art. 838 of the New Civil Code, we are empowered to adopt this opinion as a Rule of Court for the allowance of such holographic wills. We hesitate, however, to make this Rule decisive of this controversy, simultaneously with its promulgation. Anyway, decision of the appeal may rest on the sufficiency, rather the insufficiency, of the evidence presented by petitioner Fausto E. Gan. At this point, before proceeding further, it might be convenient to explain why, unlike holographic wills, ordinary wills may be proved by testimonial evidence when lost or destroyed. The difference lies in the nature of the wills. In the first, the only guarantee of authenticity is the handwriting itself; in the second, the testimony of the subscribing or instrumental witnesses (and of the notary, now). The loss of the holographic will entails the loss of the only medium of proof; if the ordinary will is lost, the subscribing witnesses are available to authenticate.

In the case of ordinary wills, it is quite hard to convince three witnesses (four with the notary) deliberately to lie. And then their lies could be checked and exposed, their whereabouts and acts on the particular day, the likelihood that they would be called by the testator, their intimacy with the testator, etc. And if they were intimates or trusted friends of the testator they are not likely to end themselves to any fraudulent scheme to distort his wishes. Last but not least, they can not receive anything on account of the will. Whereas in the case of holographic wills, if oral testimony were admissible9 only one man could engineer the fraud this way: after making a clever or passable imitation of the handwriting and signature of the deceased, he may contrive to let three honest and credible witnesses see and read the forgery; and the latter, having no interest, could easily fall for it, and in court they would in all good faith affirm its genuineness and authenticity. The will having been lost the forger may have purposely destroyed it in an "accident" the oppositors have no way to expose the trick and the error, because the document itself is not at hand. And considering that the holographic will may consist of two or three pages, and only one of them need be signed, the substitution of the unsigned pages, which may be the most important ones, may go undetected. If testimonial evidence of holographic wills be permitted, one more objectionable feature feasibility of forgery would be added to the several objections to this kind of wills listed by Castan, Sanchez Roman and Valverde and other well-known Spanish Commentators and teachers of Civil Law.10 One more fundamental difference: in the case of a lost will, the three subscribing witnesses would be testifying to a fact which they saw, namely the act of the testator of subscribing the will; whereas in the case of a lost holographic will, the witnesses would testify as to their opinion of the handwriting which they allegedly saw, an opinion which can not be tested in court, nor directly contradicted by the oppositors, because the handwriting itself is not at hand. Turning now to the evidence presented by the petitioner, we find ourselves sharing the trial judge's disbelief. In addition to the dubious circumstances described in the appealed decision, we find it hard to believe that the deceased should show her will precisely to relatives who had received nothing from it: Socorro Olarte and Primitivo Reyes. These could pester her into amending her will to give them a share, or threaten to reveal its execution to her husband Ildefonso Yap. And this leads to another point: if she wanted so much to conceal the will from her husband, why did she not entrust it to her beneficiaries? Opportunity to do so was not lacking: for instance, her husband's trip to Davao, a few days after the alleged execution of the will. In fine, even if oral testimony were admissible to establish and probate a lost holographic will, we think the evidence submitted by herein petitioner is so tainted with improbabilities and inconsistencies that it fails to measure up to that "clear and distinct" proof required by Rule 77, sec. 6.11 Wherefore, the rejection of the alleged will must be sustained. Judgment affirmed, with costs against petitioner.

G.R. No. L-58509 December 7, 1982 IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF RICARDO B. BONILLA deceased, MARCELA RODELAS, petitioner-appellant, vs. AMPARO ARANZA, ET AL., oppositors-appellees, ATTY. LORENZO SUMULONG, intervenor. Luciano A. Joson for petitioner-appellant. Cesar Paralejo for oppositor-appellee.

RELOVA, J.: This case was certified to this Tribunal by the Court of Appeals for final determination pursuant to Section 3, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court. As found by the Court of Appeals:
... On January 11, 1977, appellant filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal for the probate of the holographic will of Ricardo B. Bonilla and the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor. The petition, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 8432, was opposed by the appellees Amparo Aranza Bonilla, Wilferine Bonilla Treyes Expedita Bonilla Frias and Ephraim Bonilla on the following grounds: (1) Appellant was estopped from claiming that the deceased left a will by failing to produce the will within twenty days of the death of the testator as required by Rule 75, section 2 of the Rules of Court; (2) The alleged copy of the alleged holographic will did not contain a disposition of property after death and was not intended to take effect after death, and therefore it was not a will (3) The alleged hollographic will itself,and not an alleged copy thereof, must be produced, otherwise it would produce no effect, as held in Gam v. Yap, 104 Phil. 509; and (4 ) The deceased did not leave any will, holographic or otherwise, executed and attested as required by law. The appellees likewise moved for the consolidation of the case with another case Sp. Proc. No, 8275). Their motion was granted by the court in an order dated April 4, 1977. On November 13, 1978, following the consolidation of the cases, the appellees moved again to dismiss the petition for the probate of the will. They argued that: (1) The alleged holographic was not a last will but merely an instruction as to the management and improvement of the schools and colleges founded by decedent Ricardo B. Bonilla; and

(2) Lost or destroyed holographic wills cannot be proved by secondary evidence unlike ordinary wills. Upon opposition of the appellant, the motion to dismiss was denied by the court in its order of February 23, 1979. The appellees then filed a motion for reconsideration on the ground that the order was contrary to law and settled pronouncements and rulings of the Supreme Court, to which the appellant in turn filed an opposition. On July 23, 1979, the court set aside its order of February 23, 1979 and dismissed the petition for the probate of the will of Ricardo B. Bonilla. The court said: ... It is our considered opinion that once the original copy of the holographic will is lost, a copy thereof cannot stand in lieu of the original. In the case of Gam vs. Yap, 104 Phil. 509, 522, the Supreme Court held that 'in the matter of holographic wills the law, it is reasonable to suppose, regards the document itself as the material proof of authenticity of said wills. MOREOVER, this Court notes that the alleged holographic will was executed on January 25, 1962 while Ricardo B. Bonilla died on May 13, 1976. In view of the lapse of more than 14 years from the time of the execution of the will to the death of the decedent, the fact that the original of the will could not be located shows to our mind that the decedent had discarded before his death his allegedly missing Holographic Will.

Appellant's motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, an appeal to the Court of Appeals in which it is contended that the dismissal of appellant's petition is contrary to law and well-settled jurisprudence. On July 7, 1980, appellees moved to forward the case to this Court on the ground that the appeal does not involve question of fact and alleged that the trial court committed the following assigned errors:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT A LOST HOLOGRAPHIC WILL MAY NOT BE PROVED BY A COPY THEREOF; II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE DECEDENT HAS DISCARDED BEFORE HIS DEATH THE MISSING HOLOGRAPHIC WILL; III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING APPELLANT'S WILL.

The only question here is whether a holographic will which was lost or cannot be found can be proved by means of a photostatic copy. Pursuant to Article 811 of the Civil Code, probate of holographic wills is the allowance of the will by the court after its due execution has been proved. The probate may be uncontested or not. If uncontested, at least one Identifying witness is required and, if no witness is available, experts may be resorted to. If contested, at least three Identifying witnesses are required. However, if the holographic will has been lost or destroyed and no other copy is available, the will can not be probated because the best and only evidence is the handwriting of the testator in said will. It is necessary that there be a comparison between sample

handwritten statements of the testator and the handwritten will. But, a photostatic copy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because comparison can be made with the standard writings of the testator. In the case of Gam vs. Yap, 104 PHIL. 509, the Court ruled that "the execution and the contents of a lost or destroyed holographic will may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have seen and/or read such will. The will itself must be presented; otherwise, it shall produce no effect. The law regards the document itself as material proof of authenticity." But, in Footnote 8 of said decision, it says that "Perhaps it may be proved by a photographic or photostatic copy. Even a mimeographed or carbon copy; or by other similar means, if any, whereby the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased may be exhibited and tested before the probate court," Evidently, the photostatic or xerox copy of the lost or destroyed holographic will may be admitted because then the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased can be determined by the probate court. WHEREFORE, the order of the lower court dated October 3, 1979, denying appellant's motion for reconsideration dated August 9, 1979, of the Order dated July 23, 1979, dismissing her petition to approve the will of the late Ricardo B. Bonilla, is hereby SET ASIDE. G.R. No. L-14003 August 5, 1960

FEDERICO AZAOLA, petitioner-appellant, vs. CESARIO SINGSON, oppositor-appellee. F. Lavides and L.B. Alcuaz for appellant. Vicente J. Cuna and P.S. Singson for appellee. REYES, J.B.L., J.: This appeal, taken on points of law from a decision rendered on 15 January 1958 by the Court of First Instance of Quezon City in its Special Proceedings No. Q-2640, involves the determination of the quantity of evidence required for the probate of a holographic will. The established facts are thus summarized in the decision appealed from (Rec. App. pp. 22-24): "Briefly speaking, the following facts were established by the petitioner; that on September 9, 1957, Fortunata S. Vda. de Yance died at 13 Luskot, Quezon City, known to be the last residence of said testatrix; that Francisco Azaola, petitioner herein for probate of the holographic will, submitted the said holographic will (Exh. C) whereby Maria Milagros Azaola was made the sole heir as against the nephew of deceased Cesario Singson; that witness Francisco Azaola testified that he saw the holographic will (Exh. C) one month, more or less, before the death of the testatrix, as the same was handed to him and his wife; that the witness testified also that he recognized all the signatures appearing in the holographic will (Exh. C) as the handwriting of the testatrix and to reinforce said statement, witness presented the mortgage (Exh. E), the special power of the attorney

(Exh. F), and the general power of attorney (Exh. F-1), besides the deeds of sale (Exhs. G and G-1) including an affidavit (Exh. G-2), and that there were further exhibited in court two residence certificates (Exhs. H and H-1) to show the signatures of the testatrix, for comparison purposes; that said witness, Azaola, testified that the penmanship appearing in the aforesaid documentary evidence is in the handwriting of the testatrix as well as the signatures appearing in the aforesaid documentary evidence is in the handwriting of the testatrix as well as the signatures appearing therein are the signatures of the testatrix; that said witness, in answer to a question of his counsel admitted that the holographic will was handed to him by the testatrix. "apparently it must have been written by her" (t.s.n., p. 11). However, on page 16 on the same transcript of the stenographic notes, when the same witness was asked by counsel if he was familiar with the penmanship and handwriting of the deceased Fortunata Vda. de Yance, he answered positively in the affirmative and when he was asked again whether the penmanship referred to in the previous answer as appearing in the holographic will (Exh. C) was hers (testatrix'), he answered, "I would definitely say it is hers"; that it was also established in the proceedings that the assessed value of the property of the deceased in Luskot, Quezon City, is in the amount of P7,000.00. The opposition to the probate was on the ground that (1) the execution of the will was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the petitioner and his wife, and (2) that the testatrix did not seriously intend the instrument to be her last will, and that the same was actually written either on the 5th or 6th day of August 1957 and not on November 20, 1956 as appears on the will. The probate was denied on the ground that under Article 811 of the Civil Code, the proponent must present three witnesses who could declare that the will and the signature are in the writing of the testatrix, the probate being contested; and because the lone witness presented by the proponent "did not prove sufficiently that the body of the will was written in the handwriting of the testatrix." The proponent appealed, urging: first, that he was not bound to produce more than one witness because the will's authenticity was not questioned; and second, that Article 811 does not mandatorily require the production of three witnesses to identify the handwriting and signature of a holographic will, even if its authenticity should be denied by the adverse party. Article 811 of the Civil Code of the Philippines is to the following effect: ART. 811. In the probate of a holographic will, it shall be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three of such witnesses shall be required. In the absence of any competent witnesses referred to in the preceding paragraph, and if the court deems it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to. (691a).

We agree with the appellant that since the authenticity of the will was not contested, he was not required to produce more than one witness; but even if the genuineness of the holographic will were contested, we are of the opinion that Article 811 of our present Civil Code can not be interpreted as to require the compulsory presentation of three witnesses to identify the handwriting of the testator, under penalty of having the probate denied. Since no witness may have been present at the execution of a holographic will, none being required by law (Art. 810, new Civil Code), it becomes obvious that the existence of witness possessing the requisite qualifications is a matter beyond the control of the proponent. For it is not merely a question of finding and producing any three witnesses; they must be witnesses "who know the handwriting and signature of the testator" and who can declare (truthfully, of course, even if the law does not so express) "that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator". There may be no available witness of the testator's hand; or even if so familiarized, the witnesses may be unwilling to give a positive opinion. Compliance with the rule of paragraph 1 of Article 811 may thus become an impossibility. That is evidently the reason why the second paragraph of Article 811 prescribes that in the absence of any competent witness referred to in the preceding paragraph, and if the court deems it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to. As can be seen, the law foresees the possibility that no qualified witness may be found (or what amounts to the same thing, that no competent witness may be willing to testify to the authenticity of the will), and provides for resort to expert evidence to supply the deficiency. It may be true that the rule of this article (requiring that three witnesses be presented if the will is contested and only one if no contest is had) was derived from the rule established for ordinary testaments (cf. Cabang vs. Delfinado, 45 Phil., 291; Tolentino vs. Francisco, 57 Phil., 742). But it can not be ignored that the requirement can be considered mandatory only in the case of ordinary testaments, precisely because the presence of at least three witnesses at the execution of ordinary wills is made by law essential to their validity (Art. 805). Where the will is holographic, no witness need be present (Art. 10), and the rule requiring production of three witnesses must be deemed merely permissive if absurd results are to be avoided. Again, under Article 811, the resort to expert evidence is conditioned by the words "if the Court deem it necessary", which reveal that what the law deems essential is that the Court should be convinced of the will's authenticity. Where the prescribed number of witnesses is produced and the court is convinced by their testimony that the ill is genuine, it may consider it unnecessary to call for expert evidence. On the other hand, if no competent witness is available, or none of those produced is convincing, the Court may still, and in fact it should, resort to handwriting experts. The duty of the Court, in fine, is to exhaust all available lines of inquiry, for the state is as much interested as the proponent that the true intention of the testator be carried into effect. Commenting on analogous provisions of Article 691 of the Spanish Civil Code of 1889, the noted Commentator, Mucuis Scaevola (Vol. 12, 2nd Ed., p.421), sagely remarks: La manera como esta concebida la redaccion del ultimo apartado de dicho precepto induce la conclusion de que siempre o por lo menos, en la mayor parte de los casos, el

Juez debe acudir al criterio pericial para que le ilustre acerca de la autenticidad del testamento olografo, aunque ya esten insertas en los autos del expediente las declaraciones testificales. La prudencia con que el Juez debe de proceder en resoluciones de transcendencia asi lo exige, y la indole delicada y peligrosa del testamento olografo lo hace necesario para mayor garantia de todos los interes comprometidos en aquel. En efecto, el cotejo pericial de letras puede ser una confirmacion facultativa del dicho profano de los testigos y un modo de desvanecer las ultimas dudas que pudieran ocurrir al Juez acerca de la autenticidad que trata de averigaur y declarar. Para eso se ha escrito la frase del citado ultimo apartado, (siempre que el Juez lo estime conveniente), haya habido o no testigos y dudaran o no estos respecto de los extremos por que son preguntados. El arbitrio judicial en este caso debe formarse con independencia de los sucesos y de su significacion, para responder debidamente de las resoluciones que haya de dictar. And because the law leaves it to the trial court if experts are still needed, no unfavourable inference can be drawn from a party's failure to offer expert evidence, until and unless the court expresses dissatisfaction with the testimony of the lay witnesses. Our conclusion is that the rule of the first paragraph of Article 811 of the Civil Code is merely directory and is not mandatory. Considering, however, that this is the first occasion in which this Court has been called upon to construe the import of said article, the interest of justice would be better served, in our opinion, by giving the parties ample opportunity to adduce additional evidence, including expert witnesses, should the Court deem them necessary. In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is set aside, and the records ordered remanded to the Court of origin, with instructions to hold a new trial in conformity with this opinion. But evidence already on record shall not be retaken. No costs.
[G.R. No. 123486. August 12, 1999]

EUGENIA RAMONAL CODOY, and MANUEL RAMONAL, petitioners, vs. EVANGELINE R. CALUGAY, JOSEPHINE SALCEDO, and EUFEMIA PATIGAS, respondents.

DECISION

PARDO, J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals[1] and its resolution denying reconsideration, ruling:

Upon the unrebutted testimony of appellant Evangeline Calugay and witness Matilde Ramonal Binanay, the authenticity of testators holographic will has been established and the handwriting and signature therein (exhibit S) are hers, enough to probate said will. Reversal of the judgment appealed from and the probate of the holographic will in question be called for. The rule is that after plaintiff has completed presentation of his evidence and the defendant files a motion for judgment on demurrer to evidence on the ground that upon the facts and the law plaintiff has shown no right to relief, if the motion is granted and the order to dismissal is reversed on appeal, the movant loses his right to present evidence in his behalf (Sec. 1 Rule 35 Revised Rules of Court). Judgment may, therefore, be rendered for appellant in the instant case.

Wherefore, the order appealed from is REVERSED and judgment rendered allowing the probate of the holographic will of the testator Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal.*2+

The facts are as follows:

On April 6, 1990, Evangeline Calugay, Josephine Salcedo and Eufemia Patigas, devisees and legatees of the holographic will of the deceased Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal, filed with the Regional Trial Court, Misamis Oriental, Branch 18, a petition[3] for probate of the holographic will of the deceased, who died on January 16, 1990.

In the petition, respondents claimed that the deceased Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal, was of sound and disposing mind when she executed the will on August 30, 1978, that there was no fraud, undue influence, and duress employed in the person of the testator, and the will was written voluntarily.

The assessed value of the decedents property, including all real and personal property was about P400,000.00, at the time of her death.[4]

On June 28, 1990, Eugenia Ramonal Codoy and Manuel Ramonal filed an opposition[5] to the petition for probate, alleging that the holographic will was a forgery and that the same is even illegible. This gives an impression that a third hand of an interested party other than the true hand of Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal executed the holographic will.

Petitioners argued that the repeated dates incorporated or appearing on the will after every disposition is out of the ordinary. If the deceased was the one who executed the will, and was not forced, the dates and the signature should appear at the bottom after the dispositions, as regularly done and not after every disposition. And assuming that the holographic will is in the handwriting of the deceased, it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiaries, or through fraud and trickery.

Respondents presented six (6) witnesses and various documentary evidence. Petitioners instead of presenting their evidence, filed a demurrer[6] to evidence, claiming that respondents failed to establish sufficient factual and legal basis for the probate of the holographic will of the deceased Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal.

On November 26, 1990, the lower Court issued an order, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing consideration, the Demurrer to Evidence having being well taken, same is granted, and the petition for probate of the document (Exhibit S) on the purported Holographic Will of the late Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal, is denied for insufficiency of evidence and lack of merits.*7+

On December 12, 1990, respondents filed a notice of appeal,[8] and in support of their appeal, the respondents once again reiterated the testimony of the following witnesses, namely: (1) Augusto Neri; (2) Generosa Senon; (3) Matilde Ramonal Binanay; (4) Teresita Vedad; (5) Fiscal Rodolfo Waga; and (6) Evangeline Calugay.

To have a clear understanding of the testimonies of the witnesses, we recite an account of their testimonies.

Augusto Neri, Clerk of Court, Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental, where the special proceedings for the probate of the holographic will of the deceased was filed. He produced and identified the. records of the case. The documents presented bear the signature of the deceased, Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal, for the purpose of laying the basis for comparison of the handwriting of the testatrix, with the writing treated or admitted as genuine by the party against whom the evidence is offered.

Generosa Senon, election registrar of Cagayan de Oro, was presented to produce and identify the voters affidavit of the decedent. However, the voters affidavit was not produced for the same was already destroyed and no longer available.

Matilde Ramonal Binanay, testified that the deceased Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal was her aunt, and that after the death of Matildes husband, the latter lived with her in her parents house for eleven (11) years, from 1958 to 1969. During those eleven (11) years of close association with the deceased, she acquired familiarity with her signature and handwriting as she used to accompany her (deceased Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal) in collecting rentals from her various tenants of commercial buildings, and the deceased always issued receipts. In addition to this, she (witness Matilde Binanay) assisted the deceased in posting the records of the accounts, and carried personal letters of the deceased to her creditors.

Matilde Ramonal Binanay further testified that at the time of the death of Matilde Vda. de Ramonal, she left a holographic will dated August 30, 1978, which was personally and entirely written, dated and signed, by the deceased and that all the dispositions therein, the dates, and the signatures in said will, were that of the deceased.

Fiscal Rodolfo Waga testified that before he was appointed City Fiscal of Cagayan de Oro, he was a practicing lawyer, and handled all the pleadings and documents signed by the deceased in connection with the intestate proceedings of her late husband, as a result of which he is familiar with the handwriting of the latter. He testified that the signature appearing in the holographic will was similar to that of the deceased, Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal, but he can not be sure.

The fifth witness presented was Mrs. Teresita Vedad, an employee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region 10. She testified that she processed the application of the deceased for pasture permit and was familiar with the signature of the deceased, since the deceased signed documents in her presence, when the latter was applying for pasture permit.

Finally, Evangeline Calugay, one of the respondents, testified that she had lived with the deceased since birth, and was in fact adopted by the latter. That after a long period of time she became familiar with the signature of the deceased. She testified that the signature appearing in the holographic will is the true and genuine signature of Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal.

The holographic will which was written in Visayan, is translated in English as follows:

Instruction

August 30, 1978

1. My share at Cogon, Raminal Street, for Evangeline Calugay.

(Sgd) Matilde Vda de Ramonal

August 30, 1978

2. Josefina Salcedo must be given 1,500 square meters at Pinikitan Street.

(Sgd) Matilde Vda de Ramonal

August 30, 1978

3. My jewelrys shall be divided among:

1. Eufemia Patigas

2. Josefina Salcedo

3. Evangeline Calugay

(Sgd)Matilde Vda de Ramonal

August 30, 1978

4. I bequeath my one (1) hectare land at Mandumol, Indahag to Evangeline R. Calugay

(Sgd) Matilde Vda de Ramonal

"August 30, 1978

5. Give the 2,500 Square Meters at Sta. Cruz Ramonal Village in favor of Evangeline R. Calugay, Helen must continue with the Sta. Cruz, once I am no longer around.

(Sgd) Matilde Vda de Ramonal

August 30, 1978

6. Bury me where my husband Justo is ever buried.

(Sgd) Matilde Vda de Ramonal

"August 30,1978

Gene and Manuel:

"Follow my instruction in order that I will rest peacefully.

Mama

Matilde Vda de Ramonal

On October 9, 1995, the Court of Appeals, rendered decision[9] ruling that the appeal was meritorious. Citing the decision in the case of Azaola vs. Singson, 109 Phil. 102, penned by Mr. Justice J. B. L. Reyes, a recognized authority in civil law, the Court of Appeals held:

x x x even if the genuineness of the holographic will were contested, we are of the opinion that Article 811 of our present civil code can not be interpreted as to require the compulsory presentation of three witnesses to identify the handwriting of the testator, under penalty of having the probate denied. Since no witness may have been present at the execution of the holographic will, none being required by law (art. 810, new civil code), it becomes obvious that the existence of witnesses possessing the requisite qualifications is a matter beyond the control of the proponent. For it is not merely a question of finding and producing any three witnesses; they must be witnesses who know the handwriting and signature of the testator and who can declare (truthfully, of course, even if the law does not express) that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. There may be no available witness acquainted with the testators hand; or even if so familiarized, the witness may be unwilling to give a positive opinion. Compliance with the rule of paragraph 1 of article 811 may thus become an impossibility. That is evidently the reason why the second paragraph of article 811 prescribes that

in the absence of any competent witness referred to in the preceding paragraph, and if the court deems it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to.

As can be seen, the law foresees the possibility that no qualified witness may be found (or what amounts to the same thing, that no competent witness may be willing to testify to the authenticity of the will), and provides for resort to expert evidence to supply the deficiency.

It may be true that the rule of this article (requiring that three witnesses be presented if the will is contested and only one if no contest is had) was derived from the rule established for ordinary testaments (CF Cabang vs. Delfinado, 45 PHIL 291; Tolentino v. Francisco, 57 PHIL 742). But it can not be ignored that the requirement can be considered mandatory only in case of ordinary testaments, precisely because the presence of at least three witnesses at the execution of ordinary wills is made by law essential to their validity (Art. 805). Where the will is holographic, no witness need be present (art.10), and the rule requiring production of three witnesses must be deemed merely permissive if absurd results are to be avoided.

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

Paraphrasing Azaola vs. Singson, even if the genuineness of the holographic will were contested, Article 811 of the civil code cannot be interpreted as to require the compulsory presentation of three witnesses to identify the handwriting of the testator, under penalty of the having the probate denied. No witness need be present in the execution of the holographic will. And the rule requiring the production of three witnesses is merely permissive. What the law deems essential is that the court is convinced of the authenticity of the will. Its duty is to exhaust all available lines of inquiry, for the state is as much interested in the proponent that the true intention of the testator be carried into effect. And because the law leaves it to the trial court to decide if experts are still needed, no unfavorable inference can be drawn from a partys failure to offer expert evidence, until and unless the court expresses dissatisfaction with the testimony of the lay witnesses.[10]

According to the Court of Appeals, Evangeline Calugay, Matilde Ramonal Binanay and other witnesses definitely and in no uncertain terms testified that the handwriting and signature in the holographic will were those of the testator herself.

Thus, upon the unrebutted testimony of appellant Evangeline Calugay and witness Matilde Ramonal Binanay, the Court of Appeals sustained the authenticity of the holographic will and the handwriting and signature therein, and allowed the will to probate.

Hence, this petition.

The petitioners raise the following issues:

(1) Whether or not the ruling of the case of Azaola vs. Singson, 109 Phil. 102, relied upon by the respondent Court of Appeals, was applicable to the case.

(2) Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in holding that private respondents had been able to present credible evidence to prove that the date, text, and signature on the holographic will were written entirely in the hand of the testatrix.

(3) Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in not analyzing the signatures in the holographic will of Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal.

In this petition, the petitioners ask whether the provisions of Article 811 of the Civil Code are permissive or mandatory. The article provides, as a requirement for the probate of a contested holographic will, that at least three witnesses explicitly declare that the signature in the will is the genuine signature of the testator.

We are convinced, based on the language used, that Article 811 of the Civil Code is mandatory. The word shall connotes a mandatory order. We have ruled that shall in a statute commonly denotes an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion and that the presumption is that the word shall, when used in a statute is mandatory.*11+

Laws are enacted to achieve a goal intended and to guide against an evil or mischief that aims to prevent. In the case at bar, the goal to achieve is to give effect to the wishes of the deceased and the

evil to be prevented is the possibility that unscrupulous individuals who for their benefit will employ means to defeat the wishes of the testator.

So, we believe that the paramount consideration in the present petition is to determine the true intent of the deceased. An exhaustive and objective consideration of the evidence is imperative to establish the true intent of the testator.

It will be noted that not all the witnesses presented by the respondents testified explicitly that they were familiar with the handwriting of the testator. In the case of Augusto Neri, clerk of court, Court of First Instance, Misamis Oriental, he merely identified the record of Special Proceedings No. 427 before said court. He was not presented to declare explicitly that the signature appearing in the holographic was that of the deceased.

Generosa E. Senon, the election registrar of Cagayan de Oro City, was presented to identify the signature of the deceased in the voters affidavit, which was not even produced as it was no longer available.

Matilde Ramonal Binanay, on the other hand, testified that:

Q. And you said for eleven (11) years Matilde Vda de Ramonal resided with your parents at Pinikitan, Cagayan de Oro City. Would you tell the court what was your occupation or how did Matilde Vda de Ramonal keep herself busy that time?

A. Collecting rentals.

Q. From where?

A. From the land rentals and commercial buildings at Pabayo-Gomez streets.[12]

xxx

Q. Who sometime accompany her?

A. I sometimes accompany her

Q. In collecting rentals does she issue receipts?

A. Yes, sir.[13]

xxx

Q. Showing to you the receipt dated 23 October 1979, is this the one you are referring to as one of the receipts which she issued to them?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Now there is that signature of Matilde vda. De Ramonal, whose signature is that Mrs. Binanay?

A. Matilde vda. De Ramonal.

Q. Why do you say that that is a signature of Matilde vda. De Ramonal?

A. I am familiar with her signature.

Q. Now, you tell the court Mrs. Binanay, whether you know Matilde vda de Ramonal kept records of the accounts of her tenants?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Why do you say so?

A. Because we sometimes post a record of accounts in behalf of Matilde Vda. De Ramonal.

Q. How is this record of accounts made? How is this reflected?

A. In handwritten.[14]

xxx

Q. In addition to collection of rentals, posting records of accounts of tenants and deed of sale which you said what else did you do to acquire familiarity of the signature of Matilde Vda De Ramonal?

A. Posting records.

Q. Aside from that?

A. Carrying letters.

Q. Letters of whom?

A. Matilde

Q. To whom?

A. To her creditors.[15]

xxx

Q. You testified that at the time of her death she left a will. I am showing to you a document with its title tugon is this the document you are referring to?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Showing to you this exhibit S, there is that handwritten tugon, whose handwriting is this?

A. My aunt.

Q. Why do you say this is the handwriting of your aunt?

A. Because I am familiar with her signature.[16]

What Ms. Binanay saw were pre-prepared receipts and letters of the deceased, which she either mailed or gave to her tenants. She did not declare that she saw the deceased sign a document or write a note.

Further, during the cross-examination, the counsel for petitioners elicited the fact that the will was not found in the personal belongings of the deceased but was in the possession of Ms. Binanay. She testified that:

Q. Mrs. Binanay, when you were asked by counsel for the petitioners if the late Matilde Seno vda de Ramonal left a will you said, yes?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Who was in possession of that will?

A. I.

Q. Since when did you have the possession of the will?

A. It was in my mothers possession.

Q. So, it was not in your possession?

A. Sorry, yes.

Q. And when did you come into possession since as you said this was originally in the possession of your mother?

A. 1985.[17]

xxx

Q. Now, Mrs. Binanay was there any particular reason why your mother left that will to you and therefore you have that in your possession?

A. It was not given to me by my mother, I took that in the aparador when she died.

Q. After taking that document you kept it with you?

A. I presented it to the fiscal.

Q. For what purpose?

A. Just to seek advice.

Q. Advice of what?

A. About the will.[18]

In her testimony it was also evident that Ms. Binanay kept the fact about the will from petitioners, the legally adopted children of the deceased. Such actions put in issue her motive of keeping the will a secret to petitioners and revealing it only after the death of Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal.

In the testimony of Ms. Binanay, the following were established:

Q. Now, in 1978 Matilde Seno Vda de Ramonal was not yet a sickly person is that correct?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. She was up and about and was still uprightly and she could walk agilely and she could go to her building to collect rentals, is that correct?

A. Yes, sir.[19]

xxx

Q. Now, let us go to the third signature of Matilde Ramonal. Do you know that there are retracings in the word Vda.?

A. Yes, a little. The letter L is continuous.

Q. And also in Matilde the letter L is continued to letter D?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Again the third signature of Matilde Vda de Ramonal the letter L in Matilde is continued towards letter D.

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And there is a retracing in the word Vda.?

A. Yes, sir.[20]

xxx

Q. Now, that was 1979, remember one year after the alleged holographic will. Now, you identified a document marked as Exhibit R. This is dated January 8,1978 which is only about eight months from

August 30,1978. Do you notice that the signature Matilde Vda de Ramonal is beautifully written and legible?

A. Yes, sir the handwriting shows that she was very exhausted.

Q. You just say that she was very exhausted while that in 1978 she was healthy was not sickly and she was agile. Now, you said she was exhausted?

A. In writing.

Q. How did you know that she was exhausted when you were not present and you just tried to explain yourself out because of the apparent inconsistencies?

A. That was I think. (sic)

Q. Now, you already observed this signature dated 1978, the same year as the alleged holographic will. In exhibit I, you will notice that there is no retracing; there is no hesitancy and the signature was written on a fluid movement. x x x And in fact , the name Eufemia R. Patigas here refers to one of the petitioners?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You will also notice Mrs. Binanay that it is not only with the questioned signature appearing in the alleged holographic will marked as Exhibit X but in the handwriting themselves, here you will notice the hesitancy and tremors, do you notice that?

A. Yes, sir.[21]

Evangeline Calugay declared that the holographic will was written, dated and signed in the handwriting of the testator. She testified that:

Q. You testified that you stayed with the house of the spouses Matilde and Justo Ramonal for the period of 22 years. Could you tell the court the services if any which you rendered to Matilde Ramonal?

A. During my stay I used to go with her to the church, to the market and then to her transactions.

Q. What else? What services that you rendered?

A. After my college days I assisted her in going to the bank, paying taxes and to her lawyer.

Q. What was your purpose of going to her lawyer?

A. I used to be her personal driver.

Q. In the course of your stay for 22 years did you acquire familiarity of the handwriting of Matilde Vda de Ramonal?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. How come that you acquired familiarity?

A. Because I lived with her since birth.[22]

xxx

Q. Now, I am showing to you Exhibit S which is captioned tugon dated Agosto 30, 1978 there is a signature here below item No. 1, will you tell this court whose signature is this?

A. Yes, sir, that is her signature.

Q. Why do you say that is her signature?

A. I am familiar with her signature.[23]

So, the only reason that Evangeline can give as to why she was familiar with the handwriting of the deceased was because she lived with her since birth. She never declared that she saw the deceased write a note or sign a document.

The former lawyer of the deceased, Fiscal Waga, testified that:

Q. Do you know Matilde Vda de Ramonal?

A. Yes, sir I know her because she is my godmother the husband is my godfather. Actually I am related to the husband by consanguinity.

Q. Can you tell the name of the husband?

A. The late husband is Justo Ramonal.[24]

xxx

Q. Can you tell this court whether the spouses Justo Ramonal and Matilde Ramonal have legitimate children?

A. As far as I know they have no legitimate children.[25]

xxx

Q. You said after becoming a lawyer you practice your profession? Where?

A. Here in Cagayan de Oro City.

Q. Do you have services rendered with the deceased Matilde vda de Ramonal?

A. I assisted her in terminating the partition, of properties.

Q. When you said assisted, you acted as her counsel? Any sort of counsel as in what case is that, Fiscal?

A. It is about the project partition to terminate the property, which was under the court before.[26]

xxx

Q. Appearing in special proceeding no. 427 is the amended inventory which is marked as exhibit N of the estate of Justo Ramonal and there appears a signature over the type written word Matilde vda de Ramonal, whose signature is this?

A. That is the signature of Matilde Vda de Ramonal.

Q. Also in exhibit n-3, whose signature is this?

A. This one here that is the signature of Mrs. Matilde vda de Ramonal.[27]

xxx

Q. Aside from attending as counsel in that Special Proceeding Case No. 427 what were the other assistance wherein you were rendering professional service to the deceased Matilde Vda de Ramonal?

A. I can not remember if I have assisted her in other matters but if there are documents to show that I have assisted then I can recall.[28]

xxx

Q. Now, I am showing to you exhibit S which is titled tugon, kindly go over this document, Fiscal Waga and tell the court whether you are familiar with the handwriting contained in that document marked as exhibit S?

A. I am not familiar with the handwriting.

Q. This one, Matilde Vda de Ramonal, whose signature is this?

A. I think this signature here it seems to be the signature of Mrs. Matilde vda de Ramonal.

Q. Now, in item No. 2 there is that signature here of Matilde Vda de Ramonal, can you tell the court whose signature is this?

A. Well, that is similar to that signature appearing in the project of partition.

Q. Also in item no. 3 there is that signature Matilde Vda de Ramonal, can you tell the court whose signature is that?

A. As I said, this signature also seems to be the signature of Matilde vda de Ramonal.

Q. Why do you say that?

A. Because there is a similarity in the way it is being written.

Q. How about this signature in item no. 4, can you tell the court whose signature is this?

A. The same is true with the signature in item no. 4. It seems that they are similar.[29]

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Q. Mr. Prosecutor, I heard you when you said that the signature of Matilde Vda de Ramonal Appearing in exhibit S seems to be the signature of Matilde vda de Ramonal?

A. Yes, it is similar to the project of partition.

Q. So you are not definite that this is the signature of Matilde vda de Ramonal. You are merely supposing that it seems to be her signature because it is similar to the signature of the project of partition which you have made?

A. That is true.[30]

From the testimonies of these witnesses, the Court of Appeals allowed the will to probate and disregard the requirement of three witnesses in case of contested holographic will, citing the decision in Azaola vs. Singson,[31] ruling that the requirement is merely directory and not mandatory.

In the case of Ajero vs. Court of Appeals,*32+ we said that the object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will.

However, we cannot eliminate the possibility of a false document being adjudged as the will of the testator, which is why if the holographic will is contested, that law requires three witnesses to declare that the will was in the handwriting of the deceased.

The will was found not in the personal belongings of the deceased but with one of the respondents, who kept it even before the death of the deceased. In the testimony of Ms. Binanay, she revealed that the will was in her possession as early as 1985, or five years before the death of the deceased.

There was no opportunity for an expert to compare the signature and the handwriting of the deceased with other documents signed and executed by her during her lifetime. The only chance at comparison was during the cross-examination of Ms. Binanay when the lawyer of petitioners asked Ms. Binanay to compare the documents which contained the signature of the deceased with that of the holographic will and she is not a handwriting expert. Even the former lawyer of the deceased expressed doubts as to the authenticity of the signature in the holographic will.

A visual examination of the holographic will convince us that the strokes are different when compared with other documents written by the testator. The signature of the testator in some of the disposition is not readable. There were uneven strokes, retracing and erasures on the will.

Comparing the signature in the holographic will dated August 30, 1978,[33] and the signatures in several documents such as the application letter for pasture permit dated December 30, 1980,[34] and a letter

dated June 16, 1978,[35] the strokes are different. In the letters, there are continuous flows of the strokes, evidencing that there is no hesitation in writing unlike that of the holographic will. We, therefore, cannot be certain that the holographic will was in the handwriting by the deceased.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision appealed from is SET ASIDE. The records are ordered remanded to the court of origin with instructions to allow petitioners to adduce evidence in support of their opposition to the probate of the holographic will of the deceased Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal.

G.R. No. L-29300 June 21, 1978 PEDRO D. H. GALLANOSA, CORAZON GRECIA-GALLONOSA and ADOLFO FORTAJADA, the deceased Pedro Gallanosa being substituted by his legal heirs, namely his above-named widow and his children, ISIDRO GALLANOSA and LEDY GALLANOSA, and grandchildren named IMELDA TECLA GALLANOSA and ROSARIO BRIGIDA GALLANOSA, children of the late SIKATUNA GALLANOSA, son of Pedro D.H. GALLONOSA, petitioners, vs. HON. UBALDO Y. ARCANGEL, Judge of Branch I of the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon and FLORENTINO G. HITOSIS, CASIANO G. HITOSIS, TEOTIMO G. HITOSIS, VICTORIO G. HITOSIS, EMILIA G. HITOSIS VDA. DE CRUZ, JOAQUIN R. HITOSIS VDA. DE CRUZ, JOAQUIN R. HITOSIS, FLORENTINO R. HITOSIS, VIRGINIA R. MITOSIS, DEBORAH R. HITOSIS, EDILBERTO R. HITOSIS, LEONOR R. HITOSIS, NORMA R. HITOSIS-VILLANUEVA, LEONCIO R. HITOSIS, minors ANGEL R. HITOSIS and RODOLFO R. HITOSIS, represented by their legal guardian and mother LOURDES RELUCIO VDA. DE HITOSIS, PETRONA HITOSISBALBIDO, MODESTO HITOSIS-GACILO, CLETO HITOSIS, AGUSTIN HITOSISFORTES, TOMASA HITOSIS-BANARES VDA. DE BORRAS, CONRADA HITOSISBANARES FRANCHE, RESTITUTO HITOSIS-BANARES, DAMIAN HITOSISBANARES, FIDEL HITOSIS-BANARES, SUSANA HITOSIS-BANARES RODRIGUEZ, JOSE HITOSIS, LOLITA HITOSIS-BANEGA, minors MILAGROS HITOSIS-BANEGA, ALICIA HITOSIS-BANEGA AND ELISA HITOSIS-BANEGA, represented by their legal guardian and father ERNESTO BANEGA, FELICITAS HITOSIS-PENAFLOR, GENOVEVA HITOSIS-ADRIATICO, MANUEL HITOSIS, PEDRO HITOSIS, LIBRATA HITOSIS-BALMES, JUANITA HITOSIS-GABITO VDA. DE GABAS, MAURA HITOSIS-GABITO VDA. DE GANOLA and LEONA HITOSIS-GABITO GAMBA, respondents. Haile Frivaldo for petitioners. Joaquin R Mitosis for private respondents.

AQUINO, J.:

In this special civil action of certiorari, filed on July 29, 1968, the petitioners seek to annul the orders of respondent Judge dated May 3 trial June 17, 1968, wherein he reconsidered his order of January 10, 1968, dismissing, on the ground of prescription, the complaint in Civil Case No. 2233 of the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon. The case involves the sixty-one parcels of land in Sorsogon left by Florentino Hitosis, with an estimated value of P50,000, trial claims for damages exceeding one million pesos. The undisputed facts are as follows: 1. Florentino Hitosis executed a will in the Bicol dialect on June 19, 1938 when he was eighty years old. He died on May 26, 1939 at Irosin, Sorsogon. A childless widower, he as survived by his brother, Leon Hitosis. His other brothers, named Juan, Tito (Juancito), Leoncio (Aloncio) trial Apolonio and only sister, Teodora, were all dead. 2. On June 24, 1939 a petition for the probate of his will was filed in the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon (Special Proceeding No. 3171). The notice of hearing was duly published. In that will, Florentino bequeathed his one-half share in the conjugal estate to his second wife, Tecla Dollentas, and, should Tecla predecease him, as was the case, his one-half share would be assigned to the spouses Pedro Gallanosa and Corazon Grecia, the reason being that Pedro, Tecla's son by her first marriage, grew up under the care of Florentino; he had treated Pedro as his foster child, and Pedro has rendered services to Florentino and Tecla. Florentino likewise bequeathed his separate properties consisting of three parcels of abaca land and parcel of riceland to his protege (sasacuyang ataman), Adolfo Fortajada, a minor. 3. Opposition to the probate of the will was registered by the testator's legal heirs, namely, his surviving brother, Leon, trial his nephews trial nieces. After a hearing, wherein the oppositors did not present any evidence in support of their opposition, Judge Pablo S. Rivera, in his decision of October 27, 1939, admitted the will to probate and appointed Gallanosa as executor. Judge Rivera specifically found that the testator executed his last will "gozando de buena salud y facultades mentales y no obrando en virtud de amenaza, fraude o influencia indebida." 4. On October 24, 1941, the testamentary heirs, the Gallanosa spouses trial Adolfo Fortajada, submitted a project of partition covering sixty-one parcels of land located in various parts of Sorsogon, large cattle trial several pieces of personal property which were distributed in accordance with Florentino's will. The heirs assumed the obligations of the estate amounting to P7,129.27 in the portion of P2,376.42 for Adolfo Fortajada and P4,752.85 for the Gallanosa spouses. The project of partition was approved by Judge Doroteo Amador in his order of March 13, 1943, thus confirming the heirs' possession of their respective shares. The testator's legal heirs did not appeal from the decree of probate trial from the order of partition trial distribution. 5. On February 20, 1952, Leon Hitosis trial the heirs of Florentino's deceased brothers trial sisters instituted an action in the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon against Pedro Gallanosa for the recovery of the said sixty-one parcels of land. They alleged that they,

by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest, had been in continuous possession of those lands en concepto de dueo trial that Gallanosa entered those lands in 1951 trial asserted ownership over the lands. They prayed that they be declared the owners of the lands trial that they be restored to the possession thereof. They also claimed damages (Civil Case No. 696). 6. Gallanosa moved to dismiss the above complaint for lack of cause of action trial on the ground of bar by the prior judgment in the probate proceeding. Judge Anatolio C. Maalac dismiss the complaint on the ground of res judicata in his order of August 14, 1952 wherein he said:
It also appears that the plaintiffs and/or their predecessors-in-interest had intervened in the testate proceedings in Civil Case No. 3171 of this Court for- the purpose of contesting the probate of the will of (the) late Florentino Hitosis; trial had their opposition prospered trial the will denied of probate, the proceedings would have been converted into one of intestacy (Art. 960 Civil Code) and the settlement of the estate of the said deceased would have been made in accordance with the provisions of law governing legal or intestate succession ... , in which case the said plaintiffs, as the nearest of kin or legal heirs of said Florentino Mitosis, would have succeeded to the ownership and possession of the 61 parcels of land in question forming part of his estate (art. 1003, Civil Code). However, the derision of the Court was adverse to them, when it their opposition trial ordered the probate of his will. From this decision (Annex K) legalizing the said will, the oppositors did not file any appeal within the period fixed by law, despite the fact that they were duly notified thereof, so that the said decision had become final trial it now constitutes a bar to any action that the plaintiffs may institute for the purpose of a redetermination of their rights to inherit the properties of the late Florentino Hitosis. In other words, the said decision of this Court in Civil Case special ) No. 3171, in which the herein plaintiffs or their predecessors-in-interest had intervened as parties oppositors, constitutes a final judicial determination of the issue that the said plaintiffs, as ordinary heirs, have no legal rights to succeed to any of the properties of the late Florentino Hitosis; consequently, their present claim to the ownership trial possession of the 61 parcels of land in question is without any legal merit or basis.

7. The plaintiffs did not appeal from that order of dismissal which should have set the matter at rest. But the same plaintiffs or oppositors to the probate of the will, trial their heirs, with a persistence befitting a more meritorious case, filed on September 21, 1967, or fifteen years after the dismissal of Civil Case No. 696 trial twenty-eight years after the probate of the will another action in the same court against the Gallanosa spouses trial Adolfo Fortajada for the "annulment" of the will of Florentino Hitosis trial and for the recovery of the same sixty-one parcels of land. They prayed for the appointment of a receiver. 8. As basis of their complaint, they alleged that the Gallanosa spouses, through fraud trial deceit, caused the execution trial simulation of the document purporting to be the last will trial testament of Florentino Hitosis. While in their 1952 complaint the game plaintiffs alleged that they were in possession of the lands in question, in their 1967 complaint they admitted that since 1939, or from the death of Florentino Hitosis, the defendants (now the petitioners) have been in possession of the disputed lands (Par.

XIV of the complaint, p. 70, Rollo in Civil Case No. 555, Gubat Branch, which was transferred to Branch I in Sorsogon town where Special Proceeding No. 3171 trial Civil Case No. 696 were decided trial which was re-docketed as Civil Case No. 2233). 9. As already stated, that 1967 complaint, upon motion of the defendants, now the petitioners, was dismissed by respondent Judge. The plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration Respondent Judge. granted it trial set aside the order of dismissal. He denied defendants' motion for the reconsideration of his order setting aside that dismissal order. The petitioners or the defendants below contend in this certiorari case that the lower court has no jurisdiction to set aside the 1939 decree of probate trial the 1952 order of dismissal in Civil Case No. 696 trial that it acted with grave abuse of discretion in not dismissing private respondents' 1967 complaint. The issue is whether, under the facts set forth above, the private respondents have a cause of action the "annulment" of the will of Florentino Hitosis trial for the recovery of the sixty-one parcels of land adjudicated under that will to the petitioners. We hold that the lower court committed a grave abuse of discretion in reconsideration its order of dismissal trial in ignoring the 1939 testamentary case trial the 1952 Civil Case No. 696 which is the same as the instant 1967 case. A rudimentary knowledge of substantive law trial procedure is sufficient for an ordinary lawyer to conclude upon a causal perusal of the 1967 complaint that it is baseless trial unwarranted. What the plaintiffs seek is the "annulment" of a last will trial testament duly probated in 1939 by the lower court itself. The proceeding is coupled with an action to recover the lands adjudicated to the defendants by the same court in 1943 by virtue of the probated will, which action is a resuscitation of The complaint of the same parties that the same court dismissed in 1952. It is evident from the allegations of the complaint trial from defendants' motion to dismiss that plaintiffs' 1967 action is barred by res judicata, a double-barrelled defense, trial by prescription, acquisitive trial extinctive, or by what are known in the jus civile trial the jus gentium as usucapio, longi temporis possesio and praescriptio (See Ramos vs. Ramos, L-19872, December 3, 1974, 61 SCRA 284). Our procedural law does not sanction an action for the "annulment" of a will. In order that a will may take effect, it has to be probated, legalized or allowed in the proper testamentary proceeding. The probate of the will is mandatory (Art. 838, Civil Code; sec. 1, Rule 75, formerly sec. 1, Rule 76, Rules of Court; Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 Phil. 479; Guevara vs. Guevara, 98 Phil. 249).

The testamentary proceeding is a special proceeding for the settlement of the testator's estate. A special proceeding is distinct trial different from an ordinary action (Secs. 1 trial 2, Rule 2 trial sec. 1, Rule 72, Rules of Court). We say that the defense of res judicata, as a ground for the dismissal of plaintiffs' 1967 complaint, is a two-pronged defense because (1) the 1939 trial 1943 decrees of probate trial distribution in Special Proceeding No. 3171 trial (2) the 1952 order of dismissal in Civil Case No. 696 of the lower court constitute bars by former judgment, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 49. Effect of judgments. The effect of a judgment or final order rendered by a court or judge of the Philippines, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or order, may be as follows: (a) In case of a judgment or order against a specific thing, or in respect to the probate of a will or the administration of the estate of a deceased person, or in respect to the personal, political, or legal condition or status of a particular person or his relationship to another, the judgment or order is conclusive upon the title to the thing the will or administration, or the condition, status or relationship of the person; however, the probate of a will or granting of letters of administration shall only be prima facie evidence of the death of the testator or intestate; (b) In other cases the judgment or order is, with respect to the matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been raised in relation thereto, conclusive between the parties trial their successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action or special proceeding, litigating of the same thing trial under the same title trial in the same capacity; (c) In any other litigation between the same parties or their successors in interest, that only is deemed to have been adjudged in a former judgment which appears upon its face to have been so adjudged, or which was actually trial necessarily included therein or necessary thereto.

The 1939 decree of probate is conclusive as to the due execution or formal validity of the will (Sec. 625, Act 190, sec. 1, Rule 76, now sec. 1, Rule 75, Rules of Court; Last par. of art. 838, Civil Code). That means that the testator was of sound trial disposing mind at the time when he executed the will and was not acting under duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence; that the will was signed by him in the presence of the required number of witnesses, and that the will is genuine trial is not a forgery. Accordingly, these facts cannot again be questioned in a subsequent proceeding, not even in a criminal action for the forgery of the will. (3 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, p. 395; Manahan vs. Manahan, 58 Phil. 448). After the finality of the allowance of a will, the issue as to the voluntariness of its execution cannot be raised anymore (Santos vs. De Buenaventura, L-22797, September 22, 1966, 18 SCRA 47).

In Austria vs. Ventenilla, 21 Phil. 180, a "petition for annulment of a will" was not entertained after the decree of probate had become final. That case is summarized as follows:
Wills; Probate; Alledged Fraudulent Will; Appeal. V. died. His will was admitted to probate without objection. No appeal was taken from said order. It was admitted that due trial legal notice had been given to all parties. Fifteen months after the date of said order, a motion was presented in the lower court to have said will declared null and void, for the reason that fraud had been practised upon the deceased in the making of his will. Held: That under section 625 of Act No. 190, the only time given parties who are displeased with the order admitting to probate a will, for an appeal is the time given for appeals in ordinary actions; but without deciding whether or not an order admitting a will to probate will be opened for fraud, after the time allowed for an appeal has expired, when no appeal is taken from an order probating a will, the heirs can not, in subsequent litigation in the same proceedings, raise questions relating to its due execution. The probate of a will is conclusive as to its due execution trial as to the testamentary capacity of The testator. (See Austria vs. Heirs of Ventenilla. 99 Phil. 1069).

On the other hand, the 1943 decree of adjudication rendered by the trial court in the testate proceeding for the settlement of the estate of Florentino Hitosis, having been rendered in a proceeding in rem, is under the abovequoted section 49(a), binding upon the whole world (Manalo vs. Paredes, 47 Phil. 938; In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156; De la Cerna vs. Potot, 120 Phil. 1361, 1364; McMaster vs. Hentry Reissmann & Co., 68 Phil. 142). It is not only the 1939 probate proceeding that can be interposed as res judicata with respect to private respondents' complaint, The 1952 order of dismissal rendered by Judge Maalac in Civil Case No. 696, a judgment in personam was an adjudication on the merits (Sec. 4, Rule 30, old Rules of Court). It constitutes a bar by former judgment under the aforequoted section 49(b) (Anticamara vs. Ong, L-29689. April 14, 1978). The plaintiffs or private respondents did not even bother to ask for the annulment of the testamentary proceeding trial the proceeding in Civil Case No. 696. Obviously, they realized that the final adjudications in those cases have the binding force of res judicata and that there is no ground, nor is it timely, to ask for the nullification of the final orders trial judgments in those two cases. It is a fundamental concept in the organization of every jural system, a principle of public policy, that, at the risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts should become final at some definite date fixed by law. Interest rei publicae ut finis sit litum. "The very object for which the courts were constituted was to put an end to controversies." (Dy Cay vs. Crossfield and O'Brien, 38 Phil. 521: Pealosa vs. Tuason, 22 Phil, 303; De la Cerna vs. Potot, supra). After the period for seeking relief from a final order or judgment under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court has expired, a final judgment or order can be set aside only on the grounds of (a) lack of jurisdiction or lack of due process of law or (b) that the judgment was obtained by means of extrinsic or collateral fraud. In the latter case, the period for

annulling the judgment is four years from the discovery of the fraud (2 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, pp. 245-246; Mauricio vs. Villanueva, 106 Phil. 1159). To hurdle over the obstacle of prescription, the trial court, naively adopting the theory of plaintiffs' counsel, held that the action for the recovery of the lands had not prescribed because the rule in article 1410 of the Civil Code, that "the action or defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe", applies to wills. That ruling is a glaring error. Article 1410 cannot possibly apply to last wills trial testaments. The trial court trial plaintiffs' counsel relied upon the case of Dingle vs. Guillermo, 48 0. G. 4410, allegedly decided by this Court, which cited the ruling in Tipton vs. Velasco, 6 Phil. 67, that mere lapse of time cannot give efficacy to void contracts, a ruling elevated to the category of a codal provision in article 1410. The Dingle case was decided by the Court of Appeals. Even the trial court did not take pains to verify the misrepresentation of plaintiffs' counsel that the Dingle case was decided by this Court. An elementary knowledge of civil law could have alerted the trial court to the egregious error of plaintiffs' counsel in arguing that article 1410 applies to wills. WHEREFORE, the lower court's orders of May 3 trial June 17, 1968 are reversed trial set aside trial its order of dismissal dated January 10, 1968 is affirmed. Costs against the private respondents. G.R. No. L-55509 April 27, 1984 ETHEL GRIMM ROBERTS, petitioner, vs. JUDGE TOMAS R. LEONIDAS, Branch 38, Court of First Instance of Manila; MAXINE TATE-GRIMM, EDWARD MILLER GRIMM II and LINDA GRIMM, respondents. N. J. Quisumbing and Associates for petitioners. Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz for respondents.

AQUINO, J.:+.wph!1 The question in this case is whether a petition for allowance of wills and to annul a partition, approved in an intestate proceeding by Branch 20 of the Manila Court of First Instance, can be entertained by its Branch 38 (after a probate in the Utah district court). Antecedents. Edward M. Grimm an American resident of Manila, died at 78 in the Makati Medical Center on November 27, 1977. He was survived by his second wife, Maxine Tate Grimm and their two children, named Edward Miller Grimm II (Pete) and

Linda Grimm and by Juanita Grimm Morris and Ethel Grimm Roberts (McFadden), his two children by a first marriage which ended in divorce (Sub-Annexes A and B. pp. 3647, Rollo). He executed on January 23, 1959 two wills in San Francisco, California. One will disposed of his Philippine estate which he described as conjugal property of himself and his second wife. The second win disposed of his estate outside the Philippines. In both wills, the second wife and two children were favored. The two children of the first marriage were given their legitimes in the will disposing of the estate situated in this country. In the will dealing with his property outside this country, the testator said: t.hqw
I purposely have made no provision in this will for my daughter, Juanita Grimm Morris, or my daughter, Elsa Grimm McFadden (Ethel Grimm Roberts), because I have provided for each of them in a separate will disposing of my Philippine property. (First clause, pp. 4347, Rollo).

The two wills and a codicil were presented for probate by Maxine Tate Grimm and E. LaVar Tate on March 7, 1978 in Probate No. 3720 of the Third Judicial District Court of Tooele County, Utah. Juanita Grimm Morris of Cupertino, California and Mrs. Roberts of 15 C. Benitez Street, Horseshoe Village, Quezon City were notified of the probate proceeding (Sub-Annex C, pp. 48-55, Rollo). Maxine admitted that she received notice of the intestate petition filed in Manila by Ethel in January, 1978 (p. 53, Rollo). In its order dated April 10, 1978, the Third Judicial District Court admitted to probate the two wills and the codicil It was issued upon consideration of the stipulation dated April 4, 1978 "by and between the attorneys for Maxine Tate Grimm, Linda Grimm, Edward Miller Grimm II, E. LaVar Tate, Juanita Kegley Grimm (first wife), Juanita Grimm Morris and Ethel Grimm Roberts" (Annex C, pp. 48-51, Rollo). Two weeks later, or on April 25, 1978, Maxine and her two children Linda and Pete, as the first parties, and Ethel, Juanita Grimm Morris and their mother Juanita Kegley Grimm as the second parties, with knowledge of the intestate proceeding in Manila, entered into a compromise agreement in Utah regarding the estate. It was signed by David E. Salisbury and Donald B. Holbrook, as lawyers of the parties, by Pete and Linda and the attorney-in-fact of Maxine and by the attorney-in-fact of Ethel, Juanita Grimm Morris and Juanita Kegley Grimm. In that agreement, it was stipulated that Maxine, Pete and Ethel would be designated as personal representatives (administrators) of Grimm's Philippine estate (par. 2). It was also stipulated that Maxine's one-half conjugal share in the estate should be reserved for her and that would not be less than $1,500,000 plus the homes in Utah and Santa Mesa, Manila (par. 4). The agreement indicated the computation of the "net distributable estate". It recognized that the estate was liable to pay the fees of the Angara law firm (par. 5).

It was stipulated in paragraph 6 that the decedent's four children "shall share equally in the Net Distributable Estate" and that Ethel and Juanita Morris should each receive at least 12-1/2% of the total of the net distributable estate and marital share. A supplemental memorandum also dated April 25, 1978 was executed by the parties (Sub-Annex F, pp. 49-61, Annex, F-1, pp. 75-76, Testate case). Intestate proceeding No. 113024.-At this juncture, it should be stated that forty- three days after Grimm's death, or January 9, 1978, his daughter of the first marriage, Ethel, 49, through lawyers Deogracias T. Reyes and. Gerardo B. Macaraeg, filed with Branch 20 of the Manila Court of First Instance intestate proceeding No. 113024 for the settlement of his estate. She was named special administratrix. On March 11, the second wife, Maxine, through the Angara law office, filed an opposition and motion to dismiss the intestate proceeding on the ground of the pendency of Utah of a proceeding for the probate of Grimm's will. She also moved that she be appointed special administratrix, She submitted to the court a copy of Grimm's will disposing of his Philippine estate. It is found in pages 58 to 64 of the record. The intestate court in its orders of May 23 and June 2 noted that Maxine, through a new lawyer, William C. Limqueco (partner of Gerardo B. Macaraeg, p. 78, testate case withdrew that opposition and motion to dismiss and, at the behest of Maxine, Ethel and Pete, appointed them joint administrators. Apparently, this was done pursuant to the aforementioned Utah compromise agreement. The court ignored the will already found in the record. The three administrators submitted an inventory. With the authority and approval of the court, they sold for P75,000 on March 21, 1979 the so-called Palawan Pearl Project, a business owned by the deceased. Linda and Juanita allegedly conformed with the sale (pp. 120-129, Record). It turned out that the buyer, Makiling Management Co., Inc., was incorporated by Ethel and her husband, Rex Roberts, and by lawyer Limqueco (Annex L, p. 90, testate case). Also with the court's approval and the consent of Linda and Juanita, they sold for P1,546,136 to Joseph Server and others 193,267 shares of RFM Corporation (p. 135, Record). Acting on the declaration of heirs and project of partition signed and filed by lawyers Limqueco and Macaraeg (not signed by Maxine and her two children), Judge Conrado M. Molina in his order of July 27, 1979 adjudicated to Maxine onehalf (4/8) of the decedent's Philippine estate and one-eighth (1/8) each to his four children or 12-1/2% (pp. 140-142, Record). No mention at all was made of the will in that order. Six days later, or on August 2, Maxine and her two children replaced Limqueco with Octavio del Callar as their lawyer who on August 9, moved to defer approval of the project of partition. The court considered the motion moot considering that it had already approved the declaration of heirs and project of partition (p. 149, Record).

Lawyer Limqueco in a letter to Maxine dated August 2, 1979 alleged that he was no longer connected with Makiling Management Co., Inc. when the Palawan Pearl Project was sold: that it was Maxine's son Pete who negotiated the sale with Rex Roberts and that he (Limqueco) was going to sue Maxine for the lies she imputed to him (Annex H, p. 78, testate case). Ethel submitted to the court a certification of the Assistant Commissioner of Internal Revenue dated October 2, 1979. It was stated therein that Maxine paid P1,992,233.69 as estate tax and penalties and that he interposed no objection to the transfer of the estate to Grimm's heirs (p. 153, Record). The court noted the certification as in conformity with its order of July 27, 1979. After November, 1979 or for a period of more than five months, there was no movement or activity in the intestate case. On April 18, 1980 Juanita Grimm Morris, through Ethel's lawyers, filed a motion for accounting "so that the Estate properties can be partitioned among the heirs and the present intestate estate be closed." Del Callar, Maxine's lawyer was notified of that motion. Before that motion could be heard, or on June 10, 1980, the Angara law firm filed again its appearance in collaboration with Del Callar as counsel for Maxine and her two children, Linda and Pete. It should be recalled that the firm had previously appeared in the case as Maxine's counsel on March 11, 1978, when it filed a motion to dismiss the intestate proceeding and furnished the court with a copy of Grimm's will. As already noted, the firm was then superseded by lawyer Limqueco. Petition to annul partition and testate proceeding No. 134559. On September 8, 1980, Rogelio A. Vinluan of the Angara law firm in behalf of Maxine, Pete and Linda, filed in Branch 38 of the lower court a petition praying for the probate of Grimm's two wills (already probated in Utah), that the 1979 partition approved by the intestate court be set aside and the letters of administration revoked, that Maxine be appointed executrix and that Ethel and Juanita Morris be ordered to account for the properties received by them and to return the same to Maxine (pp. 25-35, Rollo). Grimm's second wife and two children alleged that they were defraud due to the machinations of the Roberts spouses, that the 1978 Utah compromise agreement was illegal, that the intestate proceeding is void because Grimm died testate and that the partition was contrary to the decedent's wills. Ethel filed a motion to dismiss the petition. Judge Leonidas denied it for lack of merit in his order of October 27, 1980. Ethel then filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition in this Court, praying that the testate proceeding be dismissed, or. alternatively that the two proceedings be consolidated and heard in Branch 20 and that the matter of the annulment of the Utah compromise agreement be heard prior to the petition for probate (pp. 22-23, Rollo).

Ruling. We hold that respondent judge did not commit any grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, in denying Ethel's motion to dismiss. A testate proceeding is proper in this case because Grimm died with two wills and "no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed" (Art. 838, Civil Code; sec. 1, Rule 75, Rules of Court). The probate of the will is mandatory (Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 Phil. 479 and 98 Phil. 249; Baluyot vs. Panio, L-42088, May 7, 1976, 71 SCRA 86). It is anomalous that the estate of a person who died testate should be settled in an intestate proceeding. Therefore, the intestate case should be consolidated with the testate proceeding and the judge assigned to the testate proceeding should continue hearing the two cases. Ethel may file within twenty days from notice of the finality of this judgment an opposition and answer to the petition unless she considers her motion to dismiss and other pleadings sufficient for the purpose. Juanita G. Morris, who appeared in the intestate case, should be served with copies of orders, notices and other papers in the testate case. WHEREFORE the petition is dismissed. The temporary restraining order is dissolved. No costs. SO ORDERED.1wph1.t G.R. No. L-62952 October 9, 1985 SOFIA J. NEPOMUCENO, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, RUFINA GOMEZ, OSCAR JUGO ANG, CARMELITA JUGO, respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition for certiorari to set aside that portion of the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals (now intermediate Appellate Court) dated June 3, 1982, as amended by the resolution dated August 10, 1982, declaring as null and void the devise in favor of the petitioner and the resolution dated December 28, 1982 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration. Martin Jugo died on July 16, 1974 in Malabon, Rizal. He left a last Will and Testament duly signed by him at the end of the Will on page three and on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 thereof in the presence of Celestina Alejandro, Myrna C. Cortez, and Leandro Leano, who in turn, affixed their signatures below the attestation clause and on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 of the Will in the presence of the testator and of each

other and the Notary Public. The Will was acknowledged before the Notary Public Romeo Escareal by the testator and his three attesting witnesses. In the said Will, the testator named and appointed herein petitioner Sofia J. Nepomuceno as his sole and only executor of his estate. It is clearly stated in the Will that the testator was legally married to a certain Rufina Gomez by whom he had two legitimate children, Oscar and Carmelita, but since 1952, he had been estranged from his lawfully wedded wife and had been living with petitioner as husband and wife. In fact, on December 5, 1952, the testator Martin Jugo and the petitioner herein, Sofia J. Nepomuceno were married in Victoria, Tarlac before the Justice of the Peace. The testator devised to his forced heirs, namely, his legal wife Rufina Gomez and his children Oscar and Carmelita his entire estate and the free portion thereof to herein petitioner. The Will reads in part:
Art. III. That I have the following legal heirs, namely: my aforementioned legal wife, Rufina Gomez, and our son, Oscar, and daughter Carmelita, both surnamed Jugo, whom I declare and admit to be legally and properly entitled to inherit from me; that while I have been estranged from my above-named wife for so many years, I cannot deny that I was legally married to her or that we have been separated up to the present for reasons and justifications known fully well by them: Art. IV. That since 1952, 1 have been living, as man and wife with one Sofia J. Nepomuceno, whom I declare and avow to be entitled to my love and affection, for all the things which she has done for me, now and in the past; that while Sofia J. Nepomuceno has with my full knowledge and consent, did comport and represent myself as her own husband, in truth and in fact, as well as in the eyes of the law, I could not bind her to me in the holy bonds of matrimony because of my aforementioned previous marriage;

On August 21, 1974, the petitioner filed a petition for the probate of the last Will and Testament of the deceased Martin Jugo in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XXXIV, Caloocan City and asked for the issuance to her of letters testamentary. On May 13, 1975, the legal wife of the testator, Rufina Gomez and her children filed an opposition alleging inter alia that the execution of the Will was procured by undue and improper influence on the part of the petitioner; that at the time of the execution of the Will, the testator was already very sick and that petitioner having admitted her living in concubinage with the testator, she is wanting in integrity and thus, letters testamentary should not be issued to her. On January 6, 1976, the lower court denied the probate of the Will on the ground that as the testator admitted in his Will to cohabiting with the petitioner from December 1952 until his death on July 16, 1974, the Will's admission to probate will be an Idle exercise because on the face of the Will, the invalidity of its intrinsic provisions is evident. The petitioner appealed to the respondent-appellate court. On June 2, 1982, the respondent court set aside the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal denying the probate of the will. The respondent court declared the Will

to be valid except that the devise in favor of the petitioner is null and void pursuant to Article 739 in relation with Article 1028 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the decision a quo is hereby set aside, the will in question declared valid except the devise in favor of the appellant which is declared null and void. The properties so devised are instead passed on in intestacy to the appellant in equal shares, without pronouncement as to cost.

On June 15, 1982, oppositors Rufina Gomez and her children filed a "Motion for Correction of Clerical Error" praying that the word "appellant" in the last sentence of the dispositive portion of the decision be changed to "appellees" so as to read: "The properties so devised are instead passed on intestacy to the appellees in equal shares, without pronouncement as to costs." The motion was granted by the respondent court on August 10, 1982. On August 23, 1982, the petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. This was denied by the respondent court in a resolution dated December 28, 1982. The main issue raised by the petitioner is whether or not the respondent court acted in excess of its jurisdiction when after declaring the last Will and Testament of the deceased Martin Jugo validly drawn, it went on to pass upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provision in favor of herein petitioner. The petitioner submits that the validity of the testamentary provision in her favor cannot be passed upon and decided in the probate proceedings but in some other proceedings because the only purpose of the probate of a Will is to establish conclusively as against everyone that a Will was executed with the formalities required by law and that the testator has the mental capacity to execute the same. The petitioner further contends that even if the provisions of paragraph 1 of Article 739 of the Civil Code of the Philippines were applicable, the declaration of its nullity could only be made by the proper court in a separate action brought by the legal wife for the specific purpose of obtaining a declaration of the nullity of the testamentary provision in the Will in favor of the person with whom the testator was allegedly guilty of adultery or concubinage. The respondents on the other hand contend that the fact that the last Will and Testament itself expressly admits indubitably on its face the meretricious relationship between the testator and the petitioner and the fact that petitioner herself initiated the presentation of evidence on her alleged ignorance of the true civil status of the testator, which led private respondents to present contrary evidence, merits the application of the doctrine enunciated in Nuguid v. Felix Nuguid, et al. (17 SCRA 449) and Felix Balanay, Jr. v. Hon. Antonio Martinez, et al. (G.R. No. L- 39247, June 27, 1975). Respondents also submit that the admission of the testator of the illicit relationship between him and the petitioner put in issue the legality of the devise. We agree with the respondents.

The respondent court acted within its jurisdiction when after declaring the Will to be validly drawn, it went on to pass upon the intrinsic validity of the Will and declared the devise in favor of the petitioner null and void. The general rule is that in probate proceedings, the court's area of inquiry is limited to an examination and resolution of the extrinsic validity of the Will. The rule is expressed thus:
xxx xxx xxx ... It is elementary that a probate decree finally and definitively settles all questions concerning capacity of the testator and the proper execution and witnessing of his last Will and testament, irrespective of whether its provisions are valid and enforceable or otherwise. (Fernandez v. Dimagiba, 21 SCRA 428) The petition below being for the probate of a Will, the court's area of inquiry is limited to the extrinsic validity thereof. The testators testamentary capacity and the compliance with the formal requisites or solemnities prescribed by law are the only questions presented for the resolution of the court. Any inquiry into the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will or the legality of any devise or legacy is premature. xxx xxx xxx True or not, the alleged sale is no ground for the dismissal of the petition for probate. Probate is one thing; the validity of the testamentary provisions is another. The first decides the execution of the document and the testamentary capacity of the testator; the second relates to descent and distribution (Sumilang v. Ramagosa, 21 SCRA 1369) xxx xxx xxx To establish conclusively as against everyone, and once for all, the facts that a will was executed with the formalities required by law and that the testator was in a condition to make a will, is the only purpose of the proceedings under the new code for the probate of a will. (Sec. 625). The judgment in such proceedings determines and can determine nothing more. In them the court has no power to pass upon the validity of any provisions made in the will. It can not decide, for example, that a certain legacy is void and another one valid. ... (Castaneda v. Alemany, 3 Phil. 426)

The rule, however, is not inflexible and absolute. Given exceptional circumstances, the probate court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain provisions of the Will. In Nuguid v. Nuguid (17 SCRA 449) cited by the trial court, the testator instituted the petitioner as universal heir and completely preterited her surviving forced heirs. A will of this nature, no matter how valid it may appear extrinsically, would be null and void. Separate or latter proceedings to determine the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provisions would be superfluous. Even before establishing the formal validity of the will, the Court in Balanay .Jr. v. Martinez (64 SCRA 452) passed upon the validity of its intrinsic provisions.

Invoking "practical considerations", we stated:


The basic issue is whether the probate court erred in passing upon the intrinsic validity of the will, before ruling on its allowance or formal validity, and in declaring it void. We are of the opinion that in view of certain unusual provisions of the will, which are of dubious legality, and because of the motion to withdraw the petition for probate (which the lower court assumed to have been filed with the petitioner's authorization) the trial court acted correctly in passing upon the will's intrinsic validity even before its formal validity had been established. The probate of a will might become an Idle ceremony if on its face it appears to be intrinsically void. Where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the court should meet the issue (Nuguid v. Nuguid, 64 O.G. 1527, 17 SCRA 449. Compare with Sumilang vs. Ramagosa L-23135, December 26, 1967, 21 SCRA 1369; Cacho v. Udan L-19996, April 30, 1965, 13 SCRA 693).

There appears to be no more dispute at this time over the extrinsic validity of the Will. Both parties are agreed that the Will of Martin Jugo was executed with all the formalities required by law and that the testator had the mental capacity to execute his Will. The petitioner states that she completely agrees with the respondent court when in resolving the question of whether or not the probate court correctly denied the probate of Martin Jugo's last Will and Testament, it ruled:
This being so, the will is declared validly drawn. (Page 4, Decision, Annex A of Petition.)

On the other hand the respondents pray for the affirmance of the Court of Appeals' decision in toto. The only issue, therefore, is the jurisdiction of the respondent court to declare the testamentary provision in favor of the petitioner as null and void. We sustain the respondent court's jurisdiction. As stated in Nuguid v. Nuguid, (supra):
We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of the will, nothing will be gained. On the contrary, this litigation will be protracted. And for aught that appears in the record, in the record, in the event of probate or if the court rejects the will, probability exists that the case will come up once again before us on the same issue of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the will. Result, waste of time, effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the practical considerations that induce us to a belief that we might as well meet head-on the issue of the validity of the provisions of the will in question. (Section 2, Rule 1, Rules of Court. Case, et al. v. Jugo, et al., 77 Phil. 517, 522). After all, there exists a justiciable controversy crying for solution.

We see no useful purpose that would be served if we remand the nullified provision to the proper court in a separate action for that purpose simply because, in the probate of a will, the court does not ordinarily look into the intrinsic validity of its provisions. Article 739 of the Civil Code provides:
The following donations shall be void:

(1) Those made between persons who were guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the donation; (2) Those made between persons found guilty of the same criminal offense, in consideration thereof; (3) Those made to a public officer or his wife, descendants and ascendants, by reason of his office. In the case referred to in No. 1, the action for declaration of nullity may be brought by the spouse of the donor or donee; and the guilt of the donor and donee may be proved by preponderance of evidence in the same action.

Article 1028 of the Civil Code provides:


The prohibitions mentioned in Article 739, concerning donations inter vivos shall apply to testamentary provisions.

In Article III of the disputed Will, executed on August 15, 1968, or almost six years before the testator's death on July 16, 1974, Martin Jugo stated that respondent Rufina Gomez was his legal wife from whom he had been estranged "for so many years." He also declared that respondents Carmelita Jugo and Oscar Jugo were his legitimate children. In Article IV, he stated that he had been living as man and wife with the petitioner since 1952. Testator Jugo declared that the petitioner was entitled to his love and affection. He stated that Nepomuceno represented Jugo as her own husband but "in truth and in fact, as well as in the eyes of the law, I could not bind her to me in the holy bonds of matrimony because of my aforementioned previous marriage. There is no question from the records about the fact of a prior existing marriage when Martin Jugo executed his Will. There is also no dispute that the petitioner and Mr. Jugo lived together in an ostensible marital relationship for 22 years until his death. It is also a fact that on December 2, 1952, Martin Jugo and Sofia J. Nepomuceno contracted a marriage before the Justice of the Peace of Victoria, Tarlac. The man was then 51 years old while the woman was 48. Nepomuceno now contends that she acted in good faith for 22 years in the belief that she was legally married to the testator. The records do not sustain a finding of innocence or good faith. As argued by the private respondents:
First. The last will and testament itself expressly admits indubitably on its face the meretricious relationship between the testator and petitioner, the devisee. Second. Petitioner herself initiated the presentation of evidence on her alleged ignorance of the true civil status of the testator, which led private respondents to present contrary evidence. In short, the parties themselves dueled on the intrinsic validity of the legacy given in the will to petitioner by the deceased testator at the start of the proceedings.

Whether or not petitioner knew that testator Martin Jugo, the man he had lived with as man and wife, as already married, was an important and specific issue brought by the parties before the trial court, and passed upon by the Court of Appeals. Instead of limiting herself to proving the extrinsic validity of the will, it was petitioner who opted to present evidence on her alleged good faith in marrying the testator. (Testimony of Petitioner, TSN of August 1, 1982, pp. 56-57 and pp. 62-64). Private respondents, naturally, presented evidence that would refute the testimony of petitioner on the point. Sebastian Jugo, younger brother of the deceased testator, testified at length on the meretricious relationship of his brother and petitioner. (TSN of August 18,1975). Clearly, the good faith of petitioner was by option of the parties made a decisive issue right at the inception of the case. Confronted by the situation, the trial court had to make a ruling on the question. When the court a quo held that the testator Martin Jugo and petitioner 'were deemed guilty of adultery or concubinage', it was a finding that petitioner was not the innocent woman she pretended to be. xxx xxx xxx 3. If a review of the evidence must be made nonetheless, then private respondents respectfully offer the following analysis: FIRST: The secrecy of the marriage of petitioner with the deceased testator in a town in Tarlac where neither she nor the testator ever resided. If there was nothing to hide from, why the concealment' ? Of course, it maybe argued that the marriage of the deceased with private respondent Rufina Gomez was likewise done in secrecy. But it should be remembered that Rufina Gomez was already in the family way at that time and it would seem that the parents of Martin Jugo were not in favor of the marriage so much so that an action in court was brought concerning the marriage. (Testimony of Sebastian Jugo, TSN of August 18, 1975, pp. 29-30) SECOND: Petitioner was a sweetheart of the deceased testator when they were still both single. That would be in 1922 as Martin Jugo married respondent Rufina Gomez on November 29, 1923 (Exh. 3). Petitioner married the testator only on December 5, 1952. There was a space of about 30 years in between. During those 30 years, could it be believed that she did not even wonder why Martin Jugo did not marry her nor contact her anymore after November, 1923 - facts that should impel her to ask her groom before she married him in secrecy, especially so when she was already about 50 years old at the time of marriage. THIRD: The fact that petitioner broke off from Martin Jugo in 1923 is by itself conclusive demonstration that she new that the man she had openly lived for 22 years as man and wife was a married man with already two children. FOURTH: Having admitted that she knew the children of respondent Rufina Gomez, is it possible that she would not have asked Martin Jugo whether or not they were his illegitimate or legitimate children and by whom? That is un-Filipino.

FIFTH: Having often gone to Pasig to the residence of the parents of the deceased testator, is it possible that she would not have known that the mother of private respondent Oscar Jugo and Carmelita Jugo was respondent Rufina Gomez, considering that the houses of the parents of Martin Jugo (where he had lived for many years) and that of respondent Rufina Gomez were just a few meters away? Such pretentions of petitioner Sofia Nepomuceno are unbelievable. They are, to say the least, inherently improbable, for they are against the experience in common life and the ordinary instincts and promptings of human nature that a woman would not bother at all to ask the man she was going to marry whether or not he was already married to another, knowing that her groom had children. It would be a story that would strain human credulity to the limit if petitioner did not know that Martin Jugo was already a married man in view of the irrefutable fact that it was precisely his marriage to respondent Rufina Gomez that led petitioner to break off with the deceased during their younger years.

Moreover, the prohibition in Article 739 of the Civil Code is against the making of a donation between persons who are living in adultery or concubinage. It is the donation which becomes void. The giver cannot give even assuming that the recipient may receive. The very wordings of the Will invalidate the legacy because the testator admitted he was disposing the properties to a person with whom he had been living in concubinage. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The decision of the Court of Appeals, now Intermediate Appellate Court, is AFFIRMED. No costs. G.R. No. L-24819 May 30, 1969

TESTATE ESTATE OF CATALINA DE LA CRUZ, deceased, ANDRES PASCUAL, petitioner-appellee, vs. PEDRO DE LA CRUZ, ET AL., oppositors-appellants. Avelino Pascual for petitioner-appellee. Raul Manglapus and Feria, Feria, Lugtu and La'O for oppositors-appellants. REYES, J.B.L., J.: This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (in Sp. Proc. No. 3312) admitting to probate the purported will of Catalina de la Cruz. On 2 January 1960, Catalina de la Cruz, single and without any surviving descendant or ascendant, died at the age of 89 in her residence at San Roque, Navotas, Rizal. On 14 January 1960, a petition for the probate of her alleged will was filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal by Andres Pascual, who was named in the said will as executor and sole heir of the decedent. 1 Opposing the petition, Pedro de la Cruz and 26 other nephews and nieces of the late Catalina de la Cruz contested the validity of the will on the grounds that the formalities required

by law were not complied with; that the testatrix was mentally incapable of disposing of her properties by will at the time of its execution; that the will was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the petitioner; and that the signature of the testatrix was obtained through fraud. After hearing, during which the parties presented their respective evidences, the probate court rendered judgment upholding the due execution of the will, and, as therein provided, appointed petitioner Andres Pascual executor and administrator of the estate of the late Catalina de la Cruz without bond. The oppositors appealed directly to the Court, the properties involved being valued at more than P300,000.00, raising only the issue of the due execution of the will. In this instance, oppositors-appellees claim that the lower court erred in giving credence to the testimonies of the subscribing witnesses and the notary that the will was duly executed, notwithstanding the existence of inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimonies, and in disregarding their evidence that the will was not signed by all the witnesses in the presence of one another, in violation of the requirement of the law. On this point, the lower court said: Regarding the alleged contradictions and inconsistencies in the testimony of the three attesting witnesses and of the Notary Public, some of which have been enumerated in the Memorandum of Oppositors' counsel, this Court has taken pains in noting said inconsistencies but found the same not substantial in nature sufficient to discredit their entire testimony on the due execution of Exhibit "D". It is to be noted that Exhibit "D" was signed in 1954 and that the attesting witnesses testified in Court in 1962 or after a lapse of eight years from the date of the signing of the document. It is, therefore, understandable and reasonable to expect that said witnesses will not retain a vivid picture of the details surrounding the execution and signing of the will of Catalina de la Cruz. What is important and essential is that there be unanimity and certainty in their testimony regarding the identity of the signatures of the testatrix, the attesting witnesses, and the Notary Public, and the fact that they were all present at the time those signatures were affixed on the document Exhibit "D". .... In this jurisdiction, it is the observed rule that, where a will is contested, the subscribing with are generally regarded as the best qualified to testify on its due execution. However, it is similarly recognized that for the testimony of such witnesses to be entitled to full credit, it must be reasonable and unbiased, and not overcome by competent evidence, direct or circumstantial. 2 For it must be remembered that the law does not simply require the presence of three instrumental witnesses; it demands that the witnesses be credible. 3 In connection with the issue under consideration, we agree with the trial judge that the contradictions and inconsistencies appearing in the testimonies of the witnesses and the notary, pointed out by the oppositors-appellants (such as the weather condition at the time the will was executed; the sequence of the signing by the witnesses; and the length of time it took to complete the act), relate to unimportant details of the impressions of the witnesses about certain details which could have been affected by the lapse of time and the treachery of human memory, and

which inconsistencies, by themselves, would not alter the probative value of their testimonies on the due execution of the will [cf. Peo. vs. Sigue, 86 Phil. 139-140 (3 years interval)]. In Estate of Javellana vs. Javellana, L-13781, 30 January 1960, 106 Phil. 1076, this Court ruled: For the purpose of determining the due execution of a will, it is not necessary that the instrumental witnesses should give an accurate and detailed account of the proceeding, such as recalling the order of the signing of the document by the said witnesses. It is sufficient that they have seen or at least were so situated at the moment that they could have seen each other sign, had they wanted to do so. In fact, in the instant case, at least two witnesses, ... both testified that the testator and the 3 witnesses signed in the presence of each and every one of them (Jaboneta vs. Gustilo, 5 Phil. 451; Neyra vs. Neyra, 42 Off. Gaz. 2817; Fernandez vs. Tantoco, 49 Phil. 380.). Neither do we believe that the fact that the witnesses were better known to proponent Andres Pascual than to the testatrix suffices to render their testimony suspect. Under the circumstances, considering the admitted fact that when the will was executed (1954) the testatrix was already 83 years old, suffering from rheumatism to the extent that she had to wear thick socks and soft shoes, it did not unlikely that she should have entrusted the task of requesting them to act as witnesses to Andres Pascual himself, albeit the said witnesses, testifying eight years later, should have stated that they were asked by Catalina to witness her testament. The error of recall, considering the eight-year interval, is consonant with the well known vagaries of human memory and recollection, particularly since the main detail that must have stuck in his minds is that they did witness the signing of the will, upon which their attention must have principally concentrated. That they did so is attested by their signatures and those of the deceased testatrix, which are nowhere impugned; nor is there any claim by appellants that the latter was incapable of reading and understanding the will that she signed. In fact, the evidence is that she did read it before signing. The authorities are to the effect that friendly relations of the witnesses with the testator or the beneficiaries do not affect the credibility of the former, 4 so that the proven friendship between the proponent and the instrumental witnesses would have no bearing on the latter's qualification to testify on the circumstances surrounding the signing of the will. Appellant's main reliance is the alleged tape recording of a conversation between instrumental witness Manuel Jiongco and oppositor Pedro B. Cruz at the latter's house sometime in 1960 (which recording was admittedly taken without Jiongco's knowledge) wherein said witness is supposed to have stated that when he signed the will the other witnesses' signatures were already affixed, and were not then present, and that he (Jiongco) signed the document in 1958 or 1959 (Exhibit 22; transcription; Exhibit 23 et. seq.). There are two circumstances that militate against giving credence to particular evidence. The first is that there is no adequate proof that the declarations tape recorded were in fact made by Jiongco. The latter denied that the voice was his, and in this respect the trial judge stated (Record on Appeal, pages 83-84):

We do not doubt the fact that Manuel Jiongco was in the house of Pedro Cruzon the occasion that Exhibit "23" was taken. But it is important to note that when said recording was replayed before Manuel Jiongco in Court he denied that the voice which uttered the above-quoted portions in the conversation was his. So that with the denial of Manuel Jiongco, the Court was left with no other recourse than to make its own comparison between the natural voice of the witness, Manuel Jiongco, while testifying on the witness stand and his supposed recorded voice in Exhibit "23". It is to be admitted that we noted some similarity between the two voices but it was not enough to justify a categorical and definite conclusion that the recorded voice identified by Pedro Cruz to be that of Manuel Jiongco is in truth and in fact the voice of the latter. Between a testimony given in Court under oath which was subjected to and stood of rigorous crossexamination and loose statements made out of Court which even then are of doubtful source, this Court gives full faith and credence to the former. And this is true even if this particular witness admits having a poor memory, and his trustworthiness is assailed due to a previous record of an administrative case filed against him wherein he was fined for a charge of falsification of public document (see Exh. "25"). This is so, because the veracity of his testimony in Court regarding the due execution of Exhibit "D" is corroborated and confirmed by the testimony of the two other attesting witnesses to the document and the Notary Public who notarized the same. Not having heard Jiongco testify, this court is not in a position to contradict the appreciation of the trial court that the voice in the tape recording was not really that of Jiongco. And considering that he denied that fact under oath, that the tape recording was not supported by truly impartial evidence, and was done without the knowledge of the witness, we cannot see our way clear to rule that Jiongco has been successfully impeached, and shown guilty of false testimony. It would be dangerous to rule otherwise. The second point that renders incredible the alleged assertion of Jiongco in the tape recording, that he signed the testament only in 1958 or 1959, is that in the Notarial Registry of the notary, Gatdula, the ratification of the testament appears among the entries for 1954, as well as in the corresponding copies (Exhibit I) filed by him with Bonifacio Sumulong, the employee in charge of the Notarial Section of the Clerk of Court's office, who produced them at the trial upon subpoena, and who testified to his having searched for and found them in the vaults of the Clerk of Court's office. No evidence exists that these documents were not surrendered and filed at the Clerk of Court's office, as required by law, and in the regular course of official duty. Certainly, the notary could not have reported in 1954 what did not happen until 1958. In view of the evidence, we do not feel justified in concluding that the trial court erred in accepting the concordant testimony of the instrumental witnesses as warranting the probate of the will in question, taking into account the unexcelled opportunity of the court a quo to observe the demeanor, and judge the credibility, of the witness thereby. Furthermore, it would not be the first time in this jurisdiction that a will has been admitted to probate even if the instrumental witness testified contrary to the other two, provided the court is satisfied, as in this case, that the will was executed and attested in the manner provided by law (Fernandez vs. Tantoco, 49 Phil. 380; Tolentino vs. Francisco, 57 Phil. 742; Cuyugan vs. Baron, 69 Phil. 639; Ramirez vs. Butte,

100 Phil 635). There is greater reason to admit the will to probate where only the testimony of one witness is subjected to serious, if unsuccessful attack. Contestants further assail the admission to probate on the ground that the execution of the will was tainted by fraud and undue influence exerted by proponent on the testarix, and affirm that it was error for the lower court to have rejected their claim. Said the court in this regard (Record on Appeal, page 87): It is a settled rule in this jurisdiction that the mere fact that a Will was made in favor of a stranger is not in itself proof that the same was obtained through fraud and undue pressure or influence, for we have numerous instances where strangers are preferred to blood relatives in the institution of heirs. But in the case at bar, Andres Pascual, although not related by blood to the deceased Catalina de la Cruz, was definitely not a stranger to the latter for she considered him as her own son. As a matter of fact it was not only Catalina de la Cruz who loved and cared for Andres Pascual but also her sisters held him with affection so much so that Catalina's sister, Florentina Cruz, made him also her sole heir to her property in her Will without any objection from Catalina and Valentina Cruz. Before considering the correctness of these findings, it is worthwhile to recall the basic principles on undue pressure and influence as laid down by the jurisprudence of this Court: that to be sufficient to avoid a will, the influence exerted must be of a kind that so overpowers and subjugates the mind of the testator as to destroy his free agency and make him express the will of another rather than his own (Coso vs. Fernandez Deza, 42 Phil. 596; Icasiano vs. Icasiano, L18979, 30 June 1964; Teotico vs. Del Val, L-18753, 26 March 196); that the contention that a will was obtained by undue influence or improper pressure cannot be sustained on mere conjecture or suspicion, as it is enough that there was opportunity to exercise undue influence, or a possibility that it may have been exercised (Ozaeta vs. Cuartero, L-5597, 31 May 1956); that the exercise of improper pressure and undue influence must be supported by substantial evidence that it was actually exercised (Ozatea vs. Cuartero, ante; Teotico vs. Del Val, L-18753, 26 March 1965); that the burden is on the person challenging the will to show that such influence was exerted at the time of its execution (Teotico vs. Del Val, ante); that mere general or reasonable influence is not sufficient to invalidate a will (Coso vs. Fernandez Deza, ante); nor is moderate and reasonable solicitation and entreaty addressed to the testator (Barreto vs. Reyes, L-5831-31, 31 January 1956), or omission of relatives, not forced heirs, evidence of undue influence (Bugnao vs. Ubag, 14 Phil. 163; Pecson vs. Coronel, 45 Phil. 416). Tested against these rulings, the circumstances marshalled by the contestants certainly fail to establish actual undue influence or improper pressure exercised on the testarix by the proponent. Their main reliance is on the assertion of the latter, in the course of his testimony, that the deceased "did not like to sign anything unless I knew it" (t.s.n., page 7, 27 January 1962), which does not amount to proof that she would sign anything that proponent desired. On the contrary, the evidence of contestants-appellants, that proponent purchased a building in Manila for the testarix, placed the title in his name, but caused the name "Catalina de la Cruz" to be painted thereon in bold letters to mislead the deceased, even if true, demonstrates that proponent's influence was not such as to overpower to destroy the free will of the testarix.

Because if the mind of the latter were really subjugated by him to the extent pictured by the contestants, then proponent had no need to recourse to the deception averred.lawphi1.et Nor is the fact that it was proponent, and not the testarix, who asked Dr. Sanchez to be one of the instrumental witnesses evidence of such undue influence, for the reason that the rheumetism of the testarix made it difficult for her to look for all the witnesses. That she did not resort to relatives or friends is, likewise explainable: it would have meant the disclosure of the terms of her will to those interested in her succession but who were not favored by her, thereby exposing her to unpleasant importunity and recriminations that an aged person would naturally seek to avoid. The natural desire to keep the making of a will secret can, likewise, account for the failure to probate the testament during her lifetime. We conclude that the trial court committed no error in finding the appellant's evidence established at most grounds for suspicion but fell far short of establishing actual exercise of improper pressure or influence. Considering that testarix considered proponent as her own son, to the extent that she expressed no objection to his being made the sole heir of her sister, Florentina Cruz, in derogation of her own rights, we find nothing abnormalin her instituting proponent also as her own beneficiary. As stated by the Court in the Knutson case The truth of the matter is that bequests and devises to those in whom the testator has confidence and who have won his affection are more likely to be free from undue influence that bequests or devises to others. (In re Knutson's Will, 41 Pac. 2d 793). Appellants invoked presumption of undue influence held to exist by American authorities where the beneficiary participates in the drafting of execution of the will favoring him; but since the will was prepared by Atty. Pascual, although nephew of the proponent, we do not think the presumption applies; for in the normal course of events, said attorney would follow the instructions of the testatrix; and a member of the bar in good standing may not be convicted of unprofessional conduct, or of having conspired to falsify a statement, except upon clear proof. The charge of fraud, being premised on the existence of undue influence, needs no separate discussion. WHEREFORE, the decree of probate appealed from is affirmed; with costs against contestants-appellants. June 30, 1970 G.R. No. L-24561 MARINA DIZON-RIVERA, executrix-appellee, vs. ESTELA DIZON, TOMAS V. DIZON, BERNARDITA DIZON, JOSEFINA DIZON, ANGELINA DIZON and LILIA DIZON, oppositors-appellants. Punzalan, Yabut & Eusebio for executrix-appellee. Leonardo Abola for oppositors-appellants.

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

3. Bernardita Dizon . 51,968.17 4. Josefina Dizon .. 52,056.39 5. Tomas Dizon 131,987.41 6. Lilia Dizon . 72,182.47 7. Marina Dizon . 1,148,063.71 8. Pablo Rivera, Jr. .. 69,280.00 9. Lilia Dizon, Gilbert Garcia, Cayetano Dizon, Francisco Rivera, Agripina Ayson, Dioli or Jolly Jimenez, Laureano Tiamzon .. 72,540.00 Total Value . P1,801,960.01 The executrix filed her project of partition dated February 5, 1964, in substance adjudicating the estate as follows: (1) with the figure of P129,254.96 as legitime for a basis Marina (exacultrix-appellee) and Tomas (appellant) are admittedly considered to have received in the will more than their respective legitime, while the rest of the appellants, namely, Estela, Bernardita, Angelina, Josefina and Lilia received less than their respective legitime; (2) thus, to each of the latter are adjudicated the properties respectively given them in the will, plus cash and/or properties, to complete their respective legitimes to P129,254.96; (3) on the other hand, Marina and Tomas are adjudicated the properties that they received in the will less the cash and/or properties necessary to complete the prejudiced legitime mentioned in number 2 above; (4) the adjudications made in the will in favor of the grandchildren remain untouched. On the other hand oppositors submitted their own counter-project of partition dated February 14, 1964, wherein they proposed the distribution of the estate on the following basis: (a) all the testamentary dispositions were proportionally reduced to the value of one-half () of the entire estate, the value of the said one-half () amounting to P905,534.78; (b) the shares of the Oppositors-Appellants should consist of their legitime, plus the devises in their favor proportionally reduced; (c) in payment of the total shares of the appellants in the entire estate, the properties devised to them plus other properties left by the Testatrix and/or cash are adjudicated

to them; and (d) to the grandchildren who are not compulsory heirs are adjudicated the properties respectively devised to them subject to reimbursement by Gilbert D. Garcia, et al., of the sums by which the devise in their favor should be proportionally reduced. Under the oppositors counter-project of partition, the testamentary disposition made by the testatrix of practically her whole estate of P1,801,960.01, as above stated, were proposed to be reduced to the amounts set forth after the names of the respective heirs and devisees totalling one-half thereof as follows: 1. Estela Dizon . P 49,485.56 2. Angelina Dizon .. 53,421.42 3. Bernardita Dizon 26,115.04 4. Josefina Dizon 26,159.38 5. Tomas V. Dizon .. 65,874.04 6. Lilia Dizon .. 36,273.13 7. Marina Dizon . 576,938.82 8. Pablo Rivera, Jr. .. 34,814.50 9. Grandchildren Gilbert Garcia et al . 36,452.80 T o t a l P905,534.78 while the other half of the estate (P905,534.78) would be deemed as constituting the legitime of the executrix-appellee and oppositors-appellants, to be divided among them in seven equal parts of P129,362.11 as their respective legitimes. The lower court, after hearing, sustained and approved the executrix project of partition, ruling that (A)rticles 906 and 907 of the New Civil Code specifically provide that when the legitime is impaired or prejudiced, the same shall be completed and satisfied. While it is true that this process has been followed and adhered to in the two projects of partition, it is observed that the executrix and the oppositors differ in respect to the source from which the portion or portions shall be taken in order to fully restore the impaired legitime. The proposition of the oppositors, if upheld, will substantially result in a distribution of intestacy, which is in controversion of Article 791 of the New Civil Code adding that the testatrix has chosen to favor certain heirs in her will for reasons of her own, cannot be doubted. This is legally permissible within the limitation of the law, as aforecited. With reference to the payment in cash of some P230,552.38, principally by the executrix as the largest beneficiary of the will to be paid to her five co-heirs, the oppositors (excluding Tomas Dizon), to complete their impaired legitimes, the lower court ruled that (T)he payment in cash so as to make the proper adjustment to meet with the requirements of the law in

respect to legitimes which have been impaired is, in our opinion, a practical and valid solution in order to give effect to the last wishes of the testatrix. From the lower courts orders of approval, oppositors-appellants have filed this appeal, and raise anew the following issues: . 1. Whether or not the testamentary dispositions made in the testatrix will are in the nature of devises imputable to the free portion of her estate, and therefore subject to reduction; 2. Whether the appellants are entitled to the devise plus their legitime under Article 1063, or merely to demand completion of their legitime under Article 906 of the Civil Code; and 3. Whether the appellants may be compelled to accept payment in cash on account of their legitime, instead of some of the real properties left by the Testatrix; which were adversely decided against them in the proceedings below. The issues raised present a matter of determining the avowed intention of the testatrix which is the life and soul of a will. 5 In consonance therewith, our Civil Code included the new provisions found in Articles 788 and 791 thereof that (I)f a testamentary disposition admits of different interpretations, in case of doubt, that interpretation by which the disposition is to be operative shall be preferred and (T)he words of a will are to receive an interpretation which will give to every expression some effect, rather than one which will render any of the expressions inoperative; and of two modes of interpreting a will, that is to be preferred which will prevent intestacy. In Villanueva vs. Juico 6 for violation of these rules of interpretation as well as of Rule 123, section 59 of the old Rules of Court, 7 the Court, speaking through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, overturned the lower courts decision and stressed that the intention and wishes of the testator, when clearly expressed in his will, constitute the fixed law of interpretation, and all questions raised at the trial, relative to its execution and fulfillment, must be settled in accordance therewith, following the plain and literal meaning of the testators words, unless it clearly appears that his intention was otherwise. 8 The testators wishes and intention constitute the first and principal law in the matter of testaments, and to paraphrase an early decision of the Supreme Court of Spain, 9 when expressed clearly and precisely in his last will amount to the only law whose mandate must imperatively be faithfully obeyed and complied with by his executors, heirs and devisees and legatees, and neither these interested parties nor the courts may substitute their own criterion for the testators will. Guided and restricted by these fundamental premises, the Court finds for the appellee. 1. Decisive of the issues at bar is the fact that the testatrix testamentary disposition was in the nature of a partition of her estate by will. Thus, in the third paragraph of her will, after commanding that upon her death all her obligations as well as the expenses of her last illness and funeral and the expenses for probate of her last will and for the administration of her property in accordance with law, be paid, she expressly provided that it is my wish and I command that my property be divided in accordance with the dispositions immediately thereafter following, whereby she specified each real property in her estate and designated the particular heir among

her seven compulsory heirs and seven other grandchildren to whom she bequeathed the same. This was a valid partition 10 of her estate, as contemplated and authorized in the first paragraph of Article 1080 of the Civil Code, providing that (S)hould a person make a partition of his estate by an act inter vivos or by will, such partition shall be respected, insofar as it does not prejudice the legitime of the compulsory heirs. This right of a testator to partition his estate is subject only to the right of compulsory heirs to their legitime. The Civil Code thus provides the safeguard for the right of such compulsory heirs: ART. 906. Any compulsory heir to whom the testator has left by any title less than the legitime belonging to him may demand that the same be fully satisfied. ART. 907. Testamentary dispositions that impair or diminish the legitime of the compulsory heirs shall be reduced on petition of the same, insofar as they may be inofficious or excessive. This was properly complied with in the executrix-appellees project of partition, wherein the five oppositors-appellants namely Estela, Bernardita, Angelina, Josefina and Lilia, were adjudicated the properties respectively distributed and assigned to them by the testatrix in her will, and the differential to complete their respective legitimes of P129,362.11 each were taken from the cash and/or properties of the executrix-appellee, Marina, and their co-oppositor-appellant, Tomas, who admittedly were favored by the testatrix and received in the partition by will more than their respective legitimes. 2. This right of a testator to partition his estate by will was recognized even in Article 1056 of the old Civil Code which has been reproduced now as Article 1080 of the present Civil Code. The only amendment in the provision was that Article 1080 now permits any person (not a testator, as under the old law) to partition his estate by act inter vivos. 11 This was intended to repeal the then prevailing doctrine 12 that for a testator to partition his estate by an act inter vivos, he must first make a will with all the formalities provided by law. Authoritative commentators doubt the efficacy of the amendment 13 but the question does not here concern us, for this is a clear case of partition by will, duly admitted to probate, which perforce must be given full validity and effect. Aside from the provisions of Articles 906 and 907 above quoted, other codal provisions support the executrix-appellees project of partition as approved by the lower court rather than the counter-project of partition proposed by oppositors-appellants whereby they would reduce the testamentary disposition or partition made by the testatrix to one-half and limit the same, which they would consider as mere devises or legacies, to one-half of the estate as the disposable free portion, and apply the other half of the estate to payment of the legitimes of the seven compulsory heirs. Oppositors proposal would amount substantially to a distribution by intestacy and pro tanto nullify the testatrix will, contrary to Article 791 of the Civil Code. It would further run counter to the provisions of Article 1091 of the Civil Code that (A) partition legally made confers upon each heir the exclusive ownership of the property adjudicated to him. 3. In Habana vs. Imbo, 14 the Court upheld the distribution made in the will of the deceased testator Pedro Teves of two large coconut plantations in favor of his daughter, Concepcion, as against adverse claims of other compulsory heirs, as being a partition by will, which should be respected insofar as it does not prejudice the legitime of the compulsory heirs, in accordance with Article 1080 of the Civil Code. In upholding the sale made by Concepcion to a stranger of

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

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

further, whereas they could have received them earlier, like Bernardita, at the time of approval of the project of partition and when the pesos purchasing value was higher, is due to their own decision of pursuing the present appeal. ACCORDINGLY, the orders appealed from are hereby affirmed. Without cost. G.R. No. L-46903 July 23, 1987

BUHAY DE ROMA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and FELICIDAD CARINGAL, as Guardian of Rosalinda de Roma, respondents. CRUZ, J.: Candelaria de Roma had two legally adopted daughters, Buhay de Roma and Rosalinda de Roma. She died intestate on April 30, 1971, and administration proceedings were instituted in the Court of First Instance of Laguna by the private respondent as guardian of Rosalinda. Buhay was appointed administratrix and in due time filed an inventory of the estate. This was opposed by Rosalinda on the ground that certain properties earlier donated by Candelaria to Buhay, and the fruits thereof, had not been included.1 The properties in question consisted of seven parcels of coconut land worth P10,297.50.2 There is no dispute regarding their evaluation; what the parties cannot agree upon is whether these lands are subject to collation. The private respondent rigorously argues that it is, conformably to Article 1061 of the Civil Code. Buhay, for her part, citing Article 1062, claims she has no obligation to collate because the decedent prohibited such collation and the donation was not officious. The two articles provide as follows: Article 1061. Every compulsory heir, who succeeds with other compulsory heirs, must bring into the mass of the estate any property or right which he may have received from the decedent during the lifetime of the latter, by way of donation, or any other gratuitous title, in order that it may be computed in the determination of the legitime of each heir, and in the account of the partition. Article 1062. Collation shall not take place among compulsory heirs if the donor should have so expressly provided, or if the donor should repudiate the inheritance, unless the donation should be reduced as inofficious. The issue was resolved in favor of the petitioner by the trial court,* which held that the decedent, when she made the donation in favor of Buhay, expressly prohibited collation. Moreover, the donation did not impair the legitimes of the two adopted daughters as it could be accommodated in, and in fact was imputed to, the free portion of Candelaria's estate.3

On appeal, the order of the trial court was reversed, the respondent court** holding that the deed of donation contained no express prohibition to collate as an exception to Article 1062. Accordingly, it ordered collation and equally divided the net estate of the decedent, including the fruits of the donated property, between Buhay and Rosalinda.4 The pertinent portions of the deed of donation are as follows: IKALAWA. Na alang-alang sa aking pagmamahal, pagtingin at pagsisilbi sa akin ng aking anak na si BUHAY DE ROMA, kasal kay Arabella Castaneda, may karampatang gulang, mamamayang Pilipino at naninirahan at may pahatirang-sulat din dito sa Lunsod ng San Pablo sa pamamagitan ng kasulatang ito ay kusang-loob kong ibinibigay, ipinagkakaloob at inililipat sa nabanggit na BUHAY DE ROMA, sa kanyang mga kahalili at tagapagmana, sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay na di na mababawing muli, ang lahat ng mga lagay ng lupa na sinasabi sa itaas, sa ilalim ng kasunduan na ngayon pa ay siya na ang nagmamay-aring tunay ng mga lupang ito at kanya nang maaring ipalipat ang mga hoja declaratoria ng mga lupang ito sa kanyang pangalan, datapwa't samantalang ako ay nabubuhay, ay ako rin ang makikinabang sa mga mapuputi at mamomosesion sa mga nasabing lupa; IKATLO. Na pinagtibay ko na ako ay marami pang ibang mga pag-aari sa sapat pang aking ikabuhay at sa pagbibigay kong ito ay hindi masisira ang legitimate ng mga tao na dapat magmana sa akin, sapagkat ang mga lupang sinasabi sa itaas ay bahagui ng aking kabuhayan na ako ay may layang ipamigay kahit na kaninong tao na kung tawagin ay Libre Disposicion. 5 We agree with the respondent court that there is nothing in the above provisions expressly prohibiting the collation of the donated properties. As the said court correctly observed, the phrase "sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay na di na mababawing muli" merely described the donation as "irrevocable" and should not be construed as an express prohibition against collation.6 The fact that a donation is irrevocable does not necessarily exempt the subject thereof from the collation required under Article 1061. We surmise from the use of such terms as "legitime" and "free portion" in the deed of donation that it was prepared by a lawyer, and we may also presume he understood the legal consequences of the donation being made. It is reasonable to suppose, given the precise language of the document, that he would have included therein an express prohibition to collate if that had been the donor's intention. Anything less than such express prohibition will not suffice under the clear language of Article 1062.1awphil The suggestion that there was an implied prohibition because the properties donated were imputable to the free portion of the decedent's estate merits little consideration. Imputation is not the question here, nor is it claimed that the disputed donation is officious The sole issue is whether or not there was an express prohibition to collate, and we see none.

The intention to exempt from collation should be expressed plainly and unequivocally as an exception to the general rule announced in Article 1062. Absent such a clear indication of that intention, we apply not the exception but the rule, which is categorical enough. There is no need to dwell long on the other error assigned by the petitioner regarding the decision of the appealed case by the respondent court beyond the 12-month period prescribed by Article X, Section 11 (1) of the 1973 Constitution. As we held in Marcelino v. Cruz,7 the said provision was merely directory and failure to decide on time would not deprive the corresponding courts of jurisdiction or render their decisions invalid. It is worth stressing that the aforementioned provision has now been reworded in Article VIII, Section 15, of the 1987 Constitution, which also impresses upon the courts of justice, indeed with greater urgency, the need for the speedy disposition of the cases that have been clogging their dockets these many years. Serious studies and efforts are now being taken by the Court to meet that need. WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED in toto, with costs against the petitioner. It is so ordered. G.R. No. 89783 February 19, 1992 MARIANO B. LOCSIN, JULIAN J. LOCSIN, JOSE B. LOCSIN, AUREA B. LOCSIN, MATILDE L. CORDERO, SALVADOR B. LOCSIN and MANUEL V. DEL ROSARIO, petitioners, vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, JOSE JAUCIAN, FLORENTINO JAUCIAN, MERCEDES JAUCIAN ARBOLEDA, HEIRS OF JOSEFINA J. BORJA, HEIRS OF EDUARDO JAUCIAN and HEIRS OF VICENTE JAUCIAN, respondents. Aytona Law Office and Siquia Law Offices for petitioners. Mabella, Sangil & Associates for private respondents.

NARVASA, C.J.: Reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV-11186 affirming with modification the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Albay in favor of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 7152 entitled "Jose Jaucian, et al. v. Mariano B. Locsin, et al.," an action for recovery of real property with damages is sought. in these proceedings initiated by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The petition was initially denied due course and dismissed by this Court. It was however reinstated upon a second motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners, and the

respondents were required to comment thereon. The petition was thereafter given due course and the parties were directed to submit their memorandums. These, together with the evidence, having been carefully considered, the Court now decides the case. First, the facts as the Court sees them in light of the evidence on record: The late Getulio Locsin had three children named Mariano, Julian and Magdalena, all surnamed Locsin. He owned extensive residential and agricultural properties in the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon. After his death, his estate was divided among his three (3) children as follows: (a) the coconut lands of some 700 hectares in Bual, Pilar, Sorsogon, were adjudicated to his daughter, Magdalena Locsin; (b) 106 hectares of coconut lands were given to Julian Locsin, father of the petitioners Julian, Mariano, Jose, Salvador, Matilde, and Aurea, all surnamed Locsin; (c) more than forty (40) hectares of coconut lands in Bogtong, eighteen (18) hectares of riceland in Daraga, and the residential lots in Daraga, Albay and in Legazpi City went to his son Mariano, which Mariano brought into his marriage to Catalina Jaucian in 1908. Catalina, for her part, brought into the marriage untitled properties which she had inherited from her parents, Balbino Jaucian and Simona Anson. These were augmented by other properties acquired by the spouses in the course of their union, 1 which however was not blessed with children. Eventually, the properties of Mariano and Catalina were brought under the Torrens System. Those that Mariano inherited from his father, Getulio Locsin, were surveyed cadastrally and registered in the name of "Mariano Locsin, married to Catalina Jaucian.''
2

Mariano Locsin executed a Last Will and Testament instituting his wife, Catalina, as the sole and universal heir of all his properties. 3 The will was drawn up by his wife's nephew and trusted legal adviser, Attorney Salvador Lorayes. Attorney Lorayes disclosed that the spouses being childless, they had agreed that their properties, after both of them shall have died should revert to their respective sides of the family, i.e., Mariano's properties would go to his "Locsin relatives" (i.e., brothers and sisters or nephews and nieces), and those of Catalina to her "Jaucian relatives." 4 Don Mariano Locsin died of cancer on September 14, 1948 after a lingering illness. In due time, his will was probated in Special Proceedings No. 138, CFI of Albay without any opposition from both sides of the family. As directed in his will, Doa Catalina was appointed executrix of his estate. Her lawyer in the probate proceeding was Attorney Lorayes. In the inventory of her husband's estate 5 which she submitted to the probate court for approval, 6 Catalina declared that "all items mentioned from Nos. 1 to 33 are the private properties of the deceased and form part of his capital at the time of the marriage with the surviving spouse, while items Nos. 34 to 42 are conjugal." 7

Among her own and Don Mariano's relatives, Doa Catalina was closest to her nephew, Attorney Salvador Lorayes, her nieces, Elena Jaucian, Maria Lorayes-Cornelio and Maria Olbes-Velasco, and the husbands of the last two: Hostilio Cornelio and Fernando Velasco. 8 Her trust in Hostilio Cornelio was such that she made him custodian of all the titles of her properties; and before she disposed of any of them, she unfailingly consulted her lawyer-nephew, Attorney Salvador Lorayes. It was Atty. Lorayes who prepared the legal documents and, more often than not, the witnesses to the transactions were her niece Elena Jaucian, Maria Lorayes-Cornelio, Maria OlbesVelasco, or their husbands. Her niece, Elena Jaucian, was her life-long companion in her house. Don Mariano relied on Doa Catalina to carry out the terms of their compact, hence, nine (9) years after his death, as if in obedience to his voice from the grave, and fully cognizant that she was also advancing in years, Doa Catalina began transferring, by sale, donation or assignment, Don Mariano's as well as her own, properties to their respective nephews and nieces. She made the following sales and donation of properties which she had received from her husband's estate, to his Locsin nephews and nieces:
EXHIBIT DATE PARTICULARS AREA/SQ.M. PRICE WITNESSES 23 Jan. 26, 1957 Deed of Absolute Sale in 962 P 481 favor of Mariano Locsin 1-JRL Apr. 7, 1966 Deed of Sale in favor of 430,203 P 20,000 Jose R. Locsin 1-JJL Mar. 22, 1967 Deed of Sale in favor of 5,000 P 1,000 Hostilio Cornello Julian Locsin (Lot 2020) Helen M. Jaucian 1 Nov. 29, 1974 Deed of Donation in 26,509 favor Aurea Locsin, Matilde L. Cordero and Salvador Locsin 2 Feb. 4, 1975 Deed of Donation in 34,045 favor Aurea Locsin, Matilde L. Cordero and Salvador Locsin 3 Sept. 9, 1975 Deed of Donation in (Lot 2059) favor Aurea Locsin, Matilde L. Cordero and Salvador Locsin 4 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,424 Hostilio Cornelio favor of Aurea B. Locsin Fernando Velasco 5 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,456 P 5,750 Hostilio Cornelio favor of Aurea B. Locsin Elena Jaucian

6 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,237 P 5,720 - ditto favor of Aurea B. Locsin 7 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,404 P 4,050 - ditto favor of Aurea B. Locsin 15 Nov. 26, 1975 Deed of Sale in favor of 261 P 4,930 - ditto Aurea Locsin 16 Oct. 17, 1975 Deed of Sale in favor of 533 P 2,000 Delfina Anson Aurea Locsin M. Acabado 17 Nov. 26, 1975 Deed of Sale in favor of 373 P 1,000 Leonor Satuito Aurea Locsin Mariano B. Locsin 19 Sept. 1, 1975 Conditional Donation in 1,130 P 3,000 - ditto favor of Mariano Locsin 1-MVRJ Dec. 29, 1972 Deed of Reconveyance 1,5110.66 P 1,000 Delfina Anson in favor of Manuel V. del (Lot 2155) Antonio Illegible Rosario whose maternal grandfather was Getulio Locsin 2-MVRJ June 30, 1973 Deed of Reconveyance 319.34 P 500 Antonio Illegible in favor of Manuel V. del (Lot 2155) Salvador Nical Rosario but the rentals from bigger portion of Lot 2155 leased to Filoil Refinery were assigned to Maria Jaucian Lorayes Cornelio

Of her own properties, Doa Catalina conveyed the following to her own nephews and nieces and others:
EXHIBIT DATE PARTICULARS AREA/SQ.M. PRICE 2-JJL July 16, 1964 Deed of Sale in favor 5,000 P 1,000 Vicente Jaucian (lot 2020) (6,825 sqm. when resurveyed) 24 Feb. 12, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale 100 P 1,000 in favor of Francisco M. Maquiniana 26 July 15, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 130 P 1,300 favor of Francisco Maquiniana 27 May 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 100 P 1,000 favor of Ireneo Mamia

28 May 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 75 P 750 favor of Zenaida Buiza 29 May 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 150 P 1,500 favor of Felisa Morjella 30 Apr. 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 31 P 1,000 favor of Inocentes Motocinos 31 Feb. 12, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 150 P 1,500 favor of Casimiro Mondevil 32 Mar. 1, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 112 P 1,200 favor of Juan Saballa 25 Dec. 28, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 250 P 2,500 of Rogelio Marticio

Doa Catalina died on July 6, 1977. Four years before her death, she had made a will on October 22, 1973 affirming and ratifying the transfers she had made during her lifetime in favor of her husband's, and her own, relatives. After the reading of her will, all the relatives agreed that there was no need to submit it to the court for probate because the properties devised to them under the will had already been conveyed to them by the deceased when she was still alive, except some legacies which the executor of her will or estate, Attorney Salvador Lorayes, proceeded to distribute. In 1989, or six (6) years after Doa Catalina's demise, some of her Jaucian nephews and nieces who had already received their legacies and hereditary shares from her estate, filed action in the Regional Trial Court of Legaspi City (Branch VIII, Civil Case No. 7152) to recover the properties which she had conveyed to the Locsins during her lifetime, alleging that the conveyances were inofficious, without consideration, and intended solely to circumvent the laws on succession. Those who were closest to Doa Catalina did not join the action. After the trial, judgment was rendered on July 8, l985 in favor of the plaintiffs (Jaucian), and against the Locsin defendants, the dispositive part of which reads:
WHEREFORE, this Court renders judgment for the plaintiffs and against the defendants: (1) declaring the, plaintiffs, except the heirs of Josefina J. Borja and Eduardo Jaucian, who withdrew, the rightful heirs and entitled to the entire estate, in equal portions, of Catalina Jaucian Vda. de Locsin, being the nearest collateral heirs by right of representation of Juan and Gregorio, both surnamed Jaucian, and full-blood brothers of Catalina; (2) declaring the deeds of sale, donations, reconveyance and exchange and all other instruments conveying any part of the estate of Catalina J. Vda. de Locsin including, but

not limited to those in the inventory of known properties (Annex B of the complaint) as null and void ab-initio; (3) ordering the Register of Deeds of Albay and/or Legazpi City to cancel all certificates of title and other transfers of the real properties, subject of this case, in the name of defendants, and derivatives therefrom, and issue new ones to the plaintiffs; (4) ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to reconvey ownership and possession of all such properties to the plaintiffs, together with all muniments of title properly endorsed and delivered, and all the fruits and incomes received by the defendants from the estate of Catalina, with legal interest from the filing of this action; and where reconveyance and delivery cannot be effected for reasons that might have intervened and prevent the same, defendants shall pay for the value of such properties, fruits and incomes received by them, also with legal interest from the filing, of this case (5) ordering each of the defendants to pay the plaintiffs the amount of P30,000.00 as exemplary damages; and the further sum of P20,000.00 each as moral damages; and (6) ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiffs attorney's fees and litigation expenses, in the amount of P30,000.00 without prejudice to any contract between plaintiffs and counsel. Costs against the defendants.
9

The Locsins appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. CV-11186) which rendered its now appealed judgment on March 14, 1989, affirming the trial court's decision. The petition has merit and should be granted. The trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in declaring the private respondents, nephews and nieces of Doa Catalina J. Vda. de Locsin, entitled to inherit the properties which she had already disposed of more than ten (10) years before her death. For those properties did not form part of her hereditary estate, i.e., "the property and transmissible rights and obligations existing at the time of (the decedent's) death and those which have accrued thereto since the opening of the succession." 10 The rights to a person's succession are transmitted from the moment of his death, and do not vest in his heirs until such time. 11 Property which Doa Catalina had transferred or conveyed to other persons during her lifetime no longer formed part of her estate at the time of her death to which her heirs may lay claim. Had she died intestate, only the property that remained in her estate at the time of her death devolved to her legal heirs; and even if those transfers were, one and all, treated as donations, the right arising under certain circumstances to impugn and compel the reduction or revocation of a decedent's gifts inter vivos does not inure to the respondents since neither they nor the donees are compulsory (or forced) heirs. 12 There is thus no basis for assuming an intention on the part of Doa Catalina, in transferring the properties she had received from her late husband to his nephews and nieces, an intent to circumvent the law in violation of the private respondents' rights to her succession. Said respondents are not her compulsory heirs, and it is not pretended

that she had any such, hence there were no legitimes that could conceivably be impaired by any transfer of her property during her lifetime. All that the respondents had was an expectancy that in nowise restricted her freedom to dispose of even her entire estate subject only to the limitation set forth in Art. 750, Civil Code which, even if it were breached, the respondents may not invoke:
Art. 750. The donation may comprehend all the present property of the donor or part thereof, provided he reserves, in full ownership or in usufruct, sufficient means for the support of himself, and of all relatives who, at the time of the acceptance of the donation, are by law entitled to be supported by the donor. Without such reservation, the donation shall be reduced on petition of any person affected. (634a)

The lower court capitalized on the fact that Doa Catalina was already 90 years old when she died on July 6, 1977. It insinuated that because of her advanced years she may have been imposed upon, or unduly influenced and morally pressured by her husband's nephews and nieces (the petitioners) to transfer to them the properties which she had inherited from Don Mariano's estate. The records do not support that conjecture. For as early as 1957, or twenty-eight (28) years before her death, Doa Catalina had already begun transferring to her Locsin nephews and nieces the properties which she received from Don Mariano. She sold a 962-sq.m. lot on January 26, 1957 to his nephew and namesake Mariano Locsin II. 13 On April 7, 1966, or 19 years before she passed away, she also sold a 43 hectare land to another Locsin nephew, Jose R. Locsin. 14 The next year, or on March 22, 1967, she sold a 5,000-sq.m. portion of Lot 2020 to Julian Locsin. 15 On March 27, 1967, Lot 2020 16 was partitioned by and among Doa Catalina, Julian Locsin, Vicente Jaucian and Agapito Lorete. 17 At least Vicente Jaucian, among the other respondents in this case, is estopped from assailing the genuineness and due execution of the sale of portions of Lot 2020 to himself, Julian Locsin, and Agapito Lorete, and the partition agreement that he (Vicente) concluded with the other coowners of Lot 2020. Among Doa, Catalina's last transactions before she died in 1977 were the sales of property which she made in favor of Aurea Locsin and Mariano Locsin in 1975. 18 There is not the slightest suggestion in the record that Doa Catalina was mentally incompetent when she made those dispositions. Indeed, how can any such suggestion be made in light of the fact that even as she was transferring properties to the Locsins, she was also contemporaneously disposing of her other properties in favor of the Jaucians? She sold to her nephew, Vicente Jaucian, on July 16, 1964 (21 years before her death) one-half (or 5,000 sq.m.) of Lot 2020. Three years later, or on March 22, 1967, she sold another 5000 sq.m. of the same lot to Julian Locsin. 19 From 1972 to 1973 she made several other transfers of her properties to her relatives and other persons, namely: Francisco Maquiniana, Ireneo Mamia, Zenaida Buiza,

Feliza Morjella, Inocentes Motocinos, Casimiro Mondevil, Juan Saballa and Rogelio Marticio. 20 None of those transactions was impugned by the private respondents. In 1975, or two years before her death, Doa Catalina sold some lots not only to Don Mariano's niece, Aurea Locsin, and his nephew, Mariano Locsin II, 21 but also to her niece, Mercedes Jaucian Arboleda. 22 If she was competent to make that conveyance to Mercedes, how can there be any doubt that she was equally competent to transfer her other pieces of property to Aurea and Mariano II? The trial court's belief that Don Mariano Locsin bequeathed his entire estate to his wife, from a "consciousness of its real origin" which carries the implication that said estate consisted of properties which his wife had inherited from her parents, flies in the teeth of Doa Catalina's admission in her inventory of that estate, that "items 1 to 33 are the private properties of the deceased (Don Mariano) and forms (sic) part of his capital at the time of the marriage with the surviving spouse, while items 34 to 42 are conjugal properties, acquired during the marriage." She would have known better than anyone else whether the listing included any of her paraphernal property so it is safe to assume that none was in fact included. The inventory was signed by her under oath, and was approved by the probate court in Special Proceeding No. 138 of the Court of First Instance of Albay. It was prepared with the assistance of her own nephew and counsel, Atty. Salvador Lorayes, who surely would not have prepared a false inventory that would have been prejudicial to his aunt's interest and to his own, since he stood to inherit from her eventually. This Court finds no reason to disbelieve Attorney Lorayes' testimony that before Don Mariano died, he and his wife (Doa Catalina), being childless, had agreed that their respective properties should eventually revert to their respective lineal relatives. As the trusted legal adviser of the spouses and a full-blood nephew of Doa Catalina, he would not have spun a tale out of thin air that would also prejudice his own interest. Little significance, it seems, has been attached to the fact that among Doa Catalina's nephews and nieces, those closest to her: (a) her lawyer-nephew Attorney Salvador Lorayes; (b) her niece and companion Elena Jaucian: (c) her nieces Maria OlbesVelasco and Maria Lorayes-Cornelio and their respective husbands, Fernando Velasco and Hostilio Cornelio, did not join the suit to annul and undo the dispositions of property which she made in favor of the Locsins, although it would have been to their advantage to do so. Their desistance persuasively demonstrates that Doa Catalina acted as a completely free agent when she made the conveyances in favor of the petitioners. In fact, considering their closeness to Doa Catalina it would have been well-nigh impossible for the petitioners to employ "fraud, undue pressure, and subtle manipulations" on her to make her sell or donate her properties to them. Doa Catalina's niece, Elena Jaucian, daughter of her brother, Eduardo Jaucian, lived with her in her house. Her nephew-in-law, Hostilio Cornelio, was the custodian of the titles of her properties. The sales and donations which she signed in favor of the petitioners were prepared by her trusted legal adviser and nephew, Attorney Salvador Lorayes. The (1) deed of donation dated November 19,

1974 23 in favor of Aurea Locsin, (2) another deed of donation dated February 4, 1975 24 in favor of Matilde Cordero, and (3) still another deed dated September 9, 1975 25 in favor of Salvador Lorayes, were all witnessed by Hostilio Cornelio (who is married to Doa Catalina's niece, Maria Lorayes) and Fernando Velasco who is married to another niece, Maria Olbes. 26 The sales which she made in favor of Aurea Locsin on July 15, 1974 27 were witnessed by Hostilio Cornelio and Elena Jaucian. Given those circumstances, said transactions could not have been anything but free and voluntary acts on her part. Apart from the foregoing considerations, the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in not dismissing this action for annulment and reconveyance on the ground of prescription. Commenced decades after the transactions had been consummated, and six (6) years after Doa Catalina's death, it prescribed four (4) years after the subject transactions were recorded in the Registry of Property, 28 whether considered an action based on fraud, or one to redress an injury to the rights of the plaintiffs. The private respondents may not feign ignorance of said transactions because the registration of the deeds was constructive notice thereof to them and the whole world. 29 WHEREFORE, the petition for review is granted. The decision dated March 14, 1989 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 11186 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The private respondents' complaint for annulment of contracts and reconveyance of properties in Civil Case No. 7152 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch VIII of Legazpi City, is DISMISSED, with costs against the private respondents, plaintiffs therein. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. L-24365 June 30, 1966

IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN, deceased. ADOLFO C. AZNAR, executor and appellee, vs. MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DUNCAN, oppositor and appellant. MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, oppositor and appellee. J. Salonga and L. M. Abellera for oppositor and appellee. Carlos Dominguez, Jr. for executor-appellee. M. R. Sotelo for appellant. MAKALINTAL, J.: Edward E. Christensen, a citizen of California with domicile in the Philippines, died leaving a will executed on March 5, 1951. The will was admitted to probate by the Court of First Instance of Davao in its decision of February 28, 1954. In that same decision the court declared that Maria Helen Christensen Garcia (hereinafter referred to as Helen Garcia) was a natural child of the

deceased. The declaration was appealed to this Court, and was affirmed in its decision of February 14, 1958 (G.R. No. L-11484). In another incident relative to the partition of the deceased's estate, the trial court approved the project submitted by the executor in accordance with the provisions of the will, which said court found to be valid under the law of California. Helen Garcia appealed from the order of approval, and this Court, on January 31, 1963, reversed the same on the ground that the validity of the provisions of the will should be governed by Philippine law, and returned the case to the lower court with instructions that the partition be made as provided by said law (G.R. No. L-16749). On October 29, 1964, the Court of First Instance of Davao issued an order approving the project of partition submitted by the executor, dated June 30, 1964, wherein the properties of the estate were divided equally between Maria Lucy Christensen Duncan (named in the will as Maria Lucy Christensen Daney, and hereinafter referred to as merely Lucy Duncan), whom the testator had expressly recognized in his will as his daughter (natural) and Helen Garcia, who had been judicially declared as such after his death. The said order was based on the proposition that since Helen Garcia had been preterited in the will the institution of Lucy Duncan as heir was annulled, and hence the properties passed to both of them as if the deceased had died intestate, saving only the legacies left in favor of certain other persons, which legacies have been duly approved by the lower court and distributed to the legatees. The case is once more before us on appeal, this time by Lucy Duncan, on the sole question of whether the estate, after deducting the legacies, should pertain to her and to Helen Garcia in equal shares, or whether the inheritance of Lucy Duncan as instituted heir should be merely reduced to the extent necessary to cover the legitime of Helen Garcia, equivalent to 1/4 of the entire estate. The will of Edward E. Christensen contains, among others, the following clauses which are pertinent to the issue in this case: 3. I declare ... that I have but ONE (1) child, named MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN (Now Mrs. Bernard Daney), who was born in the Philippines about twenty-eight years ago, who is now residing at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. 4. I further declare that I now have no living ascendants, and no descendants except my above-named daughter, MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY. xxx xxx xxx

7. I give, devise, and bequeath unto MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, now married to Eduardo Garcia, about eighteen years of age and who, notwithstanding the fact that she was baptized Christensen, is not in any way related to me, nor has she been at any time adopted by me, and who, from all information I have now resides in Egpit, Digos, Davao, Philippines, the sum of THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P3,600.00), Philippine Currency, the same to be deposited in trust for the said Maria Helen

Christensen with the Davao Branch of the Philippine National Bank, and paid to her at the rate of One Hundred Pesos (P100.00), Philippine Currency per month until the principal thereof as well as any interest which may have accrued thereon, is exhausted. xxx xxx xxx

12. I hereby give, devise and bequeath, unto my well-beloved daughter, the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY (Mrs. Bernard Daney) now residing, as aforesaid, at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., all the income from the rest, remainder, and residue of my property and estate, real, personal and/or mixed, of whatsoever kind or character, and wheresoever situated, of which I may be possessed at my death and which may have come to me from any source whatsoever, during her lifetime; Provided, however, that should the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY at anytime prior to her decease having living issue, then and in that event, the life interest herein given shall terminate, and if so terminated, then I give, devise, and bequeath to my daughter, the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY the rest, remainder and residue of my property with the same force and effect as if I had originally so given, devised and bequeathed it to her; and provided, further, that should the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY die without living issue, then, and in that event, I give, devise and bequeath all the rest, remainder and residue of my property onehalf (1/2) to my well-beloved sister, Mrs. CARRIE LOUISE C. BORTON, now residing at No. 2124, Twentieth Street, Bakersfield, California, U.S.A., and one-half (1/2) to the children of my deceased brother, JOSEPH C. CHRISTENSEN, namely: Mrs. Carol F. Ruggaver, of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., and Joseph Raymond Christensen, of Manhattan Beach, California, U.S.A., share and share alike, the share of any of the three above named who may predecease me, to go in equal parts to the descendants of the deceased; and, provided further, that should my sister Mrs. Carol Louise C. Borton die before my own decease, then, and in that event, the share of my estate devised to her herein I give, devise and bequeath to her children, Elizabeth Borton de Trevio, of Mexico City Mexico; Barbara Borton Philips, of Bakersfield, California, U.S.A., and Richard Borton, of Bakersfield, California, U.S.A., or to the heirs of any of them who may die before my own decease, share and share alike. The trial court ruled, and appellee now maintains, that there has been preterition of Helen Garcia, a compulsory heir in the direct line, resulting in the annulment of the institution of heir pursuant to Article 854 of the Civil Code, which provides: ART. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious. On the other hand, appellant contends that this is not a case of preterition, but is governed by Article 906 of the Civil Code, which says: "Any compulsory heir to whom the testator has left by any title less than the legitime belonging to him may demand that the same be fully satisfied." Appellant also suggests that considering the provisions of the will whereby the testator expressly

denied his relationship with Helen Garcia, but left to her a legacy nevertheless although less than the amount of her legitime, she was in effect defectively disinherited within the meaning of Article 918, which reads: ART. 918. Disinheritance without a specification of the cause, or for a cause the truth of which, if contradicted, is not proved, or which is not one of those set forth in this Code, shall annul the institution of heirs insofar as it may prejudice the person disinherited; but the devices and legacies and other testamentary dispositions shall be valid to such extent as will not impair the legitimate. Thus, according to appellant, under both Article 906 and 918, Helen Garcia is entitled only to her legitime, and not to a share of the estate equal that of Lucy Duncan as if the succession were intestate. Article 854 is a reproduction of Article 814 of the Spanish Civil Code; and Article 906 of Article 815. Commenting on Article 815, Manresa explains: Como dice Goyena, en el caso de pretericion puede presumirse ignorancia o falta de memoria en el testador; en el de dejar algo al heredero forzoso no. Este no se encuentra plivado totalmente de su legitima: ha recibido por cualquir titulo una porcion de los bienes hereditarios, porcion que no alcanza a completar la legitima, pero que influeye poderosamente en el animo del legislador para decidirle a adoptar una solucion bien diferente de la sealada para el caso de pretericion. El testador no ha olvidado por completo al heredero forzoso; le ha dejado bienes; pero haciendo un calculo equivocado, ha repartido en favor de extraos o en favor de otros legitimarios por via de legado donacion o mejora mayor cantidad de la que la ley de consentia disponer. El heredero forzoso no puede perder su legitima, pero tampoco puede pedir mas que la misma. De aqui su derecho a reclamar solamente lo que le falta; al complemento de la porcion que forzosamente la corresponde. ... Dejar el testador por cualquier titulo, equivale a disponer en testamento por titulo de herencia legado o mejora, y en favor de legitimarios, de alguna cantidad o porcion de bienes menos que la legitima o igual a la misma. Tal sentido, que es el mas proprio en al articulo 815, no pugna tampoco con la doctrina de la ley. Cuando en el testamento se deja algo al heredero forzoso, la pretericion es incompleta: es mas formularia que real. Cuando en el testamento nada se deja el legitimario, hay verdadera pretericion. (6 Manresa, 7th Ed., 1951, p. 437.) On the difference between preterition of a compulsory heir and the right to ask for completion of his legitime, Sanchez Roman says: La desheredacion, como expresa, es siempre voluntaria; la pretericion puede serlo pero se presume involuntaria la omision en que consiste en cuanto olvida o no atiende el testador en su testamento a la satisfaccion del derecho a la legitima del heredero forzoso preterido, prescindiendo absoluta y totalmente de el y no mencionandole en ninguna de sus

disposiciones testamentarias, o no instituyendole en parte alguna de la herencia, ni por titulo de heredero ni por el de legatar o aunque le mencionara o nombrara sin dejarle mas o menos bienes. Si le dejara algunos, por pocos que sean e insuficientes para cubrir su legitima, ya no seria caso de pretericion, sino de complemento de aquella. El primer supuesto o de pretericion se regula por el articulo 814, y produce accion de nulidad de la institucion de heredero; y el segundo, o de complemento de legitima por el 815 y solo original la accion ad suplementum, para completar la legitima. (Sanchez Roman, Tomo VI, Vol. 2, p. 1131.) Manresa defines preterition as the omission of the heir in the will, either by not naming him at all or, while mentioning him as father, son, etc., by not instituting him as heir without disinheriting him expressly, nor assigning to him some part of the properties. Manresa continues: Se necesita pues (a) Que la omision se refiera a un heredero forzoso; (b) Que la omision sea completa; que el heredero forzoso nada reciba en el testamento.1wph1.t xxx xxx xxx

B. Que la omision sea completa Esta condicion se deduce del mismo Articulo 814 y resulta con evidencia al relacionar este articulo con el 815. El heredero forzoso a quien el testador deja algo por cualquier titulo en su testamento, no se halla propiamente omitido pues se le nombra y se le reconoce participacion en los bienes hereditarios. Podria discutirse en el Articulo 814 si era o no necesario que se reconociese el derecho del heredero como tal heredero, pero el articulo 815 desvanece esta duda. Aquel se ocupa de privacion completa o total, tacita este, de la privacion parcial. Los efectos deben ser y son, como veremos completamente distintos (6 Manresa, p. 428.) La privacion de la legitima puede ser total o parcial. Privar totalmente de la legitima es negarla en absoluto al legitimario, despojarle de ella por completo. A este caso se refiere el articulo 814. Privar parcialmente de la legitima, es menguarla o reducirla dejar al legitimario una porcion, menor que la que le corresponde. A este caso se refiere el articulo 815. El 813 sienta, pues, una regla general, y las consecuencias del que brantamiento de esta regla se determina en los articulos 814 y 815. (6 Manresa p. 418.) Again Sanchez Roman: QUE LA OMISSION SEA TOTAL. Aunque el articulo 814 no consigna de modo expreso esta circunstancia de que la pretericion o falta de mencion e institucion o disposicion testamentaria a su favor, sea total, completa y absoluta, asi se deduce de no hacer distincion o salvedad alguna empleandola en terminos generales; pero sirve a confirmarlo de un modo indudable el siguiente articulo 815, al decir que el heredero forzoso a quien el testador haya dejado por cualquier titulo, menos de la legitima que la corresponda, podria pedir el complemento de la misma, lo cual ya no son el caso ni los

efectos de la pretericion, que anula la institucion, sino simplemente los del suplemento necesario para cubrir su legitima. (Sanchez Roman Tomo VI, Vol. 2.0 p. 1133.) The question may be posed: In order that the right of a forced heir may be limited only to the completion of his legitime (instead of the annulment of the institution of heirs) is it necessary that what has been left to him in the will "by any title," as by legacy, be granted to him in his capacity as heir, that is, a titulo de heredero? In other words, should he be recognized or referred to in the will as heir? This question is pertinent because in the will of the deceased Edward E. Christensen Helen Garcia is not mentioned as an heir indeed her status as such is denied but is given a legacy of P3,600.00. While the classical view, pursuant to the Roman law, gave an affirmative answer to the question, according to both Manresa (6 Manresa 7th 3rd. 436) and Sanchez Roman (Tomo VI, Vol. 2.0 p. 937), that view was changed by Article 645 of the "Proyecto de Codigo de 1851," later on copied in Article 906 of our own Code. Sanchez Roman, in the citation given above, comments as follows: RESPECTO DEL COMPLEMENTO DE LA LEGITIMA. Se inspira el Codigo en esta materia en la doctrina clasica del Derecho romano y patrio (2); pero con alguna racional modificacion. Concedian aquellos precedentes legales al heredero forzoso, a quien no se le dejaba por titulo de tal el completo de su legitima, la accion para invalidar la institucion hecha en el testamento y reclamar y obtener aquella mediante el ejercicio de la querella de inoficioso, y aun cuando resultara favorecido como donotario, por otro titulo que no fuera el de heredero, sino al honor de que se le privaba no dandole este caracter, y solo cuando era instituido heredero en parte o cantidad inferior a lo que le correspondiera por legitima, era cuando bastaba el ejercicio de la accion ad suplementum para completarla, sin necesidad de anular las otras instituciones de heredero o demas disposiciones contenidas en el testamento. El Articulo 851 se aparta de este criterio estricto y se ajusta a la unica necesidad que le inspira cual es la de que se complete la legitima del heredero forzoso, a quien por cualquier titulo se haya dejado menos de lo que le corresponda, y se le otorga tan solo el derecho de pedir el complemento de la misma sin necesidad de que se anulen las disposiciones testamentarias, que se reduciran en lo que sean inoficiosas conforme al articulo 817, cuya interpretacion y sentido tienen ya en su apoyo la sancion de la jurisprudencia (3); siendo condicion precisa que lo que se hubiere dejado de menos de la legitima al heredero forzoso, lo haya sido en el testamento, o sea por disposicion del testador, segun lo revela el texto del articulo, "el heredero forzoso a quien el testador haya dejado, etc., esto es por titulo de legado o donacion mortis causa en el testamento y, no fuera de al. (Sanchez Roman, Tomo VI, Vol. 2.0 p. 937.) Manresa cites particularly three decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain dated January 16, 1895, May 25, 1917, and April 23, 1932, respectively. In each one of those cases the testator left to one who was a forced heir a legacy worth less than the legitime, but without referring to the legatee as an heir or even as a relative, and willed the rest of the estate to other persons. It was held that

Article 815 applied, and the heir could not ask that the institution of heirs be annulled entirely, but only that the legitime be completed. (6 Manresa, pp. 438, 441.) The foregoing solution is indeed more in consonance with the expressed wishes of the testator in the present case as may be gathered very clearly from the provisions of his will. He refused to acknowledge Helen Garcia as his natural daughter, and limited her share to a legacy of P3,600.00. The fact that she was subsequently declared judicially to possess such status is no reason to assume that had the judicial declaration come during his lifetime his subjective attitude towards her would have undergone any change and that he would have willed his estate equally to her and to Lucy Duncan, who alone was expressly recognized by him. The decision of this Court in Neri, et al. v. Akutin, 74 Phil. 185, is cited by appellees in support of their theory of preterition. That decision is not here applicable, because it referred to a will where "the testator left all his property by universal title to the children by his second marriage, and (that) without expressly disinheriting the children by his first marriage, he left nothing to them or, at least, some of them." In the case at bar the testator did not entirely omit oppositorappellee Helen Garcia, but left her a legacy of P3,600.00. The estate of the deceased Christensen upon his death consisted of 399 shares of stocks in the Christensen Plantation Company and a certain amount in cash. One-fourth (1/4) of said estate descended to Helen Garcia as her legitime. Since she became the owner of her share as of the moment of the death of the decedent (Arts. 774, 777, Civil Code), she is entitled to a corresponding portion of all the fruits or increments thereof subsequently accruing. These include the stock dividends on the corporate holdings. The contention of Lucy Duncan that all such dividends pertain to her according to the terms of the will cannot be sustained, for it would in effect impair the right of ownership of Helen Garcia with respect to her legitime. One point deserves to be here mentioned, although no reference to it has been made in the brief for oppositor-appellant. It is the institution of substitute heirs to the estate bequeathed to Lucy Duncan in the event she should die without living issue. This substitution results in effect from the fact that under paragraph 12 of the will she is entitled only to the income from said estate, unless prior to her decease she should have living issue, in which event she would inherit in full ownership; otherwise the property will go to the other relatives of the testator named in the will. Without deciding this, point, since it is not one of the issues raised before us, we might call attention to the limitations imposed by law upon this kind of substitution, particularly that which says that it can never burden the legitime (Art. 864 Civil Code), which means that the legitime must descend to the heir concerned in fee simple. Wherefore, the order of the trial court dated October 29, 1964, approving the project of partition as submitted by the executor-appellee, is hereby set aside; and the case is remanded with instructions to partition the hereditary estate anew as indicated in this decision, that is, by giving to oppositor-appellee Maria Helen Christensen Garcia no more than the portion corresponding to her as legitime, equivalent to one-fourth (1/4) of the hereditary estate, after deducting all debts and charges, which shall not include those imposed in the will of the decedent, in accordance with Article 908 of the Civil Code. Costs against appellees in this instance.

Concepcion, C.J., J.B.L. Reyes, Barrera, Dizon, Regala, J.P. Bengzon, Zaldivar and Sanchez, JJ., concur. RESOLUTION July 30, 1967 MAKALINTAL, J.: Oppositor-appellant has filed an ex-parte petition dated July 11, 1966, making reference to an alleged oversight and asking for the corresponding correction, in the last paragraph before the dispositive part of our decision, which reads as follows: One point deserves to be here mentioned, although no reference to it has been made in the brief for oppositor-appellant. It is the institution of substituted heirs to the estate bequeathed to Lucy Duncan in the event she should die without living issue. This substitution results in effect from the fact that under paragraph 12 of the will she is entitled only to the income from said estate, unless prior to her decease she should have living issue, in which event she would inherit in full ownership; otherwise the property will go to the other relatives of the testator named in the will. Without deciding this point, since it is not one of the issues raised before us, we might call attention to the limitations imposed by law upon this kind of substitution, particularly that which says that it can never burden the legitime (Art. 864, Civil Code), which means that the legitime must descend to the heir concerned in fee simple. (Decision, June 30, 1966, pages 14-15; emphasis ours). Oppositor-appellant points out that the matter of substitution of heirs was taken up and discussed in her brief particularly in pages 28 and 32 thereof. This is indeed quite true, but the reference to and discussion of the rights of the substitute heirs (called American heirs in the brief) appears to be merely for the purpose of refuting the theory advanced by appellees and not for the purpose of having the rights of said heirs defined in so far as, under the terms of the will, they may affect the legitime of oppositor-appellant. This point of course was not and could hardly have been squarely raised as an issue inasmuch as the substitute heirs are not parties in this case. We have nevertheless called attention "to the limitations imposed by law upon this kind of substitution," because in the brief for oppositor-appellant, at page 45, she makes the conclusion "that the Last Will and Testament of Edward E. Christensen are valid under Philippine Law and must be given full force and effect;" and to give them full force and effect would precisely affect the legitime of oppositor-appellant. Wherefore, the last paragraph before the dispositive part of our decision quoted above is amended by eliminating the following phrase in the first sentence: "although no reference to it has been made in the brief for oppositor-appellant." June 23, 1966 G.R. No. L-23445 REMEDIOS NUGUID, petitioner and appellant,

vs. FELIX NUGUID and PAZ SALONGA NUGUID, oppositors and appellees. Custodio O. Partade for petitioner and appellant. Beltran, Beltran and Beltran for oppositors and appellees. Sanchez, J.: Rosario Nuguid, a resident of Quezon City, died on December 30, 1962, single, without descendants, legitimate or illegitimate. Surviving her were her legitimate parents, Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid, and six (6) brothers and sisters, namely: Alfredo, Federico, Remedios, Conrado, Lourdes and Alberto, all surnamed Nuguid. On May 18, 1963, petitioner Remedios Nuguid filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal a holographic will allegedly executed by Rosario Nuguid on November 17, 1951, some 11 years before her demise. Petitioner prayed that said will be admitted to probate and that letters of administration with the will annexed be issued to her. On June 25, 1963, Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid, concededly the legitimate father and mother of the deceased Rosario Nuguid, entered their opposition to the probate of her will. Ground therefor, inter alia, is that by the institution of petitioner Remedios Nuguid as universal heir of the deceased, oppositors who are compulsory heirs of the deceased in the direct ascending line were illegally preterited and that in consequence the institution is void. On August 29, 1963, before a hearing was had on the petition for probate and objection thereto, oppositors moved to dismiss on the ground of absolute preterition. On September 6, 1963, petitioner registered her opposition to the motion to dismiss. The courts order of November 8, 1963, held that the will in question is a complete nullity and will perforce create intestacy of the estate of the deceased Rosario Nuguid and dismissed the petition without costs. A motion to reconsider having been thwarted below, petitioner came to this Court on appeal. 1. Right at the outset, a procedural aspect has engaged our attention. The case is for the probate of a will. The courts area of inquiry is limited to an examination of, and resolution on, the extrinsic validity of the will. The due execution thereof, the testatrixs testamentary capacity, and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities by law prescribed, are the questions solely to be presented, and to be acted upon, by the court. Said court at this stage of the proceedings is not called upon to rule on the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will, the legality of any devise or legacy therein.1 A peculiar situation is here thrust upon us. The parties shunted aside the question of whether or not the will should be allowed probate. For them, the meat of the case is the intrinsic validity of the will. Normally, this comes only after the court has declared that the will has been duly

authenticated.2 But petitioner and oppositors, in the court below and here on appeal, travelled on the issue of law, to wit: Is the will intrinsically a nullity? We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of the will, nothing will be gained. On the contrary, this litigation will be protracted. And for aught that appears in the record, in the event of probate or if the court rejects the will, probability exists that the case will come up once again before us on the same issue of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the will. Result: waste of time, effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the practical considerations that induce us to a belief that we might as well meet head-on the issue of the validity of the provisions of the will in question.3 After all, there exists a justiciable controversy crying for solution. 2. Petitioners sole assignment of error challenges the correctness of the conclusion below that the will is a complete nullity. This exacts from us a study of the disputed will and the applicable statute. Reproduced hereunder is the will: Nov. 17, 1951 I, ROSARIO NUGUID, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, having amassed a certain amount of property, do hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of the property which I may have when I die to my beloved sister Remedios Nuguid, age 34, residing with me at 38-B Iriga, Q.C. In witness whereof, I have signed my name this seventh day of November, nineteen hundred and fifty-one. (Sgd.) Illegible T/ ROSARIO NUGUID The statute we are called upon to apply in Article 854 of the Civil Code which, in part, provides: ART. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious. Except for inconsequential variation in terms, the foregoing is a reproduction of Article 814 of the Civil Code of Spain of 1889, which is similarly herein copied, thus Art. 814. The preterition of one or all of the forced heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall void the institution of heir; but the legacies and betterments4 shall be valid, in so far as they are not inofficious. A comprehensive understanding of the term preterition employed in the law becomes a necessity. On this point Manresa comments:

La pretericion consiste en omitar al heredero en el testamento. O no se le nombra siquiera o aun nombrandole como padre, hijo, etc., no se le instituya heredero ni se le deshereda expresamente ni se le asigna parte alguna de los bienes, resultando privado de un modo tacito de su derecho a legitima. Para que exista pretericion, con arreglo al articulo 814, basta que en el testamento omita el testador a uno cualquiera de aquellos a quienes por su muerte corresponda la herencia forzosa. Se necesita, pues, a) Que la omision se refiera a un heredero forzoso. b) Que la omision sea completa; que el heredero forzoso nada reciba en el testamento. It may now appear trite bat nonetheless helpful in giving us a clear perspective of the problem before us, to have on hand a clear-cut definition of the word annul: To annul means to abrogate, to make void In re Morrows Estate, 54 A. 342, 343, 204 Pa. 484.6 The word annul as used in statute requiring court to annul alimony provisions of divorce decree upon wifes remarriage means to reduce to nothing; to annihilate; obliterate; blot out; to make void or of no effect; to nullify; to abolish. N.J.S.A. 2:50 38 (now N.J.S. 2A:34-35). Madden vs. Madden, 40 A. 2d 611, 614, 136 N..J Eq. 132.7 ANNUL. To reduce to nothing; annihilate; obliterate; to make void or of no effect; to nullify; to abolish; to do away with. Ex parte Mitchell, 123 W. Va. 283, 14 S.E. 2d. 771, 774.8 And now, back to the facts and the law. The deceased Rosario Nuguid left no descendants, legitimate or illegitimate. But she left forced heirs in the direct ascending line her parents, now oppositors Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid. And, the will completely omits both of them: They thus received nothing by the testament; tacitly, they were deprived of their legitime; neither were they expressly disinherited. This is a clear case of preterition. Such preterition in the words of Manresa anulara siempre la institucion de heredero, dando caracter absoluto a este ordenamiento referring to the mandate of Article 814, now 854 of the Civil Code.9 The onesentence will here institutes petitioner as the sole, universal heir nothing more. No specific legacies or bequests are therein provided for. It is in this posture that we say that the nullity is complete. Perforce, Rosario Nuguid died intestate. Says Manresa: En cuanto a la institucion de heredero, se anula. Lo que se anula deja de existir, en todo o en parte? No se aade limitacion alguna, como en el articulo 851, en el que se expresa que se anulara la institucion de heredero en cuanto prejudique a la legitima del deseheredado Debe, pues, entenderse que la anulacion es completa o total, y que este articulo como especial en el caso que le motiva rige con preferencia al 817. 10 The same view is expressed by Sanchez Roman: La consecuencia de la anulacion o nulidad de la institucion de heredero por pretericion de uno, varios o todos los forzosos en linea recta, es la apertura de la sucesion intestada total o parcial.

Sera total, cuando el testador que comete la pretericion, hubiese dispuesto de todos los bienes por titulo universal de herencia en favor de los herederos instituidos, cuya institucion se anula, porque asi lo exige la generalidad del precepto legal del art. 814, al determinar, como efecto de la pretericion, el de que anulara la institucion de heredero. 11 Really, as we analyze the word annul employed in the statute, there is no escaping the conclusion that the universal institution of petitioner to the entire inheritance results in totally abrogating the will. Because, the nullification of such institution of universal heir without any other testamentary disposition in the will amounts to a declaration that nothing at all was written. Carefully worded and in clear terms, Article 854 offers no leeway for inferential interpretation. Giving it an expansive meaning will tear up by the roots the fabric of the statute. On this point, Sanchez Roman cites the Memoria annual del Tribunal Supreme, correspondiente a 1908, which in our opinion expresses the rule of interpretation, viz: El art. 814, que preceptua en tales casos de pretericion la nulidad de la institucion de heredero, no consiente interpretacion alguna favorable a la persona instituida en el sentido antes expuesto aun cuando parezca, y en algun caso pudiera ser, mas o menos equitativa, porque una nulidad no significa en Derecho sino la suposicion de que el hecho o el acto no se ha realizado, debiendo por lo tanto procederse sobre tal base o supuesto, y consiguientemente, en un testamento donde falte la institucion, es obligado llamar a los herederos forzosos en todo caso, como habria que llamar a los de otra clase, cuando el testador no hubiese distribudo todos sus bienes en legados, siendo tanto mas obligada esta consecuencia legal cuanto que, en materia de testamentos, sabido es, segun tiene declarado la jurisprudencia, con repeticion, que no basta que sea conocida la voluntad de quien testa si esta voluntad no aparece en la forma y en las condiciones que la ley ha exigido para que sea valido y eficaz, por lo que constituiria una interpretacion arbitraria, dentro del derecho positivo, reputar como legatario a un heredero cuya institucion fuese anulada con pretexto de que esto se acomodaba mejor a la voluntad del testador, pues aun cuando asi fuese, sera esto razon para modificar la ley, pero no autoriza a una interpretacion contraria a sus terminos y a los principios que informan la testamentifaccion, pues no porque parezca mejor una cosa en el terreno del Derecho constituyente, hay razon para convereste juicio en regla de interpretacion, desvirtuando y anulando por este procedimiento lo que el legislador quiere establecer. 12 3. We should not be led astray by the statement in Article 854 that, annullment notwithstanding, the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious. Legacies and devises merit consideration only when they are so expressly given as such in a will. Nothing in Article 854 suggests that the mere institution of a universal heir in a will void because of preterition would give the heir so instituted a share in the inheritance. As to him, the will is inexistent. There must be, in addition to such institution, a testamentary disposition granting him bequests or legacies apart and separate from the nullified institution of heir. Sanchez Roman, speaking of the two component parts of Article 814, now 854, states that preterition annuls the institution of the heir totalmente por la pretericion; but added (in reference to legacies and bequests) pero subsistiendo todas aquellas otras disposiciones que no se refieren a la institucion de heredero . 13 As Manresa puts it, annulment throws open to intestate succession the entire inheritance including la porcion libre (que) no hubiese dispuesto en virtud de legado, mejora o donacion. 14

As aforesaid, there is no other provision in the will before us except the institution of petitioner as universal heir. That institution, by itself, is null and void. And, intestate succession ensues. 4. Petitioners mainstay is that the present is a case of ineffective disinheritance rather than one of preterition. 15 From this, petitioner draws the conclusion that Article 854 does not apply to the case at bar. This argument fails to appreciate the distinction between pretention and disinheritance. Preterition consists in the omission in the testators will of the forced heirs or anyone of them, either because they are not mentioned therein, or, though mentioned, they are neither instituted as heirs nor are expressly disinherited. 16 Disinheritance, in turn, is a testamentary disposition depriving any compulsory heir of his share in the legitime for a cause authorized by law. 17 In Manresas own words: La privacion expresa de la legitima constituye la desheredacion. La privacion tacita de la misma se denomina pretericion. 18 Sanchez Roman emphasizes the distinction by stating that disinheritance es siempre voluntaria; preterition, upon the other hand, is presumed to be involuntaria. 19 Express as disinheritance should be, the same must be supported by a legal cause specified in the will itself. 20 The will here does not explicitly disinherit the testatrixs parents, the forced heirs. It simply omits their names altogether. Said will rather than be labeled ineffective disinheritance is clearly one in which the said forced heirs suffer from preterition. On top of this is the fact that the effects flowing from preterition are totally different from those of disinheritance. Preterition under Article 854 of the Civil Code, we repeat, shall annul the institution of heir. This annulment is in toto, unless in the will there are, in addition, testamentary dispositions in the form of devises or legacies. In ineffective disinheritance under Article 918 of the same Code, such disinheritance shall also annul the institution of heirs, put only insofar as it may prejudice the person disinherited, which last phrase was omitted in the case of preterition. 21 Better stated yet, in disinheritance the nullity is limited to that portion of the estate of which the disinherited heirs have been illegally deprived. Manresas expressive language, in commenting on the rights of the preterited heirs in the case of preterition on the one hand and legal disinheritance on the other, runs thus: Preteridos, adquiren el derecho a todo; desheredados, solo les corresponde un tercio o dos tercios, 22 el caso. 23 5. Petitioner insists that the compulsory heirs ineffectively disinherited are entitled to receive their legitimes, but that the institution of heir is not invalidated, although the inheritance of the heir so instituted is reduced to the extent of said legitimes. 24 This is best answered by a reference to the opinion of Mr. Chief Justice Moran in the Neri case heretofore cited, viz: But the theory is advanced that the bequest made by universal title in favor of the children by the second marriage should be treated as legado and mejora and, accordingly, it must not be entirely annulled but merely reduced. This theory, if adopted, will result in a complete abrogation of Articles 814 and 851 of the Civil Code. If every case of institution of heirs may be made to fall into the concept of legacies and betterments reducing the bequest accordingly, then the

provisions of Articles 814 and 851 regarding total or partial nullity of the institution, would. be absolutely meaningless and will never have any application at all. And the remaining provisions contained in said article concerning the reduction of inofficious legacies or betterments would be a surplusage because they would be absorbed by Article 817. Thus, instead of construing, we would be destroying integral provisions of the Civil Code. The destructive effect of the theory thus advanced is due mainly to a failure to distinguish institution of heirs from legacies and betterments, and a general from a special provision. With reference to article 814, which is the only provision material to the disposition of this case, it must be observed that the institution of heirs is therein dealt with as a thing separate and distinct from legacies or betterments. And they are separate and distinct not only because they are distinctly and separately treated in said article but because they are in themselves different. Institution of heirs is a bequest by universal title of property that is undetermined. Legacy refers to specific property bequeathed by a particular or special title. But again an institution of heirs cannot be taken as a legacy. 25 The disputed order, we observe, declares the will in question a complete nullity. Article 854 of the Civil Code in turn merely nullifies the institution of heir. Considering, however, that the will before us solely provides for the institution of petitioner as universal heir, and nothing more, the result is the same. The entire will is null. Upon the view we take of this case, the order of November 8, 1963 under review is hereby affirmed. No costs allowed. So ordered. Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P. and Zaldivar, JJ., concur. G.R. No. L-17818 January 25, 1967

TIRSO T. REYES, as guardian of the minors Azucena Flordelis and Tirso, Jr., all surnamed Reyes y Barretto, plaintiffs-appellants, vs. LUCIA MILAGROS BARRETTO-DATU, defendant-appellee. Recto Law Office for plaintiff-appealant. Deogracias T. Reyes and Associates for defendant-appellee. REYES, J.B.L., J.: Direct appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, in its Civil Case No. 1084, dismissing the complaint of appellant Tirso T. Reyes and ordering the same to deliver to the defendant-appellee, Lucia Milagros Barretto-Datu, the properties receivea by his deceasea wife under the terms of the will of the late Bibiano Barretto, consisting of lots in Manila, Rizal, Pampanga and Bulacan, valued at more than P200,000. The decision appealed from sets the antecedents of the case to be as follows:

"This is an action to recover one-half share in the fishpond, located in the barrio of San Roque, Hagonoy, Bulacan, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-13734 of the Land Records of this Province, being the share of plaintiff's wards as minor heirs of the deceased Salud Barretto, widow of plaintiff Tirso Reyes, guardian of said minors." It appears that Bibiano Barretto was married to Maria Gerardo. During their lifetime they acquired a vast estate, consisting of real properties in Manila, Pampanga, and Bulacan, covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 41423, 22443, 8858, 32989, 31046, 27285, 6277, 6500, 2057, 6501, 2991, 57403 and 12507/T-337. When Bibiano Barretto died on February 18, 1936, in the City of Manila, he left his share of these properties in a will Salud Barretto, mother of plaintiff's wards, and Lucia Milagros Barretto and a small portion as legacies to his two sisters Rosa Barretto and Felisa Barretto and his nephew an nieces The usufruct o the fishpon situate i barrio Sa Roque Hagonoy, Bulacan, above-mentioned, however, was reserved for his widow, Maria Gerardo I the meantime Maria Gerardo was appointe administratrix. By virtue thereof, she prepared a project of partition, which was signed by her in her own behalf and as guardian of the minor Milagros Barretto. Said project of partition was approved by the Court of First Instance of Manila on November 22, 1939. The distribution of the estate and the delivery of the shares of the heirs followed forthwith. As a consequence, Salud Barretto took immediate possession of her share and secured the cancellation of the original certificates of title and the issuance of new titles in her own name. Everything went well since then. Nobody was heard to complain of any irregularity in the distribution of the said estate until the widow, Maria Gerardo died on March 5, 1948. Upon her death, it was discovered that she had executed two wills, in the first of which, she instituted Salud and Milagros, both surnamed Barretto, as her heirs; and, in the second, she revoked the same and left all her properties in favor of Milagros Barretto alone. Thus, the later will was allowed and the first rejected. In rejecting the first will presented by Tirso Reyes, as guardian of the children of Salud Barretto, the lower court held that Salud was not the daughter of the decedent Maria Gerardo by her husband Bibiano Barretto. This ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which affirmed the same.1 Having thus lost this fight for a share in the estate of Maria Gerardo, as a legitimate heir of Maria Gerardo, plaintiff now falls back upon the remnant of the estate of the deceased Bibiano Barretto, which was given in usufruct to his widow Maria Gerardo. Hence, this action for the recovery of one-half portion, thereof. This action afforded the defendant an opportunity to set up her right of ownership, not only of the fishpond under litigation, but of all the other properties willed and delivered to Salud Barretto, for being a spurious heir, and not entitled to any share in the estate of Bibiano Barretto, thereby directly attacking the validity, not only of the project of partition, but of the decision of the court based thereon as well.

The defendant contends that the Project of Partition from which Salud acquired the fishpond in question is void ab initio and Salud Barretto did not acquire any valid title thereto, and that the court did not acquire any jurisdiction of the person of the defendant, who was then a minor.' Finding for the defendant (now appellee), Milagros Barretto, the lower court declared the project of partition submitted in the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of Bibiano Barretto (Civil Case No. 49629 of the Court of First Instance of Manila) to be null and void ab initio (not merely voidable) because the distributee, Salud Barretto, predecessor of plaintiffs (now appellants), was not a daughter of the spouses Bibiano Barretto and Maria Gerardo. The nullity of the project of partition was decreed on the basis of Article 1081 of the Civil Code of 1889 (then in force) providing as follows: . A partition in which a person was believed to be an heir, without being so, has been included, shall be null and void. The court a quo further rejected the contention advanced by plaintiffs that since Bibiano Barretto was free to dispose of one-third (1/3) of his estate under the old Civil Code, his will was valid in favor of Salud Barretto (nee Lim Boco) to the extent, at least, of such free part. And it concluded that, as defendant Milagros was the only true heir of Bibiano Barretto, she was entitled to recover from Salud, and from the latter's children and successors, all the Properties received by her from Bibiano's estate, in view of the provisions of Article 1456 of the new Civil Code of the Philippines establishing that property acquired by fraud or mistake is held by its acquirer in implied trust for the real owner. Hence, as stated at the beginning of this opinion, the Court a quo not only dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint but ordered them to return the properties received under the project of partition previously mentioned as prayed for in defendant Milagros Barretto's counterclaim. However, it denied defendant's prayer for damages. Hence, this appeal interposed by both plaintiffs and defendant. Plaintiffs-appellants correctly point out that Article 1081 of the old Civil Code has been misapplied to the present case by the court below. The reason is obvious: Salud Barretto admittedly had been instituted heir in the late Bibiano Barretto's last will and testament together with defendant Milagros; hence, the partition had between them could not be one such had with a party who was believed to be an heir without really being one, and was not null and void under said article. The legal precept (Article 1081) does not speak of children, or descendants, but of heirs (without distinction between forced, voluntary or intestate ones), and the fact that Salud happened not to be a daughter of the testator does not preclude her being one of the heirs expressly named in his testament; for Bibiano Barretto was at liberty to assign the free portion of his estate to whomsoever he chose. While the share () assigned to Salud impinged on the legitime of Milagros, Salud did not for that reason cease to be a testamentary heir of Bibiano Barretto. Nor does the fact that Milagros was allotted in her father's will a share smaller than her legitime invalidate the institution of Salud as heir, since there was here no preterition, or total ommission of a forced heir. For this reason, Neri vs. Akutin, 72 Phil. 322, invoked by appellee, is not at all applicable, that case involving an instance of preterition or omission of children of the testator's former marriage.

Appellee contends that the partition in question was void as a compromise on the civil status of Salud in violation of Article 1814 of the old Civil Code. This view is erroneous, since a compromise presupposes the settlement of a controversy through mutual concessions of the parties (Civil Code of 1889, Article 1809; Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 2028); and the condition of Salud as daughter of the testator Bibiano Barretto, while untrue, was at no time disputed during the settlement of the estate of the testator. There can be no compromise over issues not in dispute. And while a compromise over civil status is prohibited, the law nowhere forbids a settlement by the parties over the share that should correspond to a claimant to the estate. At any rate, independently of a project of partition which, as its own name implies, is merely a proposal for distribution of the estate, that the court may accept or reject, it is the court alone that makes the distribution of the estate and determines the persons entitled thereto and the parts to which each is entitled (Camia vs. Reyes, 63 Phil. 629, 643; Act 190, Section 750; Rule 90, Rules of 1940; Rule 91, Revised Rules of Court), and it is that judicial decree of distribution, once final, that vests title in the distributees. If the decree was erroneous or not in conformity with law or the testament, the same should have been corrected by opportune appeal; but once it had become final, its binding effect is like that of any other judgment in rem, unless properly set aside for lack of jurisdiction or fraud. It is thus apparent that where a court has validly issued a decree of distribution of the estate, and the same has become final, the validity or invalidity of the project of partition becomes irrelevant. It is, however, argued for the appellee that since the court's distribution of the estate of the late Bibiano Barretto was predicated on the project of partition executed by Salud Barretto and the widow, Maria Gerardo (who signed for herself and as guardian of the minor Milagros Barretto), and since no evidence was taken of the filiation of the heirs, nor were any findings of fact or law made, the decree of distribution can have no greater validity than that of the basic partition, and must stand or fall with it, being in the nature of a judgment by consent, based on a compromise. Saminiada vs. Mata, 92 Phil. 426, is invoked in support of the proposition. That case is authority for the proposition that a judgment by compromise may be set aside on the ground of mistake or fraud, upon petition filed in due time, where petition for "relief was filed before the compromise agreement a proceeding, was consummated" (cas. cit. at p. 436). In the case before us, however, the agreement of partition was not only ratified by the court's decree of distribution, but actually consummated, so much so that the titles in the name of the deceased were cancelled, and new certificates issued in favor of the heirs, long before the decree was attacked. Hence, Saminiada vs. Mata does not apply. Moreover, the defendant-appellee's argument would be plausible if it were shown that the sole basis for the decree of distribution was the project of partition. But, in fact, even without it, the distribution could stand, since it was in conformity with the probated will of Bibiano Barretto, against the provisions whereof no objection had been made. In fact it was the court's duty to do so. Act 190, section 640, in force in 1939, provided: .

SEC. 640. Estate, How Administered. When a will is thus allowed, the court shall grant letters testamentary, or letters of administration with the will annexed, and such letters testamentary or of administration, shall extend to all the estate of the testator in the Philippine Islands. Such estate, after the payment of just debts and expenses of administration, shall be disposed of according to such will, so far as such will may operate upon it; and the residue, if any, shall be disposed of as is provided by law in cases of estates in these Islands belonging to persons who are inhabitants of another state or country. (Emphasis supplied) That defendant Milagros Barretto was a minor at the time the probate court distributed the estate of her father in 1939 does not imply that the said court was without jurisdiction to enter the decree of distribution. Passing upon a like issue, this Court ruled in Ramos vs. Ortuzar, 89 Phil. Reports, pp. 741 and 742: If we are to assume that Richard Hill and Marvin Hill did not formally intervene, still they would be concluded by the result of the proceedings, not only as to their civil status but as the distribution of the estate as well. As this Court has held in Manolo vs. Paredes, 47 Phil. 938, "The proceeding for probate is one in rem (40 Cyc., 1265) and the court acquires jurisdiction over all persons interested, through the publication of the notice prescribed by section 630 C.P.C.; and any order that any be entered therein is binding against all of them." (See also in re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156.) "A final order of distribution of the estate of a deceased person vests the title to the land of the estate in the distributees". (Santos vs. Roman Catholic Bishop of Nueva Caceres, 45 Phil. 895.) There is no reason why, by analogy, these salutary doctrines should not apply to intestate proceedings. The only instance that we can think of in which 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. Even then, the better practice to secure relief is reopening of the same case by proper motion within the reglementary period, instead of an independent action the effect of which, if successful, would be, as in the instant case, for another court or judge to throw out a decision or order already final and executed and reshuffle properties long ago distributed and disposed of. It is well to observe, at this juncture, as this Court expressly declared in Reyes vs. Barretto Datu, 94 Phil. 446 (Am'd Rec. Appeal, pp. 156, 157), that: ... It is argued that Lucia Milagros Barretto was a minor when she signed the partition, and that Maria Gerardo was not her judicially appointed guardian. The claim is not true. Maria Gerardo signed as guardian of the minor. (Secs. 3 and 5, Rule 97, Rules of Court.) The mere statement in the project of partion that the guardianship proceedings of the minor Lucia Milagros Barretto are pending in the court, does not mean that the guardian had not yet been appointed; it meant that the guardianship proceedings had not yet been terminated, and as a guardianship proceedings begin with the appointment of a guardian, Maria Gerardo must have been already appointed when she signed the project of

partition. There is, therefore, no irregularity or defect or error in the project of partition, apparent on the record of the testate proceedings, which shows that Maria Gerardo had no power or authority to sign the project of partition as guardian of the minor Lucia Milagros Barretto, and, consequently, no ground for the contention that the order approving the project of partition is absolutely null and void and may be attacked collaterally in these proceedings. So that it is now incontestable that appellee Milagros Barretto was not only made a party by publication but actually appeared and participated in the proceedings through her guardian: she, therefore, can not escape the jurisdiction of the Manila Court of First Instance which settled her father's estate. Defendant-appellee further pleads that as her mother and guardian (Maria Gerardo) could not have ignored that the distributee Salud was not her child, the act of said widow in agreeing to the oft-cited partition and distribution was a fraud on appellees rights and entitles her to relief. In the first place, there is no evidence that when the estate of Bibiano Barretto was judicially settled and distributed appellants' predecessor, Salud Lim Boco Barretto to, knew that she was not Bibiano's child: so that if fraud was committed, it was the widow, Maria Gerardo, who was solely responsible, and neither Salud nor her minor children, appellants herein, can be held liable therefor. In the second placegranting that there was such fraud, relief therefrom can only be obtained within 4 years from its discovery, and the record shows that this period had elapsed long ago. Because at the time of the distribution Milagros Barretto was only 16 years old (Exhibit 24), she became of age five years later, in 1944. On that year, her cause of action accrued to contest on the ground of fraud the court decree distributing her father's estate and the four-year period of limitation started to run, to expire in 1948 (Section 43, Act. 190). In fact, conceding that Milagros only became aware of the true facts in 1946 (Appellee's Brief, p. 27), her action still became extinct in 1950. Clearly, therefore, the action was already barred when in August 31, 1956 she filed her counterclaim in this case contesting the decree of distribution of Bibiano Barretto's estate. In order to evade the statute of limitations, Milagros Barretto introduced evidence that appellant Tirso Reyes had induced her to delay filing action by verbally promising to reconvey the properties received by his deceased wife, Salud. There is no reliable evidence of the alleged promise, which rests exclusively on the oral assertions of Milagros herself and her counsel. In fact, the trial court made no mention of such promise in the decision under appeal. Even more: granting arguendo that the promise was made, the same can not bind the wards, the minor children of Salud, who are the real parties in interest. An abdicative waiver of rights by a guardian, being an act of disposition, and not of administration, can not bind his wards, being null and void as to them unless duly authorized by the proper court (Ledesma Hermanos vs. Castro, 55 Phil. 136, 142). In resume, we hold (1) that the partition had between Salud and Milagros Barretto in the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of Bibiano Barretto duly approved by the Court of First Instance of Manila in 1939, in its Civil Case No. 49629, is not void for being contrary to

either Article 1081 or 1814 of the, Civil Code of 1889; (2) that Milagros Barretto's action to contest said partition and decree of distribution is barred by the statute of limitations; and (3) that her claim that plaintiff-appellant guardian is a possessor in bad faith and should account for the fruits received from the properties inherited by Salud Barretto (nee Lim Boco) is legally untenable. It follows that the plaintiffs' action for partition of the fishpond described in the complaint should have been given due course. Wherefore, the decision of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan now under appeal is reversed and set aside in so far as it orders plaintiff-appellant to reconvey to appellee Milagros Barretto Datu the properties enumeracted in said decision, and the same is affirmed in so far as it denies any right of said appellee to accounting. Let the records be returned to the court of origin, with instructions to proceed with the action for partition of the fishpond (Lot No. 4, Plan Psu-4709), covered by TCT No. T-13734 of the Office of the Register of Deeds of Bulacan, and for the accounting of the fruits thereof, as prayed for in the complaint No costs. September 24, 1908 G.R. No. 4359 EMILIO ESCUIN Y BATAC, plaintiff-appellee, vs. FRANCISCO ESCUIN, ET AL., defendants. JULIA BATAC, appellant. Rosado, Sanz & Opisso for appellant. Kincaid & Hurd for appellee. Torres, J.: On the 19th of January, 1899, Emilio Antonio Escuin de los Santos executed a will before a notary public of Sevilla, Spain, stating therein that he was a native of Cavite, the son Francisco Escuin and Eugenia de los Santos, the latter being deceased; that he was married about six months previously to Maria Teresa Ponce de Leon, and that he had no lawful descendants; the testator, however, stated in clause three of his will, that in case he has a duly registered successor, his child would be his sole and universal heir; but that if, as would probably be the case, there should be no such heir, then in clause four he named his said father Francisco Escuin, and his wife Maria Teresa Ponce de Leon and his universal heirs, they to divide the estate in equal shares between them. The testator died on the 20th of January, 1899, as certified to by the Municipal court of Magdalena, Sevilla, on the 20th of March, 1990. Upon the will having been admitted to probate, commissioners were appointed to consider claims against the estate, and, according to a report presented to the Court of First Instance on the 20th of June, 1907, one claim was allowed amounting to 3,696.50 pesetas.

On the 10th and 12th of July 1907, the attorney for the widow, Ponce de Leon, and the attorneys who represented the guardian to the minor, Emilio Escuin y Batac, appealed to the Court of First Instance from the findings of the aforesaid commissioners. Matters stood thus, and without there appearing any decision of the court as to appeals, the attorney for the administrator, by a writing dated the 3d of September, following, moved for the approval of the proposed partition of the estate provided for by the court; by the first additional request (otrosi) he asked that the remuneration for the services of the administrator of the estate be fixed, and that he be authorized to draw such amount from the funds of the estate; and by a second additional request he asked that the accounts made up on the 31st of August, previous, be approved. It appears in the proposed partition of the 3d of September, 1906, that, according to the opinion of the administrator by whom it was signed in the result of the proceedings, the property left by the estator, in accordance with the accounts passed upon by the court, amounted to P8,268.02 From said sum the following must be deducted: The credit above alluded to admitted by the commissioners, P1,321.40 10 per cent renumeration due to the administrator, 826.80 All legal expenses paid and approved, 1,105.01 for a total of 3,253.21. Deducting this amount from the funds of the estate, there remains a balance of 5,014.81. That the said credit of P1,321.40, equivalent to 3,696.50 pesetas, allowed by the commissioners, is the claim presented within the legal term against the estate; that Francisco Escuin, the father of the testator, his wife or widow, Teresa Ponce de Leon, and his natural child, the minor Emilio Escuin y Batac, represented by his mother and guardian Julia Batac, are entitled to the succession; that, by setting aside one-third of the estate in favor of the natural son, recognized in accordance with article 842 of the Civil Code, there only remains the question as to how the remaining two-thirds of the inheritance shall be bestowed, taking into account the directions of the testator in his will; that the same does not disclose that he had left any child by his wife; that the latter, as the widow of the testator, besides being a designated heir entitled to one-half of the hereditary funds, is entitled to the usufruct of the portion fixed by the law, and that the funds to be apportioned are composed wholly of cash or ready money. On these grounds the partition and adjudication was proceeded with of the sum of P5,014.81 into three shares of P1,671.60 to each one of the parties in interest, that is, the natural son, Emilio Escuin y Batac, in full control as general heir; the widow, Teresa Ponce de Leon, as legatee of one-half of the two-thirds of the funds of free disposition; and the said widow the usufruct of the other half of the aforesaid two-thirds of free disposition, the bare ownership of the last third held in usufruct by the widow being adjudicated to Francisco Escuin, as legatee taking into account the provisions of article 817 of the Civil Code upon making the division.

On the 12th of September, 1906, the representative of the minor natural child of the testator objected in writing to the partition proposed by the administrator, and for the reasons he set forth asked that the same be disapproved, and that in lieu thereof the entire estate be adjudicated to Emilio Escuin y Batac, the said minor. Upon a hearing for the approval of the said proposed partition, the representative of the minor presented as evidence a certified copy of the complaint, the answer, and the final judgment rendered in civil case No. 3240 of the Court of First Instance. It appears from the said certified proceedings that the representative of the minor, as plaintiff therein, asked on the 12th of January, 1905, that an allowance be granted to him for subsistence for account of the estate of the late testator, Emilio Escuin de los Santos, and that the same be paid him monthly in advance; that judgment be entered declaring that the minor, Emilio Escuin y Batac, is a natural child of the testator; that the said minor, as the only natural son of the same is his general heir; that it be held that the said testator had died without either lawful ascendants or descendants; that the designation of heirs made under his above-mentioned will be declared null and void; and that the defendants be sentenced to pay the costs in case they did not conform to the complaint, with any further remedy that the court might consider just and equitable. The administrator, Ricardo Summers, in answer to the complaint denied all and every one of the facts alleged in all and every one of its paragraphs. On the 30th of September, 1905, the court below found that Escuin y Batac was the recognized natural child of the late Emilio Escuin de los Santos, had by Julia Batac; that the testator was also the natural son of the defendant Francisco Escuin and Eugenia de los Santos, and was recognized by his father; and that the plaintiff minor, Emilio Escuin y Batac, is one of the heirs of the late testator. By an order of the lower court dated the 30th of October, 1906, and view of the accounts and proposal of partition presented by the administrator of the estate, the judge below expressed an opinion that a natural child is only entitled to one-fourth of the hereditary property, the clause in the will being annulled only in so far as the amount to be divided should be reduced, taking into account the share due to the natural son and the right of the father and the widow of the testator, each to one-half of the remainder of the property of the estate. The court approved the account presented, but disapproved the project of partition of the hereditary property that was objected to by one of the parties and interest. Counsel for the minor Emilio Escuin y Batac excepted to the above resolution; a copy of the proceedings was submitted to this court together with the appeal that was interposed. On the 10th of July, 1907, the representatives of the administrator, and of the minor, Emilio Escuin y Batac, respectively, stated in writing to the lower court that, in view of the fact that the order of October 30, 1906, did not constitute a final judgment of partition (since the said proposal having been rejected, another partition should be effected by commissioners) the court was requested to appoint commissioners to present a new project of partition in substitution for the one presented by the administrator, the new proposal to be submitted to the court for approval.

On the 22nd of August, the attorney for the administrator filed a written request for the appointment of said commissioners as stated above, and further requested that the renumeration of the petitioner for his services as administrator be fixed by the court, and that he be authorized to draw from the funds of the estate such as sum as might thus be assigned to him. On the 24th day of said month of August, the court below issued an order with respect to the forgoing requests and held that, for the reasons stated in the order, the appointment of commissioners for the mere purpose of determining what each one of the heirs should receive in accordance with the order of the 30th of October, 1906, was not necessary, inasmuch as the property of the estate consisted of ready money, and the administrator was thereby authorized to distribute the funds among the heirs in the amount stated in the said order. From this decision the representative of the minor Emilio Escuin y Batac took exception, and to this effect presented a bill of errors together with the copy of the proceedings for review of appeal. While the appeals interposed against the report and resolution of the commissioners were still pending in the lower court, the partition of the hereditary funds could not be ordered, notwithstanding the fact that the same consisted of ready money, because the amount of the estate subject to division had not yet been determined in order to comply with the law in the will of the testator. Until all the known creditors in the legatees have been paid, it shall be understood that the estate is under administration, says article 1026 of the Civil Code, and in conformity with this legal provision the supreme tribunal has established the doctrine that only after payment of all obligations of the estate can the net amount divisible among the heirs be known. (Decision of March 2, 1896.) Section 753 of the Code of Civil Procedure confirms of the provision of the Civil Code and the legal doctrine mentioned above, inasmuch as it provides that, after payment of the debts, funeral charges, and expenses of the administration, and the allowances for the expense of maintenance of the family of the deceased the court shall assign the residue of the estate to the persons entitled to the same, naming the persons and proportions or parts to which each is entitled, etc. As to the aforesaid appeals from the resolution of the commissioners, section 776 of the Code of the Civil Procedure provides that: Upon the lodging of such appeal with the clerk, the disputed claim shall stand for trial in the same manner as any other action in the Court of First Instance, the creditor being deemed to be the plaintiff, and the estate the defendant, and pleadings as in other actions shall be filed. So that by reason of the claims made by the creditor of the estate of Emilio Escuin de los Santos and by her natural son, duly recognize by his father, an ordinary action should have been brought before the Court of First Instance, from whose judgment appeal maybe taken to this court by means of the corresponding bill of exception under the provisions of section 777 of the Code of Civil Procedure; and while the ultimate decision in the matter of the said claims against the resolution of the commissioners has not become final, and until all the obligations of the estate

have been paid, there can really be no inheritance, nor it can be distributed among the persons interested therein according to the will of the testator, or under the provisions of the law. The foregoing refers to the first assigned in the certified copy of the proceedings and in the brief of the representative of the minor Escuin y Batac, and also to the questions of the form of procedure. With respect to the questions which form the basis of this litigation and refer to the second assignment of errors, it should be noted that the late testator did not leave a recognized natural child, the appellant minor, and a widow; that the said minor, Emilio Escuin y Batac, is the general heir of his natural father, the said testator who recognized him while living (art. 807, Civil Code), and in the present case is entitled to one-third of his estate, which amount constitutes the legal portion of a natural child (art. 842 of the said code); and for the reason that the minor was ignored by his natural father in his will, the designation of heirs made therein was, as matter of fact annulled by force of law, in so far as legal portion of the said minor was thereby impaired. Legacies and betterments shall be valid, in so far as they are not illegal, for the reason that a testator can not deprive the heirs of their legal portions, except in the cases expressly indicated by law (Arts. 763, 813, 814, Civil Code). As has been seen, the testator wish to disposed his property in his will, designating has heirs his natural father, Francisco Escuin, and his wife, Maria Teresa Ponce de Leon, all together ignoring his recognized natural child who is general heir. In view thereof, and for the reason that he exceeded his rights, the said designation of heirs became void and so far as it impaired the right of his general heir and deprived him of his legal portions; the will, however, is valid with respect to the two-thirds of the property which the testator freely disposed of. (Arts. 763, 764, 806, 813, 842, Civil Code.) Notwithstanding the fact that the said designation of heirs annulled and that the law recognizes the title of the minor, Escuin y Batac, to one-third of the property of his natural father, as his lawful and general heir, it is not proper to assert that the late Emilio Escuin de los Santos died intestate in order to establish the conclusion that his said natural recognized child is entitled to succeed to the entire estate under the provisions of article 939 of the Civil Code, inasmuch in accordance with the law a citizen may die partly testate and partly intestate (art. 764, Civil Code). It is clear and unquestionable that it was the wish of the testator to favor his natural father and his wife with certain portions of his property which, under the law, he had the right to dispose of by will, as he has done, provided the legal portion of his general heir was not thereby impaired, the two former persons being considered as legatees under the will. The above-mentioned will neither null, void, nor illegal in so far as the testator leaves two-thirds of his property to his father and wife; testamentary provisions impairing the legal portion of a general heir shall be reduced in so far as they are illegal or excessive. (Art. 817, Civil Code.) The partition of the property of the said testator shall be proceeded within accordance with the foregoing legal bases.

The record does not show the decision of the commissioners became final or was consented to by the parties interest, or that this point was alleged and discussed in the first instance; therefore, such circumstance as alleged by the appellee can not now be considered. By virtue of the foregoing considerations it is our opinion that the orders of the court below, of October 30, 1906, and August 24, 1907, should be reversed, and upon receipt of a certify copy of this decision the court below shall take action in accordance with the law and the terms herein contained with respect to the claims and appeals from the resolution of the commissioners pending judicial decision. So ordered. G.R. No. L-41971 November 29, 1983 ZONIA ANA T. SOLANO, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS, BIENVENIDO S. GARCIA, and EMETERIA S. GARCIA, respondents. Benjamin H. Aquino for petitioner. Alfredo Kallos for respondents.

MELENCIO HERRERA, J.:+.wph!1 A Petition for Review on certiorari of the Decision of the then Court of Appeals affirming the judgment rendered by the former Court of First Instance of Albay, Branch II, in Civil Case No. 3956, an action for Recognition. On July 7, 1969, Bienvenido Garcia and Emeteria Garcia (GARCIAS), claiming to be illegitimate children of Dr. Meliton SOLANO, filed an action for recognition against him. In his Answer, SOLANO denied paternity. On February 3, 1970, during the pendency of the suit, SOLANO died. Petitioner ZONIA Ana Solano was ordered substituted for the DECEDENT as the only surviving heir mentioned in his Last Will and Testament probated on March 10, 1969, or prior to his death, in Special Proceedings No. 842 of the same Court. ZONIA entered her formal appearance as a "substitute defendant" on March 4, 1970 claiming additionally that she was the sole heir of her father, SOLANO, and asking that she be allowed to assume her duties as executrix of the probated Will with the least interference from the GARCIAS who were "mere pretenders to be illegitimate children of SOLANO". On April 6, 1970, the GARCIAS filed their "Reply to ZONIA's Appearance and Supplemental Cause of Action" impugning the recognition of ZONIA as an acknowledged natural child with the prayer that she be declared instead, like them, as an adulterous child of the DECEDENT. ZONIA did not file any responsive pleading and the case proceeded to trial. The GARCIAS further moved for the impleading of the

SOLANO estate in addition to ZONIA, which was opposed by the latter, but which the Trial Court granted in its Order dated April 15, 1970. 1 In the hearing of May 13, 1970, the Trial Court specified the legal issues to be treated in the parties' respective Memoranda as: 1) the question of recognition of the GARCIAS; 2) the correct status of ZONIA, and 3) the hereditary share of each of them in view of the probated Will. 2 On July 14, 1970, the Trial Court, presided by Judge Ezequiel S. Grageda, rendered judgment the dispositive portion of which decrees: t.hqw
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the plaintiffs Bienvenido S. Garcia and Emeteria S. Garcia and the defendant Sonia Ana Tuagnon as the illegitimate children of the late Dr. Meliton Solano under the class of ADULTEROUS CHILDREN, with all the rights granted them by law. The institution of Sonia Ana Solano as sole and universal heir of the said deceased in the will is hereby declared null and void and the three (3) children shall share equally the estate or one- third (1/3) each, without prejudice to the legacy given to Trinidad Tuagnon and the right of any creditors of the estate. No pronouncement as to costs.

Appealed to the Court of Appeals by ZONIA, said Court affirmed the judgment in toto (CA-G.R. No. 49018). ZONIA seeks a reversal of that affirmance in this petition, which was given due course. At the outset, we should state that we are bound by the findings of fact of both the Trial Court and the Appellate Court, particularly, the finding that the GARCIAS and ZONIA are, in fact, illegitimate children of the DECEDENT. The oral testimony and the documentary evidence of record inevitably point to that conclusion, as may be gleaned from the following background facts: SOLANO, a resident of Tabaco, Albay, married Pilar Riosa. The latter died. On a world tour he met a French woman, Lilly Gorand, who became his second wife in 1928. The union was short-lived as she left him in 1929. In the early part of 1930, SOLANO started having amorous relations with Juana Garcia, out of which affair was born Bienvenido Garcia on March 24, 1931 (Exhibits "A" & "3"); and on November 3, 1935, Emeteria Garcia was born (Exhibits "B " & "2"). Their birth certificates and baptismal certificates mention only the mother's name without the father's name. The facts establish, however, that SOLANO during his lifetime recognized the GARCIAS as his children by acts of support and provisions for their education. In 1935, SOLANO started living with Trinidad Tuagnon. Three children were born out of this relation but only petitioner ZONIA Ana Tuagnon, born on July 26, 1941, is living. In her Birth Certificate, her status was listed as "illegitimate"; her mother as Trinidad Tuagnon; her father as "P.N.C. " (Exhibit "V"), or "padre no conocido". During the Japanese occupation, SOLANO obtained a divorce from Lilly Gorand on November 29, 1943 (Exhibits "R-1" and "S-1"). On December 22, 1943, SOLANO and Trinidad Tuagnon executed an "Escritura de Reconocimiento de Unit Hija Natural"

(Exhibit "Q"; "7"), acknowledging ZONIA as a "natural child" and giving her the right to use the name ZONIA Ana Solano y Tuagnon. The document was registered with the Local Civil Registrar on the same date. On January 18, 1969, SOLANO executed his "Ultima Voluntad y Testamento" (Exhibit "11"), instituting ZONIA as his universal heir to all his personal and real properties in Camalig, Tabaco and Malinao, all in the province of Albay, except for five parcels of land in Bantayan, Tabaco, Albay, which were given to Trinidad Tuagnon in usufruct Upon SOLANO's petition (Exhibit "10"), the Will was duly probated on March 10, 1969 in Special Proceedings No. 842 of the Court of First Instance of Albay, Branch II, in a Decision also rendered by Judge Ezequiel S. Grageda (Exhibit "12"). As above stated, these facts are not in question. Petitioner maintains, however, that: t.hqw
I The Court of Appeals, as well as the trial Court, acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction in declaring substitute defendant Zonia Ana Solano, now petitioner, an illegitimate child of the late Dr. Meliton Solano in an action where private respondents, as plaintiffs in the Court below, sought recognition as natural children of Dr. Meliton Solano. II The Court of Appeals, as well as the trial Court, acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction in ordering the division of the estate of Dr. Meliton Solano between the petitioner and private respondents, when said estate is under the jurisdiction and control of the probate Court in Special Proceedings No. 842. III The Court of Appeals, as well as the trial Court, acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction in declaring nun and void the institution of heir in the last will and testament of Dr. Meliton Solano, which was duly probated in special proceedings No. 842 of the Court 3 of First Instance of Albay, and in concluding that total intestacy resulted there from.

Directly challenged is the jurisdiction of the lower Court, in an action for recognition: 1) to declare ZONIA as an illegitimate child of SOLANO; 2) to order the division of the estate in the same action despite the pendency of Special Proceedings No. 842; and 3) to declare null and void the institution of heir in the Last Win and Testament of SOLANO, which was duly probated in the same Special Proceedings No. 842, and concluding that total intestacy resulted. It is true that the action below was basically one for recognition. However, upon notice of SOLANO's death, the Trial Court ordered his substitution by ZONIA, "the only surviving heir ... as of as of now" 4 In her "Appearance of Substitute Defendant Zonia Ana T. Solano ... Sole and Universal Heir", ZONIA specifically prayed that she be 6 allowed to assume her duties as executrix and administratrix of the probated will and

testament of the late Dr. Meliton Solano, under Special Proceedings No. 842, which is already final and executory, with least interference from the plaintiffs (GARCIAS) who may be classified for the moment as only pretenders to be illegitimate children". In other words, ZONIA did not only rely upon SOLANO's Answer already of record but asserted new rights in her capacity as sole and universal heir, "executrix and administratrix, "and challenged the right of the GARCIAS to recognition. Thus, she was not defending the case as a mere representative of the deceased but asserted rights and defenses in her own personal capacity. So it was that the GARCIAS filed a "Reply to Appearance of ZONIA ... and Supplemental Cause of Action ... "vigorously denying that ZONIA was SOLANO's sole and universal heir; that ZONIA could not legally be considered as SOLANO's acknowledged natural child because of a legal impediment; that the admission to probate of SOLANO's Will was merely conclusive as to its due execution; that the supposed recognition under a notarial instrument of ZONIA as an acknowledged natural child was fraudulent and a product of misrepresentation; that ZONIA's recognition in the Will as an acknowledged natural child is subject to nullification and that at most ZONIA is, like them, an adulterous child of SOLANO with Trinidad Tuagnon. During the trial, the GARCIAS presented evidence to prove their allegations not only in their main complaint but also in their "Reply to Appearance and Supplemental Cause of Action". ZONIA presented no objection to the presentation by the GARCIAS of their oral and documentary evidence and even cross-examined their witnesses. ZONIA, for her part, presented her own testimonial and documentary evidence, denied the relationship of the GARCIAS' to SOLANO and presented the notarial recognition in her favor as an acknowledged natural child by SOLANO and Trinidad Tuagnon (Exhibit "Q"). Thus, as raised by the parties in their own pleadings and pursuant to their respective evidence during the trial, the litigation was converted into a contest between the GARCIAS and ZONIA precisely as to their correct status as heirs and their respective rights as such. No error was committed by either the Trial Court or the Appellate Court, therefore, in resolving the issue of ZONIA's status. ZONIA additionally assails the jurisdiction of the Trial Court in declaring null and void the institution of heir in SOLANO's will; in concluding that total intestacy resulted therefrom; and distributing the shares of the parties in SOLANO's estate when said estate was under the jurisdiction and control of the Probate Court in Special Proceedings No. 842. Normally, this would be the general rule. However, a peculiar situation is thrust upon us here. It should be recalled that SOLANO himself instituted the petition for probate of the Will during his lifetime. That proceeding was not one to settle the estate of a deceased person that would be deemed terminated only upon the final distribution of the residue of the hereditary estate. With the Will allowed to probate, the case would have terminated except that it appears that the parties, after SOLANO's death, continued to file pleadings therein. Secondly, upon motion of the GARCIAS, and over the objection of ZONIA, the Trial Court ordered the impleading of the estate of SOLANO and proceeded on that basis. In effect, therefore, the two cases were consolidated. The records further

disclose that the action for recognition (Civil Case No. 3956) and Spec. Procs. No. 842 were pending before the same Branch of the Court and before the same presiding Judge. Thirdly, it is settled that the allowance of a Will is conclusive only as to its due execution. 5 A probate decree is not concerned with the intrinsic validity or legality of the provisions of the Will. 6 Thus, the Trial Court and the Appellate Court had jurisdiction to conclude that, upon the facts, the GARCIAS and ZONIA were in the same category as illegitimate children; that ZONIA's acknowledgment as a "natural child" in a notarial document executed by SOLANO and Trinidad Tuagnon on December 22, 1943 was erroneous because at the time of her birth in 1941, SOLANO was still married to Lilly Gorand, his divorce having been obtained only in 1943, and, therefore, did not have the legal capacity to contract marriage at the time of ZONIA's conception, 7 that being compulsory heirs, the GARCIAS were, in fact, pretended from SOLANO's Last' Will and Testament; and that as a result of said preterition, the institution of ZONIA as sole heir by SOLANO is null and void pursuant to Article 854 of the Civil Code. t.hqw
The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid 8 insofar as they are not inofficious. ...

As provided in the foregoing provision, the disposition in the Will giving the usufruct in favor of Trinidad Tuagnon over the five parcels of land in Bantayan, Tabaco, Albay, is a legacy, recognized in Article 563 of the Civil Code, 9 and should be respected in so far as it is not inofficious. 10 So also did the Trial Court have jurisdiction in resolving the issue of the hereditary shares of the GARCIAS and ZONIA. However, contrary to the conclusions of the Courts below, holding that the entire Will is void and intestacy ensues, the pretention of the GARCIAS should annul the institution of ZONIA as heir only insofar as the legitime of the omitted heirs is impaired. The Will, therefore, is valid subject to that limitation. 11 It is a plain that the intention of the testator was to favor ZONIA with certain portions of his property, which, under the law, he had a right to dispose of by Will, so that the disposition in her favor should be upheld as to the one-half (1/2) portion of the property that the testator could freely dispose of. 12 Since the legitime of illegitimate children consists of one half (1/2) of the hereditary estate, 13 the GARCIAS and ZONIA each have a right to participation therein in the proportion of one-third (1/3) each. ZONIA's hereditary share will, therefore, be 1/2 + (1/3 of 1/2) or 4/6 of the estate, while the GARCIAS will respectively be entitled to 1/3 of 1/2 or 1/6 of the value of the estate. As heretofore stated, the usufruct in favor of Trinidad Tuagnon over the properties indicated in the Will is valid and should be respected. The case of Nuguid vs. Nuguid, et al., 14 reiterating the ruling in Neri, et al. vs. Akutin, et al., 15 which held that where the institution of a universal heir is null and void due to pretention, the Will is a complete nullity and intestate succession ensues, is not

applicable herein because in the Nuguid case, only a one-sentence Will was involved with no other provision except the institution of the sole and universal heir; there was no specification of individual property; there were no specific legacies or bequests. It was upon that factual setting that this Court declared: t.hqw
The disputed order, we observe, declares the will in question 'a complete nullity. Article 854 of the Civil Code in turn merely nullifies 'the institution of heir'. Considering, however, that the will before us solely provides for the institution of petitioner as universal heir, and nothing more, the result is the same. The entire will is null." (at p. 459)

In contrast, in the case at bar, there is a specific bequest or legacy so that Article 854 of the Civil Code, supra, applies merely annulling the "institution of heir". Lastly, it should be pointed out that the jurisdiction of the Trial Court and the Appellate Court was never questioned before either Court. ZONIA herself had gone, without objection, to trial on the issues raised and as defined by the Trial Court. Neither had ZONIA assigned lack of jurisdiction of the Trial Court as an error before the Appellate Court. She should now be held estopped to repudiate that jurisdiction to which she had voluntarily submitted, after she had received an unfavorable judgment, The leading case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy, 16 on this point, declared: t.hqw
A party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and after failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question the same jurisdiction. The question whether the court has jurisdiction either of the subject matter of the action or of the parties is not because the judgment or order of the court is valid and conclusive as an adjudication but for the reason that such practice cannot be tolerated obviously for reasons of public policy. After voluntarily submitting a cause and encountering an adverse decision on the merits, it is too late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or power of the court.

WHEREFORE, the judgment under review is hereby modified in that the hereditary share in the estate of the decedent of petitioner Zonia Ana T. Solano is hereby declared to be (1/2 + (1/3 of 1/2) or 4/6 of said estate, while that of private respondents, Bienvenido S. Garcia and Emeteria S. Garcia, shall each be (1/3 of 1/2) or (1/6) of the estate. The usufruct in favor of Trinidad Tuagnon shall be respected. The judgment is affirmed in all other respects. No costs. SO ORDERED.1wph1.t Plana, Relova and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring: The record shows that the probate proceeding (Sp. Proc. No. 842) was not one for settlement of estate of a deceased but one instituted by the testator himself, Dr. Meliton Solano, for the allowance of the will during his lifetime under Article 838 of the Civil Code. Such allowance was granted and this terminated the proceeding, although as noted in the Court's opinion, the parties continued to file some pleadings therein after Dr. Solano's death. But the issues between the parties as to their status and hereditary shares in view of the probated will naming petitioner as sole heir were expressly delineated, tried and determined in the action for recognition (Civil Case No. 3956) filed by respondents Garcias against their father Dr. Solano who was substituted by petitioner as defendant (and sole heir of the estate under the probated will) after his death. In effect, therefore, the two cases (assuming that the probate proceeding could be deemed as having continued notwithstanding its termination with the allowance in vitam of Dr. Solano's will) which were pending before the same judge and the same branch of the trial court could be correctly said to have been. consolidated. Finally, petitioner is now stopped, after getting an adverse verdict, from repudiating belatedly the jurisdiction of the trial and appellate courts to which she had submitted without question her cause.

Separate Opinions TEEHANKEE, J., concurring: The record shows that the probate proceeding (Sp. Proc. No. 842) was not one for settlement of estate of a deceased but one instituted by the testator himself, Dr. Meliton Solano, for the allowance of the will during his lifetime under Article 838 of the Civil Code. Such allowance was granted and this terminated the proceeding, although as noted in the Court's opinion, the parties continued to file some pleadings therein after Dr. Solano's death. But the issues between the parties as to their status and hereditary shares in view of the probated will naming petitioner as sole heir were expressly delineated, tried and determined in the action for recognition (Civil Case No. 3956) filed by respondents Garcias against their father Dr. Solano who was substituted by petitioner as defendant (and sole heir of the estate under the probated will) after his death. In effect, therefore, the two cases (assuming that the probate proceeding could be deemed as having continued notwithstanding its termination with the allowance in vitam of Dr. Solano's will) which were pending before the same judge and the same branch of the trial court could be correctly said to have been. consolidated. Finally, petitioner is now stopped, after getting an adverse verdict, from repudiating belatedly the jurisdiction of the trial and appellate courts to which she had submitted without question her cause.

G.R. No. 72706 October 27, 1987 CONSTANTINO C. ACAIN, petitioner, vs. HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT (Third Special Cases Division), VIRGINIA A. FERNANDEZ and ROSA DIONGSON, respondents.

PARAS, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision * of respondent. Court of Appeals in AC-G.R. SP No. 05744 promulgated on August 30, 1985 (Rollo, p. 108) ordering the dismissal of the petition in Special Proceedings No, 591 ACEB and its Resolution issued on October 23, 1985 (Rollo, p. 72) denying respondents' (petitioners herein) motion for reconsideration. The dispositive portion of the questioned decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and respondent Regional Trial Court of the Seventh Judicial Region, Branch XIII (Cebu City), is hereby ordered to dismiss the petition in Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB No special pronouncement is made as to costs.

The antecedents of the case, based on the summary of the Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, (Rollo, pp. 108-109) are as follows: On May 29, 1984 petitioner Constantino Acain filed on the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City Branch XIII, a petition for the probate of the will of the late Nemesio Acain and for the issuance to the same petitioner of letters testamentary, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB (Rollo, p. 29), on the premise that Nemesio Acain died leaving a will in which petitioner and his brothers Antonio, Flores and Jose and his sisters Anita, Concepcion, Quirina and Laura were instituted as heirs. The will allegedly executed by Nemesio Acain on February 17, 1960 was written in Bisaya (Rollo, p. 27) with a translation in English (Rollo, p. 31) submi'tted by petitioner without objection raised by private respondents. The will contained provisions on burial rites, payment of debts, and the appointment of a certain Atty. Ignacio G. Villagonzalo as the executor of the testament. On the disposition of the testator's property, the will provided:
THIRD: All my shares that I may receive from our properties. house, lands and money which I earned jointly with my wife Rosa Diongson shall all be given by me to my brother SEGUNDO ACAIN Filipino, widower, of legal age and presently residing at 357-C Sanciangko Street, Cebu City. In case my brother Segundo Acain pre-deceased me, all the money properties, lands, houses there in Bantayan and here in Cebu City which constitute my share shall be given to me to his children, namely: Anita, Constantino, Concepcion, Quirina, laura, Flores, Antonio and Jose, all surnamed Acain.

Obviously, Segundo pre-deceased Nemesio. Thus it is the children of Segundo who are claiming to be heirs, with Constantino as the petitioner in Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB After the petition was set for hearing in the lower court on June 25, 1984 the oppositors (respondents herein Virginia A. Fernandez, a legally adopted daughter of tile deceased and the latter's widow Rosa Diongson Vda. de Acain filed a motion to dismiss on the following grounds for the petitioner has no legal capacity to institute these proceedings; (2) he is merely a universal heir and (3) the widow and the adopted daughter have been pretirited. (Rollo, p. 158). Said motion was denied by the trial judge. After the denial of their subsequent motion for reconsideration in the lower court, respondents filed with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction which was subsequently referred to the Intermediate Appellate Court by Resolution of the Court dated March 11, 1985 (Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 3; Rollo, p. 159). Respondent Intermediate Appellate Court granted private respondents' petition and ordered the trial court to dismiss the petition for the probate of the will of Nemesio Acain in Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB His motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner filed this present petition for the review of respondent Court's decision on December 18, 1985 (Rollo, p. 6). Respondents' Comment was filed on June 6, 1986 (Rollo, p. 146). On August 11, 1986 the Court resolved to give due course to the petition (Rollo, p. 153). Respondents' Memorandum was filed on September 22, 1986 (Rollo, p. 157); the Memorandum for petitioner was filed on September 29, 1986 (Rollo, p. 177). Petitioner raises the following issues (Memorandum for petitioner, p. 4):
(A) The petition filed in AC-G.R. No. 05744 for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction is not the proper remedy under the premises; (B) The authority of the probate courts is limited only to inquiring into the extrinsic validity of the will sought to be probated and it cannot pass upon the intrinsic validity thereof before it is admitted to probate; (C) The will of Nemesio Acain is valid and must therefore, be admitted to probate. The preterition mentioned in Article 854 of the New Civil Code refers to preterition of "compulsory heirs in the direct line," and does not apply to private respondents who are not compulsory heirs in the direct line; their omission shall not annul the institution of heirs; (D) DICAT TESTATOR ET MERIT LEX. What the testator says will be the law; (E) There may be nothing in Article 854 of the New Civil Code, that suggests that mere institution of a universal heir in the will would give the heir so instituted a share in the

inheritance but there is a definite distinct intention of the testator in the case at bar, explicitly expressed in his will. This is what matters and should be in violable. (F) As an instituted heir, petitioner has the legal interest and standing to file the petition in Sp. Proc. No. 591 ACEB for probate of the will of Nemesio Acain and (G) Article 854 of the New Civil Code is a bill of attainder. It is therefore unconstitutional and ineffectual.

The pivotal issue in this case is whether or not private respondents have been pretirited. Article 854 of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devisees and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not; inofficious. If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution shall he effectual, without prejudice to the right of representation.

Preterition consists in the omission in the testator's will of the forced heirs or anyone of them either because they are not mentioned therein, or, though mentioned, they are neither instituted as heirs nor are expressly disinherited (Nuguid v. Nuguid, 17 SCRA 450 [1966]; Maninang v. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478 [1982]). Insofar as the widow is concerned, Article 854 of the Civil Code may not apply as she does not ascend or descend from the testator, although she is a compulsory heir. Stated otherwise, even if the surviving spouse is a compulsory heir, there is no preterition even if she is omitted from the inheritance, for she is not in the direct line. (Art. 854, Civil code) however, the same thing cannot be said of the other respondent Virginia A. Fernandez, whose legal adoption by the testator has not been questioned by petitioner (.Memorandum for the Petitioner, pp. 8-9). Under Article 39 of P.D. No. 603, known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code, adoption gives to the adopted person the same rights and duties as if he were a legitimate child of the adopter and makes the adopted person a legal heir of the adopter. It cannot be denied that she has totally omitted and preterited in the will of the testator and that both adopted child and the widow were deprived of at least their legitime. Neither can it be denied that they were not expressly disinherited. Hence, this is a clear case of preterition of the legally adopted child. Pretention annuls the institution of an heir and annulment throws open to intestate succession the entire inheritance including "la porcion libre (que) no hubiese dispuesto en virtual de legado mejora o donacion" Maniesa as cited in Nuguid v. Nuguid, supra; Maninang v. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA [1982]). The only provisions which do not result in intestacy are the legacies and devises made in the will for they should stand valid and respected, except insofar as the legitimes are concerned. The universal institution of petitioner together with his brothers and sisters to the entire inheritance of the testator results in totally abrogating the will because the nullification of

such institution of universal heirs-without any other testamentary disposition in the willamounts to a declaration that nothing at all was written. Carefully worded and in clear terms, Article 854 of the Civil Code offers no leeway for inferential interpretation (Nuguid v. Nuguid), supra. No legacies nor devises having been provided in the will the whole property of the deceased has been left by universal title to petitioner and his brothers and sisters. The effect of annulling the "Institution of heirs will be, necessarily, the opening of a total intestacy (Neri v. Akutin, 74 Phil. 185 [1943]) except that proper legacies and devises must, as already stated above, be respected. We now deal with another matter. In order that a person may be allowed to intervene in a probate proceeding he must have an interest iii the estate, or in the will, or in the property to be affected by it either as executor or as a claimant of the estate and an interested party is one who would be benefited by the estate such as an heir or one who has a claim against the estate like a creditor (Sumilang v. Ramagosa, 21 SCRA 1369/1967). Petitioner is not the appointed executor, neither a devisee or a legatee there being no mention in the testamentary disposition of any gift of an individual item of personal or real property he is called upon to receive (Article 782, Civil Code). At the outset, he appears to have an interest in the will as an heir, defined under Article 782 of the Civil Code as a person called to the succession either by the provision of a will or by operation of law. However, intestacy having resulted from the preterition of respondent adopted child and the universal institution of heirs, petitioner is in effect not an heir of the testator. He has no legal standing to petition for the probate of the will left by the deceased and Special Proceedings No. 591 A-CEB must be dismissed. As a general rule certiorari cannot be a substitute for appeal, except when the questioned order is an oppressive exercise of j judicial authority (People v. Villanueva, 110 SCRA 465 [1981]; Vda. de Caldito v. Segundo, 117 SCRA 573 [1982]; Co Chuan Seng v. Court of Appeals, 128 SCRA 308 [1984]; and Bautista v. Sarmiento, 138 SCRA 587 [1985]). It is axiomatic that the remedies of certiorari and prohibition are not available where the petitioner has the remedy of appeal or some other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of law (DD Comendador Construction Corporation v. Sayo (118 SCRA 590 [1982]). They are, however, proper remedies to correct a grave abuse of discretion of the trial court in not dismissing a case where the dismissal is founded on valid grounds (Vda. de Bacang v. Court of Appeals, 125 SCRA 137 [1983]). Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB is for the probate of a will. As stated by respondent Court, the general rule is that the probate court's authority is limited only to the extrinsic validity of the will, the due execution thereof, the testator's testamentary capacity and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. The intrinsic validity of the will normally comes only after the Court has declared that the will has been duly authenticated. Said court at this stage of the proceedings is not called upon to rule on the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will (Nuguid v. Nuguid, 17 SCRA 449 [1966]; Sumilang v. Ramagosa, supra; Maninang v. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478 [1982]; Cayetano v. Leonides, 129 SCRA 522 [1984]; and Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals, 139 SCRA 206 [1985]).

The rule, however, is not inflexible and absolute. Under exceptional circumstances, the probate court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain provisions of the will (Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals, supra). In Nuguid v. Nuguid the oppositors to the probate moved to dismiss on the ground of absolute preteriton The probate court acting on the motion held that the will in question was a complete nullity and dismissed the petition without costs. On appeal the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the probate court, induced by practical considerations. The Court said:
We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of the will, nothing will be gained. On the contrary, this litigation will be protracted. And for aught that appears in the record, in the event of probate or if the court rejects the will, probability exists that the case will come up once again before us on the same issue of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the will. Result: waste of time, effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the practical considerations that induce us to a belief that we might as well meet head-on the issue of the validity of the provisions of the will in question. After all there exists a justiciable controversy crying for solution.

In Saguimsim v. Lindayag (6 SCRA 874 [1962]) the motion to dismiss the petition by the surviving spouse was grounded on petitioner's lack of legal capacity to institute the proceedings which was fully substantiated by the evidence during the hearing held in connection with said motion. The Court upheld the probate court's order of dismissal. In Cayetano v. Leonides, supra one of the issues raised in the motion to dismiss the petition deals with the validity of the provisions of the will. Respondent Judge allowed the probate of the will. The Court held that as on its face the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner the respondent judge should have denied its probate outright. Where circumstances demand that intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions be passed upon even before the extrinsic validity of the will is resolved, the probate court should meet the issue. (Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals, supra; Nuguid v. Nuguid, supra). In the instant case private respondents filed a motion to dismiss the petition in Sp. Proceedings No. 591 ACEB of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu on the following grounds: (1) petitioner has no legal capacity to institute the proceedings; (2) he is merely a universal heir; and (3) the widow and the adopted daughter have been preterited (Rollo, p. 158). It was denied by the trial court in an order dated January 21, 1985 for the reason that "the grounds for the motion to dismiss are matters properly to be resolved after a hearing on the issues in the course of the trial on the merits of the case (Rollo, p. 32). A subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied by the trial court on February 15, 1985 (Rollo, p. 109). For private respondents to have tolerated the probate of the will and allowed the case to progress when on its face the will appears to be intrinsically void as petitioner and his brothers and sisters were instituted as universal heirs coupled with the obvious fact that one of the private respondents had been preterited would have been an exercise in futility. It would have meant a waste of time, effort, expense, plus added futility. The trial court could have denied its probate outright or could have passed upon the intrinsic

validity of the testamentary provisions before the extrinsic validity of the will was resolved (Cayetano v. Leonides, supra; Nuquid v. Nuguid, supra. The remedies of certiorari and prohibition were properly availed of by private respondents. Thus, this Court ruled that where the grounds for dismissal are indubitable, the defendants had the right to resort to the more speedy, and adequate remedies of certiorari and prohibition to correct a grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, committed by the trial court in not dismissing the case, (Vda. de Bacang v. Court of Appeals, supra) and even assuming the existence of the remedy of appeal, the Court harkens to the rule that in the broader interests of justice, a petition for certiorari may be entertained, particularly where appeal would not afford speedy and adequate relief. (Maninang Court of Appeals, supra). PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit and the questioned decision of respondent Court of Appeals promulgated on August 30, 1985 and its Resolution dated October 23, 1985 are hereby AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.

September 13, 1913 G.R. No. 6878 MARCELINA EDROSO, petitioner-appellant, vs. PABLO and BASILIO SABLAN, opponents-appellees. Francisco Dominguez for appellant. Crispin Oben for appellees. ARELLANO, J.: The subject matter of this appeal is the registration of certain property classified as required by law to be reserved. Marcelina Edroso applied for registration and issuance of title to two parcels of land situated in the municipality of Pagsanjan, Province of Laguna, one of 1 hectare 77 ares and 63 centares, and the other 1 hectare 6 ares and 26 centares. Two applications were filed, one for each parcel, but both were heard and decided in a single judgment. Marcelina Edroso was married to Victoriano Sablan until his death on September 22, 1882. In this marriage they had a son named Pedro, who was born on August 1, 1881, and who at his fathers death inherited the two said parcels. Pedro also died on July 15, 1902, unmarried and without issue and by this decease the two parcels of land passed through inheritance to his

mother, Marcelina Edroso. Hence the hereditary title whereupon is based the application for registration of her ownership. Two legitimate brothers of Victoriano Sablan ? that is, two uncles german of Pedro Sablan ? appeared in the case to oppose the registration, claiming one of two things: Either that the registration be denied, or that if granted to her the right reserved by law to the opponents be recorded in the registration of each parcel. (B. of E., 11, 12.) The Court of Land Registration denied the registration and the application appealed through a bill of exceptions. Registration was denied because the trial court held that the parcels of land in question partake of the nature of property required by law to be reserved and that in such a case application could only be presented jointly in the names of the mother and the said two uncles of Pedro Sablan. The appellant impugns as erroneous the first idea advanced (second assignment of error), and denies that the land which are the subject matter of the application are required by law to be reserved ? a contention we regard as indefensible. Facts: (1) The applicant acquired said lands from her descendant Pedro Sablan by inheritance; (2) Pedro Sablan had acquired them from his ascendant Victoriano Sablan, likewise by inheritance; (3) Victoriano Sablan had likewise acquired them by inheritance from his ascendants, Mariano Sablan and Maria Rita Fernandez, they having been adjudicated to him in the partition of hereditary property had between him and his brothers. These are admitted facts. A very definite conclusions of law is that the hereditary title is one without a valuable consideration [gratuitous title], and it is so characterized in article 968 of the Civil Code, for he who acquires by inheritance gives nothing in return for what he receives; and a very definite conclusion of law also is that the uncles german are within the third degree of blood relationship. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant property which the latter acquired without a valuable consideration from another ascendant, or from a brother or sister, is under obligation to reserve what he has acquired by operation of law for the relatives who are within the third degree and belong to the line whence the property proceeded. (Civil Code, art. 811.) Marcelina Edroso, ascendant of Pedro Sablan, inherited from him these two parcels of land which he had acquired without a valuable consideration ? that is, by inheritance from another ascendant, his father Victoriano. Having acquired them by operation of law, she is obligated to relatives within the third degree and belong to the line of Mariano Sablan and Maria Rita Fernandez, whence the lands proceeded. The trial courts ruling that they partake of the nature property required by law to be reserved is therefore in accordance with the law. But the appellant contends that it is not proven that the two parcels of land in question have been acquired by operation of law, and that only property acquired without a valuable consideration, which is by operation of law, is required by law to reserved.

The appellees justly argue that this defense was not alleged or discussed in first instance, but only herein. Certainly, the allegation in first instance was merely that Pedro Sablan acquired the property in question in 1882, before the enforcement of the Civil Code, which establishes the alleged right required by law to be reserved, of which the opponents speak; hence, prescription of the right of action; and finally, opponents renunciation of their right, admitting that it existed and that they had it (p. 49). However that be, it is not superflous to say, although it may be unnecessary, that the applicant inherited the two parcels of land from her son Pedro, who died unmarried and without issue. The trial court so held as a conclusion of fact, without any objection on the appellants part. (B. of E., 17, 20.) When Pedro Sablan died without issue, his mother became his heir by virtue of her right to her sons legal portion under article 935 of the Civil Code: In the absence of legitimate children and descendants of the deceased, his ascendants shall from him, to the exclusion of collaterals. The contrary could only have occurred if the heiress had demonstrated that any of these lands had passed into her possession by free disposal in her sons will; but the case presents no testamentary provision that demonstrate any transfer of property from the son to the mother, not by operation of law, but by her sons wish. The legal presumption is that the transfer of the two parcels of land was abintestate or by operation of law, and not by will or the wish of the predecessor in interest. (Act No. 190, sec. 334, No. 26.) All the provision of article 811 of the Civil Code have therefore been fully complied with. If Pedro Sablan had instituted his mother in a will as the universal heiress of his property, all he left at death would not be required by law to be reserved, but only what he would have perforce left her as the legal portion of a legitimate ascendant. The legal portion of the parents or ascendants is constituted by one-half of the hereditary estate of the children and descendants. The latter may unrestrictedly dispose of the other half, with the exception of what is established in article 836. (Civil Code, art. 809.) In such case only the half constituting the legal portion would be required by law to be reserved, because it is what by operation of law could full to the mother from her sons inheritance; the other half at free disposal would not have to be reserved. This is all that article 811 of the Civil Code says. No error has been incurred in holding that the two parcels of land which are the subject matter of the application are required by law to be reserved, because the interested party has not proved that either of them became her inheritance through the free disposal of her son. Proof testate succession devolves upon the heir or heiress who alleges it. It must be admitted that a half of Pedro Sablans inheritance was acquired by his mother by operation of law. The law provides that the other half is also presumed to be acquired by operation of law ? that is, by intestate succession. Otherwise, proof to offset this presumption must be presented by the

interested party, that is, that the other half was acquired by the mans wish and not by operation of law. Nor is the third assignments of error admissible ? that the trial court failed to sustain the renunciation of the right required by law to be reserved, which the applicant attributes to the opponents. Such renunciation does not appear in the case. The appellant deduces it from the fact that the appellees did not contradict the following statement of hers at the trial: The day after my brother-in-law Pablo Sablan dies and was buried, his brother came to my house and said that those rice lands were mine, because we had already talked about making delivery of them. (p. 91). The other brother alluded to is Basilio Sablan, as stated on page 92. From the fact that Basilio Sablan said that the lands belong to the appellant and must be delivered to her it cannot be deduced that he renounced the right required by law to be reserved in such lands by virtue of the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code, for they really belong to her and must be delivered to her. The fourth assignments of error set up the defense of prescription of the right of action. The appellant alleges prescription of the opponents right of action for requiring fulfillment of the obligation they attribute to her recording in the property registry the right required by law to be reserved, in accordance with the provisions of the Mortgage Law; and as such obligation is created by law, it prescribed in the time fixed in No. 2 of section 43 of Act No. 190. She adds: Prescription of the right alleged to the reserved by force of law has not been invoked. (Eight allegation.) The appellant does not state in her brief what those provisions of the Mortgage Law are. Nor did she do so in first instance, where she says only the following, which is quoted from the record: I do not refer to the prescription of the right required by law to be reserved in the property; I refer to the prescription of the right of action of those who are entitled to the guaranty of that right for seeking that guaranty, for those who are entitled to that right the Mortgage Law grants a period of time for recording it in the property registry, if I remember correctly, ninety days, for seeking entry in the registry; but as they have not exercised that right of action, such right of action for seeking here that it be recorded has prescribed. The right of action for requiring that the property be reserved has not prescribed, but the right of action for guaranteeing in the property registry that this property is required by law to be reserved (p. 69 of the record). The appellees reply: It is true that their right of action has prescribed for requiring the applicant to constitute the mortgage imposed by the Mortgage Law for guaranteeing the effectiveness of the required by law to be reserved; but because that right of action has prescribed, that property has not been divested of its character of property required by law to be reserved; that it has such character by virtue of article 8112 of the Civil Code, which went into effect in the Philippine in December, 1889, and not by virtue of the Mortgage Law, which only went into effect in the country by law of July 14, 1893; that from December, 1889, to July, 1893, property which under article 811 of the Civil Code acquired the character of property reserved by operation of law was such independently of the Mortgage Law, which did not yet form part of the positive legislation

of the country; that although the Mortgage Law has been in effect in the country since July, 1893, still it has in no way altered the force of article 811 of the Civil Code, but has operated to reinforce the same merely by granting the right of action to the persons in whose favor the right is reserved by operation of law to require of the person holding the property a guaranty in the form of a mortgage to answer for the enforcement, in due time, of the right; that to lose the right of action to the guaranty is not to lose the right itself; that the right reserved is the principal obligation and the mortgage the accessory obligation, and loss of the accessory does not mean loss of the principal. (Fifth and sixth allegations.) The existence of the right required by law to be reserved in the two parcels of land in question being indisputable, even though it be admitted that the right of action which the Mortgage Law grants as a guaranty of final enforcement of such right has prescribed, the only thing to be determined by this appeal is the question raised in the first assignment of error, that is, how said two parcels of land can and ought to be registered, not in the property registry newly established by the Mortgage Law, but in the registry newly organized by Act No. 496. But as the have slipped into the allegations quoted some rather inexact ideas that further obscure such an intricate subject as this of the rights required to be reserved in Spanish-Philippine law, a brief disgression on the most essential points may not be out of place here. The Mortgage Law of July 14, 1893, to which the appellees allude, is the amended one of the colonies, not the first enforced in the colonies and consequently in the Philippines. The preamble of said amended Mortgage Law states: The Mortgage Law in force in Spain for thirty years went into effect, with the modifications necessary for its adaptation, in the Antilles on May 1, 1880, and in the Philippines on December 1, 1889, thus commencing in those regions the renovation of the law on real property, and consequently of agrarian credit. The Civil Code went into effect in the Philippines in the same year, 1889, but on the eight day. Two kinds of property required by law to be reserved are distinguished in the Civil Code, as set forth in article 968 thereof, where it says: Besides the reservation imposed by article 811, the widow or widower contracting a seconds marriage shall be obliged to set apart for the children and descendants of the first marriage the ownership of all the property he or she may have required from the deceased spouse by will, by intestate succession, by gift, or other transfer without a valuable consideration. The Mortgage Law of Spain and the first law that went into effect in the Philippines on December 1, 189, do not contain any provision that can be applied to the right reserved by article 811 of the Civil Code, for such right is a creation of the Civil Code. In those laws appear merely the provisions intended to guarantee the effectiveness of the right in favor of the children of the first marriage when their father or mother contracts a second marriage. Nevertheless, the holding of the supreme court of Spain, for the first time set forth in the decision on appeal of November 8, 1894, has been reiterated:

That while the provisions of articles 977 and 978 of the Civil Code that tend to secure the right required to be reserved in the property refer especially to the spouses who contract second or later marriages, they do not thereby cease to be applicable to the right establishes in article 811, because, aside from the legal reason, which is the same in both cases, such must be the construction from the important and conclusive circumstance that said provisions are set forth in the chapter that deals with inheritances in common, either testate or intestate, and because article 968, which heads the section that deals in general with property required by law to be reserved, makes reference to the provisions in article 811; and it would consequently be contradictory to the principle of the law and of the common nature of said provisions not to hold them applicable to that right. Thus it was again stated in a decision on appeal, December 30, 1897, that: As the supreme court has already declared, the guaranties that the Code fixes in article 977 and 978 for the rights required by law to the reserved to which said articles refer, are applicable to the special right dealt with in article 811, because the same principle exists and because of the general nature of the provisions of the chapter in which they are found. From this principle of jurisprudence it is inferred that if from December, 1889, to July, 1893, a case had occurred of a right required to be reserved by article 811, the persons entitled to such right would have been able to institute, against the ascendant who must make the reservation, proceedings for the assurance and guaranty that article 977 and 978 grant to the children of a first marriage against their father or mother who has married again. The proceedings for assurance, under article 977; are: Inventory of the property subject to the right reserved, annotation in the property registry of such right reserved in the real property and appraisal of the personal property; and the guaranty, under article 978, is the assurance by mortgage, in the case of realty, of the value of what is validly alienated. But since the amended Mortgage Law went into effect by law of July 14, 1893, in the Philippines this is not only a principle of jurisprudence which may be invoked for the applicability to the right reserved in article 811 of the remedies of assurance and guaranty provided for the right reserved in article 968, but there is a positive provision of said law, which is an advantage over the law of Spain, to wit, article 199, which read thus: The special mortgage for guaranteeing the right reserved by article 811 of the Civil Code can only be required by the relatives in whose favor the property is to be reserved, if they are of age; if minors, it will be require by the person who should legally represent them. In either case the right of the persons in whose favor the property must be reserved will be secured by the same requisites as set forth in the preceding article (relative to the right reserved by article 968 of the Civil Code), applying to the person obligated to reserve the right the provisions with respect to the father. In article 168 of the same law the new subsection 2 is added in connection with article 199 quoted, so that said article 168 reads as thus: Legal mortgage is established:

1. . . . 2. In favor of the relatives to whom article 811 of the Civil Code refers, for the property required to be reserved, upon the property of the person obliged to reserve it. This being admitted, and admitted also that both the litigating parties agree that the period of ninety days fixed for the right of action to the guaranty, that is, to require the mortgage that guarantees the effectiveness of the right required by law to be reserved, has prescribed, it is necessary to lay down a principle in this matter. Now it should by noted that such action has not prescribed, because the period of ninety days fixed by the Mortgage Law is not for the exercise of the right of action of the persons entitled to the right reserved, but for the fulfillment of the obligation of the person who must make the reservation. Article 191 of the reads thus: If ninety days pass without the fathers instituting in court the proceeding to which the foregoing article refers, the relatives themselves may demand fulfillment, etc., . . . applying, according to said article 199, to the person obligated to reserve the right the provisions with respect to the father. Article 203 of the regulation for the application of the Mortgage Law says: In the case of article 199 of the law the proceedings to which article 190 thereof refers will be instituted within the ninety days succeeding the date of the date of the acceptation of the inheritance by the person obligated to reserve the property; after this period has elapsed, the interested parties may require the institution of such proceedings, if they are of age; and in any other case, their legal representatives. Thus it clearly appears that the lapse of the ninety days is not the expiration by prescription of the period for the right must be reserved, but really the commencement thereof, enables them to exercise it at any time, since no limits is set in the law. So, if the annotation of the right required by law to be reserved in the two parcels of land in question must be made in the property registry of the Mortgage Law, the persons entitled to it may now institute proceedings to that end, and an allegation of prescription against the exercise of such right of action cannot be sustained. Since the applicant confesses that she does not allege prescription of the right of action for requiring that the property be reserved, for she explicitly so stated at the trial, and as the case presents no necessity for the proceedings that should be instituted in accordance with the provisions of the Mortgage Law, this prescription of the right of action cannot take place, because such right of action does not exist with reference to instituting proceedings for annotation in the registry of Act No. 496 of the right to the property required by law to be reserved. It is sufficient, as was done in the present case, to intervene in the registration proceedings with the claim set up by the two opponents for recording therein the right reserved in either parcel of land. Now comes the main point in the appeal. The trial court denied the registration because of this finding set forth in its decision:

Absolute title to the two parcels of land undoubtedly belongs to the applicant and the two uncles of the deceased Pedro Sablan, and the application cannot be made except in the name of all of them in common. (B. of E., p. 20.) It must be remembered that absolute title consists of the rights to use, enjoy, dispose of, and recover. The person who has in himself all these rights has the absolute or complete ownership of the thing; otherwise, the person who has the right to use and enjoy will have the usufruct, and the person who has the rights of disposal and recovery the direct title. The person who by law, act, or contract is granted the right of usufruct has the first two rights or using an enjoying, and then he is said not to have the fee simple ? that is, the rights of disposal and recovery, which pertain to another who, after the usufruct expires, will come into full ownership. The question set up in the first assignment of error of the appellants brief is this: What are the rights in the property of the person who holds it subject to the reservation of article 811 of the Civil Code? There are not lacking writers who say, only those of a usufructuary, the ultimate title belonging to the person in whose favor the reservation is made. If that were so, the person holding the property could not apply for registration of title, but the person in whose favor it must be reserved, with the formers consent. This opinion does not seem to be admissible, although it appears to be supported by decisions of the supreme court of Spain of May 21, 1861, and June 18, 1880, prior to the Civil Code, and of June 22, 1895, somewhat subsequent to the enforcement thereof. Another writer says: This opinion only looks at two salient points ? the usufruct and the fee simple; the remaining features of the arrangement are not perceived, but become obscure in the presence of that deceptive emphasis which only brings out two things: that the person holding the property will enjoy it and that he must keep what he enjoys for other persons. (Manresa, VII, 189.) In another place he says: We do not believe that the third opinion can now be maintained ? that is, that the surviving spouse (the person obliged by article 968 to make the reservation) can be regarded as a mere usufructuary and the descendants immediately as the owner; such theory has no serious foundation in the Code. (Ibid., 238.) The ascendants who inherits from a descendants, whether by the latters wish or by operation of law, requires the inheritance by virtue of a title perfectly transferring absolute ownership. All the attributes of the right of ownership belong to him exclusively ? use, enjoyment, disposal and recovery. This absolute ownership, which is inherent in the hereditary title, is not altered in the least, if there be no relatives within the third degree in the line whence the property proceeds or they die before the ascendant heir who is the possessor and absolute owner of the property. If there should be relatives within the third degree who belong to the line whence the property proceeded, then a limitation to that absolute ownership would arise. The nature and scope of this limitation must be determined with exactness in order not to vitiate rights that the law wishes to be effective. The opinion which makes this limitation consist in reducing the ascendant heir to

the condition in of a mere usufructuary, depriving him of the right of disposal and recovery, does not seem to have any support in the law, as it does not have, according to the opinion that he has been expressed in speaking of the rights of the father or mother who has married again. There is a marked difference between the case where a mans wish institutes two persons as his heirs, one as usufructuary and the other as owner of his property, and the case of the ascendant in article 811 or of the father or mother in article 968. In the first case, there is not the slightest doubt that the title to the hereditary property resides in the hereditary owner and he can dispose of and recover it, while the usufructuary can in no way perform any act of disposal of the hereditary property (except that he may dispose of the right of usufruct in accordance with the provisions of article 480 of the Civil Code), or any act of recovery thereof except the limited one in the form prescribed in article 486 of the Code itself, because he totally lacks the fee simple. But the ascendants who holds the property required by article 811 to be reserved, and the father of mother required by article 986 to reserve the right, can dispose of the property they might itself, the former from his descendant and the latter from his of her child in first marriage, and recover it from anyone who may unjustly detain it, while the persons in whose favor the right is required to be reserved in either case cannot perform any act whatsoever of disposal or of recovery. Article 975 states explicitly that the father or mother required by article 9687 to reserve the right may dispose of the property itself: Alienation of the property required by law to be reserved which may be made by the surviving spouse after contracting a second marriage shall be valid only if at his or her death no legitimate children or descendants of the first marriage survive, without prejudice to the provisions of the Mortgage of Law. It thus appears that the alienation is valid, although not altogether effective, but under a condition subsequent, to wit: If at his or her death no legitimate children or descendants of the first marriage survive. If the title did not reside in the person holding the property to be reserved, his alienation thereof would necessarily be null and void, as executed without a right to do so and without a right which he could transmit to the acquirer. The law says that the alienation subsists (to subject is to continue to exist) without prejudice to the provisions of the Mortgage Law. Article 109 of this Law says: The possessor of property subject to conditions subsequent that are still pending may mortgage or alienate it, provided always that he preserve the right of the parties interested in said conditions by expressly reserving that right in the registration. In such case, the child or legitimate descendants of the first marriage in whose favor the right is reserved cannot impugn the validity of the alienation so long as the condition subsequent is pending, that is, so long as the remarried spouse who must reserve the right is alive, because it might easily happen that the person who must reserve the right should outlive all the person in whose favor the right is reserved and then there would be no reason for the condition subsequent that they survive him, and, the object of the law having disappeared, the right required to be reserved would disappear, and the alienation would not only be valid but also in very way

absolutely effective. Consequently, the alienation is valid when the right required by law to be reserved to the children is respected; while the effects of the alienation depend upon a condition, because it will or will not become definite, it will continue to exist or cease to exist, according to circumstances. This is what the law establishes with reference to the reservation of article 968, wherein the legislator expressly directs that the surviving spouse who contracts a second marriage shall reserve to the children or descendants of the first marriage ownership. Article 811 says nothing more than that the ascendants must make the reservation. Manresa, with his recognized ability, summarizes the subject under the heading, Rights and obligations during the existence of the right required by law to be reserved, in these words: During the whole period between the constitution in legal form of the right required by law to be reserved and the extinction thereof, the relatives within the third degree, after the right that in their turn may pertain to them has been assured, have only an expectation, and therefore they do not even have the capacity to transmit that expectation to their heirs. The ascendant is in the first place a usufructuary who should use and enjoy the things according to their nature, in the manner and form already set forth in commenting upon the article of the Code referring to use and usufruct. But since in addition to being the usufructuary he is, even though conditionally, the owner in fee simple of the property, he can dispose of it in the manner provided in article 974 and 976 of the same Code. Doubt arose also on this point, but the Direccion General of the registries, in an opinion of June 25, 1892, declared that articles 974 and 975, which are applicable by analogy, for they refer to property reserved by law, reveal in the clearest manner the attitude of the legislator on this subject, and the relatives with the third degree ought not to be more privileged in the right reserved in article 811 than the children in the right reserved by article 975, chiefly for the reason that the right required to be reserved carries with it a condition subsequent, and the property subject to those conditions can validly be alienated in accordance with article 109 of the Mortgage Law, such alienation to continue, pending fulfillment of the condition. (Civil Code, VI, 270.) Another commentator corroborates the foregoing in every way. He says: The ascendants acquires that property with a condition subsequent, to wit, whether or not there exists at the time of his death relatives within the third degree of the descendants from whom they inherit in the line whence the property proceeds. If such relatives exist, they acquire ownership of the property at the death of the ascendants. If they do not exist, the ascendants can freely dispose thereof. If this is true, since the possessor of property subject to conditions subsequent can alienate and encumber it, the ascendants may alienate the property required by law to be reserved, but he will alienate what he has and nothing more because no one can give what does not belong to him, and the acquirer will therefore receive a limited and revocable title. The relatives within the third degree will in their turn have an expectation to the property while the ascendant lives, an expectation that cannot be transmitted to their heirs, unless these are also within the third degree. After the person who is required by law to reserve the right has died, the relatives may rescind the alienation of the realty required by law to be reserved and they will

complete ownership, in fee simple, because the condition and the usufruct have been terminated by the death of the usufructuary. (Morell, Estudios sobre bienes reservable, 304, 305.) The conclusion is that the person required by article 811 to reserve the right has, beyond any doubt at all, the rights of use and usufruct. He has, moreover, for the reasons set forth, the legal title and dominion, although under a condition subsequent. Clearly he has, under an express provision of the law, the right to dispose of the property reserved, and to dispose of is to alienate, although under a condition. He has the right to recover it, because he is the one who possesses or should possess it and have title to it, although a limited and revocable one. In a word, the legal title and dominion, even though under a condition, reside in him while he lives. After the right required by law to be reserved has been assured, he can do anything that a genuine owner can do. On the other hand, the relatives within the third degree in whose favor of the right is reserved cannot dispose of the property, first because it is no way, either actually, constructively or formally, in their possession; and, moreover, because they have no title of ownership or of the fee simple which they can transmit to another, on the hypothesis that only when the person who must reserve the right should die before them will they acquire it, thus creating a fee simple, and only then will they take their place in the succession of the descendants of whom they are relatives within the third degree, that it to say, a second contingent place in said legitimate succession in the fashion of aspirants to a possible future legacy. If any of the persons in whose favor the right is reserved should, after their rights has been assured in the registry, dare to dispose of even nothing more than the fee simple of the property to be reserved his act would be null and void, for, as was definitely decided in the decision on appeal of December 30, 1897, it is impossible to determine the part that might pertain therein to the relative at the time he exercised the right, because in view of the nature and scope of the right required by law to be reserved the extent of his right cannot be foreseen, for it may disappear by his dying before the person required to reserve it, just as may even become absolute should that person die. Careful consideration of the matter forces the conclusion that no act of disposal inter vivos of the person required by law to reserve the right can be impugned by him in whose favor it is reserved, because such person has all, absolutely all, the rights inherent in ownership, except that the legal title is burdened with a condition that the third party acquirer may ascertain from the registry in order to know that he is acquiring a title subject to a condition subsequent. In conclusion, it seems to us that only an act of disposal mortis causa in favor of persons other than relatives within the third degree of the descendants from whom he got the property to be reserved must be prohibited to him, because this alone has been the object of the law: To prevent persons outside a family from securing, by some special accident of life, property that would otherwise have remained therein. (Decision of December 30, 1897.) Practically, even in the opinion of those who reduce the person reserving the right to the condition of a mere usufructuary, the person in whose favor it must be reserved cannot attack the alienation that may be absolutely made of the property the law requires to be reserved, in the present case, that which the appellant has made of the two parcels of land in question to a third party, because the conditional alienation that is permitted her is equivalent to an alienation of the usufruct, which is authorized by article 480 of the Civil Code, and, practically, use and enjoyment of the property required by law to be reserved are all that the person who must reserve

it has during his lifetime, and in alienating the usufruct all the usefulness of the thing would be transmitted in an incontrovertible manner. The question as to whether or not she transmits the fee simple is purely academic, sine re, for it is not real, actual positive, as is the case of the institution of two heirs, one a usufructuary and the other the owner, by the express wish of the predecessor in interest. If the person whom article 811 requires to reserve the right has all the rights inherent in ownership, he can use, enjoy, dispose of and recover it; and if, in addition to usufructuary, he is in fact and in law the real owner and can alienate it, although under a condition, the whole question is reduced to the following terms: Cannot the heir of the property required by law to reserved, merely because a condition subsequent is annexed to his right of disposal, himself alone register the ownership of the property he has inherited, when the persons in whose favor the reservation must be made degree thereto, provided that the right reserved to them in the two parcels of land be recorded, as the law provides? It is well known that the vendee under pacto de retracto acquires all the rights of the vendor: The vendee substitutes the vendor in all his rights and actions. (Civil Code, art. 1511.) If the vendor can register his title, the vendee can also register this same title after he has once acquired it. This title, however, in its attribute of being disposable, has a condition subsequent annexed ? that the alienation the purchaser may make will be terminated, if the vendor should exercise the right granted him by article 1507, which says: Conventional redemption shall take place when the vendor reserves to himself the right to recover the thing sold, with the obligation to comply with article 1518, and whatever more may have been agreed upon, that is, if he recovers the thing sold by repaying the vendee the price of the sale and other expenses. Notwithstanding this condition subsequent, it is a point not at all doubtful now that the vendee may register his title in the same way as the owner of a thing mortgaged ? that is to say, the latter with the consent of his creditor and the former with the consent of the vendor. He may alienate the thing bought when the acquirer knows by well from the title entered in the registry that he acquires a title revocable after a fixed period, a thing much more certain and to be expected than the purely contingent expectation of the person in whose favor is reserved a right to inherit some day what another has inherited. The purpose of the law would be defeated in not applying to the person who must make the reservation the provision therein relative to the vendee under pacto de retracto, since the argument in his favor is the more power and conclusive; ubi eadem ratio, eadem legis dispositivo. Therefore, we reverse the judgment appealed from, and in lieu thereof decide and declare that the applicant is entitled to register in her own name the two parcels of land which are the subject matter of the applicants, recording in the registration the right required by article 811 to be reserved to either or both of the opponents, Pablo Sablan and Basilio Sablan, should they survive her; without special findings as to costs.

G.R. No. L-12957

March 24, 1961

CONSTANCIO SIENES, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, vs. FIDEL ESPARCIA, ET AL., defendants-appellees. Proceso R. Remollo for plaintiffs-appellants. Leonardo D. Mancao for defendants-appellees. DIZON, J.: Appellants commenced this action below to secure judgment (1) declaring null and void the sale executed by Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso in favor of appellees, the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes; (2) ordering the Esparcia spouses to reconvey to appellants Lot 3368 of the Cadastral Survey of Ayuquitan (now Amlan), Oriental Negros; and (3) ordering all the appellees to pay, jointly and severally, to appellants the sum of P500.00 as damages, plus the costs of suit. In their answer appellees disclaimed any knowledge or information regarding the sale allegedly made on April 20, 1951 by Andrea Gutang in favor of appellants and alleged that, if such sale was made, the same was void on the ground that Andrea Gutang had no right to dispose of the property subject matter thereof. They further alleged that said property had never been in possession of appellants, the truth being that appellees, as owners, had been in continuous possession thereof since the death of Francisco Yaeso. By way of affirmative defense and counterclaim, they further alleged that on July 30, 1951, Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso, as the only surviving heirs of Francisco Yaeso, executed a public instrument of sale in favor of the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes, the said sale having been registered together with an affidavit of adjudication executed by Paulina and Cipriana on July 18, 1951, as sole surviving heirs of the aforesaid deceased; that since then the Esparcias had been in possession of the property as owners. After trial upon the issues thus joined, the lower court rendered judgment as follows: IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered declaring (1) that the sale of Lot No. 3368 made by Andrea Gutang to the plaintiff spouses Constancio Sienes and Genoveva Silay is void, and the reconveyance prayed for by them is denied; (2) that the sale made by Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso in favor of defendants Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes involving the same lot is also void, and they have no valid title thereto; and (3) that the reservable property in question is part of and must be reverted to the estate of Cipriana Yaeso, the lone surviving relative and heir of Francisco Yaeso at the death of Andrea Gutang as of December 13, 1951. No pronouncement as to the costs. From the above decision the Sienes spouse interposed the present appeal, their principal contentions being, firstly, that the lower court erred in holding that Lot 3368 of the Cadastral Survey of Ayuquitan was a reservable property; secondly, in annulling the sale of said lot executed by Andrea Gutang in their favor; and lastly, in holding that Cipriana Yaeso, as reservee, was entitled to inherit said land.

There is no dispute as to the following facts: Lot 3368 originally belonged to Saturnino Yaeso. With his first wife, Teresa Ruales, he had four children named Agaton, Fernando, Paulina and Cipriana, while with his second wife, Andrea Gutang, he had an only son named Francisco. According to the cadastral records of Ayuquitan, the properties left by Saturnino upon his death the date of which does not clearly appear of record were left to his children as follows: Lot 3366 to Cipriana, Lot 3367 to Fernando, Lot 3375 to Agaton, Lot 3377 (southern portion) to Paulina, and Lot 3368 (western portion) to Francisco. As a result of the cadastral proceedings, Original Certificate of Title No. 10275 covering Lot 3368 was issued in the name of Francisco. Because Francisco was a minor at the time, his mother administered the property for him, declared it in her name for taxation purposes (Exhs A & A-1), and paid the taxes due thereon (Exhs. B, C, C-1 & C-2). When Francisco died on May 29, 1932 at the age of 20, single and without any descendant, his mother, as his sole heir, executed the public instrument Exhibit F entitled EXTRAJUDICIAL SETTLEMENT AND SALE whereby, among other things, for and in consideration of the sum of P800.00 she sold the property in question to appellants. When thereafter said vendees demanded from Paulina Yaeso and her husband Jose Esparcia, the surrender of Original Certificate of Title No. 10275 which was in their possession the latter refused, thus giving rise to the filing of the corresponding motion in the cadastral record No. 507. The same, however, was denied (Exhs. 8 & 9). Thereafter, or more specifically, on July 30, 1951, Cipriana and Paulina Yaeso, the surviving half-sisters of Francisco, and who as such had declared the property in their name, on January 1, 1951 executed a deed of sale in favor of the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes (Exh. 2) who, in turn, declared it in their name for tax purposes and thereafter secured the issuance in their name of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-2141 (Exhs. 5 & 5-A). As held by the trial court, it is clear upon the facts already stated, that the land in question was reservable property. Francisco Yaeso inherited it by operation of law from his father Saturnino, and upon Francisco's death, unmarried and without descendants, it was inherited, in turn, by his mother, Andrea Gutang. The latter was, therefore, under obligation to reserve it for the benefit of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which said property came, if any survived her. The record discloses in this connection that Andrea Gutang died on December 13, 1951, the lone reservee surviving her being Cipriana Yaeso who died only on January 13, 1952 (Exh. 10). In connection with reservable property, the weight of opinion is that the reserve creates two resolutory conditions, namely, (1) the death of the ascendant obliged to reserve and (2) the survival, at the time of his death, of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which the property came (6 Manresa 268-269; 6 Sanchez Roman 1934). This Court has held in connection with this matter that the reservista has the legal title and dominion to the reservable property but subject to a resolutory condition; that he is like a life usufructuary of the reservable property; that he may alienate the same but subject to reservation, said alienation transmitting only the revocable and conditional ownership of the reservists, the rights acquired by the transferee being revoked or resolved by the survival of reservatarios at the time of the death of the reservista (Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295; Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480; and Director of Lands vs. Aguas, 65 Phil. 279).

The sale made by Andrea Gutang in favor of appellees was, therefore, subject to the condition that the vendees would definitely acquire ownership, by virtue of the alienation, only if the vendor died without being survived by any person entitled to the reservable property. Inasmuch much as when Andrea Gutang died, Cipriana Yaeso was still alive, the conclusion becomes inescapable that the previous sale made by the former in favor of appellants became of no legal effect and the reservable property subject matter thereof passed in exclusive ownership to Cipriana. On the other hand, it is also clear that the sale executed by the sisters Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso in favor of the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes was subject to a similar resolutory condition. The reserve instituted by law in favor of the heirs within the third degree belonging to the line from which the reservable property came, constitutes a real right which the reservee may alienate and dispose of, albeit conditionally, the condition being that the alienation shall transfer ownership to the vendee only if and when the reservee survives the person obliged to reserve. In the present case, Cipriana Yaeso, one of the reservees, was still alive when Andrea Gutang, the person obliged to reserve, died. Thus the former became the absolute owner of the reservable property upon Andrea's death. While it may be true that the sale made by her and her sister prior to this event, became effective because of the occurrence of the resolutory condition, we are not now in a position to reverse the appealed decision, in so far as it orders the reversion of the property in question to the Estate of Cipriana Yaeso, because the vendees the Esparcia spouses did not appeal therefrom. WHEREFORE, the appealed decision as above modified is affirmed, with costs, and without prejudice to whatever action in equity the Esparcia spouses may have against the Estate of Cipriana Yaeso for the reconveyance of the property in question. November 15, 1919 G.R. No. L-14856 ENCARNACION FLORENTINO, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, vs. MERCEDES FLORENTINO, ET AL., defendants-appellees. Ramon Querubin, Simeon Ramos and Orense and Vera for appellants. Vicente Foz, Jose Singsong Tongson and Angel Encarnacion for appellees. Torres, J.: On January 17, 1918, counsel for Encarnacion (together with her husband Simeon Serrano), Gabriel, Magdalena, Ramon, Miguel, Victorino, and Antonino of the surname Florentino; for Miguel Florentino, guardian ad litem of the minor Rosario Florentino; for Eugenio Singson, the father and guardian ad litem of Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores of the surname Singson y Florentino; and for Eugenio Singson, guardian of the minors Jose and Asuncion Florentino, filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur, against Mercedes Florentino and her husband, alleging as follows:

That Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II married the first time Antonia Faz de Leon; that during the marriage he begot nine children called, Jose, Juan, Maria, Encarnacion, Isabel, Espirita, Gabriel, Pedro, and Magdalena of the surname Florentino y de Leon; that on becoming a widower he married the second time Severina Faz de Leon with whom he had two children, Mercedes and Apolonio III of the surname Florentino y de Leon; that Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II died on February 13, 1890; that he was survived by his second wife Severina Faz de Leon and the ten children first above mentioned; that his eleventh son, Apolonio III, was born on the following 4th of March 1890. That of the deceased Apolonio Isabelos aforementioned eleven children, Juan, Maria and Isabel died single, without leaving any ascendants or descendants; that Ramon, Miguel, Victorino, Antonio, and Rosario are the legitimate children of the deceased Jose Florentino who was one of the children of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo; that Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores are the legitimate children of Espirita Florentino, now deceased, and her husband Eugenio Singson; that Jose and Asuncion are the children of Pedro Florentino, another son of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino. That on January 17 and February 13, 1890, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino executed a will before the notary public of Ilocos Sur, instituting as his universal heirs his aforementioned ten children, the posthumos Apolonio III and his widow Severina Faz de Leon; that he declared, in one of the paragraphs of said will, all his property should be divided among all of his children of both marriages. That, in the partition of the said testators estate, there was given to Apolonio Florentino III, his posthumos son, the property marked with the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F in the complaint, a gold rosary, pieces of gold, of silver and of table service, livestock, palay, some personal property and other objects mentioned in the complaint. That Apolonio Florentino III, the posthumos son of the second marriage, died in 1891; that his mother, Severina Faz de Leon, succeeded to all his property described in the complaint; that the widow, Severina Faz de Leon died on November 18, 1908, leaving a will instituting as her universal heiress her only living daughter, Mercedes Florentino; that, as such heir, said daughter took possession of all the property left at the death of her mother, Severina Faz de Leon; that among same is included the property, described in the complaint, which the said Severina Faz de Leon inherited from her deceased son, the posthumos Apolonio, as reservable property; that, as a reservist, the heir of the said Mercedes Florentino deceased had been gathering for herself alone the fruits of lands described in the complaint; that each and every one of the parties mentioned in said complaint is entitled to one-seventh of the fruits of the reservable property described therein, either by direct participation or by representation, in the manner mentioned in paragraph 9 of the complaint. That several times the plaintiffs have, in an amicable manner, asked the defendants to deliver their corresponding part of the reservable property; that without any justifiable motive the defendants have refused and do refuse to deliver said property or to pay for its value; that for nine years Mercedes Florentino has been receiving, as rent for the lands mentioned, 360 bundles of palay at fifty pesos per bundle and 90 bundles of corn at four pesos per bundle; that thereby

the plaintiffs have suffered damages in the sum of fifteen thousand four hundred and twentyeight pesos and fifty-eight centavos, in addition to three hundred and eight pesos and fifty-eight centavos for the value of the fruits not gathered, of one thousand pesos (P1,000) for the unjustifiable retention of the aforementioned reservable property and for the expenses of this suit. Wherefore they pray it be declared that all the foregoing property is reservable property; that the plaintiffs had and do have a right to the same, in the quantity and proportion mentioned in the aforementioned paragraph 9 of the complaint; that the defendants Mercedes Florentino and her husband be ordered to deliver to the plaintiffs their share of the property in question, of the palay and of the corn above mentioned, or their value; and that they be condemned to pay the plaintiffs the sum of one thousand pesos (P1,000) together with the costs of this instance. To the preceding complaint counsel for the defendants demurred, alleging that the cause of action is based on the obligation of the widow Severina Faz de Leon to reserve the property she inherited from her deceased son Apolonio Florentino y de Leon who, in turn, inherited same from his father Apolonio Isabelo Florentino; that, there being no allegation to the contrary, it is to be presumed that the widow Severina Faz de Leon did not remarry after the death of this husband nor have any natural child; that the right claimed by the plaintiffs is not that mentioned in article 968 and the following articles, but that established in article 811 of the Civil Code; that the object of the provisions of the aforementioned articles is to avoid the transfer of said reservable property to those extraneous to the family of the owner thereof; that if the property inherited by the widow Severina Faz de Leon from her deceased son Apolonio Florentino y Faz de Leon (property which originated from his father and her husband) has all passed into the hands of the defendant, Mercedes Florentino y Encarnacion, a daughter of the common ancestors second marriage (said Apolonio Isabelo Florentino with the deceased Severina Faz de Leon) it is evident that the property left at the death of the posthumos son Apolonio Florentino y Faz de Leon did not pass after the death of his mother Severina, his legitimate heirs as an ascendant, into the hands of strangers; that said property having been inherited by Mercedes Florentino y Encarnacion from her mother (Severina), article 811 of the Civil Code is absolutely inapplicable to the present case because, when the defendant Mercedes, by operation law, entered into and succeeded to, the possession, of the property lawfully inherited from her mother Severina Faz de Leon, said property had, while in the possession of her mother, lost the character of reservable property there being a legitimate daughter of Severina Faz de Leon with the right to succeed her in all her rights, property and actions; that the restraints of the law whereby said property may not passed into the possession of strangers are void, inasmuch as the said widow had no obligation to reserve same, as Mercedes Florentino is a forced heiress of her mother Severina Faz de Leon; that, in the present case, there is no property reserved for the plaintiffs since there is a forced heiress, entitled to the property left by the death of the widow Severina Faz de Leon who never remarried; that the obligation to reserve is secondary to the duty of respecting the legitime; that in the instant case, the widow Severina Faz de Leon was in duty bound to respect the legitime of her daughter Mercedes the defendant; that her obligation to reserve the property could not be fulfilled to the prejudice of the legitime which belongs to her forced heiress, citing in support of these statements the decision of the supreme court of Spain of January 4, 1911; that, finally, the application of article 811 of the Civil Code in favor of the plaintiffs would presuppose the exclusion of the defendant from here right to succeed exclusively to all the property, rights and actions left by her legitimate mother, although the said defendant has a better right than the plaintiffs; and that there would be injustice if the property claimed be

adjudicated to the plaintiffs, as well as violation of section 5 of the Jones Law which invalidates any law depriving any person of an equal protection. Wherefore they prayed that the demurrer be sustained, with costs against the plaintiffs. After the hearing of the demurrer, on August 22, 1918, the judge absolved the defendants from the complaint and condemned the plaintiffs to pay the costs. Counsel for the plaintiffs excepted to this order, moved to vacate it and to grant them a new trial; said motion was overruled; the plaintiffs expected thereto and filed the corresponding bill of exceptions which was allowed, certified and forwarded to the clerk of this court. On appeal the trial judge sustained the demurrer of the defendants to the complaint of the plaintiffs, but, instead of ordering the latter to amend their complaint within the period prescribed by the rules undoubtedly believing that the plaintiffs could not alter nor change the facts constituting the cause of action, and that, as both parties were agreed as to the facts alleged in the complaint as well as in the demurrer, every question reduced itself to one of the law, already submitted to the decision of the court the said judge, disregarding the ordinary procedure established by law, decided the case by absolving the defendants from the complaint and by condemning the plaintiffs to pay the costs of the instance. There certainly was no real trial, inasmuch as the defendants, instead of answering the complaint of the plaintiffs, confined themselves to filing a demurrer based on the ground that the facts alleged in the complaint do not constitute a cause of action. However, the judge preferred to absolve the defendants, thereby making an end to the cause, instead of dismissing the same, because undoubtedly he believed, in view of the controversy between the parties, that the arguments adduced to support the demurrer would be the same which the defendants would allege in their answer those dealing with a mere question of law which the courts would have to decide and that, the demurrer having been sustained, if the plaintiffs should insist they could do no less upon alleging the same facts as those set out in their complaint and if another demurrer were afterwards set up, he would be obliged to dismiss said complaint with costs against the plaintiffs in spite of being undoubtedly convinced in the instant case that the plaintiffs absolutely lack the right to bring the action stated in their complaint. Being of the opinion that the emendation of the indicated defects is not necessary as in this case what has been done does not prejudice the parties the appellate court will now proceed to decide the suit according to its merits, as found in the record and to the legal provisions applicable to the question of law in controversy so that unnecessary delay and greater expense may be avoided, inasmuch as, even if all the ordinary proceedings be followed, the suit would be subsequently decided in the manner and terms that it is now decided in the opinion thoughtfully and conscientiously formed for its determination. In order to decide whether the plaintiffs are or are not entitled to invoke, in their favor, the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code, and whether the same article is applicable to the question of law presented in this suit, it is necessary to determine whether the property enumerated in paragraph 5 of the complaint is of the nature of reservable property; and if so, whether in accordance with the provision of the Civil Code in article 811, Severina Faz de Leon

(the widow of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino) who inherited said property from her son Apolonio Florentino III (born after the death of his father Apolonio Isabelo) had the obligation to preserve and reserve same for the relatives, within the third degree, of her aforementioned deceased son Apolonio III. The above mentioned article reads: Any ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property acquired by the latter gratuitously from some other ascendant, or from a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such of the property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which such property came. During the marriage of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II and Severina Faz de Leon two children were born, namely the defendant Mercedes Florentino and Apolonio Florentino III (born after the death of his father). At the death of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino under a will, his eleven children succeeded to the inheritance he left, one of whom, the posthumos son Apolonio III, was given, as his share, the aforementioned property enumerated in the complaint. In 1891 the said posthumos son Apolonio Florentino III died and was succeeded by his legitimate mother Severina Faz de Leon, who inherited the property he left and who on dying, November 18, 1908, instituted by will as her sole heiress her surviving daughter, Mercedes Florentino, the defendant herein, who took possession of all property left by her father, same constituting the inheritance. Included in said inheritance is the property, specified in by the posthumos son Apolonio Florentino III from his father Apolonio Isabelo Florentino, and which, at the death of the said posthumos son, had in turn been inherited by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon. Even if Severina left in her will said property, together with her own, to her only daughter and forced heiress, Mercedes Florentino, nevertheless this property had not lost its reservable nature inasmuch as it originated from the common ancestor of the litigants, Apolonio Isabelo; was inherited by his son Apolonio III; was transmitted by same (by operation of law) to his legitimate mother and ascendant, Severina Faz de Leon. The posthumos son, Apolonio Florentino III, acquired the property, now claimed by his brothers, by a lucrative title or by inheritance from his aforementioned legitimate father, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. Although said property was inherited by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon, nevertheless, she was in duty bound, according to article 811 of the Civil Code, to reserve the property thus acquired for the benefit of the relatives, within the third degree, of the line from which such property came. According to the provisions of law, ascendants do not inherit the reservable property, but its enjoyment, use or trust, merely for the reason that said law imposes the obligation to reserve and preserve same for certain designated persons who, on the death of the said ascendants reservists, (taking into consideration the nature of the line from which such property came) acquire the ownership of said property in fact and by operation of law in the same manner as forced heirs (because they are also such) said property reverts to said line as long as the aforementioned persons who, from the death of the ascendant-reservists, acquire in fact the right of reservatarios (person for whom property is reserved), and are relatives, within the third degree, of the descendant from whom the reservable property came.

Any ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property, while there are living, within the third degree, relatives of the latter, is nothing but a life usufructuary or a fiduciary of the reservable property received. He is, however, the legitimate owner of his own property which is not reservable property and which constitutes his legitime, according to article 809 of the Civil Code. But if, afterwards, all of the relatives, within the third degree, of the descendant (from whom came the reservable property) die or disappear, the said property becomes free property, by operation of law, and is thereby converted into the legitime of the ascendant heir who can transmit it at his death to his legitimate successors or testamentary heirs. This property has now lost its nature of reservable property, pertaining thereto at the death of the relatives, called reservatarios, who belonged within the third degree to the line from which such property came. Following the order prescribed by law in legitimate succession, when there are relatives of the descendant within the third degree, the right of the nearest relative, called reservatario, over the property which the reservista (person holding it subject to reservation) should return to him, excludes that of the one more remote. The right of representation cannot be alleged when the one claiming same as a reservatario of the reservable property is not among the relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which such property came, inasmuch as the right granted by the Civil Code in article 811 is in the highest degree personal and for the exclusive benefit of designated persons who are the relatives, within the third degree, of the person from whom the reservable property came. Therefore, relatives of the fourth and the succeeding degrees can never be considered as reservatarios, since the law does not recognize them as such. In spite of what has been said relative to the right of representation on the part of one alleging his right as reservatario who is not within the third degree of relationship, nevertheless there is right of representation on the part of reservatarios who are within the third degree mentioned by law, as in the case of nephews of the deceased person from whom the reservable property came. These reservatarios have the right to represent their ascendants (fathers and mothers) who are the brothers of the said deceased person and relatives within the third degree in accordance with article 811 of the Civil Code. In this case it is conceded without denial by defendants, that the plaintiffs Encarnacion, Gabriel and Magdalena are the legitimate children of the first marriage of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II; that Ramon, Miguel, Ceferino, Antonio, and Rosario are both grandchildren of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II, and children of his deceased son, Jose Florentino; that the same have the right to represent their aforementioned father, Jose Florentino; that Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores are the legitimate children of the deceased Espirita Florentino, one of the daughters of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II, and represent the right of their aforementioned mother; and that the other plaintiffs, Jose and Asuncion, have also the right to represent their legitimate father Pedro Florentino one of the sons of the aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. It is a fact, admitted by both parties, that the other children of the first marriage of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II died without issue so that this decision does not deal with them. There are then seven reservatarios who are entitled to the reservable property left at the death of Apolonio III; the posthumos son of the aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo II, to wit, his three children of his first marriage Encarnacion, Gabriel, Magdalena; his three children, Jose,

Espirita and Pedro who are represented by their own twelve children respectively; and Mercedes Florentino, his daughter by a second marriage. All of the plaintiffs are the relatives of the deceased posthumos son, Apolonio Florentino III, within the third degree (four of whom being his half-brothers and the remaining twelve being his nephews as they are the children of his three half-brothers). As the first four are his relatives within the third degree in their own right and the other twelve are such by representation, all of them are indisputably entitled as reservatarios to the property which came from the common ancestor, Apolonio Isabelo, to Apolonio Florentino III by inheritance during his life-time, and in turn by inheritance to his legitimate mother, Severina Faz de Leon, widow of the aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. In spite of the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code already cited, the trial judge refused to accept the theory of the plaintiffs and, accepting that of the defendants, absolved the latter from the complaint on the ground that said article is absolutely inapplicable to the instant case, inasmuch as the defendant Mercedes Florentino survived her brother, Apolonio III, from whom the reservable property came and her mother, Severina Faz de Leon, the widow of her father, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II; that the defendant Mercedes, being the only daughter of Severina Faz de Leon, is likewise her forced heiress; that when she inherited the property left at the death of her mother, together with that which came from her deceased brother Apolonio III, the fundamental object of article 811 of the Code was thereby complied with, inasmuch as the danger that the property coming from the same line might fall into the hands of strangers had been avoided; and that the hope or expectation on the part of the plaintiffs of the right to acquire the property of the deceased Apolonio III never did come into existence because there is a forced heiress who is entitled to such property. The judgment appealed from is also founded on the theory that article 811 of the Civil Code does not destroy the system of legitimate succession and that the pretension of the plaintiffs to apply said article in the instant case would be permitting the reservable right to reduce and impair the forced legitimate which exclusively belongs to the defendant Mercedes Florentino, in violation of the precept of article 813 of the same Code which provides that the testator cannot deprive his heirs of their legitime, except in the cases expressly determined by law. Neither can he impose upon it any burden, condition, or substitution of any kind whatsoever, saving the provisions concerning the usufruct of the surviving spouse, citing the decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of January 4, 1911. The principal question submitted to the court for decision consists mainly in determining whether they property left at the death of Apolonio III, the posthumos son of Apolonio Isabelo II, was or was not invested with the character of reservable property when it was received by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon. The property enumerated by the plaintiffs in paragraph 5 of their complaint came, without any doubt whatsoever, from the common ancestor Apolonio Isabelo II, and when, on the death of Apolonio III without issue the same passed by operation of law into the hands of his legitimate mother, Severina Faz de Leon, it became reservable property, in accordance with the provision of article 811 of the Code, with the object that the same should not fall into the possession of persons other than those comprehended within the order of person other than those comprehended within the order of succession traced by the law from Apolonio Isabelo II, the

source of said property. If this property was in fact clothed with the character and condition of reservable property when Severina Faz de Leon inherited same from her son Apolonio III, she did not thereby acquire the dominion or right of ownership but only the right of usufruct or of fiduciary with the necessary obligation to preserve and to deliver or return it as such reservable property to her deceased sons relatives within the third degree, among whom is her daughter, Mercedes Florentino. Reservable property neither comes, nor falls under, the absolute dominion of the ascendant who inherits and receives same from his descendant, therefore it does not form part of his own property nor become the legitimate of his forced heirs. It becomes his own property only in case that all the relatives of his descendant shall have died (reservista) in which case said reservable property losses such character. With full right Severina Faz de Leon could have disposed in her will of all her own property in favor of her only living daughter, Mercedes Florentino, as forced heiress. But whatever provision there is in her will concerning the reservable property received from her son Apolonio III, or rather, whatever provision will reduce the rights of the other reservatarios, the half brothers and nephews of her daughter Mercedes, is unlawful, null and void, inasmuch as said property is not her own and she has only the right of usufruct or of fiduciary, with the obligation to preserve and to deliver same to the reservatarios, one of whom is her own daughter, Mercedes Florentino. It cannot reasonably be affirmed, founded upon an express provision of law, that by operation of law all of the reservable property, received during lifetime by Severina Faz de Leon from her son, Apolonio III, constitutes or forms parts of the legitime pertaining to Mercedes Florentino. If said property did not come to be the legitimate and exclusive property of Severina Faz de Leon, her only legitimate and forced heiress, the defendant Mercedes, could not inherit all by operation of law and in accordance with the order of legitimate succession, because the other relatives of the deceased Apolonio III, within the third degree, as well as herself are entitled to such reservable property. For this reason, in no manner can it be claimed that the legitime of Mercedes Florentino, coming from the inheritance of her mother Severina Faz de Leon, has been reduced and impaired; and the application of article 811 of the Code to the instant case in no way prejudices the rights of the defendant Mercedes Florentino, inasmuch as she is entitled to a part only of the reservable property, there being no lawful or just reason which serves as real foundation to disregard the right to Apolonio IIIs other relatives, within the third degree, to participate in the reservable property in question. As these relatives are at present living, claiming for it with an indisputable right, we cannot find any reasonable and lawful motive why their rights should not be upheld and why they should not be granted equal participation with the defendant in the litigated property. The claim that because of Severina Faz de Leons forced heiress, her daughter Mercedes, the property received from the deceased son Apolonio III lost the character, previously held, of reservable property; and that the mother, the said Severina, therefore, had no further obligation to reserve same for the relatives within the third degree of the deceased Apolonio III, is evidently erroneous for the reason that, as has been already stated, the reservable property, left in a will by the aforementioned Severina to her only daughter Mercedes, does not form part of the

inheritance left by her death nor of the legitimate of the heiress Mercedes. Just because she has a forced heiress, with a right to her inheritance, does not relieve Severina of her obligation to reserve the property which she received from her deceased son, nor did same lose the character of reservable property, held before the reservatarios received same. It is true that when Mercedes Florentino, the heiress of the reservista Severina, took possession of the property in question, same did not pass into the hands of strangers. But it is likewise true that the said Mercedes is not the only reservataria. And there is no reason founded upon law and upon the principle of justice why the other reservatarios, the other brothers and nephews, relatives within the third degree in accordance with the precept of article 811 of the Civil Code, should be deprived of portions of the property which, as reservable property, pertain to them. From the foregoing it has been shown that the doctrine announced by the Supreme Court of Spain on January 4, 1911, for the violation of articles 811, 968 and consequently of the Civil Code is not applicable in the instant case. Following the provisions of article 813, the Supreme Court of Spain held that the legitime of the forced heirs cannot be reduced or impaired and said article is expressly respected in this decision. However, in spite of the efforts of the appellee to defend their supposed rights, it has not been shown, upon any legal foundation, that the reservable property belonged to, and was under the absolute dominion of, the reservista, there being relatives within the third degree of the person from whom same came; that said property, upon passing into the hands of the forced heiress of the deceased reservista, formed part of the legitime of the former; and that the said forced heiress, in addition to being a reservataria, had an exclusive right to receive all of said property and to deprive the other reservatarios, her relatives within the third degree of certain portions thereof. Concerning the prayer in the complaint relative to the indemnity for damages and the delivery of the fruits collected, it is not proper to grant the first for there is no evidence of any damage which can give rise to the obligation of refunding same. As to the second, the delivery of the fruits produced by the land forming the principal part of the reservable property, the defendants are undoubtedly in duty bound to deliver to the plaintiffs six-sevenths of the fruits or rents of the portions of land claimed in the complaint, in the quantity expressed in paragraph 11 of the same, from January 17, 1918, the date the complaint was filed; and the remaining seventh part should go to the defendant Mercedes. For the foregoing reasons it follows that with the reversal of the order of decision appealed from we should declare, as we hereby do, that the aforementioned property, inherited by the deceased Severina Faz de Leon from her son Apolonio Florentino III, is reservable property; that the plaintiffs, being relatives of the deceased Apolonio III within the third degree, are entitled to sixsevenths of said reservable property; that the defendant Mercedes is entitled to the remaining seventh part thereof; that the latter, together with her husband Angel Encarnacion, shall deliver to the plaintiffs, jointly, six-sevenths of the fruits or rents, claimed from said portion of the land and of the quantity claimed, from January 17, 1918, until fully delivered; and that the indemnity

for one thousand pesos (P1,000) prayed for in the complaint is denied, without special findings as to the costs of both instances. So ordered. G.R. No. L-29901 August 31, 1977 IGNACIO FRIAS CHUA, DOMINADOR CHUA and REMEDIOS CHUA, petitioners, vs. THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, BRANCH V and SUSANA DE LA TORRE, in her capacity as Administratrix of the Intestate Estate of Consolacion de la Torre, respondents. Dominador G. Abaria and Primitivo Blanca for private respondent. Rodrigo O. Delfinado for petitioners.

MARTIN, J.: Petition for review of the decision of the respondent Court which dismissed the complaint of petitioners in Civil Case No. 7839-A, entitled "Ignacio Frias Chua, et al. vs. Susana de la Torre, Administratrix of the Intestate Estate of Consolacion de la Torre" It appears that in the first marriage of Jose Frias Chua with Patricia S. Militar alias Sy Quio he sired three children, namely: Ignacio, Lorenzo and Manuel, all surnamed Frias Chua. When Patricia S. Militar died, Jose Frias Chua contracted a second marriage with Consolacion de la Torre with whom he had a child by the name of Juanita Frias Chua. Manuel Frias Chua died without leaving any issue. Then in 1929, Jose Frias Chua died intestate leaving his widow Consolacion de la Torre and his son Juanito Frias Chua of the second marriage and sons Ignacio Frias Chua and Lorenzo Frias Chua of his first marriage. In Intestate Proceeding No. 4816, the lower court issued an order dated January 15, 1931 1 adjudicating, among others, the one-half (1/2,) portion of Lot No. 399 and the sum of P8,000.00 in favor of Jose Frias Chua's widow, Consolacion de la Torre, the other half of Lot No. 399 in favor of Juanito Frias Chua, his son in the second marriage; P3,000.00 in favor of Lorenze Frias chua; and P1,550.00 in favor of Ignacio Frias, Chua, his sons of the first marriage. By virtue of said adjudication, Transfer Certificate of Title No. TR-980 (14483) 2 dated April 28, 1932 was issued by the Register of Deeds in the names of Consolacion de la Torre and Juanito Frias Chua as owners pro-indiviso of Lot No. 399. On February 27, 1952, Juanito Frias Chua of the second marriage died intestate without any issue. After his death, his mother Consolacion de la Torre succeeded to his proindivisio share of Lot No. 399. In a week's time or on March 6, 1952, Consolacion de la Torre executed a declaration of heirship adjudicating in her favor the pro-indiviso share of her son Juanito as a result of which Transfer Certificate of Title No. 31796 covering the whole Lot No. 399 was issued in her name. Then on March 5, 1966, Consolacion de

la Torre died intestate leaving no direct heir either in the descending or ascending line except her brother and sisters. In the "Intestate Estate of Consolacion de la Torre", docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 7839-A, the petitioners herein, Ignacio Frias Chua, of the first marriage and dominador and Remedios Chua, the supposed legitimate children of the deceased Lorenzo Frias Chua, also of the first marriage filed the complaint a quo 3 (subseqently segregated as a distinct suit and docketed as Civil Case No. 7839-A) on May 11, 1966 before the respondent Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, Branch V, praying that the one-half (1/2) portion of Lot No. 399 which formerly belonged to Juanito Frias but which passed to Consolacion de la Torre upon the latter's death, be declaredas a reservable property for the reason that the lot in questionn was subject to reserval troncal pursuant to Article 981 of the New Civil Code, Private respondent as administratrix of the estate of individually the complaint of petitioners 4 On July 29, 1986, the respondent Court rendered a decision dismissing the complaint of petitioner. Hence this instant. The pertinent provision of reserva troncal under the New Civil Code provides:
ART. 891. The ascendant who inheritts from his descendant any property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendat, or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree and belong to the line from which said property came.

Persuant to the foregoing provision, in order that a property may be impressed with a reservable character the following requisites must exist, to wit: (1) that the property was acquired by a descendant from an asscendant or from a brother or sister by gratuitous title; (2) that said descendant died without an issue; (3) that the property is inherited by another ascendant by operation of law; and (4) that there are relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which said property came. 5 In the case before Us, all of the foregoing requisites are present. Thus, as borne out by the records, Juanoito Frias Chua of the second marriage died intestate in 1952; he died withour leaving any issue; his pro-indiviso of 1/2 share of Lot No. 399 was acquired by his mother, Consolacion de la Torre died, Juannnito Frias Chua who died intestate had relatives within the third degree. These relatives are Ignacio Frias Chua and Dominador Chua and Remidios Chua, the suppose legitimate children of the deceased Lorenzo Frias Chua, who are the petitioners herein. The crux of the problem in instant petition is focused on the first requisit of reserva troncal whether the property in question was acquired by Juanito Frias Chua from his father Jose Frias Chua, gratuitously or not. In resolving this point, the respondent Court said:
It appears from Exh. "3", which is part of Exh. "D", that the property in question was not acquired by Consolacion de la Torre and Juanito Frias Chua gratuitously but for a consideration, namely, that the legatees were to pay the interest and cost and other fees

resulting from Civil Case No. 5300 of this Court. As such it is undeniable that the lot in question is not subject tot a reserva troncal, under Art. 891 of the New Civil Code, and as such the plaintiff's complaint must fail.

We are not prepared to sustain the respondent Court's conclusion that the lot in question is not subject to a reserva troncal under Art. 891 of the New Civil Code. It is, As explained by Manresa which this Court quoted with approval in Cabardo v. Villanueva, 44 Phil. 186, "The transmission is gratuitous or by gratuitous title when the recipient does not give anything in return." It matters not whether the property transmitted be or be not subject to any prior charges; what is essential is that the transmission be made gratuitously, or by an act of mere liberality of the person making it, without imposing any obligation on the part of the recipient; and that the person receiving the property gives or does nothing in return; or, as ably put by an eminent Filipino commentator, 6 "the essential thing is that the person who transmits it does so gratuitously, from pure generosity, without requiring from the transferee any prestation." It is evident from the record that the transmission of the property in question to Juanito Frias Chua of the second marriage upon the death of his father Jose Frias Chua was by means of a hereditary succession and therefore gratuitous. It is true that there is the order (Exh. "D") of the probate Court in Intestate Proceeding No. 4816 which estates in express terms;
2. Se adjudicada pro el presente a favor de Consolacion de la Torre, viuda, mayor de edad, y de su hiju, Juanito Frias Chua, menor de edad, todos residente de San Enrique, Negros Occidental, I.F.,como herederos del finado Jose Frias Chua Choo, estas propiadades: 14483 La parcela de terrenno concida por Lote No. 399 del Catsatro de la Carlota, Negros Occidental, de 191.954 metros cuadddrados y cubierto por el Certificado de Titulo No. 11759, en partes equales pro-indiviso; por con la obligscion de pagar a las Standard Oil Co. of New York la deuda de P3971.20, sus intereses, costas y demas gastos resultantes del asunto civil No. 5300de este jusgado

But the obligation of paying the Standard Oil Co. of New York the amount of P3,971.20 is imposed upon Consolacion de la Torre and Juanito Frias Chua not personally by the deceased Jose Frias Chua in his last will and testament but by an order of the court in the Testate Proceeding No.4816 dated January 15, 1931. As long as the transmission of the property to the heirs is free from any condition imposed by the deceased himself and the property is given out of pure generosity, itg is gratuitous. it does not matter if later the court orders one of the heirs, in this case Juanito Frias Chua, to pay the Standare oil co. of New York the amount of P3,971.20. This does not change the gratuitous nature of the transmission of the property to him. This being the case the lot in question is subject to reserva troncal under Art, 891 of the New Civil Code. It is contented that the distribution of the shares of the estate of Jose Frias Chua to the respondent heirs or legatees was agreed upon by the heirs in their project of partition based on the last will and testament of Jose Frias Chua. But petitioners claim that the supposed Last Will and Testament of Jose Frias Chua was never probated. The fact

that the will was not probated was admitted in paragraph 6 of the respondents' answer. 7 There is nothing mentioned in the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 7839 A which is the subject of the present appeal nor in the order of January 15, 1931 of the trial court in the Testate Estate Proceeding No. 4816 nor in the private respondent's brief, that the Last Will and Testament of Jose Frias Chua has ever been probated. With the foregoing, it is easy to deduce that if the Last Will and Testament has in fact been probated there would have been no need for the testamentary heirs to prepare a project of partition among themselves. The very will itself could be made the basis for the adjudication of the estate as in fact they did in their project of partition with Juanito Frias Chua getting one-half of Lot 399 by inheritance as a sone of the deceased Jose Frias Chua by the latter's second marriage. According to the record, Juanito Frias Chua died on February 27, 1952 without any issue. After his death his mother Consolation de la Torre succeeded to his one-half proindiviso share of Lot 399. This was, however, subject to the condition that the property was reservable in character under Art. 891 of the Civil Code in favor of relatives within the third degree of Jose Frias Chua from whom the property came. These relatives are the petitioner herein. It is claimed that the complaint of petitioners to recover the one-half portion of Lot 399 which originally belonged to Juanito Frias Chua has already prescribed when it was filed on May 11, 1966. We do not believe so. It must be remembered that the petitioners herein are claiming as reservees did not arise until the time the reservor, Consolacion de la Torre, died in March 1966. When the petitioners therefore filed their complaint to recover the one-half (1/2) portion of Lot 399, they were very much in time to do so. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from is hereby set aside. The petitioners Ignacio Frias Chua, Dominador Chua and Remedios Chua are declared owners of 1/2 undivided portion of Lot 399; and the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental is hereby ordered to cancel. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 31796 covering Lot No. 399 issued in the name of Consolacion de la Torre and to issue a new Certificate of Title in the names of Consolacion de la Torre, 1/2 undivided portion; Ignacio Frias Chua, 1/4 undivided portion; and Dominador Chua and Remedios Chua, 1/4 undivided portion, of said lot. Without pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. L-34395 May 19, 1981 BEATRIZ L. GONZALES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA (BRANCH V), BENITO F. LEGARDA, ROSARIO L. VALDEZ, ALEJANDRO LEGARDA, TERESA LEGARDA, JOSE LEGARDA, BENITO LEGARDA Y FERNANDEZ, CARMEN LEGARDA Y FERNANDEZ, FILOMENA LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ, CARMEN LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ, ALEJANDRO LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ, RAMON LEGARDA Y

HERNANDEZ, FILOMENA LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, JAIME LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, CELSO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, ALEJANDRO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, MA. TERESA LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, MA. ANTONIA LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, JOSE LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, ROSARIO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, BENITO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, EDUARDO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, TRINIDAD F. LEGARDA, and the ESTATE OF DONA FILOMENA ROCES DE LEGARDA, respondents.

AQUINO, J.:1wph1.t Beatriz Legarda Gonzales appealed from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila, dismissing her complaint for partition, accounting, reconveyance and damages and holding, as not subject to reserve troncal, the properties which her mother Filomena Races inherited in 1943 from Filomena Legarda (Civil Case No. 73335). The facts are as follows: Benito Legarda y De la Paz, the son of Benito Legarda y Tuason, died [Manila] on June 17, 1933. He was survived by his widow, Filomena Races, and their seven children: four daughters named Beatriz, Rosario, Teresa and Filomena and three sons named Benito, Alejandro and Jose. On July 12, 1939, the real properties left by Benito Legarda y Tuason were partitioned in three equal portions by his daughters, Consuelo and Rita, and the heirs of his deceased son Benito Legarda y De la Paz who were represented by Benito F. Legarda. Filomena Legarda y Races died intestate and without issue on March 19, 1943. Her sole heiress was her mother, Filomena Races Vda. de Legarda. Mrs. Legarda executed on May 12, 1947 an affidavit adjudicating extrajudicially to herself the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter, Filomena Legarda. The said properties consist of the following: 1wph1.t
(a) Savings deposit in the National City Bank of New York with a credit balance of P3,699.63. (b) 1,429 shares of the Benguet Consolidated Mining Company and a 1/7 interest in certain shares of the San Miguel Brewery, Tuason & Legarda, Ltd., Philippine Guaranty Company, Insular Life Assurance Company and the Manila Times. (c) 1/7 of the properties described in TCT Nos. 80226, 80237 to 80243 (7 titles), 80260, 80261 and 57512 of the Manila registry of deeds. 1/21st of the properties covered by TCT Nos. 48164, 84714, 48201, 48202, 48205, 48203, 48206, 48160 and 48192 of the Manila registry of deeds;

1/21st of the property described in TCT No. 4475 of the registry of deeds of Rizal, now Quezon City; 1/14th of the property described in TCT No. 966 of the registry of deeds of Baguio; 1/7th of the lot and improvements at 127 Aviles described in TCT No. 41862 of the Manila registry of deeds; 1/7th of the lots and improvements at 181 San Rafael describe in TCT Nos. 50495 and 48161 of the Manila registry of deeds; 1/7th of the property described in TCT No. 48163 of the Manila registry of deeds (Streets); l/21st of the properties described in TCT Nos. 48199 and 57551 of the Manila registry of deeds (Streets and Estero): 2/21st of the property described in TCT No. 13458 of tile registry of deeds of T0ayabas.

These are the properties in litigation in this case. As a result of the affidavit of adjudication, Filomena Races succeeded her deceased daughter Filomena Legarda as co-owner of the properties held proindiviso by her other six children. Mrs. Legarda on March 6, 1953 executed two handwritten Identical documents wherein she disposed of the properties, which she inherited from her daughter, in favor of the children of her sons, Benito, Alejandro and Jose (sixteen grandchildren in all). The document reads: 1wph1.t
A mis hijos : Dispongo que se reparta a todos mis nietos hijos de Ben, Mandu y Pepito, los bienes que he heredado de mi difunta hija Filomena y tambien los acciones de la Destileria La Rosario' recientemente comprada a los hermanos Values Legarda. De los bienes de mi hija Filomena se deducira un tote de terreno que yo he 0donada a las Hijas de Jesus, en Guipit La case No. 181 San Rafael, la cede a mi hijo Mandu solo la casa; proque ella esta construida sobre terreno de los hermanos Legarda Races. 1wph1.t (Sgd.) FILOMENA ROCES LEGARDA 6 Marzo 1953

During the period from July, 1958 to February, 1959 Mrs. Legarda and her six surviving children partitioned the properties consisting of the one-third share in the estate of Benito Legarda y Tuason which the children inherited in representation of their father, Benito Legarda y De la Paz. Mrs. Legarda died on September 22, 1967. Her will was admitted to probate as a holographic will in the order dated July 16, 1968 of the Court of First Instance of Manila in Special Proceeding No. 70878, Testate Estate of Filomena Races Vda. de Legarda.

The decree of probate was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in Legarda vs. Gonzales, CA-G.R. No. 43480-R, July 30,1976. In the testate proceeding, Beatriz Legarda Gonzales, a daughter of the testatrix, filed on May 20, 1968 a motion to exclude from the inventory of her mother's estate the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter, Filomena, on the ground that said properties are reservable properties which should be inherited by Filomena Legarda's three sisters and three brothers and not by the children of Benito, Alejandro and Jose, all surnamed Legarda. That motion was opposed by the administrator, Benito F. Legarda. Without awaiting the resolution on that motion, Mrs. Gonzales filed on June 20, 1968 an ordinary civil action against her brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces and her mother's estate for the purpose of securing a declaration that the said properties are reservable properties which Mrs. Legarda could not bequeath in her holographic will to her grandchildren to the exclusion of her three daughters and her three sons (See Paz vs. Madrigal, 100 Phil. 1085). As already stated, the lower court dismissed the action of Mrs. Gonzales. ln this appeal under Republic Act No. 5440 she contends in her six assignments of error that the lower court erred in not regarding the properties in question as reservable properties under article 891 of the Civil Code. On the other hand, defendants-appellees in their six counter-assignments of error contend that the lower court erred in not holding that Mrs. Legarda acquired the estate of her daughter Filomena] Legarda in exchange for her conjugal and hereditary shares in the estate of her husband Benito Legarda y De la Paz and in not holding that Mrs. Gonzales waived her right to the reservable properties and that her claim is barred by estoppel, laches and prescription. The preliminary issue raised by the private respondents as to the timeliness of Mrs. Gonzales' petition for review is a closed matter. This Court in its resolution of December 16, 1971 denied respondents' motion to dismiss and gave due course to the petition for review. In an appeal under Republic Act No. 5440 only legal issues can be raised under undisputed facts. Since on the basis of the stipulated facts the lower court resolved only the issue of whether the properties in question are subject to reserva troncal that is the only legal issue to be resolved in this appeal. The other issues raised by the defendants-appellees, particularly those involving factual matters, cannot be resolved in this appeal. As the trial court did not pass upon those issues, there is no ruling which can be reviewed by this Court. The question is whether the disputed properties are reservable properties under article 891 of the Civil Code, formerly article 811, and whether Filomena Races Vda. de

Legarda could dispose of them in his will in favor of her grandchildren to the exclusion of her six children. Did Mrs. Legarda have the right to convey mortis causa what she inherited from her daughter Filomena to the reservees within the third degree and to bypass the reservees in the second degree or should that inheritance automatically go to the reservees in the second degree, the six children of Mrs. Legarda? As will hereinafter be shown that is not a novel issue or a question of first impression. lt was resolved in Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480. Before discussing the applicability to this case of the doctrine in the Florentino case and other pertinent rulings, it may be useful to make a brief discourse on the nature of reserve troncal, also called lineal, familiar, extraordinaria o semi-troncal. Much time, effort and energy were spent by the parties in their five briefs in descanting on the nature of reserve troncal which together with the reserva viudal and reversion legal, was abolished by the Code Commission to prevent the decedent's estate from being entailed, to eliminate the uncertainty in ownership caused by the reservation (which uncertainty impedes the improvement of the reservable property) and to discourage the confinement of property within a certain family for generations which situation allegedly leads to economic oligarchy, and is incompatible with the socialization of ownership. The Code Commission regarded the reservas as remnants of feudalism which fomented agrarian unrest. Moreover, the reserves, insofar as they penalize legitimate relationship, is considered unjust and inequitable. However, the lawmaking body, not agreeing entirely with the Code Commission, restored the reserve troncal, a legal institution which, according to Manresa and Castan Tobenas has provoked questions and doubts that are difficult to resolve. Reserva troncal is provided for in article 811 of the Spanish Civil Code, now article 891, which reads: 1wph1.t
ART. 811. El ascendiente que heredare de su descendiente bienes que este hubiese adquirido por titulo lucrative de otro ascendiente, o de un hermano, se halla obligado a reservas los que hubiere adquirido por ministerio de la ley en favor de los parientes que eaten dentro del tercer grade y pertenezcan a la linea de donde los bienes proceden ART. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree and who belong to the line from which said property came.

In reserve troncal (1) a descendant inherited or acquired by gratuitous title property from an ascendant or from a brother or sister; (2) the same property is inherited by another ascendant or is acquired by him by operation of law from the said descendant, and (3)

the said ascendant should reserve the said property for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree from the deceased descendant (prepositus) and who belong to the line from which the said property came. So, three transmissions are involved: (I) a first transmission by lucrative title (inheritance or donation) from an ascendant or brother or sister to the deceased descendant; (2) a posterior transmission, by operation of law (intestate succession or legitime) from the deceased descendant (causante de la reserve) in favor of another ascendant, the reservor or reservista, which two transmissions precede the reservation, and (3) a third transmissions of the same property (in consequence of the reservation) from the reservor to the reservees (reservatarios) or the relatives within the third degree from the deceased descendant belonging to the line of the first ascendant, brother or sister of the deceased descendant (6 Castan Tobenas Derecho Civil, Part l, 1960, 6th Ed., pp. 1989). If there are only two transmissions there is no reserve. Thus, where one Bonifacia Lacerna died and her properties were inherited by her son, Juan Marbebe, upon the death of Juan, those lands should be inherited by his half-sister, to the exclusion of his maternal first cousins. The said lands are not reservable property within the meaning of article 811 (Lacerna vs. Vda. de Corcino, l l l Phil. 872). The persons involved in reserve troncal are (1) the ascendant or brother or sister from whom the property was received by the descendant by lucrative or gratuitous title, (2) the descendant or prepositus (prepositus) who received the property, (3) the reservor (reservista) the other ascendant who obtained the property from the (prepositus) by operation of law and (4) the reserves (reservatario) who is within the third degree from the prepositus and who belongs to the (line o tronco) from which the property came and for whom the property should be reserved by the reservor. The reservees may be half-brothers and sisters (Rodriguez vs. Rodriguez, 101 Phil. 1098; Chua vs. Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, L-29901, August 31, 1977, 78 SCRA 412). Fourth degree relatives are not included (Jardin vs. Villamayor, 72 Phil. 392). The rationale of reserve troncal is to avoid "el peligro de que bienes poseidos secularmente por una familia pasen bruscamente a titulo gratuito a manos extraas por el azar de los enlaces y muertes prematuras or impeder que, por un azar de la vide personas extranas a una familia puedan adquirir bienes que sin aquel hubieran quedado en ella (6 Castan Tobenas Derecho Civil, Part l, 6th Ed., 1980, p. 203; Padura vs. Baldovino, 104 Phil. 1065). An illustration of reserve troncal is found in Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295. ln that case, Pedro Sablan inherited two parcels of land from his father Victorians. Pedro died in 1902, single and without issue. His mother, Marcelina Edroso, inherited from him the two parcels of land.

It was held that the land was reservable property in the hands of Marcelina. The reservees were Pablo Sablan and Basilio Sablan, the paternal uncles of Pedro Sablan, the prepositus. Marcelina could register the land under the Torrens system in her name but the fact that the land was reservable property in favor of her two brothers-in-law, should they survive her, should be noted in the title. In another case, it appears that Maria Aglibot died intestate in 1906. Her one-half share of a parcel of conjugal land was inherited by her daughter, Juliana Maalac. When Juliana died intestate in 1920, said one-half share was inherited by her father, Anacleto Maalac who owned the other one-half portion. Anacleto died intestate in 1942, survived by his second wife and their six children. lt was held that the said one-half portion was reservable property in the hands of Anacleto Maalac and, upon his death, should be inherited by Leona Aglibot and Evarista Aglibot, sisters of Maria and materna aunts of Juliana Maalac, who belonged to the line from which said one-half portion came (Aglibot vs. Maalac 114 Phil. 964). Other illustrations of reserva troncal are found in Florentino vs Florentino, 40 Phil. 480; Nieva and Alcala vs. Alcala and Deocampo, 41 Phil. 915; Maghirang and Gutierrez vs. Balcita 46 Phil. 551; Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Dizon vs. Galang, 48 Phil. 601; Riosa vs. Rocha, 48 Phil. 737; Centeno vs. Centeno 52 Phil. 322; Velayo Bernardo vs. Siojo, 58 Phil. 89; Director of Lands vs. Aguas, 63 Phil. 279; Fallorfina vs. Abille, CA 39 O.G. 1784. The person from whom the degree should be reckoned is the descendant, or the one at the end of the line from which the property came and upon whom the property last revolved by descent. He is called the prepositus (Cabardo vs. Villanueva. 44 Phil. 186, 190). In the Cabardo case, one Cornelia Abordo inherited property from her mother, Basilia Cabardo. When Cornelia died, her estate passed to her father, Lorenzo Abordo. ln his hands, the property was reservable property. Upon the death of Lorenzo, the person entitled to the property was Rosa Cabardo, a maternal aunt of Cornelia, who was her nearest relative within the third degree. First cousins of the prepositus are in the fourth degree and are not reservees. They cannot even represent their parents because representation is confined to relatives within the third degree (Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480). Within the third degree, the nearest relatives exclude the more remote subject to the rule of representation. But the representative should be within the third degree from the prepositus (Padura vs. Baldovino, 104 Phil. 1065). Reserva troncal contemplates legitimate relationship. illegitimate relationship and relationship by affinity are excluded.

Gratuitous title or titulo lucrativo refers to a transmission wherein the recipient gives nothing in return such as donacion and succession (Cabardo vs. Villanueva, 44 Phil. 186, 189-190, citing 6 Manresa, Codigo Civil, 7th Ed., 195 l, p. 360). The reserva creates two resolutory conditions, namely, (1) the death of the ascendant obliged to reserve and (2) the survival, at the time of his death, of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which the property came (Sienes vs. E Esparcia l l l Phil. 349, 353). The reservor has the legal title and dominion to the reservable property but subject to the resolutory condition that such title is extinguished if the reservor predeceased the reservee. The reservor is a usufructuary of the reservable property. He may alienate it subject to the reservation. The transferee gets the revocable and conditional ownership of the reservor. The transferee's rights are revoked upon the survival of the reservees at the time of the death of the reservor but become indefeasible when the reservees predecease the reservor. (Sienes vs. Esparcia, 111 Phil. 349, 353; Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295; Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480: Director of Lands vs. Aguas, 63 Phil. 279.) The reservor's title has been compared with that of the vendee a retro in a pacta de retro sale or to a fideicomiso conditional. The reservor's alienation of the reservable property is subject to a resolutory condition, meaning that if at the time of the reservor's death, there are reservees, the transferee of the property should deliver it to the reservees. lf there are no reservees at the time of the reservor's death, the transferee's title would become absolute. (Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Gueco vs. Lacson, 118 Phil. 944; Mono vs. Nequia 93 Phil. 120). On the other hand, the reserves has only an inchoate, expectant or contingent right. His expectant right would disappear if he predeceased the reservor. lt would become absolute should the reservor predecease the reserves. The reserves cannot impugn any conveyance made by the reservor but he can require that the reservable character of the property be recognized by the purchaser (Riosa vs. Rocha 48 Phil. 737; Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295, 312-3; Gueco vs. Lacson, 118 Phil. 944). There is a holding that the renunciation of the reservee's right to the reservable property is illegal for being a contract regarding future inheritance (Velayo Bernardo vs. Siojo, 58 Phil. 89, 96). And there is a dictum that the reservee's right is a real right which he may alienate and dispose of conditionally. The condition is that the alienation shall transfer ownership to the vendee only if and when the reserves survives the reservor (Sienes vs. Esparcia, 111 Phil. 349, 353). 1wph1.t

The reservatario receives the property as a conditional heir of the descendant (prepositus) said property merely reverting to the line of origin from which it had temporarily and accidentally stayed during the reservista's lifetime. The authorities are all agreed that there being reservatarios that survive the reservists, the latter must be deemed to have enjoyed no more than a than interest in the reservable property. (J. J. B. L. Reyes in Cane vs. Director of Lands, 105 Phil. l5.) Even during the reservista's lifetime, the reservatarios, who are the ultimate acquirers of the property, can already assert the right to prevent the reservista from doing anything that might frustrate their reversionary right, and, for this purpose, they can compel the annotation of their right in the registry of property even while the (reservista) is alive (Ley Hipotecaria de Ultramar, Arts. 168, 199; Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295). This right is incompatible with the mere expectancy that corresponds to the natural heirs of the reservista lt is likewise clear that the reservable property is no part of the estate of the reservista who may not dispose of them (it) by will, so long as there are reservatarios existing (Arroyo vs. Gerona, 58 Phil. 226, 237). The latter, therefore, do not inherit from the reservista but from the descendant (prepositus) of whom the reservatarios are the heirs mortis causa, subject to the condition that they must survive the reservista. (Sanchez Roman, Vol. VI Tomo 2, p. 286; Manresa, Commentaries, Vol. 6, 6th Ed., pp. 274, 310, cited by J. J.B.L. Reyes in Padura vs. Baldovino, L-11960, December 27, 1958, 104 Phil. 1065).

Hence, upon the reservista's death, the reservatario nearest to the prepositus becomes, "automatically and by operation of law, the owner of the reservable property." (Cane vs. Director of Lands, 105 Phil. l5.) In the instant case, the properties in question were indubitably reservable properties in the hands of Mrs. Legarda. Undoubtedly, she was a reservor. The reservation became a certainty when at the time of her death the reservees or relatives within the third degree of the prepositus Filomena Legarda were living or they survived Mrs. Legarda. So, the ultimate issue in this case is whether Mrs. Legarda, as reservor, could convey the reservable properties by will or mortis causa to the reservees within the third degree (her sixteen grandchildren) to the exclusion of the reservees in the second degree, her three daughters and three sons. As indicated at the outset, that issue is already res judicata or cosa juzgada. We hold that Mrs. Legarda could not convey in her holographic will to her sixteen grandchildren the reservable properties which she had inherited from her daughter Filomena because the reservable properties did not form part of her estate (Cabardo vs. Villanueva, 44 Phil. 186, 191). The reservor cannot make a disposition mortis causa of the reservable properties as long as the reservees survived the reservor. As repeatedly held in the Cano and Padura cases, the reservees inherit the reservable properties from the prepositus, not from the reservor. Article 891 clearly indicates that the reservable properties should be inherited by all the nearest relatives within the third degree from the prepositus who in this case are the six

children of Mrs. Legarda. She could not select the reservees to whom the reservable property should be given and deprive the other reservees of their share therein. To allow the reservor in this case to make a testamentary disposition of the reservable properties in favor of the reservees in the third degree and, consequently, to ignore the reservees in the second degree would be a glaring violation of article 891. That testamentary disposition cannot be allowed. We have stated earlier that this case is governed by the doctrine of Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480, a similar case, where it was ruled: 1wph1.t
Reservable property left, through a will or otherwise, by the death of ascendant (reservista) together with his own property in favor of another of his descendants as forced heir, forms no part of the latter's lawful inheritance nor of the legitime, for the reason that, as said property continued to be reservable, the heir receiving the same as an inheritance from his ascendant has the strict obligation of its delivery to the relatives, within the third degree, of the predecessor in interest (prepositus), without prejudicing the right of the heir to an aliquot part of the property, if he has at the same time the right of a reservatario (reserves).

ln the Florentino case, it appears that Apolonio Florentino II and his second wife Severina Faz de Leon begot two children, Mercedes and Apolonio III. These two inherited properties from their father. Upon Apolonio III death in 1891, his properties were inherited by his mother, Severina, who died in 1908. ln her will, she instituted her daughter Mercedes as heiress to all her properties, including those coming from her deceased husband through their son, Apolonio III. The surviving children, begotten by Apolonio II with his first wife Antonia Faz de Leon and the descendants of the deceased children of his first marriage, sued Mercedes Florentino for the recovery of their share in the reservable properties, which Severina de Leon had inherited from Apolonio III which the latter had inherited from his father Apolonio II and which Severina willed to her daughter Mercedes. Plaintiff's theory was that the said properties, as reservable properties, could not be disposed of in Severina's will in favor of Mercedes only. That theory was sustained by this Court. It was held that the said properties, being reservable properties, did not form part of Severina's estate and could not be inherited from her by her daughter Mercedes alone. As there were seven reservees, Mercedes was entitled, as a reserves, to one-seventh of the properties. The other six sevenths portions were adjudicated to the other six reservees. Under the rule of stare decisis et non quieta movere, we are bound to follow in this case the doctrine of the Florentino case. That doctrine means that as long as during the reservor's lifetime and upon his death there are relatives within the third degree of the prepositus regardless of whether those reservees are common descendants of the

reservor and the ascendant from whom the property came, the property retains its reservable character. The property should go to the nearest reservees. The reservor cannot, by means of his will, choose the reserves to whom the reservable property should be awarded. The alleged opinion of Sanchez Roman that there is no reserva troncal when the only relatives within the third degree are the common descendants of the predeceased ascendant and the ascendant who would be obliged to reserve is irrelevant and sans binding force in the light of the ruling in the Florentino case. It is contended by the appellees herein that the properties in question are not reservable properties because only relatives within the third degree from the paternal line have survived and that when Mrs. Legarda willed the said properties to her sixteen grandchildren, who are third-degree relatives of Filomena Legarda and who belong to the paternal line, the reason for the reserva troncal has been satisfied: "to prevent persons outside a family from securing, by some special accident of life, property that would otherwise have remained therein". That same contention was advanced in the Florentino case where the reservor willed the reservable properties to her daughter, a full-blood sister of the prepositus and ignored the other six reservors, the relatives of the half-blood of the prepositus. In rejecting that contention, this Court held that the reservable property bequeathed by the reservor to her daughter does not form part of the reservor's estate nor of the daughter's estate but should be given to all the seven reservees or nearest relatives of the prepositus within the third degree. This Court noted that, while it is true that by giving the reservable property to only one reserves it did not pass into the hands of strangers, nevertheless, it is likewise true that the heiress of the reservor was only one of the reservees and there is no reason founded upon law and justice why the other reservees should be deprived of their shares in the reservable property (pp. 894-5). Applying that doctrine to this case, it results that Mrs. Legarda could not dispose of in her will the properties in question even if the disposition is in favor of the relatives within the third degree from Filomena Legarda. The said properties, by operation of Article 891, should go to Mrs. Legarda's six children as reservees within the second degree from Filomena Legarda. It should be repeated that the reservees do not inherit from the reservor but from the reservor but from the prepositus, of whom the reservees are the heirs mortis causa subject to the condition that they must survive the reservor (Padura vs. Baldovino, L11960, December 27, 1958, 104 Phil. 1065). The trial court said that the disputed properties lost their reservable character due to the non-existence of third-degree relatives of Filomena Legarda at the time of the death of

the reservor, Mrs. Legarda, belonging to the Legarda family, "except third-degree relatives who pertain to both" the Legarda and Races lines. That holding is erroneous. The reservation could have been extinguished only by the absence of reservees at the time of Mrs. Legarda's death. Since at the time of her death, there were (and still are) reservees belonging to the second and third degrees, the disputed properties did not lose their reservable character. The disposition of the said properties should be made in accordance with article 891 or the rule on reserva troncal and not in accordance with the reservor's holographic will. The said properties did not form part of Mrs. Legarda's estate. (Cane vs. Director of Lands, 105 Phil. l, 4). WHEREFORE, the lower court's decision is reversed and set aside. lt is hereby adjudged that the properties inherited by Filomena Roces Vda. de Legarda from her daughter Filomena Legarda, with all the fruits and accessions thereof, are reservable properties which belong to Beatriz, Rosario, Teresa, Benito, Alejandro and Jose, all surnamed Legarda y Roces, as reservees. The shares of Rosario L. Valdes and Benito F. Legarda, who died in 1969 and 1973, respectively, should pertain to their respective heirs. Costs against the private respondents.
G.R. No. L-28032 September 24, 1986 FRANCISCA TIOCO DE PAPA, MANUEL TIOCO, NICOLAS TIOCO and JANUARIO PAPA, plaintiffsappellees, vs. DALISAY TONGKO CAMACHO, PRIMO TONGKO and GODOFREDO CAMACHO, defendants-appellants.

NARVASA, J.: This case, which involves the application of Article 891 of the Civil Code on reserva troncal, was submitted for judgment in the lower court by all the parties on the following "Stipulation of Facts and Partial Compromise": 1. They stipulate that the defendant Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho and the plaintiffs, Francisco Tioco de Papa, Manuel Tioco and Nicolas Tioco, are legitimate relatives, plaintiffs being said defendant's grandaunt and granduncles. 2. They stipulate that plaintiffs and defendant Dalisay D. Tongo-Camacho have as a common ancestor the late Balbino Tioco (who had a sister by the name of Romana Tioco), father of plaintiffs and great grandfather of defendant. The family relationship of the parties is as shown in the chart attached hereto as Annex 'A' and made an integral part of this stipulation. 3. They stipulate that Romana Tioco during her lifetime gratuitously donated four (4) parcels of land to her niece Toribia Tioco (legitimate sister of plaintiffs), which parcels of land are presently covered by

Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. A-64165, 64166 and 64167 of the Registry of Deeds of Manila, copies of which are attached to this stipulation as Annexes 'B', 'B-l', and 'B-2'. 4. They stipulate that Toribia Tioco died intestate in l9l5, survived by her husband, Eustacio Dizon, and their two legitimate children, Faustino Dizon and Trinidad Dizon (mother of defendant Dalisay D, Tongko-Camacho) and leaving the afore-mentioned four (4) parcels of land as the inheritance of her said two children in equal pro-indiviso shares. 5. They stipulate that in 1928, Balbino Tioco died intestate, survived by his legitimate children by his wife Marciana Felix (among them plaintiffs) and legitimate grandchildren Faustino Dizon and Trinidad Dizon. In the partition of his estate, three (3) parcels of land now covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 16545 and 16554 of the Registry of Deeds of Manila, copies of which are attached hereto as Annexes 'C' and 'C-l', were adjudicated as the inheritance of the late Toribia Tioco, but as she had predeceased her father, Balbino Tioco, the said three (3) parcels of land devolved upon her two legitimate children Faustino Dizon and Trinidad Dizon in equal pro-indiviso shares. 6. They stipulate that in 1937, Faustino Dizon died intestate, single and without issue, leaving his onehalf (1/2) pro-indiviso share in the seven (7) parcels of land above-mentioned to his father, Eustacio Dizon, as his sole intestate heir, who received the said property subject to a reserva troncal which was subsequently annotated on the Transfer Certificates of Title Annexes 'B', 'B-l', 'B-2', 'C' and 'C-l'. 7. They stipulate that in 1939 Trinidad Dizon-Tongko died intestate, and her rights and interests in the parcels of land abovementioned were inherited by her only legitimate child, defendant Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho, subject to the usufructuary right of her surviving husband, defendant Primo Tongko. 8. They stipulate that on June 14, 1965, Eustacio Dizon died intestate, survived his only legitimate descendant, defendant Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho. 9. The parties agree that defendant Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho now owns one-half (1/2) of all the seven (7) parcels of land abovementioned as her inheritance from her mother, Trinidad Dizon-Tongko. 10. Defendant Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho also claims, upon legal advice, the other half of the said seven (7) parcels of land abovementioned by virtue of the reserva troncal imposed thereon upon the death of Faustino Dizon and under the laws on intestate succession; but the plaintiffs, also upon legal advice, oppose her said claim because they claim three-fourths (3/4) of the one-half pro-indiviso interest in said parcel of land, which interest was inherited by Eustacio Dizon from Faustino Dizon, or threeeights (3/8) of the said parcels of land, by virtue of their being also third degree relatives of Faustino Dizon. 11. The parties hereby agree to submit for judicial determination in this case the legal issue of whether defendant Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho is entitled to the whole of the seven (7) parcels of land in question, or whether the plaintiffs, as third degree relatives of Faustino Dizon are reservatarios (together with said defendant) of the one-half pro-indiviso share therein which was inherited by Eustacio Dizon from his son Faustino Dizon, and entitled to three-fourths (3/4) of said one-half pro-

indiviso share, or three eights (3/8) of said seven (7) parcels of land, and, therefore, to three-eights (3/8) of the rentals collected and to be collected by defendant Dalisay P. Tongko Camacho from the tenants of said parcels of land, minus the expenses and/or real estate taxes corresponding to plaintiffs' share in the rentals. 12. In view of the fact that the parties are close blood relatives and have acted upon legal advice in pursuing their respective claims, and in order to restore and preserve harmony in their family relations, they hereby waive all their claims against each other for damages (other than legal interest on plaintiffs' sore in the rentals which this Honorable Court may deem proper to award), attorney's fees and expenses of litigation which shall be borne by the respective parties. 1 On the basis thereof, the lower Court declared the plaintiffs Francisco Tioco, Manuel Tioco and Nicolas Tioco, as well as the defendant Dalisay Tongko-Camacho, entitled, as reservatarios, to one-half of the seven parcels of land in dispute, in equal proportions, rendering judgment as follows: ... . Resolving, therefore, the legal question submitted by the parties, the court holds that plaintiffs Francisca Tioco, Manuel Tioco and Nicolas Tioco are entitled to three-fourths (3/4) of one-half (1/2) proindiviso shares or three-eights (3/8) of the seven (7) parcels of land involved in this action. Consequently, they are, likewise, entitled to three-eights (3/8) of the rentals collected and to be collected by the defendant Dalisay D. Tioco-Camacho from the tenants of the said parcels of land, minus the expenses and/or real estate taxes corresponding to plaintiffs' share in the rentals. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, and inasmuch as the parties expressly waived all their claims against each other for damages including attorney's fees and expenses of litigation other than the legal interests on plaintiffs' share in the rentals, the court renders judgment adjudging the plaintiffs entitled to threeeights (3/8) of the seven (7) parcels of land described in Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. T-64165, T64166, T-64167, T-16546 and T-16554 of the Registry of Deeds of Manila. The defendant Dalisay D. Tioco-Camacho is hereby ordered to make an accounting of all rents received by her on the properties involved in this action for the purpose of determining the legal interests which should be paid to the plaintiffs on their shares in the rentals of the property in question. SO ORDERED. 2 Not satisfied, the defendant appealed to this Court. The issue raised is whether, as contended by the plaintiffs-appellees and ruled by the lower Court, all relatives of the praepositus within the third degree in the appropriate line succeed without distinction to the reservable property upon the death of the reservista, as seems to be implicit in Art. 891 of the Civil Code, which reads: Art. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree and who belong to the line from which said property came. (811),

or, as asserted by the defendant-appellant, the rights of said relatives are subject to, and should be determined by, the rules on intestate succession. That question has already been answered in Padura vs. Baldovino, 3 where the reservatario was survived by eleven nephews and nieces of the praepositus in the line of origin, four of whole blood and seven of half blood, and the claim was also made that all eleven were entitled to the reversionary property in equal shares. This Court, speaking through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, declared the principles of intestacy to be controlling, and ruled that the nephews and nieces of whole blood were each entitled to a share double that of each of the nephews and nieces of half blood in accordance with Article 1006 of the Civil Code. Said the Court: The issue in this appeal may be formulated as follows: In a case of reserva troncal, where the only reservatarios (reservees) surviving the reservista, and belonging to the fine of origin, are nephews of the descendant (prepositus), but some are nephews of the half blood and the others are nephews of the whole blood, should the reserved properties be apportioned among them equally, or should the nephews of the whole blood take a share twice as large as that of the nephews of the half blood? xxx xxx xxx The case is one of first impression and has divided the Spanish commentators on the subject. After mature reflection, we have concluded that the position of the appellants is correct. The reserva troncal is a special rule designed primarily to assure the return of the reservable property to the third degree relatives belonging to the line from which the property originally came, and avoid its being dissipated into and by the relatives of the inheriting ascendant (reservista). xxx xxx xxx The stated purpose of the reserva is accomplished once the property has devolved to the specified relatives of the line of origin. But from this time on, there is no further occasion for its application. In the relations between one reservatario and another of the same degree there is no call for applying Art. 891 any longer; wherefore, the respective share of each in the reversionary property should be governed by the ordinary rules of intestate succession. In this spirit the jurisprudence of this Court and that of Spain has resolved that upon the death of the ascendant reservista, the reservable property should pass, not to all the reservatarios as a class but only to those nearest in degree to the descendant (prepositus), excluding those reservatarios of more remote degree (Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 489-490; T.S. 8 Nov. 1894; Dir. Gen. de los Registros, Resol. 20 March 1905). And within the third degree of relationship from the descendant (prepositus), the right of representation operates in favor of nephews (Florentino vs. Florentino, supra). Following the order prescribed by law in legitimate succession when there are relatives of the descendant within the third degree, the right of the nearest relative, called reservatarios over the property which the reservista (person holding it subject to reservation) should return to him, excludes that of the one more remote. The right of representation cannot be alleged when the one claiming same as a reservatario of the reservable property is not among the relatives within the third degree belonging

to the line from which such property came, inasmuch as the right granted by the Civil Code in Article 811 is in the highest degree personal and for the exclusive benefit of designated persons who are within the third degree of the person from whom the reservable property came. Therefore, relatives of the fourth and the succeeding degrees can never be considered as reservatarios, since the law does not recognize them as such. In spite of what has been said relative to the right of representation on the part of one alleging his right as reservatario who is not within the third degree of relationship, nevertheless there is right of representation on the part of reservatarios who are within the third degree mentioned by law, as in the case of nephews of the deceased person from whom the reservable property came. ... . (Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480, 489-490) (Emphasis supplied) See also Nieva and Alcala vs. Alcala and de Ocampo, 41 Phil. 915) Proximity of degree and right of representation are basic principles of ordinary intestate succession; so is the rule that whole blood brothers and nephews are entitled to a share double that of brothers and nephews of half blood. If in determining the rights of the reservatarios inter se, proximity of degree and the right of representation of nephews are made to apply, the rule of double share for immediate collaterals of the whole blood should be likewise operative. In other words, the reserva troncal merely determines the group of relatives reservatarios to whom the property should be returned; but within that group, the individual right to the property should be decided by the applicable rules of ordinary intestate succession, since Art. 891 does not specify otherwise. This conclusion is strengthened by the circumstance that the reserva being an exceptional case, its application should be limited to what is strictly needed to accomplish the purpose of the law. As expressed by Manresa in his Commentaries (Vol. 6, 6th Ed., p. 250): ... creandose un verdadero estado excepcional del derecho, no debe ampliarse, sino mas bien restringirse, el alcance del precepto, manteniendo la excepcion mientras fuere necesaria y estuviese realmente contenida en la disposicion, y aplicando las reglas generales y fundamentales del Codigo en materia de sucesi6n, en aquehos extremes no resueltos de un modo expreso, y que quedan fuera de la propia esfera de accion de la reserva que se crea. The restrictive interpretation is the more imperative in view of the new Civil Code's hostility to successional reservas and reversions, as exemplified by the suppression of the reserva viudal and the reversion legal of the Code of 1889 (Art. 812 and 968-980). Reversion of the reservable property being governed by the rules on intestate succession, the plaintiffsappellees must be held without any right thereto because, as aunt and uncles, respectively, of Faustino Dizon (the praepositus), they are excluded from the succession by his niece, the defendant-appellant, although they are related to him within the same degree as the latter. To this effect is Abellana vs. Ferraris 4 where Arts. 1001, 1004, 1005 and 1009 of the Civil Code were cited and applied: Nevertheless, the trial court was correct when it held that, in case of intestacy nephews and nieces of the de cujus exclude all other collaterals (aunts and uncles, first cousins, etc.) from the succession. This is

readily apparent from Articles 1001, 1004, 1005 and 1009 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, that provide as follows: Art. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the latter shall be entitle to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other half. Art. 1004. Should the only survivors be brothers and sisters of the full blood, they shall inherit in equal shares. Art. 1005. Should brothers and sisters survive together with nephews and nieces who are the children of the decedent's brothers and sisters of the full blood, the former shall inherit per capita, and the latter per stirpes. Art. 1009. Should there be neither brothers nor sisters, nor children of brothers and sisters, the other collateral relatives shall succeed to the estate. Under the last article (1009), the absence of brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces of the decedent is a precondition to the other collaterals (uncles, cousins, etc.) being called to the succession. This was also and more clearly the case under the Spanish Civil Code of 1889, that immediately preceded the Civil Code now in force (R.A. 386). Thus, Articles 952 and 954 of the Code of 1889 prescribed as follows: Art. 952. In the absence of brothers or sisters and of nephews or nieces, children of the former, whether of the whole blood or not, the surviving spouse, if not separated by a final decree of divorce shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased. Art. 954. Should there be neither brothers nor sisters, nor children of brothers or sisters, nor a surviving spouse, the other collateral relatives shall succeed to the estate of deceased. The latter shall succeed without distinction of lines or preference among them by reason of the whole blood. It will be seen that under the preceding articles, brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces inherited ab intestato ahead of the surviving spouse, while other collaterals succeeded only after the widower or widow. The present Civil Code of the Philippines merely placed the spouse on a par with the nephews and nieces and brothers and sisters of the deceased, but without altering the preferred position of the latter vis a vis the other collaterals. xxx xxx xxx We, therefore, hold, and so rule, that under our laws of succession, a decedent's uncles and aunts may not succeed ab intestato so long as nephews and nieces of the decedent survive and are willing and qualified to succeed. ... This conclusion is fortified by the observation, also made in Padura, supra, that as to the reservable property, the reservatarios do not inherit from the reservista, but from the descendant praepositus:

... . It is likewise clear that the reservable property is no part of the estate of the reservista, who may not dispose of it by will, as long as there are reservatarios existing (Arroyo vs. Gerona, 58 Phil. 237). The latter, therefore, do not inherit from the reservista, but from the descendant prepositus, of whom the reservatarios are the heirs mortis causa, subject to the condition that they must survive the reservista. (Sanchez Roman, Vol. VI, Tomo 2, p. 286; Manresa, Commentaries, Vol. 6, 6th Ed., pp. 274, 310) ... . To the same effect is Cano vs, Director of Lands 5, where it was ruled that intestacy proceedings to determine the right of a reservatario are not necessary where the final decree of the land court ordering issuance of title in the name of the reservista over property subject to reserva troncal Identifies the reservatario and there are no other claimants to the latter's rights as such: The contention that an intestacy proceeding is still necessary rests upon the assumption that the reservatario win succeed in, or inherit, the reservable property from the reservista. This is not true. The reservatario is not the reservista's successor mortis causa nor is the reservable property part of the reservista's estate; the reservatario receives the property as a conditional heir of the descendant (prepositus), said property merely reverting to the line of origin from which it had temporarily and accidentally strayed during the reservista's lifetime. The authorities are all agreed that there being reservatarios that survive the reservista, the matter must be deemed to have enjoyed no more than a life interest in the reservable property. It is a consequence of these principles that upon the death of the reservista, the reservatario nearest to the prepositus (the appellee in this case) becomes, automatically and by operation of law, the owner of the reservable property. As already stated, that property is no part of the estate of the reservista, and does not even answer for the debts of the latter. ... . Had the reversionary property passed directly from the praepositus, there is no doubt that the plaintiffsappellees would have been excluded by the defendant-appellant under the rules of intestate succession. There is no reason why a different result should obtain simply because "the transmission of the property was delayed by the interregnum of the reserva;" 6 i.e., the property took a "detour" through an ascendant-thereby giving rise to the reservation before its transmission to the reservatario. Upon the stipulated facts, and by virtue of the rulings already cited, the defendant-appellant Dalisay Tongko-Camacho is entitled to the entirety of the reversionary property to the exclusion of the plaintiffs-appellees. WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment of the lower Court is reversed and set aside and the complaint is dismissed, with costs against the plaintiffs-appellants.

G.R. No. L-24750 May 16, 1980 DOROTEO BANAWA, JULIANA MENDOZA, CASIANO AMPONIN and GLICERIA ABRENICA, petitioners, vs.

PRIMITIVA MIRANO, GREGORIA MIRANO, JUANA MIRANO and MARCIANO MIRANO, respondents. Jose W. Diokno for petitioners. Recto Law Office for respondents.

FERNANDEZ, J.:+.wph!1 This is a petition for review by certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on April 12, 1965 1 in CA G.R. No. 23597-R, entitled "Primitive Mirano, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, versus, Doroteo Banawa, et al., Defendants-Appellants", the dispositive part of which is: t.hqw
In view of the foregoing, the appealed judgment is hereby affirmed, with costs against defendants-appellants.

The judgment of the lower court which was affirmed reads as follows: t.hqw
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: (a) Declaring the plaintiffs to be the owners of the two parcels of land described in paragraph 3 of the complaint; (b) Ordering the defendants to deliver the possession of the said parcels of land to the plaintiffs; (c) Declaring the deed of sale executed by Roman Biscocho, Paula Biscocho and Maria Carmen Mendoza in favor of Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza, dated April 4, 1940, as evidenced by Exhibit 'E' and its registration in the registry of deeds of Batangas, to be null and void; (d) Declaring null and void the deed of donation, dated August 7, 1956, evidenced by Exhibit 'D' executed by the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza in favor of the spouses Casiano Amponin and Gliceria Abrenica as well as Tax Declarations No. 26818 in the names of the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza, and No. 26845 in the names of the spouses Casiano Amponin and Gliceria Abrenica, and the registration of the said deed of donation in the registry of deeds of Batangas; and (e) Ordering the defendants to pay to the plaintiffs actual damages in the amount of P 4,500 and attorney's fees in the amount of P500.00, and the costs of this action. SO ORDERED.
2

The spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza both died during the pendency of this case in the Court of Appeals. They have been substituted by the petitioners Casiano Amponin and his wife Gliceria Abrenica, legally adopted daughter of one of the deceased petitioners and donee of the Carsuche property. 3

The petitioners filed on May 20, 1965, a motion for reconsideration of the decision of the Court of Appeals. Said motion was denied on June 28, 1965. 4 As found by the Court of Appeals, the facts are: t.hqw
It appears that sometime in 1911, Maria Mirano a niece of appellant Juliana Mendoza, and who was then about nine years old, was taken in by the appellants-spouses, Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza, in the latter's house in Mahabang Lodlod, Taal, Batangas. Appellants spouses being childless, treated and reared her up like their own child. They hired a private tutor to teach her the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic. They supported her, gave her money, clothes and even jewelry. Maria reciprocated their care and affection by helping with the household chores. A few years later, the spouses opened up a store for general merchandise in barrio Lutucan, Sariaya, Quezon, from which they derived considerable income and which enabled them to acquire several parcels of land. On July 31, 1949, after a lingering illness, Maria Mirano died in Taal, Batangas while still living with the spouses. At the time of her death she left as her only nearest relatives the herein plaintiffs, namely Primitiva Mirano, who is a surviving sister, and Gregoria, Juana and Marciano, all surnamed Mirano, who are the children of a deceased brother, Martin Mirano. The parties do not dispute the Identity of the two parcels of land in controversy, which are described in paragraph 3 of the complaint as follows: t.hqw 1. A parcel of sugar land situated in the Barrio of Iba, Taal, Batangas, with an area of 44,200 square meters, more or less. Bounded on the North, by Ravine; on the East, by the property of Leodovico Garcia; on the South by the property of Gregorio Amponin; and on the West, by the property of Gregorio Maria Aniversario (now Doroteo Banawa). Under Tax Declaration No. 25994 in the name of Maria Mirano and assessed at P2,210.00. 2. A parcel of sugar land situated in the barrio of Carsuche, Taal, Batangas, with an area of 54,093 square meters, more or less. Bounded on the North, by the property of Agapito Aro and Alley; on the East, by an Alley; on the South, by the properties of Filomeno Diomampo, Gregorio de la Rosa and Andres Moratilla; and on the West, by the property of Agapito Aro. Under Tax Declaration No. 19786 in the name of Maria Mirano and assessed at P2,760.00. For purposes of clearness and convenience, and since the respective assertions and evidences adduced by the parties regarding the two parcels of land are in sharp divergence, we shall refer to the first parcel as the Iba Property and to the second parcel as the Carsuche property and, moreover, we shall treat and discuss the two separately. Parcel 1, or the Iba Property. The parties agree that the Iba Property was originally owned by Placido Punzalan from whom it was acquired on May 5, 1921. Plaintiffs' evidence upon this point tends to show that the acquisition of the said parcel of land was pursuant to a deed of sale contained in a public instrument acknowledged before Notary Public Ramon A. Cabrera on the date

aforesaid, a photostatic copy of which was introduced in evidence as Exhibit 'A', the same having been secured from an original copy on file with the Division of Archives, Bureau of Libraries. The deed of sale in question states that the Iba property consisted formerly of two parcels of land and that they were sold for the amount of P2,000.00 in favor of Maria Mirano. Defendant Doroteo Banawa impliedly admitted the execution of this notarial document when he declared that in the execution of the document concerning the purchase of the Iba property from Punzalan the notary public charged him P20.00 and another P5.00 for stamps in the name of Maria Mirano since 1923 (Exhs. 'A1' to 'A-7'). By contrast, defendants' claim of ownership over the Iba property is predicated upon their assertion that the money used in buying said land pertained to the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza. Defendants contend that since 1919 Placido Punzalan borrowed money from defendant spouses on three different occasions for the sums of P1,200.00, P1,800.00 and P1,080.00, respectively, each of which was evidenced by Exhs. '1', '2', and '3', respectively. Upon the failure of Placido Punzalan to discharge said obligations in 1921, he agreed to sell the land aforementioned to the spouses for P 3,700.00, but as the total value of the three loans was P4,080.00, Punzalan had to reimburse to said spouses the difference of P380.00. The document of sale stated the price to be only P2,000.00 in view of the fact that Doroteo Banawa had only P25.00 with him when the deed was prepared by the notary public, and the latter was charging P10.00 for every one thousand pesos mentioned as the consideration of the contract, Defendants likewise maintain that the sale was made to appear in favor of Maria Mirano because said spouses being already old, they want to leave something to Maria Mirano for her to lean upon when they would have been gone. They, however, made Maria understand that although the property was placed under her name, they would continue to be the owners thereof, to administer and enjoy the fruits of the same as long as they live, and that she would become the owner of the land only after their death. Maria supposedly expressed her conformity to and appreciation for the said arrangement. Maria Mirano was 19 years old when the deed of sale was executed. Parcel 2, or the Carsuche Property. There is no dispute between the parties that the Carsuche property was acquired by way of purchase from its original owners, to wit: Roman Biscocho, his sister Paula Biscocho, and sister-in-law Carmen Mendoza. The sale took place sometime in December, 1935. There is, however, a sharp conflict of evidence between the parties concerning the form of the document evidencing the same and in whose favor the sale was made at that time. The plaintiffs claim that the sale was evidenced by a public instrument executed before and ratified by Notary Public Vicente Ilagan of Taal, Batangas, and that the vendee mentioned in the said document was Maria Mirano. The defendants, on the other hand, assert that the sale was evidenced by a private writing prepared in the handwriting of Roman Biscocho and that it was in favor of the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza. Neither the public instrument allegedly ratified by Atty. Ilagan nor the private writing supposedly prepared by Roman Biscocho was presented before the lower court. After laying the proper predicate for the presentation of secondary evidence, the plaintiffs presented Atty. Vicente Ilagan and Roman Biscocho to testify upon the execution of the aforesaid public instrument in December, 1935. These two declared that sometime in December, 1935, the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza, Maria Mirano, Roman Biscocho, Paula Biscocho and Carmen Mendoza, accompanied by Atty. Regino Aro, went to the office of Atty. Ilagan in Taal, Batangas; that Atty. Aro, who was a classmate of Atty. Ilagan in the law school, asked the latter's permission to use his typewriter on which he prepared a document in English and which he asked Atty. Ilagan to ratify; that Atty. Ilagan translated into Tagalog the contents of the said document to the

parties and. the witnesses, after which they all signed the same; that the document involved the sale of the Carsuche property in favor of Maria Mirano: that after paying him P20.00 for his services which Atty. Ilagan would not accept at first, Doroteo Banawa asked Atty. Ilagan in Tagalog whether the document that he ratified was 'strong enough' (Matibay) to safeguard the rights of Maria Mirano, to which Atty. Ilagan answered in the affirmative. Doroteo Banawa, on the other hand, stated that on being offered the Carsuche property by the owners thereof, they agreed on the purchase price of P3,700.00 of which a down payment of P1,200.00 was made and, later, an additional sum of P100.00 was given to Roman Biscocho, both payments being evidenced by a receipt dated December 15, 1936 (Exh. '9'). A few days later, Roman Biscocho prepared in his own handwriting a private document selling the Carsuche property in favor of the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza for the sum of P4,000.00, the vendors having asked for a P300.00 increase in price. Doroteo Banawa, thereafter brought said private document to the municipal treasurer of Taal, Batangas, to whom he expressed the desire to have the land declared in the name of Maria Mirano so that the latter might attend to the payment of taxes over the land whenever he was away. This wish of Doroteo Banawa was done by his thumb-marking an affidavit, thus accounting for the fact that said land appears in the 5 name of Maria Mirano in the tax declarations covering the same from 1934 to 1956.

The petitioners assign the following errors: t.hqw


I THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN LAW IN RULING THAT THE PLACING OF IBA PROPERTY IN THE NAME OF THE LATE MARIA MIRANO WAS IN THE NATURE OF A DONATION INTER-VIVOS. II THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN LAW IN RULING THAT PETITIONERS' INTERPRETATION OF ARTICLE 632 OF THE OLD CIVIL CODE IS TOO LITERAL AND IGNORES THE RATIONALE OF THE LEGAL PROVISION. III THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN LAW IN RULING THAT THE 'EXCEPTIVE' CLAUSE' OF ARTICLE 1448 OF THE CIVIL CODE IS APPLICABLE IN THE PRESENT CASE. IV THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN LAW IN RULING THAT SECTION 5, RULE 100 OF THE OLD RULES OF COURT DOES NOT APPLY IN THE INSTANT CASE BECAUSE MARIA MIRANO WAS NOT LEGALLY ADOPTED. V THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN LAW IN RULING WITH RESPECT TO THE CARSUCHE PROPERTY (LOT NO. 2) THAT THE DEED OF SALE EXECUTED IN 1940 IN FAVOR OF THE PETITIONERS DOROTEO BANAWA AND HIS

WIFE JULIANA MENDOZA AND WHICH WAS DULY REGISTERED DID NOT IMPAIR 6 THE PRETENDED SALE TO MARIA MIRANO.

The first, second, third and fourth errors assigned refer to the Iba property, parcel 1, while the fifth error assigned refers to the Carsuche property, Lot 2. 7 As may be discerned from the assignment of errors, the basic issue is the ownership of the two parcels of land in question. The plaintiffs appellees, respondents herein, assert title to the lands as heirs of Maria Mirano. Defendants-appellants, petitioners herein, claim ownership over them by virtue of purchase from the original owners. Considering that in the case at bar the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are not contrary to those of the trial court, a minute scrutiny by this Court of said findings is not necessary. In Tolentino vs. de Jesus, et al., 8 this Court held: t.hqw
The findings of facts of the respondent Court of Appeals are conclusive on the parties and on this Court (Tamayo vs. Callejo, L- 25563, July 28, 1972, 46 SCRA 27; Nery, et al. vs. Lorenzo, et al., L-23096 & L-23376, April 27, 1972, 44 SCRA 43 1; Villacrucis vs. CA, L-29831, March 29, 1972, 44 SCRA 176; Dela Cruz, et al. vs. CA, L-24000, Nov. 29, 1971, 42 SCRA 68; Naga Dev. Corp. vs. CA, L-28175, Sept. 30, 1971, 41 SCRA 105, 115; Lacson & Basilio vs. Pineda, et al., L-28523, July 16, 1971, 40 SCRA 35; Qui;ano, et al. vs. CA, et al., L-23024, May 31, 1971, 39 SCRA 227; Reyes, et al. vs. CA, et al., L28466, March 27, 1971, 38 SCRA 138, 142; Gotamco Hermanas vs. Shotwell, et al., L22519, March 27, 1971, 38 SCRA 112-117; Limjoco vs. CA, L-20656, Feb. 27, 1971, 37 SCRA 663-669; De Garcia, et al. vs. CA, L-20264, Jan. 30, 1971, 37 SCRA 130, 136137; Simeon vs. Pe;a, L-29049, Dec. 29, 1970, 36 SCRA 611), unless (1) the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmise and conjectures; (2) the inference made is manifestly mistaken; (3) there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts; (5) the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case and its findings are contrary to the admission of both appellant and appellees [Roque vs. Buan, L-22459, Oct. 31, 1967, 21 SCRA 648]; (6) the findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court; (7) said findings of facts are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (8) the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents [Garcia vs. CA, L-26490, June 30, 1970, 33 SCRA 622] ; and (9) when the finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is premised on the absence of evidence and is contradicted by evidence on record [Salazar vs. Gutierrez, L-21727, May 29, 1970, 33 SCRA 243].

The instant case does not fall under any of the exceptions. However, all the issues raised by the petitioners shall be passed upon individually. The first error assigned reads: t.hqw
The Honorable Court of Appeals gravely erred in law in ruling that the placing of the Iba Properly in the name of the late Maria Mirano was in the nature of a donation inter-vivos.

The respondents 9 correctly pointed out that neither the Court of Appeals nor the Court of First Instance of Batangas categorically stated that the placing of the properties in the name of Maria Mirano was in the nature of a donation inter-vivos. In rejecting the

petitioners' contention that a donation mortis causa was executed, the Court of Appeals said that, under the facts and circumstances narrated by the petitioners, the placing of the Iba property in the name of Maria Mirano-if it was to be called a donation at all - was not in the nature of a donation mortis causa, but rather it would be in the nature of a donation inter-vivos, giving its reasons and citing the applicable law and decisions of this Court on the matter. The Court of First Instance made the same hypothetical conclusion. 10 The finding of the Court of First Instance of Batangas which was sustained by the Court of Appeals is that what was donated by the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza to Maria Mirano was the money used in the purchase of the lands in question. This conclusion of the Court of First Instance of Batangas was supported by the testimony of Macario B. Aro, a nephew of the deceased Doroteo Banawa, that the money used by Maria Mirano in the purchase of the Iba and Carsuche properties was given to her by, Doroteo Banawa. 11 If the money used by Maria Mirano in purchasing the properties was given to her by the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza, or by either of them, then the money had belonged to her. Maria Mirano purchased and paid for the said properties with her money. As a matter or fact, the deed of sale, Exhibit "A", 12 recites as follows: t.hqw
Que en consideracion a la suma de Dos Mil Pesos moneda filipina (P2,000.00) que me ha pagado Maria Mirano ... .

It is also contended by the petitioners that the deeds of sale executed by the owners of the land in favor of Maria Mirano were simulated contracts intended to shortcut two different transactions: (1) a sale in favor of the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza; and (2) a donation of lands by the spouses in favor of Maria Mirano. 13 There are two kinds of simulated contracts, namely: the absolutely simulated contract and the relatively simulated one. In both instances, however, their nullity is based on the want of true consent of the parties. There is no intent to be bound or the true intent is hidden or concealed. Such contracts are even generally regarded as fraudulent with intent of injuring third persons. The purpose, therefore, of a simulated contract which may be annulled is to conceal the parties' true intent, or to deceive or defraud third persons. From the record, there is no showing of deception or fraud, nor of concealment of intent of the parties as to the sale of the Iba property by the vendors in favor of Maria Mirano. The transactions which transpired were purely: (1) donations of money or things representing or equivalent to money by the spouses in favor of Maria Mirano which could be made and accepted verbally; and (2) purchase of lands by Maria Mirano with the use of that money or credits (pre-existing indebtedness in favor of the spouses) as consideration thereof.

The petitioners' contention that "the contract of sale had been intended to be a contract of sale between the vendors and the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza" has no merit. The petitioners were present when the sales were made to Maria Mirano. They were the ones who caused the titles to the properties to be placed in the name of Maria Mirano because they wished "that after our death Maria Mirano could have something for her maintenance. 14 Moreover, the testimony of Vicente Ilagan, the notary public before whom the deed of sale was executed, to the effect that he was asked by Doroteo Banawa in Tagalog "Kung matibay ang documenting ito para kay Maria" 15 and to which query he answered, "Yes, Sir", 16 supports this conclusion. The conduct of the spouses at the time of the execution of the contracts are inconsistent with those which the petitioners, the late spouses and their successors-in interest, now assert. Their intention to make Maria Mirano the owner of the said parcels of land was clearly shown by their conduct at the time of the execution of the deeds of sale which influenced the vendors to believe that Maria Mirano was indeed the vendee in their agreement. The petitioners had full knowledge of the facts surrounding the execution of the document of sale. They are equitably estopped 17 to deny that the transfer of the lands in question in favor of Maria Mirano was the actual and true intent of the parties as embodied in the documents of sale of the Iba and Carsuche properties. The documents are what they purport to be contracts of sale from the vendors to the vendee, Maria Mirano. The petitioners submit that since there was transfer of title to the land in litigation to Maria Mirano when the purchase price was in fact actually paid by the petitionersspouses, an implied trust was created. The present law on implied trust is Article 1448 of the New Civil Code which provides: t.hqw
Art. 1448. There is an implied trust when property is sold, and the legal estate is granted to one party but the price is paid by another for the purpose of having beneficial interest of the property. The former is the trustee, while the latter is the beneficiary. However if the person to whom the title is conveyed is a child, legitimate or illegitimate, of the one paying the price of the sale, no trust is implied by law, it being disputably presumed that there is a gift in favor of the child.

The transactions in question took place before the Civil Code of the Philippines became effective on August 30, 1950. Hence Article 1448 of said Code is not applicable. 18 Moreover, there is no showing that Maria Mirano bought the lands in question in trust for the petitioners. The petitioners also claim that they have become owners of the properties by acquisitive prescription under Article 1957 of the Old Civil Code which provides: t.hqw
Ownership and other real rights in immovable property shall prescribe by possession in good faith and under a just title for ten years as between persons present and for twenty years as between absentees.

The above-cited provision speaks of two essential requirements: (1) possession for ten (10) years as between persons present and twenty (20) years, for absentees; and (2) a just title. As regards the Iba property (Lot No. 1), petitioners have not presented any title, just or otherwise, to support their claim. And Article 1954 of the Old Civil Code provides, further, that a "just title must be proven; it never can be presumed." Not having a just title, as required by Article 1957 of the Old Civil Code, the petitioners cannot invoke prescription with respect to the Iba property. The petitioners also assert ownership by acquisitive prescription over the Iba property under Section 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The pertinent portion of Section 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure reads t.hqw
Ten years actual adverse possession by any person claiming to be the owner for that time of any land or interest in land, uninterruptedly continued for ten years by occupancy, descent, grants, or otherwise in whatever way such occupancy may have commenced or continued, shall vest in every actual occupant or possessor of such land a full and complete title, saving to the persons under disabilities the rights secured by the next section. In order to constitute such title by prescription or adverse possession, the possession by the claimant or by the person under or through whom he claims must have been actual open, public, continuous, under a claim of title exclusive of any other right and adverse to all other claimants ...

It is a fact that while Maria Mirano was alive she possessed the property in question as the owner thereof Hence, it is error for the petitioners to claim ownership over the Iba property by acquisitive prescription under Article 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure for their possession of the said property became adverse and exclusive only in July 1949 after Maria Mirano's death. From 1949 to the date of the filing in 1957 of the present action by the respondents only eight years had elapsed. The second error assigned is: t.hqw
The Honorable Court of Appeals gravely erred in law in ruling that petitioners' interpretation of Article 632 of the Old Civil Code is too literal and ignores the rationale of the legal provision.

Article 632 of the Old Civil Code provides: "Donations of personal property may be made verbally or in writing. Verbal donation requires the simultaneous delivery of the gift. In the absence of this requisite the donation shall produce no effect, unless made in writing and accepted in the same form." It is contended by the petitioners that oral donation of personal property requires simultaneous delivery of the gift. As regards the Iba property, the consideration given by Maria Mirano for the purchase of the said property from Placido Punzalan was the preexisting debts of the latter to the spouses Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza.

The contention of the petitioners that there was no simultaneous delivery of the credits to Maria Mirano is not meritorious. Delivery may be actual or constructive. Actual delivery consists in the giving of actual possession to the vendee or his agent, as for example, in manually transferring the possession of a thing from the vendor to the vendee. Constructive delivery is a general term comprehending all those acts which, although not conferring physical possession of the thing, have been held by construction of law equivalent to acts of real delivery, as for example, the giving of the key to the house, as constructive delivery of the house from the vendor to the vendee. In the instant case, the oral donation of the gift consisting of pre-existing obligations of the vendor, Placido Punzalan, was simultaneous or concurrent with the constructive delivery thereof to Maria Mirano when the spouses consented to the execution of the deed of sale of the Iba property in favor of Maria Mirano. The execution of the said deed of sale constituted payment by the vendor, Placido Punzalan, of his outstanding obligations due to the spouses, Doroteo Banawa and Juliana Mendoza. Consequently, there was constructive transfer of possession of the incorporeal rights of the spouses over the property in question to Maria Mirano. It is no longer necessary to discuss the third error assigned because of the holding that Article 1448 of the New Civil Code has no retroactive application to the instant case. Anent the fourth error assigned, the petitioners urge that the donor spouses are entitled to the land in question by virtue of Section 5, Rule 100 of the Old Rules of Court, the pertinent portion of which reads: t.hqw
... In case of the death of the child, his parents and relatives by nature, and not by adoption, shall be his legal heirs, except as to property received or inherited by the adopted child from either of his parents by adoption, which shall become the property of the latter or their legitimate relatives who shall participate in the order established by the Civil Code for intestate estates.

The submission of the petitioners is that extrajudicial adoption is within the contemplation and spirit of this rule of reversion adoptive. However, the rule involved specifically provides for the case of the judicially adopted child. It is an elementary rule of construction that when the language of the law is clear and unequivocal, the law must be taken to mean exactly what it says. The fifth error assigned is: t.hqw
The Honorable Court of Appeals gravely erred in law in ruling with respect to the Carsuche property (Lot No. 2) that the deed of sale executed in 1940 in favor of the petitioner Doroteo Banawa and his wife Juliana Mendoza did not impair the pretended sale to Maria Mirano.

The Court of Appeals found that there was a sale of the Carsuche property in 1935 in favor of Maria Mirano and that such sale was embodied in a public instrument. However, in 1940 the same land was sold to the petitioners. The sale was duly registered. The petitioners immediately entered into the possession of the land as owners. The claim of the petitioners that they have acquired by acquisitive prescription the C