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[G.R. No. 113725. June 29, 2000] (a) Lot No.

1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre,


covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-
JOHNNY S. RABADILLA,[1] petitioner, vs. COURT OF 4002 (10942), which is registered in my name
APPEALS AND MARIA MARLENA[2] COSCOLUELLA Y according to the records of the Register of
BELLEZA VILLACARLOS, respondents. Deeds of Negros Occidental.

DECISION (b) That should Jorge Rabadilla die ahead of


me, the aforementioned property and the rights
PURISIMA, J.: which I shall set forth hereinbelow, shall be
inherited and acknowledged by the children
and spouse of Jorge Rabadilla.
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court
of Appeals,[3] dated December 23, 1993, in CA-G.R. No.
CV-35555, which set aside the decision of Branch 52 of xxx
the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City, and ordered
the defendants-appellees (including herein FOURTH
petitioner), as heirs of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey
title over Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and (a)....It is also my command, in this my addition
interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza. (Codicil), that should I die and Jorge Rabadilla
shall have already received the ownership of
The antecedent facts are as follows: the said Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre,
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-
In a Codicil appended to the Last Will and Testament 4002 (10942), and also at the time that the lease
of testatrix Aleja Belleza, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, of Balbinito G. Guanzon of the said lot shall
predecessor-in-interest of the herein petitioner, Johnny expire, Jorge Rabadilla shall have the obligation
S. Rabadilla, was instituted as a devisee of 511, 855 until he dies, every year to give to Maria Marlina
square meters of that parcel of land surveyed as Lot Coscolluela y Belleza, Seventy (75) (sic) piculs of
No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre. The said Codicil, Export sugar and Twenty Five (25) piculs of
which was duly probated and admitted in Special Domestic sugar, until the said Maria Marlina
Proceedings No. 4046 before the then Court of First Coscolluela y Belleza dies.
Instance of Negros Occidental, contained the
following provisions: FIFTH

"FIRST (a) Should Jorge Rabadilla die, his heir to whom


he shall give Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod
I give, leave and bequeath the following Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of
property owned by me to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla Title No. RT-4002 (10492), shall have the
resident of 141 P. Villanueva, Pasay City: obligation to still give yearly, the sugar as
specified in the Fourth paragraph of his Dr. Jorge Rabadilla died in 1983 and was survived by his
testament, to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y wife Rufina and children Johnny (petitioner), Aurora,
Belleza on the month of December of each Ofelia and Zenaida, all surnamed Rabadilla.
year.
On August 21, 1989, Maria Marlena Coscolluela y
SIXTH Belleza Villacarlos brought a complaint, docketed as
Civil Case No. 5588, before Branch 52 of the Regional
I command, in this my addition (Codicil) that Trial Court in Bacolod City, against the above-
the Lot No. 1392, in the event that the one to mentioned heirs of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, to enforce the
whom I have left and bequeathed, and his heir provisions of subject Codicil. The Complaint alleged
shall later sell, lease, mortgage this said Lot, the that the defendant-heirs violated the conditions of the
buyer, lessee, mortgagee, shall have also the Codicil, in that:
obligation to respect and deliver yearly ONE
HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar to Maria Marlina 1. Lot No. 1392 was mortgaged to the Philippine
Coscolluela y Belleza, on each month of National Bank and the Republic Planters Bank in
December, SEVENTY FIVE (75) piculs of Export disregard of the testatrix's specific instruction to
and TWENTY FIVE (25) piculs of Domestic, until sell, lease, or mortgage only to the near
Maria Marlina shall die, lastly should the buyer, descendants and sister of the testatrix.
lessee or the mortgagee of this lot, not have
respected my command in this my addition 2. Defendant-heirs failed to comply with their
(Codicil), Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, obligation to deliver one hundred (100) piculs of
shall immediately seize this Lot No. 1392 from my sugar (75 piculs export sugar and 25 piculs
heir and the latter's heirs, and shall turn it over to domestic sugar) to plaintiff Maria Marlena
my near desendants, (sic) and the latter shall Coscolluela y Belleza from sugar crop years
then have the obligation to give the ONE 1985 up to the filing of the complaint as
HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar until Maria mandated by the Codicil, despite repeated
Marlina shall die. I further command in this my demands for compliance.
addition (Codicil) that my heir and his heirs of
this Lot No. 1392, that they will obey and follow 3. The banks failed to comply with the 6th
that should they decide to sell, lease, paragraph of the Codicil which provided that in
mortgage, they cannot negotiate with others case of the sale, lease, or mortgage of the
than my near descendants and my sister."[4] property, the buyer, lessee, or mortgagee shall
likewise have the obligation to deliver 100 piculs
Pursuant to the same Codicil, Lot No. 1392 was of sugar per crop year to herein private
transferred to the deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, and respondent.
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 44498 thereto issued in his
name.
The plaintiff then prayed that judgment be rendered mentioned, and in the same
ordering defendant-heirs to reconvey/return-Lot No. manner will compliance of the
1392 to the surviving heirs of the late Aleja Belleza, the annuity be in the next
cancellation of TCT No. 44498 in the name of the succeeding crop years.
deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, and the issuance of a
new certificate of title in the names of the surviving That the annuity above stated for crop year
heirs of the late Aleja Belleza. 1985-86, 1986-87, and 1987-88, will be complied
in cash equivalent of the number of piculs as
On February 26, 1990, the defendant-heirs were mentioned therein and which is as herein
declared in default but on March 28, 1990 the Order of agreed upon, taking into consideration the
Default was lifted, with respect to defendant Johnny S. composite price of sugar during each sugar
Rabadilla, who filed his Answer, accordingly. crop year, which is in the total amount of ONE
HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P105,000.00).
During the pre-trial, the parties admitted that:
That the above-mentioned amount will be paid or
On November 15, 1998, the plaintiff (private delivered on a staggered cash installment, payable on
respondent) and a certain Alan Azurin, son-in-law of or before the end of December of every sugar crop
the herein petitioner who was lessee of the property year, to wit:
and acting as attorney-in-fact of defendant-heirs,
arrived at an amicable settlement and entered into a For 1985-86, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY
Memorandum of Agreement on the obligation to (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of
deliver one hundred piculs of sugar, to the following crop year 1988-89;
effect:
For 1986-87, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY
"That for crop year 1988-89, the annuity (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of
mentioned in Entry No. 49074 of TCT No. 44489 crop year 1989-90;
will be delivered not later than January of 1989,
more specifically, to wit: For 1987-88, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY
(P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of
75 piculs of 'A' sugar, and 25 crop year 1990-91; and
piculs of 'B' sugar, or then existing
in any of our names, Mary Rose For 1988-89, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY
Rabadilla y Azurin or Alan Azurin, (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of
during December of each sugar crop year 1991-92."[5]
crop year, in Azucar Sugar
Central; and, this is considered However, there was no compliance with the aforesaid
compliance of the annuity as Memorandum of Agreement except for a partial
delivery of 50.80 piculs of sugar corresponding to sugar 100 piculs of sugar annually out of the produce
crop year 1988 -1989. of Lot No. 1392; defendants-appellee's
obligation under Aleja Belleza's codicil, as heirs
On July 22, 1991, the Regional Trial Court came out with of the modal heir, Jorge Rabadilla, to deliver
a decision, dismissing the complaint and disposing as such amount of sugar to plaintiff-appellant;
follows: defendants-appellee's admitted non-
compliance with said obligation since 1985;
"WHEREFORE, in the light of the aforegoing and, the punitive consequences enjoined by
findings, the Court finds that the action is both the codicil and the Civil Code, of seizure of
prematurely filed as no cause of action against Lot No. 1392 and its reversion to the estate of
the defendants has as yet arose in favor of Aleja Belleza in case of such non-compliance,
plaintiff. While there maybe the non- this Court deems it proper to order the
performance of the command as mandated reconveyance of title over Lot No. 1392 from
exaction from them simply because they are the estates of Jorge Rabadilla to the estate of
the children of Jorge Rabadilla, the title Aleja Belleza. However, plaintiff-appellant must
holder/owner of the lot in question, does not institute separate proceedings to re-open Aleja
warrant the filing of the present complaint. The Belleza's estate, secure the appointment of an
remedy at bar must fall. Incidentally, being in administrator, and distribute Lot No. 1392 to
the category as creditor of the left estate, it is Aleja Belleza's legal heirs in order to enforce her
opined that plaintiff may initiate the intestate right, reserved to her by the codicil, to receive
proceedings, if only to establish the heirs of her legacy of 100 piculs of sugar per year out of
Jorge Rabadilla and in order to give full the produce of Lot No. 1392 until she dies.
meaning and semblance to her claim under
the Codicil. Accordingly, the decision appealed from is SET
ASIDE and another one entered ordering
In the light of the aforegoing findings, the defendants-appellees, as heirs of Jorge
Complaint being prematurely filed is DISMISSED Rabadilla, to reconvey title over Lot No. 1392,
without prejudice. together with its fruits and interests, to the estate
of Aleja Belleza.
SO ORDERED."[6]
SO ORDERED."[7]
On appeal by plaintiff, the First Division of the Court of
Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court; Dissatisfied with the aforesaid disposition by the Court
ratiocinating and ordering thus: of Appeals, petitioner found his way to this
Court via the present petition, contending that the
Court of Appeals erred in ordering the reversion of Lot
"Therefore, the evidence on record having
1392 to the estate of the testatrix Aleja Belleza on the
established plaintiff-appellant's right to receive
basis of paragraph 6 of the Codicil, and in ruling that deviation. The Court of Appeals found that the private
the testamentary institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla is a respondent had a cause of action against the
modal institution within the purview of Article 882 of the petitioner. The disquisition made on modal institution
New Civil Code. was, precisely, to stress that the private respondent had
a legally demandable right against the petitioner
The petition is not impressed with merit. pursuant to subject Codicil; on which issue the Court of
Appeals ruled in accordance with law.
Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in
resolving the appeal in accordance with Article 882 of It is a general rule under the law on succession that
the New Civil Code on modal institutions and in successional rights are transmitted from the moment of
deviating from the sole issue raised which is the death of the decedent[10] and compulsory heirs are
absence or prematurity of the cause of action. called to succeed by operation of law. The legitimate
Petitioner maintains that Article 882 does not find children and descendants, in relation to their legitimate
application as there was no modal institution and the parents, and the widow or widower, are compulsory
testatrix intended a mere simple substitution - i.e. the heirs.[11] Thus, the petitioner, his mother and sisters, as
instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, was to be compulsory heirs of the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge
substituted by the testatrix's "near descendants" should Rabadilla, succeeded the latter by operation of law,
the obligation to deliver the fruits to herein private without need of further proceedings, and the
respondent be not complied with. And since the successional rights were transmitted to them from the
testatrix died single and without issue, there can be no moment of death of the decedent, Dr. Jorge
valid substitution and such testamentary provision Rabadilla.
cannot be given any effect.
Under Article 776 of the New Civil Code, inheritance
The petitioner theorizes further that there can be no includes all the property, rights and obligations of a
valid substitution for the reason that the substituted heirs person, not extinguished by his death. Conformably,
are not definite, as the substituted heirs are merely whatever rights Dr. Jorge Rabadilla had by virtue of
referred to as "near descendants" without a definite subject Codicil were transmitted to his forced heirs, at
identity or reference as to who are the "near the time of his death. And since obligations not
descendants" and therefore, under Articles 843[8] and extinguished by death also form part of the estate of
845[9] of the New Civil Code, the substitution should be the decedent; corollarily, the obligations imposed by
deemed as not written. the Codicil on the deceased Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, were
likewise transmitted to his compulsory heirs upon his
The contentions of petitioner are untenable. Contrary death.
to his supposition that the Court of Appeals deviated
from the issue posed before it, which was the propriety In the said Codicil, testatrix Aleja Belleza devised Lot
of the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of No. 1392 to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, subject to the
prematurity of cause of action, there was no such condition that the usufruct thereof would be delivered
to the herein private respondent every year. Upon the In simple substitutions, the second heir takes the
death of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, his compulsory heirs inheritance in default of the first heir by reason of
succeeded to his rights and title over the said property, incapacity, predecease or renunciation.[14] In the case
and they also assumed his (decedent's) obligation to under consideration, the provisions of subject Codicil
deliver the fruits of the lot involved to herein private do not provide that should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla default
respondent. Such obligation of the instituted heir due to predecease, incapacity or renunciation, the
reciprocally corresponds to the right of private testatrix's near descendants would substitute him. What
respondent over the usufruct, the fulfillment or the Codicil provides is that, should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla
performance of which is now being demanded by the or his heirs not fulfill the conditions imposed in the
latter through the institution of the case at bar. Codicil, the property referred to shall be seized and
Therefore, private respondent has a cause of action turned over to the testatrix's near descendants.
against petitioner and the trial court erred in dismissing
the complaint below. Neither is there a fideicommissary substitution here and
on this point, petitioner is correct. In a fideicommissary
Petitioner also theorizes that Article 882 of the New Civil substitution, the first heir is strictly mandated to preserve
Code on modal institutions is not applicable because the property and to transmit the same later to the
what the testatrix intended was a substitution - Dr. second heir.[15] In the case under consideration, the
Jorge Rabadilla was to be substituted by the testatrix's instituted heir is in fact allowed under the Codicil to
near descendants should there be noncompliance alienate the property provided the negotiation is with
with the obligation to deliver the piculs of sugar to the near descendants or the sister of the testatrix. Thus,
private respondent. a very important element of a fideicommissary
substitution is lacking; the obligation clearly imposing
Again, the contention is without merit. upon the first heir the preservation of the property and
its transmission to the second heir. "Without this
Substitution is the designation by the testator of a obligation to preserve clearly imposed by the testator
person or persons to take the place of the heir or heirs in his will, there is no fideicommissary
first instituted. Under substitutions in general, the testator substitution."[16] Also, the near descendants' right to
may either (1) provide for the designation of another inherit from the testatrix is not definite. The property will
heir to whom the property shall pass in case the original only pass to them should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs
heir should die before him/her, renounce the not fulfill the obligation to deliver part of the usufruct to
inheritance or be incapacitated to inherit, as in a private respondent.
simple substitution,[12] or (2) leave his/her property to
one person with the express charge that it be Another important element of a fideicommissary
transmitted subsequently to another or others, as in a substitution is also missing here. Under Article 863, the
fideicommissary substitution.[13] The Codicil sued upon second heir or the fideicommissary to whom the
contemplates neither of the two. property is transmitted must not be beyond one degree
from the first heir or the fiduciary. A fideicommissary
substitution is therefore, void if the first heir is not related the institution, (2) the purpose or application of the
by first degree to the second heir.[17] In the case under property left by the testator, or (3) the charge imposed
scrutiny, the near descendants are not at all related to by the testator upon the heir.[18] A "mode" imposes an
the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. obligation upon the heir or legatee but it does not
affect the efficacy of his rights to the succession.[19] On
The Court of Appeals erred not in ruling that the the other hand, in a conditional testamentary
institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is disposition, the condition must happen or be fulfilled in
in the nature of a modal institution and therefore, order for the heir to be entitled to succeed the testator.
Article 882 of the New Civil Code is the provision of law The condition suspends but does not obligate; and the
in point. Articles 882 and 883 of the New Civil Code mode obligates but does not suspend.[20] To some
provide: extent, it is similar to a resolutory condition.[21]

Art. 882. The statement of the object of the From the provisions of the Codicil litigated upon, it can
institution or the application of the property left be gleaned unerringly that the testatrix intended that
by the testator, or the charge imposed on him, subject property be inherited by Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. It
shall not be considered as a condition unless it is likewise clearly worded that the testatrix imposed an
appears that such was his intention. obligation on the said instituted heir and his successors-
in-interest to deliver one hundred piculs of sugar to the
That which has been left in this manner may be herein private respondent, Marlena Coscolluela
claimed at once provided that the instituted Belleza, during the lifetime of the latter. However, the
heir or his heirs give security for compliance with testatrix did not make Dr. Jorge Rabadilla's inheritance
the wishes of the testator and for the return of and the effectivity of his institution as a devisee,
anything he or they may receive, together with dependent on the performance of the said obligation.
its fruits and interests, if he or they should It is clear, though, that should the obligation be not
disregard this obligation. complied with, the property shall be turned over to the
testatrix's near descendants. The manner of institution
of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is evidently
Art. 883. When without the fault of the heir, an
modal in nature because it imposes a charge upon the
institution referred to in the preceding article
instituted heir without, however, affecting the efficacy
cannot take effect in the exact manner stated
of such institution.
by the testator, it shall be complied with in a
manner most analogous to and in conformity
with his wishes. Then too, since testamentary dispositions are generally
acts of liberality, an obligation imposed upon the heir
should not be considered a condition unless it clearly
The institution of an heir in the manner prescribed in
appears from the Will itself that such was the intention
Article 882 is what is known in the law of succession as
of the testator. In case of doubt, the institution should
an institucion sub modo or a modal institution. In a
be considered as modal and not conditional.[22]
modal institution, the testator states (1) the object of
Neither is there tenability in the other contention of imposed by the Codicil has been assumed by the
petitioner that the private respondent has only a right lessee, and whatever obligation petitioner had
of usufruct but not the right to seize the property itself become the obligation of the lessee; that petitioner is
from the instituted heir because the right to seize was deemed to have made a substantial and constructive
expressly limited to violations by the buyer, lessee or compliance of his obligation through the
mortgagee. consummated settlement between the lessee and the
private respondent, and having consummated a
In the interpretation of Wills, when an uncertainty arises settlement with the petitioner, the recourse of the
on the face of the Will, as to the application of any of private respondent is the fulfillment of the obligation
its provisions, the testator's intention is to be ascertained under the amicable settlement and not the seizure of
from the words of the Will, taking into consideration the subject property.
circumstances under which it was made.[23] Such
construction as will sustain and uphold the Will in all its Suffice it to state that a Will is a personal, solemn,
parts must be adopted.[24] revocable and free act by which a person disposes of
his property, to take effect after his death.[25] Since the
Subject Codicil provides that the instituted heir is under Will expresses the manner in which a person intends
obligation to deliver One Hundred (100) piculs of sugar how his properties be disposed, the wishes and desires
yearly to Marlena Belleza Coscuella. Such obligation is of the testator must be strictly followed. Thus, a Will
imposed on the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, his cannot be the subject of a compromise agreement
heirs, and their buyer, lessee, or mortgagee should they which would thereby defeat the very purpose of
sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise negotiate the making a Will.
property involved. The Codicil further provides that in
the event that the obligation to deliver the sugar is not WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the
respected, Marlena Belleza Coscuella shall seize the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated December 23,
property and turn it over to the testatrix's near 1993, in CA-G.R. No. CV-35555 AFFIRMED. No
descendants. The non-performance of the said pronouncement as to costs
obligation is thus with the sanction of seizure of the
property and reversion thereof to the testatrix's near SO ORDERED.
descendants. Since the said obligation is clearly
imposed by the testatrix, not only on the instituted heir
but also on his successors-in-interest, the sanction
imposed by the testatrix in case of non-fulfillment of
said obligation should equally apply to the instituted
heir and his successors-in-interest.

Similarly unsustainable is petitioner's submission that by


virtue of the amicable settlement, the said obligation
[G.R. No. 112443. January 25, 2002] la cantidad de MIL Y CINCUENTA PESOS ---------------------------------
--------------- P1,050.00.[4]

and disposing, inter alia, the same parcel of land as follows:


TERESITA P. BORDALBA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HEIRS
OF NICANOR JAYME, namely, CANDIDA FLORES, 1) 1/3 in favor of - (a) their grandchild Nicanor Jayme, the
EMANNUEL JAYME, DINA JAYME DEJORAS, EVELIA deceased spouse of private respondent Candida Flores and
JAYME, and GESILA JAYME; AND HEIRS OF ASUNCION the father of private respondents Emmanuel, Dina, Evelia and
JAYME-BACLAY, namely, ANGELO JAYME-BACLAY, Gesila, all surnamed Jayme; and (b) their grandchild Asuncion
CARMEN JAYME-DACLAN and ELNORA JAYME Jayme-Baclay, whose heirs are private respondents Angelo
BACLAY, respondents. Baclay, Elnora Baclay and Carmen Jayme-Daclan;

DECISION 2) 1/3 to their daughter Elena Jayme Vda. de Perez, mother of


YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: petitioner Teresita P. Bordalba; and

This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of 3) 1/3 to an unidentified party.
Court seeking to set aside the October 20, 1992 Decision of the
Court of Appeals[1] in CA-G.R. CV No. 27419, which affirmed with Built on the land adjudicated to the heirs of the spouses is
modification the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Nicanor Jaymes house, which his family occupied since 1945.
Mandaue, Branch 28, in Civil Case No. MAN-386.
Sometime in July 1964, Elena Jayme Vda. de Perez,
The instant controversy stemmed from Lot No. 1242 (Lot No. petitioners mother, filed with the Regional Trial Court of Cebu,
799-C) with an area of 1,853 square meters and located at Branch IV, an amended application for the registration [5] of the
Barrio Looc, Mandaue City. The subject lot is part of a parcel of lot described with the following boundaries:
land situated on the corner of Mabini and Plaridel Streets in
Mandaue City, and originally owned by the late spouses N - Fruelana Jayme & Road
Carmeno Jayme and Margarita Espina de Jayme. In 1947, an
extra-judicial partition,[3] written in the Spanish language was S - Felicitas de Latonio
executed, describing said parcel of land as
E - Agustin de Jayme
2. otra parcela de terreno urbano en el barrio de Look,
Mandawe, Cebu, que linda al N. con la Calle Mabini y W - Porfirio Jayme, Lot No. 1 and Vivencio Abellana
propiodades de F. Jayme; al E. linda con propiodades de
Fernando Antigua; al S. linda con propiodades de Lucas y Elena Jayme Vda. de Perez alleged that the lot sought to
Victoriano Jayme, y al O. linda con la Calle Plaridel. La
be registered was originally a part of a land owned by her late
propiodad descrita esta avaluada, con todas sus mejoras, en parents, the spouses Carmeno Jayme and Margarita Espina de
Jayme; and that 1/3 of said land was adjudicated to her in an
extra-judicial partition. She further stated that a portion of the lot 3) Lot No. 1242-C with an area of 210 square meters covered
for which title is applied for is occupied by Nicanor Jayme with by TCT 22773 in the name of Teresita P. Bordalba;
her permission.
4) Lot No. 1242-D with an area of 210 square meters covered
Consequently, Nicanor Jayme and Asuncion Jayme-
by TCT 22774 in the name of Teresita Bordalba;
Baclay filed their opposition[6] contending that said application
included the 1/3 portion inherited by them in the 1947 extra-
judicial partition. The case was, however, dismissed for lack of 5) Lot No. 1242-E with an area of 216 square meters covered
interest of the parties. by TCT 22775 in the name of Teresita P. Bordalba;

Subsequently, petitioner filed with the Bureau of Lands of 6) Lot No. 1242-F with an area of 216 square meters and
Cebu City an application[7] dated January 10, 1979, seeking the covered by TCT No. 22776 in the name of Teresita P. Bordalba.
issuance of a Free Patent over the same lot subject of the
aborted application of her mother, Elena Jayme, now known as Upon learning of the issuance in favor of petitioner of the
Lot No. 1242 (799-C), described as follows: aforesaid Free Patent and Original Certificate of Title over Lot
No. 1242, as well as the conveyances made by petitioner
North: Froilan Jayme and Road involving the lot subject of the controversy, private respondents
East: Agustin Jayme filed with the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City, Branch 28,
South: Alfredo Alivio and Spouses Hilario Gandecila the instant complaint against petitioner Teresita Bordalba,
West: Hilario Gandecila Porferio Jayme and Heirs of Vevencio spouses Genaro U. Cabahug, and Rita Capala, Rural Bank of
Abellanosa[8] Mandaue and the Director of the Bureau of Lands.

On April 16, 1980, petitioner was successfully granted Free In the said complaint, private respondents prayed that Free
Patent No. (VII-I) 11421 and Original Certificate of Title No. 0-571 Patent No. (VII-I) 11421 and OCT No. 0-571 (FP), as well as TCT
(FP) over said lot.[9] Thereafter, petitioner caused the subdivision Nos. 22771-22776 be declared void and ordered
and titling of Lot No. 1242 (799-C), into 6 lots,[10] as well as the cancelled. Private respondents also prayed that they be
disposition of two parcels thereof, thus: adjudged owners of Lot No. 1242 (799-C), and that spouses
Genaro V. Cabahug and Rita Capala as well as the Rural Bank
of Mandaue be declared buyers and mortgagee in bad faith,
1) Lot No. 1242-A with an area of 581 square meters covered
respectively. In addition, they asked the court to award them
by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 22771 (FP) in the name of
actual, compensatory, and moral damages plus attorneys fees
spouses Genaro U. Cabahug and Rita Capala, to whom
in the amount of P20,000.00.
petitioner sold said lot;
Petitioner, on the other hand, averred that Lot No. 1242
2) Lot No. 1242-B with an area of 420 square meters covered (799-C) was acquired by her through purchase from her
by TCT No. 22772 in the name of Teresita P. Bordalba, and mother,[11] who was in possession of the lot in the concept of an
which the latter mortgaged with the Rural Bank of Mandaue; owner since 1947. In her answer, petitioner traced her mothers
ownership of the lot partly from the 1947 deed of extra-judicial
partition presented by private respondents,[12] and claimed that
Nicanor Jayme, and Candida Flores occupied a portion of Lot and be annotated in the new certificate of title to be issued
No. 1242 (799-C) by mere tolerance of her mother. On cross- under the names of the plaintiffs;
examination, petitioner admitted that the properties of the late
Carmeno Jayme and Margarita Espina de Jayme were 4) declaring the plaintiffs as the legal and rightful owners of Lot
partitioned by their heirs in 1947, but claimed that she was not 1242 and ordering the issuance of the certificate of title in their
aware of the existence of said Deed of Extra-judicial names;
Partition. She, however, identified one of the signatures in the
said Deed to be the signature of her mother.[13] 5) dismissing the claims of the defendant spouses Cabahug
On May 28, 1990, the trial court, finding that fraud was and Capala and the defendant Rural Bank of Mandaue, Inc.
employed by petitioner in obtaining Free Patent No. (VII-I) 11421 for lack of merit;
and OCT No. 0-571 (FP), declared said patent and title void and
ordered its cancellation. However, it declared that spouses 6) ordering the defendant Teresita Bordalba to pay plaintiffs
Genaro U. Cabahug and Rita Capala as well as the Rural Bank the following amounts:
of Mandaue are purchasers and mortgagee in good faith,
respectively; and consequently upheld as valid the sale of Lot (a) P5,000.00 as actual and litigation expenses;
No. 1242-A covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 22771 (FP) (b) P20,000.00 as attorneys fees, and,
to spouses Genaro U. Cabahug and Rita Capala, and the
mortgage of Lot No. 1242-B covered by TCT No. 22772 in favor 7) ordering defendant Bordalba to pay the costs.
of the Rural Bank of Mandaue. The dispositive portion of the
decision reads: SO ORDERED.[14]

WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, Decision is hereby Both petitioner Teresita Bordalba and private respondents
rendered in favor of the plaintiffs by: appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed with
modification the decision of the trial court. It ruled that since
1) declaring Free Patent No. (VII-I) 11421 as well as the Original private respondents are entitled only to 1/3 portion of Lot No.
Certificate of Title No. 0-57 (FP) and all subsequent certificates 1242 (799-C), petitioner should be ordered to reconvey 1/3 of
of title as a result of the subdivision of Lot No. 1242 except TCT Lot No. 1242 (799-C) to private respondents. The decretal
NO. 22771 (FP) as null and void and ordering the Register of portion of the respondent court's decision states:
Deeds of Mandaue City to cancel them;
WHEREFORE, the challenged decision is MODIFIED to order the
2) declaring spouses defendants Genaro U. Cabahug and Rita reconveyance of one-third of the subject land in favor of the
Capala as buyers in good faith and are the legal and rightful plaintiff-appellees in lieu of the cancellation of the Certificates
owners of Lot No. 1242-A as described in TCT No. 22771 (FP); of Title issued and their declaration as the owners of Lot No.
1242 in its entirety. The rest is AFFIRMED in toto.
3) declaring the Rural Bank of Mandaue, Inc. as mortgagee in
good faith and the mortgage lien in its favor be carried over to SO ORDERED.[15]
Thus, petitioner filed the instant petition, assailing the his knowledge in any other way than through personal dealings
decision of the Court of Appeals. Petitioner contends that the with the deceased person, or communication made by the
testimonies given by the witnesses for private respondents which deceased to the witness.[19]
touched on matters occurring prior to the death of her mother
Since the claim of private respondents and the testimony
should not have been admitted by the trial court, as the same
of their witnesses in the present case is based, inter alia, on the
violated the dead mans statute. Likewise, petitioner questions
1947 Deed of Extra-judicial Partition and other documents, and
the right of private respondents to inherit from the late Nicanor
not on dealings and communications with the deceased, the
Jayme and Asuncion Jayme-Baclay, as well as the identity
questioned testimonies were properly admitted by the trial
between the disputed lot and the parcel of land adjudicated in
court.
the Deed of Extra-judicial Partition.
Likewise untenable is the claim of petitioner that private
The contentions are without merit. It is doctrinal that findings
respondents are not legal heirs of Nicanor Jayme and Asuncion
of facts of the Court of Appeals upholding those of the trial court
Jayme-Baclay. Other than their bare allegations to dispute their
are binding upon this Court. While there are exceptions to this
heirship, no hard evidence was presented by them to
rule, petitioner has not convinced us that this case falls under
substantiate their allegations. Besides, in order that an heir may
one of them.[16]
assert his right to the property of a deceased, no previous
The Court sees no reason to deviate from the findings of the judicial declaration of heirship is necessary.[20]
trial court that petitioner resorted to fraud and
Anent the issue of identity, the disparity in the boundaries of
misrepresentation in obtaining a free patent and title over the
Lot No. 1242 (799-C) vis--vis the boundaries of the lot referred to
lot under scrutiny. The Court of Appeals correctly pointed out
in the 1947 Deed of Extra-judicial Partition can be explained by
that misrepresentation tainted petitioners application, insofar as
the fact that Lot No. 1242 (799-C) is only a portion of the entire
her declaration that the land applied for was not occupied or
parcel of land described in the Deed, a 1/3 pro-indiviso portion
claimed by any other person. Her declaration is belied by the
of which was adjudicated each to, first, petitioners mother,
extra-judicial partition which she acknowledged, her mothers
second, to the predecessors-in-interest of private respondents,
aborted attempt to have the lot registered, private respondents
and third, to an unidentified party. Logically therefore, their
predecessors-in-interests opposition thereto, and by the
boundaries will not be similar. At any rate, the records show that
occupancy of a portion of the said lot by Nicanor Jayme and
the parcel of land adjudicated to the predecessors-in-interest
his family since 1945.
of the parties herein was the lot found on the corner of Plaridel
It is a settled rule that the Land Registration Act protects and Mabini Streets in Looc, Mandaue City.As admitted further
only holders of title in good faith, and does not permit its by both parties, Lot No. 1242 (799-C) was part of the land
provision to be used as a shield for the commission of fraud, or allotted to their predecessors-in-interest in the 1947 Deed of
as a means to enrich oneself at the expense of others.[17] Extra-judicial Partition. Moreover, petitioners mother
acknowledged in her application for registration of Lot No. 1242
As to the alleged violation of the dead mans
that the Deed of Extra-judicial Partition was the source of her
statute,[18] suffice it to state that said rule finds no application in
claim over the lot sought to be registered. She further admitted
the present case. The dead mans statute does not operate to
that the lot now known as Lot No. 1242 (799-C) was part of the
close the mouth of a witness as to any matter of fact coming to
parcel of land inherited by her and her co-heirs, to the extent of
1/3 share each. Under Section 31, Rule 130, of the Revised Rules the Deed. With only one reference point, however, the south,
on Evidence, where one derives title to property from another, east and west boundaries of Lot No. 1242 (799-C) cannot be
the act, declaration, or omission of the latter, while holding the established with certainty to be within the parcel of land
title, in relation to the property, is evidence against the former. described in the Deed of Extra-judicial Partition.
Considering that Lot No.1242 (799-C) is part of the parcel of In Beo v. Court of Appeals,[21] the Court held that in order
land over which private respondents predecessors-in-interest is that an action for recovery of possession may prosper, it is
entitled to 1/3 pro-indiviso share, which was disregarded by indispensable that he who brings the action must fully prove not
petitioner when she secured a Free Patent and Original only his ownership but also the identity of the property claimed
Certificate of Title in her name, to the exclusion of private by describing the location, area and boundaries thereof. So
respondents predecessors-in-interest, the trial court and the that when the record does not show that the land subject
Court of Appeals, therefore, did not err in upholding the right of matter of the action has been exactly determined, the action
private respondents as co-owners, and ordering the petitioner cannot prosper, inasmuch as the plaintiff's ownership rights in
to reconvey 1/3 of the lot in question to them. the land claimed do not appear satisfactorily and conclusively
proven at the trial.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, however, the Court is
unable to determine what part of Lot No. 1242 (799-C) is within In the present case, while it is true that private respondents
the boundaries of the parcel of land inherited in the 1947 Deed were not able to show the extent of their 1/3 pro indiviso right
of Extra-judicial Partition by the predecessors-in-interest of the over Lot No. 1242 (799-C), they have nevertheless established
parties herein. This is so because private respondents did not their claim over the said lot. Hence, in line with our ruling in the
show the extent of the said land mentioned in the 1947 Deed of case of Laluan v. Malpaya,[22] the prudent recourse would be to
Extra-judicial Partition in relation to Lot No. 1242 (799-C). While remand the case to the lower court for a new trial.
they presented the boundaries of the parcel of land
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the October 20,
adjudicated in the Deed, to wit:
1992 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 27419,
and the May 28, 1990 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
North: Calle Mabini y propiodades de F. Jayme
Mandaue City, Branch 28, in Civil Case No. MAN-386, insofar as
East: Propiodades de Fernando Antigua
it relates to the recognition of the 1/3 share of private
South: Propiodades de Lucas y Victoriano Jayme
respondents over Lot No. 1242 (799-C) is AFFIRMED. The case is
West: Calle Plaridel
remanded to the trial court in order to determine what part of
Lot No. 1242 (799-C) is included in the parcel of land
they did not, however, show where these boundaries are found adjudicated in the 1947 Deed of Extrajudicial Partition to the
in relation to the boundaries of Lot No. 1242 (799-C). Absent a predecessors-in-interest of the parties herein.
fixed boundary of the parcel of land adjudicated in the Deed,
which they claim Lot No. 1242 (799-C) is a part of, the Court SO ORDERED.
cannot determine the extent to which the lot now known as Lot
No. 1242 (799-C) is included. Admittedly, the north boundary of
Lot No. 1242 (799-C) (Property of Froilan Jaime and Mabini
Street) is similar to the north boundary of the land mentioned in
[G.R. No. 118464. December 21, 1998] represented by their Attorney-in-Fact Lydia S. Reyes, with Lolita
A. Sampayo acting also in her own behalf and as Attorney-in-
Fact of Norma A. Sampayo, all claiming to be collateral relatives
of the deceased Lourdes Sampayo, filed an action for partition
HEIRS OF IGNACIO CONTI and ROSARIO CUARIO, petitioners, vs. and damages before RTCBr. 54, Lucena City.[3]
COURT OF APPEALS and LYDIA S. REYES as Attorney-in-
Fact of JOSEFINA S. REYES, BERNARDITA S. PALILIO, The spouses Ignacio Conti and Rosario Cuario refused the
HERMINIA S. PALILIO, REMEDIOS A. SAMPAYO, partition on the ground that private respondents failed to
ILUMINADA A. SAMPAYO, ENRICO A. SAMPAYO, CARLOS produce any document to prove that they were the rightful
A. SAMPAYO, GENEROSO C. SAMPAYO, MYRNA C. heirs of Lourdes Sampayo.[4] On 30 August 1987 Ignacio Conti
SAMPAYO, ROSALINO C. SAMPAYO, MANUEL C. died and was substituted as party-defendant by his children
SAMPAYO, DELIA A. SAMPAYO, CORAZON C. SAMPAYO, Asuncion, Francisco, Milagros, Joselito, Luisito, Diego and
NILO C. SAMPAYO, and LOLITA A. SAMPAYO in her own Teresita, all surnamed Conti.[5]
behalf and as Attorney-in-Fact of NORMA At the trial, private respondents presented Lydia Sampayo
A. SAMPAYO, respondents. Reyes and Adelaida Sampayo to prove that they were the
collateral heirs of the deceased Lourdes Sampayo and
DECISION therefore entitled to her rights as co-owner of the subject
lot. Bringing with her the original
BELLOSILLO, J.:
copy of her certificate of live birth showing that her father was I
nocentes Reyes and her mother was Josefina Sampayo,[6] Lydi
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the 30 a Sampayo Reyes testified that she was one of the nieces of
March 1994 Decision and 21 December 1994 Resolution of Lourdes Sampayo, being the daughter of Josefina Sampayo,
respondent Court of Appeals which upheld the right of private the only living sibling of Lourdes. Lydia also testified that Lourdes
respondents as heirs of Lourdes Sampayo to demand had another sister named Remedios J. Sampayo who died in
partition under Art. 494 of the Civil Code. 1948, and two brothers, Manuel J. Sampayo and Luis J.
Lourdes Sampayo and Ignacio Conti, married to Rosario Sampayo who died in 1983 and 1960, respectively. To prove
Cuario, were the co-owners of the property in litigation that Josefina, Remedios, Luis and Manuel were siblings of
consisting of a 539-square meter lot at the corner of Zamora and Lourdes, their baptismal certificates together with a photocopy
Abellanosa Streets, Lucena City, covered by TCT No. T15374, of the birth certificate of Manuel Sampayo were offered in
with a house erected thereon.[1] On 17 March 1986 Lourdes evidence. These documents showed that their father and
Sampayo died intestate without issue.[2] Subsequently, on 1 April mother, like Lourdes Sampayo, were Antonio Sampayo and
1987 private respondents Josefina S. Reyes, Bernardita S. Palilio, Brigida Jaraza.
Herminia S. Palilio, Remedios A. Sampayo, Iluminada A. The certificates of baptism presented as part of the
Sampayo, Enrico A. Sampayo, Carlos A. Sampayo, Generoso C. testimony of Lydia Sampayo Reyes were prepared by Rev.
Sampayo, Myrna C. Sampayo, Rosalina C. Sampayo, Manuel C. Franklin C. Rivero who duly certified that all data therein written
Sampayo, Delia A. Sampayo, Corazon C. Sampayo, Nilo C. were in accordance with the church records, hence, the lower
Sampayo, Lolita A. Sampayo and Norma A. Sampayo, all left portion of the documents bearing the seal of the church
with the notation as to where the documents were logged in Another witness, Rosa Ladines Malundas, narrated that she
particular.[7] The baptismal certificates were presented in lieu of used to be the neighbor and hairdresser of the deceased
the birth certificates because the repository of Lourdes Sampayo who told her that upon her death her share
those documents, the Office of the Civil Registrar of Lucena would go to Ignacio Conti whom she considered as her brother
City, had been razed by fire on two separate occasions, 27 since both of them were "adopted" by their foster parents
November 1974 and 30 August 1983, thus all civil registration Gabriel Cord and Anastacia Allarey Cord,[18] although she
records were totally burned.[8] On the other hand, a photocopy admitted that she did not know whether Lourdes had other
of Manuel's birth certificate dated 25 October 1919 (Exh. relatives.[19]
"I")[9] showed that it was issued by the Local Civil Registrar of
According to another witness, Rodolfo Espineli, he took
Lucena, Tayabas (now Lucena City).
pictures of the tombs bearing the tombstones of Gabriel Cord
Adelaida Sampayo, widow of Manuel Sampayo, testified and Anastacia Allarey Cord and Ignacio Conti as well as that of
that her husband Manuel was the brother of the deceased Lourdes Sampayo who was supposed to have been interred
Lourdes, and with the death of Manuel, Luis and Remedios, the beside her "adoptive" parents. However, as revealed by Rosario
only living sibling of Lourdes was Josefina.[10] during her direct examination, Lourdes was not in fact interred
there because her relatives took her remains.[20]
To rebut whatever rights the alleged heirs of Lourdes had
over the subject lot, petitioners presented Rosario Cuario Conti, On 4 April 1991 the trial court declared private respondents
Rosa Ladines Malundas and Rodolfo Espineli. Rosario testified as the rightful heirs of Lourdes Sampayo. It further ordered
that the subject property was co-owned in equal shares by her private respondents and petitioners to
husband Ignacio Conti and Lourdes Sampayo and that her submit a project of partition of the residential house and lot for
family (Rosario) had been staying in the subject property since confirmation by the court.[21]
1937.[11] In fact, she said that her late husband Ignacio Conti
Petitioners elevated the case to the Court of Appeals
paid for the real estate taxes[12] and spent for the necessary
contending that the trial court erred in finding that private
repairs and improvements thereon[13] because by agreement
respondents were the heirs of Lourdes Sampayo and that they
Lourdes would leave her share of the property to them.[14]
were entitled to the partition of the lot and the improvements
However, as correctly found by the trial court, no will, either thereon.[22]
testamentary or holographic, was presented by petitioners to
On 30 March 1994 the Court of Appeals affirmed the
substantiate this claim.[15] Rosario also disclosed that when
assailed RTC decision and held[23]-
Lourdes died her remains were taken by her relatives from their
house.[16] When cross examined on who those relatives were,
she replied that the only one she remembered was Josefina In the instant case, plaintiffs [now private respondents] were
since there were many relatives who came. When asked who able to prove and establish by preponderance of evidence
Josefina's parents were, she said she could not recall. Likewise, that they are the collateral heirs of deceased Lourdes
when asked who the parents of Lourdes were, Rosario denied Sampayo and therefore the lower court did not err in ordering
having ever known them.[17] herein plaintiffs [now private respondents] and defendants
[now petitioners] to submit a project of partition of the
residential house and lot owned in common by the deceased
Lourdes Sampayo and defendant spouses Conti for action originally pertaining to the deceased as we explained in
confirmation by the court x x x x Considering our earlier finding Quison v. Salud [31] -
that the lower court did not err in declaring herein plaintiffs
[now private respondents] as heirs of deceased Sampayo and Claro Quison died in 1902. It was proven at the trial that the
therefore entitled to inherit her property, the argument of the present plaintiffs are next of kin and heirs, but it is said by the
appellants [now petitioners] that the plaintiffs [now private appellants that they are not entitled to maintain this action
respondents] are not entitled to partition is devoid of merit because there is no evidence that any proceedings have
(insertions in [ ] supplied). been taken in court for the settlement of the estate of Claro
Quison, and that without such settlement, the heirs cannot
Respondent court also ruled, citing Hernandez v. maintain this action. There is nothing in this point. As well by the
Padua[24] and Marabilles v. Quito[25], that a prior and separate Civil Code as by the Code of Civil Procedure, the title to the
judicial declaration of heirship was not necessary[26] and that property owned by a person who dies intestate passes at once
private respondents became the co-owners of the portion of to his heirs. Such transmission is, under the present law, subject
the property owned and registered in the name of Lourdes to theclaims of administration and the property may be taken
Sampayo upon her death and, consequently, entitled to the from the heirs for the purpose of paying debts and expenses,
immediate possession thereof and all other incidents/rights of but this does not prevent an immediate passage of the title,
ownership as provided for by law including the right upon the death of the intestate, from himself to his
to demand partition under Art. 777 of the Civil Code,[27] and heirs. Without
Ilustre v. Alaras Frondosa[28] holding that the property belongs to some showing that a judicial administrator had been appointe
the heirs at the moment of death of the decedent, as d in proceedings to settle the estate of Claro Quison, the right
completely as if he had executed and delivered to them a of the plaintiffs to maintain this action is established.
deed for the same before his death.
Conformably with the foregoing and taken in conjunction
The appellate court subsequently denying a motion for
with Arts. 777 and 494[32] of the Civil Code, from the death of
reconsideration upheld the probative value of the
Lourdes Sampayo her rights as a co-owner, incidental to which
documentary and testimonial evidence of private respondents
is the right to ask for partition at any time or to terminate the co-
and faulted petitioners for not having subpoenaed Josefina if
ownership, were transmitted to her rightful heirs. In so
they believed that she was a vital witness in the case.[29] Hence,
demanding partition private respondents merely exercised the
petitioners pursued this case arguing that a complaint for
right originally pertaining to the decedent, their predecessor-in-
partition to claim a supposed share of the deceased co-owner
interest.
cannot prosper without prior settlement of the latter's estate and
compliance with all legal requirements, especially publication, Petitioners' theory as to the requirement of publication
and private respondents were not able to prove by competent would have been correct had the action been for the partition
evidence their relationship with the deceased.[30] of the estate of Lourdes Sampayo, or if we were dealing with
extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs and the
There is no merit in the petition. A prior settlement of the
summary settlement of estates of small value.[33] But what
estate is not essential before the heirs can commence any
private respondents are pursuing is the mere segregation of
Lourdes' one-half share which they inherited from her through
intestate succession. This is a simple case of ordinary partition We are not persuaded. Altogether, the documentary and
between co-owners. The applicable law in point is Sec. 1 of Rule testimonial evidence submitted are competent and adequate
69 of the Rules of Court - proofs that private respondents are collateral heirs of Lourdes
Sampayo. Private respondents assert that they are co-owners of
Sec. 1. Complaint in an action for partition of real estate. - A one-half (1/2) pro-indiviso share of the subject property by way
person having the right to compel the partition of real estate of legal or intestate succession.
may do so as in this rule prescribed, setting forth in his
Succession is a mode of acquisition by virtue of which the
complaint the nature and extent of his title and an adequate
property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the
description of the real estate of which partition is demanded
inheritance of a person are transmitted through his death to
and joining as defendants all the other persons interested in
another or others either by his will or by operation of
the property.
law.[36] Legal or intestate succession takes place if a person dies
without a will, or with a void will, or one which has subsequently
A cursory reading of the aforecited rule shows that lost its validity.[37] If there are no descendants, ascendants,
publication is not required as erroneously maintained by illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral
petitioners. There are two (2) simultaneous issues in an action for relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the decedent.[38] It
partition. First, whether theplaintiff is indeed a co-owner of the was established during the trial that Lourdes died intestate and
property sought to be partitioned, and second, if answered in without issue. Private respondents as sister, nephews and nieces
the affirmative, the manner of the division of the property, i.e., now claim to be the collateral relatives of Lourdes.
what portion should go to which co-owner.[34]Thus, in this case,
we must determine whether private respondents, by Under Art. 172 of the Family Code,[39] the filiation of
preponderance of evidence, have been able to establish that legitimate children shall be proved by any other means
they are co-owners by way of succession as collateral heirs of allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws, in the absence
the late Lourdes Sampayo as they claim to be, either a sister, a of a record of birth or a parents admission of such legitimate
nephew or a niece. These, private respondents were able to filiation in a public or private document duly signed by the
prove in the trial court as well as before respondent Court of parent. Such other proof of ones filiation may be a baptismal
Appeals. certificate, a judicial admission, a family Bible in which his name
has been entered, common reputation respecting his pedigree,
Petitioners however insist that there was no such proof of admission by silence, the testimonies of witnesses and other
filiation because: (a) mere photocopies of birth certificates do kinds of proof admissible under Rule
not prove filiation; (b) certifications on non-availability of 130 of the Rules of Court.[40]By analogy, this method of proving
records of birth do not prove filiation; (c) baptismal certificates filiation may also be utilized in the instant case.
do not prove filiation of alleged collateral relatives of the
deceased; and, (d) the testimonies of Lydia S. Reyes, alleged Public documents are the written official acts, or records of
daughter of Josefina Reyes, and Adelaida Sampayo, alleged the official acts of the sovereign authority, official bodies and
sister-in-law of Josefina and Lourdes, were incompetent as Lydia tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or of a
was made to testify on events which happened before her birth foreign country.[41] The baptismal certificates presented in
while Adelaida testified on matters merely narrated to her.[35] evidence by private respondents are public documents. Parish
priests continue to be the legal custodians of the parish records
and are authorized to issue true copies, in the form of that its office was completely destroyed by fire on 27 November
certificates, of the entries contained therein.[42] 1974 and 30 August 1983, respectively, and as a consequence
thereof, all civil registration records were totally burned.
The admissibility of baptismal certificates offered by Lydia S.
Reyes, absent the testimony of the officiating priest or the Apparently, there seems to be some merit in petitioners
official recorder, was settled in People v. Ritter, citing U.S. v. de contention that the testimony of Adelaida Sampayo cannot
Vera (28 Phil. 105 [1914]),[43] thus - prove filiation for being hearsay considering that there was no
declaration ante litem motam as required by the rules, i.e., that
x x x the entries made in the Registry Book may be considered the declaration relating to pedigree was made before the
as entries made in the course of the business under Section 43 controversy occurred. Nonetheless, petitioners made no move
of Rule 130, which is an exception to the hearsay rule. The to dispute her testimony in open court when she was mentioning
baptisms administered by the church are one of its who the brothers and sisters of Lourdes were. As correctly
transactions in the exercise of ecclesiastical duties and observed by the trial court in explicit terms, "the documentary
recorded in the book of the church during the course of its and testimonial evidence were not disputed by defendants"
business. (now petitioners).[44] Notably, when Rosario Cuario Conti took
the witness stand, she admitted that she was not aware of the
It may be argued that baptismal certificates are evidence identities of the parents of the deceased. Clearly, this
only of the administration of the sacrament, but in this case, runs counter to the relationship akin to filial bonding which she
there were four (4) baptismal certificates which, when taken professed she had enjoyed with the decedent. As
together, uniformly show that Lourdes, Josefina, Remedios and wife of Ignacio Conti, she was supposedly a "sister-in-law" of the
Luis had the same set of parents, as indicated deceased Lourdes Sampayo who regarded Ignacio as a
therein. Corroborated by the undisputed testimony of Adelaida brother. However, in sum, we rule that all the pieces of evidence
Sampayo that with the demise of Lourdes and her brothers adduced, taken together, clearly preponderate to the right of
Manuel, Luis and sister Remedios, the only sibling left was private respondents to maintain the action for partition. Absent
Josefina Sampayo Reyes, such baptismal certificates have any reversible error in the assailed Decision and Resolution of the
acquired evidentiary weight to prove filiation. Court of Appeals, this petition for review on certiorari will not lie.

Petitioners' objection to the photocopy of the certificate of WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision
birth of Manuel Sampayo was properly discarded by the court dated 30 March 1994 and Resolution dated 21 December 1994
a quo and respondent Court of Appeals. According to Sec. 3, of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
par. (1), Rule 130, of the Rules of Court, when the subject of SO ORDERED.
inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be
admissible other than the original document itself except when
the original has been lost or destroyed or cannot be produced
in court, without bad faith on the part of the offeror. The loss or
destruction of the original certificate of birth of Manuel J.
Sampayo was duly established by the certification issued by the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Lucena City to the effect