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ARCANGEL been in continuous possession of those lands in concept of owner and that
June 21, 1978 | Aquino, J. | Probate Gallanosa entered those lands in 1951 and asserted ownership over the lands.
Digester: Venturanza, Maria o Judge Manalac dismissed the complaint on the ground of res judicata in his
order of August 14, 1952. The plaintiffs did not appeal from that order of
SUMMARY: Hitosis died, leaving a will that bequeathed his property, which included dismissal which should have set the matter at rest. 

61 parcels land, to his stepson and protégé (petitioners). The will was submitted to  However, the same oppositors to the probate of the will, and their heirs, with a
probate, but Hitosis’ legal heirs (respondents) filed an opposition. The opposition was persistence befitting a more meritorious case, filed another action in the same court
not substantiated by evidence, and the CFI found the will was validly executed. Years (second civil case) against the Gallanosa spouses and Adolfo Fortajada for the
later, respondents filed an action for the recovery of the 61 parcels of land. The CFI “annulment” of the will of Florentino Hitosis and for the recovery of the same
dismissed the case on the grounds of res judicata. However, a few years later, 61 parcels of land on September 21, 1967, or 15 years after the dismissal of the second
respondents once again filed another civil case, this time for the annulment of the action and 28 years after the probate of the will.
Hitosis’ will. The CFI initially dismissed the case, but upon MR, it set aside its order for o As basis of their complaint, they alleged that the Gallanosa spouses, through
dismissal. Petitioners then appealed to the SC. The SC held that the CFI committed fraud and deceit, caused the execution and simulation of the document
grave abuse of discretion in setting aside its order of dismissal. purporting to be the last will and testament of Florentino Hitosis.
DOCTRINE: Our procedural law does not sanction an action for the “annulment” of o Respodent Judge Arcangel dismissed the complaint, but upon MR, he set
a will. In order that a will may take effect, it has to be probated, legalized or allowed in aside his order of dismissal.
the proper testamentary proceeding. The probate of the will is mandatory  Thus, petitioners (the testamentary heirs) filed a petitioner for certiorari at the SC.

FACTS: RULING: Petition granted.

 Florentino Hitosis executed a will in the Bicol dialect on June 19, 1938 when he
was 80 years old. He died on May 26, 1939 at Irosin, Sorsogon. A childless Whether the respondents have a cause for action for the “annulment “ of the will
widower, he as survived by his brother, Leon Hitosis. – NO.
 A petition for the probate of his will was filed in the CFI of Sorsogon. The notice  The lower court committed a grave abuse of discretion in reconsideration its order
was duly published. 
 of dismissal and in ignoring the 1939 testamentary case and the 1952 civil case,
o In that will, Florentino bequeathed his one-half share in the conjugal estate to which is the same as the instant 1967 civil case.
his second wife Tecla, and, should Tecla predecease him, as was the case, his  It is evident from the allegations of the complaint and from petitioners’ motion to
one-half share would be assigned to the (petitioner) spouses Pedro Gallanosa dismiss that respondents’ 1967 action is barred by res judicata, a double-barrelled
and Corazon Grecia, the reason being that Pedro, Tecla’s son by her first defense, and by prescription, acquisitive and extinctive, or by what are known in
marriage, grew up under the care of Florentino. Florentino likewise the jus civile and the jus gentium as usucapio, longi temporis possesio and praescriptio.
bequeathed his separate properties consisting of three parcels of abaca land o The defense of res judicata, as a ground for the dismissal of plaintiffs’ 1967
and parcel of riceland to his protégé, (petitioner) Adolfo Fortajada, a minor. 
 complaint, is a two-pronged defense because (1) the 1939 and 1943 decrees of
 The testator’s legal heirs, namely, his surviving brother, Leon, and his nephews and probate and distribution in the testamentary case and (2) the 1952 order of
nieces, opposed the probate (testementary case). After a hearing, wherein the dismissal in the first civil case constitute bars by former judgment
oppositors did not present any evidence in support of their opposition, Judge  Our procedural law does not sanction an action for the “annulment” of a
Rivera, in his decision of October 27, 1939, admitted the will to probate and will. In order that a will may take effect, it has to be probated, legalized or allowed
appointed Gallanosa as executor. The Judge found that the testator executed his in the proper testamentary proceeding. The probate of the will is mandatory (Art.
last will in “good health and mental faculties and not acting under threat, fraud or 838, Civil Code; sec. 1, Rule 75, formerly sec. 1, Rule 76, Rules of Court).
undue influence” (translated from Spanish in Google translate). o The testamentary proceeding is a special proceeding for the settlement of the
 Thereafter, the testamentary heirs submitted a project of partition of the 61 parcels testator’s estate. A special proceeding is distinct and different from an
of land left by the will. Thus was approved by Judge Amador, thus confirming the ordinary action (Secs. 1 and 2, Rule 2 and sec. 1, Rule 72, Rules of Court).
heirs’ possession of their respective share.  The 1939 decree of probate is conclusive as to the due execution or formal validity
 On February 20, 1952, Leon and his nephews and nieces instituted an action (first of the will. That means that the testator was of sound and disposing mind at the
civil case) against Pedro Gallanosa for the recovery of the said 61 parcels of land. time when he executed the will and was not acting under duress, menace, fraud, or
They alleged that they, by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest, had undue influence; that the will was signed by him in the presence of the required
number of witnesses, and that the will is genuine and 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.
 It is not only decree of probate that can be interposed as res judicata with respect to
private respondents’ complaint. The 1952 order of dismissal in the first civil case, 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
o The plaintiffs or private respondents did not even bother to ask for the
annulment of the testamentary proceeding and 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 and 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
 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.
o That ruling is a glaring error. Article 1410 cannot possibly apply to last wills
and testaments.