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ARTICLE 795 executed for the purpose that these parcels of

land had been erroneously included in the sale


made by Maria Corral to Marcelina Casas.
G.R. No. L-23770 February 18, 1926
The Court of first Instance denied the probate
MAGIN RIOSA, plaintiff-appellant, of the will of Jose Riosa, but on appeal this
vs. court reversed the decision of the lower court
PABLO ROCHA, MARCELINA CASAS, and allowed the will to probate. 1 The legal
MARIA CORRAL and CONSOLACION R. DE proceedings for the probate of the will and the
CALLEJA, defendants-appellees. settlement of the testate estate of Jose Riosa
were followed; and, at the time of the partition,
Domingo Imperial for appellant Maria Corral and Marcelina Casas submitted to
Mariano Locsin for appellees. the court the contract of extrajudicial partition
which they had entered into on May 16, 1917,
AVANCEÑA, C.J.: and which was approved by the court, by order
of November 12, 1920, as though it had been
Maria Corral was united in marriage with the made within the said testamentary
deceased Mariano Riosa, it being her first and proceedings.
only marriage and during which time she bore
him three children named Santiago, Jose and From the foregoing is appears that the eleven
Severina. The latter died during infancy and parcels of land described in the complaint were
the other two survived their father, Mariano acquired by Jose Riosa, by lucrative title, from
Riosa. Santiago Riosa, no deceased, married his father Mariano Riosa and that after the
Francisca Villanueva, who bore him two death of Jose Riosa, by operation of law, they
children named Magin and Consolacion Riosa. passed to his mother Maria Corral. By virtue of
Jose Riosa, also deceased, married Marcelina article 811 of the Civil Code these eleven
Casas and they had one child who died before parcels of land are reservable property. It
the father, the latter therefore leaving no issue. results, furthermore, that parcels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
Mariano Riosa left a will dividing his property 6, 7, 8 and 9 still belong in fee simple to Maria
between his two children, Santiago and Jose Corral, and that parcels 10 and 11 were
Riosa, giving the latter the eleven parcels of successively sold by Maria Corral to Marcelina
land described in the complaint. Upon the Casas and by the latter to Pablo Rocha. Lastly,
death of Jose Riosa he left a will in which he it appears that Magin and Consolacion Riosa
named his wife, Marcelina Casas, as his only are the nearest relatives within the third degree
heir. of the line from which this property came.

On May 16, 1917, the will of Jose Riosa was This action was brought by Magin Riosa, for
filed for probate. Notwithstanding the fact that whom the property should have been reserved,
Marcelina Casas was the only heir named in against Maria Corral, whose duty it was to
the will, on account of the preterition of Maria reserve it, and against Marcelina Casas and
Corral who, being the mother of Jose Riosa, Pablo Rocha as purchasers of parcels 10 and
was his legitimate heir, I Marcelina Casas and 11. Consolacion Riosa de Calleja who was
Maria Corral, on the same date of the filing of also bound to make the reservation was
the will for probate, entered into a contract by included as a defendant as she refused to join
which they divided between themselves the as plaintiff.
property left by Jose Riosa, the eleven parcels
of land described in the complaint being The complaint prays that the property therein
assigned to Maria Corral. described be declared reservable property and
that the plaintiffs Jose and Consolacion Riosa
On October 26, 1920, Maria Corral sold be declared reservees; that this reservation be
parcels Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 11 to noted in the registry of deeds; that the sale of
Marcelina Casas for the sum of P20,000 in a parcels 10 and 11 to Marcelina Casas and
public instrument which was recorded in the Pablo Rocha be declared valid only in so far as
registry of deeds on November 6, 1920. On it saves the right of reservation in favor of the
November 3, 1920, Marcelina Casas sold plaintiff Magin Riosa and of the defendant
these eight parcels of land to Pablo Rocha for Consolacion Riosa, and that this right of
the sum of P60,000 in a public document which reservation be also noted on the deeds of sale
was recorded in the registry of deeds on executed in favor of Marcelina Casas and
November 6, 1920. On September 24, 1921, Pablo Rocha; that Maria Corral, Marcelina
Pablo Rocha returned parcels No. 1, 2, 3, 4, Casas and Pablo Rocha give a bond of
1

and 6 to Maria Corral stating in the deed P50,000, with good and sufficient sureties, in
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favor of the reservees as surety for the extrajudicial partition between Maria Corral and
conservation and maintenance of the Marcelina Casas the provision of section 596
improvements existing on the said reservable of the Code of Civil Procedure is invoked,
property. The dispositive part of the court's which authorizes the heirs of a person dying
decision reads as follows: without a will to make a partition without the
intervention of the courts whenever the heirs
For the foregoing reasons it is held: are all of age and the deceased has left no
debts. But this legal provisions refers expressly
1. That the eleven parcels of land to intestate estates and, of course, excludes
described in paragraph 6 of the testate estates like the one now before us.
complaint have the character of
reservable property; 2. That the When the deceased has left a will the partition
defendant Maria Corral, being of his property must be made in accordance
compelled to make the reservation, therewith. According to section 625 of the
must reserve them in favor of the same Code no will can pass property until it is
plaintiff Magin Riosa and the defendant probated. And even after being probated it
Consolacion Riosa de Calleja in case cannot pass any property if its provisions
that either of these should survive her; impair the legitime fixed by law in favor of
3. That Magin Riosa and Consolacion certain heirs. Therefore, the probate of the will
Riosa de Calleja have the right, in case and the validity of the testamentary provisions
that Maria Corral should die before must be passed upon by the court.
them, to receive the said parcels or their
equivalent. For the reasons stated, and without making
any express finding as to the efficacy of the
In virtue whereof, the defendant Maria extrajudicial partition made by Maria Corral and
Corral is ordered: 1. To acknowledge Marcelina Casas, we hold that for the purposes
the right of Magin Riosa and of the reservation and the rights and
Consolacion Riosa de Calleja to the obligations arising thereunder in connection
reservation of the said parcels of lands with the favored relatives, the property cannot
described in the complaint, which she be considered as having passed to Maria
shall expressly record in the registration Corral but from the date when the said partition
of said lands in the office of the register was approved by the court, that is, on
of deeds of this province; 2. To insure November 12, 1920. In the case of Pavia vs.
the delivery of said parcels of lands, or De la Rosa (8 Phil., 70), this court laid down
their equivalent, to Magin Riosa and the same doctrine in the following language:
Consolacion Riosa de Calleja, should
either of them survive her, either by a The provisions of Act No. 190 (Code of
mortgage thereon or by a bond in the Civil Procedure) have annulled the
amount of P30,000, without express provisions of article 1003 and others of
pronouncement as to costs. the Civil Code with regard to the pure or
simple acceptance of the inheritance of
The other defendants are absolved from a deceased person or that made with
the complaint. benefit of inventory and the
consequences thereof.
Inasmuch as the reservation from its inception
imposes obligations upon the reservor xxx xxx xxx
(reservista) and creates rights in favor of the
reservation (reservatarios) it is of the utmost The heir legally succeeds the deceased
importance to determine the time when the from whom he derives his right and title,
land acquired the character of reservable but only after the liquidation of the
property. estate, the payment of the debts of
same, and the adjudication of the
It will be remembered that on May 16, 1917, residue of the estate of the deceased,
Maria Corral and Marcelina Casas entered into and in the meantime the only person in
a contract of extrajudicial partition of the charge by law to attend to all claims
property left by Jose Riosa, in which they against the estate of the deceased
assigned to Maria Corral, as her legitime, the debtor is the executor or administrator
parcels of land here in question, and at the appointed by a competent court.
same time petitioned for the probate of the will
of Jose Riosa and instituted the testamentary As has been indicated, parcels 10 and 11
2

proceeding. In support of the legality of the described in the complaint were first sold by
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Maria Corral to Marcelina Casas who later sold the law imposes upon Maria Corral. They could
them to Pablo Rocha. In this appeal it is urged not have acquired a better title than that held
that Marcelina Casas and Pablo Rocha, who by Maria Corral and if the latter's title was
were absolved by the court below, be ordered limited by the reservation and the obligation to
to acknowledge the reservation as to parcels note it in the registry of deeds, this same
10 and 11, acquired by them, and to have the limitation is attached to the right acquired by
said reservation noted on their titles. This Marcelina Casas and Pablo Rocha.
argument, of course, is useless as to Marcelina
Casas for the reason that she transferred all In the transmission of reservable property the
her rights to Pablo Rocha. law imposes the reservation as a resolutory
condition for the benefit of the reservees
It has been held by jurisprudence that the (article 975, Civil Code). The fact that the
provisions of the law referred to in article 868 resolvable character of the property was not
tending to assure the efficacy of the recorded in the registry of deed at the time that
reservation by the surviving spouse are it was acquired by Marcelina Casas and Pablo
applicable to the reservation known as "reserva Rocha cannot affect the right of the reservees,
troncal," referred to in article 811, which is the for the reason that the transfers were made at
reservation now under consideration. the time when it was the obligation of the
reservor to note only such reservation and the
In accordance with article 977, Maria Corral, reservees did not them have any right to
reservor, is obliged to have the reservation compel her to fulfill such an obligation.
noted in the registry of deeds in accordance
with the provisions of the Mortgage Law which Marcelina Casas, as well as Pablo Rocha,
fixes the period of ninety days for Knew of the reservable character of the
accomplishing it (article 199, in relation with property when they bought it. They had
article 191, of the Mortgage Law). According to knowledge of the provisions of the last will and
article 203 of the General Regulation for the testament of Mariano Riosa by virtue of which
application of the Mortgage Law, this time must these parcels were transferred to Jose Riosa.
be computed from the acceptance of the Pablo Rocha was one of the legatees in the
inheritance. But as this portion of the Civil will. Marcelina Casas was the one who entered
Code, regarding the acceptance of the into the contract of partition with Maria Corral,
inheritance, has been repealed, the time, as whereby these parcels were adjudicated to the
has been indicated, must be computed from latter, as a legitimate heir of Jose Riosa. Pablo
the adjudication of the property by the court to Rocha was the very person who drafted the
the heirs, in line with the decision of this court contracts of sale of these parcels of land by
hereinabove quoted. After the expiration of this Maria Corral to Marcelina Casas and by the
period the reservees may demand compliance latter to himself. These facts, together with the
with this obligation. relationship existing between Maria Corral and
Marcelina Casas and Pablo Rocha, the former
If Maria Corral had not transferred parcels 10 a daughter-in-law and the latter a nephew of
and 11 to another there would be no doubt that Maria Corral, amply support the conclusion that
she could be compelled to cause the both of them knew that these parcels of land
reservable character of this property to be had been inherited by Maria Corral, as her
noted in the registry of deeds. This land having legitime from her son Jose Riosa who had
been sold to Marcelina Casas who, in turn, inherited them, by will, from his father Mariano
sold it to Pablo Rocha the question arises Riosa, and were reservable property.
whether the latter can be compelled to have Wherefore, the duty of Maria Corral of
this reservation noted on his title. This recording the reservable character of lots 10
acquisition by Pablo Rocha took place when it and 11 has been transferred to Pablo Rocha
was the duty of Maria Corral to make the and the reservees have an action against him
notation of the reservation in the registry and at to compel him to comply with this obligation.
the time when the reservees had no right to
compel Maria Corral to make such notation, The appellant also claims that the obligation
because this acquisition was made before the imposed upon Maria Corral of insuring the
expiration of the period of ninety days from return of these parcels of land, or their value, to
November 12, 1920, the date of the the reservees by means of a mortgage or a
adjudication by the court, after which the right bond in the amount of P30,000, also applies to
of the reservees to commence an action for the Pablo Rocha. The law does not require that the
fulfillment of the obligation arose. But the land reservor give this security, the recording of the
first passed to Marcelina Casas and later to reservation in the registry of deeds being
3

Pablo Rocha together with the obligation that sufficient (art. 977 of the Civil Code). There is
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no ground for this requirement inasmuch as, reservation will follow the property,
the notation once is made, the property will without prejudice to the contrary
answer for the efficacy of the reservation. This provisions of the Mortgage Law and the
security for the value of the property is required rights of innocent purchasers, there
by law (art. 978, paragraph 4, of the Civil being no need to secure the value of the
Code) in the case of a reservation by the property since it is liable for the efficacy
surviving spouse when the property has been of the reservation by a widowed spouse
sold before acquiring the reservable character to secure the value of the property sold
(art 968 of the Civil Code), but is not applicable by the widower, before becoming
to reservation known as reserva troncal (art reservable are not applicable to
811 of the Civil Code). In the case of Dizon and the reserva troncal where the property
Dizon vs. Galang (page 601, ante), this court goes to the ascendant already
held that: reservable in character. A sale in the
case of reserva troncal might be
* * * As already intimated, the provisions analogous to a sale made by the
of the law tending to give efficacy to a widower after contacting a second
reservation by the widowed spouse marriage in the case of a reservation by
mentioned in article 968 are applicable the widowed spouse.
to the reserva troncal provided for in
article 811. But as these two Since Maria Corral did not appeal, we cannot
reservations vary in some respects, modify the appealed judgment in so far as it is
these rules may be applied to unfavorable to her. As she has been ordered to
the reserva troncal only in so far as the record in the registry the reservable character
latter is similar to a reservation by the of the other parcels of land, the subject of this
widowed spouse. In the reserva action, the questions raised by the appellant as
troncal the property goes to the reservor to her are decided.
as reservable property and it remains so
until the reservation takes place or is The judgment appealed from is modified and
extinguished. In a reservation by the Pablo Rocha is ordered to record in the registry
widowed spouse there are two distinct of deeds the reservable character of parcels 10
stages, one when the property goes to 11, the subject of this complaint, without
the widower without being reservable, special pronouncement as to costs. So
and the other when the widower ordered.
contracts a second marriage,
whereupon the property, which
theretofore has been in his possession
free of any encumbrance, becomes
reservable. These two stages also affect
differently the transfer that may be made
of the property. If the property is sold
during the first stage, before becoming
reservable, it is absolutely free and is
transferred to the purchaser
unencumbered. But if the sale is made
during the second stage, that is, when
the duty to reserve has arisen, the
property goes to the purchaser subject
to the reservation, without prejudice to
the provisions of the Mortgage Law.
This is the reason why the law provides
that should the property be sold before it
becomes reservable, or before the
widower contracts another marriage, he
will be compelled to secure the value of
the property by a mortgage upon
contracting a new marriage, so that the
reservation may not lose its efficacy and
that the rights of those for whom the
reservation is made may be assured.
This mortgage is not required by law
4

when the sale is made after the


Page
G.R. No. L-7188 August 9, 1954 according to the trial court is the controlling
factor and may override any defect in form,
In re: Will and Testament of the deceased said trial court by order dated January 24,
REVEREND SANCHO ABADIA. 1952, admitted to probate Exhibit "A", as the
SEVERINA A. VDA. DE ENRIQUEZ, ET Last Will and Testament of Father Sancho
AL., petitioners-appellees, Abadia. The oppositors are appealing from that
vs. decision; and because only questions of law
MIGUEL ABADIA, ET AL., oppositors- are involved in the appeal, the case was
appellants. certified to us by the Court of Appeals.

Manuel A. Zosa, Luis B. Ladonga, Mariano A. The new Civil Code (Republic Act No. 386)
Zosa and B. G. Advincula for appellants. under article 810 thereof provides that a
C. de la Victoria for appellees. person may execute a holographic will which
must be entirely written, dated and signed by
MONTEMAYOR, J.: the testator himself and need not be witnessed.
It is a fact, however, that at the time that
On September 6, 1923, Father Sancho Abadia, Exhibit "A" was executed in 1923 and at the
parish priest of Talisay, Cebu, executed a time that Father Abadia died in 1943,
document purporting to be his Last Will and holographic wills were not permitted, and the
Testament now marked Exhibit "A". Resident of law at the time imposed certain requirements
the City of Cebu, he died on January 14, 1943, for the execution of wills, such as numbering
in the municipality of Aloguinsan, Cebu, where correlatively each page (not folio or sheet) in
he was an evacuee. He left properties letters and signing on the left hand margin by
estimated at P8,000 in value. On October 2, the testator and by the three attesting
1946, one Andres Enriquez, one of the witnesses, requirements which were not
legatees in Exhibit "A", filed a petition for its complied with in Exhibit "A" because the back
probate in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. pages of the first two folios of the will were not
Some cousins and nephews who would inherit signed by any one, not even by the testator
the estate of the deceased if he left no will, and were not numbered, and as to the three
filed opposition. front pages, they were signed only by the
testator.
During the hearing one of the attesting
witnesses, the other two being dead, testified Interpreting and applying this requirement this
without contradiction that in his presence and Court in the case of In re Estate of Saguinsin,
in the presence of his co-witnesses, Father 41 Phil., 875, 879, referring to the failure of the
Sancho wrote out in longhand Exhibit "A" in testator and his witnesses to sign on the left
Spanish which the testator spoke and hand margin of every page, said:
understood; that he (testator) signed on he left
hand margin of the front page of each of the . . . . This defect is radical and totally
three folios or sheets of which the document is vitiates the testament. It is not enough
composed, and numbered the same with that the signatures guaranteeing
Arabic numerals, and finally signed his name at authenticity should appear upon two
the end of his writing at the last page, all this, folios or leaves; three pages having
in the presence of the three attesting witnesses been written on, the authenticity of all
after telling that it was his last will and that the three of them should be guaranteed by
said three witnesses signed their names on the the signature of the alleged testatrix and
last page after the attestation clause in his her witnesses.
presence and in the presence of each other.
The oppositors did not submit any evidence. And in the case of Aspe vs. Prieto, 46 Phil.,
700, referring to the same requirement, this
The learned trial court found and declared Court declared:
Exhibit "A" to be a holographic will; that it was
in the handwriting of the testator and that From an examination of the document in
although at the time it was executed and at the question, it appears that the left margins
time of the testator's death, holographic wills of the six pages of the document are
were not permitted by law still, because at the signed only by Ventura Prieto. The
time of the hearing and when the case was to noncompliance with section 2 of Act No.
be decided the new Civil Code was already in 2645 by the attesting witnesses who
force, which Code permitted the execution of omitted to sign with the testator at the
holographic wills, under a liberal view, and to left margin of each of the five pages of
5

carry out the intention of the testator which the document alleged to be the will of
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Ventura Prieto, is a fatal defect that defective will and thereby divest the heirs of
constitutes an obstacle to its probate. their vested rights in the estate by intestate
succession. The general rule is that the
What is the law to apply to the probate of Exh. Legislature can not validate void wills (57 Am.
"A"? May we apply the provisions of the new Jur., Wills, Sec. 231, pp. 192-193).
Civil Code which not allows holographic wills,
like Exhibit "A" which provisions were invoked In view of the foregoing, the order appealed
by the appellee-petitioner and applied by the from is reversed, and Exhibit "A" is denied
lower court? But article 795 of this same new probate. With costs.
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
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execution should be allowed to validate a


Page
G.R. No. L-5064 February 27, 1953 de Winstanley, after her appointment as
guardian of her children by this court
BIENVENIDO A. IBARLE, plaintiff-appellant, (Special proceeding no. 212-R) sold
vs. one-half of the land mentioned above to
ESPERANZA M. PO, defendant-appellant. Esperanza M. Po, defendant in the
instant case, which portion belongs to
Quirico del Mar for appellant. the children of the above named
Daniel P. Tumulak and Conchita F. Miel spouses.
appellee.
As stated by the trial Judge, the sole question
TUASON, J.: for determination is the validity of the sale to
Esperanza M. Po, the last purchaser. This
This action commenced in the Court of First question in turn depends upon the validity of
Instance of Cebu to annul a deed of sale the prior ale to Maria Canoy and Roberto
conveying to the defendant, in consideration of Canoy.
P1,700, one undivided half of a parcel of land
which previously had been sold, along with the Article 657 of the old Civil Code provides: "The
other half, by the same vendor to the plaintiff's rights to the succession of a person are
grantors. judgment was against the plaintiff. transmitted from the moment of his death." in a
slightly different language, this article is
The case was submitted for decision upon an incorporated in the new Civil Code as article
agreed statement of facts, the pertinent parts 777.
of which are thus summarized in the appealed
decision: Manresa, commending on article 657 of the
Civil Code of Spain, says:
1st. — That Leonard j. Winstanley and
Catalina Navarro were husband and The moment of death is the determining
wife, the former having died on June 6, factor when the heirs acquire a definite
1946 leaving heir the surviving spouse right to the inheritance, whether such
and some minor children; right be pure or contingent. It is
immaterial whether a short or long
2nd. — hat upon the death of L.J. period of time lapses between the death
Winstanley, he left a parcel of land of the predecessor and the entry into
described under Transfer Certificate of possession of the property of the
title No. 2391 of the Registry of Deeds inheritance because the right is always
of the Province of Cebu; deemed to be retroactive from the
moment of death. (5 Manresa, 317.)
3rd. — That the above mentioned
property was a conjugal property; The above provision and comment make it
clear that when Catalina Navarro Vda. de
4th. — That on April 15, 1946, the Winstanley sold the entire parcel to the Canoy
surviving spouse Catalina Navarro Vda. spouses, one-half of it already belonged to the
de Winstanley sold the entire parcel of seller's children. No formal or judicial
land to the spouses Maria Canoy, declaration being needed to confirm the
alleging among other things, that she children's title, it follows that the first sale was
needed money for the support of her null and void in so far as it included the
children; children's share.

5th. — That on May 24, 1947, the On the other hand, the sale to the defendant
spouses Maria Canoy and Roberto having been made by authority of the
Canoy sold the same parcel of land to competent court was undeniably legal and
the plaintiff in this case named effective. The fact that it has not been recorded
Bienvenido A. Ebarle; is of no consequence. If registration were
necessary, still the non-registration would not
6th. — That the two deeds of sale avail the plaintiff because it was due to no
referred to above were not registered other cause than his own opposition.
and have never been registered up to
the date; The decision will be affirmed subject to the
reservation, made in said decision, of the right
7th. — That on January 17, 1948 of the plaintitff and/or the Canoy spouses to
7

bring such action against Catalina Navarro


Page

surviving spouse Catalina Navarro Vda.


Vda. de Winstanley as may be appropriate for
such damages as they may have incurred by
reason of the voiding of the sale in their favor.

8
Page
[G.R. No. 147145. January 31, 2005] On 13 September 1968, Alipio filed another
petition[6] before the RTC-Kabankalan,
docketed as SP No. 071 (312-8669), for the
probate of the last will and testament of Toray.
TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE ALIPIO Caponong, Joel Abada, et al., and Levi Tronco,
ABADA, BELINDA CAPONONG- et al. opposed the petition on the same
NOBLE, petitioner, vs. ALIPIO ABAJA grounds they cited in SP No. 070 (313-8668).
and NOEL ABELLAR, respondents.
On 20 September 1968, Caponong filed a
DECISION petition[7] before the RTC-Kabankalan,
docketed as SP No. 069 (309), praying for the
CARPIO, J.: issuance in his name of letters of
administration of the intestate estate of Abada
and Toray.
The Case
In an Order dated 14 August 1981, the
RTC-Kabankalan admitted to probate the will
Before the Court is a petition for of Toray. Since the oppositors did not file any
review[1] assailing the Decision[2] of the Court of motion for reconsideration, the order allowing
Appeals of 12 January 2001 in CA-G.R. CV the probate of Torays will became final and
No. 47644. The Court of Appeals sustained the executory.[8]
Resolution[3] of the Regional Trial Court of
Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, Branch 61 In an order dated 23 November 1990, the
(RTC-Kabankalan), admitting to probate the RTC-Kabankalan designated Belinda
last will and testament of Alipio Abada (Abada). Caponong-Noble (Caponong-Noble) Special
Administratrix of the estate of Abada and
Toray.[9]Caponong-Noble moved for the
The Antecedent Facts dismissal of the petition for probate of the will
of Abada. The RTC-Kabankalan denied the
motion in an Order dated 20 August 1991.[10]
Abada died sometime in May 1940.[4] His
widow Paula Toray (Toray) died sometime in Sometime in 1993, during the proceedings,
September 1943. Both died without legitimate Presiding Judge Rodolfo S. Layumas
children. discovered that in an Order dated 16 March
1992, former Presiding Judge Edgardo Catilo
On 13 September 1968, Alipio C. Abaja had already submitted the case for decision.
(Alipio) filed with the then Court of First Thus, the RTC-Kabankalan rendered a
Instance of Negros Occidental (now RTC- Resolution dated 22 June 1994, as follows:
Kabankalan) a petition,[5] docketed as SP No.
070 (313-8668), for the probate of the last will There having been sufficient notice to the heirs
and testament (will) of Abada. Abada allegedly as required by law; that there is substantial
named as his testamentary heirs his natural compliance with the formalities of a Will as the
children Eulogio Abaja (Eulogio) and Rosario law directs and that the petitioner through his
Cordova. Alipio is the son of Eulogio. testimony and the deposition of Felix Gallinero
Nicanor Caponong (Caponong) opposed was able to establish the regularity of the
the petition on the ground that Abada left no execution of the said Will and further, there
will when he died in 1940. Caponong further being no evidence of bad faith and fraud, or
alleged that the will, if Abada really executed it, substitution of the said Will, the Last Will and
should be disallowed for the following reasons: Testament of Alipio Abada dated June 4, 1932
(1) it was not executed and attested as is admitted and allowed probate.
required by law; (2) it was not intended as the
last will of the testator; and (3) it was procured As prayed for by counsel, Noel Abbellar[11] is
by undue and improper pressure and influence appointed administrator of the estate of Paula
on the part of the beneficiaries. Citing the same Toray who shall discharge his duties as such
grounds invoked by Caponong, the alleged after letters of administration shall have been
intestate heirs of Abada, namely, Joel, Julian, issued in his favor and after taking his oath and
Paz, Evangeline, Geronimo, Humberto, filing a bond in the amount of Ten Thousand
Teodora and Elena Abada (Joel Abada, et al.), (P10,000.00) Pesos.
and Levi, Leandro, Antonio, Florian, Hernani
and Carmela Tronco (Levi Tronco, et al.), also Mrs. Belinda C. Noble, the present
opposed the petition. The oppositors are the administratrix of the estate of Alipio Abada
shall continue discharging her duties as such
9

nephews, nieces and grandchildren of Abada


until further orders from this Court.
Page

and Toray.
SO ORDERED.[12] Abada executed his will on 4 June 1932.
The laws in force at that time are the Civil
The RTC-Kabankalan ruled on the only Code of 1889 or the Old Civil Code, and Act
issue raised by the oppositors in their motions No. 190 or the Code of Civil
[14]
to dismiss the petition for probate, that is, Procedure which governed the execution of
whether the will of Abada has an attestation wills before the enactment of the New Civil
clause as required by law. The RTC- Code.
Kabankalan further held that the failure of the
The matter in dispute in the present case is
oppositors to raise any other matter forecloses
the attestation clause in the will of Abada.
all other issues.
Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as
Not satisfied with the Resolution, amended by Act No. 2645,[15] governs the form
Caponong-Noble filed a notice of appeal. of the attestation clause of Abadas
will.[16] Section 618 of the Code of Civil
In a Decision promulgated on 12 January
Procedure, as amended, provides:
2001, the Court of Appeals affirmed the
Resolution of the RTC-Kabankalan. The
SEC. 618. Requisites of will. No will, except as
appellate court found that the RTC-Kabankalan
provided in the preceding section,[17] shall be
properly admitted to probate the will of Abada.
valid to pass any estate, real or personal, nor
Hence, the present recourse by Caponong- charge or affect the same, unless it be written
Noble. in the language or dialect known by the testator
and signed by him, or by the testators name
written by some other person in his presence,
The Issues and by his express direction, and attested and
subscribed by three or more credible witnesses
in the presence of the testator and of each
The petition raises the following issues: other. The testator or the person requested by
1. What laws apply to the probate of him to write his name and the instrumental
the last will of Abada; witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as
aforesaid, each and every page thereof, on the
2. Whether the will of Abada requires left margin, and said pages shall be numbered
acknowledgment before a notary correlatively in letters placed on the upper part
public;[13] of each sheet. The attestation shall state the
3. Whether the will must expressly number of sheets or pages used, upon which
state that it is written in a language the will is written, and the fact that the testator
or dialect known to the testator; signed the will and every page thereof, or
caused some other person to write his name,
4. Whether the will of Abada has an under his express direction, in the presence of
attestation clause, and if so, three witnesses, and the latter witnessed and
whether the attestation clause signed the will and all pages thereof in the
complies with the requirements of presence of the testator and of each other.
the applicable laws;
5. Whether Caponong-Noble is
precluded from raising the issue of Requisites of a Will under the Code of Civil
whether the will of Abada is written Procedure
in a language known to Abada;
6. Whether evidence aliunde may be Under Section 618 of the Code of Civil
resorted to in the probate of the will Procedure, the requisites of a will are the
of Abada. following:
(1) The will must be written in the
language or dialect known by the
The Ruling of the Court testator;
(2) The will must be signed by the
The Court of Appeals did not err in testator, or by the testators name
sustaining the RTC-Kabankalan in admitting to written by some other person in
probate the will of Abada. his presence, and by his express
direction;
10

The Applicable Law (3) The will must be attested and


subscribed by three or more
Page
credible witnesses in the presence notary and to the attesting witnesses. The
of the testator and of each other; notary and the witnesses shall also endeavor
to assure themselves that the testator has, in
(4) The testator or the person
their judgment, the legal capacity required to
requested by him to write his
make a will.
name and the instrumental
witnesses of the will must sign
Witnesses authenticating a will without the
each and every page of the will on
attendance of a notary, in cases falling under
the left margin;
Articles 700 and 701, are also required to know
(5) The pages of the will must be the testator.
numbered correlatively in letters
placed on the upper part of each However, the Code of Civil
sheet; Procedure[22] repealed Article 685 of the Old
Civil Code. Under the Code of Civil Procedure,
(6) The attestation shall state the
the intervention of a notary is not necessary in
number of sheets or pages used,
the execution ofany will.[23] Therefore, Abadas
upon which the will is written, and
will does not require acknowledgment before a
the fact that the testator signed the
notary public.
will and every page of the will, or
caused some other person to write Caponong-Noble points out that nowhere
his name, under his express in the will can one discern that Abada knew the
direction, in the presence of three Spanish language. She alleges that such
witnesses, and the witnesses defect is fatal and must result in the
witnessed and signed the will and disallowance of the will. On this issue, the
all pages of the will in the Court of Appeals held that the matter was not
presence of the testator and of raised in the motion to dismiss, and that it is
each other. now too late to raise the issue on appeal. We
agree with Caponong-Noble that the doctrine
Caponong-Noble asserts that the will of
of estoppel does not apply in probate
Abada does not indicate that it is written in a
proceedings.[24] In addition, the language used
language or dialect known to the testator.
in the will is part of the requisites under Section
Further, she maintains that the will is not
618 of the Code of Civil Procedure and the
acknowledged before a notary public. She cites
Court deems it proper to pass upon this issue.
in particular Articles 804 and 805 of the Old
Civil Code, thus: Nevertheless, Caponong-Nobles
contention must still fail. There is no statutory
Art. 804. Every will must be in writing and requirement to state in the will itself that the
executed in [a] language or dialect known to testator knew the language or dialect used in
the testator. the will.[25] This is a matter that a party may
establish by proof aliunde.[26] Caponong-Noble
Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged further argues that Alipio, in his testimony, has
before a notary public by the testator and the failed, among others, to show that Abada knew
witnesses. xxx[18] or understood the contents of the will and the
Spanish language used in the will. However,
Caponong-Noble actually cited Articles 804 Alipio testified that Abada used to gather
and 806 of the New Civil Code.[19] Article 804 Spanish-speaking people in their place. In
of the Old Civil Code is about the rights and these gatherings, Abada and his companions
obligations of administrators of the property of would talk in the Spanish language.[27] This
an absentee, while Article 806 of the Old Civil sufficiently proves that Abada speaks the
Code defines a legitime. Spanish language.
Articles 804 and 806 of the New Civil Code
are new provisions. Article 804 of the New Civil
The Attestation Clause of Abadas Will
Code is taken from Section 618 of the Code of
Civil Procedure.[20] Article 806 of the New Civil
Code is taken from Article 685 of the Old Civil A scrutiny of Abadas will shows that it has
Code[21] which provides: an attestation clause. The attestation clause of
Abadas will reads:
Art. 685. The notary and two of the witnesses
who authenticate the will must be acquainted Suscrito y declarado por el testador Alipio
11

with the testator, or, should they not know him, Abada como su ultima voluntad y testamento
he shall be identified by two witnesses who are en presencia de nosotros, habiendo tambien el
Page

acquainted with him and are known to the testador firmado en nuestra presencia en el
margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las This Court has applied the rule on
hojas del mismo. Y en testimonio de ello, cada substantial compliance even before the
uno de nosotros lo firmamos en presencia de effectivity of the New Civil Code. In Dichoso
nosotros y del testador al pie de este de Ticson v. De Gorostiza,[30] the Court
documento y en el margen izquierdo de todas recognized that there are two divergent
y cada una de las dos hojas de que esta tendencies in the law on wills, one being based
compuesto el mismo, las cuales estan on strict construction and the other on liberal
paginadas correlativamente con las letras UNO construction. In Dichoso, the Court noted
y DOS en la parte superior de la carrilla.[28] that Abangan v. Abangan,[31] the basic case on
the liberal construction, is cited with approval in
Caponong-Noble proceeds to point out later decisions of the Court.
several defects in the attestation
In Adeva vda. De Leynez v.
clause. Caponong-Noble alleges that the
Leynez,[32] the petitioner, arguing for liberal
attestation clause fails to state the number of
construction of applicable laws, enumerated a
pages on which the will is written.
long line of cases to support her argument
The allegation has no merit. The phrase en while the respondent, contending that the rule
el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de on strict construction should apply, also cited a
las dos hojas de que esta compuesto el long series of cases to support his view. The
mismo which means in the left margin of each Court, after examining the cases invoked by
and every one of the two pages consisting of the parties, held:
the same shows that the will consists of two
pages. The pages are numbered correlatively x x x It is, of course, not possible to lay down a
with the letters ONE and TWO as can be general rule, rigid and inflexible, which would
gleaned from the phrase las cuales estan be applicable to all cases. More than anything
paginadas correlativamente con las letras UNO else, the facts and circumstances of record are
y DOS. to be considered in the application of any given
rule. If the surrounding circumstances point to
Caponong-Noble further alleges that the
a regular execution of the will, and the
attestation clause fails to state expressly that
instrument appears to have been executed
the testator signed the will and its every page
substantially in accordance with the
in the presence of three witnesses. She then
requirements of the law, the inclination should,
faults the Court of Appeals for applying to the
in the absence of any suggestion of bad faith,
present case the rule on substantial
forgery or fraud, lean towards its admission to
compliance found in Article 809 of the New
probate, although the document may suffer
Civil Code.[29]
from some imperfection of language, or other
The first sentence of the attestation clause non-essential defect. x x x.
reads: Suscrito y declarado por el testador
Alipio Abada como su ultima voluntad y An attestation clause is made for the purpose
testamento en presencia de nosotros, of preserving, in permanent form, a record of
habiendo tambien el testador firmado en the facts attending the execution of the will, so
nuestra presencia en el margen izquierdo de that in case of failure of the memory of the
todas y cada una de las hojas del mismo. The subscribing witnesses, or other casualty, they
English translation is: Subscribed and may still be proved. (Thompson on Wills, 2d
professed by the testator Alipio Abada as his ed., sec. 132.) A will, therefore, should not be
last will and testament in our presence, the rejected where its attestation clause serves the
testator having also signed it in our presence purpose of the law. x x x [33]
on the left margin of each and every one of the
pages of the same. The We rule to apply the liberal construction in
attestationclause clearly states that Abada the probate of Abadas will. Abadas will clearly
signed the will and its every page in shows four signatures: that of Abada and of
the presence of the witnesses. three other persons. It is reasonable to
conclude that there are three witnesses to the
However, Caponong-Noble is correct in
will. The question on the number of the
saying that the attestation clause does not
witnesses is answered by an examination of
indicate the number of witnesses. On this
the will itself and without the need for
point, the Court agrees with the appellate court
presentation of evidencealiunde. The Court
in applying the rule on substantial compliance
explained the extent and limits of the rule on
in determining the number of witnesses. While
liberal construction, thus:
the attestation clause does not state the
12

number of witnesses, a close inspection of the


[T]he so-called liberal rule does not offer any
will shows that three witnesses signed it.
Page

puzzle or difficulty, nor does it open the door to


serious consequences. The later decisions do
tell us when and where to stop; they draw the
dividing line with precision. They do not allow
evidence aliunde to fill a void in any part of
the document or supply missing details that
should appear in the will itself. They only
permit a probe into the will, an exploration
within its confines, to ascertain its meaning
or to determine the existence or absence of
the requisite formalities of law. This clear,
sharp limitation eliminates uncertainty and
ought to banish any fear of dire
results.[34] (Emphasis supplied)

The phrase en presencia de nosotros or in our


presence coupled with the signatures
appearing on the will itself and after the
attestation clause could only mean that: (1)
Abada subscribed to and professed before the
three witnesses that the document was his last
will, and (2) Abada signed the will and the left
margin of each page of the will in the presence
of these three witnesses.
Finally, Caponong-Noble alleges that the
attestation clause does not expressly state the
circumstances that the
witnesses witnessed and signed the will and
all its pages in the presence of the testator and
of each other. This Court has ruled:

Precision of language in the drafting of an


attestation clause is desirable. However, it is
not imperative that a parrot-like copy of the
words of the statute be made. It is sufficient if
from the language employed it can reasonably
be deduced that the attestation clause fulfills
what the law expects of it.[35]

The last part of the attestation clause


states en testimonio de ello, cada uno de
nosotros lo firmamos en presencia de nosotros
y del testador. In English, this means in its
witness, every one of us also signed in our
presence and of the testator. This clearly
shows that the attesting witnesses witnessed
the signing of the will of the testator, and that
each witness signed the will in the presence of
one another and of the testator.
WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision
of the Court of Appeals of 12 January 2001 in
CA-G.R. CV No. 47644.
SO ORDERED.
13
Page
ARTICLE 16 property or the country in which it may
be situated.

G.R. No. L-22595 November 1, 1927 But the fact is that the oppositor did not prove
that said testimentary dispositions are not in
Testate Estate of Joseph G. Brimo, JUAN accordance with the Turkish laws, inasmuch as
MICIANO, administrator, petitioner-appellee, he did not present any evidence showing what
vs. the Turkish laws are on the matter, and in the
ANDRE BRIMO, opponent-appellant. absence of evidence on such laws, they are
presumed to be the same as those of the
Ross, Lawrence and Selph for appellant. Philippines. (Lim and Lim vs. Collector of
Camus and Delgado for appellee. Customs, 36 Phil., 472.)

It has not been proved in these proceedings


what the Turkish laws are. He, himself,
ROMUALDEZ, J.: acknowledges it when he desires to be given
an opportunity to present evidence on this
The partition of the estate left by the deceased point; so much so that he assigns as an error
Joseph G. Brimo is in question in this case. of the court in not having deferred the approval
of the scheme of partition until the receipt of
The judicial administrator of this estate filed a certain testimony requested regarding the
scheme of partition. Andre Brimo, one of the Turkish laws on the matter.
brothers of the deceased, opposed it. The
court, however, approved it. The refusal to give the oppositor another
opportunity to prove such laws does not
The errors which the oppositor-appellant constitute an error. It is discretionary with the
assigns are: trial court, and, taking into consideration that
the oppositor was granted ample opportunity to
(1) The approval of said scheme of partition; introduce competent evidence, we find no
(2) denial of his participation in the inheritance; abuse of discretion on the part of the court in
(3) the denial of the motion for reconsideration this particular. There is, therefore, no evidence
of the order approving the partition; (4) the in the record that the national law of the
approval of the purchase made by the Pietro testator Joseph G. Brimo was violated in the
Lana of the deceased's business and the deed testamentary dispositions in question which,
of transfer of said business; and (5) the not being contrary to our laws in force, must be
declaration that the Turkish laws are complied with and executed. lawphil.net
impertinent to this cause, and the failure not to
postpone the approval of the scheme of Therefore, the approval of the scheme of
partition and the delivery of the deceased's partition in this respect was not erroneous.
business to Pietro Lanza until the receipt of the
depositions requested in reference to the In regard to the first assignment of error which
Turkish laws. deals with the exclusion of the herein appellant
as a legatee, inasmuch as he is one of the
The appellant's opposition is based on the fact persons designated as such in will, it must be
that the partition in question puts into effect the taken into consideration that such exclusion is
provisions of Joseph G. Brimo's will which are based on the last part of the second clause of
not in accordance with the laws of his Turkish the will, which says:
nationality, for which reason they are void as
being in violation or article 10 of the Civil Code Second. I like desire to state that
which, among other things, provides the although by law, I am a Turkish citizen,
following: this citizenship having been conferred
upon me by conquest and not by free
Nevertheless, legal and testamentary choice, nor by nationality and, on the
successions, in respect to the order of other hand, having resided for a
succession as well as to the amount of considerable length of time in the
the successional rights and the intrinsic Philippine Islands where I succeeded in
validity of their provisions, shall be acquiring all of the property that I now
regulated by the national law of the possess, it is my wish that the
person whose succession is in question, distribution of my property and
14

whatever may be the nature of the everything in connection with this, my


will, be made and disposed of in
Page
accordance with the laws in force in the include the herein appellant Andre Brimo as
Philippine islands, requesting all of my one of the legatees, and the scheme of
relatives to respect this wish, otherwise, partition submitted by the judicial administrator
I annul and cancel beforehand whatever is approved in all other respects, without any
disposition found in this will favorable to pronouncement as to costs.
the person or persons who fail to comply
with this request. So ordered.

The institution of legatees in this will is


conditional, and the condition is that the
instituted legatees must respect the testator's
will to distribute his property, not in accordance
with the laws of his nationality, but in
accordance with the laws of the Philippines.

If this condition as it is expressed were legal


and valid, any legatee who fails to comply with
it, as the herein oppositor who, by his attitude
in these proceedings has not respected the will
of the testator, as expressed, is prevented from
receiving his legacy.

The fact is, however, that the said condition is


void, being contrary to law, for article 792 of
the civil Code provides the following:

Impossible conditions and those


contrary to law or good morals shall be
considered as not imposed and shall not
prejudice the heir or legatee in any
manner whatsoever, even should the
testator otherwise provide.

And said condition is contrary to law because it


expressly ignores the testator's national law
when, according to article 10 of the civil Code
above quoted, such national law of the testator
is the one to govern his testamentary
dispositions.

Said condition then, in the light of the legal


provisions above cited, is considered unwritten,
and the institution of legatees in said will is
unconditional and consequently valid and
effective even as to the herein oppositor.

It results from all this that the second clause of


the will regarding the law which shall govern it,
and to the condition imposed upon the
legatees, is null and void, being contrary to
law.

All of the remaining clauses of said will with all


their dispositions and requests are perfectly
valid and effective it not appearing that said
clauses are contrary to the testator's national
law.

Therefore, the orders appealed from are


15

modified and it is directed that the distribution


of this estate be made in such a manner as to
Page
G.R. No. L-23678 June 6, 1967 Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S.
Bellis, and Dorothy E. Bellis, in equal
TESTATE ESTATE OF AMOS G. BELLIS, shares.1äwphï1.ñët
deceased.
PEOPLE'S BANK and TRUST Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G.
COMPANY, executor. Bellis died a resident of San Antonio, Texas,
MARIA CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM U.S.A. His will was admitted to probate in the
PALMA BELLIS, oppositors-appellants, Court of First Instance of Manila on September
vs. 15, 1958.
EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-appellees.
The People's Bank and Trust Company, as
Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for executor of the will, paid all the bequests
oppositors appellants. therein including the amount of $240,000.00 in
Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for the form of shares of stock to Mary E. Mallen
heirs-appellees E. A. Bellis, et al. and to the three (3) illegitimate children, Amos
Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam
Bellis, et al. Palma Bellis, various amounts totalling
J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their
Trust Company. respective legacies, or a total of P120,000.00,
Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for appellee A. B. which it released from time to time according
Allsman. as the lower court approved and allowed the
various motions or petitions filed by the latter
BENGZON, J.P., J.: three requesting partial advances on account
of their respective legacies.
This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question
purely of law, from an order of the Court of On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its
First Instance of Manila dated April 30, 1964, administration, the executor submitted and filed
approving the project of partition filed by the its "Executor's Final Account, Report of
executor in Civil Case No. 37089 Administration and Project of Partition" wherein
therein.1äwphï1.ñët it reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the
legacy of Mary E. Mallen by the delivery to her
The facts of the case are as follows: of shares of stock amounting to $240,000.00,
and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria
Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis in the
the State of Texas and of the United States." amount of P40,000.00 each or a total of
By his first wife, Mary E. Mallen, whom he P120,000.00. In the project of partition, the
divorced, he had five legitimate children: executor — pursuant to the "Twelfth" clause of
Edward A. Bellis, George Bellis (who pre- the testator's Last Will and Testament —
deceased him in infancy), Henry A. Bellis, divided the residuary estate into seven equal
Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman; by portions for the benefit of the testator's seven
his second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived legitimate children by his first and second
him, he had three legitimate children: Edwin G. marriages.
Bellis, Walter S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and
finally, he had three illegitimate children: Amos On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and
Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective
Palma Bellis. oppositions to the project of partition on the
ground that they were deprived of their
On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a legitimes as illegitimate children and, therefore,
will in the Philippines, in which he directed that compulsory heirs of the deceased.
after all taxes, obligations, and expenses of
administration are paid for, his distributable Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition
estate should be divided, in trust, in the despite notice to him, proof of service of which
following order and manner: (a) $240,000.00 to is evidenced by the registry receipt submitted
his first wife, Mary E. Mallen; (b) P120,000.00 on April 27, 1964 by the executor.1
to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis,
Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam Palma Bellis, After the parties filed their respective
or P40,000.00 each and (c) after the foregoing memoranda and other pertinent pleadings, the
two items have been satisfied, the remainder lower court, on April 30, 1964, issued an order
shall go to his seven surviving children by his overruling the oppositions and approving the
16

first and second wives, namely: Edward A. executor's final account, report and
Bellis, Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and administration and project of partition. Relying
Page
upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied the person whose succession is under
national law of the decedent, which in this case consideration, whatever may he the
is Texas law, which did not provide for nature of the property and regardless of
legitimes. the country wherein said property may
be found.
Their respective motions for reconsideration
having been denied by the lower court on June ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is
11, 1964, oppositors-appellants appealed to governed by the law of the nation of the
this Court to raise the issue of which law must decedent.
apply — Texas law or Philippine law.
Appellants would however counter that Art. 17,
In this regard, the parties do not submit the paragraph three, of the Civil Code, stating that
case on, nor even discuss, the doctrine of —
renvoi, applied by this Court in Aznar v.
Christensen Garcia, L-16749, January 31, Prohibitive laws concerning persons,
1963. Said doctrine is usually pertinent where their acts or property, and those which
the decedent is a national of one country, and have for their object public order, public
a domicile of another. In the present case, it is policy and good customs shall not be
not disputed that the decedent was both a rendered ineffective by laws or
national of Texas and a domicile thereof at the judgments promulgated, or by
time of his death.2 So that even assuming determinations or conventions agreed
Texas has a conflict of law rule providing that upon in a foreign country.
the domiciliary system (law of the domicile)
should govern, the same would not result in a prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of
reference back (renvoi) to Philippine law, but the Civil Code afore-quoted. This is not correct.
would still refer to Texas law. Nonetheless, if Precisely, Congressdeleted the phrase,
Texas has a conflicts rule adopting the situs "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the
theory (lex rei sitae) calling for the application next preceding article" when they incorporated
of the law of the place where the properties are Art. 11 of the old Civil Code as Art. 17 of the
situated, renvoi would arise, since the new Civil Code, while reproducing without
properties here involved are found in the substantial change the second paragraph of
Philippines. In the absence, however, of proof Art. 10 of the old Civil Code as Art. 16 in the
as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should new. It must have been their purpose to make
not be presumed different from the second paragraph of Art. 16 a specific
ours.3 Appellants' position is therefore not provision in itself which must be applied in
rested on the doctrine of renvoi. As stated, they testate and intestate succession. As further
never invoked nor even mentioned it in their indication of this legislative intent, Congress
arguments. Rather, they argue that their case added a new provision, under Art. 1039, which
falls under the circumstances mentioned in the decrees that capacity to succeed is to be
third paragraph of Article 17 in relation to governed by the national law of the decedent.
Article 16 of the Civil Code.
It is therefore evident that whatever public
Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil policy or good customs may be involved in our
Code, render applicable the national law of the System of legitimes, Congress has not
decedent, in intestate or testamentary intended to extend the same to the succession
successions, with regard to four items: (a) the of foreign nationals. For it has specifically
order of succession; (b) the amount of chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of
successional rights; (e) the intrinsic validity of successional rights, to the decedent's national
the provisions of the will; and (d) the capacity law. Specific provisions must prevail over
to succeed. They provide that — general ones.

ART. 16. Real property as well as Appellants would also point out that the
personal property is subject to the law of decedent executed two wills — one to govern
the country where it is situated. his Texas estate and the other his Philippine
estate — arguing from this that he intended
However, intestate and testamentary Philippine law to govern his Philippine estate.
successions, both with respect to the Assuming that such was the decedent's
order of succession and to the amount intention in executing a separate Philippine will,
of successional rights and to the intrinsic it would not alter the law, for as this Court ruled
17

validity of testamentary provisions, shall in Miciano v. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867, 870, a


be regulated by the national law of the provision in a foreigner's will to the effect that
Page
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.

18
Page
G.R. No. L-16749 January 31, 1963 information I have now resides in Egpit,
Digos, Davao, Philippines, the sum of
IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED
OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN, PESOS (P3,600.00), Philippine
DECEASED. Currency the same to be deposited in
ADOLFO C. AZNAR, Executor and LUCY trust for the said Maria Helen
CHRISTENSEN, Heir of the Christensen with the Davao Branch of
deceased, Executor and Heir-appellees, the Philippine National Bank, and paid
vs. to her at the rate of One Hundred Pesos
HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA, oppositor- (P100.00), Philippine Currency per
appellant. month until the principal thereof as well
as any interest which may have accrued
M. R. Sotelo for executor and heir-appellees. thereon, is exhausted..
Leopoldo M. Abellera and Jovito Salonga for
oppositor-appellant. xxx xxx xxx

LABRADOR, J.: 12. I hereby give, devise and bequeath,


unto my well-beloved daughter, the said
This is an appeal from a decision of the Court MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY
of First Instance of Davao, Hon. Vicente N. (Mrs. Bernard Daney), now residing as
Cusi, Jr., presiding, in Special Proceeding No. aforesaid at No. 665 Rodger Young
622 of said court, dated September 14, 1949, Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.,
approving among things the final accounts of all the income from the rest, remainder,
the executor, directing the executor to and residue of my property and estate,
reimburse Maria Lucy Christensen the amount real, personal and/or mixed, of
of P3,600 paid by her to Helen Christensen whatsoever kind or character, and
Garcia as her legacy, and declaring Maria Lucy wheresoever situated, of which I may be
Christensen entitled to the residue of the possessed at my death and which may
property to be enjoyed during her lifetime, and have come to me from any source
in case of death without issue, one-half of said whatsoever, during her lifetime: ....
residue to be payable to Mrs. Carrie Louise C.
Borton, etc., in accordance with the provisions It is in accordance with the above-quoted
of the will of the testator Edward E. provisions that the executor in his final account
Christensen. The will was executed in Manila and project of partition ratified the payment of
on March 5, 1951 and contains the following only P3,600 to Helen Christensen Garcia and
provisions: proposed that the residue of the estate be
transferred to his daughter, Maria Lucy
3. I declare ... that I have but ONE (1) Christensen.
child, named MARIA LUCY
CHRISTENSEN (now Mrs. Bernard Opposition to the approval of the project of
Daney), who was born in the Philippines partition was filed by Helen Christensen
about twenty-eight years ago, and who Garcia, insofar as it deprives her (Helen) of her
is now residing at No. 665 Rodger legitime as an acknowledged natural child, she
Young Village, Los Angeles, California, having been declared by Us in G.R. Nos. L-
U.S.A. 11483-84 an acknowledged natural child of the
deceased Edward E. Christensen. The legal
4. I further declare that I now have no grounds of opposition are (a) that the
living ascendants, and no descendants distribution should be governed by the laws of
except my above named daughter, the Philippines, and (b) that said order of
MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY. distribution is contrary thereto insofar as it
denies to Helen Christensen, one of two
xxx xxx xxx acknowledged natural children, one-half of the
estate in full ownership. In amplification of the
7. I give, devise and bequeath unto above grounds it was alleged that the law that
MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, now should govern the estate of the deceased
married to Eduardo Garcia, about Christensen should not be the internal law of
eighteen years of age and who, California alone, but the entire law thereof
notwithstanding the fact that she was because several foreign elements are involved,
baptized Christensen, is not in any way that the forum is the Philippines and even if the
19

related to me, nor has she been at any case were decided in California, Section 946 of
time adopted by me, and who, from all the California Civil Code, which requires that
Page
the domicile of the decedent should apply, THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT
should be applicable. It was also alleged that DECLARING THAT THE SCHEDULE OF
Maria Helen Christensen having been declared DISTRIBUTION SUBMITTED BY THE
an acknowledged natural child of the decedent, EXECUTOR IS CONTRARY TO THE
she is deemed for all purposes legitimate from PHILIPPINE LAWS.
the time of her birth.
V
The court below ruled that as Edward E.
Christensen was a citizen of the United States THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT
and of the State of California at the time of his DECLARING THAT UNDER THE PHILIPPINE
death, the successional rights and intrinsic LAWS HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA IS
validity of the provisions in his will are to be ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF (1/2) OF THE
governed by the law of California, in ESTATE IN FULL OWNERSHIP.
accordance with which a testator has the right
to dispose of his property in the way he There is no question that Edward E.
desires, because the right of absolute dominion Christensen was a citizen of the United States
over his property is sacred and inviolable (In re and of the State of California at the time of his
McDaniel's Estate, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 death. But there is also no question that at the
P. 2d 952, and In re Kaufman, 117 Cal. 286, 49 time of his death he was domiciled in the
Pac. 192, cited in page 179, Record on Philippines, as witness the following facts
Appeal). Oppositor Maria Helen Christensen, admitted by the executor himself in appellee's
through counsel, filed various motions for brief:
reconsideration, but these were denied. Hence,
this appeal. In the proceedings for admission of the
will to probate, the facts of record show
The most important assignments of error are that the deceased Edward E.
as follows: Christensen was born on November 29,
1875 in New York City, N.Y., U.S.A.; his
I first arrival in the Philippines, as an
appointed school teacher, was on July
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN IGNORING 1, 1901, on board the U.S. Army
THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE Transport "Sheridan" with Port of
SUPREME COURT THAT HELEN IS THE Embarkation as the City of San
ACKNOWLEDGED NATURAL CHILD OF Francisco, in the State of California,
EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN AND, U.S.A. He stayed in the Philippines until
CONSEQUENTLY, IN DEPRIVING HER OF 1904.
HER JUST SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE.
In December, 1904, Mr. Christensen
II returned to the United States and stayed
there for the following nine years until
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ENTIRELY 1913, during which time he resided in,
IGNORING AND/OR FAILING TO and was teaching school in Sacramento,
RECOGNIZE THE EXISTENCE OF SEVERAL California.
FACTORS, ELEMENTS AND
CIRCUMSTANCES CALLING FOR THE Mr. Christensen's next arrival in the
APPLICATION OF INTERNAL LAW. Philippines was in July of the year 1913.
However, in 1928, he again departed
III the Philippines for the United States and
came back here the following year,
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO 1929. Some nine years later, in 1938,
RECOGNIZE THAT UNDER INTERNATIONAL he again returned to his own country,
LAW, PARTICULARLY UNDER THE RENVOI and came back to the Philippines the
DOCTRINE, THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF following year, 1939.
THE TESTAMENTARY DISPOSITION OF
THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE OF Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray
THE DECEASED EDWARD E. that the foregoing stipulation of facts be
CHRISTENSEN SHOULD BE GOVERNED BY admitted and approved by this
THE LAWS OF THE PHILIPPINES. Honorable Court, without prejudice to
the parties adducing other evidence to
20

IV prove their case not covered by this


stipulation of facts. 1äwphï1.ñët
Page
Being an American citizen, Mr. The terms "'residence" and "domicile"
Christensen was interned by the might well be taken to mean the same
Japanese Military Forces in the thing, a place of permanent abode. But
Philippines during World War II. Upon domicile, as has been shown, has
liberation, in April 1945, he left for the acquired a technical meaning. Thus one
United States but returned to the may be domiciled in a place where he
Philippines in December, 1945. has never been. And he may reside in a
Appellees Collective Exhibits "6", CFI place where he has no domicile. The
Davao, Sp. Proc. 622, as Exhibits "AA", man with two homes, between which he
"BB" and "CC-Daney"; Exhs. "MM", divides his time, certainly resides in
"MM-l", "MM-2-Daney" and p. 473, t.s.n., each one, while living in it. But if he went
July 21, 1953.) on business which would require his
presence for several weeks or months,
In April, 1951, Edward E. Christensen he might properly be said to have
returned once more to California shortly sufficient connection with the place to be
after the making of his last will and called a resident. It is clear, however,
testament (now in question herein) that, if he treated his settlement as
which he executed at his lawyers' offices continuing only for the particular
in Manila on March 5, 1951. He died at business in hand, not giving up his
the St. Luke's Hospital in the City of former "home," he could not be a
Manila on April 30, 1953. (pp. 2-3) domiciled New Yorker. Acquisition of a
domicile of choice requires the exercise
In arriving at the conclusion that the domicile of of intention as well as physical
the deceased is the Philippines, we are presence. "Residence simply requires
persuaded by the fact that he was born in New bodily presence of an inhabitant in a
York, migrated to California and resided there given place, while domicile requires
for nine years, and since he came to the bodily presence in that place and also
Philippines in 1913 he returned to California an intention to make it one's domicile."
very rarely and only for short visits (perhaps to Residence, however, is a term used with
relatives), and considering that he appears many shades of meaning, from the
never to have owned or acquired a home or merest temporary presence to the most
properties in that state, which would indicate permanent abode, and it is not safe to
that he would ultimately abandon the insist that any one use et the only
Philippines and make home in the State of proper one. (Goodrich, p. 29)
California.
The law that governs the validity of his
Sec. 16. Residence is a term used with testamentary dispositions is defined in Article
many shades of meaning from mere 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which is
temporary presence to the most as follows:
permanent abode. Generally, however,
it is used to denote something more ART. 16. Real property as well as
than mere physical presence. (Goodrich personal property is subject to the law of
on Conflict of Laws, p. 29) the country where it is situated.

As to his citizenship, however, We find that the However, intestate and testamentary
citizenship that he acquired in California when successions, both with respect to the
he resided in Sacramento, California from 1904 order of succession and to the amount
to 1913, was never lost by his stay in the of successional rights and to the intrinsic
Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the validity of testamentary provisions, shall
United States (not a state) until 1946 and the be regulated by the national law of the
deceased appears to have considered himself person whose succession is under
as a citizen of California by the fact that when consideration, whatever may be the
he executed his will in 1951 he declared that nature of the property and regardless of
he was a citizen of that State; so that he the country where said property may be
appears never to have intended to abandon his found.
California citizenship by acquiring another. This
conclusion is in accordance with the following The application of this article in the case at bar
principle expounded by Goodrich in his Conflict requires the determination of the meaning of
of Laws. the term "national law" is used therein.
21
Page
There is no single American law governing the foreign law minus its Conflict of Laws
validity of testamentary provisions in the United rules?"
States, each state of the Union having its own
private law applicable to its citizens only and in On logic, the solution is not an easy
force only within the state. The "national law" one. The Michigan court chose to
indicated in Article 16 of the Civil Code above accept the renvoi, that is, applied the
quoted can not, therefore, possibly mean or Conflict of Laws rule of Illinois which
apply to any general American law. So it can referred the matter back to Michigan
refer to no other than the private law of the law. But once having determined the the
State of California. Conflict of Laws principle is the rule
looked to, it is difficult to see why the
The next question is: What is the law in reference back should not have been to
California governing the disposition of personal Michigan Conflict of Laws. This would
property? The decision of the court below, have resulted in the "endless chain of
sustains the contention of the executor- references" which has so often been
appellee that under the California Probate criticized be legal writers. The
Code, a testator may dispose of his property by opponents of the renvoi would have
will in the form and manner he desires, citing looked merely to the internal law of
the case of Estate of McDaniel, 77 Cal. Appl. Illinois, thus rejecting the renvoi or the
2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952. But appellant invokes reference back. Yet there seems no
the provisions of Article 946 of the Civil Code compelling logical reason why the
of California, which is as follows: original reference should be the internal
law rather than to the Conflict of Laws
If there is no law to the contrary, in the rule. It is true that such a solution avoids
place where personal property is going on a merry-go-round, but those
situated, it is deemed to follow the who have accepted the renvoitheory
person of its owner, and is governed by avoid this inextricabilis circulas by
the law of his domicile. getting off at the second reference and
at that point applying internal law.
The existence of this provision is alleged in Perhaps the opponents of the renvoi are
appellant's opposition and is not denied. We a bit more consistent for they look
have checked it in the California Civil Code and always to internal law as the rule of
it is there. Appellee, on the other hand, relies reference.
on the case cited in the decision and testified
to by a witness. (Only the case of Kaufman is Strangely enough, both the advocates
correctly cited.) It is argued on executor's for and the objectors to the renvoi plead
behalf that as the deceased Christensen was a that greater uniformity will result from
citizen of the State of California, the internal adoption of their respective views. And
law thereof, which is that given in the still more strange is the fact that the only
abovecited case, should govern the way to achieve uniformity in this choice-
determination of the validity of the of-law problem is if in the dispute the
testamentary provisions of Christensen's will, two states whose laws form the legal
such law being in force in the State of basis of the litigation disagree as to
California of which Christensen was a citizen. whether the renvoi should be accepted.
Appellant, on the other hand, insists that Article If both reject, or both accept the
946 should be applicable, and in accordance doctrine, the result of the litigation will
therewith and following the doctrine of vary with the choice of the forum. In the
therenvoi, the question of the validity of the case stated above, had the Michigan
testamentary provision in question should be court rejected the renvoi, judgment
referred back to the law of the decedent's would have been against the woman; if
domicile, which is the Philippines. the suit had been brought in the Illinois
courts, and they too rejected the renvoi,
The theory of doctrine of renvoi has been judgment would be for the woman. The
defined by various authors, thus: same result would happen, though the
courts would switch with respect to
The problem has been stated in this which would hold liability, if both courts
way: "When the Conflict of Laws rule of accepted the renvoi.
the forum refers a jural matter to a
foreign law for decision, is the reference The Restatement accepts
22

to the purely internal rules of law of the the renvoi theory in two instances:
foreign system; i.e., to the totality of the where the title to land is in question, and
Page
where the validity of a decree of divorce 'Ruckverweisung.'" (Harvard Law
is challenged. In these cases the Review, Vol. 31, pp. 523-571.)
Conflict of Laws rule of the situs of the
land, or the domicile of the parties in the After a decision has been arrived at that
divorce case, is applied by the forum, a foreign law is to be resorted to as
but any further reference goes only to governing a particular case, the further
the internal law. Thus, a person's title to question may arise: Are the rules as to
land, recognized by the situs, will be the conflict of laws contained in such
recognized by every court; and every foreign law also to be resorted to? This
divorce, valid by the domicile of the is a question which, while it has been
parties, will be valid everywhere. considered by the courts in but a few
(Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, Sec. 7, pp. instances, has been the subject of
13-14.) frequent discussion by textwriters and
essayists; and the doctrine involved has
X, a citizen of Massachusetts, dies been descriptively designated by them
intestate, domiciled in France, leaving as the "Renvoyer" to send back, or the
movable property in Massachusetts, "Ruchversweisung", or the
England, and France. The question "Weiterverweisung", since an affirmative
arises as to how this property is to be answer to the question postulated and
distributed among X's next of kin. the operation of the adoption of the
foreign law in toto would in many cases
Assume (1) that this question arises in a result in returning the main controversy
Massachusetts court. There the rule of to be decided according to the law of the
the conflict of laws as to intestate forum. ... (16 C.J.S. 872.)
succession to movables calls for an
application of the law of the deceased's Another theory, known as the "doctrine
last domicile. Since by hypothesis X's of renvoi", has been advanced. The
last domicile was France, the natural theory of the doctrine of renvoiis that the
thing for the Massachusetts court to do court of the forum, in determining the
would be to turn to French statute of question before it, must take into
distributions, or whatever corresponds account the whole law of the other
thereto in French law, and decree a jurisdiction, but also its rules as to
distribution accordingly. An examination conflict of laws, and then apply the law
of French law, however, would show to the actual question which the rules of
that if a French court were called upon the other jurisdiction prescribe. This may
to determine how this property should be the law of the forum. The doctrine of
be distributed, it would refer the therenvoi has generally been repudiated
distribution to the national law of the by the American authorities. (2 Am. Jur.
deceased, thus applying the 296)
Massachusetts statute of distributions.
So on the surface of things the The scope of the theory of renvoi has also
Massachusetts court has open to it been defined and the reasons for its
alternative course of action: (a) either to application in a country explained by Prof.
apply the French law is to intestate Lorenzen in an article in the Yale Law Journal,
succession, or (b) to resolve itself into a Vol. 27, 1917-1918, pp. 529-531. The pertinent
French court and apply the parts of the article are quoted herein below:
Massachusetts statute of distributions,
on the assumption that this is what a The recognition of the renvoi theory
French court would do. If it accepts the implies that the rules of the conflict of
so-called renvoidoctrine, it will follow the laws are to be understood as
latter course, thus applying its own law. incorporating not only the ordinary or
internal law of the foreign state or
This is one type of renvoi. A jural matter country, but its rules of the conflict of
is presented which the conflict-of-laws laws as well. According to this theory
rule of the forum refers to a foreign law, 'the law of a country' means the whole
the conflict-of-laws rule of which, in turn, of its law.
refers the matter back again to the law
of the forum. This is renvoi in the xxx xxx xxx
narrower sense. The German term for
23

this judicial process is Von Bar presented his views at the


meeting of the Institute of International
Page
Law, at Neuchatel, in 1900, in the form govern in most matters or rights which follow
of the following theses: the person of the owner.

(1) Every court shall observe the law of When a man dies leaving personal
its country as regards the application of property in one or more states, and
foreign laws. leaves a will directing the manner of
distribution of the property, the law of
(2) Provided that no express provision to the state where he was domiciled at the
the contrary exists, the court shall time of his death will be looked to in
respect: deciding legal questions about the will,
almost as completely as the law of situs
(a) The provisions of a foreign is consulted in questions about the
law which disclaims the right to devise of land. It is logical that, since the
bind its nationals abroad as domiciliary rules control devolution of
regards their personal statute, the personal estate in case of intestate
and desires that said personal succession, the same rules should
statute shall be determined by determine the validity of an attempted
the law of the domicile, or even testamentary dispostion of the property.
by the law of the place where the Here, also, it is not that the domiciliary
act in question occurred. has effect beyond the borders of the
domiciliary state. The rules of the
(b) The decision of two or more domicile are recognized as controlling
foreign systems of law, provided by the Conflict of Laws rules at the situs
it be certain that one of them is property, and the reason for the
necessarily competent, which recognition as in the case of intestate
agree in attributing the succession, is the general convenience
determination of a question to the of the doctrine. The New York court has
same system of law. said on the point: 'The general principle
that a dispostiton of a personal property,
xxx xxx xxx valid at the domicile of the owner, is
valid anywhere, is one of the universal
If, for example, the English law directs application. It had its origin in that
its judge to distribute the personal estate international comity which was one of
of an Englishman who has died the first fruits of civilization, and it this
domiciled in Belgium in accordance with age, when business intercourse and the
the law of his domicile, he must first process of accumulating property take
inquire whether the law of Belgium but little notice of boundary lines, the
would distribute personal property upon practical wisdom and justice of the rule
death in accordance with the law of is more apparent than ever. (Goodrich,
domicile, and if he finds that the Belgian Conflict of Laws, Sec. 164, pp. 442-
law would make the distribution in 443.)
accordance with the law of nationality —
that is the English law — he must Appellees argue that what Article 16 of the Civil
accept this reference back to his own Code of the Philippines pointed out as
law. the national law is the internal law of California.
But as above explained the laws of California
We note that Article 946 of the California Civil have prescribed two sets of laws for its
Code is its conflict of laws rule, while the rule citizens, one for residents therein and another
applied in In re Kaufman, Supra, its internal for those domiciled in other jurisdictions.
law. If the law on succession and the conflict of Reason demands that We should enforce the
laws rules of California are to be enforced California internal law prescribed for its citizens
jointly, each in its own intended and residing therein, and enforce the conflict of
appropriate sphere, the principle cited In re laws rules for the citizens domiciled abroad. If
Kaufman should apply to citizens living in the we must enforce the law of California as in
State, but Article 946 should apply to such of comity we are bound to go, as so declared in
its citizens as are not domiciled in California Article 16 of our Civil Code, then we must
but in other jurisdictions. The rule laid down of enforce the law of California in accordance with
resorting to the law of the domicile in the the express mandate thereof and as above
determination of matters with foreign element explained, i.e., apply the internal law for
24

involved is in accord with the general principle residents therein, and its conflict-of-laws rule
of American law that the domiciliary law should for those domiciled abroad.
Page
It is argued on appellees' behalf that the clause WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is
"if there is no law to the contrary in the place hereby reversed and the case returned to the
where the property is situated" in Sec. 946 of lower court with instructions that the partition
the California Civil Code refers to Article 16 of be made as the Philippine law on succession
the Civil Code of the Philippines and that the provides. Judgment reversed, with costs
law to the contrary in the Philippines is the against appellees.
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
25

internal law of California..


Page
G.R. No. L-54919 May 30, 1984 Philadelphia, U.S.A., that Clement L.
McLaughlin, the administrator who was
POLLY CAYETANO, petitioner, appointed after Dr. Barzaga had declined and
vs. waived his appointment as executor in favor of
HON. TOMAS T. LEONIDAS, in his capacity the former, is also a resident of Philadelphia,
as the Presiding Judge of Branch XXXVIII, U.S.A., and that therefore, there is an urgent
Court of First Instance of Manila and need for the appointment of an administratrix to
NENITA CAMPOS PAGUIA, respondents. administer and eventually distribute the
properties of the estate located in the
Ermelo P. Guzman for petitioner. Philippines.

Armando Z. Gonzales for private respondent. 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
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: question is a forgery; that the intrinsic
provisions of the will are null and void; and that
This is a petition for review on certiorari, even if pertinent American laws on intrinsic
seeking to annul the order of the respondent provisions are invoked, the same could not
judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, apply inasmuch as they would work injustice
Branch XXXVIII, which admitted to and allowed and injury to him.
the probate of the last will and testament of
Adoracion C. Campos, after an ex-parte On December 1, 1978, however, the petitioner
presentation of evidence by herein private through his counsel, Atty. Franco Loyola, filed
respondent. a Motion to Dismiss Opposition (With Waiver of
Rights or Interests) stating that he "has been
On January 31, 1977, Adoracion C. Campos able to verify the veracity thereof (of the will)
died, leaving her father, petitioner Hermogenes and now confirms the same to be truly the
Campos and her sisters, private respondent probated will of his daughter Adoracion."
Nenita C. Paguia, Remedios C. Lopez and Hence, an ex-partepresentation of evidence for
Marieta C. Medina as the surviving heirs. As the reprobate of the questioned will was made.
Hermogenes Campos was the only compulsory
heir, he executed an Affidavit of Adjudication On January 10, 1979, the respondent judge
under Rule 74, Section I of the Rules of Court issued an order, to wit:
whereby he adjudicated unto himself the
ownership of the entire estate of the deceased At the hearing, it has been
Adoracion Campos. satisfactorily established that
Adoracion C. Campos, in her
Eleven months after, on November 25, 1977, lifetime, was a citizen of the
Nenita C. Paguia filed a petition for the United States of America with a
reprobate of a will of the deceased, Adoracion permanent residence at 4633
Campos, which was allegedly executed in the Ditman Street, Philadelphia, PA
United States and for her appointment as 19124, (Exhibit D) that when
administratrix of the estate of the deceased alive, Adoracion C. Campos
testatrix. executed a Last Will and
Testament in the county of
In her petition, Nenita alleged that the testatrix Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
was an American citizen at the time of her U.S.A., according to the laws
death and was a permanent resident of 4633 thereat (Exhibits E-3 to E-3-b)
Ditman Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that while in temporary sojourn in
U.S.A.; that the testatrix died in Manila on the Philippines, Adoracion C.
January 31, 1977 while temporarily residing Campos died in the City of Manila
with her sister at 2167 Leveriza, Malate, (Exhibit C) leaving property both
Manila; that during her lifetime, the testatrix in the Philippines and in the
made her last wig and testament on July 10, United States of America; that the
1975, according to the laws of Pennsylvania, Last Will and Testament of the
U.S.A., nominating Wilfredo Barzaga of New late Adoracion C. Campos was
Jersey as executor; that after the testatrix admitted and granted probate by
death, her last will and testament was the Orphan's Court Division of the
26

presented, probated, allowed, and registered Court of Common Pleas, the


with the Registry of Wins at the County of probate court of the
Page
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Please include this motion in your
County of Philadelphia, U.S.A., calendar for hearing on May 29,
and letters of administration were 1980 at 8:30 in the morning for
issued in favor of Clement J. submission for reconsideration
McLaughlin all in accordance with and resolution of the Honorable
the laws of the said foreign Court. Until this Motion is
country on procedure and resolved, may I also request for
allowance of wills (Exhibits E to the future setting of the case for
E-10); and that the petitioner is hearing on the Oppositor's motion
not suffering from any to set aside previously filed.
disqualification which would
render her unfit as administratrix The hearing of May 29, 1980 was re-set by the
of the estate in the Philippines of court for June 19, 1980. When the case was
the late Adoracion C. Campos. called for hearing on this date, the counsel for
petitioner tried to argue his motion to vacate
WHEREFORE, the Last Will and instead of adducing evidence in support of the
Testament of the late Adoracion petition for relief. Thus, the respondent judge
C. Campos is hereby admitted to issued an order dismissing the petition for relief
and allowed probate in the for failure to present evidence in support
Philippines, and Nenita Campos thereof. Petitioner filed a motion for
Paguia is hereby appointed reconsideration but the same was denied. In
Administratrix of the estate of the same order, respondent judge also denied
said decedent; let Letters of the motion to vacate for lack of merit. Hence,
Administration with the Will this petition.
annexed issue in favor of said
Administratrix upon her filing of a Meanwhile, on June 6,1982, petitioner
bond in the amount of P5,000.00 Hermogenes Campos died and left a will,
conditioned under the provisions which, incidentally has been questioned by the
of Section I, Rule 81 of the Rules respondent, his children and forced heirs as,
of Court. on its face, patently null and void, and a
fabrication, appointing Polly Cayetano as the
Another manifestation was filed by the executrix of his last will and testament.
petitioner on April 14, 1979, confirming the Cayetano, therefore, filed a motion to
withdrawal of his opposition, acknowledging substitute herself as petitioner in the instant
the same to be his voluntary act and deed. case which was granted by the court on
September 13, 1982.
On May 25, 1979, Hermogenes Campos filed a
petition for relief, praying that the order A motion to dismiss the petition on the ground
allowing the will be set aside on the ground that the rights of the petitioner Hermogenes
that the withdrawal of his opposition to the Campos merged upon his death with the rights
same was secured through fraudulent means. of the respondent and her sisters, only
According to him, the "Motion to Dismiss remaining children and forced heirs was denied
Opposition" was inserted among the papers on September 12, 1983.
which he signed in connection with two Deeds
of Conditional Sales which he executed with Petitioner Cayetano persists with the
the Construction and Development Corporation allegations that the respondent judge acted
of the Philippines (CDCP). He also alleged that without or in excess of his jurisdiction when:
the lawyer who filed the withdrawal of the
opposition was not his counsel-of-record in the 1) He ruled the petitioner lost his
special proceedings case. standing in court deprived the
Right to Notice (sic) upon the
The petition for relief was set for hearing but filing of the Motion to Dismiss
the petitioner failed to appear. He made opposition with waiver of rights or
several motions for postponement until the interests against the estate of
hearing was set on May 29, 1980. deceased Adoracion C. Campos,
thus, paving the way for the
On May 18, 1980, petitioner filed another hearing ex-parte of the petition
motion entitled "Motion to Vacate and/or Set for the probate of decedent will.
Aside the Order of January 10, 1979, and/or
27

dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. In this 2) He ruled that petitioner can
motion, the notice of hearing provided: waive, renounce or repudiate (not
Page
made in a public or authenticated act and deed. Moreover, at the time the motion
instrument), or by way of a was filed, the petitioner's former counsel, Atty.
petition presented to the court but Jose P. Lagrosa had long withdrawn from the
by way of a motion presented case and had been substituted by Atty. Franco
prior to an order for the Loyola who in turn filed the motion. The
distribution of the estate-the law present petitioner cannot, therefore, maintain
especially providing that that the old man's attorney of record was Atty.
repudiation of an inheritance Lagrosa at the time of filing the motion. Since
must be presented, within 30 the withdrawal was in order, the respondent
days after it has issued an order judge acted correctly in hearing the probate of
for the distribution of the estate in the will ex-parte, there being no other
accordance with the rules of opposition to the same.
Court.
The third issue raised deals with the validity of
3) He ruled that the right of a the provisions of the will. As a general rule, the
forced heir to his legitime can be probate court's authority is limited only to the
divested by a decree admitting a extrinsic validity of the will, the due execution
will to probate in which no thereof, the testatrix's testamentary capacity
provision is made for the forced and the compliance with the requisites or
heir in complete disregard of Law solemnities prescribed by law. The intrinsic
of Succession validity of the will normally comes only after the
court has declared that the will has been duly
4) He denied petitioner's petition authenticated. However, where practical
for Relief on the ground that no considerations demand that the intrinsic validity
evidence was adduced to support of the will be passed upon, even before it is
the Petition for Relief when no probated, the court should meet the issue.
Notice nor hearing was set to (Maninang vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA
afford petitioner to prove the 478).
merit of his petition — a denial of
the due process and a grave In the case at bar, the petitioner maintains that
abuse of discretion amounting to since the respondent judge allowed the
lack of jurisdiction. reprobate of Adoracion's will, Hermogenes C.
Campos was divested of his legitime which
5) He acquired no jurisdiction was reserved by the law for him.
over the testate case, the fact
that the Testator at the time of This contention is without merit.
death was a usual resident of
Dasmariñas, Cavite, Although on its face, the will appeared to have
consequently Cavite Court of preterited the petitioner and thus, the
First Instance has exclusive respondent judge should have denied its
jurisdiction over the case (De reprobate outright, the private respondents
Borja vs. Tan, G.R. No. L-7792, have sufficiently established that Adoracion
July 1955). was, at the time of her death, an American
citizen and a permanent resident of
The first two issues raised by the petitioner are Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Therefore,
anchored on the allegation that the respondent under Article 16 par. (2) and 1039 of the Civil
judge acted with grave abuse of discretion Code which respectively provide:
when he allowed the withdrawal of the
petitioner's opposition to the reprobate of the Art. 16 par. (2).
will.
xxx xxx xxx
We find no grave abuse of discretion on the
part of the respondent judge. No proof was However, intestate and
adduced to support petitioner's contention that testamentary successions, both
the motion to withdraw was secured through with respect to the order of
fraudulent means and that Atty. Franco Loyola succession and to the amount of
was not his counsel of record. The records successional rights and to the
show that after the firing of the contested intrinsic validity of testamentary
motion, the petitioner at a later date, filed a provisions, shall be regulated by
28

manifestation wherein he confirmed that the the national law of the person
Motion to Dismiss Opposition was his voluntary whose succession is under
Page
consideration, whatever may be wig bear the fact that what was repeatedly
the nature of the property and scheduled for hearing on separate dates until
regardless of the country wherein June 19, 1980 was the petitioner's petition for
said property may be found. relief and not his motion to vacate the order of
January 10, 1979. There is no reason why the
Art. 1039. petitioner should have been led to believe
otherwise. The court even admonished the
Capacity to succeed is governed petitioner's failing to adduce evidence when his
by the law of the nation of the petition for relief was repeatedly set for
decedent. hearing. There was no denial of due process.
The fact that he requested "for the future
the law which governs Adoracion Campo's will setting of the case for hearing . . ." did not
is the law of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., which is the mean that at the next hearing, the motion to
national law of the decedent. Although the vacate would be heard and given preference in
parties admit that the Pennsylvania law does lieu of the petition for relief. Furthermore, such
not provide for legitimes and that all the estate request should be embodied in a motion and
may be given away by the testatrix to a not in a mere notice of hearing.
complete stranger, the petitioner argues that
such law should not apply because it would be Finally, we find the contention of the petition as
contrary to the sound and established public to the issue of jurisdiction utterly devoid of
policy and would run counter to the specific merit. Under Rule 73, Section 1, of the Rules of
provisions of Philippine Law. Court, it is provided that:

It is a settled rule that as regards the intrinsic SECTION 1. Where estate of


validity of the provisions of the will, as provided deceased persons settled. — If
for by Article 16(2) and 1039 of the Civil Code, the decedent is an inhabitant of
the national law of the decedent must apply. the Philippines at the time of his
This was squarely applied in the case ofBellis death, whether a citizen or an
v. Bellis (20 SCRA 358) wherein we ruled: alien, his will shall be proved, or
letters of administration granted,
It is therefore evident that and his estate settled, in the
whatever public policy or good Court of First Instance in the
customs may be involved in our province in which he resided at
system of legitimes, Congress the time of his death, and if he is
has not intended to extend the an inhabitant of a foreign country,
same to the succession of foreign the Court of First Instance of any
nationals. For it has specifically province in which he had estate.
chosen to leave, inter alia, the The court first taking cognizance
amount of successional rights, to of the settlement of the estate of
the decedent's national law. a decedent, shall exercise
Specific provisions must prevail jurisdiction to the exclusion of all
over general ones. other courts. The jurisdiction
assumed by a court, so far as it
xxx xxx xxx depends on the place of
residence of the decedent, or of
The parties admit that the the location of his estate, shall
decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a not be contested in a suit or
citizen of the State of Texas, proceeding, except in an appeal
U.S.A., and under the law of from that court, in the original
Texas, there are no forced heirs case, or when the want of
or legitimes. Accordingly, since jurisdiction appears on the
the intrinsic validity of the record.
provision of the will and the
amount of successional rights are Therefore, the settlement of the estate of
to be determined under Texas Adoracion Campos was correctly filed with the
law, the Philippine Law on Court of First Instance of Manila where she
legitimes cannot be applied to the had an estate since it was alleged and proven
testacy of Amos G. Bellis. that Adoracion at the time of her death was a
citizen and permanent resident of
29

As regards the alleged absence of notice of Pennsylvania, United States of America and
hearing for the petition for relief, the records not a "usual resident of Cavite" as alleged by
Page
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 and


prohibition is hereby dismissed for lack of
merit.

SO ORDERED.

30
Page
PCIB vs. ESCOLIN sisters, share and share alike. Should any of
the brothers and sisters die before the
Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank, husband, Linnie willed that the heirs of the said
Administrator of the Testate Estate of Charles sibling be substituted in the deceased’s
Newton Hodges, vs. Hon. Venicio Escolin (CFI- sibling’s place.
Iloilo) and Avelina A. Magno; Testate Estate of
the late Linnie Jane Hodges. Testate Estate of When Linnie died, Charles took the will to
the late Charles Newton Hodges. PCIB, probate court, and was appointed Executor,
administrator-appellant, vs. Lorenzo Carles, then later, Special Administrator. He moved to
Jose Pablico, Alfredo Catedral, Salvador be allowed to continue administering the family
Guzman, Belcesar Causing, Florenia Barrido, business, as per Linnie Jane’s wishes, and to
Purificacion Coronado, Graciano Lucero, Ariteo engage in sales, conveyances, leases,
Thomas Jamir, Melquiades Batisanan, Pepito mortgages and other necessary transactions.
Iyulores, Esperidion Partisala, Winifredo He also filed the necessary and appurtenant
Espada, Rosario Alingasa, Adelfa Premaylon, administration/accounting records, and income
Santiago Pacaonsis, and Avelina A. Magno, tax returns for the estate. Charles named
appellees, Western Institute of Technology, seven brothers and sisters of Linnie Jane as
Inc., movant-appellee her heirs (Esta, Emma, Leonard, Aline, David,
March 29, 1974; Barredo, J. Sadie, Era and Nimroy), but the order admitting
*This case has the length of a PIL case. Court the will to probate unfortunately omitted one of
admitted several times that it was clueless as the heirs, Roy (Nimroy?) Higdon, so Charles
to some facts so it copied into the decision filed a verified motion to have Roy’s name
entire pleadings. (!!!) Plus, PCIB raised 78 included.
assignment of errors! We’ll probably read the
case again in Spec Pro.
As an executor, he was bound to file tax
Short version: The Hodges lived in the returns for the estate he was administering
Philippines for almost half a century and died under American law. He did file such as estate
leaving substantial properties in Iloilo and in tax return on August 8, 1958. In Schedule "M"
the US. The missus died 5 years before the of such return, he answered "Yes" to the
husband, providing in her will that while her question as to whether he was contemplating
estate would go to him, upon his death, the "renouncing the will". On the question as to
remainder should pass to her siblings. (They what property interests passed to him as the
were childless.) The court held that this surviving spouse, he answered:
testamentary provision, while probably
ineffectual as a substitution under the Civil “None, except for purposes of
Code, is not actually a substitution, but is a administering the Estate, paying debts,
valid and simultaneous institution of heirs, taxes and other legal charges. It is the
though the passing of title to the inheritance to intention of the surviving husband of
the others (the siblings) was made to depend deceased to distribute the remaining
on a resolutory condition (the husband’s property and interests of the deceased
death). Case was remanded to the trial court in their Community estate to the
for the determination of the proper application devisees and legatees named in the will
of the renvoi principle (conflict of laws between when the debts, liabilities, taxes and
Philippines and Texas law), and the proper expenses of administration are finally
distribution of Linnie’s, Charles’, and their determined and paid.”
conjugal estates.

Facts:
Charles Newton Hodges and Linnie Jane Charles died in Iloilo in December 1962 without
Hodges were originally from Texas, USA. having liquidated Linnie’s estate, which
During their marriage, they had acquired and includes her share in the conjugal partnership.
accumulated considerable assets and A longtime employee of the Hodges, Avelina
properties in the Philippines and in Oklahoma Magno, was appointed Administratrix (for
and Texas in the US. They both lived, worked Linnie’s estate) and a Special Administratrix
and were domiciled in Iloilo City for around 50 (for Charles’). Magno was appointed, but later
years. Before her death, Linnie Jane executed Harold Davies (representative of Charles’ heirs
a will leaving her estate, less her debts and in the US) was designated Co-Special
funeral expenses, to her husband Charles. Administrator, who was then replaced by one
31

Should Charles die, the will provided that the Joe Hodges, Charles’ nephew. One Atty.
remainder of her estate go to her brothers and Mirasol was also appointed as co-
Page
administrator, and an order of probate and case (1963), Philippine law should
letters of administration were issued to Hodges apply.
and Mirasol.  Under Philippine and Texas law, the
conjugal or community estate of
spouses shall, upon dissolution, be
divided equally between them. Thus,
At this point, the SC was already very much upon Linnie’s death, ½ of the entirety of
confused about the gaps in the facts, the assets of the Hodges spouses
convinced that the parties representing both constituting their conjugal estate
estates had cooked up a modus operandi to pertained automatically to Charles, not
settle money matters (a settlement with by way of inheritance, but in his own
records the Court never saw)—which, right as partner in the conjugal
however, went awry, with more and more heirs partnership.
from the US flocking to the Iloilo shores, and  The other one-half (1/2) portion forming
lawyers (Ozaetas! Mabantas! Manglapuses!) part of Linnie’s estate, cannot, under a
filing their respective claims for retainer fees. clear and specific provision of her Will,
Much much later, PCIB became the be enhanced or increased by income,
administrator of Charles’ estate, asserting a earnings, rents, or emoluments accruing
claim to all of his estate, including those after her death. “All rents, emoluments
properties/assets that passed to him upon and income from said estate shall
Linnie Jane’s death. Avelina naturally opposed belong to him (C. N. Hodges) and he is
this, as Linnie Jane’s other heirs (the further authorized to use any part of the
HIGDONS) would be prejudiced, so she principal of said estate as he may need
continued acting in her capacity as or desire."
administrator (entering into sales and other  Articles 900, 995 and 1001 provide that
such conveyances). For these acts, the PCIB the surviving spouse of a deceased
dismissed her as an employee of Charles’ leaving no ascendants or descendants
estate, to which she responded by locking up is entitled, as a matter of right and by
the premises being used by PCIB as offices, way of irrevocable legitime, to at least
which were among the estate’s properties. one-half (1/2) of the estate of the
deceased, and no testamentary
disposition by the deceased can legally
and validly affect this right of the
PCIB’s Claims surviving spouse. In fact, her husband is
entitled to said one-half (1/2) portion of
Linnie Jane’s will should be governed by her estate by way of legitime. (Article
Philippine Law, with respect to the order of 886)
succession, the amount of successional rights,  Clearly, therefore, immediately upon the
and the intrinsic validity of its testamentary death of Linnie Jane Hodges, C. N.
provisions. Hodges was the owner of at least 3/4 or
75% percent of all of the conjugal assets
 Linnie intended Philippine laws to of the spouses, 50% by way of conjugal
govern her Will. partnership share and 1/4 or 25% by
 Article 16, CC, provides that "the way of inheritance and legitime) plus all
national law of the person whose "rents, emoluments and income"
succession is under consideration, accruing to said conjugal estate from the
whatever may be the nature of the moment of Linnie Jane Hodges' death.
property and regardless of the country  In his capacity as sole heir and
wherein said property may be found", successor to Linnie’s estate, Charles
shall prevail. However, the Conflict of appropriated to himself the entirety of
Law of Texas, which is the "national law" her estate. He operated all the assets,
of the testatrix, Linnie Jane Hodges, engaged in business and performed all
provide that the domiciliary law acts in connection with the entirety of
(Philippine law) should govern the the conjugal estate, in his own name
testamentary dispositions and alone, just as he had been operating,
successional rights over movables, and engaging and doing while the late Linnie
the law of the situs of the property (also Jane Hodges was still alive. Upon his
Philippine law as to properties located in death on December 25, 1962, therefore,
the Philippines) as regards immovables. all said conjugal assets were in his sole
32

 Thus applying the "Renvoi Doctrine", as possession and control, and registered
Page

approved and applied in the Christensen


in his name alone, not as executor, but
as exclusive owner of all said assets. Avelina’s Claims
 As the sole and exclusive heir, Charles (At one point, even Linnie’s heirs wanted to
did not need to liquidate the estate. have Avelina removed from her capacity as
Neither was there any asset left to administrator, but the lower court reversed its
Linnie’s estate at the time of Charles’ earlier grant of the motion, on account of a
death, though Linnie’s estate may have previous injunction it issued.)
referred to “all of the rest, residue and  Linnie Jane merely gave Charles a life-
remainder of my estate” which would go estate or a usufruct over all her estate,
to her siblings in the event of Charles and gave a vested remainder-estate or
death. The provision is thus void and the naked title over the same estate, to
invalid at least as to Philippine assets. her relatives.
 After Linnie’s death, Charles, as
 There are generally only two kinds of administrator and executor of the will,
substitution provided for and authorized unequivocably and clearly through oral
by our Civil Code (Articles 857-870), and written declarations and sworn
namely, (1) simple or public statements, renounced,
common substitution, sometimes disclaimed and repudiated his life-estate
referred to as vulgar substitution (Article and usufruct.
859), and (2) fideicommissary  Since there was no separation or
substitution (Article 863). All other segregation of the interests of Linnie
substitutions are merely variations of and Charles in the combined conjugal
these. The substitution provided for by estate, as there has been no such
paragraph four of the Will of Linnie Jane separation or segregation, and because
Hodges is not fideicommissary of Charles’ repudiation, both interests
substitution, because there is clearly no have continually earned exactly the
obligation on the part of C. N. Hodges same amount of rents, emoluments and
as the first heir designated, to preserve income.
the properties for the substitute heirs. At
most, it is Issue:
a vulgar or simple substitution. 1. Is Linnie’s disposition in favor of her siblings
However, in order that void? – NO
a vulgar orsimple substitution can be 2. How should the estate be
valid, three alternative conditions must partitioned/liquidated? – REMAND!
be present, namely, that the first
designated heir (1) should die before the Reasoning:
testator; or (2) should not wish to accept
the inheritance; or (3) should be 1. To a certain extent, PCIB’s contention that
incapacitated to do so. None of these Linnie’s testamentary substitution, when
conditions apply to C. N. Hodges, and, viewed as a substitution, may not be given
therefore, the substitution provided for effect, is correct. Indeed, legally speaking,
by the above-quoted provision of the Linnie’s will provides neither for a simple or
Will is not authorized by the Code, and, vulgar substitution under Article 859 of the Civil
therefore, it is void. Manresa even said, Code nor for a fideicommissary substitution
“when another heir is designated to under Article 863 thereof. There is no vulgar
inherit upon the death of a first heir, the substitution because there is no provision for
second designation can have effect only either (1) predecease of the testator by the
in case the first instituted heir dies designated heir or (2) refusal or (3) incapacity
before the testator, whether or not that of the latter to accept the inheritance, as
was the true intention of said testator.” required by Article 859; and neither is there a
 The remedy of the Higdons, then, who fideicommissary substitution therein because
are claiming dubious rights to ¼ of the no obligation is imposed thereby upon Hodges
conjugal estate of the Hodges, is to file to preserve the estate or any part thereof for
a claim against the estate of Charles. anyone else. But from these premises, it is not
 It also follows that the conveyances correct to jump to the conclusion, as PCIB
executed by Avelina, claiming to be does, that the testamentary dispositions in
merely in continuation of the Hodges’ question are therefore inoperative and invalid.
businesses, and which corresponding
deeds of sale were confirmed by the
33

probate court, are null and void and


should be subject to reconveyance.
Page
The error in PCIB's position lies simply in the While he may have used language like “herein
fact that it views the said disposition executor (being) the only devisee or legatee of
exclusively in the light of substitutions covered the deceased, in accordance with the last will
by the Civil Code section on that subject, and testament already probated… there is no
(Section 3, Chapter 2, Title IV, Book III) when it other person interested in the Philippines of the
is obvious that substitution occurs only when time and place of examining herein account to
another heir is appointed in a will "so that he be given notice,” he would’ve known that doing
may enter into inheritance in default of the heir so would impute bad faith unto him. Also, in his
originally instituted," (Article 857) and, in the very motions, Hodges asserted the rights of
present case, no such possible default is Linnie’s named heirs. He even moved to
contemplated. The brothers and sisters of Mrs. include Roy’s name included in the probate
Hodges are not substitutes for Hodges court’s order, lest Roy’s heirs think that they
because, under her will, they are not to inherit had been omitted.
what Hodges cannot, would not or may not
inherit, but what he would not dispose of from Thus, he recognized, in his own way, the
his inheritance; rather, therefore, they are also separate identity of his wife’s estate from his
heirs instituted simultaneously with Hodges, own share of the conjugal partnership up to the
subject, however, to certain conditions, partially time of his death, more than 5 years after that
resolutory insofar as Hodges was concerned of his wife. He never considered the whole
and correspondingly suspensive with reference estate as a single one belonging exclusively to
to his brothers and sisters-in-law. It is partially himself. The only conclusion one can gather
resolutory, since it bequeaths unto Hodges the from this is that he could have been preparing
whole of her estate to be owned and enjoyed the basis for the eventual transmission of his
by him as universal and sole heir with absolute wife's estate, or, at least, so much thereof as
dominion over them only during his lifetime, he would not have been able to dispose of
which means that while he could completely during his lifetime, to her brothers and sisters
and absolutely dispose of any portion in accordance with her expressed desire, as
thereof inter vivos to anyone other than intimated in his tax return in the US. And
himself, he was not free to do so mortis causa, assuming that he did pay the corresponding
and all his rights to what might remain upon his estate and inheritance taxes in the Philippines
death would cease entirely upon the on the basis of his being sole heir, such
occurrence of that contingency, inasmuch as payment is not necessarily inconsistent with his
the right of his brothers and sisters-in-law to recognition of the rights of his co-heirs. The
the inheritance, although vested already upon Court thus viewed that under the peculiar
the death of Mrs. Hodges, would automatically provisions of his wife's will, and for purposes of
become operative upon the occurrence of the the applicable inheritance tax laws, Hodges
death of Hodges in the event of actual had to be considered as her sole heir, pending
existence of any remainder of her estate then. the actual transmission of the remaining
portion of her estate to her other heirs, upon
the eventuality of his death, and whatever
adjustment might be warranted should there be
Contrary to Avelina’s view, however, it was not any such remainder then is a matter that could
the usufruct alone of Linnie’s estate, as well be taken care of by the internal revenue
contemplated in Article 869, that she authorities in due time. The Court also
bequeathed to Charles during his lifetime, but considered as basis of Charles’ intentions
the full ownership thereof, although the same several questionnaires in solemn forms in filing
was to last also during his lifetime only, even estate taxes abroad, though they have not
as there was no restriction whatsoever against been introduced in evidence (!!!), only referred
his disposing or conveying the whole or any to several times by the parties.
portion thereof to anybody other than himself.
The Court saw no legal impediment to this kind It is obvious, though, that Charles’
of institution, except that it cannot apply to the procrastinating in settling Linnie’s estate, and
legitime of Charles as the surviving spouse, his sole administration of it, commingled his
consisting of one-half of the estate, considering and his co-heirs interests, making it difficult to
that Linnie had no surviving ascendants nor properly make an accounting of their shares.
descendants. (Arts. 872, 900, and 904.) PCIB, then, cannot administer the properties
on its own. What would be just and proper is
for both administrators of the two estates to act
Hodges’ acts of administration and accounting conjointly until after said estates have been
34

strongly negate PCIB’s claims that he had segregated from each other.
adjudicated to himself all of Linnie’s estate.
Page
2. The parties were in disagreement as to how application of the laws of Texas would result in
Article 16 of the Civil Code should be applied. the other heirs of Mrs. Hodges not inheriting
On the one hand, PCIB claimed that inasmuch anything under her will. And since PCIB's
as Linnie was a resident of the Philippines at representations in regard to the laws of Texas
the time of her death, under said Article 16, virtually constitute admissions of fact which the
construed in relation to the pertinent laws of other parties and the Court are being made to
Texas and the principle of renvoi, what should rely and act upon, PCIB is not permitted to
be applied here should be the rules of contradict them or subsequently take a position
succession under the Civil Code, and, contradictory to or inconsistent with them.
therefore, her estate could consist of no more
than one-fourth of the said conjugal properties, The only question that remains to be settled in
the other fourth being, as already explained, the remand to the court below are:
the legitime of her husband (Art. 900) which (1) whether or not the applicable laws of Texas
she could not have disposed of nor burdened do provide in effect for more, such as, when
with any condition (Art. 872). On the other there is no legitime provided therein
hand, Avelina denied that Linnie died a (2) whether or not Hodges has validly waived
resident of the Philippines, since allegedly she his whole inheritance from Mrs. Hodges.
never changed nor intended to change her
original residence of birth in Texas, United In the course of the deliberations, it was
States of America, and contends that, anyway, brought out by some members of the Court
regardless of the question of her residence, that to avoid or, at least, minimize further
she being indisputably a citizen of Texas, protracted legal controversies between the
under said Article 16 of the Civil Code, the respective heirs of the Hodges spouses, it is
distribution of her estate is subject to the laws imperative to elucidate on the possible
of said State which, according to her, do not consequences of dispositions made by Charles
provide for any legitime, hence, Linnie’s after Linnie’s death, from the mass of the
brothers and sisters are entitled to the unpartitioned estates without any express
remainder of the whole of her share of the indication in the pertinent documents as to
conjugal partnership properties consisting of whether his intention is to dispose of part of his
one-half thereof. Avelina further maintained inheritance from his wife or part of his own
that, in any event, Charles had renounced his share of the conjugal estate as well as of those
rights under the will in favor of his co-heirs, as made by PCIB after the death of Hodges. After
allegedly proven by the documents touching on a long discussion, the consensus arrived at
the point already mentioned earlier, the was as follows:
genuineness and legal significance of which
PCIB questioned. (1) any such dispositions made gratuitously in
favor of third parties, whether these be
individuals, corporations or foundations, shall
be considered as intended to be of properties
The Court cannot decide on the claims, constituting part of Hodges' inheritance from
though, for neither the evidence submitted by his wife, it appearing from the tenor of his
the parties appeared to be adequate enough motions of May 27 and December 11, 1957
for it to render an intelligent comprehensive that in asking for general authority to make
and just resolution. No clear and reliable proof sales or other disposals of properties under the
of what in fact the possibly applicable laws of jurisdiction of the court, which include his own
Texas are, was presented (Remember judicial share of the conjugal estate, he was not
notice in case of foreign laws?). Then also, the invoking particularly his right over his own
genuineness of documents relied upon by share, but rather his right to dispose of any part
Avelina is disputed. In Justice, therefore, to all of his inheritance pursuant to the will of his
the parties concerned, these and all other wife;
relevant matters should first be threshed out
fully in the trial court in the proceedings (2) as regards sales, exchanges or
thereafter to be held for the purpose of other remunerative transfers, the proceeds of
ascertaining and adjudicating and/or such sales or the properties taken in by virtue
distributing the estate of Mrs. Hodges to her of such exchanges, shall be considered as
heirs in accordance with her duly probated will. merely the products of "physical changes" of
the properties of her estate which the will
expressly authorizes Hodges to make,
Linnie’s estate is the remainder of 1/4 of the provided that whatever of said products should
35

conjugal partnership properties, considering remain with the estate at the time of the death
that even PCIB did not maintain that the
Page
of Hodges should go to her brothers and of her brothers and sisters as her designated
sisters; heirs to succeed to her whole estate "at the
(3) the dispositions made by PCIB after the death of (her) husband."
death of Hodges must naturally be deemed as
covering only the properties belonging to his If according to the main opinion, Hodges
estate considering that being only the could not make such gratuitous "complete and
administrator of the estate of Hodges, PCIB absolute dispositions" of his wife Linnie's
could not have disposed of properties estate "mortis causa," it would seem that by the
belonging to the estate of his wife. Neither same token and rationale he was likewise
could such dispositions be considered as proscribed by the will from making such
involving conjugal properties, for the simple dispositions of Linnie's estate inter vivos.
reason that the conjugal partnership
automatically ceased when Linnie died, and by I believe that the two questions
the peculiar provision of her will, under of renvoi and renunciation should be
discussion, the remainder of her share resolved preferentially and expeditiously by the
descended also automatically upon the death probate court ahead of the partition and
of Hodges to her brothers and sisters, thus segregation of the minimum one-fourth of the
outside of the scope of PCIB's administration. conjugal or community properties constituting
Accordingly, these constructions of Linnie’s will Linnie Jane Hodges' separate estate, which
should be adhered to by the trial court in its task considering that it is now seventeen (17)
final order of adjudication and distribution years since Linnie Jane Hodges' death and her
and/or partition of the two estates in question. conjugal estate with C. N. Hodges has
remained unliquidated up to now might take a
Disposition similar number of years to unravel with the
Remand for determination of proper application numerous items, transactions and details of the
of Art. 16, CC (renvoi), and of Charles’ alleged sizable estates involved.
renunciation of his ineritance under Linnie’s
will. Avelina remains to be the administrator of Such partition of the minimum one-fourth
Linnie’s estate. The said estate consists of ¼ would not be final, since if the two prejudicial
of the community properties of the said questions of renvoi and renunciation were
spouses, as of the time of Linnie’s death on resolved favorably to Linnie's estate meaning
May 23, 1957, minus whatever the husband to say that if it should be held that C. N.
had already gratuitously disposed of in favor of Hodges is not entitled to any legitime of her
third persons from said date until his death, estate and at any rate he had totally renounced
provided, first, that with respect to his inheritance under the will), then Linnie's
remunerative dispositions, the proceeds estate would consist not only of the minimum
thereof shall continue to be part of the wife's one-fourth but one-half of the conjugal or
estate, unless subsequently disposed of community properties of the Hodges spouses,
gratuitously to third parties by the husband, which would require again the partition and
and second, that should the purported segregation of still another one-fourth of said
renunciation be declared legally effective, no properties to complete Linnie's separate estate.
deductions whatsoever are to be made from
said estate. PCIB and Avelina should act Justice Teehankee also drew up suggested
thenceforth always conjointly, never guidelines for application in the probate court.
independently from each other, as Please see original case.
administrators.

CONCURRING OPINIONS Makalintal, CJ. –


Regardless of whether or not C. N. Hodges
Fernando—concurred with procedural aspect was entitled to a legitime in his deceased wife's
of the decision. estate — which question, still to be decided by
the said probate court, may depend upon what
Teehankee—agreed with most parts but had is the law of Texas and upon its applicability in
substantial differences in the reasoning: the present case — the said estate consists of
C. N. Hodges could not validly one-half, not one-fourth, of the conjugal
make gratuitous dispositions of any part or all properties. There is neither a minimum of one-
of his wife's estate — "completely and fourth nor a maximum beyond that. It is
absolutely dispose of any portion thereof inter important to bear this in mind because the
vivos to anyone other than himself" in the estate of Linnie Hodges consists of her share
36

language of the main opinion — and thereby in the conjugal properties, is still under
render ineffectual and nugatory her institution
Page
administration and until now has not been
distributed by order of the court.

The reference in both the main and separate


opinions to a one-fourth portion of the conjugal
properties as Linnie Hodges’ minimum share is
a misnomer and is evidently meant only to
indicate that if her husband should eventually
be declared entitled to a legitime, then the
disposition made by Linnie Hodges in favor of
her collateral relatives would be valid only as to
one-half of her share, or one-fourth of the
conjugal properties, since the remainder, which
constitutes such legitime, would necessarily go
to her husband in absolute ownership,
unburdened by any substitution, term or
condition, resolutory or otherwise. And until the
estate is finally settled and adjudicated to the
heirs who may be found entitled to it, the
administration must continue to cover Linnie's
entire conjugal share.

37
Page
[G.R. No. 119064. August 22, 2000] Hadji Abdula then migrated to Tambunan
where, in 1972, he married petitioner Neng
Kagui Kadiguia Malang, his fourth wife,
excluding the wives he had divorced. They
NENG KAGUI KADIGUIA MALANG, established residence in Cotabato City but they
petitioner, vs. HON. COROCOY were childless. For a living, they relied on
MOSON, Presiding Judge of 5th farming and on the business of buying and
Sharia District Court, Cotabato City, selling of agricultural products. Hadji Abdula
HADJI MOHAMMAD ULYSSIS acquired vast tracts of land in Sousa and
MALANG, HADJI ISMAEL Talumanis, Cotabato City, some of which were
MALINDATU MALANG, FATIMA cultivated by tenants. He deposited money in
MALANG, DATULNA MALANG, such banks as United Coconut Planters Bank,
LAWANBAI MALANG, JUBAIDA Metrobank and Philippine Commercial and
KADO MALANG, NAYO OMAL Industrial Bank.
MALANG and MABAY GANAP
MALANG, respondents. On December 18, 1993, while he was
living with petitioner in Cotabato City, Hadji
DECISION Abdula died without leaving a will. On January
21, 1994, petitioner filed with the Sharia District
GONZAGA-REYES, J.: Court in Cotabato City a petition for the
settlement of his estate with a prayer that
Presented for resolution in this special civil letters of administration be issued in the name
action of certiorari is the issue of whether or of her niece, Tarhata Lauban.
not the regime of conjugal partnership of gains
governed the property relationship of two Petitioner claimed in that petition that she
Muslims who contracted marriage prior to the was the wife of Hadji Abdula; that his other
effectivity of the Code of Muslim Personal legal heirs are his three children named Teng
Laws of the Philippines (hereafter, P.D. 1083 Abdula, Keto Abdula and Kueng Malang, and
or Muslim Code). The question is raised in that he left seven (7) parcels of land, five (5) of
connection with the settlement of the estate of which are titled in Hadji Abdulas name married
the deceased husband. to Neng P. Malang, and a pick-up jeepney.
Hadji Abdula Malang, a Muslim, contracted On February 7, 1994, the Sharia District
marriage with Aida (Kenanday) Limba. They Court ordered the publication of the
begot three sons named Hadji Mohammad petition.[1] After such publication[2] or on March
Ulyssis, Hadji Ismael Malindatu and Datulna, 16, 1994, Hadji Mohammad Ulyssis Malang
and a daughter named Lawanbai. Hadji Abdula (Hadji Mohammad, for brevity), the eldest son
Malang was engaged in farming, tilling the land of Hadji Abdula, filed his opposition to the
that was Aidas dowry (mahr or petition. He alleged among other matters that
majar). Thereafter, he bought a parcel of land his fathers surviving heirs are as follows: (a)
in Sousa, Cotabato.Hadji Abdula and Aida Jubaida Malang, surviving spouse; (b) Nayo
already had two children when he married for Malang, surviving spouse; (c) Mabay Malang,
the second time another Muslim named surviving spouse; (d) petitioner Neng Malang,
Jubaida Kado in Kalumamis, Talayan, surviving spouse; (e) oppositor Hadji
Maguindanao. No child was born out of Hadji Mohammad Ulyssis Malang who is also known
Abdulas second marriage. When Aida, the first as Teng Abdula, son; (f) Hadji Ismael
wife, was pregnant with their fourth child, Hadji Malindatu Malang, also known as Keto Abdula,
Abdula divorced her. son, (g) Fatima Malang, also known as Kueng
Malang, daughter; (h) Datulna Malang, son,
In 1965, Hadji Abdula married another and (i) Lawanbai Malang, daughter. Oppositor
Muslim, Nayo H. Omar but they were Hadji Mohammad Ulyssis Malang alleged that
childless. Thereafter, Hadji Abdula contracted since he and his brother, Hadji Ismael
marriage with Hadji Mabai (Mabay) H. Adziz in Malindatu Malang, had helped their father in
Kalumamis, Talayan, Maguindanao and soon his business, then they were more competent
they had a daughter named Fatima to be administrators of his estate.[3]
(Kueng). Hadji Abdula and Hadji Mabai stayed
in that place to farm while Hadji Abdula On March 30, 1994, Jubaida Malang,
engaged in the business of buying and selling Ismael Malindatu Malang, Nayo Malang,
of rice, corn and other agricultural Fatima Malang, Mabay Malang, Datulna
products. Not long after, Hadji Abdula married Malang and Lawanbai Malang filed an
three other Muslim women named Saaga, opposition to the petition, adopting as their own
38

Mayumbai and Sabai but he eventually the written opposition of Hadji Mohammad.[4]
Page

divorced them.
On April 7, 1994, the Sharia District Court P25,800.00, an agricultural land with assessed
issued an Order appointing Hadji Mohammad value of P860.00, three (3) one-storey
administrator of his fathers properties outside residential buildings, and one (1) two-storey
Cotabato City. The same order named residential building.[17] All these properties were
petitioner and Hadji Ismael Malindatu Malang declared for taxation purposes in Hadji Abdulas
as joint administrators of the estate in Cotabato name.
City. Each administrator was required to post a
For her part, petitioner submitted an
bond in the amount of P100,000.00.[5] On April
inventory showing that Hadji Abdula married to
13, 1994, letters of administration were issued
Neng Malang had seven (7) residential lots
to Hadji Mohammad after he had posted the
with a total assessed value of P243,840.00 in
required bond. He took his oath on the same
Cotabato City, an Isuzu pick-up jeepney valued
day.[6] The following day, Hadji Ismael and
at P30,000.00 and bank deposits.[18]
petitioner likewise filed their respective bonds
and hence, they were allowed to take their oath In the Memorandum that she filed with the
as administrators.[7] Sharia District Court, petitioner asserted that all
the properties located in Cotabato City,
On April 25, 1994 and May 3, 1994,
including the vehicle and bank deposits, were
petitioner filed two motions informing the court
conjugal properties in accordance with Article
that Hadji Abdula had outstanding deposits
160 of the Civil Code and Article 116 of the
with nine (9) major banks.[8] Petitioner prayed
Family Code while properties located outside
that the managers of each of those banks be
of Cotabato City were exclusive properties of
ordered to submit a bank statement of the
the decedent.[19]
outstanding deposit of Hadji Abdula.[9] The
Sharia District Court having granted the On the other hand, the oppositors
motions,[10] Assistant Vice President Rockman contended in their own Memorandum that all
O. Sampuha of United Coconut Planters Bank the properties left by Hadji Abdula were his
informed the court that as of April 24, 1994, the exclusive properties for various reasons. First,
outstanding deposit of Hadji Abdula amounted Hadji Abdula had no conjugal partnership with
to one million five hundred twenty thousand petitioner because his having contracted eight
four hundred pesos and forty-eight centavos (8) marriages with different Muslim women was
(P1,520,400.48).[11] The Senior Manager of the in violation of the Civil Code that provided for a
Cotabato branch of Metrobank also certified monogamous marriage; a conjugal partnership
that as of December 18, 1993, Hadji Abdula presupposes a valid civil marriage, not a
Malang or Malindatu Malang had on savings bigamous marriage or a common-law
deposit the balance of three hundred seventy- relationship. Second, the decedent adopted a
eight thousand four hundred ninety-three complete separation of property regime in his
pesos and 32/100 centavos marital relations; while his wives Jubaida
[12]
(P378,493.32). PCIB likewise issued a Kado, Nayo Hadji Omal and Mabay Ganap Ha
certification that Hadji Abdula had a balance of dji Adzis contributed to the decedents
eight hundred fifty pesos (P850.00) in his properties, there is no evidence that petitioner
current account as of August 11, 1994.[13] had contributed funds for the acquisition of
such properties. Third, the presumption that
During the pendency of the case, petitioner
properties acquired during the marriage are
suffered a congestive heart failure that required
conjugal properties is inapplicable because at
immediate medical treatment. On May 5, 1994,
the time he acquired the properties, the
she filed a motion praying that on account of
decedent was married to four (4)
her ailment, she be allowed to withdraw from
women. Fourth, the properties are not conjugal
UCPB the amount of three hundred thousand
in nature notwithstanding that some of these
pesos (P300,000.00) that shall constitute her
properties were titled in the name of the
advance share in the estate of Hadji
decedent married to Neng Malang because
Abdula.[14]After due hearing, the Sharia District
such description is not conclusive of the
Court allowed petitioner to withdraw the sum of
conjugal nature of the property. Furthermore,
two hundred fifty thousand pesos
because petitioner admitted in her verified
(P250,000.00).[15]
petition that the properties belonged to the
On May 12, 1994, the Sharia District Court estate of decedent, she was estopped from
required petitioner and Hadji Ismael as joint claiming, after formal offer of evidence, that the
administrators to submit an inventory and properties were conjugal in nature just because
appraisal of all properties of Hadji Abdula.[16] In some of the properties were titled in Hadji
compliance therewith, Hadji Ismael submitted Abdulas name married to Neng Malang. Fifth, if
39

an inventory showing that in Cotabato City, it is true that the properties were conjugal
Hadji Abdula had seven (7) residential lots with properties, then these should have been
Page

assessed value ranging from P5,020.00 to


registered in the names of both petitioner and 1) That the estate shall pay the
the decedent.[20] corresponding estate tax, reimburse
the funeral expenses in the amount
In its Order of September 26, 1994, the
of P50,000.00, and the judicial
Sharia District Court presided by Judge
expenses in the amount of
Corocoy D. Moson held that there was no
P2,040.80;
conjugal partnership of gains between
petitioner and the decedent primarily because 2) That the net estate, consisting of
the latter married eight times. The Civil Code real and personal properties,
provision on conjugal partnership cannot be located in Talayan, Maguindanao
applied if there is more than one wife because and in Cotabato City, is hereby
conjugal partnership presupposes a valid civil ordered to be distributed and
marriage, not a plural marriage or a common- adjudicated as follows:
law relationship. The court further found that
the decedent was the chief, if not the sole, a) Jubaida Kado Malang -------------------------
breadwinner of his families and that petitioner 2/64 of the estate
did not contribute to the properties unlike the
other wives named Jubaida, Nayo and b) Nayo Omar Malang -------------------------
Mabay. The description married to Neng 2/64 - do -
Malang in the titles to the real properties is no
more than that -- the description of the c) Mabai Aziz Malang ------------------------- 2/64 -
relationship between petitioner and the do -
decedent. Such description is insufficient to
prove that the properties belong to the conjugal d) Neng Kagui Kadiguia Malang -------------------
partnership of gains. The court stated: 2/64 - do -

In the instant case, decedent had four (4) e) Mohammad Ulyssis Malang----------------------
wives at the time he acquired the properties in ---14/64 - do -
question. To sustain the contention of the
petitioner that the properties are her conjugal f) Ismael Malindatu Malang---------------------------
property with the decedent is doing violence to 14/64 - do -
the provisions of the Civil Code. Be it noted
that at the time of the marriage of the petitioner g) Datulna Malang ------------------------- 14/64 -
with the decedent, there were already three (3) do -
existing marriages. Assuming for the moment
that petitioner and the decedent had agreed h) Lawanbai Malang ------------------------- 7/64 -
that the property regime between them will be do -
governed by the regime of conjugal partnership
property, that agreement is null and void for it i) Fatima (Kueng) Malang -------------------------
is against the law, public policy, public order, 7/64 - do -
good moral(s) and customs.
Total------------------------ 64/64
Under Islamic law, the regime of property
relationship is complete separation of property, 3) That the amount of P250,000.00
in the absence of any stipulation to the contrary given to Neng Kagui Kadiguia
in the marriage settlements or any other Malang by way of advance be
contract (Article 38, P.D. 1083). There being no charged against her share and if her
evidence of such contrary stipulation or share is not sufficient, to return the
contract, this Court concludes as it had begun, excess; and
that the properties in question, both real and
personal, are not conjugal, but rather, 4) That the heirs are hereby ordered to
exclusive property of the decedent.[21] submit to this court their Project of
Partition for approval, not later than
Thus, the Sharia District Court held that the three (3) months from receipt of this
Islamic law should be applied in the distribution order.
of the estate of Hadji Abdula and accordingly
disposed of the case as follows: SO ORDERED.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court On October 4, 1994, petitioner filed a


motion for the reconsideration of that
40

orders the following:


Order. The oppositors objected to that
Page

motion. On January 10, 1995, the Sharia


District Court denied petitioners motion for Resolution of the instant case is made
reconsideration.[22] Unsatisfied, petitioner filed more difficult by the fact that very few of the
a notice of appeal.[23] However, on January 19, pertinent dates of birth, death, marriage and
1995, she filed a manifestation withdrawing the divorce are established by the record. This is
notice of appeal on the strength of the following because, traditionally, Muslims do not register
provisions of P.D. No. 1083: acts, events or judicial decrees affecting civil
status.[29] It also explains why the evidence in
Art. 145. Finality of Decisions The decisions of the instant case consisted substantially of oral
the Sharia District Courts whether on appeal testimonies.
from the Sharia Circuit Court or not shall be
What is not disputed is that: Hadji Abdula
final. Nothing herein contained shall affect the
contracted a total of eight marriages, counting
original and appellate jurisdiction of the
the three which terminated in divorce; all eight
Supreme Court as provided in the Constitution.
marriages were celebrated during the
effectivity of the Civil Code and before the
Petitioner accordingly informed the court that
enactment of the Muslim Code; Hadji Abdula
she would be filing an original action
divorced four wives --- namely, Aida, Saaga,
of certiorari with the Supreme Court.[24]
Mayumbai and Sabai --- all divorces of which
On March 1, 1995, petitioner filed the took place before the enactment of the Muslim
instant petition for certiorari with preliminary Code; and, Hadji Abdula died on December 18,
injunction and/or restraining order. She 1993, after the Muslim Code and Family Code
contends that the Sharia District Court gravely took effect, survived by four wives (Jubaida,
erred in: (a) ruling that when she married Hadji Nayo, Mabay and Neng) and five children, four
Abdula Malang, the latter had three existing of whom he begot with Aida and one with
marriages with Jubaida Kado Malang, Nayo Mabay. It is also clear that the following laws
Omar Malang and Mabay Ganap Malang and were in force, at some point or other, during
therefore the properties acquired during her the marriages of Hadji Abdula: the Civil Code,
marriage could not be considered conjugal, which took effect on August 30, 1950; Republic
and (b) holding that said properties are not Act No. 394 (R.A. 394), authorizing Muslim
conjugal because under Islamic Law, the divorces, which was effective from June 18,
regime of relationship is complete separation of 1949 to June 13, 1969; the Muslim Code,
property, in the absence of stipulation to the which took effect February 4, 1977; and the
contrary in the marriage settlement or any Family Code, effective August 3, 1988.
other contract.[25]
Proceeding upon the foregoing, the Court
As petitioner sees it, the law applicable on has concluded that the record of the case is
issues of marriage and property regime is the simply inadequate for purposes of arriving at a
New Civil Code, under which all property of the fair and complete resolution of the petition. To
marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal our mind, any attempt at this point to dispense
partnership. The Sharia Court, meanwhile, with the basic issue given the scantiness of the
viewed the Civil Code provisions on conjugal evidence before us could result in grave
partnership as incompatible with plural injustice to the parties in this case, as well as
marriage, which is permitted under Muslim law, cast profound implications on Muslim families
and held the applicable property regime to be similarly or analogously situated to the parties
complete separation of property under P.D. herein. Justice and accountability dictate a
1083. remand; trial must reopen in order to supply
the factual gaps or, in Congressman Masturas
Owing to the complexity of the issue
words, missing links, that would be the bases
presented, and the fact that the case is one of
for judgment and accordingly, allow respondent
first impression --- this is a singular situation
court to resolve the instant case. In ordering
where the issue on what law governs the
thus, however, we take it as an imperative on
property regime of a Muslim marriage
our part to set out certain guidelines in the
celebrated prior to the passage of the Muslim
interpretation and application of pertinent laws
Code has been elevated from a Sharia court
to facilitate the task of respondent court.
for the Courts resolution --- the Court decided
to solicit the opinions of two amici curiae, It will also be recalled that the main issue
Justice Ricardo C. Puno[26] and former presented by the petition --- concerning the
Congressman Michael O. Mastura[27]. The property regime applicable to two Muslims
Court extends its warmest thanks to the amici married prior to the effectivity of the Muslim
curiae for their valuable inputs in their written Code --- was interposed in relation to the
memoranda[28] and in the hearing of June 27,
41

settlement of the estate of the deceased


2000. husband. Settlement of estates of Muslims
Page

whose civil acts predate the enactment of the


Muslim Code may easily result in the the persons solemnizing these marriages be
application of the Civil Code and other obliged to comply with article 92.
personal laws, thus convincing the Court that it
is but propitious to go beyond the issue However, thirty years after the approval of this
squarely presented and identify such collateral Code, all marriages performed between
issues as are required to be resolved in a Muslims or other non-Christians shall be
settlement of estate case. As amicus solemnized in accordance with the provisions
curiae Congressman Mastura puts it, the Court of this Code.But the President of the
does not often come by a case as the one Philippines, upon recommendation of the
herein, and jurisprudence will be greatly Commissioner of National Integration, may at
enriched by a discussion of the watershed of any time before the expiration of said period,
collateral issues that this case presents.[30] by proclamation, make any of said provisions
applicable to the Muslims and non-Christian
The Court has identified the following
inhabitants of any of the non-Christian
collateral issues, which we hereby present in
provinces.
question form: (1) What law governs the
validity of a Muslim marriage celebrated under
Notably, before the expiration of the thirty-
Muslim rites before the effectivity of the Muslim
year period after which Muslims are enjoined to
Code? (2) Are multiple marriages celebrated
solemnize their marriages in accordance with
before the effectivity of the Muslim Code valid?
the Civil Code, P.D. 1083 or the Muslim Code
(3) How do the Courts pronouncements
was passed into law. The enactment of the
in People vs. Subano, 73 Phil. 692 (1942),
Muslim Code on February 4, 1977 rendered
and People vs. Dumpo, 62 Phil. 246 (1935),
nugatory the second paragraph of Article 78 of
affect Muslim marriages celebrated before the
the Civil Code which provides that marriages
effectivity of the Muslim Code? (4) What laws
between Muslims thirty years after the approval
govern the property relationship of Muslim
of the Civil Code shall be solemnized in
multiple marriages celebrated before the
accordance with said Code.
Muslim Code? (5) What law governs the
succession to the estate of a Muslim who died
after the Muslim Code and the Family Code Second and Third Collateral Issues: The Validity of Muslim Multiple
took effect? (6) What laws apply to the Marriages Celebrated Before the Muslim Code; The Effect of People
dissolution of property regimes in the cases of vs. Subano and People vs. Dumpo
multiple marriages entered into before the
Muslim Code but dissolved (by the husbands
death) after the effectivity of the Muslim Code? Prior to the enactment of P.D. 1083, there
and (7) Are Muslim divorces effected before was no law in this jurisdiction which sanctioned
the enactment of the Muslim Code valid? multiple marriages.[32] It is also not to be
The succeeding guidelines, which derive disputed that the only law in force governing
mainly from the Compliance of amicus marriage relations between Muslims and non-
curiae Justice Puno, are hereby laid down by Muslims alike was the Civil Code of 1950.
the Court for the reference of respondent court, The Muslim Code, which is the first
and for the direction of the bench and bar: comprehensive codification[33] of Muslim
[34]
personal laws, also provides in respect of
acts that transpired prior to its enactment:
First Collateral Issue: The Law(s) Governing Validity of Muslim
Marriages Celebrated Before the Muslim Code
Art. 186. Effect of code on past acts. --- (1)
Acts executed prior to the effectivity of this
Code shall be governed by the laws in force at
The time frame in which all eight marriages
the time of their execution, and nothing herein
of Hadji Abdula were
except as otherwise specifically provided, shall
celebrated was during the effectivity of the Civil
affect their validity or legality or operate to
Code which, accordingly, governs the
extinguish any right acquired or liability
marriages. Article 78 of the Civil
incurred thereby.
Code[31] recognized the right of Muslims to
contract marriage in accordance with their
The foregoing provisions are consistent with
customs and rites, by providing that ---
the principle that all laws operate prospectively,
unless the contrary appears or is clearly,
Marriages between Mohammedans or pagans
plainly and unequivocably expressed or
who live in the non-Christian provinces may be
necessarily implied;[35] accordingly, every case
42

performed in accordance with their customs,


of doubt will be resolved against the retroactive
rites or practices. No marriage license or
opertion of laws.[36] Article 186 aforecited
Page

formal requisites shall be necessary. Nor shall


enunciates the general rule of the Muslim Code consent to her union with Moro Sabdapal, the
to have its provisions applied prospectively, Court held that such union could not be a
and implicitly upholds the force and effect of a marriage otherwise valid were it not for the
pre-existing body of law, specifically, the Civil existence of the first one, and resolved to
Code --- in respect of civil acts that took place acquit her of the charge of bigamy.
before the Muslim Codes enactment.
The ruling in Dumpo indicates that, had it
Admittedly, an apparent antagonism arises been proven as a fact that the second marriage
when we consider that what the provisions of contained all the essential requisites to make it
the Civil Code contemplate and nurture is a valid, a conviction for bigamy would have
monogamous marriage. Bigamous or prospered. [40]
polygamous marriages are considered void
and inexistent from the time of their
performance.[37] The Family Code which Fourth Collateral Issue: Law(s) Governing Property Relations of
Muslim Marriages Celebrated Before the Muslim Code
superseded the Civil Code provisions on
marriage emphasizes that a subsequent
marriage celebrated before the registration of
the judgment declaring a prior marriage void This is the main issue presented by the
shall likewise be void.[38] These provisions instant petition. In keeping with our holding that
illustrate that the marital relation perceived by the validity of the marriages in the instant case
the Civil Code is one that is monogamous, and is determined by the Civil Code, we hold that it
that subsequent marriages entered into by a is the same Code that determines and governs
person with others while the first one is the property relations of the marriages in this
subsisting is by no means countenanced. case, for the reason that at the time of the
celebration of the marriages in question the
Thus, when the validity of Muslim plural Civil Code was the only law on marriage
marriages celebrated before the enactment of relations, including property relations between
the Muslim Code was touched upon in two spouses, whether Muslim or non-
criminal cases, the Court applied the Muslim. Inasmuch as the Family Code makes
perspective in the Civil Code that only one substantial amendments to the Civil Code
valid marriage can exist at any given time. provisions on property relations, some of its
In People vs. Subano, supra, the Court provisions are also material, particularly to
convicted the accused of homicide, not property acquired from and after August 3,
parricide, since --- 1988.
Which law would govern depends upon: (1)
(f)rom the testimony of Ebol Subano, father when the marriages took place; (2) whether the
of the deceased, it appears that the parties lived together as husband and wife; and
defendant has three wives and that the (3) when and how the subject properties were
deceased was the last in point of acquired.
time. Although the practice of polygamy is
approved by custom among these non- Following are the pertinent provisions of
Christians, polygamy, however, is not the Civil Code:
sanctioned by the Marriage Law[39], which
merely recognizes tribal marriage Art. 119. The future spouses may in the
rituals. The deceased, under our law, is not marriage settlements agree upon absolute or
thus the lawful wife of the defendant and relative community of property, or upon
this precludes conviction for the crime of complete separation of property, or upon any
parricide. other regime. In the absence of marriage
settlements, or when the same are void, the
In People vs. Dumpo, supra, Mora Dumpo system of relative community or conjugal
was prosecuted for bigamy when, legally partnership of gains as established in this
married to Moro Hassan, she allegedly Code shall govern the property relations
contracted a second marriage with Moro between husband and wife.
Sabdapal. The Court acquitted her on the
ground that it was not duly proved that the Art. 135. All property brought by the wife to the
alleged second marriage had all the essential marriage, as well as all property she acquires
requisites to make it valid were it not for the during the marriage, in accordance with article
subsistence of the first marriage. As it appears 148, is paraphernal.
that the consent of the brides father is an
Art. 136. The wife retains the ownership of the
43

indispensable requisite to the validity of a


Muslim marriage, and as Mora Dumpos father paraphernal property.
Page

categorically affirmed that he did not give his


Art. 142. By means of the conjugal partnership In the absence of proof to the contrary,
of gains the husband and wife place in a properties acquired while they lived together
common fund the fruits of their separate shall be presumed to have been obtained by
property and the income from their work or their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be
industry, and divide equally, upon the owned by them in equal shares. For purposes
dissolution of the marriage or of the of this Article, a party who did not participate in
partnership, the net gains or benefits obtained the acquisition of the other party of any
indiscriminately by either spouse during the property shall be deemed to have contributed
marriage. jointly in the acquisition thereof if the formers
efforts consisted in the care and maintenance
Art. 143. All property of the conjugal of the family and of the household.
partnership of gains is owned in common by
the husband and wife. Neither party can encumber or dispose by
acts inter vivos of his or her share in the
The Civil Code also provides in Article 144: property acquired during cohabitation and
owned in common, without the consent of the
When a man and a woman live together as other, until after the termination of the
husband and wife, but they are not married, or cohabitation.
their marriage is void from the beginning, the
property acquired by either or both of them When only one of the parties to a void
through their work or industry or their wages marriage is in good faith, the share of the party
and salaries shall be governed by the rules on in bad faith in the co-ownership shall be
co-ownership. forfeited in favor of their common children. In
case of default or of waiver by any or all of the
In a long line of cases, this Court has common children or their descendants, each
interpreted the co-ownership provided in Article vacant share shall belong to the respective
144 of the Civil Code to require that the man surviving descendants. In the absence of
and woman living together as husband and descendants, such share shall belong to the
wife without the benefit of marriage or under a innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall
void marriage must not in any way be take place upon termination of the
incapacitated to marry.[41] Situating these cohabitation.
rulings to the instant case, therefore, the co-
ownership contemplated in Article 144 of the Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling
Civil Code cannot apply to Hadji Abdulas under the preceding Article, only the properties
marriages celebrated subsequent to a valid acquired by both of the parties through their
and legally existing marriage, since from the actual joint contribution of money, property, or
point of view of the Civil Code Hadji Abdula is industry shall be owned by them in common in
not capacitated to marry. However, the wives proportion to their respective contributions. In
in such marriages are not precluded from the absence of proof to the contrary, their
proving that property acquired during their contributions and corresponding shares are
cohabitation with Hadji Abdula is presumed to be equal. The same rule and
their exclusive property, respectively.[42] Absent presumption shall apply to joint deposits of
such proof, however, the presumption is that money and evidences of credit.
property acquired during the subsistence of a
valid marriage --- and in the Civil Code, there If one of the parties is validly married to
can only be one validly existing marriage at another, his or her share in the co-ownership
any given time --- is conjugal property of such shall accrue to the absolute community or
subsisting marriage. [43] conjugal partnership existing in such valid
marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith is
With the effectivity of the Family Code on
not validly married to another, his or her share
August 3, 1988, the following provisions of the
shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the
said Code are pertinent:
last paragraph of the preceding Article.
Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are
The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise
capacitated to marry each other live exclusively
apply even if both parties are in bad faith.
with each other as husband and wife without
the benefit of marriage or under a void
It will be noted that while the Civil Code
marriage, their wages and salaries shall be
merely requires that the parties live together as
owned by them in equal shares and the
husband and wife the Family Code in Article
44

property acquired by both of them through their


147 specifies that they live exclusively with
work or industry shall be governed by the rules
each other as husband and wife. Also, in
Page

on co-ownership.
contrast to Article 144 of the Civil Code as (2) By the fact that the husband
interpreted by jurisprudence, Article 148 of the and wife were living
Family Code allows for co-ownership in cases separately, in such a way that
of cohabitation where, for instance, one party access was not possible;
has a pre-existing valid marriage, provided that
(3) By the serious illness of the
the parties prove their actual joint contribution
husband.
of money, property, or industry and only to the
extent of their proportionate interest
Art. 256. The child shall be presumed
therein. The rulings in Juaniza vs. Jose, 89
legitimate, although the mother may have
SCRA 306, Camporodendo vs. Garcia, 102
declared against its legitimacy or may have
Phil. 1055, and related cases are embodied in
been sentenced as an adulteress.
the second paragraph of Article 148, which
declares that the share of the party validly
If the child was conceived or born during
married to another shall accrue to the property
the period covered by the governance of the
regime of such existing marriage.
Muslim Code, i.e., from February 4, 1977 up to
the death of Hadji Abdula on December 18,
Fifth and Sixth Collateral Issues: Law(s) on Succession and 1993, the Muslim Code determines the
Dissolution of Property Regimes legitimacy or illegitimacy of the child. Under the
Muslim Code:

Hadji Abdula died intestate on December Art. 58. Legitimacy, how established. ---
16, 1993. Thus, it is the Muslim Code which Legitimacy of filiation is established by the
should determine the identification of the heirs evidence of valid marriage between the father
in the order of intestate succession and the and the mother at the time of the conception of
respective shares of the heirs. the child.
Meanwhile, the status and capacity to Art. 59. Legitimate children. ---
succeed on the part of the individual parties
who entered into each and every marriage (1) Children conceived in lawful
ceremony will depend upon the law in force at wedlock shall be presumed to be
the time of the performance of the marriage legitimate. Whoever claims
rite. illegitimacy of or impugns such
The status and capacity to succeed of the filiation must prove his allegation.
children will depend upon the law in force at (2) Children born after six months
the time of conception or birth of the child. If following the consummation of
the child was conceived or born during the marriage or within two years after
period covered by the governance of the Civil the dissolution of the marriage shall
Code, the Civil Code provisions on the be presumed to be
determination of the legitimacy or illegitimacy legitimate. Against this presumption
of the child would appear to be in point. Thus, no evidence shall be admitted other
the Civil Code provides: than that of physical impossibility of
access between the parents at or
Art. 255. Children born after one hundred and about the time of the conception of
eighty days following the celebration of the the child.
marriage, and before three hundred days
following its dissolution or the separation of the Art. 60. Children of subsequent marriage. ---
spouses shall be presumed to be legitimate. Should the marriage be dissolved and the wife
contracts another marriage after the expiration
Against this presumption no evidence shall be of her idda, the child born within six months
admitted other than that of the physical from the dissolution of the prior marriage shall
impossibility of the husbands having access to be presumed to have been conceived during
his wife within the first one hundred and twenty the former marriage, and if born thereafter,
days of the three hundred which preceded the during the latter.
birth of the child.
Art. 61. Pregnancy after dissolution. --- If, after
This physical impossibility may be caused: the dissolution of marriage, the wife believes
that she is pregnant by her former husband,
(1) By the impotence of the she shall, within thirty days from the time she
45

husband; became aware of her pregnancy, notify the


former husband or his heirs of that fact. The
Page
husband or his heirs may ask the court to take the time frame and the applicable law. A
measures to prevent a simulation of birth. Muslim divorce under R.A. No. 394 is valid if it
took place from June 18, 1949 to June 13,
Upon determination of status and capacity 1969, and void if it took place from June 14,
to succeed based on the foregoing provisions, 1969. [46]
the provisions on legal succession in the
2. There being a dispute between the
Muslim Code will apply. Under Article 110 of
petitioner and the oppositors as regards the
the said Code, the sharers to an inheritance
heirship of the children begotten from different
include:
marriages, who among the surviving children
(a) The husband, the wife; are legitimate and who are illegitimate? The
children conceived and born of a validly
(b) The father, the mother, the
existing marriage as determined by the first
grandfather, the grandmother;
corollary issue are legitimate. The fact and time
(c) The daughter and the sons of conception or birth may be determined
daughter in the direct line; by proof or presumption depending upon the
time frame and the applicable law.
(d) The full sister, the consanguine
sister, the uterine sister and the 3. What properties constituted the estate of
uterine brother. Hadji Abdula at the time of his death on
December 18, 1993? The estate of Hadji
When the wife survives with a legitimate Abdula consists of the following:
child or a child of the decedents son, she is
entitled to one-eighth of the hereditary estate; a. Properties acquired during the existence
in the absence of such descendants, she shall of a valid marriage as determined by the first
inherit one-fourth of the estate.[44] The corollary issue are conjugal properties and
respective shares of the other sharers, as set should be liquidated and divided between the
out in Article 110 abovecited, are provided for spouses under the Muslim Code, this being the
in Articles 113 to 122 of P.D. 1083. law in force at the time of Hadji Abdulas death.
b. Properties acquired under the conditions
Seventh Collateral Issue: Muslim Divorces Before the Effectivity of the prescribed in Article 144 of the Civil Code
Muslim Code during the period August 30, 1950 to August 2,
1988 are conjugal properties and should be
liquidated and divided between the spouses
R.A. 394 authorized absolute divorce under the Muslim Code. However, the wives
among Muslims residing in non-Christian other than the lawful wife as determined under
provinces, in accordance with Muslim custom, the first corollary issue may submit their
for a period of 20 years from June 18, 1949 respective evidence to prove that any of such
(the date of approval of R.A. 394) to June 13, property is theirs exclusively.
1969.[45] Thus, a Muslim divorce under R.A. c. Properties acquired under the conditions
394 is valid if it took place from June 18, 1949 set out in Articles 147 and 148 of the Family
to June 13, 1969. Code during the period from and after August
From the seven collateral issues that we 3, 1988 are governed by the rules on co-
discussed, we identify four corollary issues as ownership.
to further situate the points of controversy in d. Properties acquired under conditions not
the instant case for the guidance of the lower covered by the preceding paragraphs and
court.Thus: obtained from the exclusive efforts or assets of
1. Which of the several marriages was Hadji Abdula are his exclusive properties.
validly and legally existing at the time of the 4. Who are the legal heirs of Hadji Abdula,
opening of the succession of Hadji Abdula and what are their shares in intestacy? The
when he died in 1993? The validly and legally following are Hadji Abdulas legal heirs: (a) the
existing marriage would be that marriage which lawful wife, as determined under the first
was celebrated at a time when there was no corollary issue, and (2) the children, as
other subsisting marriage standing undissolved determined under the second corollary
by a valid divorce or by death. This is because issue. The Muslim Code, which was already in
all of the marriages were celebrated during the force at the time of Hadji Abdulas death, will
governance of the Civil Code, under the rules govern the determination of their respective
of which only one marriage can exist at any shares.
given time.
46

As we have indicated early on, the


Whether or not the marriage was validly
Page

evidence in this case is inadequate to resolve


dissolved by a Muslim divorce depends upon
in its entirety the main, collateral and corollary additional evidence and the resolution of the
issues herein presented and a remand to the issues of the case based on the guidelines set
lower court is in order. Accordingly, evidence out in this Decision.
should be received to supply the following
SO ORDERED.
proofs: (1) the exact dates of the marriages
performed in accordance with Muslim rites or
practices; (2) the exact dates of the
dissolutions of the marriages terminated by
death or by divorce in accordance with Muslim
rites and practices, thus indicating which
marriage resulted in a conjugal partnership
under the criteria prescribed by the first,
second, and third collateral issues and the first
corollary issue; (3) the exact periods of actual
cohabitation (common life under a common
roof) of each of the marriages during which
time the parties lived together; (4) the
identification of specific properties acquired
during each of the periods of cohabitation
referred to in paragraph 3 above, and the
manner and source of acquisition, indicating
joint or individual effort, thus showing the asset
as owned separately, conjugally or in co-
ownership; and (5) the identities of the children
(legitimate or illegitimate) begotten from the
several unions, the dates of their respective
conceptions or births in relation to paragraphs
1 and 2 above, thereby indicating their status
as lawful heirs.
Amicus curiae Congressman Mastura
agrees that since the marriage of petitioner to
decedent took place in 1972 the Civil Code is
the law applicable on the issue of marriage
settlement, [47] but espouses that customs or
established practices among Muslims in
Mindanao must also be applied with the force
of law to the instant case.[48] Congressman
Masturas disquisition has proven extremely
helpful in impressing upon us the background
in which Islamic law and the Muslim Code
need to be interpreted, particularly the
interconnectedness of law and religion for
Muslims[49] and the impracticability of a strict
application of the Civil Code to plural marriages
recognized under Muslim law.[50] Regrettably,
the Court is duty-bound to resolve the instant
case applying such laws and rights as are in
existence at the time the pertinent civil acts
took place. Corollarily, we are unable to
supplant governing law with customs, albeit
how widely observed. In the same manner, we
cannot supply a perceived hiatus in P.D. 1083
concerning the distribution of property between
divorced spouses upon one of the spouses
death.51
WHEREFORE, the decision dated
September 26, 1994 of the Fifth Sharia District
Court of Cotabato City in Special Proceeding
47

No. 94-40 is SET ASIDE, and the instant


petition is REMANDED for the reception of
Page
[G.R. No. 124371. November 23, 2000] of Nabua as Crisologo Llorente, with the
certificate stating that the child was not
legitimate and the line for the fathers name
was left blank.[9]
PAULA T. LLORENTE, petitioner,
vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ALICIA Lorenzo refused to forgive Paula and live
F. LLORENTE, respondents. with her. In fact, on February 2, 1946, the
couple drew a written agreement to the effect
DECISION that (1) all the family allowances allotted by the
United States Navy as part of Lorenzos salary
PARDO, J.: and all other obligations for Paulas daily
maintenance and support would be
suspended; (2) they would dissolve their
The Case marital union in accordance with judicial
proceedings; (3) they would make a separate
The case raises a conflict of laws issue. agreement regarding their conjugal property
acquired during their marital life; and (4)
What is before us is an appeal from the Lorenzo would not prosecute Paula for her
decision of the Court of Appeals[1] modifying adulterous act since she voluntarily admitted
that of the Regional Trial Court, Camarines her fault and agreed to separate from Lorenzo
Sur, Branch 35, Iriga City[2] declaring peacefully. The agreement was signed by both
respondent Alicia F. Llorente (herinafter Lorenzo and Paula and was witnessed by
referred to as Alicia), as co-owners of whatever Paulas father and stepmother. The agreement
property she and the deceased Lorenzo N. was notarized by Notary Public Pedro
Llorente (hereinafter referred to as Lorenzo) Osabel.[10]
may have acquired during the twenty-five (25)
years that they lived together as husband and Lorenzo returned to the United States and
wife. on November 16, 1951 filed for
divorce with the Superior Court of the State of
California in and for the County of San
The Facts Diego. Paula was represented by counsel,
John Riley, and actively participated in the
proceedings. On November 27, 1951, the
The deceased Lorenzo N. Llorente was an Superior Court of the State of California, for the
enlisted serviceman of the United States Navy County of San Diego found all factual
from March 10, 1927 to September 30, 1957.[3] allegations to be true and issued an
interlocutory judgment of divorce.[11]
On February 22, 1937, Lorenzo and
petitioner Paula Llorente (hereinafter referred On December 4, 1952, the divorce decree
to as Paula) were married before a parish became final.[12]
priest, Roman Catholic Church, in Nabua,
In the meantime, Lorenzo returned to the
Camarines Sur.[4]
Philippines.
Before the outbreak of the Pacific War,
On January 16, 1958, Lorenzo married
Lorenzo departed for the United States and
Alicia F. Llorente in Manila.[13] Apparently,
Paula stayed in the conjugal home in barrio
Alicia had no knowledge of the first marriage
Antipolo, Nabua, Camarines Sur.[5]
even if they resided in the same town as Paula,
On November 30, 1943, Lorenzo was who did not oppose the marriage or
admitted to United States citizenship and cohabitation.[14]
Certificate of Naturalization No. 5579816 was
From 1958 to 1985, Lorenzo and Alicia
issued in his favor by the United States District
lived together as husband and wife.[15] Their
Court, Southern District of New York.[6]
twenty-five (25) year union produced three
Upon the liberation of the Philippines by children, Raul, Luz and Beverly, all surnamed
the American Forces in 1945, Lorenzo was Llorente.[16]
granted an accrued leave by the U. S. Navy, to
On March 13, 1981, Lorenzo executed a
visit his wife and he visited the
[7] Last Will and Testament. The will was
Philippines. He discovered that his wife Paula
notarized by Notary Public Salvador M.
was pregnant and was living in and having an
Occiano, duly signed by Lorenzo with attesting
adulterous relationship with his brother,
witnesses Francisco Hugo, Francisco Neibres
Ceferino Llorente.[8]
48

and Tito Trajano. In the will, Lorenzo


On December 4, 1945, Paula gave birth to bequeathed all his property to Alicia and their
Page

a boy registered in the Office of the Registrar three children, to wit:


(1) I give and bequeath to my wife ALICIA R. respectively to each one of them by virtue of
FORTUNO exclusively my residential house this Last Will and Testament.[17]
and lot, located at San Francisco, Nabua,
Camarines Sur, Philippines, including ALL the On December 14, 1983, Lorenzo filed with
personal properties and other movables or the Regional Trial Court, Iriga, Camarines Sur,
belongings that may be found or existing a petition for the probate and allowance of his
therein; last will and testament wherein Lorenzo moved
that Alicia be appointed Special Administratrix
(2) I give and bequeath exclusively to my wife of his estate.[18]
Alicia R. Fortuno and to my children, Raul F.
On January 18, 1984, the trial court denied
Llorente, Luz F. Llorente and Beverly F.
the motion for the reason that the testator
Llorente, in equal shares, all my real properties
Lorenzo was still alive.[19]
whatsoever and wheresoever located,
specifically my real properties located at On January 24, 1984, finding that the will
Barangay Aro-Aldao, Nabua, Camarines Sur; was duly executed, the trial court admitted the
Barangay Paloyon, Nabua, Camarines Sur; will to probate.[20]
Barangay Baras, Sitio Puga, Nabua,
On June 11, 1985, before the proceedings
Camarines Sur; and Barangay Paloyon, Sitio
could be terminated, Lorenzo died.[21]
Nalilidong, Nabua, Camarines Sur;
On September 4, 1985, Paula filed with the
(3) I likewise give and bequeath exclusively same court a petition[22] for letters of
unto my wife Alicia R. Fortuno and unto my administration over Lorenzos estate in her
children, Raul F. Llorente, Luz F. Llorente and favor. Paula contended (1) that she was
Beverly F. Llorente, in equal shares, my real Lorenzos surviving spouse, (2) that the various
properties located in Quezon City Philippines, property were acquired during their marriage,
and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. (3) that Lorenzos will disposed of all his
188652; and my lands in Antipolo, Rizal, property in favor of Alicia and her children,
Philippines, covered by Transfer Certificate of encroaching on her legitime and 1/2 share in
Title Nos. 124196 and 165188, both of the the conjugal property.[23]
Registry of Deeds of the province of Rizal,
Philippines; On December 13, 1985, Alicia filed in the
testate proceeding (Sp. Proc. No. IR-755), a
(4) That their respective shares in the above- petition for the issuance of letters
mentioned properties, whether real or personal testamentary.[24]
properties, shall not be disposed of, ceded, On October 14, 1985, without terminating
sold and conveyed to any other persons, but the testate proceedings, the trial court gave
could only be sold, ceded, conveyed and due course to Paulas petition in Sp. Proc. No.
disposed of by and among themselves; IR-888.[25]

(5) I designate my wife ALICIA R. FORTUNO On November 6, 13 and 20, 1985, the
to be the sole executor of this my Last Will and order was published in the newspaper Bicol
Testament, and in her default or incapacity of Star.[26]
the latter to act, any of my children in the order On May 18, 1987, the Regional Trial Court
of age, if of age; issued a joint decision, thus:

(6) I hereby direct that the executor named Wherefore, considering that this court has so
herein or her lawful substitute should served found that the divorce decree granted to the
(sic) without bond; late Lorenzo Llorente is void and inapplicable
in the Philippines, therefore the marriage he
(7) I hereby revoke any and all my other wills, contracted with Alicia Fortunato on January 16,
codicils, or testamentary dispositions 1958 at Manila is likewise void. This being so
heretofore executed, signed, or published, by the petition of Alicia F. Llorente for the
me; issuance of letters testamentary is
denied. Likewise, she is not entitled to receive
(8) It is my final wish and desire that if I die, no any share from the estate even if the will
relatives of mine in any degree in the Llorentes especially said so her relationship with Lorenzo
Side should ever bother and disturb in any having gained the status of paramour which is
manner whatsoever my wife Alicia R. Fortunato under Art. 739 (1).
and my children with respect to any real or
49

personal properties I gave and bequeathed On the other hand, the court finds the petition
Page

of Paula Titular Llorente, meritorious, and so


declares the intrinsic disposition of the will of WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is
Lorenzo Llorente dated March 13, 1981 as void hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION
and declares her entitled as conjugal partner that Alicia is declared as co-owner of whatever
and entitled to one-half of their conjugal properties she and the deceased may have
properties, and as primary compulsory heir, acquired during the twenty-five (25) years of
Paula T. Llorente is also entitled to one-third of cohabitation.
the estate and then one-third should go to the
illegitimate children, Raul, Luz and Beverly, all SO ORDERED.[32]
surname (sic) Llorente, for them to partition in
equal shares and also entitled to the remaining On August 25, 1995, petitioner filed with
free portion in equal shares. the Court of Appeals a motion for
reconsideration of the decision.[33]
Petitioner, Paula Llorente is appointed legal
On March 21, 1996, the Court of
administrator of the estate of the deceased,
Appeals,[34] denied the motion for lack of merit.
Lorenzo Llorente. As such let the
corresponding letters of administration issue in Hence, this petition.[35]
her favor upon her filing a bond in the amount
(sic) of P100,000.00 conditioned for her to
make a return to the court within three (3) The Issue
months a true and complete inventory of all
goods, chattels, rights, and credits, and estate
which shall at any time come to her possession Stripping the petition of its legalese and
or to the possession of any other person for sorting through the various arguments
her, and from the proceeds to pay and raised,[36] the issue is simple. Who are entitled
discharge all debts, legacies and charges on to inherit from the late Lorenzo N. Llorente?
the same, or such dividends thereon as shall We do not agree with the decision of the
be decreed or required by this court; to render Court of Appeals. We remand the case to the
a true and just account of her administration to trial court for ruling on the intrinsic validity of
the court within one (1) year, and at any other the will of the deceased.
time when required by the court and to perform
all orders of this court by her to be performed.
The Applicable Law
On the other matters prayed for in respective
petitions for want of evidence could not be
granted. The fact that the late Lorenzo N. Llorente
became an American citizen long before and at
SO ORDERED.[27] the time of: (1) his divorce from Paula; (2)
marriage to Alicia; (3) execution of his will; and
In time, Alicia filed with the trial court a (4) death, is duly established, admitted and
motion for reconsideration of the aforequoted undisputed.
decision.[28] Thus, as a rule, issues arising from these
On September 14, 1987, the trial court incidents are necessarily governed by foreign
denied Alicias motion for reconsideration but law.
modified its earlier decision, stating that Raul The Civil Code clearly provides:
and Luz Llorente are not children legitimate or
otherwise of Lorenzo since they were not Art. 15. Laws relating to family rights and
legally adopted by him.[29] Amending its duties, or to the status, condition and legal
decision of May 18, 1987, the trial court capacity of persons are binding upon citizens
declared Beverly Llorente as the only of the Philippines, even though living abroad.
illegitimate child of Lorenzo, entitling her to
one-third (1/3) of the estate and one-third (1/3) Art. 16. Real property as well as personal
of the free portion of the estate.[30] property is subject to the law of the country
On September 28, 1987, respondent where it is situated.
appealed to the Court of Appeals.[31]
However, intestate and testamentary
On July 31, 1995, the Court of Appeals succession, both with respect to the order of
promulgated its decision, affirming with succession and to the amount of successional
modification the decision of the trial court in rights and to the intrinsic validity of
50

this wise: testamentary provisions, shall be regulated


by the national law of the person whose
Page
succession is under consideration, In Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[40] we held that
whatever may be the nature of the property owing to the nationality principle embodied in
and regardless of the country wherein said Article 15 of the Civil Code, only Philippine
property may be found. (emphasis ours) nationals are covered by the policy against
absolute divorces, the same being considered
True, foreign laws do not prove themselves contrary to our concept of public policy and
in our jurisdiction and our courts are not morality. In the same case, the Court ruled
authorized to take judicial notice of them. Like that aliens may obtain divorces abroad,
any other fact, they must be alleged and provided they are valid according to their
proved.[37] national law.
While the substance of the foreign law was Citing this landmark case, the Court held
pleaded, the Court of Appeals did not admit the in Quita v. Court of Appeals,[41] that once
foreign law. The Court of Appeals and the trial proven that respondent was no longer a
court called to the fore the renvoi doctrine, Filipino citizen when he obtained the divorce
where the case was referred back to the law of from petitioner, the ruling in Van Dorn would
the decedents domicile, in this case, Philippine become applicable and petitioner could very
law. well lose her right to inherit from him.
We note that while the trial court stated In Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera,[42] we recognized
that the law of New York was not sufficiently the divorce obtained by the respondent in his
proven, in the same breath it made the country, the Federal Republic of
categorical, albeit equally unproven statement Germany. There, we stated that divorce and its
that American law follows the domiciliary legal effects may be recognized in the
theory hence, Philippine law applies when Philippines insofar as respondent is concerned
determining the validity of Lorenzos will.[38] in view of the nationality principle in our civil
law on the status of persons.
First, there is no such thing as one
American law. The "national law" indicated in For failing to apply these doctrines, the
Article 16 of the Civil Code cannot possibly decision of the Court of Appeals must be
apply to general American law. There is no reversed.[43] We hold that the divorce obtained
such law governing the validity of testamentary by Lorenzo H. Llorente from his first wife Paula
provisions in the United States. Each State of was valid and recognized in this jurisdiction as
the union has its own law applicable to its a matter of comity. Now, the effects of this
citizens and in force only within the State. It divorce (as to the succession to the estate of
can therefore refer to no other than the law of the decedent) are matters best left to the
the State of which the decedent was a determination of the trial court.
resident.[39] Second, there is no showing that
the application of the renvoi doctrine is called
for or required by New York State law. Validity of the Will
The trial court held that the will was
intrinsically invalid since it contained The Civil Code provides:
dispositions in favor of Alice, who in the trial
courts opinion was a mere paramour. The trial Art. 17. The forms and solemnities of
court threw the will out, leaving Alice, and her contracts, wills, and other public instruments
two children, Raul and Luz, with nothing. shall be governed by the laws of the country
The Court of Appeals also disregarded the in which they are executed.
will. It declared Alice entitled to one half (1/2) of
whatever property she and Lorenzo acquired When the acts referred to are executed before
during their cohabitation, applying Article 144 the diplomatic or consular officials of the
of the Civil Code of the Philippines. Republic of the Philippines in a foreign country,
the solemnities established by Philippine laws
The hasty application of Philippine law and shall be observed in their execution.
the complete disregard of the will, already (underscoring ours)
probated as duly executed in accordance with
the formalities of Philippine law, is The clear intent of Lorenzo to bequeath his
fatal, especially in light of the factual and property to his second wife and children by her
legal circumstances here obtaining. is glaringly shown in the will he executed. We
do not wish to frustrate his wishes, since he
was a foreigner, not covered by our laws on
51

Validity of the Foreign Divorce family rights and duties, status, condition and
legal capacity.[44]
Page
Whether the will is intrinsically valid and
who shall inherit from Lorenzo are issues best
proved by foreign law which must be pleaded
and proved. Whether the will was executed in
accordance with the formalities required is
answered by referring to Philippine law. In fact,
the will was duly probated.
As a guide however, the trial court should
note that whatever public policy or good
customs may be involved in our system of
legitimes, Congress did not intend to extend
the same to the succession of foreign
nationals. Congress specifically left the amount
of successional rights to the decedent's
national law.[45]
Having thus ruled, we find it unnecessary
to pass upon the other issues raised.

The Fallo

WHEREFORE, the petition is


GRANTED. The decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 17446
promulgated on July 31, 1995 is SET ASIDE.
In lieu thereof, the Court REVERSES the
decision of the Regional Trial Court and
RECOGNIZES as VALID the decree of divorce
granted in favor of the deceased Lorenzo N.
Llorente by the Superior Court of the State of
California in and for the County of San Diego,
made final on December 4, 1952.
Further, the Court REMANDS the cases to
the court of origin for determination of the
intrinsic validity of Lorenzo N. Llorentes will
and determination of the parties successional
rights allowing proof of foreign law with
instructions that the trial court shall proceed
with all deliberate dispatch to settle the estate
of the deceased within the framework of the
Rules of Court.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
52
Page
G.R. Nos. L-3087 and L-3088 July 31, on 24 April 1937 for the taking of the deposition
1954 of Go Toh, an attesting witness to the will, on 7
February 1938 the probate court denied a
In re: Testate Estate of the deceased JOSE motion for continuance of the hearing sent by
B. SUNTAY. SILVINO SUNTAY, petitioner- cablegram from China by the surviving widow
appellant, and dismissed the petition. In the meantime the
vs. Pacific War supervened. After liberation,
In re: Intestate Estate of the deceased JOSE claiming that he had found among the files,
B. SUNTAY, records and documents of his late father a will
FEDERICO C. SUNTAY, administrator- and testament in Chinese characters executed
appellee. and signed by the deceased on 4 January
1931 and that the same was filed, recorded
Claro M. Recto for appellant. and probated in the Amoy district court,
Sison and Aruego for appellee. Province of Fookien, China, Silvino Suntay
filed a petition in the intestate proceedings
PADILLA, J.: praying for the probate of the will executed in
the Philippines on November 1929 (Exhibit B)
This is an appeal from a decree of the Court of or of the will executed in Amoy, Fookien,
First Instance of Bulacan disallowing the China, on 4 January 1931 (Exhibit N).
alleged will and testament executed in Manila
on November 1929, and the alleged last will There is no merit in the contention that the
and testament executed in Kulangsu, Amoy, petitioner Silvino Suntay and his mother Maria
China, on 4 January 1931, by Jose B. Suntay. Natividad Lim Billian are estopped from asking
The value of the estate left by the deceased is for the probate of the lost will or of the foreign
more than P50,000. will because of the transfer or assignment of
their share right, title and interest in the estate
On 14 May 1934 Jose B. Suntay, a Filipino of the late Jose B. Suntay to Jose G. Gutierrez
citizen and resident of the Philippines, died in and the spouses Ricardo Gutierrez and
the city of Amoy, Fookien province, Republic of Victoria Goño and the subsequent assignment
China, leaving real and personal properties in thereof by the assignees to Francisco Pascual
the Philippines and a house in Amoy, Fookien and by the latter to Federico C. Suntay, for the
province, China, and children by the first validity and legality of such assignments
marriage had with the late Manuela T. Cruz cannot be threshed out in this proceedings
namely, Apolonio, Concepcion, Angel, Manuel, which is concerned only with the probate of the
Federico, Ana, Aurora, Emiliano, and Jose, Jr. will and testament executed in the Philippines
and a child named Silvino by the second on November 1929 or of the foreign will
marriage had with Maria Natividad Lim Billian allegedly executed in Amoy on 4 January 1931
who survived him. Intestate proceedings were and claimed to have been probated in the
instituted in the Court of First Instance of municipal district court of Amoy, Fookien
Bulacan (special proceedings No. 4892) and province, Republic of China.
after hearing letters of administration were
issued to Apolonio Suntay. After the latter's As to prescription, the dismissal of the petition
death Federico C. Suntay was appointed for probate of the will on 7 February 1938 was
administrator of the estate. On 15 October no bar to the filing of this petition on 18 June
1934 the surviving widow filed a petition in the 1947, or before the expiration of ten years.
Court of First Instance of Bulacan for the
probate of a last will and testament claimed to As to the lost will, section 6, Rule 77, provides:
have been executed and signed in the
Philippines on November 1929 by the late Jose No will shall be proved as a lost or
B. Suntay. This petition was denied because of destroyed will unless the execution and
the loss of said will after the filing of the petition validity of the same be established, and
and before the hearing thereof and of the the will is proved to have been in
insufficiency of the evidence to establish the existence at the time of the death of the
loss of the said will. An appeal was taken from testator, or is shown to have been
said order denying the probate of the will and fraudulently or accidentally destroyed in
this Court held the evidence before the probate the lifetime of the testator without his
court sufficient to prove the loss of the will and knowledge, nor unless its provisions are
remanded the case to the Court of First clearly and distinctly proved by at least
Instance of Bulacan for the further proceedings two credible witnesses. When a lost will
53

(63 Phil., 793). In spite of the fact that a is proved, the provisions thereof must
commission from the probate court was issued be distinctly stated and certified by the
Page
judge, under the seal of the court, and him certain document and he told us or he was
the certificate must be filed and telling us that it was the will of our father Jose
recorded as other wills are filed and B. Suntay which was taken from Go Toh. ..."
recorded. (p. 524, t. s. n., hearing of 24 February 1948);
that she saw her brother Apolonio Suntay read
The witnesses who testified to the provisions of the document in her presence and of Manuel
the lost will are Go Toh, an attesting witness, and learned of the adjudication made in the will
Anastacio Teodoro and Ana Suntay. Manuel by her father of his estate, to wit: one-third to
Lopez, who was an attesting witness to the lost his children, one-third to Silvino and his mother
will, was dead at the time of the hearing of this and the other third to Silvino, Apolonio,
alternative petition. In his deposition Go Toh Concepcion and Jose, Jr. (pp. 526-8, 530-1,
testifies that he was one of the witnesses to the 542, t. s. n. Id.); that "after Apolonio read that
lost will consisting of twenty-three sheets portion, then he turned over the document to
signed by Jose B. Suntay at the bottom of the Manuel, and he went away," (p. 528, t. s.
will and each and every page thereof in the n., Id.). On cross-examination, she testifies that
presence of Alberto Barretto, Manuel Lopez she read the part of the will on adjudication to
and himself and underneath the testator's know what was the share of each heir (pp. 530,
signature the attesting witnesses signed and 544, t. s. n., Id.) and on redirect she testifies
each of them signed the attestation clause and that she saw the signature of her father, Go
each and every page of the will in the presence Toh, Manuel Lopez and Alberto Barretto (p.
of the testator and of the other witnesses 546, t. s. n., Id.).
(answers to the 31st, 41st, 42nd, 49th, 50th,
55th and 63rd interrogatories, Exhibit D-1), but Anastacio Teodoro testifies that one day in
did not take part in the drafting thereof (answer November 1934 (p. 273, t. s. n., hearing of 19
to the 11th interrogatory,Id.); that he knew the January 1948), before the last postponement
contents of the will written in Spanish although of the hearing granted by the Court, Go Toh
he knew very little of that language (answers to arrived at his law office in the De los Reyes
the 22nd and 23rd interrogatories and to X-2 Building and left an envelope wrapped in red
cross-interrogatory, Id.) and all he knows about handkerchief [Exhibit C] (p. 32, t. s. n., hearing
the contends of the lost will was revealed to of 13 October 1947); that he checked up the
him by Jose B. Suntay at the time it was signatures on the envelope Exhibit A with
executed (answers to the 25th interrogatory those on the will placed in the envelope (p. 33,
and to X-4 and X-8 cross-interrogatories, Id.); t. s. n., Id.); that the will was exactly the same
that Jose B. Suntay told him that the contents as the draft Exhibit B (pp. 32, 47, 50, t. s.
thereof are the same as those of the draft n., Id.).
(Exhibit B) (answers to the 33rd interrogatory
and to X-8 cross-interrogatory, Id.) which he If the will was snatched after the delivery
saw in the office of Alberto Barretto in thereof by Go Toh to Anastacio Teodoro And
November 1929 when the will was signed returned by the latter to the former because
(answers to the 69th, 72nd, and 74th they could not agree on the amount of fees, the
interrogatories, Id); that Alberto Barretto former coming to the latter's office straight from
handed the draft and said to Jose B. Suntay: the boat (p. 315, t. s. n., hearing of 19 January
"You had better see if you want any correction" 1948) that brought him to the Philippines from
(answers to the 81st, 82nd and 83rd Amoy, and that delivery took place in
interrogatories, Id.); that "after checking Jose November 1934 (p. 273, t. s. n., Id.), then the
B. Suntay put the "Exhibit B" in his pocket and testimony of Ana Suntay that she saw and
had the original signed and executed" heard her brother Apolonio Suntay read the will
(answers to the 91st interrogatory, and to X-18 sometime in September 1934 (p. 524, t. s. n.,
cross-interrogatory, Id.); that Mrs. Suntay had hearing of 24 February 1948), must not be
the draft of the will (Exhibit B) translated into true.
Chinese and he read the translation (answers
to the 67th interrogatory, Id.); that he did not Although Ana Suntay would be a good witness
read the will and did not compare it (check it because she was testifying against her own
up) with the draft (Exhibit B) (answers to X-6 interest, still the fact remains that she did not
and X-20 cross-interrogatories, Id.). read the whole will but only the adjudication
(pp. 526-8, 530-1, 542, t. s. n., Id.) and saw
Ana Suntay testifies that sometime in only the signature, of her father and of the
September 1934 in the house of her brother witnesses Go Toh, Manuel Lopez and Alberto
Apolonio Suntay she learned that her father left Barretto (p. 546, t. s. n.,Id.). But her testimony
54

a will "because of the arrival of my brother on cross-examination that she read the part of
Manuel Suntay, who was bringing along with the will on adjudication is inconsistent with her
Page
testimony in chief that after Apolonio had read envelope (Exhibit A) and that it was in
that part of the will he turned over or handed existence at the time of, and not revoked
the document to Manuel who went away (p. before, his death, still the testimony of
528, t. s. n., Id.). Anastacio Teodoro alone falls short of the legal
requirement that the provisions of the lost will
If it is true that Go Toh saw the draft Exhibit B must be "clearly and distinctly proved by at
in the office of Alberto Barretto in November least two credible witnesses." Credible
1929 when the will was signed, then the part of witnesses mean competent witnesses and
his testimony that Alberto Barretto handed the those who testify to facts from or upon hearsay
draft to Jose B. Suntay to whom he said: "You are neither competent nor credible witnesses.
had better see if you want any correction" and
that "after checking Jose B. Suntay put the On the other hand, Alberto Barretto testifies
"Exhibit B" in his pocket and had the original that in the early part of 1929 he prepared or
signed and executed" cannot be true, for it was drew up two mills for Jose B. Suntay at the
not the time for correcting the draft of the will, latter's request, the rough draft of the first will
because it must have been corrected before was in his own handwriting, given to Manuel
and all corrections and additions written in lead Lopez for the final draft or typing and returned
pencil must have been inserted and copied in to him; that after checking up the final with the
the final draft of the will which was signed on rough draft he tore it and returned the final
that occasion. The bringing in for the draft draft to Manuel Lopez; that this draft was in
(Exhibit B) on that occasion is just to fit it within favor of all the children and the widow (pp.
the framework of the appellant's theory. At any 392-4, 449, t. s. n., hearing of 21 February
rate, all of Go Toh's testimony by deposition on 1948); that two months later Jose B. Suntay
the provisions of the alleged lost will is and Manuel Lopez called on him and the
hearsay, because he came to know or he former asked him to draw up another will
learned to them from information given him by favoring more his wife and child Silvino; that he
Jose B. Suntay and from reading the had the rough draft of the second will typed
translation of the draft (Exhibit B) into Chinese. (pp. 395, 449 t. s. n., Id.) and gave it to Manuel
Lopez (p. 396, t. s. n., Id.); that he did not sign
Much stress is laid upon the testimony of as witness the second will of Jose B. Suntay
Federico C. Suntay who testifies that he read copied from the typewritten draft [Exhibit B] (p.
the supposed will or the alleged will of his 420, t. s. n., Id.); that the handwritten insertions
father and that the share of the surviving or additions in lead pencil to Exhibit B are not
widow, according to the will, is two-thirds of the his (pp. 415-7 435-6, 457, t. s. n., Id.); that the
estate (p. 229, t. s. n., hearing of 24 October final draft of the first will made up of four or five
1947). But this witness testified to oppose the pages (p. 400, t. s. n., Id.) was signed and
appointment of a co-administrator of the estate, executed, two or three months after Suntay
for the reason that he had acquired the interest and Lopez had called on him (pp. 397-8, 403,
of the surviving widow not only in the estate of 449, t. s. n., Id.) in his office at the Cebu
her deceased husband but also in the conjugal Portland Cement in the China Banking Building
property (pp. 148, 205, 228, 229, 231, t. s. on Dasmariñas street by Jose B. Suntay,
n., Id.) Whether he read the original will or just Manuel Lopez and a Chinaman who had all
the copy thereof (Exhibit B) is not clear. For come from Hagonoy (p. 398, t. s. n., Id.); that
him the important point was that he had on that occasion they brought an envelope
acquired all the share, participation and (Exhibit A) where the following words were
interest of the surviving widow and of the only written: "Testamento de Jose B. Suntay" (pp.
child by the second marriage in the estate of 399, 404, t. s. n., Id.); that after the signing of
his deceased father. Be that as it may, his the will it was placed inside the envelope
testimony that under the will the surviving (Exhibit A) together with an inventory of the
widow would take two-thirds of the estate of properties of Jose B. Suntay and the envelope
the late Jose B. Suntay is at variance with was sealed by the signatures of the testator
Exhibit B and the testimony of Anastacio and the attesting witnesses (pp. 398, 401, 441,
Teodoro. According to the latter, the third for 443, 461, t. s. n., Id.); that he again saw the
strict legitime is for the ten children; the third envelope (Exhibit A) in his house one Saturday
for betterment is for Silvino, Apolonio, in the later part of August 1934, brought by Go
Concepcion and Jose Jr.; and the third for free Toh and it was then in perfect condition (pp.
disposal is for the surviving widow and her 405-6, 411, 440-2, t. s. n., Id.); that on the
child Silvino. following Monday Go Toh went to his law office
bringing along with him the envelope (Exhibit
55

Hence, granting that there was a will duly A) in the same condition; that he told Go Toh
executed by Jose B. Suntay placed in the that he would charge P25,000 as fee for
Page
probating the will (pp. 406, 440-2, Id.); that Go The fact that the municipal district court of
Toh did not leave the envelope (Exhibit A) Amoy, China, is a probate court must be
either in his house or in his law office (p. 407, t. proved. The law of China on procedure in the
s. n., Id.); that Go Toh said he wanted to keep probate or allowance of wills must also be
it and on no occasion did Go Toh leave it to proved. The legal requirements for the
him (pp. 409, 410, t. s. n., Id.). execution of a valid will in China in 1931 should
also be established by competent evidence.
The testimony of Go Toh taken and heard by There is no proof on these points. The
Assistant Fiscal F. B. Albert in connection with unverified answers to the questions
the complaint for estafa filed against Manuel propounded by counsel for the appellant to the
Suntay for the alleged snatching of the Consul General of the Republic of China set
envelope (Exhibit A), corroborates the forth in Exhibits R-1 and R-2, objected to by
testimony of Alberto Barretto to the effect that counsel for the appellee, are inadmissible,
only one will was signed by Jose B. Suntay at because apart from the fact that the office of
his office in which he (Alberto Barretto), Consul General does not qualify and make the
Manuel Lopez and Go Toh took part as person who holds it an expert on the Chinese
attesting witnesses (p. 15, t. s. n., Exhibit 6). law on procedure in probate matters, if the
Go Toh testified before the same assistant same be admitted, the adverse party would be
fiscal that he did not leave the will in the hands deprived of his right to confront and cross-
of Anastacio Teodoro (p. 26, t. s. n., Exhibit 6). examine the witness. Consuls are appointed to
He said, quoting his own words, "Because I attend to trade matters. Moreover, it appears
can not give him this envelope even though the that all the proceedings had in the municipal
contract (on fees) was signed. I have to bring district court of Amoy were for the purpose of
that document to court or to anywhere else taking the testimony of two attesting witnesses
myself." (p. 27, t. s. n., Exhibit 6). to the will and that the order of the municipal
district court of Amoy does not purport to
As to the will claimed to have been executed probate the will. In the absence of proof that
on 4 January 1931 in Amoy, China, the law on the municipal district court of Amoy is a
the point in Rule 78. Section 1 of the rule probate court and on the Chinese law of
provides: procedure in probate matters, it may be
presumed that the proceedings in the matter of
Wills proved and allowed in a foreign probating or allowing a will in the Chinese
country, according to the laws of such courts are the a deposition or to a perpetuation
country, may be allowed, filed, and of testimony, and even if it were so it does not
recorded by the proper Court of First measure same as those provided for in our
Instance in the Philippines. laws on the subject. It is a proceedings in rem
and for the validity of such proceedings
Section 2 provides: personal notice or by publication or both to all
interested parties must be made. The
When a copy of such will and the interested parties in the case were known to
allowance thereof, duly authenticated, is reside in the Philippines. The evidence shows
filed with a petition for allowance in the that no such notice was received by the
Philippines, by the executor or other interested parties residing in the Philippines
person interested, in the court having (pp. 474, 476, 481, 503-4, t. s. n., hearing of 24
jurisdiction, such court shall fix a time February 1948). The proceedings had in the
and place for the hearing, and cause municipal district court of Amoy, China, may be
notice thereof to be given as in case of likened toe or come up to the standard of such
an original will presented for allowance. proceedings in the Philippines for lack of notice
to all interested parties and the proceedings
Section 3 provides: were held at the back of such interested
parties.
If it appears at the hearing that the will
should be allowed in the Philippines, the The order of the municipal district court of
court shall so allow it, and a certificate of Amoy, China, which reads as follows:
its allowance, signed by the Judge, and
attested by the seal of the courts, to ORDER:
which shall be attached a copy of the
will, shall be filed and recorded by the SEE BELOW
clerk, and the will shall have the same
56

effect as if originally proved and allowed The above minutes were satisfactorily
in such court. confirmed by the interrogated parties,
Page
who declare that there are no errors, On May 14, 1934, Jose B. Suntay died
after said minutes were loudly read and in the City of Amoy, China. He married
announced actually in the court. twice, the first time to Manuela T. Cruz
with whom he had several children now
Done and subscribed on the Nineteenth residing in the Philippines, and the
day of the English month of the 35th second time to Maria Natividad Lim
year of the Republic of China in the Civil Billian with whom he had a son.
Section of the Municipal District Court of
Amoy, China. On the same date, May 14, 1934,
Apolonio Suntay, eldest son of the
HUANG KUANG CHENG deceased by his first marriage, filed the
Clerk of Court latter's intestate in the Court of First
Instance of Manila (civil case No. 4892).
CHIANG TENG HWA
Judge On October 15, 1934, and in the same
court, Maria Natividad Lim Billian also
instituted the present proceedings for
(Exhibit N-13, p. 89 Folder of Exhibits.).
the probate of a will allegedly left by the
deceased.
does not purport to probate or allow the will
which was the subject of the proceedings. In
According to the petitioner, before the
view thereof, the will and the alleged probate
deceased died in China he left with her
thereof cannot be said to have been done in
a sealed envelope (Exhibit A) containing
accordance with the accepted basic and
his will and, also another document
fundamental concepts and principles followed
(Exhibit B of the petitioner) said to be a
in the probate and allowance of wills.
true copy of the original contained in the
Consequently, the authenticated transcript of
envelope. The will in the envelope was
proceedings held in the municipal district court
executed in the Philippines, with
of Amoy, China, cannot be deemed and
Messrs. Go Toh, Alberto Barretto and
accepted as proceedings leading to the
Manuel Lopez as attesting witnesses.
probate or allowance of a will and, therefore,
On August 25, 1934, Go Toh, as
the will referred to therein cannot be allowed,
attorney-in-fact of the petitioner, arrived
filed and recorded by a competent court of this
in the Philippines with the will in the
country.
envelope and its copy Exhibit B. While
Go Toh was showing this envelope to
The decree appealed from is affirmed, without
Apolonio Suntay and Angel Suntay,
pronouncement as to costs.
children by first marriage of the
deceased, they snatched and opened it
Pablo, Bengzon, A. Reyes, Labrador and
and, after getting its contents and
Concepcion, JJ., concur.
throwing away the envelope, they fled.

Upon this allegation, the petitioner asks


in this case that the brothers Apolonio,
Angel, Manuel and Jose Suntay,
Separate Opinions children by the first marriage of the
deceased, who allegedly have the
PARAS, C.J., dissenting: document contained in the envelope
which is the will of the deceased, be
As a preliminary statement we may well refer ordered to present it in court, that a day
to the case of Maria Natividad Lim Billian, be set for the reception of evidence on
petitioner and appellant,vs. Apolonio Suntay, the will, and that the petitioner be
Angel Suntay, Manuel Suntay, and Jose appointed executrix pursuant to the
Suntay, oppositors and appellees, 63 Phil., designation made by the deceased in
793-797, in which the following decision was the will.
rendered by this Court on November 25, 1936,
holding that the will executed by Jose B. In answer to the court's order to present
Suntay who died in the City of Amoy, China, on the alleged will, the brothers Apolonio,
May 14, 1934, was lost under the Angel, Manuel and Jose Suntay stated
circumstances pointed out therein, and that they did not have the said will and
57

ordering the return of the case to the Court of denied having snatched it from Go Toh.
First Instance of Bulacan for further
Page

proceedings:
In view of the allegations of the petition The trial of this case was limited to the
and the answer of the brothers proof of loss of the will, and from what
Apolonio, Angel, Manuel and Jose has taken place we deduce that it was
Suntay, the questions raised herein are: not petitioner's intention to raise, upon
The loss of the alleged will of the the evidence adduced by her, the other
deceased, whether Exhibit B points involved herein, namely, as we
accompanying the petition is an have heretofore indicated, whether
authentic copy thereof, and whether it Exhibit B is a true copy of the will and
has been executed with all the essential whether the latter was executed with all
and necessary formalities required by the formalities required by law for its
law for its probate. probate. The testimony of Alberto
Barretto bears importantly in this
At the trial of the case on March 26, connection.
1934, the petitioner put two witnesses
upon the stand, Go Toh and Tan Boon Wherefore, the loss of the will executed
Chong, who corroborated the allegation by the deceased having been
that the brothers Apolonio and Angel sufficiently established, it is ordered that
appropriated the envelope in the this case be remanded to the court of
circumstances above-mentioned. The origin for further proceedings in
oppositors have not adduced any obedience to this decision, without any
evidence counter to the testimony of pronouncement as to the costs. So
these two witnesses. The court, while ordered
making no express finding on this fact,
took it for granted in its decision; but it On June 18, 1947, Silvino Suntay, the herein
dismissed the petition believing that the petitioner, filed a petition in the Court of First
evidence is insufficient to establish that Instance of Bulacan praying "that an order be
the envelope seized from Go Toh issued (a) either directing the continuation of
contained the will of the deceased, and the proceedings in the case remanded by the
that the said will was executed with all Supreme Court by virtue of its decision in G. R.
the essential and necessary formalities No. 44276 and fixing a date for the reception of
required by law for its probate. evidence of the contents of the will declared
lost, or the allowance, filing and recording of
In our opinion, the evidence is sufficient the will of the deceased which had been duly
to establish the loss of the document probated in China, upon the presentation of the
contained in the envelope. Oppositors' certificates and authentications required by
answer admits that, according to Section 41, Rule 123 (Yu
Barretto, he prepared a will of the Chengco vs. Tiaoqui supra), or both
deceased to which he later become a proceedings concurrently and simultaneously;
witness together with Go Toh and (b) that letters of administration be issued to
Manuel Lopez, and that this will was herein petitioner as co-administrator of the
placed in an envelope which was signed estate of the deceased together with Federico
by the deceased and by the Suntay; and (c) that such other necessary and
instrumental witnesses. In court there proper orders be issued which this Honorable
was presented and attached to the case Court deems appropriate in the premises."
an open and empty envelope signed by While this petition was opposed by Federico C.
Jose B. Suntay, Alberto Barretto, Go Suntay, son of the deceased Jose B. Suntay
Toh and Manuel Lopez. It is thus with his first wife, Manuela T. Cruz, the other
undeniable that this envelope Exhibit A children of the first marriage, namely, Ana
is the same one that contained the will Suntay, Aurora Suntay, Concepcion Suntay,
executed by the deceased-drafted by Lourdes Guevara Vda. de Suntay, Manuel
Barretto and with the latter, Go Toh and Suntay and Emiliano Suntay, filed the following
Manuel Lopez as attesting witnesses. answer stating that they had no opposition
These tokens sufficiently point to the thereto; "Come now the heirs Concepcion
loss of the will of the deceased, a Suntay, Ana Suntay, Aurora Suntay, Lourdes
circumstance justifying the presentation Guevara Vda. de Suntay, Manuel Suntay, and
of secondary evidence of its contents Emiliano Suntay, through their undersigned
and of whether it was executed with all attorney, and, in answer to the alternative
the essential and necessary legal petition filed in these proceedings by Silvino
formalities. Suntay, through counsel, dated June 18, 1947,
58

to this Honorable Court respectfully state that,


since said alternative petition seeks only to put
Page
into effect the testamentary disposition and dismissed the case in the order dated
wishes of their late father, they have no February 7, 1938 (Exhibit L).
opposition thereto."
On July 3, 1947, the petitioner Silvino
After hearing, the Court of First Instance of Suntay filed a motion for the
Bulacan rendered on April 19, 1948, the consolidation of the intestate Estate of
following decision: the deceased Jose B. Suntay, Special
Proceeding No. 4892 and the Testate
This action is for the legalization of the Estate of Jose B. Suntay, Special
alleged will of Jose B. Suntay, Proceeding No. 4952, which latter case
deceased. is the subject of the said alternative
petition. The motion for the merger and
In order to have a comprehensive consolidation of the two cases was
understanding of this case, it is granted on July 3, 1947.
necessary to state the background on
which the alternative petition of the That oppositor, Federico C. Suntay, in
herein petitioner Silvino Suntay has the Testate Proceeding filed a motion to
been based. dismiss the alternative petition on
November 14, 1947, which was denied
The decision of the Supreme Court by the court in its resolution of
(Exhibit O), in re will of the deceased November 22, 1947. The said oppositor
Jose B. Suntay, 63 Phil., 793-797, is not being satisfied with the ruling of this
hereunder produced: court denying the motion to dismiss,
filed before the Supreme Court a
(As quoted above) petition for a writ of certiorari with
preliminary injunction, which was
The above quoted decision of the dismissed for lack of merit on January
Supreme Court was promulgated on 27, 1948.
November 25, 1936 (Exhibit O).
In obedience to the decision of the
The Clerk of the Court of Court of First Supreme Court (Exhibit O) and upon the
Instance of Bulacan notified the parties alternative petition of Silvino Suntay,
of the decision on December 15, 1936; and, further, upon the dismissal of the
and the case was set for hearing on petition for a writ of certiorari with
February 12, 1937, but it was preliminary injunction, the court was
transferred to March 29, 1937 (Exhibit constrained to proceed with the hearing
O), on motion of the then petitioner of the probate of the lost will, the draft of
Maria Natividad Lim Billian (Exhibit F). which is Exhibit B, or the admission and
Again, it was postponed until "further recording of the will which had been
setting" in the order of court dated probated in Amoy, China.
March 18, 1937, upon motion of the
petitioner (Exhibit H). The evidence for the petitioner, Silvino
Suntay, shows that Jose B. Suntay
In the meantime, the deposition of Go married twice; first to Manuela T. Cruz
Toh was being sought (Exhibit H). who died on June 15, 1920 and had
begotten with her Apolonio, now
The hearing of the case was again set deceased, Concepcion, Angel, Manuel,
for February 7, 1936, by order of the Federico, Ana, Aurora, Emiliano and
court dated January 5, 1938, upon Jose, Jr., all surnamed Suntay, and
motion of Emiliano Suntay and Jose second, to Maria Natividad Lim Billian
Suntay, Jr. On the same day of the with whom he had as the only child
hearing which had been set, the Silvino Suntay, the petitioner herein.
petitioner, then, Maria Natividad Lim
Billian, sent a telegram from Amoy, Some time in November 1929, Jose B.
China, addressed to the Court of First Suntay executed his last will and
Instance of Bulacan moving for the testament in the office of Atty. Alberto
postponement of the hearing on the Barretto in Manila, which was witnessed
ground that Atty. Eriberto de Silva who by Alberto Barretto, Manuel Lopez and
was representing her died (Exhibit K). Go Toh. The will was prepared by said
59

The court, instead of granting the Alberto Barretto upon the instance of
telegraphic motion for postponement, Jose B. Suntay, and it was written in the
Page
Spanish language which was cloth with which the envelope was
understood and spoken by said testator. wrapped (Exhibit C).
After the due execution of the will, that is
signing every page and the attestation The Testate Proceeding was filed
clause by the testator and the witnesses nevertheless and in lien of the lost will a
in the presence of each other, the will draft of the will (Exhibit B) was
was placed inside the envelope (Exhibit presented as secondary evidence for
A), sealed and on the said envelope the probate. It was disallowed by this court
testator and the three subscribing through Judge Buenaventura Ocampo,
witnesses also signed, after which it was but on appeal the Supreme Court
delivered to Jose B. Suntay. remanded the case to this court for
further proceeding (Exhibit C).
A year or so after the execution of the
will, Jose B. Suntay together with his In the meantime, a Chinese will which
second wife Maria Natividad Lim Billian was executed in Amoy Fookien, China,
and Silvino Suntay who was then of on January 4, 1931, by Jose B. Suntay,
tender age went to reside in Amoy, written in Chinese characters (Exhibit P)
Fookien, China, where he died on May was discovered in Amoy, China, among
14, 1934. The will was entrusted to the the papers left by Jose B. Suntay, and
widow, Maria Natividad Lim Billian. said will had been allowed to probate in
the Amoy District Court, China, which is
Upon the death of Jose B. Suntay on being also presented by Silvino Suntay
May 14, 1934, Apolonio Suntay, the for allowance and recording in this court.
oldest son now deceased, instituted the
Intestate Proceedings No. 4892, upon The said petition is opposed by Federico
the presumption that no will existed. C. Suntay on the main ground that
Maria Natividad Lim Billian who Maria Natividad Lim Billian and Silvino
remained in Amoy, China, had with her Suntay have no more interest in the
the will and she engaged the services of properties left by Jose B. Suntay,
the law firm of Barretto and Teodoro for because they have already sold their
the probate of the will. Upon the request respective shares, interests and
of the said attorneys the will was participations. But such a ground of
brought to the Philippines by Go Toh opposition is not of moment in the
who was one of the attesting witnesses, instant case, because the proposition
and it was taken to the law office of involved herein in the legalization of the
Barretto and Teodoro. The law firm of lost will or the allowance and recording
Barretto and Teodoro was composed of of the will which had been probated in
Atty. Alberto Barretto and Judge Amoy, China.
Anastacio Teodoro. The probate of the
will was entrusted to the junior partner It is now incumbent upon this court to
Judge Anastacio Teodoro; and, upon delve into the evidence whether or not
the presentation of the sealed envelope Jose B. Suntay, deceased, left a will
to him, he opened it and examined the (the draft of which is Exhibit B) and
said will preparatory to the filing of the another will which was executed and
petition for probate. There was a another will which was executed and
disagreement as to the fees to be paid probated in Amoy, China.
by Maria Natividad Lim Billian, and as
she (through Go Toh) could not agree to There is no longer any doubt that Jose
pay, P20,000 as fees, the will was B. Suntay while he was still residing in
returned to Go Toh by Judge Anastacio the Philippines, had executed a will;
Teodoro after the latter had kept it in his such is the conclusion of the Supreme
safe, in his office, for three days. Court in its decision (Exhibit O). That the
will was snatched and it has never been
Subsequently, the will inside the produced in court by those who
envelope was snatched from Go Toh by snatched it, and consequently
Manuel Suntay and Jose, Jr., which fact considered lost, is also an established
has been established in the decision of fact.
the Supreme Court at the beginning of
this decision. Go Toh could recover the The contention of the oppositor,
60

envelope (Exhibit A) and the piece of Federico C. Suntay, is that the will that
was executed by Jose B. Suntay in the
Page
Philippines contained provisions which the attesting witnesses because it would
provided for equal distribution of the take up much time, and in the same
properties among the heirs; hence, the breath he declared that he checked it
draft (Exhibit B) cannot be considered before it was signed; and that he
as secondary evidence, because it does destroyed the draft of the first will which
not provide for equal distribution, but if was in his own handwriting, but he
favors Maria Natividad Lim Billian and delivered the draft of the second will
Silvino Suntay. He relies on the which he prepared to Jose B. Suntay in
testimony of Atty. Alberto Barretto who the presence of Manuel Lopez, now
declared that the first will which he deceased.
drafted and reduced into a plain copy
was the will that was executed by Jose Whether or not the final plain copy of the
B. Suntay and placed inside the draft of the will (Exhibit B) was executed
envelope (Exhibit A). by the testator, Jose B. Suntay, and
attested by the subscribing witnesses,
Granting that the first will which Atty. Atty. Alberto Barretto, Manuel Lopez
Alberto Barretto had drafted became the and Go Toh, is the pivotal point in this
will of Jose B. Suntay and it was instant case. Judge Anastacio Teodoro
snatched by, and, therefore, it had fallen testified that he opened the sealed
into the hands of, Manuel Suntay and envelope when it was given to him by
the brothers of the first marriage, it Go Toh preparatory to the presentation
stands to reason that said Manuel of the petition for the probate of the said
Suntay and brothers would have been will. As the lawyer entrusted with that
primarily interested in the production of task, he had to examine the will and
said will in court, for obvious reasons, have it copied to be reproduced or
namely, that they would have been appended to the petition. He could not
favored. But it was suppressed and do otherwise if he is worth salt as a
"evidence willfully suppressed would be good lawyer; he could not perform the
adverse if produced" (Section 69 (e), stunt of "blind flying" in the judicial
Rule 123 of the Rules of Court). The firmament. Every step must be taken
contention, therefore, that the first will with certainty and precision under any
which was drafted by Atty. Barretto was circumstances. He could not have talked
the one placed inside the envelope about the attorney's fees with Go Toh,
(Exhibit A) is untenable. unless he has not examined the will
beforehand. And, declaring that it was
It might be said in this connection that the exact draft of the will that was inside
the draft of the will (Exhibit B) has been the envelope (Exhibit A), the testimony
admitted by Atty. Alberto Barretto as of Atty. Alberto Barretto to the contrary
identical in substance and form to the notwithstanding.
second draft which he prepared in
typewriting; it differs only, according to The testimony of Judge Anastacio
him, in style. He denied that the Teodoro is corroborated by Go Toh, one
insertions in long hand in the said draft of the attesting witnesses, in his
are in his own handwriting; however, deposition (Exhibit D-1).
Judge Anastacio Teodoro averred that
the said insertions are the handwriting of Ana Suntay, one of the heirs and who
Atty. Alberto Barretto. But when Atty. would be affected adversely by the
Alberto Barretto was asked to show any legalization of the will in question, also
manuscript of his for purposes of testified on rebuttal that she saw the
comparison, he declined to do so original will in the possession of Manuel
alleging that he did not have any Suntay, immediately after the snatching.
document in his possession showing his She read it and she particularly
handwriting notwithstanding the fact that remembers the manner in which the
he was testifying in his own house at properties were to be distributed. Exhibit
188 Sta. Mesa Boulevard, Manila. He B was shown to her on the witness
further testified that the first will be stand and she declared that the
drafted contained four or five pages, but provision regarding the distribution of
the second draft contained twenty-three the properties in said Exhibit B is the
pages; that he declared in one breath same as that contained in the original
61

that he did not read the will any more will. Said testimony of Ana Suntay,
when it was signed by the testator and
Page
therefore, belies the testimony of Atty. The contents of the Chinese will is
Alberto Barretto. substantially the same as the draft
(Exhibit B). Granting that the will
With respect to the proof of lost or executed in the Philippines is non-
destroyed will, Section 6 of Rule 77 existent as contended by the oppositor,
provides as follows: although the findings of this court is
otherwise, the will executed and
"No will shall be proved as a lost or probated in China should be allowed
destroyed will unless the execution and and recorded in this court. All the
validity of the same be established, and formalities of the law in China had been
the will is proved to have been in followed in its execution, on account of
existence at the time of the death of the which it was duly probated in the Amoy
testator, or it is shown to have been District Court. There is no cogent
fraudulently or accidentally destroyed in reason, therefore, why it should not be
the lifetime of the testator without his admitted and recorded in this
knowledge, nor unless its provisions are jurisdiction.
clearly and distinctly proved by at least
two credible witnesses. When a lost will The said will (Exhibit P) in Chinese
is proved, the provisions thereof must characters is presented as an alternate
be distinctly stated and certified by the in case the will executed in the
judge, under the seal of the court, and Philippines would not be allowed to
the certificate must be filed and probate, or as a corroborative evidence
recorded as other wills are filed and that the will, the draft of which is Exhibit
recorded." B, has been duly executed in the
Philippines by Jose B. Suntay.
Section 8 of the same Rule provides as
follows: Rule 78 of the Rules of Court covers the
allowance of will proved outside of the
"If it appears at the time fixed for the Philippines and administration of estate
hearing that the subscribing witnesses thereunder.
are dead or insane, or that none of them
resides in the Philippines the court may Section 1 of said rule provides:
admit the testimony of other witnesses
to prove the sanity of the testator, and "Wills proved and allowed in the United
the due execution of the will; and as States, or any state or territory thereof,
evidence of the due execution of the or in foreign country, according to the
will, it may admit proof of the laws of such state, territory, or country,
handwriting of the testator and of the may be allowed, filed, and recorded by
subscribing witnesses, or any of them." the proper Court of First Instance in the
Philippines."
Manuel Lopez as one of the subscribing
witnesses is dead. Atty. Alberto Barretto Section 2 of the same rule provides:
and Go Toh are still living. The former
testified during the hearing, while Go "When a copy of such will and the
Toh's deposition was introduced in allowance thereof, duly authenticated, is
evidence which was admitted. In the filed with a petition for allowance in the
absence of the testimony of Manuel Philippines, by the executor or other
Lopez, deceased, the testimony of person interested, in the court having
Judge Anastacio Teodoro and Ana jurisdiction, such court shall fix a time
Suntay was received. and place for the hearing, and cause
notice thereof to be given as in case of
It is an established fact that the will, an original will presented for allowance."
draft of which is Exhibit B, was lost or
destroyed; that it was executed and This court has delved deep into the
valid and that it existed at the time of the evidence adduced during the hearing
death of Jose B. Suntay. These with that penetrating scrutiny in order to
circumstances also apply to the will discovery the real facts; it had used
(Exhibit P) which was executed in unsparingly the judicial scapel; and it
Amoy, China. has winnowed the evidenced to
62

separate the grain from the chaff. All the


facts lead to the inevitable conclusion
Page
that Jose B. Suntay, in his sound and China, is therefore, the subject of this
disposing mind and not acting under instant motion.
duress or undue influence, executed the
will which is lost, the draft of which is A. As to the legalization of the Lost Will.
Exhibit B, with all the necessary — There is no question in the mind of
formalities prescribed by law. He, this court that the original will which
likewise, executed the second will Jose B. Suntay, deceased executed in
(Exhibit P) in Amoy, China, which has the Philippines in the year 1929 was lost
been duly probated in Amoy District (Exhibit O, Decision of the Supreme
Court,-a corroborative evidence that the Court). The evidence adduced by the
testator really executed the will. Copies petitioner during the hearing has
of the said wills duly certified and under established through the testimony of
the seal of the court are appended Judge Anastacio Teodoro and that of
hereto, marked Exhibits B and P, and Go Toh (an attesting witness) that the
they form part of this decision. will was executed by Jose B. Suntay,
deceased, with all the formalities
In view of the foregoing considerations, required by law. For the purpose of
the court is of the opinion and so legalizing an original and existing will,
declares that the draft of the will (Exhibit the evidence on record is sufficient as to
B) is, to all legal intents and purposes, the execution and attesting in the
and testament of the deceased Jose B. manner required by law.
Suntay. With costs against the
oppositor, Federico C. Suntay. Section 8 of Rule 77 provides as
follows:
Oppositor Federico C. Suntay filed on May 20,
1948, a motion for new trial and to set aside "SEC. 8. Proof when witnesses dead or
the decision rendered on April 19, 1948, to insane or do not reside in
which the petitioner filed an opposition, the Philippines. — If it appears at the
followed by a reply filed by the oppositor and time fixed for the hearing that the
an answer on the part of the petitioner. Without subscribing witnesses are dead or
reopening the case and receiving any new or insane, or that none of them resides in
additional evidence, the Court of First Instance the Philippines, the court may admit the
of Bulacan, on September 29, 1948, testimony of other witnesses to prove
promulgated the following resolution setting the sanity of the testator, and the due
aside his first decision and disallowing the wills execution of the will; and as evidence of
sought to be probated by the petitioner in his the execution of the will, may admit
alternative petition filed on June 18, 1947: proof of the handwriting of the testator
and of the subscribing witnesses, or any
This is a motion for new trial and to set of them."
aside the decision legalizing the will of
Jose B. Suntay and allowing and Section 11 of said rule also provides as
recording another will executed by him follows:
in Amoy, China.
"SEC. 11. Subscribing witnesses
By virtue of this motion, this court is produced or accounted for where
constrained to go over the evidence and contest. — If the will is contested, all the
the law applicable thereto with the view subscribing witnesses present in the
of ascertaining whether or not the Philippines and not insane, must be
motion is well founded. Both parties produced and examined, and the death,
have presented extensive memoranda absence, or insanity of any of them must
in support of their respective be satisfactorily shown to the court. If all
contentions. or some of the subscribing witnesses
are present in the Philippines, but
This court has gone over the evidence outside the province where the will has
conscientiously, and it reiterates its been filed, their deposition must be
findings of the same facts in this taken. If all or some of the subscribing
resolution, whether or not the facts witnesses produced and examined
established by the petitioner, Silvino testify against the due execution of the
Suntay, warrant the legalization of the will, or do not remember having attested
63

lost will and the allowance and recording to it, or are otherwise of doubtful
of the will that was executed in Amoy, credibility, the will may be allowed if the
Page
court is satisfied from the testimony of proved to have been in existence at the
other witnesses and from all the time of the death of the testator, or is
evidence presented that the will was shown to have been fraudulently or
executed and attested in the manner accidentally destroyed in the lifetime of
required by law." the testator without his knowledge, nor
unless its provisions are clearly and
The three attesting witnesses were distinctly proved by at least two credible
Manuel Lopez, deceased Alberto witnesses. When a lost will is proved,
Barretto and Go Toh. The last two the provisions thereof must be distinctly
witnesses are still living; the former stated and certified by the Judge, under
testified against and the latter in favor. the seal of the court and the certificate
In other words, the attesting witness, Go must be filed and recorded as other wills
Toh, only, testified in his deposition in are filed and recorded." (Emphasis
favor of the due execution of the will. Court's)
Hence, the petitioner presented another
witness, Judge Anastacio Teodoro, to From the above quoted provision of the
establish and prove the due execution of law, it is clear that the petitioner should
the said will. Ana Suntay was also not only establish the execution and
presented as a witness in rebuttal validity of the will, its existence at the
evidence. The testimony of Go Toh in time of the death of the testator or its
his deposition as an attesting witness, fraudulent and accidental destruction in
coupled with the testimony of Judge the lifetime of the testator without his
Anastacio Teodoro who was able to knowledge, but also must prove its
examine the original will that was provisions clearly and distinctly by at
executed by Jose B. Suntay, deceased, least two credible witnesses. The exact
when it was given to him by Go Toh for language of the clause in the above
the purpose of filing the petition in court quoted provision of the law is "nor
for its legalization, and could recognize unless its provisions are clearly and
the signatures of the testator as well as distinctly proved by at least two credible
of the three attesting witnesses on the witnesses." The legalization of a lost will
said original will is sufficient to convince is not so easy, therefore, as that of an
the court that the original will was original will. The question, therefore, is
executed by the deceased Jose B. boiled down to, and projected on the
Suntay with all the formalities required screen, in a very sharp focus; namely,
by law. The original will, therefore, if it the execution and validity must be
was presented in court to probate would established and the provisions must be
be allowed to all legal intents and clearly and distinctly proved by at least
purposes. But it was not the original will credible witnesses.
that was presented, because it was lost,
but an alleged draft (Exhibit B) of the Granting that the execution and validity
said original will which does not bear the of the lost will have been established
signature of the testator and any of the through the testimony of Judge
attesting witness. The original will was Anastacio Teodoro and Go Toh, and
duly executed with all the formalities perhaps superficially by the rebuttal
required by law, but it was unfortunately witness, Ana Suntay, does it follow that
lost; and the curtain falls for the next the provisions of the lost will have been
setting. clearly and distinctly proved by at least
two credible witnesses? A careful review
The Court is now confronted with the of the evidence has revealed that at
legalization of the lost will — whether or most the only credible witness who
not the draft (Exhibit B) should be testified as to the provisions of the will
admitted as secondary evidence in lieu was Judge Anastacio Teodoro, and yet
of the lost will and allowed to probate. he testified on the provisions of the lost
will with the draft (Exhibit B) in his hands
Section 6. Rule 77 provides as follows: while testifying. It may be granted,
however, that with or without the draft of
"SEC. 6. Proof of lost or destroyed will the will (Exhibit B) in his hands, he could
— Certificate thereupon. — No will shall have testified clearly and distinctly on
be proved as a lost will or destroyed will the provisions of the said lost will,
64

unless the execution and validity of the because he had kept the will in his safe,
same be established, and the will is in his office, for three days, after
Page
opening it, and he is well versed in Section 2 of the same Rule also
Spanish language in which the will as provides:
written. But did the attesting witness Go
Toh, testify in his deposition and prove "SEC. 2. Notice of hearing for
clearly and distinctly the provisions of allowance. — When a copy of such will
the lost will? He did not, and he could and the allowance thereof, duly
not have done so even if he tried authenticated, is filed with a petition for
because the original will was not read to allowance in the Philippines by the
him nor by him before or at the signing executor or other persons interested, in
of the same. It was written in Spanish the Court having jurisdiction, such court
and he did not and does not understand shall fix a time and place for the hearing,
the Spanish language. Neither was and cause notice thereof to be given as
there any occasion for him to have the in case of an original will presented for
contents of the said will, after its allowance."
execution and sealing inside the
envelope (Exhibit A), read to him Sections 41 and 42 of Rule 123
because it was opened only when provides as follows:
Judge Teodoro had examined it and
then subsequently snatched from Go "SEC. 41. Proof of Public or official
Toh. Ana Suntay on rebuttal did not, record. — An official record or an entry
likewise, prove clearly and distinctly the therein, when admissible for any
provisions of the said lost will because purpose, may be evidenced by an
she has not had enough schooling and official publication thereof or by a copy
she does possess adequate knowledge attested by the officer having the legal
of the Spanish language as shown by custody of the record, or by his deputy,
the fact that she had to testify in and accompanied, if the record is not
Tagalog on the witness standing. kept in the Philippines, with a certificate
that such officer has the custody. If the
It is evident, therefore, that although the office in which the record is kept is
petitioner has established the execution within the United States or its territory,
and validity of the lost will, yet he had the certificate may be made by a judge
not proved clearly and distinctly the of a court of record of the district or
provisions of the will by at least two political subdivision in which the record
credible witnesses. is kept, authenticated by the seal of the
court, or may be made by any public
B. As to the Allowance and Recording of officer having a seal of the office and
the will Executed in Amoy, China. — having official duties in the district or
Jose B. Suntay, while he was residing in political subdivision in which the record
China during the remaining years of his is kept, authenticated by the seal of his
life, executed also a will, written in office. If the office in which the record is
Chinese characters, the translation of kept is in a foreign country, the
which is marked Exhibit P. It was certificate may be made by a secretary
allowed to probate in the District Court of embassy or legation, consul general,
of Amoy, China. The question is consul, vice consul, or consular agent or
whether or not the said will should be by any officer in the foreign service of
allowed and recorded in this jurisdiction. the United States stationed in the
foreign country in which the record is
Section 1 of Rule 78 provides as kept, and authenticated by the seal of
follows: his office."

"SEC. 1. Will proved outside Philippines F. "SEC. 42. What attestation of copy
any be allowed here. — Will proved and must state. — Whenever a copy of
allowed in the United States, or any writing is attested for the purpose of
state or territory thereof, or in a foreign evidence, the attestation must state, in
country, according to the laws of such substance, that the copy is a correct
state, territory, or country, may be copy of the original, or a specific part
allowed, filed, and recorded by the thereof, as the case may be. The
proper court of First Instance in the attestation must be under the official
Philippines." seal of the attesting officer, if there be
65

any, or if he be the clerk of a court


Page
having a seal, under the seal of such Vol. 2, 1914, p. 1690, and as certified to
court." by the Director of the National Library.
But this was far from compliance with
In the case of Yu Changco vs. Tiaoqui, the law. The laws of a foreign
11 Phil. 598, 599, 600, our Supreme jurisdiction do not prove themselves in
Court said: our courts. The courts of the Philippine
Islands are not authorized to take
"Section 637 of the Code of Civil judicial notice of the laws of the various
Procedure says that will proved and States of the American Union. Such
allowed in a foreign country, according laws must be proved as facts. (In re
to the laws of such country, may be Estate of Johnson (1918), 39 Phil., 156.)
allowed, filed, and recorded in the Court Here the requirements of the law were
of First Instance of the province in which not met. There was not showing that the
the testator has real or personal estate book from which an extract was taken
on which such will may operate; but was printed or published under the
section 638 requires that the proof of the authority of the State of West Virginia,
authenticity of a will executed in a as provided in section 300 of the Code
foreign country must be of Civil Procedure. Nor was the extract
duly"authenticated". Such from the law attested by the certificate of
authentication, considered as a foreign the officer having charge of the original
judicial record, is prescribed by section under the seal of the State of West
304, which requires the attestation of Virginia, as provided in section 301 of
the clerk or of the legal keeper of the the Code of Civil Procedure. No
records with the seal of the court evidence was introduced to show that
annexed, if there be a seal, together the extract from the laws of West
with a certificate of the chief judge or Virginia was in force at the time the
presiding magistrate that the signature alleged will was executed.
of either of the functionaries attesting
the will is genuine, and, finally, the "It was also necessary for the petitioner
certification of the authenticity of the to prove that the testator had his
signature of such judge or presiding domicile in West Virginia and not in the
magistrate, by the ambassador, Philippine Islands. The only evidence
minister, consul, vice consul or consular introduced to establish this fact
agent of the United States in such consisted of the recitals in the alleged
foreign country. And, should the will be will and the testimony of the petitioner.
considered, from an administrative point
of view, as a mere official document 'of "While the appeal was pending
a foreign country', it may be proved, 'by submission in this court, the attorney for
the original, or by a copy certified by the the appellant presented an unverified
legal keeper thereof, with a certificate, petition asking the court to accept as
under the seal of the country or part of the evidence the documents
sovereign, that the document is a valid attached to the petition. One of these
and subsisting document of such documents discloses that a paper
country, and that the copy is duly writing purporting to be the last will and
certified by the officer having the legal testament of Edward Randolph Hix,
custody of the original. (Sec. 313, par. deceased, was presented for probate on
8)." June 8, 1929, to the clerk of Randolph
County, State of West Virginia, in
In the case of Fluemer vs. Hix, 54 Phil. vacation, and was duly proven by the
610, 611, 612, and 613, our Supreme oaths of Dana Vansley and Joseph L.
Court said: Madden, the subscribing witnesses
thereto, and ordered to be recorded and
"It is the theory of the petitioner that the filed. It was shown by another document
alleged will was executed in Elkins, that in vacation, on June 8, 1929, the
West Virginia, on November 3, 1925, by clerk of court of Randolph County, West
Hix who had his residence in that Virginia, appointed Claude E. Maxwell
jurisdiction, and that the laws of West as administrator, cum testamento
Virginia govern. To this end, there was annexo, of the estate of Edward
submitted a copy of section 3868 of Acts Randolph Hix, deceased ... However
66

1882, c. 84 as found in West Virginia this may be no attempt has been made
Code, Annotated, by Hogg, Charles E., to comply with the provisions of sections
Page
637, 638, and 639 of the Code of Civil B. Suntay in Amoy, China (Exhibit P). Is
Procedure, for no hearing on the that evidence admissible, in view of the
question of the allowance of a will said provisions of Sections 41 and 42 of the
to have been proved and allowed in Rules of the Rules of Court. Is the said
West Virginia has been requested. ... ." certification of the Chinese Consul
General in the Philippines a substantial
Granting that the will of Jose B. Suntay compliance with the provisions of the
which was executed in Amoy, China, above mentioned section 41 and 42 of
was validly done in accordance with the our Rules of Court?
law of the Republic of China on the
matter, is it necessary to prove in this This court has its doubts as to the
jurisdiction the existence of such law in admissibility in evidence of the Chinese
China as a prerequisite to the allowance Consul General in the Philippines of the
and recording of said will? The answer existence of the laws of Republic of
is in the affirmative as enunciated in China relative to the execution and
Fluemer vs. Hix, supra, and in Yanez de probate of a will executed in China.
Barnuevo vs. Fuster, 29 Phil., 606. In Such law may exist in China, but —
the latter case, the Supreme Court said:
"An official record or an entry therein,
"A foreign law may be proved by the when admissible for any purpose, may
certificate of the officer having in charge be evidence by an official publication
of the original, under the seal of the thereof or by a copy attested by the
state or country. It may also be proved officer having the legal custody of the
by an official copy of the same record, or by his deputy, and
published under the authority of the accompanied, if the record is not kept in
particular state and purporting to contain the Philippines, with a certificate that
such law. (Secs. 300 and 301, Act No. such officer has the custody. ... If the
190.), (Syllabus.) office in which the record is kept is in a
foreign country, the certificate may be
The provisions of section 300 and 301 made by a secretary of embassy or
of the Code of Civil Procedure (Act No. legation, consul general, consul, vice
190) are as follows: consul, or consular agent or by any
officer in the foreign service of the
"SEC. 300. Printed laws of the State or United States stationed in the foreign
Country. — Books printed or published country in which the record is kept, and
under the authority of the United States, authenticated by the seal of his office."
or one of the States of the United (Sec. 41 of Rule 123.)
States, or a foreign country, and
purporting to contain statutes, codes, or The law of the Republic of China is a
other written law of such State or public or official record and it must be
country or proved to be commonly proved in this jurisdiction through the
admitted in the tribunals of such State or means prescribed by our Rules of Court.
country an evidence of the written law It is, therefore, obvious that the Chinese
thereof, are admissible in the Philippine Counsel General in the Philippines who
Islands are evidence of such law." certified as to the existence of such law
is not the officer having the legal
"SEC. 301. Attested copy of foreign custody of the record, nor is he a deputy
laws. — A copy of the written law or of such officer. And, if the office in which
other public writing of any state or the record is kept is in a foreign country,
country, attested by the certificate of the the certificate may be made by a
officer having charge of the original, secretary of embassy or legation, consul
under the seal of the state or country, is general, consul, vice consul, or consular
admissible as evidence of such law or agent or by any officer in the foreign
writing." service of the United States stationed in
the foreign country in which the record is
The petitioner has presented in kept, and authenticated by the seal of
evidence the certification of the Chinese his office.
Consul General, Tsutseng T. Shen, of
the existence of the law in China It is clear, therefore, that the above
67

(Exhibit B-3), relative to the execution provisions of the Rules of Court (Rule
and probate of the will executed by Jose 123, sec. 41) not having been complied
Page
with, the doubt of this court has been in this resolution," and merely proceeds to
dissipated, and it is of the opinion and pose the sole question "whether or not the
so holds that the certification of the facts established by the petitioner, Silvino
Chinese Consul General alone is not Suntay, warrant the legalization of the lost will
admissible as evidence in the and allowance and recording of the will that
jurisdiction. was executed in Amoy, China." The somersault
executed by the trial court is premised on the
The evidence of record is not clear as to ground that "although the petitioner has
whether Jose B. Suntay, who was born established the execution and validity of the
in China, but resided in the Philippines lost will, yet he has not proved clearly and
for a long time, has become a Filipino distinctly the provisions of the will by the least
citizen by naturalization, or he remained two credible witnesses"; and that, assuming
a citizen of the Republic of China. The that the will of Jose B. Suntay executed in
record does not, likewise, show with Amoy, China, was in accordance with the law
certainty whether or not he had changed of the Republic of China, the certification of the
his permanent domicile from the Chinese Consul General in the Philippines as
Philippines to Amoy, China. His change the existence of such law is not admissible
of permanent domicile could only be evidence in this jurisdiction. In effect the
inferred. But the question of his resolution on the motion for reconsideration
permanent domicile pales into promulgated by the trial court, and the decision
insignificance in view of the of the majority herein, adopt the position that
overtowering fact that the law of China the testimony of Judge Anastacio Teodoro as
pertinent to the allowance and recording to the provisions of the lost will, while credible
of the said will in this jurisdiction has and perhaps sufficient in extent, is not
been satisfactorily established by the corroborated by the witnesses Go Toh and Ana
petitioner. Suntay and, therefore, falls short of the
requirement in section 6, Rule 77, of the Rules
Both the petitioner and the oppositor of Court that the provisions of the lost will must
have extensively urged in their be "clearly and distinctly proved by at least two
respective memorandum and in the oral witnesses." That this requirement was
argument in behalf of the oppositor the obviously construed, to mean that the exact
question of estoppel. The consideration provisions are to be established, may be
of the points raised by them would open deduced from the following dialogue between
the door to the appreciation of the his Honor, Judge Potenciano Pecson, and
intrinsic validity of the provisions of the attorney Teofilo Sison, new counsel for
will which is not of moment at the oppositor Federico C. Suntay, who appeared
present stage of the proceeding. While for the first time at the ex parte hearing of the
the probate of a will is conclusive as to oppositor's motion for new trial on September
the compliance with all formal requisites 1, 1949:
necessary to the lawful execution of the
will, such probate does not affect the COURT: However, Rule 77, Section 6,
intrinsic validity of the provisions of the provides in proving a lost will, the
will. With respect to the latter the will in provisions of the lost will must be
governed by the substantive law relative distinctly stated and certified by the
to descent and distribution. (In re Judge.
Johnson, 39 Phil., 157).
ATTY. TEOFILO SISON: Yes, Your
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, and Honor.
upon reconsideration, the previous
decision rendered in this case allowing COURT: That presupposes that the
the will (Exhibit B) and allowing and judge could only certify to the exact
recording the foreign will (Exhibit P) is provisions of the will from the evidence
set aside; and this court is of the opinion presented.
and so holds that the said two wills
should be, as they are hereby ATTY. TEOFILO SISON: That is our
disallowed. Without special contention, provided that provision is
pronouncement as to costs. clearly established by two credible
witnesses so that the Court could state
It is very significant that in the foregoing that in the decision, we agree, that is the
68

resolution, the Court of First Instance of very point.


Bulacan "reiterates its finding of the same facts
Page
(t. s. n. 75, Session of Sept. 1, 1948) requisite number of witnesses." In
Allison vs. Allison, 7 Dana 91, it was
The sound rule, however, as we have found it said in speaking of the character and
to be, as to the degree of proof required to extent of proof required in such a case:"
establish the contents of a lost or destroyed nor is there any just ground to object to
will, is that there is sufficient compliance if two the proof because the witnesses have
witnesses have substantiated the provisions not given the language of the will or the
affecting the disposition of the testator's substance thereof.They have given the
properties; and this is especially necessary to substance of the different devises as to
prevent the "perpetration of fraud by permitting the property or interest devised, and to
a presumption to supply the suppressed proof," whom devised and we would not stop, in
to keep a wrong-doer from utilizing the rule as the case of a destroyed will, to scan with
his "most effective weapon," or to avoid the rigid scrutiny the form of the proof,
enjoyment of a "premium from the rascality of provided we are satisfied of the
one whose interests might suggest the substance of its provisions."
destruction of a will." (Jose vs. Casler 139 Ind. 392, 38 N. E.
812).
Section 1865 of the Code requires that
the provisions of a lost will must be The evidence in the case falls short of
clearly and distinctly proved by at least establishing the existence of such a
two credible witnesses before it can be writing, except as it may be presumed,
admitted to probate; but this section under the maxim Omnia preasumuntur
must receive a liberal construction in odium spoliateris." There was
(Hook vs. Pratt, 8 Hun. 102-109) and its evidence tending to show that the
spirit is complied with by holding that it second will of Anne Lambie was in the
applies only to those provisions which possession of Francis Lambie, and that
affect the disposition of the it came to the hands of the proponents,
testator's property and which are of the warranting the inference that it has been
substance of the will. suppressed or destroyed. If from this
evidence the jury found such paper
The allegations of the contents of the destroyed the law permits the
will are general, and under ordinary presumption that it was legally drawn
circumstances, would be in sufficient; and executed, notwithstanding the terms
but the fact alleged, if proven as alleged, of the statute, which requires the
would certainly authorize the revoking instrument to be formally
establishment of the will so far as its executed. If a will be lost, secondary
bequests are concerned. To require that evidence may be given of its contents; if
a copy of the will or the language of the suppressed or destroyed, the same is
bequests, in detail, should be pleaded, true; and, if necessary the law will
where no copy has been preserved, and prevent the perpetration of a fraud by
where the memory of the witnesses permitting a presumption to supply the
does not hold the exact words, would suppressed proof. We cannot assent to
not only deny the substance for mere the proposition that the statute is so
form, but would offer a premium upon right as to be the wrongdoer's most
the rascality of one whose interests effective weapons. The misconduct
might suggest the destruction of a will. once established to the satisfaction of
As said in Anderson vs. Irwin, 101 Ill. the jury, it is no hardship to the
411: "The instrument in controversy wrongdoer to say. "Produce the
having been destroyed without the fault evidence in your possession, or we will
of the defendant in error ... and there not presume that your opponent's
appearing to be any copy of it in contention is true." When one
existence, it would be equivalent to deliberately destroys, or purposely
denying the complainant relief induces another to destroy, a written
altogether to require her to prove the instrument subsequently become a
very terms in which it was conceived. All matter of judicial inquiry between the
that could reasonably be required of her spoliator and an innocent party, the
under the circumstances could be to latter will not be required to make strict
show in general terms the disposition proof of the contents of such instrument
which the testator made of his property in order to establish a right founded
69

by the instruments; that it purported to thereon. Brook, Leg. Max. 576,


be his will and was duly attested by the Preston vs. Preston, 132, Atl. 55, 61.
Page
(Re Lambie's Estate, 97 Mich, 55,56 N. will, because he had kept the will in his safe, in
W. 225) his office, for three days, after opening it, and
he is well versed in Spanish language in which
Judged from the standard set forth in the the will was written." As a matter of fact,
foregoing authorities, and bearing in mind that however, it is not true that Judge Teodoro had
the circumstances of this case lead to the only the draft in question before him while testifying
conclusion that the loss of the will in question is as may be seen from the following passages of
of course imputable to those whose interests the transcript:
are adverse to the petitioner and the widow
Lim Billian, we have no hesitancy in holding the Q. And, have you read that will which
view that the dispositions of the properties left was inside this envelope, Exhibit A? —
by the deceased Jose B. Suntay is provided in "A. Yes.
his will which was lost or snatched in the
manner recited in the decision of this Court in Q. Do you remember more or less the
the case of Lim Billian vs. Suntay, 63 Phil., contents of the will?
798-797, had been more than sufficiently
proved by the testimony of Judge Anastacio ATTY. FERRIN: With our objection, the
Teodoro, Go Toh, and Ana Suntay, supported best evidence is original will itself, Your
conclusively by the draft of the lost will Honor.
presented in evidence as Exhibit "B", and even
by the testimony of oppositor Federico C. ATTY. RECTO: We are precisely
Suntay himself. proving by means of secondary
evidence, the contents of the will,
It is to be recalled that the trial Judge, in his because according to the Supreme
first decision of April 19, 1948, made the Court, and that is a fact already decided,
following express findings with respect to the that the will of Jose B. Suntay was lost
testimony of Judge Teodoro: "Judge Anastacio and that is res adjudicata.
Teodoro testified that he opened the sealed
envelope when it was given to him by Go Toh COURT: Witness may answer.
preparatory to the presentation of the petition
for the probate of the said will. As the lawyer WITNESS: I remember the main
entrusted with that task, he had to examine the features of the will because as I said I
will and have it copied to be reproduced or was the one fighting for the
appended to the petition. He could not do postponement of the hearing of the
otherwise if he is worth his salt as a good intestate case because I was asked by
lawyer. He could not perform the stunt of "blind Don Alberto Barretto to secure the
flying" in the judicial firmament. Every step postponement until the will that was
must be taken with certainty and precision executed by the deceased is sent here
under any circumstances. He could not have by the widow from China, with whom we
talked about the attorney's fees with Go Toh, communicated with several letters, and
unless he has not examined the will when the will arrived. I had to check the
beforehand. And, when he was shown Exhibit facts as appearing in the will, and
B, he did not hesitate in declaring that it was examined fully in connection with the
the exact draft of the will that was inside the facts alleged in the intestate, and there
envelope (Exhibit A), the testimony of Atty. was a striking fact in the intestate that
Alberto Barretto to the contrary Apolonio Suntay has..
notwithstanding."
ATTY. FERRIN: (Interrupting) May we
We should not forget, in this connection, that in ask that the witness answer
the resolution on the motion for reconsideration categorically the questions of Atty.
the trial Judge reiterated the findings in his Recto, it seems that the answers of the
decision, although as regards the testimony of witness are kilometric ...
Judge Teodoro admittedly "the only credible
witness who testified as to the provisions of the ATTY. RECTO: Sometimes the question
will," he observed that Judge Teodoro had the cannot be answered fully unless the
draft Exhibit "B" in his hands while testifying. witness would relate and give all the
We cannot see any justifying for the facts.
observation, assuming that Judge Teodoro
consulted the draft, since even the trial Judge COURT: The Attorney for the
70

granted that he "could have testified clearly Administrator may move for the striking
and distinctly on the provisions of the said lost
Page
out of any testimony that is not THOUSAND (P100,000.00) PESOS of
responsive to the question. the betterment in favor of Silvino, the
minor of the second marriage, and to
ATTY. FERRIN: That is why, our Jose equal to Concepcion.
objection, the answer is out of the
question. Q. So the betterment, as I understand
from you went to four (4) children?-"A.
COURT: Atty. Recto may propound Yes.
another question.
Q. Silvino in the second marriage,
ATTY. RECTO: I heard the witness was Concepcion, Apolonio and Jose in the
saying something and he has not first marriage? — " A. Yes.
finished the sentence, and I want to ask
the Court just to allow the witness to Q. What about the free disposal?-" A.
finish his sentence. The free disposal was disposed in favor
of the widow, Maria Natividad Lim Billian
COURT: You may finish. and Silvino, his minor son in equal
parts..
WITNESS: "A. There was a sentence,
the point I was trying to check first was Q. What about, if you remember, if there
whether the value of the estate left by was something in the will in connection
the deceased was SIXTY THOUSAND with that particular of the usufruct of the
PESOS (P60,000.00) as Apolonio widow? — "A. It was somewhat
Suntay made it appear in his petition, incorporated into the assets of the
and when I looked at the original will, I estate left by the deceased.
found out that it was several hundred
thousand pesos, several thousands of Q. Do you remember the number of
pesos, hundreds of pesos, that was very pages of which that will consisted? —
striking fact to me because the petition "A. Twenty-three (23) pages.
for intestate was for SIXTY THOUSAND
PESOS (P60,000.00), and I came to Q. Do you remember if the pages were
know that it was worth more than signed by the testator? — "A. Yes, sir, it
SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND was signed.
(P700,000.00) PESOS.
Q. And the foot of the testament or the
Q. Do you remember, Judge, the end of the testament, was it signed by
disposition of the will, the main the testator? — "A. Yes, sir, and the
disposition of the will? — "A. Yes, attestation clause was the last page
because our client were the widow, signed by the three instrumental
Maria Natividad Lim Billian, and his son, witnesses, Alberto Barretto, one
Silvino, the only son in the second Chinaman Go Toh, and Manuel Lopez,
marriage, that was very important for me my former Justice of the Peace of
to know. Hagonoy.

Q. How were the properties distributed Q. Do you remember if there witnesses


according to that will?- "A. The signed on the different pages of the will?
properties were distributed into three (3) — "A. Yes, sir, they signed with their
parts, one part which we call legitima name signatures.
corta, were equally distributed to the ten
(10) children, nine (9) in the first Q. Showing you this document
marriage, and one (1) in the second consisting of twenty-three (23) pages in
marriage with Maria Natividad Lim Spanish and which document appears
Billian. The other third, the betterment already attached to this same
was given to four (4) children, testamentary proceedings and already
Concepcion, and Apolonio getting a marked as EXHIBIT B, will you please
quiet substantial share in the tell the Court if and for instance on page
betterment, around SIXTY THOUSAND eight (8) of this document, pagina
(P60,000.00) for Concepcion, Apolonio octavo, it says, there are handwritings in
the amount of SEVENTY THOUSAND pencil, some of which read as follows:
71

(70,000,00) PESOS or little over, and "Los cinco-octavos (5/8) partes


then about ONE HUNDRED corresponds a mi hijo Emiliano", can
Page
you recognize whose handwriting is hid disposition taken in Amoy, China, on April
that? — "A. From my best estimate it is 17, 1938, and in oppositor's Exhibit "6":
the handwriting of Don Alberto Barretto.
26. State what you know of the contents
Q. About the end of the same page of that will.
eight (8) pagina octavo, of the same
document Exhibit B, there is also the . . . . Regarding (1) expenditures (2)
handwriting in pencil which reads: "La Philippine citizenship; (3) Distribution of
otra sexta parte (6.a) corresponde a estates among children (4) Taking care
Bonifacio Lopez", can you recognize of grave lot; (5) guardianship of Silvino
that handwriting? — "A. Yes, sir, this is Suntay and (6) after paying his debts he
the handwriting of Don Alberto Barretto, will have approximately 720,000 pesos
and I wish to call the attention of the left. This amount will be divided into
Court to compare letter "B" which is in three equal parts of 240,000 pesos
capital letter with the signature of Don each. The first part is to be divided
Alberto Barretto in the envelope, equally among the ten children born by
"Alberto Barretto" and stroke identifies the first and second wives and the
one hand as having written those words. second part among the three sons
Silvino Suntay, 75,000 approximately;
Q. Will you please go over cursorily this Apolonio Suntay, 50,000 pesos
document, Exhibit B composed of approximately; Jose Suntay and
twenty-three (23) pages and please tell Concepcion Suntay, 36,000 each
the Court if this document had anything approximately. The third part is to be
to do with the will which according to divided between Maria Lim Billian and
you was contained in the envelope, Silvino Suntay; each will get
Exhibit A? — "A. This is exactly the approximately 110,000 pesos. Silvino
contents of the original will which I Suntay will get a total of 210,000 pesos
received and kept in my office inside the approximately, Maria Natividad Lim
safe for three (3) days, and I precisely Billian a total of 290,000 approximately,
took special case in the credits left by and Apolonio Suntay a total of 80,000
the deceased, and I remember among approximately, Concepcion Suntay and
them, were the De Leon family, and Jose Suntay will get 60,000 pesos each
Sandiko, well known to me, and then the approximately. The rest of the children
disposition of the estate, divided into will get approximately 29,000 each. The
three (3) equal parts, and I noticed that way of distribution of the property of
they are the contents of the will read. Jose B. Suntay, movable and
immovable, and the outstanding debts
His Honor, Judge Pecson, was positive in his to be collected was arranged by Jose B.
first decision that "the testimony of Judge Suntay.
Anastacio Teodoro is corroborated by Go Toh,
one of the attesting witnesses, in his deposition xxx xxx xxx
(Exhibit D-1)." Yet in setting aside his first
decision, he remarked that Go Toh's testimony 78. On the occasion of the execution of
did not prove clearly and distinctly the provision the testament of Jose B. Suntay, state
of the lost will, because: "He did not, and he whether or not you say Exhibit B — ...
could not have done so even if he tried Yes.
because the original will was not read to him
nor by him before or at the signing of the same. 79. In the affirmative case, state if you
It was written in Spanish and he did not and know who had the possession of Exhibit
does not understand the Spanish language. B and the testament the first time you
Neither was there any occasion for him to have saw them on that occasion. — ... Yes, I
the contents of the said will, after its execution know who had possession of them.
and sealing inside the envelope (Exhibit A),
read to him, because it was opened only when 80. Can you say whether or not Jose B.
Judge Teodoro had examined it and then Suntay happened to get those
subsequently snatched from Go Toh." documents later on, on that same
occasion? — ... He got them after the
The later position thus taken by Judge Pecson execution.
is palpably inconsistent with the following
72

unequivocal statements of Go Toh contained in 81. Please name the person who gave
those documents to Mr. Suntay. — ...
Page
Alberto Barretto gave the documents to Q. Did you know the contents of this
Jose B. Suntay. envelope? — "A. I knew that it was a
will.
82. Did the person who gave those
documents to Suntay say anything to Q. But did you know the provisions of
him (Suntay) at the time of giving them? the will? — "A. It is about the distribution
— ... Yes. of the property to the heirs.

83. If so what was it that he said, if he Q. Did you know how the property was
said any? — ... He said, "You had better distributed according to the will? — "A. I
see if you want any correction." know that more than P500,000 was for
the widow and her son, more than
84. What did Mr. Suntay do after those P100,000 for the heirs that are in the
documents were given to him? — ... family. (Exhibit "6", p. 28).
Jose B. Suntay looked at them and then
gave one copy to Manuel Lopez for Q. You stated that you were one of the
checking. witnesses to the will and that the will
was written in Spanish. Was it written in
85. State whether or not Mr. Suntay typewriting or in handwriting of
gave one of those documents to another somebody? — "A. That will was written
man. — ... Yes. in typewriting.

86. In the affirmative case, can you say Q. Did you read the contents of that will,
which of the two documents was given or do you know the contents of that will?
and who the man was? — ... Yes he — A. No, sir, because I do not know
gave Exhibit B to Manuel Lopez. Spanish.

87. State whether or not Mr. Suntay said Q. How do you know that it was the will
something to the man to whom he gave of Jose B. Suntay ? — "A. Because I
one of those documents. — ... Yes. was one of the signers and I saw it."
(Exhibit "6", p. 19.)
88. In the affirmative case can you
repeat more or less what Mr. Suntay 22. Do you understand the language in
said to that man? — ... He told him to which that will was written? — ... I know
read it for checking. a little Spanish.

89. State if you know what did the man 23. Do you talk or write that language? I
do with one of those documents given to can write and talk a little Spanish.
him. — ... He took it and read it for (Exhibits D, D-1.)
checking.
As to Ana Suntay's corroborating testimony,
90. What did in turn Mr. Suntay do with Judge Pecson aptly made the following
the other one left with him? — ... Jose findings: "Ana Suntay, one of the heirs and
B. Suntay looked at the original and who would be affected adversely by the
checked them. legalization of the will in question, also testified
on rebuttal that she saw the original will in the
91. What was done with those possession of Manuel Suntay immediately after
documents later on if there was anything the snatching. She read it and she particularly
done with them? — ... After checking, remembers the manner in which the properties
Jose B. Suntay put Exhibit B in his were to be distributed. Exhibit B was shown to
pocket and had the original signed and her on the witness stand and she declared that
executed. the provision regarding the distribution of the
properties in said Exhibit B is the same as that
92. What was done with the testament contained in the original will. Said testimony of
of Jose B. Suntay after it was signed by Ana Suntay, therefore, belies the testimony of
the testator and its witnesses? — ... It Atty. Alberto Barretto." And yet in the resolution
was taken away by Jose B. Suntay. on the motion for new trial, the trial Judge had
(Exhibit D, D-1.) to state that "Ana Suntay on rebuttal did not,
likewise, prove clearly and distinctly the
73

provisions of the said lost will, because she


has not had enough schooling and she does
Page
not possess adequate knowledge of the distribuian las propiedades pero no ha
Spanish language as shown by the fact that dicho la testigo que ella lo ha puesto de
she had to testify in Tagalog on the witness memoria, ni Vd. ha preguntado en que
stand." The potent error committed by Judge lenguaje estaba escrito el testamento ...
Pecson in reversing his views as regards Ana's
testimony, is revealed readily in the following Juzgado: Se estima.
portions of the transcript:
Abogado Mejia:
P. Cuantas paginas tenia aquel
documento a que usted se refiere? — P. Sabe usted en que lenguaje estaba
"R. Probablemente seria mas de veinte redactado el documento que usted leyo
(20) paginas. personalmente? — "R. En Castellano.

P. No serian treinta (30) paginas? — P. Puede usted repetirnos ahora en


"Abogado Recto: La testigo ha Castellano algunas frases o palabras
contestado ya que mas de veinte (20). como se hizo la distribucion en aquel
supuesto testamento? —
Juzgado: Se estima
Abogado Recto: Objecion, por falta de
Abogado Mejia: base, uno puede entender el español y
sin embargo no podra repetir lo que ha
P. Usted personalmente leyo el leido, y no se sabe todavia si ha
documento" — "R. Yo leyo mi hermano estudiado el español bastante hasta el
en presencia mia. punto de poder hablarlo.

P. La pregunta es, si usted Juzgado: Se estima.


personalmente ha leido el documento?
— " R. Si, lo he visto. Abogado Mejia

P. No solamente le pregunto a usted si P. Usted dijo que estaba puesto en


Vd. ha visto el testamento sino si usted castellano el supuesto testamento que
ha leido personalmente el testamento? Vda. leyo, usted poso el castellano? —
— "R. Si la parte de la adjudicacion lo "R. Yo entiendo el castellano, pero no
he leido para asegurarme a que porcion puedo hablar bien.
corresponde a cada uno de nosotros.
P. Usted estudio el castellano en algun
P. Puede usted repetir poco mas o colegio? — "Rj. Si, señor, En Sta.
menos esa porcion a que se hacia la Catalina.
distribucion del alegado testamento? —
"R. Como ya he declarado, que las P. Cuantos años? — "R. Nuestros
propiedades de mi difunto padre se estudios no han sido continuous porque
habian dividido en tres partes, una mi padre nos ingresaba en el colegio y
tercera parte se nos adjudica a nosotros despues nos sacaba para estar afuera,
diez (1) hijos en primeros nupcias y y no era continuo nuestro estudio.
segunda nupcia, la segunda tercera
parte los adjudica a la viuda y a Silvino, P. Pero en total, como cuantos meses o
y la otra tercera parte se lo adjudica a años estaba usted en el colegio
sus hijos como mejora a Silvino, aprendiendo el castelano? — "R. Unos
Apolonio, Concepcion y Jose. cuatro o cinco años.

P. Eso, tal como usted personalmente lo P. Entonces usted puede leer el


leyo en el documento? — "R. Si Señor. castellano con facilidad, señora? — "R.
Si, castellano sencillo puedo entender y
P. Quiere usted tener la bondad, lo puedo leer.
señora, de repetir poco mas o menos
las palabras en ese documento que se P. Usted entiende las preguntas que se
distribuia las propiedades del defundo le dirigian aqui en castellano sin
padre usted como usted relata aqui? interpretacion o sin el interprete? — "R.
"Abogado Recto: Objetamos a la Si, Señor.
74

pregunta por falta de base, porque elle


solamente se fijo en la parte como se
Page
P. Puede usted contestar en castellano? envelope containing the first will providing for
— "R. Bueno, pero como de contestar, equal shares, would not have been entrusted
por eso quiero que la pregunta se me to the care and custody of the widow Lim
traduzca antes. asi puedo contestar Billian.
debidamente. (t.s.n. pp. 533-534.)
It is very noteworthy that out of the nine
We are really at a loss to understand why, children of the first marriage, only Angel, Jose
without any change whatsoever in the and Federico Suntay had opposed the probate
evidence, the trial Judge reversed his first of the will in question; the rest, namely, Ana,
decision, particularly when he announced Aurora, Concepcion, Lourdes, Manuel and
therein that "it is now incumbent upon this court Emiliano Suntay, having expressly manifested
to delve into the evidence whether or not Jose in their answer that they had no opposition
B. Suntay, deceased, left a will (the draft of thereto, since the petitioner's alternative
which is Exhibit B) and another will which was petition "seeks only to put into effect the
executed and probated in Amoy, China." His testamentary disposition and wishes of their
action is indeed surprising when we take into late father." This attitude is significantly an
account the various circumstancial features indication of the justness of petitioner's claim,
presently to be stated, that clearly confirm the because it would have been to their greater
testimony of Judge Anastacio Teodoro, G. Toh advantage if they had sided with oppositor
and Ana Suntay, or otherwise constitute Federico Suntay in his theory of equal
visible indicia of oppositor's desire to frustrate inheritance for all the children of Jose B.
the wishes of his father, Jose B. Suntay. Suntay. Under the lost will or its draft Exhibit
"B", each of the Suntay children would receive
In our opinion the most important piece of only some P 25,000.00, whereas in case of
evidence in favor of the petitioner's case is the intestacy or under the alleged will providing for
draft of the lost will, Exhibit "B." Its authenticity equal shares, each of them would receive
cannot be seriously questioned, because some P100,000.00. And yet the Suntay
according to the trial Judge himself, oppositor's children other than Angel, Jose and Federico
own witness, Atty. Alberto Barretto, admitted it had chosen to give their conformity to the
to be "identical in substance and form to the alternative petition in this case.
second draft which he prepared in typewriting."
Indeed, all the "A's" and "B's" in the Another unequivocal confirmation of the lost
handwritten insertions of the draft are very will is the will which Jose B. Suntay executed in
similar to those in Barretto's admittedly genuine Amoy, Fookien, China, on January 4, 1931,
signature on the envelope, Exhibit "A." The and probated in Amoy District Court, China,
finding of Judge Pecson on the point in his first containing virtually the same provisions as
decision (reiterated expressly in the resolution those in the draft Exhibit "B". What better
on the motion for new trial), should control, not evidence is there of an man's desire or
only because it is in accordance with the insistence to express his last wishes than the
evidence but because the oppositor had failed execution of a will reiterating the same
and did not even attempt to have the trial provisions contained in an earlier will.
Judge reconsider or reverse his factual Assuming that the Chinese will cannot be
conclusions. The draft, Exhibit "B," having been probated in the jurisdiction, its probative value
positively identified by the witnesses for the as corroborating evidence cannot be ignored.
petitioner to be an exact copy of the lost will of
Jose B. Suntay, is therefore conclusive. Oppositor himself had admitted having read
Oppositor's effort to show that said draft was the will in question under which the widow Lim
never signed in final form, and was thought of Billian was favored; and this again in a way
merely to deceive petitioner's mother, Lim goes to corroborate the evidence for the
Billian, and that the will actually executed and petitioner as to the contents of the will sought
put in the envelope, Exhibit "A", provided that to be probated.
the testator's estate would be divided equally
among his heirs, as in the case of intestacy, COURT:
was necessarily futile because, if this allegation
is true, the will would not have been "snatched" Q. Have you read the supposed will or
from Go Toh — and the loss certainly cannot the alleged will of your father? — "A.
be imputed to the widow Lim Billian or the Yes, sir.
petitioner; the snatched will would have been
produced to put an end to petitioner's and his COURT:
75

mother's claim for greater inheritance or


participation under the lost will; and the
Page
Q. Can you tell the court the share or feat which the majority, in my opinion, have
participation in the inheritance of Maria mistakenly commended. We have found this to
Natividad Lim Billian according to the be one of the cases of this court in which we
will? — have had occasion to participate, where there
can be absolutely no doubt as to the result —
A. Yes sir, she will inherit, I think, two- outright reversal — for which, with due respect
thirds (2/3) of the estate, in other words to the majority opinion, we vote without
she is the most favored in the will, so hesitancy.
when they sold that, they sold
everything, they are selling everything Montemayor and Jugo, JJ., concur.
even the conjugal property. (t. s. n. 228-
229.)

The decision of the majority leans heavily on


the testimony of Atty. Alberto Barretto, forgetful RESOLUTION
perhaps of the fact that the trial Judge gave no
credence to said witness. It should be repeated 5 November 1954
that Judge Pecson reiterated in the resolution
on the motion for new trial all his findings in the
first decision. If as Atty. Barretto testified, Lim PADILLA, J.:
Billian was entitled under the will actually
signed by Jose Suntay only to P10,000.00, in This is a motion for reconsideration of the
addition to properties in China value at decision promulgated on 31 July 1954,
P15,000.00, the fees of P25,000.00 admittedly affirming the decree of the Court of First
asked by him would absorb her entire Instance of Bulacan which disallowed the
inheritance; and this would normally not be alleged last will and testament executed in
done by any law practitioner. Upon the other November 1929 and the alleged last will and
hand, there is evidence to the effect that Atty. testament executed in Kulangsu, Amoy, China,
Barretto might have become hostile to the on 4 January 1931, by Jose B. Suntay, without
petitioner and his mother Lim Billian in view of pronouncement as to costs, on grounds that
the latter's refusal to agree to the amount of will presently be taken up and discussed.
P25,000.00 and her offer to pay only P100.00.
There is also evidence tending to show that as Appellant points to an alleged error in the
early as 1942, Atty. Barretto was paid by decision where it states that —
oppositor Federico Suntay the sum of
P16,000.00 which, although allegedly for . . . This petition was denied because of
services in the testate proceedings, was paid the loss of said will after the filing of the
out of the personal funds of said oppositors to petition and before the hearing thereof, .
supply Atty. Barretto's needs. This ..
circumstances perhaps further explains why
the latter had to support the side of Federico because according to him the "will was lost
Suntay. before not after (the) filing of the petition." This
slight error, if it is an error at all, does not, and
We have quoted in full the decision of this court cannot, after the conclusions and
in the "snatching" case and the first decision of pronouncements made in the judgment
Judge Pecson in this case, both in the hope rendered in the case. In his alternative petition
and in the belief (1) that the first would reveal the appellant alleges:
the manner by which those adversely affected
had planned to prevent the last wishes of the 4. That on October 15, 1934, Marian
deceased Jose B. Suntay from being carried Natividad Lim Billian, the mother of
on, and (2) that the second, by the facts herein petitioner filed a petition in this
correctly recited therein and by the force and court for the allowance and probate of a
accuracy of its logic would amply show the last will and testament executed, and
weakness and utter lack of foundation of the signed in the Philippines in the year
resolution on the motion for reconsideration. 1929 by said deceased Jose B. Suntay.
We have set forth at length pertinent portions (P. 3, amended record on appeal.)
of the testimony of various witnesses to
demonstrate more plainly the plausibility of the If such will and testament was already lost or
original decision of Judge Pecson, and the destroyed at the time of the filing of the petition
76

latter's consequent bad judgment in having by Maria Natividad Lim Billian (15 October
forced himself to accomplish a somersault, a 1934), the appellant would have so stated and
Page
alleged. If Anastacio Teodoro, a witness for the vs. Suntay, G. R. No. 44276, 63 Phil., 793,
appellant, is to be believed when he testified — constitutes res judicata on these points: (a) that
only one will was prepared by attorney
. . . that one day in November 1934 (p. Barretto, and (b) that the issue to be resolved
273, t. s. n., hearing of 19 January by the trial court was whether the draft (Exhibit
1948), ... Go Toh arrived at his law B) is a true copy or draft of the snatched will,
office in the De Los Reyes Building and and contends that these points already
left an envelope wrapped in red adjudged were overlooked in the majority
handkerchief [Exhibit C] (p. 32, t. s. n., opinion. The decision of this Court in the case
hearing of 13 October 19470 . . . referred to does not constitute res judicata on
the points adverted to by the appellant. The
and — only point decided in that case is that "the
evidence is sufficient to establish the loss of
If the will was snatched after the delivery the document contained in the envelope." In
thereof by Go Toh to Anastacio Teodoro the opinion of this Court, this circumstance
and returned by the latter to the former justified "the presentation of secondary
because they could not agree on the evidence of its contents and of whether it was
amount of fees, . . . executed with all the essential and necessary
legal formalities." That is all that was decided.
then on 15 October 1934, the date of the filing This Court further said:
of the petition, the will was not yet lost. And if
the facts alleged in paragraph 5 of the The trial of this case was limited to the
appellant's alternative petition which states: proof of loss of the will, and from what
has taken place we deduce that it was
That this Honorable Court, after hearing, not petitioner's intention to raise, upon
denied the aforesaid petition for probate the evidence adduced by her, and other
filed by Maria Natividad Lim Billian in points involved herein, namely, as we
view of the loss and/or destruction of have heretofore indicated, whether
said will subsequent to the filing of said Exhibit B is a true copy of the will and
petition and priorto the hearing thereof, whether the latter was executed with all
and the alleged insufficiency of the the formalities required by law for its
evidence adduced to established the probate. The testimony of Alberto
loss and/or destruction of the said will, Barretto bears importantly in this
(Emphasis supplied, P. 3, amended connection. (P. 796, supra.)
record on appeal.)
Appellant's contention that the question before
may be relied upon, then the alleged error the probate court was whether the draft
pointed out by the appellant, if it is an error, is (Exhibit B) is a true copy or draft of the
due to the allegation in said paragraph of his snatched will is a mistaken interpretation and
alternative petition. Did the appellant allege the view of the decision of this Court in the case
facts in said paragraph with reckless abandon? referred to, for if this Court did make that
Or, did the appellant make the allegation as pronouncement, which, of course, it did not,
erroneously as that which he made in such pronouncement would be contrary to law
paragraph 10 of the alternative petition that "his and would have been a grievous and
will which was lost and ordered probated by irreparable mistake, because what the Court
our Supreme Court in G. R. No. 44276, above passed upon and decided in that case, as
referred to?" (P. 7, amended record on already stated, is that there was sufficient
appeal.) This Court did not order the probate of evidence to prove the loss of the of the will and
the will in said case because if it did, there that the next step was to prove by secondary
would have been no further and subsequent evidence its due execution in accordance with
proceedings in the case after the decision of the formalities of the law and its contents,
this Court referred to had been rendered and clearly and districtly, by the testimony of at
had become final. Be that as it may, whether least two credible witnesses.1
the loss of the will was before or subsequent to
the filing of the petition, as already stated, the The appellant invokes Rule 133 to argue that
fact would not affect in the slightest degree the Rule 77 should not have been applied to the
conclusions and pronouncements made by this case but the provisions of section 623 of the
Court. Code of Civil Procedure (Act No. 190), for the
reason that this case had been commenced
77

The appellant advances the postulate that the before the Rules of Court took effect. But Rule
decision of this Court in the case of Lim Billian 133 cited by the appellant provides:
Page
These rules shall take effect on July 1, of the will had not been established clearly and
1940. They shall govern all cases distinctly by at least two credible witnesses and
brought after they take effect, andalso that conclusion is unassailable because it is
all further proceedings in cases then solidly based on the established facts and in
pending, except to the extent that in the accordance with law.
opinion of the court their application
would not be feasible or would work The appellant and the dissent try to make
injustice, in which event the former much out of a pleading filed by five (5) children
procedure shall apply.(Emphasis and the widow of Apolonio Suntay, another
supplied.) child of the deceased by the first marriage,
wherein they state that —
So, Rule 77 applies to this case because it was
a further proceedings in a case then pending. . . . in answer to the alternative petition
But even if section 623 of the Code of Civil filed in these proceedings by Silvino
Procedure were to be applied, still the Suntay, through counsel, dated June 18,
evidence to prove the contents and due 1947, to this Honorable Court
execution of the will and the fact of its respectfully state that, since said
unauthorized destruction, cancellation, or alternative petition seeks only to put into
obliteration must be established "by full effect the testamentary disposition and
evidence to the satisfaction of the Court." This wishes of their late father, they have no
requirement may even be more strict and opposition thereto. (Pp. 71-72, amended
exacting than the two-witness rule provided for record on appeal.)
in section 6, Rule 77. The underlying reason
for the exacting provisions found in section 623 Does that mean that they were consenting to
of Act No. 190 and section 6, Rule 77, the the probate of the lost will? Of course not. If the
product of experience and wisdom, is to lost will sought to be probated in the alternative
prevent imposters from foisting, or at least to petition was really the will of their late father,
make for them difficult to foist, upon probate they, as good children, naturally had, could
courts alleged last wills or testaments that were have, no objection to its probate. That is all that
never executed. their answer implies and means. But such lack
of objection to the probate of the lost will does
In commenting unfavorably upon the decree not relieve the proponent thereof or the party
disallowing the lost will, both the appellant and interested in its probate from establishing its
the dissenting opinion suffer from an infirmity due execution and proving clearly and distinctly
born of a mistaken premise that all the the provisions thereof at least two credible
conclusions and pronouncements made by the witnesses. It does not mean that they accept
probate court in the first decree which allowed the draft Exhibit B as an exact and true copy of
the probate of the lost will of the late Jose B. the lost will and consent to its probate. Far
Suntay must be accepted by this Court. This is from it. In the pleading copied in the dissent,
an error. It must be borne in mind that this is which the appellant has owned and used as
not a petition for a writ of certiorari to review a argument in the motion for reconsideration,
judgment of the Court of Appeals on questions there is nothing that may bolster up his
of law where the findings of fact by said Court contention. Even if all the children were
are binding upon this Court. This is an appeal agreeable to the probate of said lost will, still
from the probate court, because the amount the due execution of the lost will must be
involved in the controversy exceeds P50,000, established and the provisions thereof proved
and this Court in the exercise of its appellate clearly and distinctly by at least two credible
jurisdiction must review the evidence and the witnesses, as provided for in section 6, Rule
findings of fact and legal pronouncements 77. The appellant's effort failed to prove what is
made by the probate court. If such conclusions required by the rule. Even if the children of the
and pronouncements are unjustified and deceased by the first marriage, out of
erroneous this Court is in duty bound to correct generosity, were willing to donate their shares
them. Not long after entering the first decree in the estate of their deceased father or parts
the probate court was convinced that it had thereof to their step mother and her only child,
committed a mistake, so it set aside the decree the herein appellant, still the donation, if validly
and entered another. This Court affirmed the made, would not dispense with the
last decree not precisely upon the facts found proceedings for the probate of the will in
by the probate court but upon facts found by it accordance with section 6, Rule 77, because
after a careful review and scrutiny of the the former may convey by way of donation
78

evidence, parole and documentary. After such their shares in the state of their deceased
review this Court has found that the provisions father or parts thereof to the latter only after the
Page
decree disallowing the will shall have been but it is also illogical, if it be borne in mind that
rendered and shall have become final. If the Manuel came to the house of Apolonio and it
lost will is allowed to probate there would be no happened that Ana was there, according to her
room for such donation except of their testimony. So the sentence "he went away" in
respective shares in the probated will. Ana's testimony must logically and reasonably
refer to Manuel, who was a caller or visitor in
The part of the deposition of Go Toh quoted in the house of his brother Apolonio and not to
the motion for reconsideration which appellant the latter who was in his house. If it was
underscores does not refer to Go Toh but to Apolonio who "went away," counsel for the
Manuel Lopez. Even if Go Toh heard Manuel appellant could have brought that out by a
Lopez read the draft (Exhibit B) for the purpose single question. As the evidence stands could
of checking it up with the original held and read it be said that the one who went away was
by Jose B. Suntay, Go Toh should not have Apolonio and not Manuel? The obvious answer
understood the provisions of the will because is that it was Manuel. That inference is the
he knew very little of the Spanish language in result of a straight process of reasoning and
which the will was written (answer to 22nd and clear thinking.
23rd interrogatories and to X-2 cross-
interrogatory). In fact, he testifies in his There is a veiled insinuation in the dissent that
deposition that all he knows about the contents Alberto Barretto testified as he did because he
of the lost will was revealed to him by Jose B. had been paid by Federico C. Suntay the sum
Suntay at the time it was executed (answers to of P16,000. Federico C. Suntay testifies on the
25th interrogatory and to X-4 and X-8 cross- point thus —
interrogatories); that Jose B. Suntay told him
that the contents thereof are the same as those Q. You mentioned in your direct
of the draft [Exhibit B] (answers to 33rd testimony that you paid certain amount
interrogatory and to X-8 cross-interrogatory); to Atty. Alberto Barretto for services
that Mrs. Suntay had the draft of the will rendered, how much did you pay? — A.
(Exhibit B) translated into Chinese and he read Around SIXTEEN THOUSAND
the translation (answer to the 67th (P16,000.00).
interrogatory); that he did not read the will and
did not compare it (check it up) with the draft Q. When did you make the payment? —
[Exhibit B] (answers to X-6 and X-20 cross- A. During the Japanese time.
interrogatories). We repeat that —
Q. Did you state that fact in any
. . . all of Go Toh's testimony by accounts you presented to the Court? —
deposition on the provisions of the A. I do not quite remember that.
alleged lost will is hearsay, because he
came to know or he learned of them . . . (P. 180, t. s. n., hearing of 24
from information given him by Jose B. October 1947.)
Suntay and from reading the translation
of the draft (Exhibit B) into Chinese. Q. When you made that payment, was
(it) your intention to charge it to the state
This finding cannot be contested and assailed. or to collect it later from the estate? —
A. Yes, sir.
The appellant does not understand how the
Court came to the conclusion that Ana Suntay, Q. More or less when was such
a witness for the appellant could not have read payment made, during the Japanese
the part of the will on adjudication. According to time, what particular month and year, do
her testimony "she did not read the whole will you remember? — A. I think in 1942.
but only the adjudication," which, this Court
found, "is inconsistent with her testimony in Q. And you said you paid him because
chief (to the effect) that "after Apolonio read of services he rendered? — A. Upon the
that portion, then he turned over the document order to the Court.
of Manuel, and he went away." (P. 528, t. s. n.,
hearing of 24 February 1948.) And appellant Q. And those services were precisely
asks the question: "Who went away? Was it because he made a will and he made a
Manuel or Apolonio?" In answer to his own will which was lost, the will of Jose B.
question the appellant says: "The more Suntay? ... (P. 181, t. s. n., supra.) — A.
obvious inference is that it was Apolonio and I think I remember correctly according to
79

not Manuel who went away." This inference ex-Representative Vera who is the
made by the appellant not only is not obvious administrator whom I followed at that
Page
time, that was paid according to the
services rendered by Don Alberto
Barretto with regard to our case in
the testamentaria but he also rendered
services to my father.

Q. At least your Counsel said that there


was an order of the Court ordering you
to pay that, do you have that copy of the
order? — A. Yes, sir, I have, but I think
that was burned. (P. 184, t. s.
n., supra.).

So the sum of P16,000 was paid upon


recommendation of the former administrator
and order of the probate court for services
rendered by Alberto Barretto not only in the
probate proceedings that also for services
rendered to his father. But if this sum of
P16,000 paid to Alberto Barretto upon
recommendation of the previous administrator
and order of the probate court for professional
services rendered in the probate proceedings
and to the deceased in his lifetime be taken
against his truthfulness and veracity as to
affect adversely his testimony, what about the
professional services of Anastacio Teodoro
who appeared in this case as one of the
attorneys for the petitioner-appellant? (P. 2, t.
s. n., hearing of 13 October 1947.)Would that
not likewise or by the same token affect his
credibility? It is the latter's interest more
compelling than the former's?

For the foregoing reasons, the motion for


reconsideration is denied.

80
Page
G.R. No. 139868 June 8, 2006 Richard’s will was then submitted for probate
before the Regional Trial Court of Makati,
ALONZO Q. ANCHETA, Petitioner, Branch 138, docketed as Special Proceeding
vs. No. M-888.7 Atty. Quasha was appointed as
CANDELARIA GUERSEY- ancillary administrator on July 24, 1986.8
DALAYGON, Respondent.
On October 19, 1987, petitioner filed in Special
DECISION Proceeding No. 9625, a motion to declare
Richard and Kyle as heirs of
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: Audrey.9 Petitioner also filed on October 23,
1987, a project of partition of Audrey’s estate,
Spouses Audrey O’Neill (Audrey) and W. with Richard being apportioned the ¾
Richard Guersey (Richard) were American undivided interest in the Makati property,
citizens who have resided in the Philippines for 48.333 shares in A/G Interiors, Inc.,
30 years. They have an adopted daughter, andP9,313.48 from the Citibank current
Kyle Guersey Hill (Kyle). On July 29, 1979, account; and Kyle, the ¼ undivided interest in
Audrey died, leaving a will. In it, she the Makati property, 16,111 shares in A/G
bequeathed her entire estate to Richard, who Interiors, Inc., and P3,104.49 in cash.10
was also designated as executor.1 The will was
admitted to probate before the Orphan’s Court The motion and project of partition was granted
of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A, which named and approved by the trial court in its Order
James N. Phillips as executor due to Richard’s dated February 12, 1988.11 The trial court also
renunciation of his appointment.2 The court issued an Order on April 7, 1988, directing the
also named Atty. Alonzo Q. Ancheta Register of Deeds of Makati to cancel TCT No.
(petitioner) of the Quasha Asperilla Ancheta 69792 in the name of Richard and to issue a
Pena & Nolasco Law Offices as ancillary new title in the joint names of the Estate of W.
administrator.3 Richard Guersey (¾ undivided interest) and
Kyle (¼ undivided interest); directing the
In 1981, Richard married Candelaria Guersey- Secretary of A/G Interiors, Inc. to transfer
Dalaygon (respondent) with whom he has two 48.333 shares to the Estate of W. Richard
children, namely, Kimberly and Kevin. Guersey and 16.111 shares to Kyle; and
directing the Citibank to release the amount
On October 12, 1982, Audrey’s will was also of P12,417.97 to the ancillary administrator for
admitted to probate by the then Court of First distribution to the heirs.12
Instance of Rizal, Branch 25, Seventh Judicial
District, Pasig, in Special Proceeding No. Consequently, the Register of Deeds of Makati
9625.4 As administrator of Audrey’s estate in issued on June 23, 1988, TCT No. 155823 in
the Philippines, petitioner filed an inventory and the names of the Estate of W. Richard Guersey
appraisal of the following properties: (1) and Kyle.13
Audrey’s conjugal share in real estate with
improvements located at 28 Pili Avenue, Meanwhile, the ancillary administrator in
Forbes Park, Makati, Metro Manila, valued Special Proceeding No. M-888 also filed a
atP764,865.00 (Makati property); (2) a current project of partition wherein 2/5of Richard’s ¾
account in Audrey’s name with a cash balance undivided interest in the Makati property was
of P12,417.97; and (3) 64,444 shares of stock allocated to respondent, while 3/5 thereof were
in A/G Interiors, Inc. worth P64,444.00.5 allocated to Richard’s three children. This was
opposed by respondent on the ground that
On July 20, 1984, Richard died, leaving a will, under the law of the State of Maryland, "a
wherein he bequeathed his entire estate to legacy passes to the legatee the entire
respondent, save for his rights and interests interest of the testator in the property
over the A/G Interiors, Inc. shares, which he subject of the legacy."14 Since Richard left his
left to Kyle.6 The will was also admitted to entire estate to respondent, except for his
probate by the Orphan’s Court of Ann Arundel, rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc,
Maryland, U.S.A, and James N. Phillips was shares, then his entire ¾ undivided interest in
likewise appointed as executor, who in turn, the Makati property should be given to
designated Atty. William Quasha or any respondent.
member of the Quasha Asperilla Ancheta Pena
& Nolasco Law Offices, as ancillary The trial court found merit in respondent’s
administrator. opposition, and in its Order dated December 6,
81

1991, disapproved the project of partition


insofar as it affects the Makati property. The
Page
trial court also adjudicated Richard’s entire ¾ Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but
undivided interest in the Makati property to this was denied by the CA per Resolution
respondent.15 dated August 27, 1999.19

On October 20, 1993, respondent filed with the Hence, the herein petition for review on
Court of Appeals (CA) an amended complaint certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
for the annulment of the trial court’s Orders alleging that the CA gravely erred in not
dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, holding that:
issued in Special Proceeding No.
9625.16Respondent contended that petitioner A) THE ORDERS OF 12 FEBRUARY
willfully breached his fiduciary duty when he 1988 AND 07 APRIL 1988 IN SPECIAL
disregarded the laws of the State of Maryland PROCEEDINGS NO. 9625 "IN THE
on the distribution of Audrey’s estate in MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR
accordance with her will. Respondent argued PROBATE OF THE WILL OF THE
that since Audrey devised her entire estate to DECEASED AUDREY GUERSEY,
Richard, then the Makati property should be ALONZO Q. ANCHETA, ANCILLARY
wholly adjudicated to him, and not merely ¾ ADMINISTRATOR", ARE VALID AND
thereof, and since Richard left his entire estate, BINDING AND HAVE LONG BECOME
except for his rights and interests over the A/G FINAL AND HAVE BEEN FULLY
Interiors, Inc., to respondent, then the entire IMPLEMENTED AND EXECUTED AND
Makati property should now pertain to CAN NO LONGER BE ANNULLED.
respondent.
B) THE ANCILLARY ADMINISTRATOR
Petitioner filed his Answer denying HAVING ACTED IN GOOD FAITH, DID
respondent’s allegations. Petitioner contended NOT COMMIT FRAUD, EITHER
that he acted in good faith in submitting the EXTRINSIC OR INTRINSIC, IN THE
project of partition before the trial court in PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES AS
Special Proceeding No. 9625, as he had no ANCILLARY ADMINISTRATOR OF
knowledge of the State of Maryland’s laws on AUDREY O’NEIL GUERSEY’S ESTATE
testate and intestate succession. Petitioner IN THE PHILIPPINES, AND THAT NO
alleged that he believed that it is to the "best FRAUD, EITHER EXTRINSIC OR
interests of the surviving children that INTRINSIC, WAS EMPLOYED BY [HIM]
Philippine law be applied as they would receive IN PROCURING SAID ORDERS.20
their just shares." Petitioner also alleged that
the orders sought to be annulled are already Petitioner reiterates his arguments before the
final and executory, and cannot be set aside. CA that the Orders dated February 12, 1988
and April 7, 1988 can no longer be annulled
On March 18, 1999, the CA rendered the because it is a final judgment, which is
assailed Decision annulling the trial court’s "conclusive upon the administration as to all
Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, matters involved in such judgment or order,
1988, in Special Proceeding No. 9625.17 The and will determine for all time and in all courts,
dispositive portion of the assailed Decision as far as the parties to the proceedings are
provides: concerned, all matters therein determined,"
and the same has already been executed.21
WHEREFORE, the assailed Orders of
February 12, 1998 and April 7, 1988 are Petitioner also contends that that he acted in
hereby ANNULLED and, in lieu thereof, a new good faith in performing his duties as an
one is entered ordering: ancillary administrator. He maintains that at the
time of the filing of the project of partition, he
(a) The adjudication of the entire estate was not aware of the relevant laws of the State
of Audrey O’Neill Guersey in favor of the of Maryland, such that the partition was made
estate of W. Richard Guersey; and in accordance with Philippine laws. Petitioner
also imputes knowledge on the part of
(b) The cancellation of Transfer respondent with regard to the terms of
Certificate of Title No. 15583 of the Aubrey’s will, stating that as early as 1984, he
Makati City Registry and the issuance of already apprised respondent of the contents of
a new title in the name of the estate of the will and how the estate will be divided.22
W. Richard Guersey.
Respondent argues that petitioner’s breach of
82

18
SO ORDERED. his fiduciary duty as ancillary administrator of
Aubrey’s estate amounted to extrinsic fraud.
Page
According to respondent, petitioner was duty- equally benefit Audrey and Richard Guersey’s
bound to follow the express terms of Aubrey’s adopted daughter, Kyle Guersey Hill.
will, and his denial of knowledge of the laws of
Maryland cannot stand because petitioner is a Petitioner contends that respondent’s cause of
senior partner in a prestigious law firm and it action had already prescribed because as early
was his duty to know the relevant laws. as 1984, respondent was already well aware of
the terms of Audrey’s will,30 and the complaint
Respondent also states that she was not able was filed only in 1993. Respondent, on the
to file any opposition to the project of partition other hand, justified her lack of immediate
because she was not a party thereto and she action by saying that she had no opportunity to
learned of the provision of Aubrey’s will question petitioner’s acts since she was not a
bequeathing entirely her estate to Richard only party to Special Proceeding No. 9625, and it
after Atty. Ancheta filed a project of partition in was only after Atty. Ancheta filed the project of
Special Proceeding No. M-888 for the partition in Special Proceeding No. M-888,
settlement of Richard’s estate. reducing her inheritance in the estate of
Richard that she was prompted to seek
A decree of distribution of the estate of a another counsel to protect her interest.31
deceased person vests the title to the land of
the estate in the distributees, which, if It should be pointed out that the prescriptive
erroneous may be corrected by a timely period for annulment of judgment based on
appeal. Once it becomes final, its binding effect extrinsic fraud commences to run from
is like any other judgment in rem.23 However, in the discovery of the fraud or fraudulent
exceptional cases, a final decree of distribution act/s. Respondent’s knowledge of the terms of
of the estate may be set aside for lack of Audrey’s will is immaterial in this case since it
jurisdiction or fraud.24 Further, in Ramon v. is not the fraud complained of. Rather, it is
Ortuzar,25 the Court ruled that a party petitioner’s failure to introduce in evidence the
interested in a probate proceeding may have a pertinent law of the State of Maryland that is
final liquidation set aside when he is left out by the fraudulent act, or in this case, omission,
reason of circumstances beyond his control or alleged to have been committed against
through mistake or inadvertence not imputable respondent, and therefore, the four-year period
to negligence.26 should be counted from the time of
respondent’s discovery thereof.
The petition for annulment was filed before the
CA on October 20, 1993, before the issuance Records bear the fact that the filing of the
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure; hence, project of partition of Richard’s estate, the
the applicable law is Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 opposition thereto, and the order of the trial
(B.P. 129) or the Judiciary Reorganization Act court disallowing the project of partition in
of 1980. An annulment of judgment filed under Special Proceeding No. M-888 were all done in
B.P. 129 may be based on the ground that a 1991.32 Respondent cannot be faulted for
judgment is void for want of jurisdiction or that letting the assailed orders to lapse into finality
the judgment was obtained by extrinsic since it was only through Special Proceeding
fraud.27 For fraud to become a basis for No. M-888 that she came to comprehend the
annulment of judgment, it has to be extrinsic or ramifications of petitioner’s acts. Obviously,
actual,28 and must be brought within four years respondent had no other recourse under the
from the discovery of the fraud.29 circumstances but to file the annulment case.
Since the action for annulment was filed in
In the present case, respondent alleged 1993, clearly, the same has not yet prescribed.
extrinsic fraud as basis for the annulment of
the RTC Orders dated February 12, 1988 and Fraud takes on different shapes and faces. In
April 7, 1988. The CA found merit in Cosmic Lumber Corporation v. Court of
respondent’s cause and found that petitioner’s Appeals,33 the Court stated that "man in his
failure to follow the terms of Audrey’s will, ingenuity and fertile imagination will always
despite the latter’s declaration of good faith, contrive new schemes to fool the unwary."
amounted to extrinsic fraud. The CA ruled that
under Article 16 of the Civil Code, it is the There is extrinsic fraud within the meaning of
national law of the decedent that is applicable, Sec. 9 par. (2), of B.P. Blg. 129, where it is one
hence, petitioner should have distributed the effect of which prevents a party from
Aubrey’s estate in accordance with the terms hearing a trial, or real contest, or from
of her will. The CA also found that petitioner presenting all of his case to the court, or where
83

was prompted to distribute Audrey’s estate in it operates upon matters, not pertaining to the
accordance with Philippine laws in order to judgment itself, but to the manner in which it
Page
was procured so that there is not a fair Court in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A., which
submission of the controversy. In other words, was duly authenticated and certified by the
extrinsic fraud refers to any fraudulent act of Register of Wills of Baltimore City and attested
the prevailing party in the litigation which is by the Chief Judge of said court; the will was
committed outside of the trial of the case, admitted by the Orphan’s Court of Baltimore
whereby the defeated party has been City on September 7, 1979; and the will was
prevented from exhibiting fully his side of the authenticated by the Secretary of State of
case by fraud or deception practiced on him by Maryland and the Vice Consul of the Philippine
his opponent. Fraud is extrinsic where the Embassy.
unsuccessful party has been prevented from
exhibiting fully his case, by fraud or deception Being a foreign national, the intrinsic validity of
practiced on him by his opponent, as by Audrey’s will, especially with regard as to who
keeping him away from court, a false promise are her heirs, is governed by her national law,
of a compromise; or where the defendant i.e., the law of the State of Maryland, as
never had any knowledge of the suit, being provided in Article 16 of the Civil Code, to wit:
kept in ignorance by the acts of the plaintiff; or
where an attorney fraudulently or without Art. 16. Real property as well as personal
authority connives at his defeat; these and property is subject to the law of the country
similar cases which show that there has never where it is situated.
been a real contest in the trial or hearing of the
case are reasons for which a new suit may be However, intestate and testamentary
sustained to set aside and annul the former succession, both with respect to the order of
judgment and open the case for a new and fair succession and to the amount of
hearing.34 successional rights and to the intrinsic
validity of testamentary provisions, shall be
The overriding consideration when extrinsic regulated by the national law of the person
fraud is alleged is that the fraudulent scheme whose succession is under consideration,
of the prevailing litigant prevented a party from whatever may be the nature of the property
having his day in court.35 and regardless of the country wherein said
property may be found. (Emphasis supplied)
Petitioner is the ancillary administrator of
Audrey’s estate. As such, he occupies a Article 1039 of the Civil Code further provides
position of the highest trust and confidence, that "capacity to succeed is governed by the
and he is required to exercise reasonable law of the nation of the decedent."
diligence and act in entire good faith in the
performance of that trust. Although he is not a As a corollary rule, Section 4, Rule 77 of the
guarantor or insurer of the safety of the estate Rules of Court on Allowance of Will Proved
nor is he expected to be infallible, yet the same Outside the Philippines and Administration of
degree of prudence, care and judgment which Estate Thereunder, states:
a person of a fair average capacity and ability
exercises in similar transactions of his own, SEC. 4. Estate, how administered.—When a
serves as the standard by which his conduct is will is thus allowed, the court shall grant letters
to be judged.36 testamentary, or letters of administration with
the will annexed, and such letters testamentary
Petitioner’s failure to proficiently manage the or of administration, shall extend to all the
distribution of Audrey’s estate according to the estate of the testator in the Philippines. Such
terms of her will and as dictated by the estate, after the payment of just debts and
applicable law amounted to extrinsic fraud. expenses of administration, shall be
Hence the CA Decision annulling the RTC disposed of according to such will, so far
Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, as such will may operate upon it; and the
1988, must be upheld. residue, if any, shall be disposed of as is
provided by law in cases of estates in the
It is undisputed that Audrey Guersey was an Philippines belonging to persons who are
American citizen domiciled in Maryland, U.S.A. inhabitants of another state or country.
During the reprobate of her will in Special (Emphasis supplied)
Proceeding No. 9625, it was shown, among
others, that at the time of Audrey’s death, she While foreign laws do not prove themselves in
was residing in the Philippines but is domiciled our jurisdiction and our courts are not
in Maryland, U.S.A.; her Last Will and authorized to take judicial notice of
84

Testament dated August 18, 1972 was them;37 however, petitioner, as ancillary
executed and probated before the Orphan’s administrator of Audrey’s estate, was duty-
Page
bound to introduce in evidence the pertinent that the distribution made by petitioner was
law of the State of Maryland.38 prompted by his concern over Kyle, whom
petitioner believed should equally benefit from
Petitioner admitted that he failed to introduce in the Makati property. The CA correctly stated,
evidence the law of the State of Maryland on which the Court adopts, thus:
Estates and Trusts, and merely relied on the
presumption that such law is the same as the In claiming good faith in the performance of his
Philippine law on wills and succession. Thus, duties and responsibilities, defendant Alonzo
the trial court peremptorily applied Philippine H. Ancheta invokes the principle which
laws and totally disregarded the terms of presumes the law of the forum to be the same
Audrey’s will. The obvious result was that there as the foreign law (Beam vs. Yatco, 82 Phil.
was no fair submission of the case before the 30, 38) in the absence of evidence adduced to
trial court or a judicious appreciation of the prove the latter law (Slade Perkins vs. Perkins,
evidence presented. 57 Phil. 205, 210). In defending his actions in
the light of the foregoing principle, however, it
Petitioner insists that his application of appears that the defendant lost sight of the fact
Philippine laws was made in good faith. The that his primary responsibility as ancillary
Court cannot accept petitioner’s protestation. administrator was to distribute the subject
How can petitioner honestly presume that estate in accordance with the will of Audrey
Philippine laws apply when as early as the O’Neill Guersey. Considering the principle
reprobate of Audrey’s will before the trial court established under Article 16 of the Civil Code
in 1982, it was already brought to fore that of the Philippines, as well as the citizenship
Audrey was a U.S. citizen, domiciled in the and the avowed domicile of the decedent, it
State of Maryland. As asserted by respondent, goes without saying that the defendant was
petitioner is a senior partner in a prestigious also duty-bound to prove the pertinent laws of
law firm, with a "big legal staff and a large Maryland on the matter.
library."39 He had all the legal resources to
determine the applicable law. It was incumbent The record reveals, however, that no clear
upon him to exercise his functions as ancillary effort was made to prove the national law of
administrator with reasonable diligence, and to Audrey O’Neill Guersey during the proceedings
discharge the trust reposed on him faithfully. before the court a quo. While there is claim of
Unfortunately, petitioner failed to perform his good faith in distributing the subject estate in
fiduciary duties. accordance with the Philippine laws, the
defendant appears to put his actuations in a
Moreover, whether his omission was different light as indicated in a portion of his
intentional or not, the fact remains that the trial direct examination, to wit:
court failed to consider said law when it issued
the assailed RTC Orders dated February 12, xxx
1988 and April 7, 1988, declaring Richard and
Kyle as Audrey’s heirs, and distributing It would seem, therefore, that the eventual
Audrey’s estate according to the project of distribution of the estate of Audrey O’Neill
partition submitted by petitioner. This Guersey was prompted by defendant Alonzo
eventually prejudiced respondent and deprived H. Ancheta’s concern that the subject realty
her of her full successional right to the Makati equally benefit the plaintiff’s adopted daughter
property. Kyle Guersey.

In GSIS v. Bengson Commercial Bldgs., Well-intentioned though it may be, defendant


Inc.,40 the Court held that when the rule that Alonzo H. Ancheta’s action appears to have
the negligence or mistake of counsel binds the breached his duties and responsibilities as
client deserts its proper office as an aid to ancillary administrator of the subject
justice and becomes a great hindrance and estate. While such breach of duty
chief enemy, its rigors must be relaxed to admit admittedly cannot be considered extrinsic
exceptions thereto and to prevent a fraud under ordinary circumstances, the
miscarriage of justice, and the court has the fiduciary nature of the said defendant’s
power to except a particular case from the position, as well as the resultant frustration
operation of the rule whenever the purposes of of the decedent’s last will, combine to
justice require it. create a circumstance that is tantamount to
extrinsic fraud. Defendant Alonzo H.
The CA aptly noted that petitioner was remiss Ancheta’s omission to prove the national laws
85

in his responsibilities as ancillary administrator of the decedent and to follow the latter’s last
of Audrey’s estate. The CA likewise observed will, in sum, resulted in the procurement of the
Page
subject orders without a fair submission of the subsequently died, the entire Makati property
real issues involved in the case.41 (Emphasis should have then passed on to respondent.
supplied) This, of course, assumes the proposition that
the law of the State of Maryland which allows
This is not a simple case of error of judgment "a legacy to pass to the legatee the entire
or grave abuse of discretion, but a total estate of the testator in the property which is
disregard of the law as a result of petitioner’s the subject of the legacy," was sufficiently
abject failure to discharge his fiduciary duties. proven in Special Proceeding No. 9625.
It does not rest upon petitioner’s pleasure as to Nevertheless, the Court may take judicial
which law should be made applicable under notice thereof in view of the ruling in Bohanan
the circumstances. His onus is clear. v. Bohanan.44 Therein, the Court took judicial
Respondent was thus excluded from enjoying notice of the law of Nevada despite failure to
full rights to the Makati property through no prove the same. The Court held, viz.:
fault or negligence of her own, as petitioner’s
omission was beyond her control. She was in We have, however, consulted the records of
no position to analyze the legal implications of the case in the court below and we have found
petitioner’s omission and it was belatedly that that during the hearing on October 4, 1954 of
she realized the adverse consequence of the the motion of Magdalena C. Bohanan for
same. The end result was a miscarriage of withdrawal of P20,000 as her share, the foreign
justice. In cases like this, the courts have the law, especially Section 9905, Compiled
legal and moral duty to provide judicial aid to Nevada Laws, was introduced in evidence by
parties who are deprived of their rights.42 appellants' (herein) counsel as Exhibit "2" (See
pp. 77-79, Vol. II, and t.s.n. pp. 24-44,
The trial court in its Order dated December 6, Records, Court of First Instance). Again said
1991 in Special Proceeding No. M-888 noted law was presented by the counsel for the
the law of the State of Maryland on Estates executor and admitted by the Court as Exhibit
and Trusts, as follows: "B" during the hearing of the case on January
23, 1950 before Judge Rafael Amparo (see
Under Section 1-301, Title 3, Sub-Title 3 of the Records, Court of First Instance, Vol. 1).
Annotated Code of the Public General Laws of
Maryland on Estates and Trusts, "all property In addition, the other appellants, children of the
of a decedent shall be subject to the estate of testator, do not dispute the above-quoted
decedents law, and upon his death shall pass provision of the laws of the State of Nevada.
directly to the personal representative, who Under all the above circumstances, we are
shall hold the legal title for administration and constrained to hold that the pertinent law of
distribution," while Section 4-408 expressly Nevada, especially Section 9905 of the
provides that "unless a contrary intent is Compiled Nevada Laws of 1925, can be taken
expressly indicated in the will, a legacy passes judicial notice of by us, without proof of such
to the legatee the entire interest of the testator law having been offered at the hearing of the
in the property which is the subject of the project of partition.
legacy". Section 7-101, Title 7, Sub-Title 1, on
the other hand, declares that "a personal In this case, given that the pertinent law of the
representative is a fiduciary" and as such he is State of Maryland has been brought to record
"under the general duty to settle and distribute before the CA, and the trial court in Special
the estate of the decedent in accordance with Proceeding No. M-888 appropriately took note
the terms of the will and the estate of of the same in disapproving the proposed
decedents law as expeditiously and with as project of partition of Richard’s estate, not to
little sacrifice of value as is reasonable under mention that petitioner or any other interested
the circumstances".43 person for that matter, does not dispute the
existence or validity of said law, then Audrey’s
In her will, Audrey devised to Richard her and Richard’s estate should be distributed
entire estate, consisting of the following: (1) according to their respective wills, and not
Audrey’s conjugal share in the Makati property; according to the project of partition submitted
(2) the cash amount of P12,417.97; and (3) by petitioner. Consequently, the entire Makati
64,444 shares of stock in A/G Interiors, Inc. property belongs to respondent.
worth P64,444.00. All these properties passed
on to Richard upon Audrey’s death. Decades ago, Justice Moreland, in his
Meanwhile, Richard, in his will, bequeathed his dissenting opinion in Santos v.
entire estate to respondent, except for his Manarang,45 wrote:
86

rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc.


shares, which he left to Kyle. When Richard
Page
A will is the testator speaking after death. Its except only by way of legal succession or if the
provisions have substantially the same force acquisition was made by a former natural-born
and effect in the probate court as if the testator citizen.
stood before the court in full life making the
declarations by word of mouth as they appear In any case, the Court has also ruled that if
in the will. That was the special purpose of the land is invalidly transferred to an alien who
law in the creation of the instrument known as subsequently becomes a citizen or transfers it
the last will and testament. Men wished to to a citizen, the flaw in the original transaction
speak after they were dead and the law, by the is considered cured and the title of the
creation of that instrument, permitted them to transferee is rendered valid.49 In this case,
do so x x x All doubts must be resolved in favor since the Makati property had already passed
of the testator's having meant just what he on to respondent who is a Filipino, then
said. whatever flaw, if any, that attended the
acquisition by the Guerseys of the Makati
Honorable as it seems, petitioner’s motive in property is now inconsequential, as the
equitably distributing Audrey’s estate cannot objective of the constitutional provision to keep
prevail over Audrey’s and Richard’s wishes. As our lands in Filipino hands has been achieved.
stated in Bellis v. Bellis:46
WHEREFORE, the petition is denied. The
x x x whatever public policy or good customs Decision dated March 18, 1999 and the
may be involved in our system of legitimes, Resolution dated August 27, 1999 of the Court
Congress has not intended to extend the same of Appeals are AFFIRMED.
to the succession of foreign nationals. For it
has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the Petitioner is ADMONISHED to be more
amount of successional rights, to the circumspect in the performance of his duties as
decedent's national Law. Specific provisions an official of the court.
must prevail over general ones.47
No pronouncement as to costs.
Before concluding, the Court notes the fact that
Audrey and Richard Guersey were American SO ORDERED.
citizens who owned real property in the
Philippines, although records do not show
when and how the Guerseys acquired the
Makati property.

Under Article XIII, Sections 1 and 4 of the 1935


Constitution, the privilege to acquire and
exploit lands of the public domain, and other
natural resources of the Philippines, and to
operate public utilities, were reserved to
Filipinos and entities owned or controlled by
them. In Republic v. Quasha,48 the Court
clarified that the Parity Rights Amendment of
1946, which re-opened to American citizens
and business enterprises the right in the
acquisition of lands of the public domain, the
disposition, exploitation, development and
utilization of natural resources of the
Philippines, does not include the acquisition or
exploitation of private agricultural lands. The
prohibition against acquisition of private lands
by aliens was carried on to the 1973
Constitution under Article XIV, Section 14, with
the exception of private lands acquired by
hereditary succession and when the transfer
was made to a former natural-born citizen, as
provided in Section 15, Article XIV. As it now
stands, Article XII, Sections 7 and 8 of the
1986 Constitution explicitly prohibits non-
87

Filipinos from acquiring or holding title to


private lands or to lands of the public domain,
Page
ARTICLE 798 the same was dismissed for failure to file
appellants brief within the extended period
granted.[2] This dismissal became final and
executory on February 3, 1989 and a
corresponding entry of judgment was forthwith
[G.R. No. 108581. December 8, 1999] issued by the Court of Appeals on May 16,
1989. A writ of execution was issued by the
lower court to implement the final and
LOURDES L. DOROTHEO, petitioner, vs. executory Order. Consequently, private
COURT OF APPEALS, NILDA D. respondents filed several motions including a
QUINTANA, for Herself and as motion to compel petitioner to surrender to
Attorney-in-Fact of VICENTE them the Transfer Certificates of Titles (TCT)
DOROTHEO and JOSE covering the properties of the late
DOROTHEO, respondents. Alejandro. When petitioner refused to
surrender the TCTs, private respondents filed a
DECISION motion for cancellation of said titles and for
issuance of new titles in their names. Petitioner
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: opposed the motion.

May a last will and testament admitted to An Order was issued on November 29,
probate but declared intrinsically void in an 1990 by Judge Zain B. Angas setting aside the
order that has become final and executory still final and executory Order dated January 30,
be given effect? This is the issue that arose 1986, as well as the Order directing the
from the following antecedents: issuance of the writ of execution, on the ground
that the order was merely interlocutory, hence
Private respondents were the legitimate not final in character. The court added that the
children of Alejandro Dorotheo and Aniceta dispositive portion of the said Order even
Reyes. The latter died in 1969 without her directs the distribution of the estate of the
estate being settled. Alejandro died deceased spouses. Private respondents filed a
thereafter. Sometime in 1977, after Alejandros motion for reconsideration which was denied in
death, petitioner, who claims to have taken an Order dated February 1, 1991. Thus, private
care of Alejandro before he died, filed a special respondents filed a petition before the Court of
proceeding for the probate of the latters last Appeals, which nullified the two assailed
will and testament. In 1981, the court issued an Orders dated November 29, 1990 and
order admitting Alejandros will to February 1, 1991.
probate. Private respondents did not appeal
from said order. In 1983, they filed a Motion To Aggrieved, petitioner instituted a petition
Declare The Will Intrinsically Void. The trial for review arguing that the case filed by private
court granted the motion and issued an order, respondents before the Court of Appeals was a
the dispositive portion of which reads: petition under Rule 65 on the ground of grave
abuse of discretion or lack of
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Order jurisdiction. Petitioner contends that in issuing
is hereby issued declaring Lourdes Legaspi not the two assailed orders, Judge Angas cannot
the wife of the late Alejandro Dorotheo, the be said to have no jurisdiction because he was
provisions of the last will and testament of particularly designated to hear the
Alejandro Dorotheo as intrinsically void, and case. Petitioner likewise assails the Order of
declaring the oppositors Vicente Dorotheo, the Court of Appeals upholding the validity of
Jose Dorotheo and Nilda Dorotheo Quintana the January 30, 1986 Order which declared the
as the only heirs of the late spouses Alejandro intrinsic invalidity of Alejandros will that was
Dorotheo and Aniceta Reyes, whose earlier admitted to probate.
respective estates shall be liquidated and Petitioner also filed a motion to reinstate
distributed according to the laws on intestacy her as executrix of the estate of the late
upon payment of estate and other taxes due to Alejandro and to maintain the status quo or
the government.[1] lease of the premises thereon to third
parties.[3] Private respondents opposed the
Petitioner moved for reconsideration motion on the ground that petitioner has no
arguing that she is entitled to some interest in the estate since she is not the lawful
compensation since she took care of Alejandro wife of the late Alejandro.
prior to his death although she admitted that
they were not married to each other.Upon The petition is without merit. A final and
88

denial of her motion for reconsideration, executory decision or order can no longer be
disturbed or reopened no matter how
Page

petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals, but


erroneous it may be. In setting aside the the will was validly executed, if the testator
January 30, 1986 Order that has attained provides for dispositions that deprives or
finality, the trial court in effect nullified the entry impairs the lawful heirs of their legitime or
of judgment made by the Court of Appeals. It is rightful inheritance according to the laws on
well settled that a lower court cannot reverse or succession,[13] the unlawful
set aside decisions or orders of a superior provisions/dispositions thereof cannot be given
court, for to do so would be to negate the effect. This is specially so when the courts had
hierarchy of courts and nullify the essence of already determined in a final and executory
review. It has been ruled that a final judgment decision that the will is intrinsically void. Such
on probated will, albeit erroneous, is binding on determination having attained that character of
the whole world.[4] finality is binding on this Court which will no
longer be disturbed. Not that this Court finds
It has been consistently held that if no
the will to be intrinsically valid, but that a final
appeal is taken in due time from a judgment or
and executory decision of which the party had
order of the trial court, the same attains finality
the opportunity to challenge before the higher
by mere lapse of time. Thus, the order allowing
tribunals must stand and should no longer be
the will became final and the question
reevaluated. Failure to avail of the remedies
determined by the court in such order can no
provided by law constitutes waiver. And if the
longer be raised anew, either in the same
party does not avail of other remedies despite
proceedings or in a different motion. The
its belief that it was aggrieved by a decision or
matters of due execution of the will and the
court action, then it is deemed to have fully
capacity of the testator acquired the character
agreed and is satisfied with the decision or
of res judicata and cannot again be brought
order. As early as 1918, it has been declared
into question, all juridical questions in
that public policy and sound practice demand
connection therewith being for once and
that, at the risk of occasional errors, judgments
forever closed.[5] Such final order makes the
of courts must at some point of time fixed by
will conclusive against the whole world as to its
law[14]become final otherwise there will be no
extrinsic validity and due execution.[6]
end to litigation. Interes rei publicae ut finis sit
It should be noted that probate litium - the very object of which the courts were
proceedings deals generally with the extrinsic constituted was to put an end to
validity of the will sought to be controversies.[15] To fulfill this purpose and to
probated,[7] particularly on three aspects: do so speedily, certain time limits, more or less
arbitrary, have to be set up to spur on the
whether the will submitted is indeed, the slothful.[16] The only instance where a party
decedents last will and testament; interested in a probate proceeding may have a
final liquidation set aside is when he is left out
compliance with the prescribed formalities for by reason of circumstances beyond his control
the execution of wills; or through mistake or inadvertence not
imputable to negligence,[17] which
the testamentary capacity of the testator;[8] circumstances do not concur herein.
Petitioner was privy to the suit calling for
and the due execution of the last will and the declaration of the intrinsic invalidity of the
testament.[9] will, as she precisely appealed from an
unfavorable order therefrom. Although the final
Under the Civil Code, due execution and executory Order of January 30, 1986
includes a determination of whether the wherein private respondents were declared as
testator was of sound and disposing mind at the only heirs do not bind those who are not
the time of its execution, that he had freely parties thereto such as the alleged illegitimate
executed the will and was not acting under son of the testator, the same constitutes res
duress, fraud, menace or undue influence and judicatawith respect to those who were parties
that the will is genuine and not a to the probate proceedings. Petitioner cannot
forgery,[10] that he was of the proper again raise those matters anew for relitigation
testamentary age and that he is a person not otherwise that would amount to forum-
expressly prohibited by law from making a shopping. It should be remembered that forum
will.[11] shopping also occurs when the same issue
The intrinsic validity is another matter and had already been resolved adversely by some
questions regarding the same may still be other court.[18] It is clear from the executory
raised even after the will has been order that the estates of Alejandro and his
authenticated.[12] Thus, it does not necessarily spouse should be distributed according to the
89

follow that an extrinsically valid last will and laws of intestate succession.
Page

testament is always intrinsically valid. Even if


Petitioner posits that the January 30, 1986 Petitioners motion for appointment as
Order is merely interlocutory, hence it can still administratrix is rendered moot considering
be set aside by the trial court. In support that she was not married to the late Alejandro
thereof, petitioner argues that an order merely and, therefore, is not an heir.
declaring who are heirs and the shares to
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and
which set of heirs is entitled cannot be the
the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED.
basis of execution to require delivery of shares
from one person to another particularly when SO ORDERED.
no project of partition has been filed.[19] The
trial court declared in the January 30, 1986
Order that petitioner is not the legal wife of
Alejandro, whose only heirs are his three
legitimate children (petitioners herein), and at
the same time it nullified the will.But it should
be noted that in the same Order, the trial court
also said that the estate of the late spouses be
distributed according to the laws of
intestacy. Accordingly, it has no option but to
implement that order of intestate distribution
and not to reopen and again re-examine the
intrinsic provisions of the same will.
It can be clearly inferred from Article 960 of
the Civil Code, on the law of successional
rights that testacy is preferred to
intestacy.[20] But before there could be testate
distribution, the will must pass the scrutinizing
test and safeguards provided by law
considering that the deceased testator is no
longer available to prove the voluntariness of
his actions, aside from the fact that the transfer
of the estate is usually onerous in nature and
that no one is presumed to give - Nemo
praesumitur donare.[21] No intestate distribution
of the estate can be done until and unless the
will had failed to pass both its extrinsic and
intrinsic validity. If the will is extrinsically void,
the rules of intestacy apply regardless of the
intrinsic validity thereof. If it is extrinsically
valid, the next test is to determine its intrinsic
validity that is whether the provisions of the will
are valid according to the laws of
succession. In this case, the court had ruled
that the will of Alejandro was extrinsically valid
but the intrinsic provisions thereof were
void. Thus, the rules of intestacy apply as
correctly held by the trial court.
Furthermore, Alejandros disposition in his
will of the alleged share in the conjugal
properties of his late spouse, whom he
described as his only beloved wife, is not a
valid reason to reverse a final and executory
order. Testamentary dispositions of properties
not belonging exclusively to the testator or
properties which are part of the conjugal
regime cannot be given effect. Matters with
respect to who owns the properties that were
disposed of by Alejandro in the void will may
still be properly ventilated and determined in
90

the intestate proceedings for the settlement of


his and that of his late spouses estate.
Page