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Wills Testamentary Succession SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 82027 March 29, 1990 ROMARICO G. VITUG, petitioner, vs.

. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and ROWENA FAUSTINOCORONA, respondents. Rufino B. Javier Law Office for petitioner. Quisumbing, Torres & Evangelista for private respondent. SARMIENTO, J.: This case is a chapter in an earlier suit decided by this Court 1 involving the probate of the two wills of the late Dolores Luchangco Vitug, who died in New York, U. S.A., on November 10, 1980, naming private respondent Rowena Faustino-Corona executrix. In our said decision, we upheld the appointment of Nenita Alonte as cospecial administrator of Mrs. Vitug's estate with her (Mrs. Vitug's) widower, petitioner Romarico G. Vitug, pending probate. On January 13, 1985, Romarico G. Vitug filed a motion asking for authority from the probate court to sell certain shares of stock and real properties belonging to the estate to cover allegedly his advances to the estate in the sum of P667,731.66, plus interests, which he claimed were personal funds. As found by the Court of Appeals, 2the alleged advances consisted of P58,147.40 spent for the payment of estate tax, P518,834.27 as deficiency estate tax, and P90,749.99 as "increment thereto." 3 According to Mr. Vitug, he withdrew the sums of P518,834.27 and P90,749.99 from savings account No. 35342-038 of the Bank of America, Makati, Metro Manila. On April 12, 1985, Rowena Corona opposed the motion to sell on the ground that the same funds withdrawn from savings account No. 35342-038 were conjugal partnership properties and part of the estate, and hence, there was allegedly no ground for reimbursement. She also sought his ouster for failure to include the sums in question for inventory and for "concealment of funds belonging to the estate." 4 Vitug insists that the said funds are his exclusive property having acquired the same through a survivorship agreement executed with his late wife and the bank on June 19, 1970. The agreement provides: We hereby agree with each other and with the BANK OF AMERICAN NATIONAL TRUST AND SAVINGS ASSOCIATION (hereinafter referred to as the BANK), that all money now or hereafter deposited by us or any or either of us with the BANK in our joint savings current account shall be the property of all or both of us and shall be payable to and collectible or withdrawable by either or any of us during our lifetime, and after the death of either or any of us shall belong to and be the sole property of the survivor or survivors, and shall be payable to and collectible or withdrawable by such survivor or survivors. We further agree with each other and the BANK that the receipt or check of either, any or all of us during our lifetime, or the receipt or check of the survivor or survivors, for any payment or withdrawal made for our abovementioned account shall be valid and sufficient release and discharge of the BANK for such payment or withdrawal. 5 The trial courts 6 upheld the validity of this agreement and granted "the motion to sell some of the estate of Dolores L. Vitug, the proceeds of which shall be used to pay the personal funds of Romarico Vitug in the total sum of P667,731.66 ... ." 7 On the other hand, the Court of Appeals, in the petition for certiorari filed by the herein private respondent, held that the above-quoted survivorship agreement constitutes a conveyance mortis causa which "did not comply with the formalities of a valid will as prescribed by Article 805 of the Civil Code," 8 and secondly, assuming that it is a mere donation inter vivos, it is a prohibited donation under the provisions of Article 133 of the Civil Code. 9 The dispositive portion of the decision of the Court of Appeals states: WHEREFORE, the order of respondent Judge dated November 26, 1985 (Annex II, petition) is hereby set aside insofar as it granted private respondent's motion to sell certain properties of the estate of Dolores L. Vitug for reimbursement of his alleged advances to the estate, but the same order is sustained in all other respects. In addition, respondent Judge is directed to include provisionally the deposits in Savings Account No. 35342-038 with the Bank of America, Makati, in the inventory of actual properties possessed by the spouses at the time of the decedent's death. With costs against private respondent. 10 In his petition, Vitug, the surviving spouse, assails the appellate court's ruling on the strength of our decisions inRivera v. People's Bank and Trust Co. 11 and Macam v. Gatmaitan 12 in which we sustained the validity of "survivorship agreements" and considering them as aleatory contracts. 13 The petition is meritorious. The conveyance in question is not, first of all, one of mortis causa, which should be embodied in a will. A will has been defined as "a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a capacitated person disposes of his property and rights and declares or complies with duties to take effect after his death." 14 In other words, the bequest or device must pertain to the testator. 15 In this case, the monies subject of savings account No. 35342-038 were in the nature of conjugal funds In the case relied on, Rivera v. People's Bank and Trust Co., 16 we rejected claims that a survivorship agreement purports to deliver one party's separate properties in favor of the other, but simply, their joint holdings: xxx xxx xxx ... Such conclusion is evidently predicated on the assumption that Stephenson was the exclusive owner of the funds-deposited in the bank, which assumption was in turn based on the facts (1) that the account was originally opened in the name of Stephenson alone and (2) that Ana Rivera "served only as housemaid of the deceased." But it not infrequently happens that a person deposits money in the bank in the name of another; and in the instant case it also appears that Ana Rivera served her master for about nineteen years without actually receiving her salary from him. The fact that subsequently Stephenson transferred the account to the name of himself and/or Ana Rivera and executed with the latter the survivorship agreement in question although there was no relation of kinship between them but only that of master and servant, nullifies the assumption that Stephenson was the exclusive owner of the bank account. In the absence, then, of clear proof to the contrary, we must give full faith and credit to the certificate of deposit which recites in effect that the funds in question belonged to Edgar Stephenson and Ana Rivera; that they were joint (and several) owners thereof; and that either of them could withdraw any part or the whole of said account during the lifetime of both, and the balance, if any, upon the death of either, belonged to the survivor. 17 xxx xxx xxx In Macam v. Gatmaitan,
18

it was held:

Wills Testamentary Succession xxx xxx xxx This Court is of the opinion that Exhibit C is an aleatory contract whereby, according to article 1790 of the Civil Code, one of the parties or both reciprocally bind themselves to give or do something as an equivalent for that which the other party is to give or do in case of the occurrence of an event which is uncertain or will happen at an indeterminate time. As already stated, Leonarda was the owner of the house and Juana of the Buick automobile and most of the furniture. By virtue of Exhibit C, Juana would become the owner of the house in case Leonarda died first, and Leonarda would become the owner of the automobile and the furniture if Juana were to die first. In this manner Leonarda and Juana reciprocally assigned their respective property to one another conditioned upon who might die first, the time of death determining the event upon which the acquisition of such right by the one or the other depended. This contract, as any other contract, is binding upon the parties thereto. Inasmuch as Leonarda had died before Juana, the latter thereupon acquired the ownership of the house, in the same manner as Leonarda would have acquired the ownership of the automobile and of the furniture if Juana had died first. 19 xxx xxx xxx There is no showing that the funds exclusively belonged to one party, and hence it must be presumed to be conjugal, having been acquired during the existence of the marita. relations. 20 Neither is the survivorship agreement a donation inter vivos, for obvious reasons, because it was to take effect after the death of one party. Secondly, it is not a donation between the spouses because it involved no conveyance of a spouse's own properties to the other. It is also our opinion that the agreement involves no modification petition of the conjugal partnership, as held by the Court of Appeals, 21 by "mere stipulation" 22 and that it is no "cloak" 23 to circumvent the law on conjugal property relations. Certainly, the spouses are not prohibited by law to invest conjugal property, say, by way of a joint and several bank account, more commonly denominated in banking parlance as an "and/or" account. In the case at bar, when the spouses Vitug opened savings account No. 35342-038, they merely put what rightfully belonged to them in a money-making venture. They did not dispose of it in favor of the other, which would have arguably been sanctionable as a prohibited donation. And since the funds were conjugal, it can not be said that one spouse could have pressured the other in placing his or her deposits in the money pool. The validity of the contract seems debatable by reason of its "survivor-take-all" feature, but in reality, that contract imposed a mere obligation with a term, the term being death. Such agreements are permitted by the Civil Code. 24 Under Article 2010 of the Code: ART. 2010. By an aleatory contract, one of the parties or both reciprocally bind themselves to give or to do something in consideration of what the other shall give or do upon the happening of an event which is uncertain, or which is to occur at an indeterminate time. Under the aforequoted provision, the fulfillment of an aleatory contract depends on either the happening of an event which is (1) "uncertain," (2) "which is to occur at an indeterminate time." A survivorship agreement, the sale of a sweepstake ticket, a transaction stipulating on the value of currency, and insurance have been held to fall under the first category, while a contract for life annuity or pension under Article 2021, et sequentia, has been categorized under the second. 25 In either case, the element of risk is present. In the case at bar, the risk was the death of one party and survivorship of the other. However, as we have warned: xxx xxx xxx But although the survivorship agreement is per se not contrary to law its operation or effect may be violative of the law. For instance, if it be shown in a given case that such agreement is a mere cloak to hide an inofficious donation, to transfer property in fraud of creditors, or to defeat the legitime of a forced heir, it may be assailed and annulled upon such grounds. No such vice has been imputed and established against the agreement involved in this case. 26 xxx xxx xxx There is no demonstration here that the survivorship agreement had been executed for such unlawful purposes, or, as held by the respondent court, in order to frustrate our laws on wills, donations, and conjugal partnership. The conclusion is accordingly unavoidable that Mrs. Vitug having predeceased her husband, the latter has acquired upon her death a vested right over the amounts under savings account No. 35342-038 of the Bank of America. Insofar as the respondent court ordered their inclusion in the inventory of assets left by Mrs. Vitug, we hold that the court was in error. Being the separate property of petitioner, it forms no more part of the estate of the deceased. WHEREFORE, the decision of the respondent appellate court, dated June 29, 1987, and its resolution, dated February 9, 1988, are SET ASIDE. No costs. SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera (Chairperson), Paras, Padilla and Regalado JJ., concur. Footnotes
1 Corona v. Court of Appeals, No. 59821, August 30, 1982, 116 SCRA 316. 2 Kapunan, Santiago, M., J., ponente; Puno Reynato S. and Marigomen Alfredo, JJ., concurring. 3 Rollo, 21. 4 Id., 22. 5 Id. 6 Judge (now Justice of the Court of Appeals) Asaali S. Isnani presiding. 7 Rollo, 23. 8 Id., 26. 9 Now, Article 87 of the Family Code. 10 Rollo, 28-29. 11 73 Phil. 546 (1942). 12 64 Phil. 187 (1937). 13 CIVIL CODE, Art. 2010. 14 III TOLENTINO, CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES 26 (1973 ed.), citing 1 GOMEZ 53. 15 See CIVIL CODE, supra., arts. 793, 794, 930. 16 Supra. 17 Supra., 547. 18 Supra. 19 Supra., 190-191. 20 CIVIL CODE, supra, art. 160. 21 In the words of the Appellate Court: "Since private respondent and his late wife did not enter into a marriage settlement before marriage, their property relationship was that of conjugal partnership governed by the Civil Code. The

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system of conjugal partnership prohibits, as already mentioned, donation between the spouses during the marriage, except that which takes effect after the death of the donor, in which case, the donation shall comply with the formalities of a will (Arts. 133, 728, 805). To allow the prohibited donation by giving it a cloak of aleatory contract would sanction a (modification) of a marriage settlement during marriage by a mere stipulation. As mandated by Art. 52, the nature, consequences and incidents of marriage, which is not a mere contract but an inviolable social institution are governed by law, and not subject to stipulation." 22 Id. 23 Id. 24 CIVIL CODE, supra., art. 1193. 25 V PARAS, CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, 782 (1986 ed.) 26 Rivera, supra, 548.

Wills Testamentary Succession SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 176943 October 17, 2008 DANILO ALUAD, LEONORA ALUAD, DIVINA ALUAD, PROSPERO ALUAD, AND CONNIE ALUAD, PETITIONERS vs. ZENAIDO ALUAD, RESPONDENT. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: Petitioners' mother, Maria Aluad (Maria), and respondent Zenaido Aluad were raised by the childless spouses Matilde Aluad (Matilde) and Crispin Aluad (Crispin). Crispin was the owner of six lots identified as Lot Nos. 674, 675, 676, 677, 680, and 682 of the Pilar Cadastre, Capiz. After Crispin died, his wife Matilde adjudicated the lots to herself.[1] On November 14, 1981, Matilde executed a document entitled "Deed of Donation of Real Property Inter Vivos"[2] (Deed of Donation) in favor of petitioners' mother Maria[3] covering all the six lots which Matilde inherited from her husband Crispin. The Deed of Donation provided: That, for and in consideration of the love and affection of the DONOR [Matilde] for the DONEE [Maria], the latter being adopted and hav[ing] been brought up by the former the DONOR, by these presents, transfer and convey, BY WAY OF DONATION, unto the DONEE the property abovedescribed, to become effective upon the death of the DONOR , but in the event that the DONEE should die before the DONOR, the present donation shall be deemed rescinded and [of] no further force and effect; Provided, however, that anytime during the lifetime of the DONOR or anyone of them who should survive, they could use[,] encumber or even dispose of any or even all of the parcels of land herein donated. [4] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) On September 30, 1986, Original Certificates of Title over Lot Nos. 674 and 676 were issued in Matilde's name. On August 26, 1991, Matilde sold Lot No. 676 to respondent by a Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property.[5] Subsequently or on January 14, 1992, Matilde executed a last will and testament, [6] devising Lot Nos. 675, 677, 682, and 680 to Maria, and her "remaining properties" including Lot No. 674 to respondent. Matilde died on January 25, 1994, while Maria died on September 24 of the same year.[7] On August 21, 1995, Maria's heirs-herein petitioners filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Roxas City a Complaint,[8] for declaration and recovery of ownership and possession of Lot Nos. 674 and 676, and damages against respondent, alleging: That in 1978, plaintiff[s] possessed the two (2) parcels of land abovedescribed until January 1991 when defendant entered and possessed the two (2) parcels of land claiming as the adopted son of Crispin Aluad who refused to give back possession until Matilde Aluad died in [1994] and then retained the possession thereof up to and until the present time, thus, depriving the plaintiffs of the enjoyment of said parcels of land x x x; c. That after the death of Matilde R. Aluad, the plaintiffs succeeded by inheritance by right of representation from their deceased mother, Maria Aluad who is the sole and only daughter of Matilde Aluad[.][9] To the complaint respondent alleged in his Answer.[10] That Lot 674 is owned by the defendant as this lot was adjudicated to him in the Last Will and Testament of Matilde Aluad x x x while Lot 676 was purchased by him from Matilde Aluad. These two lots are in his possession as true owners thereof.[11] (Underscoring supplied) Petitioners later filed a Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint Already Filed to Conform to Evidence[12] to which it annexed an Amended Complaint[13] which cited the donation of the six lots via Deed of Donation in favor of their mother Maria. Branch 15 of the RTC granted the motion and admitted the Amended Complaint.[14] Respondent filed an Amended Answer[15] contending, inter alia, that the Deed of Donation is forged and falsified and petitioners' change of theory showed that "said document was not existing at the time they filed their complaint and was concocted by them after realizing that their false claim that their mother was the only daughter of Matild[e] Aluad cannot in anyway be established by them";[16] and that if ever said document does exist, the same was already revoked by Matilde "when [she] exercised all acts of dominion over said properties until she sold Lot 676 to defendant and until her death with respect to the other lots without any opposition from Maria Aluad."[17] The trial court, by Decision[18] of September 20, 1996, held that Matilde could not have transmitted any right over Lot Nos. 674 and 676 to respondent, she having previously alienated them to Maria via the Deed of Donation. Thus it disposed: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered: 1. Declaring the plaintiffs as the rightful owners of the subject Lots Nos. 674 and 676, Pilar Cadastre; 2. Ordering the defendant to deliver the possession of the subject lots to the plaintiffs; 3. a. b. Ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiffs: Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) as attorney's fees; Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00), representing the income from subject Lot 676, a year from 1991 up to the time said lot is delivered to the plaintiffs, together with the interest thereof at the legal rate until fully paid; Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00), representing the income from the subject Lot No. 674, a year from 1991 up to the time said lot is delivered to the plaintiffs, plus legal interest thereof at the legal rate until fully paid; and The costs of the suit.

d.

Defendant's counterclaim is ordered dismissed for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.[19] On petitioners' motion, the trial court directed the issuance of a writ of execution pending appeal.[20] Possession of the subject lots appears to have in fact been taken by petitioners. By Decision[21] of August 10, 2006, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision, it holding that the Deed of Donation was actually a donation mortis causa, 4

Wills Testamentary Succession not inter vivos, and as such it had to, but did not, comply with the formalities of a will. Thus, it found that the Deed of Donation was witnessed by only two witnesses and had no attestation clause which is not in accordance with Article 805 of the Civil Code, reading: Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will shall, also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last on the left margin and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that that testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator, and of one another. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to them. While the appellate court declared respondent as the rightful owner of Lot No. 676, it did not so declare with respect to Lot No. 674, as Matilde's last will and testament had not yet been probated. Thus the Court of Appeals disposed: WHEREFORE, finding the instant petition worthy of merit, the same is hereby GRANTED and the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Roxas City, Branch 15, dated 20 September 1996, in Civil Case No. V-6686 for declaration of ownership, recovery of ownership and possession, and damages is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. A new one is entered in its stead declaring defendant-appellant as the lawful owner of Lot [No.] 676 of the Pilar Cadastre. Accordingly,plaintiffsappellees are directed to return the possession of the said lot to the defendant-appellant. Moreover, plaintiffs-appellees are ordered to pay P40,000.00 to defendantappellant as attorney's fees and litigation expenses. Costs against plaintiffs-appellees. SO ORDERED.[22] (Emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied) Their Motion for Reconsideration[23] having been denied,[24] petitioners filed the present Petition for Review,[25] contending that the Court of Appeals erred I. X X X WHEN IT REVERSED THE DECISION OF THE COURT BELOW (RTC, Branch 15, Roxas City) HOLDING THAT THE DEED OF DONATION INTER VIVOS IN FAVOR OF PETITIONERS' MOTHER IS IN FACT A DONATION MORTIS CAUSA. X X X WHEN IT RULED THAT RESPONDENT IS THE RIGHTFUL OWNER OF LOT NO. 676 AS LOT BUYER ON THE BASIS OF A DEED OF SALE EXECUTED BY THE DONOR WHO HAD NO MORE RIGHT TO SELL THE SAME. III. X X X WHEN IT FAILED TO DECLARE PETITIONERS THE RIGHTFUL OWNER OF LOT NO. 674 AFTER HAVING RULED WHEN IT HELD THAT RESPONDENT CANNOT BE DECLARED OWNER THEREOF. X X WHEN IT HELD THAT THE ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF EXECUTION PENDING APPEAL IS IN VIOLATION OF PARAGRAPH (a) SECTION 2, RULE 39, OF THE RULES OF COURT (AND ORDERING PETITIONERS TO RETURN POSSESSION OF LOT 676 TO RESPONDENT) AND ORDERING PETITIONERS TO PAY ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COST[S] OF SUIT.[26]

IV. X

As did the appellate court, the Court finds the donation to petitioners' mother one ofmortis causa, it having the following characteristics:

1. 2.

It conveys no title or ownership to the transferee before the death of the transferor; or what amounts to the same thing, that the transferor should retain the ownership (full or naked) and control of the property while alive; That before the death of the transferor, the transfer should be revocable by the transferor at will, ad nutum; but revocability may be provided for indirectly by means of a reserved power in the donor to dispose of the properties conveyed; and That the transfer should be void if the transferor should survive the transferee.[27] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

3.

The phrase in the earlier-quoted Deed of Donation "to become effective upon the death of the DONOR" admits of no other interpretation than to mean that Matilde did not intend to transfer the ownership of the six lots to petitioners' mother during her (Matilde's) lifetime.[28] The statement in the Deed of Donation reading "anytime during the lifetime of the DONOR or anyone of them who should survive, they could use, encumber or even dispose of any or even all the parcels of land herein donated"[29]means that Matilde retained ownership of the lots and reserved in her the right to dispose them. For the right to dispose of a thing without other limitations than those established by law is an attribute of ownership. [30] The phrase in the Deed of Donation "or anyone of them who should survive" is of course out of sync. For the Deed of Donation clearly stated that it would take effect upon the death of the donor, hence, said phrase could only have referred to the donor Matilde. Petitioners themselves concede that such phrase does not refer to the donee, thus: x x x [I]t is well to point out that the last provision (sentence) in the disputed paragraph should only refer to Matilde Aluad, the donor, because she was the only surviving spouse at the time the donation was executed on 14 November 1981, as her husband - Crispin Aluad [-] had long been dead as early as 1975.[31] The trial court, in holding that the donation was inter vivos, reasoned: x x x The donation in question is subject to a resolutory term or period when the donor provides in the aforequoted provisions, "but in the event that the DONEE should die before the DONOR, the present donation shall be deemed rescinded and [of] no further force and effect". When the donor provides that should the "DONEE" xxx die before the DONOR, the present donation shall be deemed rescinded and [of] no further force and effect" the logical construction thereof is that after the execution of the subject donation, the same became effective immediately and shall be "deemed rescinded and [of] no further force and effect" upon the arrival of a 5

II.

Wills Testamentary Succession resolutory term or period, i.e., the death of the donee which shall occur before that of the donor. Understandably, the arrival of this resolutory term or period cannot rescind and render of no further force and effect a donation which has never become effective, because, certainly what donation is there to be rescinded and rendered of no further force and effect upon the arrival of said resolutory term or period if there was no donation which was already effective at the time when the donee died? [32] (Underscoring supplied) A similar ratio in a case had been brushed aside by this Court, however, thus: x x x [P]etitioners contend that the stipulation on rescission in case petitioners [donee] die ahead of [donor] Cabatingan is a resolutory condition that confirms the nature of the donation as inter vivos. Petitioners' arguments are bereft of merit.[33] xxxx x x x The herein subject deeds expressly provide that the donation shall be rescinded in case [donees] the petitioners predecease [the donor] Conchita Cabatingan. As stated in Reyes v. Mosqueda, one of the decisive characteristics of a donation mortis causa is that the transfer should be considered void if the donor should survive the donee. This is exactly what Cabatingan provided for in her donations. If she really intended that the donation should take effect during her lifetime and that the ownership of the properties donated to the donee or independently of, and not by reason of her death, she would not have expressed such proviso in the subject deeds.[34] (Underscoring supplied) As the Court of Appeals observed, "x x x [t]hat the donation is mortis causa is fortified by Matilde's acts of possession as she continued to pay the taxes for the said properties which remained under her name; appropriated the produce; and applied for free patents for which OCTs were issued under her name."[35 The donation being then mortis causa, the formalities of a will should have been observed[36] but they were not, as it was witnessed by only two, not three or more witnesses following Article 805 of the Civil Code.[37] Further, the witnesses did not even sign the attestation clause[38] the execution of which clause is a requirement separate from the subscription of the will and the affixing of signatures on the left-hand margins of the pages of the will. So the Court has emphasized: x x x Article 805 particularly segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the will from the requisite that the will be "attested and subscribed by [the instrumental witnesses]. The respective intents behind these two classes of signature[s] are distinct from each other. The signatures on the left-hand corner of every page signify, among others, that the witnesses are aware that the page they are signing forms part of the will. On the other hand, the signatures to the attestation clause establish that the witnesses are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself. Indeed, the attestation clause is separate and apart from the disposition of the will.An unsigned attestation clause results in an unattested will. Even if the instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing the unsigned attestation clause, such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses' undertakings in the clause, since the signatures that do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly different avowal. x x x It is the witnesses, and not the testator, who are required under Article 805 to state the number of pages used upon which the will is written; the fact that the testator had signed the will and every page thereof; and that they witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. The only proof in the will that the witnesses have stated these elemental facts would be their signatures on the attestation clause.[39] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Furthermore, the witnesses did not acknowledge the will before the notary public, [40] which is not in accordance with the requirement of Article 806 of the Civil Code that every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. More. The requirement that all the pages of the will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page was not also followed.[41] The Deed of Donation which is, as already discussed, one of mortis causa, not having followed the formalities of a will, it is void and transmitted no right to petitioners' mother. But even assuming arguendo that the formalities were observed, since it was not probated, no right to Lot Nos. 674 and 676 was transmitted to Maria.[42] Matilde thus validly disposed of Lot No. 674 to respondent by her last will and testament, subject of course to the qualification that her (Matilde's) will must be probated. With respect to Lot No. 676, the same had, as mentioned earlier, been sold by Matilde to respondent on August 26, 1991. Petitioners nevertheless argue that assuming that the donation of Lot No. 674 in favor of their mother is indeed mortis causa, hence, Matilde could devise it to respondent, the lot should nevertheless have been awarded to them because they had acquired it by acquisitive prescription, they having been in continuous, uninterrupted, adverse, open, and public possession of it in good faith and in the concept of an owner since 1978.[43] Petitioners failed to raise the issue of acquisitive prescription before the lower courts, however, they having laid their claim on the basis of inheritance from their mother. As a general rule, points of law, theories, and issues not brought to the attention of the trial court cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.[44] For a contrary rule would be unfair to the adverse party who would have no opportunity to present further evidence material to the new theory, which it could have done had it been aware of it at the time of the hearing before the trial court.[45] WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. SO ORDERED. Quisumbing, (Chairperson), Tinga, Velasco, Jr., and Brion, JJ., Concur.

FOOTNOTES
[1]
[2] [3]

Exhibit "G," Records, pp. 172-173. Exhibit "A," id. at 164-165. Maria Aluad, as donee, accepted the donation as expressly stated in the deed and confirmed by her signature thereon (Exhibit "A-3," [vide note 2]). [4] Exhibit "A-1," id. at 164. [5] Exhibit "1," id. at 221. [6] Exhibit "2," id. at 222-223. [7] Exhibits "B" - "C," id. at 166-167. [8] Id. at 1-6. [9] Id. at 3. [10] Id. at 15-21.

Wills Testamentary Succession


[11] [12]

Id. at 18-19. Id. at 102-104. [13] Id. at 105-110. [14] Id. at 121-122. [15] Id. at 132-139. [16] Id. at 134. [17] Id. at 136-137. [18] Id. at 238-247. [19] Id. at 246-247. [20] Id. at 260-261. [21] Penned by Court of Appeals Associate Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Pampio A. Abarintos and Marlene Gonzales-Sison; CA rollo, pp. 130-146. [22] Id. at 145-146. [23] Id. at 155-159. [24] Id. at 166-167. [25] Rollo, pp. 18-50. [26] Id. at 29-30. [27] Maglasang v. Heirs of Corazon Cabatingan, 432 Phil. 548, 554 (2002); Reyes v. Mosqueda, G.R. No. 45262, July 23, 1990, 187 SCRA 661, 670-671; Bonsato, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al., 95 Phil. 481, 487 (1954). [28] Ibid. [29] Exhibit "A-1," records, p. 164. [30] Vide CIVIL CODE, Article 428: "The owner has the right to enjoy and dispose of a thing, without other limitations than those established by law x x x." [31] Rollo, p. 37. [32] Records, pp. 242-243. [33] Maglasang v. Heirs of Corazon Cabatingan, supra note 27 at 553-554. [34] Id. at 556. [35] CA rollo, p. 140. [36] CIVIL CODE, Article 728: Donations which are to take effect upon the death of the donor partake of the nature of testamentary provisions and shall be governed by the rules established in the Title on Succession. Alejandro v. Judge Geraldez, 168 Phil. 404, 414-415 (1977). [37] CIVIL CODE, Article 805. [38] Exhibit "A," records, p. 165. [39] Azuela v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 122880, April 12, 2006, 487 SCRA 119, 141142. Vide Cagro v. Cagro, 92 Phil. 1032, 1033-1034 (1953). [40] Exhibit "A," records, p. 165. [41] Id. at 164-165. Vide CIVIL CODE, Article 805. [42] Rules of Court, Rule 75, Section 1. [43] Rollo, p. 43. [44] Vide General Credit Cooperation v. Alsons Development and Investment Corporation, G.R. No. 154975, January 29, 2007, 513 SCRA 225, 235-236 (citations omitted). [45] Vide Philippine Ports Authority v. City of Iloilo, 453 Phil. 927, 934 (2003) (citation omitted).

Wills Testamentary Succession SECOND DIVISION A.M. No. 2026-CFI December 19, 1981 NENITA DE VERA SUROZA, complainant, vs. JUDGE REYNALDO P. HONRADO of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch 25 and EVANGELINE S. YUIPCO, Deputy Clerk of Court, respondents. AQUINO, J.: Should disciplinary action be taken against respondent judge for having admitted to probate a will, which on its face is void because it is written in English, a language not known to the illiterate testatrix, and which is probably aforged will because she and the attesting witnesses did not appear before the notary as admitted by the notary himself? That question arises under the pleadings filed in the testate case and in the certiorari case in the Court of Appeals which reveal the following tangled strands of human relationship: Mauro Suroza, a corporal in the 45th Infantry of the U.S. Army (Philippine Scouts), Fort McKinley, married Marcelina Salvador in 1923 (p. 150, Spec. Proc. No. 7816). They were childless. They reared a boy named Agapito who used the surname Suroza and who considered them as his parents as shown in his 1945 marriage contract with Nenita de Vera (p. 15, Rollo of CA-G.R. No. 08654-R; p. 148, Rollo of Testate Case showing that Agapito was 5 years old when Mauro married Marcelina in 1923). Mauro died in 1942. Marcelina, as a veteran's widow, became a pensioner of the Federal Government. That explains why on her death she had accumulated some cash in two banks. Agapito and Nenita begot a child named Lilia who became a medical technologist and went abroad. Agapito also became a soldier. He was disabled and his wife Nenita was appointed as his guardian in 1953 when he was declared an incompetent in Special Proceeding No. 1807 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch I (p. 16, Rollo of CA-G.R. No. 08654-R). In that connection, it should be noted that a woman named Arsenia de la Cruz wanted also to be his guardian in another proceeding. Arsenia tried to prove that Nenita was living separately from Agapito and that she (Nenita) admitted to Marcelina that she was unfaithful to Agapito (pp. 61-63, Record of testate case). Judge Bienvenido A. Tan dismissed the second guardianship proceeding and confirmed Nenita's appointment as guardian of Agapito (p. 16, Rollo of CA case). Agapito has been staying in a veteran's hospital in San Francisco or Palo Alto, California (p. 87, Record). On a date not indicated in the record, the spouses Antonio Sy and Hermogena Talan begot a child named Marilyn Sy, who, when a few days old, was entrusted to Arsenia de la Cruz (apparently a girl friend of Agapito) and who was later delivered to Marcelina Salvador Suroza who brought her up as a supposed daughter of Agapito and as her granddaughter (pp. 23-26, Rollo of CA-G.R. No.SP-08654-R). Marilyn used the surname Suroza. She stayed with Marcelina but was not legally adopted by Agapito. She married Oscar Medrano and is residing at 7666 J.B. Roxas Street, Makati, apparently a neighbor of Marina Paje, a resident of 7668 J.B. Roxas Street. Marcelina supposedly executed a notarial will in Manila on July 23, 1973, when she was 73 years old. That will which is in English was thumbmarked by her. She was illiterate. Her letters in English to the Veterans Administration were also thumbmarked by her (pp. 38-39, CA Rollo). In that wig, Marcelina bequeathed all her estate to her supposed granddaughter Marilyn. Marcelina died on November 15, 1974 at the Veterans Hospital in Quezon City. At the time of her death, she was a resident of 7374 San Maximo Street, Olimpia, Makati, Rizal. She owned a 150-square meter lot and house in that place. She acquired the lot in 1966 (p. 134, Record of testate case). On January 13, 1975, Marina Paje, alleged to be a laundrywoman of Marcelina (P. 97, CA Rollo) and the executrix in her will (the alternate executrix was Juanita Macaraeg, mother of Oscar, Marilyn's husband), filed with the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch 25, a petition for the probate of Marcelina's alleged will. The case was assigned to Judge Reynaldo P. Honrado. As there was no opposition, Judge Honrado commissioned his deputy clerk of court, Evangeline S. Yuipco, to hear the evidence. The transcripts of the stenographic notes taken at the hearing before the deputy clerk of court are not in the record. In an order dated March 31, 1975, Judge Honrado appointed Marina as administratrix. On the following day, April 1, Judge Honrado issued two orders directing the Merchants Banking Corporation and the Bank of America to allow Marina to withdraw the sum of P10,000 from the savings accounts of Marcelina S. Suroza and Marilyn Suroza and requiring Corazon Castro, the custodian of the passbooks, to deliver them to Marina. Upon motion of Marina, Judge Honrado issued another order dated April 11, 1975, instructing a deputy sheriff to eject the occupants of the testatrix's house, among whom was Nenita V. Suroza, and to place Marina in possession thereof. That order alerted Nenita to the existence of the testamentary proceeding for the settlement of Marcelina's estate. She and the other occupants of the decedent's house filed on April 18 in the said proceeding a motion to set aside the order of April 11 ejecting them. They alleged that the decedent's son Agapito was the sole heir of the deceased, that he has a daughter named Lilia, that Nenita was Agapito's guardian and that Marilyn was not Agapito's daughter nor the decedent's granddaughter (pp. 52-68, Record of testate case). Later, they questioned the probate court's jurisdiction to issue the ejectment order. In spite of the fact that Judge Honrado was already apprised that persons, other than Marilyn, were claiming Marcelina's estate, he issued on April 23 an order probating her supposed will wherein Marilyn was the instituted heiress (pp. 74-77, Record). On April 24, Nenita filed in the testate case an omnibus petition "to set aside proceedings, admit opposition with counter-petition for administration and preliminary injunction". Nenita in that motion reiterated her allegation that Marilyn was a stranger to Marcelina, that the will was not duly executed and attested, that it was procured by means of undue influence employed by Marina and Marilyn and that the thumbmarks of the testatrix were procured by fraud or trick. Nenita further alleged that the institution of Marilyn as heir is void because of the preterition of Agapito and that Marina was not qualified to act as executrix (pp. 8391, Record). To that motion was attached an affidavit of Zenaida A. Penaojas the housemaid of Marcelina, who swore that the alleged will was falsified (p. 109, Record). Not content with her motion to set aside the ejectment order (filed on April 18) and her omnibus motion to set aside the proceedings (filed on April 24), Nenita filed the next day, April 25, an opposition to the probate of the will and a counter-petition for letters of administration. In that opposition, Nenita assailed the due execution of the will and stated the names and addresses of Marcelina's intestate heirs, her nieces

Wills Testamentary Succession and nephews (pp. 113-121, Record). Nenita was not aware of the decree of probate dated April 23, 1975. To that opposition was attached an affidavit of Dominga Salvador Teodocio, Marcelina's niece, who swore that Marcelina never executed a win (pp. 124-125, Record). Marina in her answer to Nenita's motion to set aside the proceedings admitted that Marilyn was not Marcelina's granddaughter but was the daughter of Agapito and Arsenia de la Cruz and that Agapito was not Marcelina's sonbut merely an anakanakan who was not legally adopted (p. 143, Record). Judge Honrado in his order of July 17, 1975 dismissed Nenita's counter-petition for the issuance of letters of administration because of the non-appearance of her counsel at the hearing. She moved for the reconsideration of that order. In a motion dated December 5, 1975, for the consolidation of all pending incidents, Nenita V. Suroza reiterated her contention that the alleged will is void because Marcelina did not appear before the notary and because it is written in English which is not known to her (pp. 208-209, Record). Judge Honrado in his order of June 8, 1976 "denied" the various incidents "raised" by Nenita (p. 284, Record). Instead of appealing from that order and the order probating the wig, Nenita "filed a case to annul" the probate proceedings (p. 332, Record). That case, Civil Case No. 24276, Suroza vs. Paje and Honrado (p. 398, Record), was also assigned to Judge Honrado. He dismissed it in his order of February 16, 1977 (pp. 398-402, Record). Judge Honrado in his order dated December 22, 1977, after noting that the executrix had delivered the estate to Marilyn, and that the estate tax had been paid, closed the testamentary proceeding. About ten months later, in a verified complaint dated October 12, 1978, filed in this Court, Nenita charged Judge Honrado with having probated the fraudulent will of Marcelina. The complainant reiterated her contention that the testatrix was illiterate as shown by the fact that she affixed her thumbmark to the will and that she did not know English, the language in which the win was written. (In the decree of probate Judge Honrado did not make any finding that the will was written in a language known to the testatrix.) Nenita further alleged that Judge Honrado, in spite of his knowledge that the testatrix had a son named Agapito (the testatrix's supposed sole compulsory and legal heir), who was preterited in the will, did not take into account the consequences of such a preterition. Nenita disclosed that she talked several times with Judge Honrado and informed him that the testatrix did not know the executrix Marina Paje, that the beneficiary's real name is Marilyn Sy and that she was not the next of kin of the testatrix. Nenita denounced Judge Honrado for having acted corruptly in allowing Marina and her cohorts to withdraw from various banks the deposits Marcelina. She also denounced Evangeline S. Yuipco, the deputy clerk of court, for not giving her access to the record of the probate case by alleging that it was useless for Nenita to oppose the probate since Judge Honrado would not change his decision. Nenita also said that Evangeline insinuated that if she (Nenita) had ten thousand pesos, the case might be decided in her favor. Evangeline allegedly advised Nenita to desist from claiming the properties of the testatrix because she (Nenita) had no rights thereto and, should she persist, she might lose her pension from the Federal Government. Judge Honrado in his brief comment did not deal specifically with the allegations of the complaint. He merely pointed to the fact that Nenita did not appeal from the decree of probate and that in a motion dated July 6, 1976 she asked for a thirty day period within which to vacate the house of the testatrix. Evangeline S. Yuipco in her affidavit said that she never talked with Nenita and that the latter did not mention Evangeline in her letter dated September 11, 1978 to President Marcos. Evangeline branded as a lie Nenita's imputation that she (Evangeline) prevented Nenita from having access to the record of the testamentary proceeding. Evangeline was not the custodian of the record. Evangeline " strongly, vehemently and flatly denied" Nenita's charge that she (Evangeline) said that the sum of ten thousand pesos was needed in order that Nenita could get a favorable decision. Evangeline also denied that she has any knowledge of Nenita's pension from the Federal Government. The 1978 complaint against Judge Honorado was brought to attention of this Court in the Court Administrator's memorandum of September 25, 1980. The case was referred to Justice Juan A. Sison of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report and recommendation. He submitted a report dated October 7, 1981. On December 14, 1978, Nenita filed in the Court of Appeals against Judge Honrado a petition for certiorari and prohibition wherein she prayed that the will, the decree of probate and all the proceedings in the probate case be declared void. Attached to the petition was the affidavit of Domingo P. Aquino, who notarized the will. He swore that the testatrix and the three attesting witnesses did not appear before him and that he notarized the will "just to accommodate a brother lawyer on the condition" that said lawyer would bring to the notary the testatrix and the witnesses but the lawyer never complied with his commitment. The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition because Nenita's remedy was an appeal and her failure to do so did not entitle her to resort to the special civil action of certiorari (Suroza vs. Honrado, CA-G.R. No. SP-08654, May 24, 1981). Relying on that decision, Judge Honrado filed on November 17, 1981 a motion to dismiss the administrative case for having allegedly become moot and academic. We hold that disciplinary action should be taken against respondent judge for his improper disposition of the testate case which might have resulted in a miscarriage of justice because the decedent's legal heirs and not the instituted heiress in the void win should have inherited the decedent's estate. A judge may be criminally liable or knowingly rendering an unjust judgment or interlocutory order or rendering a manifestly unjust judgment or interlocutory order by reason of inexcusable negligence or ignorance (Arts. 204 to 206, Revised Penal Code). Administrative action may be taken against a judge of the court of first instance for serious misconduct or inefficiency ( Sec. 67, Judiciary Law). Misconduct implies malice or a wrongful intent, not a mere error of judgment. "For serious misconduct to exist, there must be reliable evidence showing that the judicial acts complained of were corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law, or were in persistent disregard of well-known legal rules" (In re lmpeachment of Horrilleno, 43 Phil. 212, 214-215). Inefficiency implies negligence, incompetence, ignorance and carelessness. A judge would be inexcusably negligent if he failed to observe in the performance of his duties that diligence, prudence and circumspection which the law requires in the

Wills Testamentary Succession rendition of any public service (In re Climaco, Adm. Case No. 134-J, Jan. 21, 1974, 55 SCRA 107, 119). In this case, respondent judge, on perusing the will and noting that it was written in English and was thumbmarked by an obviously illiterate testatrix, could have readily perceived that the will is void. In the opening paragraph of the will, it was stated that English was a language "understood and known" to the testatrix. But in its concluding paragraph, it was stated that the will was read to the testatrix "and translated into Filipino language". (p. 16, Record of testate case). That could only mean that the will was written in a language not known to the illiterate testatrix and, therefore, it is void because of the mandatory provision of article 804 of the Civil Code that every will must be executed in a language or dialect known to the testator. Thus, a will written in English, which was not known to the Igorot testator, is void and was disallowed (Acop vs. Piraso, 52 Phil. 660). The hasty preparation of the will is shown in the attestation clause and notarial acknowledgment where Marcelina Salvador Suroza is repeatedly referred to as the "testator" instead of "testatrix". Had respondent judge been careful and observant, he could have noted not only the anomaly as to the language of the will but also that there was something wrong in instituting the supposed granddaughter as sole heiress and giving nothing at all to her supposed father who was still alive. Furthermore, after the hearing conducted by respondent deputy clerk of court, respondent judge could have noticed that the notary was not presented as a witness. In spite of the absence of an opposition, respondent judge should have personally conducted the hearing on the probate of the will so that he could have ascertained whether the will was validly executed. Under the circumstances, we find his negligence and dereliction of duty to be inexcusable. WHEREFORE, for inefficiency in handling the testate case of Marcelina S. Suroza, a fine equivalent to his salary for one month is imposed on respondent judge (his compulsory retirement falls on December 25, 1981). The case against respondent Yuipco has become moot and academic because she is no longer employed in the judiciary. Since September 1, 1980 she has been assistant city fiscal of Surigao City. She is beyond this Court's disciplinary jurisdiction (Peralta vs. Firm Adm. Matter No. 2044-CFI November 21, 1980, 101 SCRA 225). SO ORDERED. Barredo (Chairman), De Castro, Ericta and Escolin JJ., concur. Concepcion Jr., J., is on leave. Abad Santos, J., took no part.

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Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC November 12, 1919 of the sheet are formalities not required by the statute. Moreover, referring specially to the signature of the testatrix, we can add that same is not necessary in the attestation clause because this, as its name implies, appertains only to the witnesses and not to the testator since the latter does not attest, but executes, the will. Synthesizing our opinion, we hold that in a will consisting of two sheets the first of which contains all the testamentary dispositions and is signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses and the second contains only the attestation clause and is signed also at the bottom by the three witnesses, it is not necessary that both sheets be further signed on their margins by the testator and the witnesses, or be paged. The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordal ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustative of the testator's last will, must be disregarded. As another ground for this appeal, it is alleged the records do not show that the testarix knew the dialect in which the will is written. But the circumstance appearing in the will itself that same was executed in the city of Cebu and in the dialect of this locality where the testatrix was a neighbor is enough, in the absence of any proof to the contrary, to presume that she knew this dialect in which this will is written. For the foregoing considerations, the judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed with costs against the appellants. So ordered. Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, Araullo, Street and Malcolm, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-13431

In re will of Ana Abangan. GERTRUDIS ABANGAN, executrix-appellee, vs. ANASTACIA ABANGAN, ET AL., opponents-appellants. Filemon Sotto for appellants. M. Jesus Cuenco for appellee. AVANCEA, J.: On September 19, 1917, the Court of First Instance of Cebu admitted to probate Ana Abangan's will executed July, 1916. From this decision the opponent's appealed. Said document, duly probated as Ana Abangan's will, consists of two sheets, the first of which contains all of the disposition of the testatrix, duly signed at the bottom by Martin Montalban (in the name and under the direction of the testatrix) and by three witnesses. The following sheet contains only the attestation clause duly signed at the bottom by the three instrumental witnesses. Neither of these sheets is signed on the left margin by the testatrix and the three witnesses, nor numbered by letters; and these omissions, according to appellants' contention, are defects whereby the probate of the will should have been denied. We are of the opinion that the will was duly admitted to probate. In requiring that each and every sheet of the will should also be signed on the left margin by the testator and three witnesses in the presence of each other, Act No. 2645 (which is the one applicable in the case) evidently has for its object (referring to the body of the will itself) to avoid the substitution of any of said sheets, thereby changing the testator's dispositions. But when these dispositions are wholly written on only one sheet signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses (as the instant case), their signatures on the left margin of said sheet would be completely purposeless. In requiring this signature on the margin, the statute took into consideration, undoubtedly, the case of a will written on several sheets and must have referred to the sheets which the testator and the witnesses do not have to sign at the bottom. A different interpretation would assume that the statute requires that this sheet, already signed at the bottom, be signed twice. We cannot attribute to the statute such an intention. As these signatures must be written by the testator and the witnesses in the presence of each other, it appears that, if the signatures at the bottom of the sheet guaranties its authenticity, another signature on its left margin would be unneccessary; and if they do not guaranty, same signatures, affixed on another part of same sheet, would add nothing. We cannot assume that the statute regards of such importance the place where the testator and the witnesses must sign on the sheet that it would consider that their signatures written on the bottom do not guaranty the authenticity of the sheet but, if repeated on the margin, give sufficient security. In requiring that each and every page of a will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of the sheet, it is likewise clear that the object of Act No. 2645 is to know whether any sheet of the will has been removed. But, when all the dispositive parts of a will are written on one sheet only, the object of the statute disappears because the removal of this single sheet, although unnumbered, cannot be hidden. What has been said is also applicable to the attestation clause. Wherefore, without considering whether or not this clause is an essential part of the will, we hold that in the one accompanying the will in question, the signatures of the testatrix and of the three witnesses on the margin and the numbering of the pages

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Wills Testamentary Succession THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 122880 April 12, 2006 FELIX AZUELA, Petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, GERALDA AIDA CASTILLO substituted by ERNESTO G. CASTILLO, Respondents. DECISION TINGA, J.: The core of this petition is a highly defective notarial will, purportedly executed by Eugenia E. Igsolo (decedent), who died on 16 December 1982 at the age of 80. In refusing to give legal recognition to the due execution of this document, the Court is provided the opportunity to assert a few important doctrinal rules in the execution of notarial wills, all self-evident in view of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code. A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the will is written is fatally defective. A will whose attestation clause is not signed by the instrumental witnesses is fatally defective. And perhaps most importantly, a will which does not contain an acknowledgment, but a mere jurat, is fatally defective. Any one of these defects is sufficient to deny probate. A notarial will with all three defects is just aching for judicial rejection. There is a distinct and consequential reason the Civil Code provides a comprehensive catalog of imperatives for the proper execution of a notarial will. Full and faithful compliance with all the detailed requisites under Article 805 of the Code leave little room for doubt as to the validity in the due execution of the notarial will. Article 806 likewise imposes another safeguard to the validity of notarial wills that they be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. A notarial will executed with indifference to these two codal provisions opens itself to nagging questions as to its legitimacy. The case stems from a petition for probate filed on 10 April 1984 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila. The petition filed by petitioner Felix Azuela sought to admit to probate the notarial will of Eugenia E. Igsolo, which was notarized on 10 June 1981. Petitioner is the son of the cousin of the decedent. The will, consisting of two (2) pages and written in the vernacular Pilipino, read in full:
SA NGALAN NG MAYKAPAL, AMEN:
HULING HABILIN NI EUGENIA E. IGSOLO

Sampaloc, Manila kay Felix Azuela at ang pagkakaloob kong ito ay walang pasubalit at kondiciones; Pangatlo- Na ninunumbrahan ko si VART PAGUE na siyang nagpapatupad ng huling habiling ito at kagustuhan ko rin na hindi na kailanman siyang mag-lagak ng piyansiya. Aking nilagdaan ang Huling Habilin na ito dito sa Maynila ika 10 ng Hunyo, 1981. (Sgd.) EUGENIA E. IGSOLO (Tagapagmana) PATUNAY NG MGA SAKSI Ang kasulatang ito, na binubuo ng ____ dahon pati ang huling dahong ito, na ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia E. Igsolo, tagapagmana na siya niyang Huling Habilin, ngayon ika-10 ng Hunyo 1981, ay nilagdaan ng nasabing tagapagmana sa ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon, sa harap ng lahat at bawat sa amin, at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, sa ilalim ng nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon ng kasulatan ito. EUGENIA E. IGSOLO address: 500 San Diego St. Sampaloc, Manila Res. Cert. No. A-7717-37 Issued at Manila on March 10, 1981. QUIRINO AGRAVA address: 1228-Int. 3, Kahilum Pandacan, Manila Res. Cert. No. A-458365 Issued at Manila on Jan. 21, 1981 LAMBERTO C. LEAO address: Avenue 2, Blcok 7, Lot 61, San Gabriel, G.MA., Cavite Res. Cert. No. A-768277 issued at Carmona, Cavite on Feb. 7, 1981 JUANITO ESTRERA address: City Court Compound, City of Manila Res. Cert. No. A574829 Issued at Manila on March 2, 1981. Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10, 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila. (Sgd.) PETRONIO Y. BAUTISTA Doc. No. 1232 ; NOTARIO PUBLIKO Page No. 86 ; Until Dec. 31, 1981 Book No. 43 ; PTR-152041-1/2/81-Manila Series of 1981 TAN # 1437-977-81

The three named witnesses to the will affixed their signatures on the left-hand margin of both pages of the will, but not at the bottom of the attestation clause. The probate petition adverted to only two (2) heirs, legatees and devisees of the decedent, namely: petitioner himself, and one Irene Lynn Igsolo, who was alleged to have resided abroad. Petitioner prayed that the will be allowed, and that letters testamentary be issued to the designated executor, Vart Prague. The petition was opposed by Geralda Aida Castillo (Geralda Castillo), who represented herself as the attorney-in-fact of "the 12 legitimate heirs" of the decedent.2 Geralda Castillo claimed that the will is a forgery, and that the true purpose of its emergence was so it could be utilized as a defense in several court cases filed by oppositor against petitioner, particularly for forcible entry and usurpation of real property, all centering on petitioners right to occupy the properties of the decedent.3 It also asserted that contrary to the representations of petitioner, the decedent was actually survived by 12 legitimate heirs, namely her grandchildren, who were then residing abroad. Per records, it was subsequently alleged that decedent was the widow of Bonifacio Igsolo, who died in 1965,4 and the

AKO, si EUGENIA E. IGSOLO, nakatira sa 500 San Diego St., Sampaloc, Manila, pitongput siyam (79) na gulang, nasa hustong pagi-isip, pag-unawa at memoria ay nag-hahayag na ito na ang aking huling habilin at testamento, at binabali wala ko lahat ang naunang ginawang habilin o testamento: Una-Hinihiling ko na ako ay mailibing sa Sementerio del Norte, La Loma sangayong sa kaugalian at patakaran ng simbahang katoliko at ang taga-pag-ingat (Executor) ng habiling ito ay magtatayo ng bantayog upang silbing ala-ala sa akin ng aking pamilya at kaibigan; Pangalawa-Aking ipinagkakaloob at isinasalin ang lahat ng karapatan sa aking pamangkin na si Felix Azuela, na siyang nag-alaga sa akin sa mahabang panahon, yaong mga bahay na nakatirik sa lote numero 28, Block 24 at nakapangalan sa Pechaten Korporasyon, ganoon din ibinibigay ko ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay na nakatirik sa inoopahan kong lote, numero 43, Block 24 na pag-aari ng Pechaten Corporation. Ipinagkakaloob kong buong buo ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay at lupa na nasa 500 San Diego St., Lot 42, Block 24,

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Wills Testamentary Succession mother of a legitimate child, Asuncion E. Igsolo, who predeceased her mother by three (3) months.5 Oppositor Geralda Castillo also argued that the will was not executed and attested to in accordance with law. She pointed out that decedents signature did not appear on the second page of the will, and the will was not properly acknowledged. These twin arguments are among the central matters to this petition. After due trial, the RTC admitted the will to probate, in an Order dated 10 August 1992.6 The RTC favorably took into account the testimony of the three (3) witnesses to the will, Quirino Agrava, Lamberto Leano, and Juanito Estrada. The RTC also called to fore "the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will x x x with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes;"7 and from this perspective, rebutted oppositors arguments that the will was not properly executed and attested to in accordance with law. After a careful examination of the will and consideration of the testimonies of the subscribing and attesting witnesses, and having in mind the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will, i.e., the liberalization of the interpretation of the law on the formal requirements of a will with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, this Court is persuaded to rule that the will in question is authentic and had been executed by the testatrix in accordance with law. On the issue of lack of acknowledgement, this Court has noted that at the end of the will after the signature of the testatrix, the following statement is made under the sub-title, "Patunay Ng Mga Saksi": "Ang kasulatang ito, na binubuo ng _____ dahon pati ang huling dahong ito, na ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia N. Igsolo, tagapagmana na siya niyang Huling Habilin, ngayong ika-10 ng Hunyo 1981, ay nilagdaan ng nasabing tagapagmana sa ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon, sa harap ng lahat at bawat sa amin, at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, sa ilalim ng nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon ng kasulatan ito." The aforequoted declaration comprises the attestation clause and the acknowledgement and is considered by this Court as a substantial compliance with the requirements of the law. On the oppositors contention that the attestation clause was not signed by the subscribing witnesses at the bottom thereof, this Court is of the view that the signing by the subscribing witnesses on the left margin of the second page of the will containing the attestation clause and acknowledgment, instead of at the bottom thereof, substantially satisfies the purpose of identification and attestation of the will. With regard to the oppositors argument that the will was not numbered correlatively in letters placed on upper part of each page and that the attestation did not state the number of pages thereof, it is worthy to note that the will is composed of only two pages. The first page contains the entire text of the testamentary dispositions, and the second page contains the last portion of the attestation clause and acknowledgement. Such being so, the defects are not of a serious nature as to invalidate the will. For the same reason, the failure of the testatrix to affix her signature on the left margin of the second page, which contains only the last portion of the attestation clause and acknowledgment is not a fatal defect. As regards the oppositors assertion that the signature of the testatrix on the will is a forgery, the testimonies of the three subscribing witnesses to the will are convincing enough to establish the genuineness of the signature of the testatrix and the due execution of the will.8 The Order was appealed to the Court of Appeals by Ernesto Castillo, who had substituted his since deceased mother-in-law, Geralda Castillo. In a Decision dated 17 August 1995, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and ordered the dismissal of the petition for probate.9 The Court of Appeals noted that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in the will, thus rendering the will void and undeserving of probate.10 Hence, the present petition. Petitioner argues that the requirement under Article 805 of the Civil Code that "the number of pages used in a notarial will be stated in the attestation clause" is merely directory, rather than mandatory, and thus susceptible to what he termed as "the substantial compliance rule."11 The solution to this case calls for the application of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code, which we replicate in full. Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to them. Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. The appellate court, in its Decision, considered only one defect, the failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages of the will. But an examination of the will itself reveals several more deficiencies. As admitted by petitioner himself, the attestation clause fails to state the number of pages of the will.12 There was an incomplete attempt to comply with this requisite, a space having been allotted for the insertion of the number of pages in the attestation clause. Yet the blank was never filled in; hence, the requisite was left uncomplied with. The Court of Appeals pounced on this defect in reversing the trial court, citing in the process Uy Coque v. Navas L. Sioca13 and In re: Will of Andrada.14 In Uy Coque, the Court noted that among the defects of the will in question was the failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages contained in the will. 15 In ruling that the will could not be admitted to probate, the Court made the following consideration which remains highly relevant to this day: "The purpose of requiring the number of sheets to be stated in the attestation clause is obvious; the document might easily be so prepared that the removal of a sheet would

13

Wills Testamentary Succession completely change the testamentary dispositions of the will and in the absence of a statement of the total number of sheets such removal might be effected by taking out the sheet and changing the numbers at the top of the following sheets or pages. If, on the other hand, the total number of sheets is stated in the attestation clause the falsification of the document will involve the inserting of new pages and the forging of the signatures of the testator and witnesses in the margin, a matter attended with much greater difficulty."16 The case of In re Will of Andrada concerned a will the attestation clause of which failed to state the number of sheets or pages used. This consideration alone was sufficient for the Court to declare "unanim[ity] upon the point that the defect pointed out in the attesting clause is fatal."17 It was further observed that "it cannot be denied that the x x x requirement affords additional security against the danger that the will may be tampered with; and as the Legislature has seen fit to prescribe this requirement, it must be considered material."18 Against these cited cases, petitioner cites Singson v. Florentino19 and Taboada v. Hon. Rosal,20 wherein the Court allowed probate to the wills concerned therein despite the fact that the attestation clause did not state the number of pages of the will. Yet the appellate court itself considered the import of these two cases, and made the following distinction which petitioner is unable to rebut, and which we adopt with approval: Even a cursory examination of the Will (Exhibit "D"), will readily show that the attestation does not state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. Hence, the Will is void and undeserving of probate. We are not impervious of the Decisions of the Supreme Court in "Manuel Singson versus Emilia Florentino, et al., 92 Phil. 161 and Apolonio [Taboada] versus Hon. Avelino Rosal, et al., 118 SCRA 195," to the effect that a will may still be valid even if the attestation does not contain the number of pages used upon which the Will is written. However, the Decisions of the Supreme Court are not applicable in the aforementioned appeal at bench. This is so because, in the case of "Manuel Singson versus Emilia Florentino, et al., supra," although the attestation in the subject Will did not state the number of pages used in the will, however, the same was found in the last part of the body of the Will: "x x x The law referred to is article 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645, which requires that the attestation clause shall state the number of pages or sheets upon which the will is written, which requirement has been held to be mandatory as an effective safeguard against the possibility of interpolation or omission of some of the pages of the will to the prejudice of the heirs to whom the property is intended to be bequeathed (In re Will of Andrada, 42 Phil. 180; Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca, 43 Phil., 405; Gumban vs. Gorcho, 50 Phil. 30; Quinto vs. Morata, 54 Phil. 481; Echevarria vs. Sarmiento, 66 Phil. 611). The ratio decidendi of these cases seems to be that the attestation clause must contain a statement of the number of sheets or pages composing the will and that if this is missing or is omitted, it will have the effect of invalidating the will if the deficiency cannot be supplied, not by evidence aliunde, but by a consideration or examination of the will itself. But here the situation is different. While the attestation clause does not state the number of sheets or pages upon which the will is written, however, the last part of the body of the will contains a statement that it is composed of eight pages, which circumstance in our opinion takes this case out of the rigid rule of construction and places it within the realm of similar cases where a broad and more liberal view has been adopted to prevent the will of the testator from being defeated by purely technical considerations." (page 165-165, supra) (Underscoring supplied) In "Apolonio Tabaoda versus Hon. Avelino Rosal, et al." supra, the notarial acknowledgement in the Will states the number of pages used in the: "x x x We have examined the will in question and noticed that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in writing the will. This would have been a fatal defect were it not for the fact that, in this case, it is discernible from the entire will that it is really and actually composed of only two pages duly signed by the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses. As earlier stated, the first page which contains the entirety of the testamentary dispositions is signed by the testatrix at the end or at the bottom while the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin. The other page which is marked as "Pagina dos" comprises the attestation clause and the acknowledgment. The acknowledgment itself states that "this Last Will and Testament consists of two pages including this page" (pages 200-201, supra) (Underscoring supplied). However, in the appeal at bench, the number of pages used in the will is not stated in any part of the Will. The will does not even contain any notarial acknowledgment wherein the number of pages of the will should be stated.21 Both Uy Coque and Andrada were decided prior to the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950, at a time when the statutory provision governing the formal requirement of wills was Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. 22 Reliance on these cases remains apropos, considering that the requirement that the attestation state the number of pages of the will is extant from Section 618.23 However, the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950 did put in force a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills, at least insofar as the attestation clause is concerned, that may vary from the philosophy that governed these two cases. Article 809 of the Civil Code states: "In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 805." In the same vein, petitioner cites the report of the Civil Code Commission, which stated that "the underlying and fundamental objective permeating the provisions on the [law] on [wills] in this project consists in the [liberalization] of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more [freedom] in [expressing] his last wishes. This objective is in accord with the [modern tendency] in respect to the formalities in the execution of wills." 24 However, petitioner conveniently omits the qualification offered by the Code Commission in the very same paragraph he cites from their report, that such liberalization be "but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator."25 Caneda v. Court of Appeals26 features an extensive discussion made by Justice Regalado, speaking for the Court on the conflicting views on the manner of interpretation of the legal formalities required in the execution of the attestation clause in wills.27 Uy Coque and Andrada are cited therein, along with several other cases, as examples of the application of the rule of strict construction.28 However, the Code Commission opted to recommend a more liberal construction through the "substantial compliance rule" under Article 809. A cautionary note was struck though by Justice J.B.L. Reyes as to how Article 809 should be applied:

14

Wills Testamentary Succession x x x The rule must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an examination of the will itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered; whether the signatures appear in each and every page; whether the subscribing witnesses are three or the will was notarized. All these are facts that the will itself can reveal, and defects or even omissions concerning them in the attestation clause can be safely disregarded. But the total number of pages, and whether all persons required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the attestation clause, being the only check against perjury in the probate proceedings.29 (Emphasis supplied.) The Court of Appeals did cite these comments by Justice J.B.L. Reyes in its assailed decision, considering that the failure to state the number of pages of the will in the attestation clause is one of the defects which cannot be simply disregarded. In Caneda itself, the Court refused to allow the probate of a will whose attestation clause failed to state that the witnesses subscribed their respective signatures to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other,30 the other omission cited by Justice J.B.L. Reyes which to his estimation cannot be lightly disregarded. Caneda suggested: "[I]t may thus be stated that the rule, as it now stands, is that omission which can be supplied by an examination of the will itself, without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal and, correspondingly, would not obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. However, those omissions which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately, of the will itself." 31 Thus, a failure by the attestation clause to state that the testator signed every page can be liberally construed, since that fact can be checked by a visual examination; while a failure by the attestation clause to state that the witnesses signed in one anothers presence should be considered a fatal flaw since the attestation is the only textual guarantee of compliance.32 The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will was written remains a fatal flaw, despite Article 809. The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is written is to safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and to prevent any increase or decrease in the pages.33 The failure to state the number of pages equates with the absence of an averment on the part of the instrumental witnesses as to how many pages consisted the will, the execution of which they had ostensibly just witnessed and subscribed to. Following Caneda, there is substantial compliance with this requirement if the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it is comprised of, as was the situation in Singson and Taboada. However, in this case, there could have been no substantial compliance with the requirements under Article 805 since there is no statement in the attestation clause or anywhere in the will itself as to the number of pages which comprise the will. At the same time, Article 809 should not deviate from the need to comply with the formal requirements as enumerated under Article 805. Whatever the inclinations of the members of the Code Commission in incorporating Article 805, the fact remains that they saw fit to prescribe substantially the same formal requisites as enumerated in Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, convinced that these remained effective safeguards against the forgery or intercalation of notarial wills.34 Compliance with these requirements, however picayune in impression, affords the public a high degree of comfort that the testator himself or herself had decided to convey property post mortem in the manner established in the will.35 The transcendent legislative intent, even as expressed in the cited comments of the Code Commission, is for the fruition of the testators incontestable desires, and not for the indulgent admission of wills to probate. The Court could thus end here and affirm the Court of Appeals. However, an examination of the will itself reveals a couple of even more critical defects that should necessarily lead to its rejection. For one, the attestation clause was not signed by the instrumental witnesses. While the signatures of the instrumental witnesses appear on the lefthand margin of the will, they do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause which after all consists of their averments before the notary public. Cagro v. Cagro36 is material on this point. As in this case, "the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause, although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin."37 While three (3) Justices38 considered the signature requirement had been substantially complied with, a majority of six (6), speaking through Chief Justice Paras, ruled that the attestation clause had not been duly signed, rendering the will fatally defective. There is no question that the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause, although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin. We are of the opinion that the position taken by the appellant is correct. The attestation clause is "a memorandum of the facts attending the execution of the will" required by law to be made by the attesting witnesses, and it must necessarily bear their signatures. An unsigned attestation clause cannot be considered as an act of the witnesses, since the omission of their signatures at the bottom thereof negatives their participation. The petitioner and appellee contends that signatures of the three witnesses on the left-hand margin conform substantially to the law and may be deemed as their signatures to the attestation clause. This is untenable, because said signatures are in compliance with the legal mandate that the will be signed on the left-hand margin of all its pages. If an attestation clause not signed by the three witnesses at the bottom thereof, be admitted as sufficient, it would be easy to add such clause to a will on a subsequent occasion and in the absence of the testator and any or all of the witnesses.39 The Court today reiterates the continued efficacy of Cagro. Article 805 particularly segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the will, from the requisite that the will be "attested and subscribed by [the instrumental witnesses]." The respective intents behind these two classes of signature are distinct from each other. The signatures on the left-hand corner of every page signify, among others, that the witnesses are aware that the page they are signing forms part of the will. On the other hand, the signatures to the attestation clause establish that the witnesses are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself. Indeed, the attestation clause is separate and apart from the disposition of the will. An unsigned attestation clause results in an unattested will. Even if the instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing the unsigned attestation clause, such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses undertakings in the clause, since the signatures that do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly different avowal. The Court may be more charitably disposed had the witnesses in this case signed the attestation clause itself, but not the left-hand margin of the page containing such clause. Without diminishing the value of the instrumental witnesses signatures on each and every page, the fact must be noted that it is the attestation clause which contains the utterances reduced into writing of the testamentary witnesses themselves. It is the witnesses, and not the testator, who are required under Article 805 to state the number of pages used upon which the will is written; the fact that the testator had signed the will and every page thereof; and that they witnessed and

15

Wills Testamentary Succession signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. The only proof in the will that the witnesses have stated these elemental facts would be their signatures on the attestation clause. Thus, the subject will cannot be considered to have been validly attested to by the instrumental witnesses, as they failed to sign the attestation clause. Yet, there is another fatal defect to the will on which the denial of this petition should also hinge. The requirement under Article 806 that "every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses" has also not been complied with. The importance of this requirement is highlighted by the fact that it had been segregated from the other requirements under Article 805 and entrusted into a separate provision, Article 806. The non-observance of Article 806 in this case is equally as critical as the other cited flaws in compliance with Article 805, and should be treated as of equivalent import. In lieu of an acknowledgment, the notary public, Petronio Y. Bautista, wrote "Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10 (sic), 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila."40 By no manner of contemplation can those words be construed as an acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed.41 It involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signor actually declares to the notary that the executor of a document has attested to the notary that the same is his/her own free act and deed. It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat, even though it does not hew to the usual language thereof. A jurat is that part of an affidavit where the notary certifies that before him/her, the document was subscribed and sworn to by the executor.42 Ordinarily, the language of the jurat should avow that the document was subscribed and sworn before the notary public, while in this case, the notary public averred that he himself "signed and notarized" the document. Possibly though, the word "ninotario" or "notarized" encompasses the signing of and swearing in of the executors of the document, which in this case would involve the decedent and the instrumental witnesses. Yet even if we consider what was affixed by the notary public as a jurat, the will would nonetheless remain invalid, as the express requirement of Article 806 is that the will be "acknowledged", and not merely subscribed and sworn to. The will does not present any textual proof, much less one under oath, that the decedent and the instrumental witnesses executed or signed the will as their own free act or deed. The acknowledgment made in a will provides for another all-important legal safeguard against spurious wills or those made beyond the free consent of the testator. An acknowledgement is not an empty meaningless act.43 The acknowledgment coerces the testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that they had executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed. Such declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury, thus allowing for the criminal prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of spurious wills, or those executed without the free consent of the testator. It also provides a further degree of assurance that the testator is of certain mindset in making the testamentary dispositions to those persons he/she had designated in the will. It may not have been said before, but we can assert the rule, self-evident as it is under Article 806. A notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective, even if it is subscribed and sworn to before a notary public. There are two other requirements under Article 805 which were not fully satisfied by the will in question. We need not discuss them at length, as they are no longer material to the disposition of this case. The provision requires that the testator and the instrumental witnesses sign each and every page of the will on the left margin, except the last; and that all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. In this case, the decedent, unlike the witnesses, failed to sign both pages of the will on the left margin, her only signature appearing at the socalled "logical end"44 of the will on its first page. Also, the will itself is not numbered correlatively in letters on each page, but instead numbered with Arabic numerals. There is a line of thought that has disabused the notion that these two requirements be construed as mandatory.45 Taken in isolation, these omissions, by themselves, may not be sufficient to deny probate to a will. Yet even as these omissions are not decisive to the adjudication of this case, they need not be dwelt on, though indicative as they may be of a general lack of due regard for the requirements under Article 805 by whoever executed the will. All told, the string of mortal defects which the will in question suffers from makes the probate denial inexorable. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. Footnotes
1 2

Rollo, pp. 21-22. Id. at 35. 3 Id. at 36. 4 Records, p. 505. 5 Id. 6 Penned by Judge Perfecto Laguio, Jr. 7 Rollo, p. 41. 8 Id. at 41-42. 9 Decision penned by Associate Justice (now Supreme Court Associate Justice) Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., and concurred in by Associate Justices Jorge S. Imperial and Pacita CaizaresNye. 10 See rollo, pp. 46-50. 11 Id. at 24. 12 See rollo, p. 26. 13 43 Phil. 405 (1922). 14 42 Phil. 180 (1921). 15 Uy Coque v. Navas L. Sioca, supra note 13, at 409. 16 Id. 17 In re: Will of Andrada, supra note 14 at 181. 18 Id. at 182. 19 92 Phil. 161 (1952). 20 No. L-36033, 5 November 1982, 118 SCRA 195. 21 Rollo, pp. 47-49. Underscoring not ours. 22 Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act No. 2645 reads: "No will, except as provided in the preceding section, shall be valid to pass any estate, real or personal, nor charge or effect the same, unless it be written in the language or dialect known by the testator and signed by him, or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, on the left margin, and said pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each sheet. The attestation shall state the number of sheets or pages used, upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of three witnesses, and the latter witnessed and signed the will and all pages thereof in the presence of the testator and each other." 23 Id. 24 Rollo, pp. 23-25. 25 See Report of the Code Commission, p. 103. The full citation reads:

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Wills Testamentary Succession


"The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the provisions of the law on wills in this Project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. This objective is in accord with the modern tendency with respect to the formalities in the execution of wills. The proposed Code provides for two forms of will, namely, (1) the holographic, and (2) the ordinary will." 26 G.R. No. 103554, 28 May 1993, 222 SCRA 781. 27 Id. at 795-800. 28 Id. at 796-797. 29 Id. at 794; citing Lawyers Journal, November 30, 1950, 566. In the same article, Justice J.B.L. Reyes suggested that Article 809 be reworded in such a manner that the will would not be rendered invalid if the defects and imperfections in the attestation "can be supplied by an examination of the will itself and it is proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of Article 805." See R. Balane, Jottings and Jurisprudence in Civil Law (1998 ed.) at 87, citing Lawyers Journal, November 30, 1950. 30 Id. at 792-793. 31 Id. at 800. 32 See Balane, supra note 29, at 87. 33 Caneda v. Court of Appeals, supra note 26 at 790; citing Andrada, supra note 14. 34 The Code Commission did qualify in its Report that the thrust towards liberalization be qualified "with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator" Supra note 25. 35 "The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. But, on the other hand, one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will." A. Tolentino, III Civil Code of the Philippines (1992 ed.), at 67. 36 92 Phil. 1032 (1953) 37 Id. at 1033. 38 Justices Felix Bautista Angelo, Pedro Tuason and Felicisimo R. Feria. 39 Cagro v. Cagro, supra note 36, at 1033-1034. 40 Rollo, p. 22. 41 Tigno v. Aquino, G.R. No. 129416, 25 November 2004, 444 SCRA 61, 72. 42 See Gamido v. New Bilibid Prisons Officials, 312 Phil. 100, 104; citing Theobald v. Chicago Ry. Co., 75 Ill. App. 208. 43 Protacio v. Mendoza, Adm. Case No. 5764, 13 January 2003, 395 SCRA 10, 15; citing Coronado v. Felongco, 344 SCRA 565 (2000); Nunga v. Viray, 306 SCRA 487 (1999); Arrieta v. Llosa, 282 SCRA 248 (1997); Dinoy v. Rosal, 235 SCRA 419 (1994). 44 To use the term adopted by eminent civilists Prof. Balane and Dr. Tolentino, who distinguish "the physical end where the writing stops" from "the logical end where the last testamentary disposition ends." See Balane, supra note 29 at 60; Tolentino, supra note 35, at 70. 45 See e.g., Balane, supra note 28 at 63, 67; Tolentino, supra note 34, at 104.

17

Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC G.R. No. L-42258 January 15, 1936 In re Will of the deceased Leoncia Tolentino. VICTORIO PAYAD, petitioner-appellant, vs. AQUILINA TOLENTINO, oppositor-appellant. Vicente Foz, Marciano Almario and Leonardo Abola for petitioner-appellant. Leodegario Azarraga for oppositor-appellant. GODDARD, J.: Both parties in this case appeal from an order of the trial court denying the probate of the alleged will of Leoncia Tolentino, deceased. That court found that the will in question was executed by the deceased on the date appearing thereon, September 7, 1933, one day before the death of the testatrix, contrary to the contention of the oppositor that it was executed after her death. The court, however, denied probate on the ground that the attestation clause was not in conformity with the requirements of law in that it is not stated therein that the testatrix caused Attorney Almario to write her name at her express direction. The appeal of the oppositor-appellant is based upon the alleged failure of the trial court in not finding that the will in question was executed after the death of Leoncia Tolentino, or that she was mentally and physically incapable of executing said will one day before her death. After a careful examination of the evidence on these points we find no reason for setting aside the conclusion of the trial court as set forth above. The assignments of the oppositor-appellant are therefore overruled. As to the contention of the petitioner-appellant, as stated above, the trial court denied probate of the will on the sole ground that the attestation clause does not state that the testratrix requested Attorney Almario to write her name. The last paragraph of the questioned will reads in part as follows: En prueba de todo lo cual, firmo el presente testamento con mi marcha digital, poque no puedo estampar mi firma a causa de mi debilidad, rogando al abogado M. Almario que poga mi nombre en el sitio donde he de estampar mi marcha digital . . .. The evidence of record established the fact that Leoncia Tolentino, assisted by Attorney Almario, placed her thumb mark on each and every age of time questioned will and the said attorney merely wrote her name to indicate the place where she placed said thumb mark. In other words Attorney Almario did not sign for the testatrix. She signed for placing her thumb mark on each and every page thereof "A statute requiring a will to be 'signed' is satisfied if the signature is made by the testator's mark." (Quoted by this court from 28 R.C.L., p, 117; De Gala vs. Gonzales and Ona, 53 Phil., 104, 108.) It is clear, therefore, that it was not necessary that the attestation clause in question should state that the testatrix requested Attorney Almario to sign her name inasmuch as the testratrix signed the will in question in accordance with law. The appealed order of the trial court is reversed and the questioned will of Leoncia Tolentino, deceased, is hereby admitted to probate with the costs of this appeal against the oppositor-appellant. Malcolm, Villa-Real, Imperial, and Butte, JJ., concur.

18

Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC November 29, 1951 cross is as much a signature as a thumbmark, the latter having been held sufficient by this Court in the cases of De Gala vs. Gonzales and Ona, 53 Phil., 104; Dolar vs. Diancin, 55 Phil., 479; Payad vs. Tolentino, 62 Phil., 848; Neyra vs. Neyra, 76 Phil., 296 and Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil., 429. It is not here pretended that the cross appearing on the will is the usual signature of Antero Mercado or even one of the ways by which he signed his name. After mature reflection, we are not prepared to liken the mere sign of the cross to a thumbmark, and the reason is obvious. The cross cannot and does not have the trustworthiness of a thumbmark. What has been said makes it unnecessary for us to determine there is a sufficient recital in the attestation clause as to the signing of the will by the testator in the presence of the witnesses, and by the latter in the presence of the testator and of each other. Wherefore, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed, with against the petitioner. So ordered. Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-4067

In the Matter of the will of ANTERO MERCADO, deceased. ROSARIO GARCIA, petitioner, vs. JULIANA LACUESTA, ET AL., respondents. Elviro L. Peralta and Hermenegildo A. Prieto for petitioner. Faustino B. Tobia, Juan I. Ines and Federico Tacason for respondents. PARAS, C.J.: This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals disallowing the will of Antero Mercado dated January 3, 1943. The will is written in the Ilocano dialect and contains the following attestation clause: We, the undersigned, by these presents to declare that the foregoing testament of Antero Mercado was signed by himself and also by us below his name and of this attestation clause and that of the left margin of the three pages thereof. Page three the continuation of this attestation clause; this will is written in Ilocano dialect which is spoken and understood by the testator, and it bears the corresponding number in letter which compose of three pages and all them were signed in the presence of the testator and witnesses, and the witnesses in the presence of the testator and all and each and every one of us witnesses. In testimony, whereof, we sign this statement, this the third day of January, one thousand nine hundred forty three, (1943) A.D. (Sgd.) NUMERIANO EVANGELISTA (Sgd.) CORTES "ROSENDA

(Sgd.) BIBIANA ILLEGIBLE The will appears to have been signed by Atty. Florentino Javier who wrote the name of Antero Mercado, followed below by "A reugo del testator" and the name of Florentino Javier. Antero Mercado is alleged to have written a cross immediately after his name. The Court of Appeals, reversing the judgement of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte, ruled that the attestation clause failed (1) to certify that the will was signed on all the left margins of the three pages and at the end of the will by Atty. Florentino Javier at the express request of the testator in the presence of the testator and each and every one of the witnesses; (2) to certify that after the signing of the name of the testator by Atty. Javier at the former's request said testator has written a cross at the end of his name and on the left margin of the three pages of which the will consists and at the end thereof; (3) to certify that the three witnesses signed the will in all the pages thereon in the presence of the testator and of each other. In our opinion, the attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Antero Mercado caused Atty. Florentino Javier to write the testator's name under his express direction, as required by section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The herein petitioner (who is appealing by way of certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals) argues, however, that there is no need for such recital because the cross written by the testator after his name is a sufficient signature and the signature of Atty. Florentino Javier is a surplusage. Petitioner's theory is that the

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Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC G.R. No. L-6285 February 15, 1912 PEDRO BARUT, petitioner-appellant, vs. FAUSTINO CABACUNGAN, ET AL., opponents-appellees. A. M. Jimenez for appellant. Ramon Querubin for appellees. MORELAND, J.: This case is closely connected with the case of Faustino Cabacungan vs. Pedro Barut and another, No. 6284,1just decided by this court, wherein there was an application for the probate of an alleged last will and testament of the same person the probate of whose will is involved in this suit. This appeal arises out of an application on the part of Pedro Barut to probate the last will and testament of Maria Salomon, deceased. It is alleged in the petition of the probate that Maria Salomon died on the 7th day of November, 1908, in the pueblo of Sinait, Ilocos Sur, leaving a last will and testament bearing date March 2, 1907. Severo Agayan, Timotea Inoselda, Catalino Ragasa, and A. M. Jimenez are alleged to have been witnesses to the execution thereof. By the terms of said will Pedro Barut received the larger part of decedent's property. The original will appears on page 3 of the record and is in the Ilocano dialect. Its translation into Spanish appears at page 11. After disposing of her property the testatrix revoked all former wills by her made. She also stated in said will that being unable to read or write, the same had been read to her by Ciriaco Concepcion and Timotea Inoselda and that she had instructed Severo Agayan to sign her name to it as testatrix. The probate of the will was contested and opposed by a number of the relatives of the deceased on various grounds, among them that a later will had been executed by the deceased. The will referred to as being a later will is the one involved in case No. 6284 already referred to. Proceeding for the probate of this later will were pending at the time. The evidence of the proponents and of the opponents was taken by the court in both cases for the purpose of considering them together. In the case before us the learned probate court found that the will was not entitled to probate upon the sole ground that the handwriting of the person who it is alleged signed the name of the testatrix to the will for and on her behalf looked more like the handwriting of one of the other witnesses to the will than that of the person whose handwriting it was alleged to be. We do not believe that the mere dissimilarity in writing thus mentioned by the court is sufficient to overcome the uncontradicted testimony of all the witnesses to the will that the signature of the testatrix was written by Severo Agayan at her request and in her presence and in the presence of all the witnesses to the will. It is immaterial who writes the name of the testatrix provided it is written at her request and in her presence and in the presence of all the witnesses to the execution of the will. The court seems , by inference at least, to have had in mind that under the law relating to the execution of a will it is necessary that the person who signs the name of the testatrix must afterwards sign his own name; and that, in view of the fact that, in the case at bar, the name signed below that of the testatrix as the person who signed her name, being, from its appearance, not the same handwriting as that constituting the name of the testatrix, the will is accordingly invalid, such fact indicating that the person who signed the name of the testatrix failed to sign his own. We do not believe that this contention can be sustained. Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure reads as follows: No will, except as provided in the preceding section, shall be valid to pass any estate, real or personal, nor charge or effect the same, unless it be in writing and signed by the testator, or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his expenses direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each. . . . This is the important part of the section under the terms of which the court holds that the person who signs the name of the testator for him must also sign his own name The remainder of the section reads: The attestation shall state the fact that the testator signed the will, or caused it to be signed by some other person, at his express direction, in the presence of three witnesses, and that they attested and subscribed it in his presence and in the presence of each other. But the absence of such form of attestation shall not render the will invalid if it is proven that the will was in fact signed and attested as in this section provided. From these provisions it is entirely clear that, with respect to the validity of the will, it is unimportant whether the person who writes the name of the testatrix signs his own or not. The important thing is that it clearly appears that the name of the testatrix was signed at her express direction in the presence of three witnesses and that they attested and subscribed it in her presence and in the presence of each other. That is all the statute requires. It may be wise as a practical matter that the one who signs the testator's name signs also his own; but that it is not essential to the validity of the will. Whether one parson or another signed the name of the testatrix in this case is absolutely unimportant so far as the validity of her will is concerned. The plain wording of the statute shows that the requirement laid down by the trial court, if it did lay down, is absolutely unnecessary under the law; and the reasons underlying the provisions of the statute relating to the execution of wills do not in any sense require such a provision. From the standpoint of language it is an impossibility to draw from the words of the law the inference that the persons who signs the name of the testator must sign his own name also. The law requires only three witnesses to a will, not four. Nor is such requirement found in any other branch of the law. The name of a person who is unable to write may be signed by another by express direction to any instrument known to the law. There is no necessity whatever, so far as the validity of the instrument is concerned, for the person who writes the name of the principal in the document to sign his own name also. As a matter of policy it may be wise that he do so inasmuch as it would give such intimation as would enable a person proving the document to demonstrate more readily the execution by the principal. But as a matter of essential validity of the document, it is unnecessary. The main thing to be established in the execution of the will is the signature of the testator. If that signature is proved, whether it be written by himself or by another at his request, it is none the less valid, and the fact of such signature can be proved as perfectly and as completely when the person signing for the principal omits to sign his own name as it can when he actually signs. To hold a will invalid for the lack of the signature of the person signing the name of the principal is, in the particular case, a complete abrogation of the law of wills, as it rejects and destroys a will which the statute expressly declares is valid. There have been cited three cases which it is alleged are in opposition to the doctrine which we have herein laid down. They are Ex parte Santiago (4 Phil. Rep., 692), Ex parte Arcenas (4 Phil. Rep., 700), and Guison vs.Concepcion (5 Phil. Rep., 551). Not one of these cases is in point. The headnote in the case last above stated gives an indication of what all of cases are and the question involved in each one of them. It says:

20

Wills Testamentary Succession The testatrix was not able to sign it for her. Instead of writing her name he wrote his own upon the will. Held, That the will was not duly executed. All of the above cases are precisely of this character. Every one of them was a case in which the person who signed the will for the testator wrote his own name to the will instead of writing that of the testator, so that the testator's name nowhere appeared attached to the will as the one who executed it. The case of Ex parte Arcenas contains the following paragraph: Where a testator does not know, or is unable for any reason, to sign the will himself, it shall be signed in the following manner: "John Doe, by the testator, Richard Roe;" or in this form: "By the testator. John Doe, Richard Roe." All this must be written by the witness signing at the request of the testator. The only question for decision in that case, as we have before stated, was presented by the fact that the person who was authorized to sign the name of the testator to the will actually failed to sign such name but instead signedhis own thereto. The decision in that case related only to that question. Aside from the presentation of an alleged subsequent will the contestants in this case have set forth no reason whatever why the will involved in the present litigation should not be probated. The due and legal execution of the will by the testatrix is clearly established by the proofs in this case. Upon the facts, therefore, the will must be probated. As to the defense of a subsequent will, that is resolved in case No. 6284 of which we have already spoken. We there held that said later will not the will of the deceased. The judgment of the probate court must be and is hereby reversed and that court is directed to enter an order in the usual form probating the will involved in this litigation and to proceed with such probate in accordance with law. Arellano, C.J., Mapa and Carson, JJ., concur. practical method of complying with the provisions of the law on the subject. Among these decisions several were written by various justices of this court, some of whom are no longer on this bench, as they have ceased to hold such position. Paragraph 2 of the syllabus of case No. 2002, Ex parte Delfin Santiago,1 concerning the probate of a will, reads as follows: Wills, authentication of . Where a will is not signed by a testator but by some other person in his presence and by his direction, such other person should affix the name of the testator thereto, and it is not sufficient that he sign his own name for and instead of the name of the testator. Paragraph 1 of the syllabus of case No. 1708, Ex parte Arcenas,2 in the matter of the probate of a will, states:

1.

Wills, requisites of; Civil Code, article repealed. Article 695 of the Civil Procedure; consequently where a testator is unable to sign his name, the person signing at his request must write at the bottom of the will the full name of the testator in the latter's presence, and by his express direction, and then sign his own name in full. In the syllabus of decision No. 2586, Tomas Guison vs. Maria Concepcion,3 the following statements appear: Wills; inability to sign; signature by another. The testatrix was not able to sign her name to the will, and she requested another person to sign it for her. Held, That the will was not duly executed. (Following Ex parte Arcenas et al., No. 1708, August 24, 1905; Ex parte Arcenas et al., No. 1708, August 24, 1905; Ex parte Santiago, No. 2002, August 18, 1905.) The following syllabus precedes decision No. 3907:4 Execution of wills. Where it appears in a will that the testator has stated that by reason of his inability to sign his name he requested one of the three witnesses present to do so, and that as a matter of fact, the said witness wrote the name and surname of the testator who, stating that the instrument executed by him contained his last will, put the sign of the cross between his said name and surname, all of which details are set forth in a note which the witnesses forthwith subscribed in the presence of the testator and of each other, said will may be probated. When the essential requisites of section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure for the execution and validity of a will have been complied with, the fact that the witness who was requested to sign the name of the testator, omitted to state the words 'by request of .......... the testator,' when writing with his own hand the name and surname of the said testator, and the fact that said witness subscribed his name together with the other witnesses and not below the name of the testator, does not constitute a defect nor invalidate the said will. The following statement appears in the syllabus of case No. 4132, in the matter of the will of Maria Siason:5 The recital of the name of the testator as written below the will at his request serves as a signature by a third person. Moreover among the grounds given as a basis for this same decision, the following appears: In sustaining this form of signature, this court does not intend to qualify the decisions in Ex parte Santiago (4 Phil. Rep., 692), Ex parte Arcenas, above quoted, or in Abaya vs. Zalamero. In the Arcenas case the court pointed out 21

Separate Opinions TORRES, J., concurring: The undersigned agrees and admits that section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure does not expressly require that, when the testator or testatrix is unable or does not know how to sign, the person who, in the presence and under the express direction of either of them, writes in the name of the said testator or testatrix must also sign his own name thereto, it being sufficient for the validity of the will that the said person so requested to sign the testator or testatrix write the name of either in his own handwriting. Since this court began to decide cases with regard to the form, conditions and validity of wills executed in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, never has the specific point just above mentioned been brought into question. Now for the first time is affirmed in the majority opinion, written by the learned and distinguished Hon. Justice Moreland, that, not being required by the said code, the signature of the name of the person who, at the request of the testator or testatrix, writes the name of either of the latter to the will executed, is not necessary. Various and considerable in number have been the decisions rendered by this court in which, as will be seen further on, upon applying the said section 618 of Code of Civil Procedure and requiring its observance in cases where the testator or testatrix is unable or does not know how to sign his or her name, expressly prescribed the

Wills Testamentary Succession the correct formula for a signature which ought to be followed, but did not mean to exclude any other for substantially equivalent. In the syllabus of decision No. 4454,6 Ex parte Ondevilla et al., the following appears: The testatrix was unable to sign her will with her own hand and requested another person to sign for her in her presence. This the latter did, first writing the name of the testatrix and signing his own name below:Held, That the signature of the testatrix so affixed is sufficient and a will thus executed is admissible to probate. (Ex parte Arcenas, 4 Phil. Rep., 700.) The syllabus of decision No. 51497 sets forth that: The legality of a will is not affected by the insertion, supposed to have been made subsequently, of another name before that of the testator when such name may be treated as nonexistent without affecting its validity. Among the conclusions contained in this last decision the following is found: Although the said words "For Simplicia de los Santos" be considered as inserted subsequently, which we neither affirm nor deny, because a specific determination either way is unnecessary, in our opinion the signature for the testatrix placed outside of the body of the will contains the name of the testatrix as if she signed the will, and also the signature of the witness who, at her request, wrote the name of the testatrix and signed for her, affirming the truth of this fact, attested by the other witnesses then present. And this fully complies with the provisions of section 618 of the Act. It is true that in none of the decisions above quoted was the rule established that the person who, at the request of the testator or testatrix, signed the latter's or the former's name and surname to the will must affix his own signature; but it no less true that, in prescribing the method in which the provisions of the said section 618 to be complied with, it was stated that, in order that a will so executed might be admitted to probate, it was an indispensable requisite that the person requested to sign in place of the testator or testatrix, should write the latter's or the former's name and surname at the foot of the will in the presence and under the direction of either, as the case might be, and should afterwards sign the instrument with his own name and surname. The statement that the person who writes the name and surname of the testator or testatrix at the foot of the will should likewise affix his own signature thereto, name and surname, though it be considered to be neither a rule nor a requisite necessary to follow for the admission of the will to probate, yet it is unquestionable that, in inserting this last above-mentioned detail in the aforesaid decisions, it was deemed to be a complement and integral part of the required conditions for the fulfillment of the provisions of the law. It is undisputable that the latter does not require the said subscription and signature of the person requested to affix to the will the name of the testator or testatrix who is not able to sign; but by stating in the decisions hereinabove quoted that the name and surname of the said person should be affixed by him, no act prohibited by law was recommended or suggested, nor may such a detail be understood to be contrary or opposed to the plain provisions thereof. In the preceding decision itself, it is recognized to be convenient and even prudent to require that the person requested to write the name of the testator or testatrix in the will also sign the instrument with his own name and surname. This statement induces us to believe that, in behalf of the inhabitants of this country and for sake of an upright administration of justice, it should be maintained that such a signature must appear in the will, since no harm could accrue to anyone thereby and, on the contrary, it would serve as a guarantee of the certainty of the act performed and also might eliminate some possible cause of controversy between the interested parties. The undersigned feels it his duty to admit that, though convinced of the complete repeal of article 695 of the Civil Code and, while he conceded that, in the examination and qualification of a will for the purpose of its probate, one has but to abide by the provisions of said section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the sole law applicable in the matter, yet, perhaps imbued with the strongly impelled by a traditional conception of the laws which he has known since youth, relative to the form of execution of testaments, he believed it to be a vary natural and common sense requisite that the signature, with his own name and surname, of the person requested to write in the will the name and surname of the testator or testatrix should form a part of the provisions of the aforementioned section 618. He undoubtedly thought, perhaps mistakenly, that such a requisite of the signature of the person before referred to a requisite deemed to be convenient and prudent in the majority opinion formed a part of the provisions of the law, since the latter contains nothing that prohibits it. The aforementioned different decisions were drawn up in the form in which they appear, and signed without dissent by all the justices of the court on various dates. None of them hesitated to sign the decisions, notwithstanding that it was expressly held therein that the person above mentioned should, besides writing in the will the name and surname of the testator or testatrix, also sign the said instrument with his own name and surname. Without being understood to criticize the provision contained in the said section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure it will not be superfluous to mention that the system adopted in this section is the same as was in vogue under the former laws that governed in these Islands, with respect to witnesses who were not able or did not know how to sign their testimony given in criminal or civil cases, in which event any person at all might write the name and surname of the witness who was unable or did not know how to sign, at the foot of his deposition, where a cross was then drawn, and, this done, it was considered that the instrument had been signed by the witness, though it is true that all these formalities were performed before the judge and the clerk or secretary of the court, which thereupon certified that such procedure was had in accordance with the law. The difference is that in the will, pursuant to section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the person who writes the name and surname of the testator or testatrix does so by the order and express direction of the one or of the other, and this fact must be recorded in the will; but in the matter of the signature of a deposition, the witness, who could not or did not know how to sign, did not need to designate anyone to write the deponent's name and surname, and in practice the witness merely made a cross beside his name and surname, written by whomever it be. With regard to the execution of wills in accordance with the provisions of previous statutes, among them those of the Civil Code, the person or witness requested by the testator or testatrix who was not able or did not know how to sign, authenticated the will by signing it with his own name and surname, preceded by the words "at the request of the testator or testatrix." Paragraph 2 of article 695 of the Civil Code contains the following provisions bearing on the subject: Should the testator declare that he does not know how, or is not able to sign, one of the attesting witnesses or another person shall do so for him at his request, the notary certifying thereto. This shall be done if any one of the witnesses can not sign. So that, prior to the enforcement in this country in 1901 of the Code of Civil procedure prescribed by the old laws with respect to the signing of a will by a testator or testatrix who did not know how or who could not sign, consisted in that

22

Wills Testamentary Succession the person appointed and requested by the testator or testatrix to sign in his or her stead, such fact being recorded in the will, merely affixed at the bottom of the will and after the words "at the request of the testator," his own name, surname and paragraph. It is not at all strange that the attorneys of this country, imbued with and inspired by these legal provisions, which it may said, are traditional to them in the ideas they have formed of the existing laws in the matter of procedure in compliance therewith as regards the execution and signing of a will, should have believed that, after the name and surname of the testator or testatrix had been written at the foot of the will, the person who signed the instrument in the manner mentioned should likewise sign the same with his own name and surname. If in various decisions it has been indicated that the person who, under the express direction of the testator or testatrix, wrote the latter's or the former's name and surname, should also sign the will with his own name and surname, and since this suggestion is not opposed or contrary to the law, the undersigned is of opinion that it ought not to be modified or amended, but that, on the contrary, it should be maintained as a requisite established by the jurisprudence of this court, inasmuch as such a requisite is not contrary to law, to public order, or to good custom, is in consonance with a tradition of this country, does not prejudice the testator nor those interested in an inheritance, and, on the contrary, constitutes another guarantee of the truth and authenticity of the letters with which the name and surname of the testator of testatrix are written, in accordance with his or her desire as expressed in the will. Even though the requisites referred to were not recognized in jurisprudence and were unsupported by any legal doctrine whatever, yet, since it is in harmony with the juridical usages and customs observed in this country, it ought, in the humble opinion of the writer, to be maintained for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Islands and for the sake of a good administration of justice, because it is not a question of a dangerous innovation or of one prejudicial to the public good, but a matter of the observance of a convenient, if not a necessary detail, introduced by the jurisprudence of the courts and which in the present case has filed a vacancy left by the positive written law. The foregoing considerations, which perhaps have not the support of better premises, but in the opinion of the undersigned, are conducive to the realization of the purposes of justice, have impelled him to believe that the proposition should be enforced that the witness requested or invited by the testator or testatrix to write his or her name to the will, should also subscribed the instrument by signing thereto his own name and surname; and therefore, with the proper finding in this sense, and reversal of the judgment appealed from, that the court below should be ordered to proceed with the probate of the will of the decedent, Maria Salomon, in accordance with the law. Footnotes
1 1 2

Not published.

TORRES, J., concurring:


4 Phil. Rep., 692. 4 Phil. Rep., 700. 3 5 Phil. Rep., 551. 4 Abaya vs. Zalamero (10 Phil. Rep., 357). 5 10 Phil. Rep., 504. 6 13 Phil. Rep., 470. 7 Macapinla vs. Alimurong (16 Phil. Rep., 41).

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Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC February 27, 1911 was actually and physically present and in such position with relation to Jaboneta that he could see everything that took place by merely casting his eyes in the proper direction and without any physical obstruction to prevent his doing so." And the decision merely laid down the doctrine that the question whether the testator and the subscribing witnesses to an alleged will sign the instrument in the presence of each other does not depend upon proof of the fact that their eyes were actually cast upon the paper at the moment of its subscription by each of them, but that at that moment existing conditions and their position with relation to each other were such that by merely casting the eyes in the proper direction they could have seen each other sign. To extend the doctrine further would open the door to the possibility of all manner of fraud, substitution, and the like, and would defeat the purpose for which this particular condition is prescribed in the code as one of the requisites in the execution of a will. The decree entered by the court below admitting the instrument propounded therein to probate as the last will and testament of Pedro Rimando, deceased, is affirmed with costs of this instance against the appellant. Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Moreland and Trent, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-5971

BEATRIZ NERA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellees, vs. NARCISA RIMANDO, defendant-appellant. Valerio Fontanilla and Andres Asprer for appellant. Anacleto Diaz for appellees. CARSON, J.: The only question raised by the evidence in this case as to the due execution of the instrument propounded as a will in the court below, is whether one of the subscribing witnesses was present in the small room where it was executed at the time when the testator and the other subscribing witnesses attached their signatures; or whether at that time he was outside, some eight or ten feet away, in a large room connecting with the smaller room by a doorway, across which was hung a curtain which made it impossible for one in the outside room to see the testator and the other subscribing witnesses in the act of attaching their signatures to the instrument. A majority of the members of the court is of opinion that this subscribing witness was in the small room with the testator and the other subscribing witnesses at the time when they attached their signatures to the instrument, and this finding, of course, disposes of the appeal and necessitates the affirmance of the decree admitting the document to probate as the last will and testament of the deceased. The trial judge does not appear to have considered the determination of this question of fact of vital importance in the determination of this case, as he was of opinion that under the doctrine laid down in the case of Jaboneta vs. Gustilo (5 Phil. Rep., 541) the alleged fact that one of the subscribing witnesses was in the outer room when the testator and the other describing witnesses signed the instrument in the inner room, had it been proven, would not be sufficient in itself to invalidate the execution of the will. But we are unanimously of opinion that had this subscribing witness been proven to have been in the outer room at the time when the testator and the other subscribing witnesses attached their signatures to the instrument in the inner room, it would have been invalid as a will, the attaching of those signatures under circumstances not being done "in the presence" of the witness in the outer room. This because the line of vision from this witness to the testator and the other subscribing witnesses would necessarily have been impeded by the curtain separating the inner from the outer one "at the moment of inscription of each signature." In the case just cited, on which the trial court relied, we held that: The true test of presence of the testator and the witnesses in the execution of a will is not whether they actually saw each other sign, but whether they might have been seen each other sign, had they chosen to do so, considering their mental and physical condition and position with relation to each other at the moment of inscription of each signature. But it is especially to be noted that the position of the parties with relation to each other at the moment of the subscription of each signature, must be such that they may see each other sign if they choose to do so. This, of course, does not mean that the testator and the subscribing witnesses may be held to have executed the instrument in the presence of each other if it appears that they would not have been able to see each other sign at that moment, without changing their relative positions or existing conditions. The evidence in the case relied upon by the trial judge discloses that "at the moment when the witness Javellana signed the document he

24

Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC G.R. No. L-18979 June 30, 1964 IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE JOSEFA VILLACORTE. CELSO ICASIANO, petitioner-appellee, vs. NATIVIDAD ICASIANO and ENRIQUE ICASIANO, oppositors-appellants. Jose W. Diokno for petitioner-appellee. Rosendo J. Tansinin for oppositor-appellant Natividad Icasiano. Jaime R. Nuevas for oppositor-appellant Enrique Icasiano. REYES, J.B.L., J.: Appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila admitting to probate the document and its duplicate, marked as Exhibits "A" and "A-1", as the true last will and testament of Josefa Villacorte, deceased, and appointing as executor Celso Icasiano, the person named therein as such. This special proceeding was begun on October 2, 1958 by a petition for the allowance and admission to probate of the original, Exhibit "A" as the alleged will of Josefa Villacorte, deceased, and for the appointment of petitioner Celso Icasiano as executor thereof. The court set the proving of the alleged will for November 8, 1958, and caused notice thereof to be published for three (3) successive weeks, previous to the time appointed, in the newspaper "Manila chronicle", and also caused personal service of copies thereof upon the known heirs. On October 31, 1958, Natividad Icasiano, a daughter of the testatrix, filed her opposition; and on November 10, 1958, she petitioned to have herself appointed as a special administrator, to which proponent objected. Hence, on November 18, 1958, the court issued an order appointing the Philippine Trust Company as special administrator. On February 18, 1959, Enrique Icasiano, a son of the testatrix, also filed a manifestation adopting as his own Natividad's opposition to the probate of the alleged will. On March 19, 1959, the petitioner proponent commenced the introduction of his evidence; but on June 1, 1959, he filed a motion for the admission of an amended and supplemental petition, alleging that the decedent left a will executed in duplicate with all the legal requirements, and that he was, on that date, submitting the signed duplicate (Exhibit "A-1"), which he allegedly found only on or about May 26, 1959. On June 17, 1959, oppositors Natividad Icasiano de Gomez and Enrique Icasiano filed their joint opposition to the admission of the amended and supplemental petition, but by order of July 20, 1959, the court admitted said petition, and on July 30, 1959, oppositor Natividad Icasiano filed her amended opposition. Thereafter, the parties presented their respective evidence, and after several hearings the court issued the order admitting the will and its duplicate to probate. From this order, the oppositors appealed directly to this Court, the amount involved being over P200,000.00, on the ground that the same is contrary to law and the evidence. The evidence presented for the petitioner is to the effect that Josefa Villacorte died in the City of Manila on September 12, 1958; that on June 2, 1956, the late Josefa Villacorte executed a last will and testament in duplicate at the house of her daughter Mrs. Felisa Icasiano at Pedro Guevara Street, Manila, published before and attested by three instrumental witnesses, namely: attorneys Justo P. Torres, Jr. and Jose V. Natividad, and Mr. Vinicio B. Diy; that the will was acknowledged by the testatrix and by the said three instrumental witnesses on the same date before attorney Jose Oyengco Ong, Notary Public in and for the City of Manila; and that the will was actually prepared by attorney Fermin Samson, who was also present during the execution and signing of the decedent's last will and testament, together with former Governor Emilio Rustia of Bulacan, Judge Ramon Icasiano and a little girl. Of the said three instrumental witnesses to the execution of the decedent's last will and testament, attorneys Torres and Natividad were in the Philippines at the time of the hearing, and both testified as to the due execution and authenticity of the said will. So did the Notary Public before whom the will was acknowledged by the testatrix and attesting witnesses, and also attorneys Fermin Samson, who actually prepared the document. The latter also testified upon cross examination that he prepared one original and two copies of Josefa Villacorte last will and testament at his house in Baliuag, Bulacan, but he brought only one original and one signed copy to Manila, retaining one unsigned copy in Bulacan. The records show that the original of the will, which was surrendered simultaneously with the filing of the petition and marked as Exhibit "A" consists of five pages, and while signed at the end and in every page, it does not contain the signature of one of the attesting witnesses, Atty. Jose V. Natividad, on page three (3) thereof; but the duplicate copy attached to the amended and supplemental petition and marked as Exhibit "A-1" is signed by the testatrix and her three attesting witnesses in each and every page. The testimony presented by the proponents of the will tends to show that the original of the will and its duplicate were subscribed at the end and on the left margin of each and every page thereof by the testatrix herself and attested and subscribed by the three mentioned witnesses in the testatrix's presence and in that of one another as witnesses (except for the missing signature of attorney Natividad on page three (3) of the original); that pages of the original and duplicate of said will were duly numbered; that the attestation clause thereof contains all the facts required by law to be recited therein and is signed by the aforesaid attesting witnesses; that the will is written in the language known to and spoken by the testatrix that the attestation clause is in a language also known to and spoken by the witnesses; that the will was executed on one single occasion in duplicate copies; and that both the original and the duplicate copies were duly acknowledged before Notary Public Jose Oyengco of Manila on the same date June 2, 1956. Witness Natividad who testified on his failure to sign page three (3) of the original, admits that he may have lifted two pages instead of one when he signed the same, but affirmed that page three (3) was signed in his presence. Oppositors-appellants in turn introduced expert testimony to the effect that the signatures of the testatrix in the duplicate (Exhibit "A-1") are not genuine nor were they written or affixed on the same occasion as the original, and further aver that granting that the documents were genuine, they were executed through mistake and with undue influence and pressure because the testatrix was deceived into adopting as her last will and testament the wishes of those who will stand to benefit from the provisions of the will, as may be inferred from the facts and circumstances surrounding the execution of the will and the provisions and dispositions thereof, whereby proponents-appellees stand to profit from properties held by them as attorneys-in-fact of the deceased and not enumerated or mentioned therein, while oppositors-appellants are enjoined not to look for other properties not mentioned in the will, and not to oppose the probate of it, on penalty of forfeiting their share in the portion of free disposal. We have examined the record and are satisfied, as the trial court was, that the testatrix signed both original and duplicate copies (Exhibits "A" and "A-1", respectively) of the will spontaneously, on the same in the presence of the three

25

Wills Testamentary Succession attesting witnesses, the notary public who acknowledged the will; and Atty. Samson, who actually prepared the documents; that the will and its duplicate were executed in Tagalog, a language known to and spoken by both the testator and the witnesses, and read to and by the testatrix and Atty. Fermin Samson, together before they were actually signed; that the attestation clause is also in a language known to and spoken by the testatrix and the witnesses. The opinion of expert for oppositors, Mr. Felipe Logan, that the signatures of the testatrix appearing in the duplicate original were not written by the same had which wrote the signatures in the original will leaves us unconvinced, not merely because it is directly contradicted by expert Martin Ramos for the proponents, but principally because of the paucity of the standards used by him to support the conclusion that the differences between the standard and questioned signatures are beyond the writer's range of normal scriptural variation. The expert has, in fact, used as standards only three other signatures of the testatrix besides those affixed to the original of the testament (Exh. A); and we feel that with so few standards the expert's opinion and the signatures in the duplicate could not be those of the testatrix becomes extremely hazardous. This is particularly so since the comparison charts Nos. 3 and 4 fail to show convincingly that the are radical differences that would justify the charge of forgery, taking into account the advanced age of the testatrix, the evident variability of her signatures, and the effect of writing fatigue, the duplicate being signed right the original. These, factors were not discussed by the expert. Similarly, the alleged slight variance in blueness of the ink in the admitted and questioned signatures does not appear reliable, considering the standard and challenged writings were affixed to different kinds of paper, with different surfaces and reflecting power. On the whole, therefore, we do not find the testimony of the oppositor's expert sufficient to overcome that of the notary and the two instrumental witnesses, Torres and Natividad (Dr. Diy being in the United States during the trial, did not testify). Nor do we find adequate evidence of fraud or undue influence. The fact that some heirs are more favored than others is proof of neither (see In re Butalid, 10 Phil. 27; Bugnao vs. Ubag, 14 Phil. 163; Pecson vs. Coronal, 45 Phil. 216). Diversity of apportionment is the usual reason for making a testament; otherwise, the decedent might as well die intestate. The testamentary dispositions that the heirs should not inquire into other property and that they should respect the distribution made in the will, under penalty of forfeiture of their shares in the free part do not suffice to prove fraud or undue influence. They appear motivated by the desire to prevent prolonged litigation which, as shown by ordinary experience, often results in a sizeable portion of the estate being diverted into the hands of non-heirs and speculators. Whether these clauses are valid or not is a matter to be litigated on another occassion. It is also well to note that, as remarked by the Court of Appeals in Sideco vs. Sideco, 45 Off. Gaz. 168, fraud and undue influence are mutually repugnant and exclude each other; their joining as grounds for opposing probate shows absence of definite evidence against the validity of the will. On the question of law, we hold that the inadvertent failure of one witness to affix his signature to one page of a testament, due to the simultaneous lifting of two pages in the course of signing, is not per se sufficient to justify denial of probate. Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only the fact that the testatrix and two other witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the seal of the notary public before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses. The law should not be so strictly and literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of the inadvertence of a single witness over whose conduct she had no control, where the purpose of the law to guarantee the identity of the testament and its component pages is sufficiently attained, no intentional or deliberate deviation existed, and the evidence on record attests to the full observance of the statutory requisites. Otherwise, as stated in Vda. de Gil. vs. Murciano, 49 Off. Gaz. 1459, at 1479 (decision on reconsideration) "witnesses may sabotage the will by muddling or bungling it or the attestation clause". That the failure of witness Natividad to sign page three (3) was entirely through pure oversight is shown by his own testimony as well as by the duplicate copy of the will, which bears a complete set of signatures in every page. The text of the attestation clause and the acknowledgment before the Notary Public likewise evidence that no one was aware of the defect at the time. This would not be the first time that this Court departs from a strict and literal application of the statutory requirements, where the purposes of the law are otherwise satisfied. Thus, despite the literal tenor of the law, this Court has held that a testament, with the only page signed at its foot by testator and witnesses, but not in the left margin, could nevertheless be probated (Abangan vs. Abangan, 41 Phil. 476); and that despite the requirement for the correlative lettering of the pages of a will, the failure to make the first page either by letters or numbers is not a fatal defect (Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil. 429). These precedents exemplify the Court's policy to require satisfaction of the legal requirements in order to guard against fraud and bid faith but without undue or unnecessary curtailment of the testamentary privilege. The appellants also argue that since the original of the will is in existence and available, the duplicate (Exh. A-1) is not entitled to probate. Since they opposed probate of original because it lacked one signature in its third page, it is easily discerned that oppositors-appellants run here into a dilemma; if the original is defective and invalid, then in law there is no other will but the duly signed carbon duplicate (Exh. A-1), and the same is probatable. If the original is valid and can be probated, then the objection to the signed duplicate need not be considered, being superfluous and irrelevant. At any rate, said duplicate, Exhibit A-1, serves to prove that the omission of one signature in the third page of the original testament was inadvertent and not intentional. That the carbon duplicate, Exhibit A-1, was produced and admitted without a new publication does not affect the jurisdiction of the probate court, already conferred by the original publication of the petition for probate. The amended petition did not substantially alter the one first filed, but merely supplemented it by disclosing the existence of the duplicate, and no showing is made that new interests were involved (the contents of Exhibit A and A-1 are admittedly identical); and appellants were duly notified of the proposed amendment. It is nowhere proved or claimed that the amendment deprived the appellants of any substantial right, and we see no error in admitting the amended petition. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from is affirmed, with costs against appellants. Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Paredes, Regala and Makalintal, JJ., concur. Barrera and Dizon, JJ., took no part.

26

Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC G.R. No. L-5826 April 29, 1953 Testate estate of the late VICENTE CAGRO. JESUSA CAGRO, petitionerappellee, vs. PELAGIO CAGRO, ET AL., oppositors-appellants. Clouduallo Lucero and Vicente C. Santos for appellants. Marciano Chitongco and Zosimo B. Echanova for appellee. PARAS, C.J.: This is an appeal interposed by the oppositors from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Samar, admitting to probate the will allegedly executed by Vicente Cagro who died in Laoangan, Pambujan, Samar, on February 14, 1949. The main objection insisted upon by the appellant in that the will is fatally defective, because its attestation clause is not signed by the attesting witnesses. There is no question that the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause, although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin. We are of the opinion that the position taken by the appellant is correct. The attestation clause is 'a memorandum of the facts attending the execution of the will' required by law to be made by the attesting witnesses, and it must necessarily bear their signatures. An unsigned attestation clause cannot be considered as an act of the witnesses, since the omission of their signatures at the bottom thereof negatives their participation. The petitioner and appellee contends that signatures of the three witnesses on the left-hand margin conform substantially to the law and may be deemed as their signatures to the attestation clause. This is untenable, because said signatures are in compliance with the legal mandate that the will be signed on the left-hand margin of all its pages. If an attestation clause not signed by the three witnesses at the bottom thereof, be admitted as sufficient, it would be easy to add such clause to a will on a subsequent occasion and in the absence of the testator and any or all of the witnesses. Wherefore, the appealed decision is reversed and the probate of the will in question denied. So ordered with costs against the petitioner and appellee. Pablo, Bengzon, Montemayor, Jugo and Labrador, JJ., concur. This objection is too technical to be entertained. In the case of Abangan vs. Abangan, (40 Phil., 476), this court said that when the testamentary dispositions "are wholly written on only one sheet signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses (as the instant case),their signatures on the left margin of said sheet would be completely purposeless." In such a case, the court said, the requirement of the signatures on the left hand margin was not necessary because the purpose of the law which is to avoid the substitution of any of the sheets of the will, thereby changing the testator's dispositions has already been accomplished. We may say the same thing in connection with the will under consideration because while the three instrumental witnesses did not sign immediately by the majority that it may have been only added on a subsequent occasion and not at the uncontradicted testimony of said witnesses to the effect that such attestation clause was already written in the will when the same was signed. The following observation made by this court in the Abangan case is very fitting: The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it i not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary useless and frustrative of the testator's last will, must be disregarded. (supra) We should not also overlook the liberal trend of the New Civil Code in the matter of interpretation of wills, the purpose of which, in case of doubt, is to give such interpretation that would have the effect of preventing intestacy (article 788 and 791, New Civil Code) I am therefore of the opinion that the will in question should be admitted to probate. Feria, J., concurs.

TUASON, J., dissenting: I cuncur in Mr. Justice Bautista's dissenting opinion and may add that the majority decision erroneously sets down as a fact that the attestation clause was no signed when the witnesses signatures appear on the left margin and the real and only question is whether such signatures are legally sufficient. The only answers, in our humble opinion, is yes. The law on wills does not provide that the attesting witness should sign the clause at the bottom. In the absence of such provision, there is no reason why signatures on the margin are not good. A letter is not any the less the writter's simply because it was signed, not at the conventional place but on the side or on top. Feria, J., concurs.

Separate Opinions BAUTISTA ANGELO, J., dissenting: I dissent. In my opinion the will in question has substantially complied with the formalities of the law and, therefore, should be admitted to probate . It appears that the will was signed by the testator and was attested by three instrumental witnesses, not only at the bottom, but also on the left-hand margin. The witnesses testified not only that the will was signed by the testator in their presence and in the presence of each other but also that when they did so, the attestation clause was already written thereon. Their testimony has not been contradicted. The only objection set up by the oppositors to the validity of the will is the fact that the signatures of the instrumental witnesses do not appear immediately after the attestation clause.

27

Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC G.R. No. L-7179 June 30, 1955 Testate Estate of the Late Apolinaria Ledesma. FELICIDAD JAVELLANA, petitioner-appellee, vs. DOA MATEA LEDESMA, oppositor-appellant. Fulgencio Vega and Felix D. Bacabac for appellant. Benjamin H. Tirot for appellee. REYES, J.B.L., J.: By order of July 23, 1953, the Court of First Instance of Iloilo admitted to probate the documents in the Visayan dialect, marked Exhibits D and E, as the testament and codicil duly executed by the deceased Da. Apolinaria Ledesma Vda. de Javellana, on March 30, 1950, and May 29, 1952, respectively, with Ramon Tabiana, Gloria Montinola de Tabiana and Vicente Yap as witnesses. The contestant, Da. Matea Ledesma, sister and nearest surviving relative of said deceased, appealed from the decision, insisting that the said exhibits were not executed in conformity with law. The appeal was made directly to this Court because the value of the properties involved exceeded two hundred thousand pesos. Originally the opposition to the probate also charged that the testatrix lacked testamentary capacity and that the dispositions were procured through undue influence. These grounds were abandoned at the hearing in the court below, where the issue was concentrated into three specific questions: (1) whether the testament of 1950 was executed by the testatrix in the presence of the instrumental witnesses; (2) whether the acknowledgment clause was signed and the notarial seal affixed by the notary without the presence of the testatrix and the witnesses; and (3) if so, whether the codicil was thereby rendered invalid and ineffective. These questions are the same ones presented to us for resolution. The contestant argues that the Court below erred in refusing credence to her witnesses Maria Paderogao and Vidal Allado, cook and driver, respectively, of the deceased Apolinaria Ledesma. Both testified that on March 30, 1950, they saw and heard Vicente Yap (one of the witnesses to the will) inform the deceased that he had brought the "testamento" and urge her to go to attorney Tabiana's office to sign it; that Da. Apolinaria manifested that she could not go, because she was not feeling well; and that upon Yap's insistence that the will had to be signed in the attorney's office and not elsewhere, the deceased took the paper and signed it in the presence of Yap alone, and returned it with the statement that no one would question it because the property involved was exclusively hers. Our examination of the testimony on record discloses no grounds for reversing the trial Court's rejection of the improbable story of the witnesses. It is squarely contradicted by the concordant testimony of the instrumental witnesses, Vicente Yap, Atty. Ramon Tabiana, and his wife Gloria Montinola, who asserted under oath that the testament was executed by testatrix and witnesses in the presence of each other, at the house of the decedent on General Hughes St., Iloilo City, on March 30, 1950. And it is highly unlikely, and contrary to usage, that either Tabiana or Yap should have insisted that Da. Apolinaria, an infirm lady then over 80 years old, should leave her own house in order to execute her will, when all three witnesses could have easily repaired thither for the purpose. Moreover, the cross-examination has revealed fatal flaws in the testimony of Contestant's witnesses. Both claim to have heard the word "testamento" for the first time when Yap used it; and they claimed ability to recall that word four years later, despite the fact that the term meant nothing to either. It is well known that what is to be remembered must first be rationally conceived and assimilated (II Moore on Facts, p. 884). Likewise, Maria Paderogao was positive that Yap brought the will, and that the deceased alone signed it, precisely on March 30, 1950; but she could remember no other date, nor give satisfactory explanation why that particular day stuck in her mind. Worse still, Allado claimed to have heard what allegedly transpired between Yap and Da. Apolinaria from the kitchen of the house, that was later proved to have been separated from the deceased's quarters, and standing at a much lower level, so that conversations in the main building could not be distinctly heard from the kitchen. Later, on redirect examination, Allado sought to cure his testimony by claiming that he was upstairs in a room where the servants used to eat when he heard Yap converse with his mistress; but this correction is unavailing, since it was plainly induced by two highly leading questions from contestant's counsel that had been previously ruled out by the trial Court. Besides, the contradiction is hardly consonant with this witness' 18 years of service to the deceased. Upon the other hand, the discrepancies in the testimony of the instrumental witnesses urged upon us by the contestant-appellant, concerning the presence or absence of Aurelio Montinola at the signing of the testament or of the codicil, and the identity of the person who inserted the date therein, are not material and are largely imaginary, since the witness Mrs. Tabiana confessed inability to remember all the details of the transaction. Neither are we impressed by the argument that the use of some Spanish terms in the codicil and testament (likelegado, partes iguales, plena propiedad) is proof that its contents were not understood by the testatrix, it appearing in evidence that those terms are of common use even in the vernacular, and that the deceased was a woman of wide business interests. The most important variation noted by the contestants concerns that signing of the certificate of acknowledgment (in Spanish) appended to the Codicil in Visayan, Exhibit E. Unlike the testament, this codicil was executed after the enactment of the new Civil Code, and, therefore, had to be acknowledged before a notary public (Art. 806). Now, the instrumental witnesses (who happen to be the same ones who attested the will of 1950) asserted that after the codicil had been signed by the testatrix and the witnesses at the San Pablo Hospital, the same was signed and sealed by notary public Gimotea on the same occasion. On the other hand, Gimotea affirmed that he did not do so, but brought the codicil to his office, and signed and sealed it there. The variance does not necessarily imply conscious perversion of truth on the part of the witnesses, but appears rather due to a well-established phenomenon, the tendency of the mind, in recalling past events, to substitute the usual and habitual for what differs slightly from it (II Moore on Facts, p. 878; The Ellen McGovern, 27 Fed. 868, 870). At any rate, as observed by the Court below, whether or not the notary signed the certification of acknowledgment in the presence of the testatrix and the witnesses, does not affect the validity of the codicil. Unlike the Code of 1889 (Art. 699), the new Civil Code does not require that the signing of the testator, witnesses and notary should be accomplished in one single act. A comparison of Articles 805 and 806 of the new Civil Code reveals that while testator and witnesses sign in the presence of each other, all that is thereafter required is that "every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses" (Art. 806); i.e., that the latter should avow to the certifying officer the authenticity of their signatures and the voluntariness of their actions in executing the testamentary disposition. This was done in the case before us. The subsequent signing and sealing by the notary of his certification that the testament was duly acknowledged by the participants therein is no part of the acknowledgment itself nor of the testamentary act. Hence their separate execution out of the presence of the testatrix and her witnesses can not be said to violate the rule that testaments should be completed without interruption (Andalis vs. Pulgueras, 59 Phil. 643), or, as the Roman maxim puts it, "uno codem die ac tempore in eadem loco", and no reversible error was committed by the Court in so holding. It is noteworthy that Article 806 of the new Civil Code does not contain

28

Wills Testamentary Succession words requiring that the testator and the witnesses should acknowledge the testament on the same day or occasion that it was executed. The decision admitting the will to probate is affirmed, with costs against appellant. Bengzon, Acting C.J., Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Jugo, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, and Concepcion, JJ.,concur.

29

Wills Testamentary Succession FIRST DIVISION November 26, 1973 of the English Language, p. 72; Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language, p. 252; Webster's New International Dictionary 2d. p. 245.) Consequently, if the third witness were the notary public himself, he would have to avow assent, or admit his having signed the will in front of himself. This cannot be done because he cannot split his personality into two so that one will appear before the other to acknowledge his participation in the making of the will. To permit such a situation to obtain would be sanctioning a sheer absurdity. Furthermore, the function of a notary public is, among others, to guard against any illegal or immoral arrangement Balinon v. De Leon, 50 0. G. 583.) That function would defeated if the notary public were one of the attesting instrumental witnesses. For them he would be interested sustaining the validity of the will as it directly involves him and the validity of his own act. It would place him in inconsistent position and the very purpose of acknowledgment, which is to minimize fraud (Report of Code Commission p. 106-107), would be thwarted. Admittedly, there are American precedents holding that notary public may, in addition, act as a witness to the executive of the document he has notarized. (Mahilum v. Court Appeals, 64 0. G. 4017; 17 SCRA 482; Sawyer v. Cox, 43 Ill. 130). There are others holding that his signing merely as notary in a will nonetheless makes him a witness thereon (Ferguson v. Ferguson, 47 S. E. 2d. 346; In Re Douglas Will, N. Y. S. 2d. 641; Ragsdal v. Hill, 269 S. W. 2d. 911, Tyson Utterback, 122 So. 496; In Re Baybee's Estate 160 N. 900; W. Merill v. Boal, 132 A. 721;See also Trenwith v. Smallwood, 15 So. 1030). But these authorities do not serve the purpose of the law in this jurisdiction or are not decisive of the issue herein because the notaries public and witnesses referred to aforecited cases merely acted as instrumental, subscribing attesting witnesses, and not as acknowledging witnesses. He the notary public acted not only as attesting witness but also acknowledging witness, a situation not envisaged by Article 805 of the Civil Code which reads: ART. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. [Emphasis supplied] To allow the notary public to act as third witness, or one the attesting and acknowledging witnesses, would have the effect of having only two attesting witnesses to the will which would be in contravention of the provisions of Article 80 be requiring at least three credible witnesses to act as such and of Article 806 which requires that the testator and the required number of witnesses must appear before the notary public to acknowledge the will. The result would be, as has been said, that only two witnesses appeared before the notary public for or that purpose. In the circumstances, the law would not be duly in observed. FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed and the probate of the last will and testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit "E") is declared not valid and hereby set aside. Cost against the appellee. Makalintal, C.J., Castro, Teehankee, Makasiar and Muoz Palma, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-32213

AGAPITA N. CRUZ, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE GUILLERMO P. VILLASOR, Presiding Judge of Branch I, Court of First Instance of Cebu, and MANUEL B. LUGAY, respondents. Paul G. Gorrez for petitioner. Mario D. Ortiz for respondent Manuel B. Lugay. ESGUERRA, J.: Petition to review on certiorari the judgment of the Court First Instance of Cebu allowing the probate of the last will a testament of the late Valente Z. Cruz. Petitioner-appellant Agapita N. Cruz, the surviving spouse of the said decease opposed the allowance of the will (Exhibit "E"), alleging the will was executed through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and undue influence; that the said instrument was execute without the testator having been fully informed of the content thereof, particularly as to what properties he was disposing and that the supposed last will and testament was not executed in accordance with law. Notwithstanding her objection, the Court allowed the probate of the said last will and testament Hence this appeal by certiorari which was given due course. The only question presented for determination, on which the decision of the case hinges, is whether the supposed last will and testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit "E") was executed in accordance with law, particularly Articles 805 and 806 of the new Civil Code, the first requiring at least three credible witnesses to attest and subscribe to the will, and the second requiring the testator and the witnesses to acknowledge the will before a notary public. Of the three instrumental witnesses thereto, namely Deogracias T. Jamaloas Jr., Dr. Francisco Paares and Atty. Angel H. Teves, Jr., one of them, the last named, is at the same time the Notary Public before whom the will was supposed to have been acknowledged. Reduced to simpler terms, the question was attested and subscribed by at least three credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other, considering that the three attesting witnesses must appear before the notary public to acknowledge the same. As the third witness is the notary public himself, petitioner argues that the result is that only two witnesses appeared before the notary public to acknowledge the will. On the other hand, private respondentappellee, Manuel B. Lugay, who is the supposed executor of the will, following the reasoning of the trial court, maintains that there is substantial compliance with the legal requirement of having at least three attesting witnesses even if the notary public acted as one of them, bolstering up his stand with 57 American Jurisprudence, p. 227 which, insofar as pertinent, reads as follows: It is said that there are, practical reasons for upholding a will as against the purely technical reason that one of the witnesses required by law signed as certifying to an acknowledgment of the testator's signature under oath rather than as attesting the execution of the instrument. After weighing the merits of the conflicting claims of the parties, We are inclined to sustain that of the appellant that the last will and testament in question was not executed in accordance with law. The notary public before whom the will was acknowledged cannot be considered as the third instrumental witness since he cannot acknowledge before himself his having signed the will. To acknowledge before means to avow (Javellana v. Ledesma, 97 Phil. 258, 262; Castro v. Castro, 100 Phil. 239, 247); to own as genuine, to assent, to admit; and "before" means in front or preceding in space or ahead of. (The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary

30

Wills Testamentary Succession FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 174144 April 17, 2007 BELLA A. GUERRERO, PETITIONER VS. RESURRECCION A. BIHIS, RESPONDENT. CORONA, J.: DECISION disallowed. In view thereof, the Court shall henceforth proceed with intestate succession in regard to the estate of the deceased Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura in accordance with Article 960 of the [Civil Code], to wit: "Art. 960. Legal or intestate succession takes place: (1) If a person dies without a will, or with a void will, or one which has subsequently lost its validity, xxx." SO ORDERED.[3] Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals but the appellate court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the resolution of the trial court.[4] Thus, this petition.[5] Petitioner admits that the will was acknowledged by the testatrix and the witnesses at the testatrix's residence in Quezon City before Atty. Directo and that, at that time, Atty. Directo was a commissioned notary public for and in Caloocan City. She, however, asserts that the fact that the notary public was acting outside his territorial jurisdiction did not affect the validity of the notarial will. Did the will "acknowledged" by the testatrix and the instrumental witnesses before a notary public acting outside the place of his commission satisfy the requirement under Article 806 of the Civil Code? It did not. Article 806 of the Civil Code provides: ART. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. One of the formalities required by law in connection with the execution of a notarial will is that it must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses.[6] This formal requirement is one of the indispensable requisites for the validity of a will.[7] In other words, a notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the instrumental witnesses is void and cannot be accepted for probate. An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer and declaring it to be his act or deed.[8] In the case of a notarial will, that competent officer is the notary public. The acknowledgment of a notarial will coerces the testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law, the notary public, that they executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed.[9] Such declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury, thus paving the way for the criminal prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of spurious wills, or those executed without the free consent of the testator.[10] It also provides a further degree of assurance that the testator is of a certain mindset in making the testamentary dispositions to the persons instituted as heirs or designated as devisees or legatees in the will.[11] Acknowledgment can only be made before a competent officer, that is, a lawyer duly commissioned as a notary public. In this connection, the relevant provisions of the Notarial Law provide:
SECTION 237. Form of commission for notary public. -The appointment of a notary public shall be in writing, signed by the judge, and substantially in the following form:

The Scriptures tell the story of the brothers Jacob and Esau[1], siblings who fought bitterly over the inheritance of their father Isaac's estate. Jurisprudence is also replete with cases involving acrimonious conflicts between brothers and sisters over successional rights. This case is no exception. On February 19, 1994, Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura, mother of petitioner Bella A. Guerrero and respondent Resurreccion A. Bihis, died at the Metropolitan Hospital in Tondo, Manila. On May 24, 1994, petitioner filed a petition for the probate of the last will and testament of the decedent in Branch 95[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City where the case was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. Q-94-20661. The petition alleged the following: petitioner was named as executrix in the decedent's will and she was legally qualified to act as such; the decedent was a citizen of the Philippines at the time of her death; at the time of the execution of the will, the testatrix was 79 years old, of sound and disposing mind, not acting under duress, fraud or undue influence and was capacitated to dispose of her estate by will. Respondent opposed her elder sister's petition on the following grounds: the will was not executed and attested as required by law; its attestation clause and acknowledgment did not comply with the requirements of the law; the signature of the testatrix was procured by fraud and petitioner and her children procured the will through undue and improper pressure and influence. In an order dated November 9, 1994, the trial court appointed petitioner as special administratrix of the decedent's estate. Respondent opposed petitioner's appointment but subsequently withdrew her opposition. Petitioner took her oath as temporary special administratrix and letters of special administration were issued to her. On January 17, 2000, after petitioner presented her evidence, respondent filed a demurrer thereto alleging that petitioner's evidence failed to establish that the decedent's will complied with Articles 804 and 805 of the Civil Code. In a resolution dated July 6, 2001, the trial court denied the probate of the will ruling that Article 806 of the Civil Code was not complied with because the will was "acknowledged" by the testatrix and the witnesses at the testatrix's, residence at No. 40 Kanlaon Street, Quezon City before Atty. Macario O. Directo who was a commissioned notary public for and in Caloocan City. The dispositive portion of the resolution read: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds, and so declares that it cannot admit the last will and testament of the late Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura to probate for the reasons hereinabove discussed and also in accordance with Article 839 [of the Civil Code] which provides that if the formalities required by law have not been complied with, the will shall be

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GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PROVINCE OF ___________ This is to certify that ____________, of the municipality of ________ in said province, was on the ___ day of __________, anno Domini nineteen hundred and _______, appointed by me a notary public, within and for the said province, for the term ending on the first day of January, anno Domini nineteen hundred and _____. _________________ Judge of the Court of irst Instance[12] of said Province xxx xxx xxx SECTION 240. Territorial jurisdiction. - The jurisdiction of a notary public in a province shall be co-extensive with the province. The jurisdiction of a notary public in the City of Manila shall be co-extensive with said city. No notary shall possess authority to do any notarial act beyond the limits of his jurisdiction. (emphases supplied)

Costs against petitioner. Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation on the possible misconduct of Atty. Macario O. Directo. SO ORDERED. Puno, C.J., (Chairperson), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Azcuna and Garcia, JJ., concur.
[1]

Jacob and Esau were the sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Even before they were born, they were struggling against each other in the womb of their mother. Their prenatal striving foreshadowed later conflict. (Genesis 25:21-26) Jacob, the younger of the two, desired Esau's birthright -the special honor that Esau possessed as the older son which entitled him to a double portion of his father's inheritance. Jacob was later on able to acquire not only Esau's birthright and superior right to inheritance but also their father's blessing. (Genesis 25:27-34, 27: 1-40)
[2]

A notary public's commission is the grant of authority in his favor to perform notarial acts.[13] It is issued "within and for" a particular territorial jurisdiction and the notary public's authority is co-extensive with it. In other words, a notary public is authorized to perform notarial acts, including the taking of acknowledgments, within that territorial jurisdiction only. Outside the place of his commission, he is bereft of power to perform any notarial act; he is not a notary public. Any notarial act outside the limits of his jurisdiction has no force and effect. As this Court categorically pronounced in Tecson v. Tecson:[14] An acknowledgment taken outside the territorial limits of the officer's jurisdiction is void as if the person taking it ware wholly without official character. (emphasis supplied) Since Atty. Directo was not a commissioned notary public for and in Quezon City, he lacked the authority to take the acknowledgment of the testatrix and the instrumental witnesses. In the same vein, the testatrix and her witnesses could not have validly acknowledged the will before him. Thus, Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura's last will and testament was, in effect, not acknowledged as required by law. Moreover, Article 5 of the Civil Code provides: ART. 5. Acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity. The violation of a mandatory or a prohibitory statute renders the act illegal and void unless the law itself declares its continuing validity. Here, mandatory and prohibitory statutes were transgressed in the execution of the alleged "acknowledgment." The compulsory language of Article 806 of the Civil Code was not complied with and the interdiction of Article 240 of the Notarial Law was breached. Ineluctably, the acts of the testatrix, her witnesses and Atty. Directo were all completely void. The Court cannot turn a blind eye to Atty. Directo's participation in the preparation, execution and unlawful "acknowledgment" of Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura's will. Had he exercised his notarial commission properly, the intent of the law to effectuate the decedent's final statements[15] as expressed in her will would not have come to naught.[16] Hence, Atty. Directo should show cause why he should not be administratively sanctioned as a member of the bar and as an officer of the court. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.

Presided by Judge (now Sandiganbayan Associate Justice) Diosdado M. Peralta. Rollo, pp. 81-87.

[3]

[4]

Decision dated July 31, 2006 in CA-G.R. CV No. 76707. Penned by Associate Justice Amelita G. Tolentino and concurred in by Associate Justices Portia AlioHormachuelos and Santiago Javier Ranada (retired) of the Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals. Id., pp. 55-64.
[5] [6]

Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The other formalities are: (1) the will must be in writing; (2) it must be written in a language or dialect known to the testator; (3) it must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence and by his express direction; (4) it must be attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another; (5) the testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will shall also sign each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin; (6) all the pages of the will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page and (7) the will must contain an attestation clause.
[7]

In the Matter of the Testate Estate of the Deceased Vicente C. Alberto, 408 Phil. 1281 (1959).
[8]

Tigno v. Aquino, G.R. No. 129416, 25 November 2004, 444 SCRA 61. Azuela v Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 122880, 12 April 2006, 487 SCRA 119. Id. Id. Now, Regional Trial Court. 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. 61 Phil. 781(1935).

[9]

[10]

[11]

[12]

[13]

[14]

[15]

A will is the testator speaking after death. Its provisions have substantially the same force and effect in the probate court as if the testator stood before the court in full life making the declarations by word of mouth as they appear in the will. (Dissenting opinion of J. Moreland in Santos v. Manalang, 27 Phil. 209 [1914].

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[16]

For one, he testified during the proceedings in the trial court that the will was executed and signed by the testatrix in his presence and in the presence of the instrumental witnesses in the decedent's house in Quezon City and it was also there where the same was acknowledged although his commission was for Caloocan City. He also made it appear in the acknowledgment that the testatrix and the witnesses personally appeared before him to execute and knowledge the will in Caloocan City where he was commissioned as a notary public.

33

Wills Testamentary Succession FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 74695 September 14, 1993 In the Matter of the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of the Deceased Brigido Alvarado, CESAR ALVARADO, petitioner, vs. HON. RAMON G. GAVIOLA, JR., Presiding Justice, HON. MA. ROSARIO QUETULIO LOSA and HON. LEONOR INES LUCIANO, Associate Justices, Intermediate Appellate Court, First Division (Civil Cases), and BAYANI MA. RINO, respondents. Vicente R. Redor for petitioner. Bayani Ma. Rino for and in his own behalf. BELLOSILLO, J.: Before us is an appeal from the Decision dated 11 April 1986 1 of the First Civil Cases Division of the then Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, which affirmed the Order dated 27 June 1983 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Sta. Cruz, Laguna, admitting to probate the last will and testament 3 with codicil 4 of the late Brigido Alvarado. On 5 November 1977, the 79-year old Brigido Alvarado executed a notarial will entitled "Huling Habilin" wherein he disinherited an illegitimate son (petitioner) and expressly revoked a previously executed holographic will at the time awaiting probate before Branch 4 of the Regional Trial Court of sta. Cruz, Laguna. As testified to by the three instrumental witnesses, the notary public and by private respondent who were present at the execution, the testator did not read the final draft of the will himself. Instead, private respondent, as the lawyer who drafted the eight-paged document, read the same aloud in the presence of the testator, the three instrumental witnesses and the notary public. The latter four followed the reading with their own respective copies previously furnished them. Meanwhile, Brigido's holographic will was subsequently admitted to probate on 9 December 1977. On the 29th day of the same month, a codicil entitled "Kasulatan ng Pagbabago sa Ilang Pagpapasiya na Nasasaad sa Huling Habilin na may Petsa Nobiembre 5, 1977 ni Brigido Alvarado" was executed changing some dispositions in the notarial will to generate cash for the testator's eye operation. Brigido was then suffering from glaucoma. But the disinheritance and revocatory clauses were unchanged. As in the case of the notarial will, the testator did not personally read the final draft of the codicil. Instead, it was private respondent who read it aloud in his presence and in the presence of the three instrumental witnesses (same as those of the notarial will) and the notary public who followed the reading using their own copies. A petition for the probate of the notarial will and codicil was filed upon the testator's death on 3 January 1979 by private respondent as executor with the Court of First Instance, now Regional Trial Court, of Siniloan, Laguna. 5Petitioner, in turn, filed an Opposition on the following grounds: that the will sought to be probated was not executed and attested as required by law; that the testator was insane or otherwise mentally incapacitated to make a will at the time of its execution due to senility and old age; that the will was executed under duress, or influence of fear and threats; that it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiary who stands to get the lion's share of the testator's estate; and lastly, that the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick. When the oppositor (petitioner) failed to substantiate the grounds relied upon in the Opposition, a Probate Order was issued on 27 June 1983 from which an appeal was made to respondent court. The main thrust of the appeal was that the deceased was blind within the meaning of the law at the time his "Huling Habilin" and the codicil attached thereto was executed; that since the reading required by Art. 808 of the Civil Code was admittedly not complied with, probate of the deceased's last will and codicil should have been denied. On 11 April 1986, the Court of Appeals rendered the decision under review with the following findings: that Brigido Alvarado was not blind at the time his last will and codicil were executed; that assuming his blindness, the reading requirement of Art. 808 was substantially complied with when both documents were read aloud to the testator with each of the three instrumental witnesses and the notary public following the reading with their respective copies of the instruments. The appellate court then concluded that although Art. 808 was not followed to the letter, there was substantial compliance since its purpose of making known to the testator the contents of the drafted will was served. The issues now before us can be stated thus: Was Brigido Alvarado blind for purpose of Art, 808 at the time his "Huling Habilin" and its codicil were executed? If so, was the double-reading requirement of said article complied with? Regarding the first issue, there is no dispute on the following facts: Brigido Alvarado was not totally blind at the time the will and codicil were executed. However, his vision on both eyes was only of "counting fingers at three (3) feet" by reason of the glaucoma which he had been suffering from for several years and even prior to his first consultation with an eye specialist on 14 December 1977. The point of dispute is whether the foregoing circumstances would qualify Brigido as a "blind" testator under Art. 808 which reads: Art. 808. If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him twice; once, by one of the subscribing witnesses, and again, by the notary public before whom the will is acknowledged. Petitioner contends that although his father was not totally blind when the will and codicil were executed, he can be so considered within the scope of the term as it is used in Art. 808. To support his stand, petitioner presented before the trial court a medical certificate issued by Dr. Salvador R. Salceda, Director of the Institute of Opthalmology (Philippine Eye Research Institute), 6 the contents of which were interpreted in layman's terms by Dr. Ruperto Roasa, whose expertise was admitted by private respondent. 7 Dr. Roasa explained that although the testator could visualize fingers at three (3) feet, he could no longer read either printed or handwritten matters as of 14 December 1977, the day of his first consultation. 8 On the other hand, the Court of Appeals, contrary to the medical testimony, held that the testator could still read on the day the will and the codicil were executed but chose not to do so because of "poor eyesight." 9 Since the testator was still capable of reading at that time, the court a quo concluded that Art. 808 need not be complied with. We agree with petitioner in this respect. Regardless of respondent's staunch contention that the testator was still capable of reading at the time his will and codicil were prepared, the fact remains and this was testified to by his witnesses, that Brigido did not do so because of his "poor," 10 "defective," 11 or "blurred" 12 vision making it necessary for private respondent to do the actual reading for him. The following pronouncement in Garcia vs. Vasquez 13 provides an insight into the scope of the term "blindness" as used in Art. 808, to wit:

34

Wills Testamentary Succession The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading the will himself (as when he is illiterate), is to make the provisions thereof known to him, so that he may be able to object if they are not in accordance with his wishes . . . Clear from the foregoing is that Art. 808 applies not only to blind testators but also to those who, for one reason or another, are "incapable of reading the(ir) will(s)." Since Brigido Alvarado was incapable of reading the final drafts of his will and codicil on the separate occasions of their execution due to his "poor," "defective," or "blurred" vision, there can be no other course for us but to conclude that Brigido Alvarado comes within the scope of the term "blind" as it is used in Art. 808. Unless the contents were read to him, he had no way of ascertaining whether or not the lawyer who drafted the will and codicil did so confortably with his instructions. Hence, to consider his will as validly executed and entitled to probate, it is essential that we ascertain whether Art. 808 had been complied with. Article 808 requires that in case of testators like Brigido Alvarado, the will shall be read twice; once, by one of the instrumental witnesses and, again, by the notary public before whom the will was acknowledged. The purpose is to make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the document before signing and to give him an opportunity to object if anything is contrary to his instructions. That Art. 808 was not followed strictly is beyond cavil. Instead of the notary public and an instrumental witness, it was the lawyer (private respondent) who drafted the eight-paged will and the five-paged codicil who read the same aloud to the testator, and read them only once, not twice as Art. 808 requires. Private respondent however insists that there was substantial compliance and that the single reading suffices for purposes of the law. On the other hand, petitioner maintains that the only valid compliance or compliance to the letter and since it is admitted that neither the notary public nor an instrumental witness read the contents of the will and codicil to Brigido, probate of the latter's will and codicil should have been disallowed. We sustain private respondent's stand and necessarily, the petition must be denied. This Court has held in a number of occasions that substantial compliance is acceptable where the purpose of the law has been satisfied, the reason being that the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills are intended to protect the testator from all kinds of fraud and trickery but are never intended to be so rigid and inflexible as to destroy the testamentary privilege. 14 In the case at bar, private respondent read the testator's will and codicil aloud in the presence of the testator, his three instrumental witnesses, and the notary public. Prior and subsequent thereto, the testator affirmed, upon being asked, that the contents read corresponded with his instructions. Only then did the signing and acknowledgement take place. There is no evidence, and petitioner does not so allege, that the contents of the will and codicil were not sufficiently made known and communicated to the testator. On the contrary, with respect to the "Huling Habilin," the day of the execution was not the first time that Brigido had affirmed the truth and authenticity of the contents of the draft. The uncontradicted testimony of Atty. Rino is that Brigido Alvarado already acknowledged that the will was drafted in accordance with his expressed wishes even prior to 5 November 1977 when Atty. Rino went to the testator's residence precisely for the purpose of securing his conformity to the draft. 15 Moreover, it was not only Atty. Rino who read the documents on 5 November and 29 December 1977. The notary public and the three instrumental witnesses likewise read the will and codicil, albeit silently. Afterwards, Atty. Nonia de la Pena (the notary public) and Dr. Crescente O. Evidente (one of the three instrumental witnesses and the testator's physician) asked the testator whether the contents of the document were of his own free will. Brigido answered in the affirmative. 16 With four persons following the reading word for word with their own copies, it can be safely concluded that the testator was reasonably assured that what was read to him (those which he affirmed were in accordance with his instructions), were the terms actually appearing on the typewritten documents. This is especially true when we consider the fact that the three instrumental witnesses were persons known to the testator, one being his physician (Dr. Evidente) and another (Potenciano C. Ranieses) being known to him since childhood. The spirit behind the law was served though the letter was not. Although there should be strict compliance with the substantial requirements of the law in order to insure the authenticity of the will, the formal imperfections should be brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and which, when taken into account, may only defeat the testator's will. 17 As a final word to convince petitioner of the propriety of the trial court's Probate Order and its affirmance by the Court of Appeals, we quote the following pronouncement in Abangan v. Abangan, 18 to wit: The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid the substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on the subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's will, must be disregarded (emphasis supplied). Brigido Alvarado had expressed his last wishes in clear and unmistakable terms in his "Huling Habilin" and the codicil attached thereto. We are unwilling to cast these aside fro the mere reason that a legal requirement intended for his protection was not followed strictly when such compliance had been rendered unnecessary by the fact that the purpose of the law, i.e., to make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the draft of his will, had already been accomplished. To reiterate, substantial compliance suffices where the purpose has been served. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of respondent Court of Appeals dated 11 April 1986 is AFFIRMED. Considering the length of time that this case has remained pending, this decision is immediately executory. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. Cruz, Grio-Aquino, Davide, Jr. and Quiason, JJ., concur.

# Footnotes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Rollo, pp. 29-37. Penned by Judge Maximiano C. Asuncion, Original Records, pp. 214-224. Exhibit "D", Folder of Exhibits, pp. 65-72. Exhibit "E", Id., pp. 73-77. Subsequently transferred to the Regional Trial Court, Br. 26, Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Folder of Exhibits, p. 78. TSN, 3 August 1982, p. 6. Id., pp. 7-8. Rollo, p. 36.

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Wills Testamentary Succession


10 TSN, 18 June 1981, p. 3; 20 August 1981, p. 4; 16 September 1981, p. 5; 1 October 1981, p. 4. 11 TSN, 18 June 1981, p. 3;1 October 1981, p. 9. 12 TSN, 20 August 1981, p. 4; 5 November 1981, pp. 15-16; 14 January 1982, p. 16. 13 No. L-26884, 30 April 1970, 32 SCRA 490, 502-503. 14 Icasiano v. Icasiano, No. L-18979, 30 June 1964, 11 SCRA 422, 429-430; Abangan v. Abangan, 40 Phil. 476, 479 (1919); Rey v. Cartagena, 56 Phil. 282, 284-285 (1931); Rodriguez v. Yap, 68 Phil. 126, 128 (1939); Leynez v. Leynez, 68 Phil. 745, 750 (1939); Roxas v. De Jesus, Jr., No. L-38338, 28 January 1985, 134 SCRA 245, 249. 15 TSN, 18 June 1981, p. 4. 16 TSN, 16 September 1981, pp. 4-5; 14 January 1982, pp. 6, 12. 17 Rodriguez v. Yap, 68 Phil. 126, 128 (1939). 18 40 Phil. 477, 479 (1919).

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Wills Testamentary Succession SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 103554 May 28, 1993 TEODORO CANEDA, LORENZA CANEDA, TERESA CANEDA, JUAN CABALLERO, AUREA CABALLERO, OSCAR LAROSA, HELEN CABALLERO, SANTOS CABALLERO, PABLO CABALLERO, VICTOR RAGA, MAURICIA RAGA, QUIRICA RAGA, RUPERTO ABAPO, represented herein by his Attorney-in-Fact, ARMSTICIA * ABAPO VELANO, and CONSESO CANEDA, represented herein by his heirs, JESUS CANEDA, NATIVIDAD CANEDA and ARTURO CANEDA, petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and WILLIAM CABRERA, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Mateo Caballero, respondents. Palma, Palma & Associates for petitioners. Emilio Lumontad, Jr. for private respondents. REGALADO, J.: Presented for resolution by this Court in the present petition for review on certiorari is the issue of whether or not the attestation clause contained in the last will and testament of the late Mateo Caballero complies with the requirements of Article 805, in relation to Article 809, of the Civil Code. The records show that on December 5, 1978, Mateo Caballero, a widower without any children and already in the twilight years of his life, executed a last will and testament at his residence in Talisay, Cebu before three attesting witnesses, namely, Cipriano Labuca, Gregorio Cabando and Flaviano Toregosa. The said testator was duly assisted by his lawyer, Atty. Emilio Lumontad, and a notary public, Atty. Filoteo Manigos, in the preparation of that last will. 1 It was declared therein, among other things, that the testator was leaving by way of legacies and devises his real and personal properties to Presentacion Gaviola, Angel Abatayo, Rogelio Abatayo, Isabelito Abatayo, Benoni G. Cabrera and Marcosa Alcantara, all of whom do not appear to be related to the testator. 2 Four months later, or on April 4, 1979, Mateo Caballero himself filed a petition docketed as Special Proceeding No. 3899-R before Branch II of the then Court of First Instance of Cebu seeking the probate of his last will and testament. The probate court set the petition for hearing on August 20, 1979 but the same and subsequent scheduled hearings were postponed for one reason to another. On May 29, 1980, the testator passed away before his petition could finally be heard by the probate court. 3 On February 25, 1981, Benoni Cabrera, on of the legatees named in the will, sough his appointment as special administrator of the testator's estate, the estimated value of which was P24,000.00, and he was so appointed by the probate court in its order of March 6, 1981. 4 Thereafter, herein petitioners, claiming to be nephews and nieces of the testator, instituted a second petition, entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Mateo Caballero" and docketed as Special Proceeding No. 3965-R, before Branch IX of the aforesaid Court of First Instance of Cebu. On October 18, 1982, herein petitioners had their said petition intestate proceeding consolidated with Special Proceeding No. 3899-R in Branch II of the Court of First Instance of Cebu and opposed thereat the probate of the Testator's will and the appointment of a special administrator for his estate. 5 Benoni Cabrera died on February 8, 1982 hence the probate court, now known as Branch XV of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, appointed William Cabrera as special administrator on June 21, 1983. Thereafter, on July 20, 1983, it issued an order for the return of the records of Special Proceeding No. 3965-R to the archives since the testate proceeding for the probate of the will had to be heard and resolved first. On March 26, 1984 the case was reraffled and eventually assigned to Branch XII of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu where it remained until the conclusion of the probate proceedings. 6 In the course of the hearing in Special Proceeding No. 3899-R, herein petitioners appeared as oppositors and objected to the allowance of the testator's will on the ground that on the alleged date of its execution, the testator was already in the poor state of health such that he could not have possibly executed the same. Petitioners likewise reiterated the issue as to the genuineness of the signature of the testator therein. 7 On the other hand, one of the attesting witnesses, Cipriano Labuca, and the notary public Atty. Filoteo Manigos, testified that the testator executed the will in question in their presence while he was of sound and disposing mind and that, contrary to the assertions of the oppositors, Mateo Caballero was in good health and was not unduly influenced in any way in the execution of his will. Labuca also testified that he and the other witnesses attested and signed the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. The other two attesting witnesses were not presented in the probate hearing as the had died by then. 8 On April 5, 1988, the probate court rendered a decision declaring the will in question as the last will and testament of the late Mateo Caballero, on the ratiocination that: . . . The self-serving testimony of the two witnesses of the oppositors cannot overcome the positive testimonies of Atty. Filoteo Manigos and Cipriano Labuca who clearly told the Court that indeed Mateo Caballero executed the Last Will and Testament now marked Exhibit "C" on December 5, 1978. Moreover, the fact that it was Mateo Caballero who initiated the probate of his Will during his lifetime when he caused the filing of the original petition now marked Exhibit "D" clearly underscores the fact that this was indeed his Last Will. At the start, counsel for the oppositors manifested that he would want the signature of Mateo Caballero in Exhibit "C" examined by a handwriting expert of the NBI but it would seem that despite their avowal and intention for the examination of this signature of Mateo Caballero in Exhibit "C", nothing came out of it because they abandoned the idea and instead presented Aurea Caballero and Helen Caballero Campo as witnesses for the oppositors. All told, it is the finding of this Court that Exhibit "C" is the Last Will and Testament of Mateo Caballero and that it was executed in accordance with all the requisites of the law. 9 Undaunted by the said judgment of the probate court, petitioners elevated the case in the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 19669. They asserted therein that the will in question is null and void for the reason that its attestation clause is fatally defective since it fails to specifically state that the instrumental witnesses to the will witnessed the testator signing the will in their presence and that they also signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. On October 15, 1991, respondent court promulgated its decision 10 affirming that of the trial court, and ruling that the attestation clause in the last will of Mateo Caballero substantially complies with Article 805 of the Civil Code, thus: The question therefore is whether the attestation clause in question may be considered as having substantialy complied with the requirements of Art. 805 of the Civil Code. What appears in the attestation clause which the oppositors claim to be defective is "we do certify that the testament was read by him and the attestator, Mateo Caballero, has published unto us the foregoing will consisting of THREE PAGES, including the acknowledgment,

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Wills Testamentary Succession each page numbered correlatively in letters of the upper part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament, and he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin in the presence of the said testator and in the presence of each and all of us (emphasis supplied). To our thinking, this is sufficient compliance and no evidence need be presented to indicate the meaning that the said will was signed by the testator and by them (the witnesses) in the presence of all of them and of one another. Or as the language of the law would have it that the testator signed the will "in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another." If not completely or ideally perfect in accordance with the wordings of Art. 805 but (sic) the phrase as formulated is in substantial compliance with the requirement of the law." 11 Petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the said ruling of respondent court, but the same was denied in the latter's resolution of January 14, 1992, 12 hence this appeal now before us. Petitioners assert that respondent court has ruled upon said issue in a manner not in accord with the law and settled jurisprudence on the matter and are now questioning once more, on the same ground as that raised before respondent court, the validity of the attestation clause in the last will of Mateo Caballero. We find the present petition to be meritorious, as we shall shortly hereafter, after some prefatory observations which we feel should be made in aid of the rationale for our resolution of the controversy. 1. A will has been defined as a species of conveyance whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate after his death. 13 Under the Civil Code, there are two kinds of wills which a testator may execute. 14 the first kind is the ordinary or attested will, the execution of which is governed by Articles 804 to 809 of the Code. Article 805 requires that: Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. The attestation should state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witness, it shall be interpreted to them. In addition, the ordinary will must be acknowledged before a notary public by a testator and the attesting witness.15 hence it is likewise known as notarial will. Where the attestator is deaf or deaf-mute, Article 807 requires that he must personally read the will, if able to do so. Otherwise, he should designate two persons who would read the will and communicate its contents to him in a practicable manner. On the other hand, if the testator is blind, the will should be read to him twice; once, by anyone of the witnesses thereto, and then again, by the notary public before whom it is acknowledged. 16 The other kind of will is the holographic will, which Article 810 defines as one that is entirely written, dated, and signed by the testator himself. This kind of will, unlike the ordinary type, requires no attestation by witnesses. A common requirement in both kinds of will is that they should be in writing and must have been executed in a language or dialect known to the testator. 17 However, in the case of an ordinary or attested will, its attestation clause need not be written in a language or dialect known to the testator since it does not form part of the testamentary disposition. Furthermore, the language used in the attestation clause likewise need not even be known to the attesting witnesses. 18 The last paragraph of Article 805 merely requires that, in such a case, the attestation clause shall be interpreted to said witnesses. An attestation clause refers to that part of an ordinary will whereby the attesting witnesses certify that the instrument has been executed before them and to the manner of the execution the same. 19 It is a separate memorandum or record of the facts surrounding the conduct of execution and once signed by the witnesses, it gives affirmation to the fact that compliance with the essential formalities required by law has been observed. 20 It is made for the purpose of preserving in a permanent form a record of the facts that attended the execution of a particular will, so that in case of failure of the memory of the attesting witnesses, or other casualty, such facts may still be proved. 21 Under the third paragraph of Article 805, such a clause, the complete lack of which would result in the invalidity of the will, 22 should state (1) the number of the pages used upon which the will is written; (2) that the testator signed, or expressly caused another to sign, the will and every page thereof in the presence of the attesting witnesses; and (3) that the attesting witnesses witnessed the signing by the testator of the wil and all its pages,and that said witnesses also signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is written is to safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and to prevent any increase or decrease in the pages; 23 whereas the subscription of the signature of the testator and the attesting witnesses is made for the purpose of authentication and identification, and thus indicates that the will is the very same instrument executed by the testator and attested to by the witnesses. 24 Further, by attesting and subscribing to the will, the witnesses thereby declare the due execution of the will as embodied in the attestation clause. 25 The attestation clause, therefore, provide strong legal guaranties for the due execution of a will and to insure the authenticity thereof. 26 As it appertains only to the witnesses and not to the testator, it need be signed only by them. 27 Where it is left unsigned, it would result in the invalidation of the will as it would be possible and easy to add the clause on a subsequent occasion in the absence of the testator and its witnesses. 28 In its report, the Code Commission commented on the reasons of the law for requiring the formalities to be followed in the execution of wills, in the following manner: The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the provisions on the law on wills in this Project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to

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Wills Testamentary Succession prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. This objective is in accord with the modern tendency with respect to the formalities in the execution of wills. . . . 29 2. An examination of the last will and testament of Mateo Caballero shows that it is comprised of three sheets all of which have been numbered correlatively, with the left margin of each page thereof bearing the respective signatures of the testator and the three attesting witnesses. The part of the will containing the testamentary dispositions is expressed in the Cebuano-Visayan dialect and is signed at the foot thereof by the testator. The attestation clause in question, on the other hand, is recited in the English language and is likewise signed at the end thereof by the three attesting witnesses hereto. 30 Since it is the proverbial bone of contention, we reproduce it again for facility of reference: We, the undersigned attesting Witnesses, whose Residences and postal addresses appear on the Opposite of our respective names, we do hereby certify that the Testament was read by him and the testator, MATEO CABALLERO; has published unto us the foregoing Will consisting of THREE PAGES, including the Acknowledgment, each page numbered correlatively in the letters on the upper part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament and he has the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin, in the presence of the said testator and in the presence of each and all of us. It will be noted that Article 805 requires that the witness should both attest and subscribe to the will in the presence of the testator and of one another. "Attestation" and "subscription" differ in meaning. Attestation is the act of senses, while subscription is the act of the hand. The former is mental, the latter mechanical, and to attest a will is to know that it was published as such, and to certify the facts required to constitute an actual and legal publication; but to subscribe a paper published as a will is only to write on the same paper the names of the witnesses, for the sole purpose of identification. 31 In Taboada vs. Rizal, 32 we clarified that attestation consists in witnessing the testator's execution of the will in order to see and take note mentally that those things are done which the statute requires for the execution of a will and that the signature of the testator exists as a fact. On the other hand, subscription is the signing of the witnesses' names upon the same paper for the purpose of identification of such paper as the will which was executed by the testator. As it involves a mental act, there would be no means, therefore, of ascertaining by a physical examination of the will whether the witnesses had indeed signed in the presence of the testator and of each other unless this is substantially expressed in the attestation. It is contended by petitioners that the aforequoted attestation clause, in contravention of the express requirements of the third paragraph of Article 805 of the Civil Code for attestation clauses, fails to specifically state the fact that the attesting witnesses the testator sign the will and all its pages in their presence and that they, the witnesses, likewise signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other. We agree. What is fairly apparent upon a careful reading of the attestation clause herein assailed is the fact that while it recites that the testator indeed signed the will and all its pages in the presence of the three attesting witnesses and states as well the number of pages that were used, the same does not expressly state therein the circumstance that said witnesses subscribed their respective signatures to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. The phrase "and he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin," obviously refers to the testator and not the instrumental witnesses as it is immediately preceded by the words "as his Last Will and Testament." On the other hand, although the words "in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each and all of us" may, at first blush, appear to likewise signify and refer to the witnesses, it must, however, be interpreted as referring only to the testator signing in the presence of the witnesses since said phrase immediately follows the words "he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin." What is then clearly lacking, in the final logical analysis , is the statement that the witnesses signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. It is our considered view that the absence of that statement required by law is a fatal defect or imperfection which must necessarily result in the disallowance of the will that is here sought to be admitted to probate. Petitioners are correct in pointing out that the aforestated defect in the attestation clause obviously cannot be characterized as merely involving the form of the will or the language used therein which would warrant the application of the substantial compliance rule, as contemplated in the pertinent provision thereon in the Civil Code, to wit: Art. 809. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is not proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 805" (Emphasis supplied.) While it may be true that the attestation clause is indeed subscribed at the end thereof and at the left margin of each page by the three attesting witnesses, it certainly cannot be conclusively inferred therefrom that the said witness affixed their respective signatures in the presence of the testator and of each other since, as petitioners correctly observed, the presence of said signatures only establishes the fact that it was indeed signed, but it does not prove that the attesting witnesses did subscribe to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. The execution of a will is supposed to be one act so that where the testator and the witnesses sign on various days or occasions and in various combinations, the will cannot be stamped with the imprimatur of effectivity. 33 We believe that the further comment of former Justice J.B.L. Reyes 34 regarding Article 809, wherein he urged caution in the application of the substantial compliance rule therein, is correct and should be applied in the case under consideration, as well as to future cases with similar questions: . . . The rule must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an examination of the will itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered; whether the signatures appear in each and every page; whether the subscribing witnesses are three or the will was notarized. All theses are facts that the will itself can reveal, and defects or even omissions concerning them in the attestation clause can be safely disregarded. But the total number of pages, and whether all persons required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the attestation clause, being the only check against perjury in the probate proceedings. (Emphasis ours.) 3. We stress once more that under Article 809, the defects and imperfections must only be with respect to the form of the attestation or the language employed therein. Such defects or imperfections would not render a will invalid should it be proved that the will was really executed and attested in compliance with Article 805. In this regard, however, the manner of proving the due execution and attestation 39

Wills Testamentary Succession has been held to be limited to merely an examination of the will itself without resorting to evidence aliunde, whether oral or written. The foregoing considerations do not apply where the attestation clause totally omits the fact that the attesting witnesses signed each and every page of the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. 35 In such a situation, the defect is not only in the form or language of the attestation clause but the total absence of a specific element required by Article 805 to be specifically stated in the attestation clause of a will. That is precisely the defect complained of in the present case since there is no plausible way by which we can read into the questioned attestation clause statement, or an implication thereof, that the attesting witness did actually bear witness to the signing by the testator of the will and all of its pages and that said instrumental witnesses also signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. Furthermore, the rule on substantial compliance in Article 809 cannot be revoked or relied on by respondents since it presupposes that the defects in the attestation clause can be cured or supplied by the text of the will or a consideration of matters apparent therefrom which would provide the data not expressed in the attestation clause or from which it may necessarily be gleaned or clearly inferred that the acts not stated in the omitted textual requirements were actually complied within the execution of the will. In other words, defects must be remedied by intrinsic evidence supplied by the will itself. In the case at bar, contrarily, proof of the acts required to have been performed by the attesting witnesses can be supplied by only extrinsic evidence thereof, since an overall appreciation of the contents of the will yields no basis whatsoever from with such facts may be plausibly deduced. What private respondent insists on are the testimonies of his witnesses alleging that they saw the compliance with such requirements by the instrumental witnesses, oblivious of the fact that he is thereby resorting to extrinsic evidence to prove the same and would accordingly be doing by the indirection what in law he cannot do directly. 4. Prior to the advent of the Civil Code on August 30, 1950, there was a divergence of views as to which manner of interpretation should be followed in resolving issues centering on compliance with the legal formalities required in the execution of wills. The formal requirements were at that time embodied primarily in Section 618 of Act No. 190, the Code of Civil Procedure. Said section was later amended by Act No. 2645, but the provisions respecting said formalities found in Act. No. 190 and the amendment thereto were practically reproduced and adopted in the Civil Code. One view advance the liberal or substantial compliance rule. This was first laid down in the case of Abangan vs. Abangan, 36 where it was held that the object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guarantee their truth and authenticity. Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. Nonetheless, it was also emphasized that one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will, hence when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's last will, must be disregarded. The subsequent cases ofAvera vs. Garcia, 37 Aldaba vs. Roque, 38 Unson vs. Abella, 39 Pecson vs. Coronel, 40 Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios, et al., 41 and Nayve vs. Mojal, et al. 42 all adhered to this position. The other view which advocated the rule that statutes which prescribe the formalities that should be observed in the execution of wills are mandatory in nature and are to be strictly construed was followed in the subsequent cases of In the Matter of the Estate of Saguinsin, 43 In re Will of Andrada, 44 Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 45 In re Estate of Neumark, 46 and Sano vs. Quintana. 47 Gumban vs. Gorecho, et al., 48 provided the Court with the occasion to clarify the seemingly conflicting decisions in the aforementioned cases. In said case of Gumban, the attestation clause had failed to state that the witnesses signed the will and each and every page thereof on the left margin in the presence of the testator. The will in question was disallowed, with these reasons therefor: In support of their argument on the assignment of error above-mentioned, appellants rely on a series of cases of this court beginning with (I)n the Matter of the (E)state of Saguinsin ([1920], 41 Phil., 875), continuing with In re Will of Andrada [1921], 42 Phil., 180), Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca [1922], 43 Phil., 405), and In re Estate of Neumark ([1923], 46 Phil., 841), and ending with Sano vs. Quintana([1925], 48 Phil., 506). Appellee counters with the citation of a series of cases beginning withAbangan vs. Abangan ([1919], 40 Phil., 476), continuing through Aldaba vs. Roque ([1922], 43 Phil., 378), and Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios ([1924], 46 Phil., 922), and culminating in Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar ([1924], 47 Phil., 152). In its last analysis, our task is to contrast and, if possible, conciliate the last two decisions cited by opposing counsel, namely, those of Sano vs. Quintana,supra, and Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra. In the case of Sano vs. Quintana, supra, it was decided that an attestation clause which does not recite that the witnesses signed the will and each and every page thereof on the left margin in the presence of the testator is defective, and such a defect annuls the will. The case of Uy Coque vs. Sioca, supra, was cited, but the case of Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra, was not mentioned. In contrast, is the decision in Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra, wherein it was held that the attestation clause must estate the fact that the testator and the witnesses reciprocally saw the signing of the will, for such an act cannot be proved by the mere exhibition of the will, if it is not stated therein. It was also held that the fact that the testator and the witnesses signed each and every page of the will can be proved also by the mere examination of the signatures appearing on the document itself, and the omission to state such evident facts does not invalidate the will. It is a habit of courts to reaffirm or distinguish previous cases; seldom do they admit inconsistency in doctrine. Yet here, unless aided impossible to reconcile the Mojal and Quintana decisions. They are fundamentally at variance. If we rely on one, we affirm. If we rely on the other, we reverse. In resolving this puzzling question of authority, three outstanding points may be mentioned. In the first place, the Mojal, decision was concurred in by only four members of the court, less than a majority, with two strong dissenting opinions; the Quintana decision was concurred in by seven members of the court, a clear majority, with one formal dissent. In the second place, the Mojal decision was promulgated in December, 1924, while the Quintana decision was promulgated in December, 1925; the Quintana decision was thus subsequent in point of time. And in the third place, the Quintana decision is believed more nearly to conform to the applicable provisions of the law. The right to dispose of property by will is governed entirely by statute. The law of the case is here found in section 61 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act No. 2645, and in section 634 of the same Code, as unamended. It is in part provided in section 61, as amended that "No will . . . shall be valid . . . unless . . .." It is further provided in the same section that "The attestation shall state the number of sheets or pages used, upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of three witnesses, and the latter

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Wills Testamentary Succession witnessed and signed the will and all pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other." Codal section 634 provides that "The will shall be disallowed in either of the following case: 1. If not executed and attested as in this Act provided." The law not alone carefully makes use of the imperative, but cautiously goes further and makes use of the negative, to enforce legislative intention. It is not within the province of the courts to disregard the legislative purpose so emphatically and clearly expressed. We adopt and reaffirm the decision in the case of Sano vs. Quintana, supra, and, to the extent necessary, modify the decision in the case of Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra. (Emphases in the original text). But after the Gumban clarificatory pronouncement, there were decisions of the Court that once more appeared to revive the seeming diversity of views that was earlier threshed out therein. The cases of Quinto vs. Morata, 49Rodriguez vs. Alcala, 50 Enchevarria vs. Sarmiento, 51 and Testate Estate of Toray 52 went the way of the ruling as restated in Gumban. But De Gala vs. Gonzales, et al., 53 Rey vs. Cartagena, 54 De Ticson vs. De Gorostiza, 55Sebastian vs. Panganiban, 56 Rodriguez vs. Yap, 57 Grey vs. Fabia, 58 Leynez vs. Leynez, 59 Martir vs. Martir, 60Alcala vs. De Villa, 61 Sabado vs. Fernandez, 62 Mendoza vs. Pilapil, 63 and Lopez vs. Liboro, 64 veered away from the strict interpretation rule and established a trend toward an application of the liberal view. The Code Commission, cognizant of such a conflicting welter of views and of the undeniable inclination towards a liberal construction, recommended the codification of the substantial compliance rule, as it believed this rule to be in accord with the modern tendency to give a liberal approach to the interpretation of wills. Said rule thus became what is now Article 809 of the Civil Code, with this explanation of the Code Commission: The present law provides for only one form of executing a will, and that is, in accordance with the formalities prescribed by Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act No. 2645. The Supreme Court of the Philippines had previously upheld the strict compliance with the legal formalities and had even said that the provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended regarding the contents of the attestation clause were mandatory, and non-compliance therewith invalidated the will (Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405). These decisions necessarily restrained the freedom of the testator in disposing of his property. However, in recent years the Supreme Court changed its attitude and has become more liberal in the interpretation of the formalities in the execution of wills. This liberal view is enunciated in the cases ofRodriguez vs. Yap, G.R. No. 45924, May 18, 1939; Leynez vs. Leynez, G.R. No. 46097, October 18, 1939; Martir vs. Martir, G.R. No. 46995, June 21, 1940; and Alcala vs. Villa, G.R. No. 47351, April 18, 1941. In the above mentioned decisions of our Supreme Court, it has practically gone back to the original provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure before its amendment by Act No. 2645 in the year 1916. To turn this attitude into a legislative declaration and to attain the main objective of the proposed Code in the liberalization of the manner of executing wills, article 829 of the Project is recommended, which reads: "Art. 829. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 829." 65 The so-called liberal rule, the Court said in Gil vs. Murciano, 66 "does not offer any 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 into 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." It may thus be stated that the rule, as it now stands, is that omissions which can be supplied by an examination of the will itself, without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal and, correspondingly, would not obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. However, those omissions which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately, of the will itself.67 WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the impugned decision of respondent court is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The court a quo is accordingly directed to forthwith DISMISS its Special Proceeding No. 3899-R (Petition for the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of Mateo Caballero) and to REVIVE Special Proceeding No. 3965-R (In the matter of the Intestate Estate of Mateo Caballero) as an active case and thereafter duly proceed with the settlement of the estate of the said decedent. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, and Nocon, JJ., concur. Footnotes
* The first name of this representative party petitioner is also spelled "Armistica" in the corresponding allegation of the petition. 1 Original Record, 1-3. 2 Exhibit C; Folder of Exhibits in Special Proceeding No. 3899-R, 7-8. 3 Original Record, 1-3, 7, 24, 32. 4 Ibid., 32-34. 5 Ibid., 68-69, 157. 6 Ibid., 98, 116, 143, 148, 157-159. 7 TSN, July 3, 1986, 3-5, 13-17, 23-27; July 18, 1986, 5-10. 8 TSN, October 9, 1984, 11-26; January 4, 1985, 2; April 22, 1985, 10-18. 9 Original Record, 339-340; per Judge J. Militante. 10 Justice Cesar D. Francisco, ponente, with Justices Reynato S. Puno and Jaime D. Lantin, concurring. 11 Rollo, 9. 12 Ibid., 33. 13 Rivera vs. Palmanori, 40 Phil. 116 (1919); Art. 810, Civil Code. 14 Report of the Code of Commission, 103-105. 15 Art. 806, Civil Code. 16 Art. 808, id. 17 Art. 804, id. 18 3 Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines, 68 (1979 ed.). 19 Testate Estate of Paula Toray, 87 Phil. 139 (1950). 20 Vda. de Ramos, et al. vs. Court of Appeals et al., 81 SCRA 393 (1978). 21 Leynez vs. Leynez, 68 Phil. 745 (1939). 22 In re Estate of Neumarix, 46 Phil, 841 (1923). 23 In The Matter of the Estate of Sanguisin, 41 Phil. 875 (1920); In re Will of Andrada, 42 Phil. 180 (1921). 24 Testate Estate of Paula Toray, supra. 25 Gonzales vs. Gonzales de Carungcong, 90 Phil. 444 (1951). 26 Echevierria vs. Sarmiento, 66 Phil. 611 (1938). 27 Abangan vs. Abangan, 40 Phil. 476 (1919).

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Wills Testamentary Succession


28 Cagro vs. Cagro, 92 Phil. 1032 (1953). 29 Report of the Code Commission, 103. 30 Exhibits C to C-18; Folder of Exhibits in Special Proceeding No. 3899-R; Original Record, 4-6. 31 Hill vs. Davis, 167 P. 465, 466, 64 Okl. 253, L.R.A. 1918B 687. 32 118 SCRA 195 (1982). 33 Andalis vs. Pulgueras, 59 Phil. 643 (1934). 34 Lawyer's Journal, November 30, 1950, 556, cited in Tolentino, op. cit., supra, note 17 at 111-112. 35 Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405 (1922); Gumban vs. Gorecho, 50 Phil. 30 (1927); Quinto vs. Morata, 54 Phil. 481 (1930); Rodriguez vs. Alacala, 55 Phil. 150 (1930); Testate Estate of Paula Toray, supra; Gil vs. Marciano, 88 Phil. 261 (1951). 36 40 Phil, 476 (1919). 37 42 Phil. 145 (1921). 38 43 Phil. 378 (1922). 39 43 Phil. 494 (1922). 40 45 Phil. 216 (1923). 41 46 Phil. 922 (1924). 42 47 Phil. 152 (1924). 43 41 Phil. 875 (1920). 44 42 Phil. 180 (1921). 45 43 Phil. 405 (1922). 46 46 Phil. 841 (1923). 47 48 Phil. 506 (1925). 48 50 Phil. 30 (1927). 49 54 Phil. 481 (1930). 50 55 Phil. 150 (1930). 51 66 Phil. 611 (1933). 52 87 Phil. 139 (1950). 53 53 Phil. 104 (1929). 54 56 Phil. 282 (1931). 55 57 Phil. 437 (1932). 56 59 Phil. 653 (1934). 57 68 Phil. 126 (1939). 58 68 Phil. 128 (1939). 59 68 Phil. 745 (1939). 60 70 Phil. 89 (1940). 61 71 Phil. 561 (1940). 62 72 Phil. 531 (1941). 63 72 Phil. 546 (1941). 64 81 Phil., 429 (1948). 65 Report of the Code Commission, 104-105. 66 88 Phil. 260, 281 (1951). 67 Tolentino, op. cit., supra, note 17 at 111.

42

Wills Testamentary Succession FIRST DIVISION as required by Article 810 of the Civil Code. She contends that the law requires that the Will should contain the day, month and year of its execution and that this should be strictly complied with. On December 10, 1973, respondent Judge Colayco reconsidered his earlier order and disallowed the probate of the holographic Will on the ground that the word "dated" has generally been held to include the month, day, and year. The dispositive portion of the order reads: WHEREFORE, the document purporting to be the holographic Will of Bibiana Roxas de Jesus, is hereby disallowed for not having been executed as required by the law. The order of August 24, 1973 is hereby set aside. The only issue is whether or not the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is a valid compliance with the Article 810 of the Civil Code which reads: ART. 810. A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed. The petitioners contend that while Article 685 of the Spanish Civil Code and Article 688 of the Old Civil Code require the testator to state in his holographic Win the "year, month, and day of its execution," the present Civil Code omitted the phrase Ao mes y dia and simply requires that the holographic Will should be dated. The petitioners submit that the liberal construction of the holographic Will should prevail. Respondent Luz Henson on the other hand submits that the purported holographic Will is void for non-compliance with Article 810 of the New Civil Code in that the date must contain the year, month, and day of its execution. The respondent contends that Article 810 of the Civil Code was patterned after Section 1277 of the California Code and Section 1588 of the Louisiana Code whose Supreme Courts had consistently ruled that the required date includes the year, month, and day, and that if any of these is wanting, the holographic Will is invalid. The respondent further contends that the petitioner cannot plead liberal construction of Article 810 of the Civil Code because statutes prescribing the formalities to be observed in the execution of holographic Wills are strictly construed. We agree with the petitioner. This will not be the first time that this Court departs from a strict and literal application of the statutory requirements regarding the due execution of Wills. We should not overlook the liberal trend of the Civil Code in the manner of execution of Wills, the purpose of which, in case of doubt is to prevent intestacy The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the provisions of the law on wigs in this Project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, but with sufficien safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. This objective is in accord with the modem tendency with respect to the formalities in the execution of wills. (Report of the Code Commission, p. 103) In Justice Capistrano's concurring opinion in Heirs of Raymundo Castro v. Bustos (27 SCRA 327) he emphasized that: xxx xxx xxx

G.R. No. L-38338

January 28, 1985

IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF ANDRES G. DE JESUS AND BIBIANA ROXAS DE JESUS, SIMEON R. ROXAS & PEDRO ROXAS DE JESUS, petitioners, vs. ANDRES R. DE JESUS, JR., respondent. Raul S. Sison Law Office for petitioners. Rafael Dinglasan, Jr. for heir M. Roxas. Ledesma, Guytingco Velasco and Associates for Ledesa and A. R. de Jesus. GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition for certiorari to set aside the order of respondent Hon. Jose C. Colayco, Presiding Judge Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXI disallowing the probate of the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. The antecedent facts which led to the filing of this petition are undisputed. After the death of spouses Andres G. de Jesus and Bibiana Roxas de Jesus, Special Proceeding No. 81503 entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Andres G. de Jesus and Bibiana Roxas de Jesus" was filed by petitioner Simeon R. Roxas, the brother of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. On March 26, 1973, petitioner Simeon R. Roxas was appointed administrator. After Letters of Administration had been granted to the petitioner, he delivered to the lower court a document purporting to be the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. On May 26, 1973, respondent Judge Jose Colayco set the hearing of the probate of the holographic Win on July 21, 1973. Petitioner Simeon R. Roxas testified that after his appointment as administrator, he found a notebook belonging to the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus and that on pages 21, 22, 23 and 24 thereof, a letter-win addressed to her children and entirely written and signed in the handwriting of the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus was found. The will is dated "FEB./61 " and states: "This is my win which I want to be respected although it is not written by a lawyer. ... The testimony of Simeon R. Roxas was corroborated by the testimonies of Pedro Roxas de Jesus and Manuel Roxas de Jesus who likewise testified that the letter dated "FEB./61 " is the holographic Will of their deceased mother, Bibiana R. de Jesus. Both recognized the handwriting of their mother and positively Identified her signature. They further testified that their deceased mother understood English, the language in which the holographic Will is written, and that the date "FEB./61 " was the date when said Will was executed by their mother. Respondent Luz R. Henson, another compulsory heir filed an "opposition to probate" assailing the purported holographic Will of Bibiana R. de Jesus because a it was not executed in accordance with law, (b) it was executed through force, intimidation and/or under duress, undue influence and improper pressure, and (c) the alleged testatrix acted by mistake and/or did not intend, nor could have intended the said Will to be her last Will and testament at the time of its execution. On August 24, 1973, respondent Judge Jose C. Colayco issued an order allowing the probate of the holographic Will which he found to have been duly executed in accordance with law. Respondent Luz Roxas de Jesus filed a motion for reconsideration alleging inter alia that the alleged holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus was not dated

43

Wills Testamentary Succession ... The law has a tender regard for the will of the testator expressed in his last will and testament on the ground that any disposition made by the testator is better than that which the law can make. For this reason, intestate succession is nothing more than a disposition based upon the presumed will of the decedent. Thus, the prevailing policy is to require satisfaction of the legal requirements in order to guard against fraud and bad faith but without undue or unnecessary curtailment of testamentary privilege Icasiano v. Icasiano, 11 SCRA 422). If a Will has been executed in substantial compliance with the formalities of the law, and the possibility of bad faith and fraud in the exercise thereof is obviated, said Win should be admitted to probate (Rey v. Cartagena 56 Phil. 282). Thus, xxx xxx xxx ... More than anything else, the facts and circumstances of record are to be considered in the application of any given rule. If the surrounding circumstances point to a regular execution of the wilt and the instrument appears to have been executed substantially in accordance with the requirements of the law, the inclination should, in the absence of any suggestion of bad faith, forgery or fraud, lean towards its admission to probate, although the document may suffer from some imperfection of language, or other non-essential defect. ... (Leynez v. Leynez 68 Phil. 745). If the testator, in executing his Will, attempts to comply with all the requisites, although compliance is not literal, it is sufficient if the objective or purpose sought to be accomplished by such requisite is actually attained by the form followed by the testator. The purpose of the solemnities surrounding the execution of Wills has been expounded by this Court in Abangan v. Abanga 40 Phil. 476, where we ruled that: The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. ... In particular, a complete date is required to provide against such contingencies as that of two competing Wills executed on the same day, or of a testator becoming insane on the day on which a Will was executed (Velasco v. Lopez, 1 Phil. 720). There is no such contingency in this case. We have carefully reviewed the records of this case and found no evidence of bad faith and fraud in its execution nor was there any substitution of Wins and Testaments. There is no question that the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus was entirely written, dated, and signed by the testatrix herself and in a language known to her. There is also no question as to its genuineness and due execution. All the children of the testatrix agree on the genuineness of the holographic Will of their mother and that she had the testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of said Will. The objection interposed by the oppositorrespondent Luz Henson is that the holographic Will is fatally defective because the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the holographic Will is not sufficient compliance with Article 810 of the Civil Code. This objection is too technical to be entertained. As a general rule, the "date" in a holographic Will should include the day, month, and year of its execution. However, when as in the case at bar, there is no appearance of fraud, bad faith, undue influence and pressure and the authenticity of the Will is established and the only issue is whether or not the date "FEB./61" appearing on the holographic Will is a valid compliance with Article 810 of the Civil Code, probate of the holographic Will should be allowed under the principle of substantial compliance. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The order appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the order allowing the probate of the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is reinstated. SO ORDERED. Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.

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Wills Testamentary Succession SECOND DIVISION G.R. Nos. 83843-44 Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid decision was denied by the Court of Appeals, in the resolution of June 13, 1988. Hence, this petition. Petitioners now assign the following errors committed by respondent court, to wit: I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT ALLOWING AND APPROVING THE PROBATE OF THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE TESTATOR MELECIO LABRADOR; and THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE ORDER OF THE LOWER COURT DIRECTING THE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE FIVE THOUSAND PESOS REPRESENTING THE REDEMPTION PRICE WAS ERRONEOUS.

April 5, 1990

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF MELECIO LABRADOR. SAGRADO LABRADOR (Deceased), substituted by ROSITA LABRADOR, ENRICA LABRADOR, and CRISTOBAL LABRADOR,petitionersappellants, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, 1 GAUDENCIO LABRADOR, and JESUS LABRADOR, respondents-appellees. Benjamin C. Santos Law Offices for petitioners. Rodrigo V. Fontelera for private respondents. PARAS, J.: The sole issue in this case is whether or not the alleged holographic will of one Melecio Labrador is dated, as provided for in Article 810 2 of the New Civil Code. The antecedent and relevant facts are as follows: On June 10, 1972, Melecio Labrador died in the Municipality of Iba, province of Zambales, where he was residing, leaving behind a parcel of land designated as Lot No. 1916 under Original Certificate of Title No. P-1652, and the following heirs, namely: Sagrado, Enrica, Cristobal, Jesus, Gaudencio, Josefina, Juliana, Hilaria and Jovita, all surnamed Labrador, and a holographic will. On July 28, 1975, Sagrado Labrador (now deceased but substituted by his heirs), Enrica Labrador and Cristobal Labrador, filed in the court a quo a petition for the probate docketed as Special Proceeding No. 922-I of the alleged holographic will of the late Melecio Labrador. Subsequently, on September 30, 1975, Jesus Labrador (now deceased but substituted by his heirs), and Gaudencio Labrador filed an opposition to the petition on the ground that the will has been extinguished or revoked by implication of law, alleging therein that on September 30, 1971, that is, before Melecio's death, for the consideration of Six Thousand (P6,000) Pesos, testator Melecio executed a Deed of Absolute Sale, selling, transferring and conveying in favor of oppositors Jesus and Gaudencio Lot No. 1916 and that as a matter of fact, O.C.T. No. P-1652 had been cancelled by T.C.T. No. T-21178. Earlier however, in 1973, Jesus Labrador sold said parcel of land to Navat for only Five Thousand (P5,000) Pesos. (Rollo, p. 37) Sagrado thereupon filed, on November 28, 1975, against his brothers, Gaudencio and Jesus, for the annulment of said purported Deed of Absolute Sale over a parcel of land which Sagrado allegedly had already acquired by devise from their father Melecio Labrador under a holographic will executed on March 17, 1968, the complaint for annulment docketed as Civil Case No. 934-I, being premised on the fact that the aforesaid Deed of Absolute Sale is fictitious. After both parties had rested and submitted their respective evidence, the trial court rendered a joint decision dated February 28, 1985, allowing the probate of the holographic will and declaring null and void the Deed of Absolute sale. The court a quo had also directed the respondents (the defendants in Civil Case No. 934-I) to reimburse to the petitioners the sum of P5,000.00 representing the redemption price for the property paid by the plaintiff-petitioner Sagrado with legal interest thereon from December 20, 1976, when it was paid to vendee a retro. Respondents appealed the joint decision to the Court of Appeals, which on March 10, 1988 modified said joint decision of the court a quo by denying the allowance of the probate of the will for being undated and reversing the order of reimbursement.

II.

The alleged undated holographic will written in Ilocano translated into English, is quoted as follows: ENGLISH INTERPRETATION OF THE WILL OF THE LATE MELECIO LABRADOR WRITTEN IN ILOCANO BY ATTY. FIDENCIO L. FERNANDEZ I First Page This is also where it appears in writing of the place which is assigned and shared or the partition in favor of SAGRADO LABRADOR which is the fishpond located and known place as Tagale. And this place that is given as the share to him, there is a measurement of more or less one hectare, and the boundary at the South is the property and assignment share of ENRICA LABRADOR, also their sister, and the boundary in the West is the sea, known as the SEA as it is, and the boundary on the NORTH is assignment belonging to CRISTOBAL LABRADOR, who likewise is also their brother. That because it is now the time for me being now ninety three (93) years, then I feel it is the right time for me to partition the fishponds which were and had been bought or acquired by us, meaning with their two mothers, hence there shall be no differences among themselves, those among brothers and sisters, for it is I myself their father who am making the apportionment and delivering to each and everyone of them the said portion and assignment so that there shall not be any cause of troubles or differences among the brothers and sisters. II Second Page And this is the day in which we agreed that we are making the partitioning and assigning the respective assignment of the said fishpond, and this being in the month of March, 17th day, in the year 1968, and this decision and or instruction of mine is the matter to be followed. And the one who made this writing is no other than MELECIO LABRADOR, their father. Now, this is the final disposition that I am making in writing and it is this that should be followed and complied with in order that any differences or troubles may be forestalled and nothing will happen along these troubles among my children, and that they will be in good relations among themselves, brothers and sisters; And those improvements and fruits of the land; mangoes, bamboos and all coconut trees and all others like the other kind of bamboo by name of Bayog, it is their right to get if they so need, in order that there shall be nothing that anyone of them shall complain against the other, and against anyone of the brothers and sisters. III THIRD PAGE

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Wills Testamentary Succession And that referring to the other places of property, where the said property is located, the same being the fruits of our earnings of the two mothers of my children, there shall be equal portion of each share among themselves, and or to be benefitted with all those property, which property we have been able to acquire. That in order that there shall be basis of the truth of this writing (WILL) which I am here hereof manifesting of the truth and of the fruits of our labor which their two mothers, I am signing my signature below hereof, and that this is what should be complied with, by all the brothers and sisters, the children of their two mothers JULIANA QUINTERO PILARISA and CASIANA AQUINO VILLANUEVA Your father who made this writing (WILL), and he is, MELECIO LABRADOR y RALUTIN (p. 46, Rollo) The petition, which principally alleges that the holographic will is really dated, although the date is not in its usual place, is impressed with merit. The will has been dated in the hand of the testator himself in perfect compliance with Article 810. It is worthy of note to quote the first paragraph of the second page of the holographic will, viz: And this is the day in which we agreed that we are making the partitioning and assigning the respective assignment of the said fishpond, and this being in the month of March, 17th day, in the year 1968, and this decision and or instruction of mine is the matter to be followed. And the one who made this writing is no other than MELECIO LABRADOR, their father. (emphasis supplied) (p. 46,Rollo) The law does not specify a particular location where the date should be placed in the will. The only requirements are that the date be in the will itself and executed in the hand of the testator. These requirements are present in the subject will. Respondents claim that the date 17 March 1968 in the will was when the testator and his beneficiaries entered into an agreement among themselves about "the partitioning and assigning the respective assignments of the said fishpond," and was not the date of execution of the holographic will; hence, the will is more of an "agreement" between the testator and the beneficiaries thereof to the prejudice of other compulsory heirs like the respondents. This was thus a failure to comply with Article 783 which defines a will as "an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate, to take effect after his death." Respondents are in error. The intention to show 17 March 1968 as the date of the execution of the will is plain from the tenor of the succeeding words of the paragraph. As aptly put by petitioner, the will was not an agreement but a unilateral act of Melecio Labrador who plainly knew that what he was executing was a will. The act of partitioning and the declaration that such partitioning as the testator's instruction or decision to be followed reveal that Melecio Labrador was fully aware of the nature of the estate property to be disposed of and of the character of the testamentary act as a means to control the disposition of his estate. Anent the second issue of finding the reimbursement of the P5,000 representing the redemption price as erroneous, respondent court's conclusion is incorrect. When private respondents sold the property (fishpond) with right to repurchase to Navat for P5,000, they were actually selling property belonging to another and which they had no authority to sell, rendering such sale null and void. Petitioners, thus "redeemed" the property from Navat for P5,000, to immediately regain possession of the property for its disposition in accordance with the will. Petitioners therefore deserve to be reimbursed the P5,000. PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 10, 1988 is hereby REVERSED. The holographic will of Melecio Labrador is APPROVED and ALLOWED probate. The private respondents are directed to REIMBURSE the petitioners the sum of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00). SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera, Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1 Penned by Justice Jorge S. Imperial and concurred in by Justices Jose A.R. Melo and Manuel C. Herrera 2 Article 810 provides: A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.

46

Wills Testamentary Succession SECOND DIVISION G.R. Nos. 140371-72 November 27, 2006 DY YIENG SEANGIO, BARBARA D. SEANGIO and VIRGINIA D. SEANGIO, Petitioners, vs. HON. AMOR A. REYES, in her capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 21, Manila, ALFREDO D. SEANGIO, ALBERTO D. SEANGIO, ELISA D. SEANGIO-SANTOS, VICTOR D. SEANGIO, ALFONSO D. SEANGIO, SHIRLEY D. SEANGIO-LIM, BETTY D. SEANGIO-OBAS and JAMES D. SEANGIO, Respondents. DECISION AZCUNA, J.: This is a petition for certiorari 1 with application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order seeking the nullification of the orders, dated August 10, 1999 and October 14, 1999, of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 21 (the RTC), dismissing the petition for probate on the ground of preterition, in the consolidated cases, docketed as SP. Proc. No. 98-90870 and SP. Proc. No. 99-93396, and entitled, "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Segundo C. Seangio v. Alfredo D. Seangio, et al." and "In the Matter of the Probate of the Will of Segundo C. Seangio v. Dy Yieng Seangio, Barbara D. Seangio and Virginia Seangio." The facts of the cases are as follows: On September 21, 1988, private respondents filed a petition for the settlement of the intestate estate of the late Segundo Seangio, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 98 90870 of the RTC, and praying for the appointment of private respondent Elisa D. SeangioSantos as special administrator and guardian ad litem of petitioner Dy Yieng Seangio. Petitioners Dy Yieng, Barbara and Virginia, all surnamed Seangio, opposed the petition. They contended that: 1) Dy Yieng is still very healthy and in full command of her faculties; 2) the deceased Segundo executed a general power of attorney in favor of Virginia giving her the power to manage and exercise control and supervision over his business in the Philippines; 3) Virginia is the most competent and qualified to serve as the administrator of the estate of Segundo because she is a certified public accountant; and, 4) Segundo left a holographic will, dated September 20, 1995, disinheriting one of the private respondents, Alfredo Seangio, for cause. In view of the purported holographic will, petitioners averred that in the event the decedent is found to have left a will, the intestate proceedings are to be automatically suspended and replaced by the proceedings for the probate of the will. On April 7, 1999, a petition for the probate of the holographic will of Segundo, docketed as SP. Proc. No. 9993396, was filed by petitioners before the RTC. They likewise reiterated that the probate proceedings should take precedence over SP. Proc. No. 9890870 because testate proceedings take precedence and enjoy priority over intestate proceedings. [2] The document that petitioners refer to as Segundos holographic will is quoted, as follows: Kasulatan sa pag-aalis ng mana Tantunin ng sinuman Ako si Segundo Seangio Filipino may asawa naninirahan sa 465-A Flores St., Ermita, Manila at nagtatalay ng maiwanag na pag-iisip at disposisyon ay tahasan at hayagang inaalisan ko ng lahat at anumang mana ang paganay kong anak na si Alfredo Seangio dahil siya ay naging lapastangan sa akin at isan beses siya ng sasalita ng masama harapan ko at mga kapatid niya na si Virginia Seangio labis kong kinasama ng loob ko at sasabe rin ni Alfredo sa akin na ako nasa ibabaw gayon gunit daratin ang araw na ako nasa ilalim siya at siya nasa ibabaw. Labis kong ikinasama ng loob ko ang gamit ni Alfredo ng akin pagalan para makapagutang na kuarta siya at kanya asawa na si Merna de los Reyes sa China Bangking Corporation na millon pesos at hindi ng babayad at hindi ng babayad ito ay nagdulot sa aking ng malaking kahihiya sa mga may-ari at stockholders ng China Banking. At ikinagalit ko pa rin ang pagkuha ni Alfredo at ng kanyang asawa na mga custome[r] ng Travel Center of the Philippines na pinagasiwaan ko at ng anak ko si Virginia. Dito ako nagalit din kaya gayon ayoko na bilanin si Alfredo ng anak ko at hayanan kong inaalisan ng lahat at anoman mana na si Alfredo at si Alfredo Seangio ay hindi ko siya anak at hindi siya makoha mana. Nila[g]daan ko ngayon ika 20 ng Setyembre 1995 sa longsod ng Manila sa harap ng tatlong saksi. [3] (signed) Segundo Seangio Nilagdaan sa harap namin (signed) Dy Yieng Seangio (signed) Unang Saksi ikalawang saksi (signed) ikatlong saksi On May 29, 1999, upon petitioners motion, SP. Proc. No. 9890870 and SP. Proc. No. 9993396 were consolidated. [4] On July 1, 1999, private respondents moved for the dismissal of the probate proceedings 5 primarily on the ground that the document purporting to be the holographic will of Segundo does not contain any disposition of the estate of the deceased and thus does not meet the definition of a will under Article 783 of the Civil Code. According to private respondents, the will only shows an alleged act of disinheritance by the decedent of his eldest son, Alfredo, and nothing else; that all other compulsory heirs were not named nor instituted as heir, devisee or legatee, hence, there is preterition which would result to intestacy. Such being the case, private respondents maintained that while procedurally the court is called upon to rule only on the extrinsic validity of the will, it is not barred from delving into the intrinsic validity of the same, and ordering the dismissal of the petition for probate when on the face of the will it is clear that it contains no testamentary disposition of the property of the decedent. Petitioners filed their opposition to the motion to dismiss contending that: 1) generally, the authority of the probate court is limited only to a determination of the extrinsic validity of the will; 2) private respondents question the intrinsic and not the extrinsic validity of the will; 3) disinheritance constitutes a disposition of the estate of a decedent; and, 4) the rule on preterition does not apply because Segundos will

47

Wills Testamentary Succession does not constitute a universal heir or heirs to the exclusion of one or more compulsory heirs. [6] On August 10, 1999, the RTC issued its assailed order, dismissing the petition for probate proceedings: A perusal of the document termed as "will" by oppositors/petitioners Dy Yieng Seangio, et al., clearly shows that there is preterition, as the only heirs mentioned thereat are Alfredo and Virginia. [T]he other heirs being omitted, Article 854 of the New Civil Code thus applies. However, insofar as the widow Dy Yieng Seangio is concerned, Article 854 does not apply, she not being a compulsory heir in the direct line. As such, this Court is bound to dismiss this petition, for to do otherwise would amount to an abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court in the case of Acain v. Intermediate Appellate Court [155 SCRA 100 (1987)] has made its position clear: "for respondents to have tolerated the probate of the will and allowed the case to progress when, on its face, the will appears to be intrinsically void would have been an exercise in futility. It would have meant a waste of time, effort, expense, plus added futility. The trial court could have denied its probate outright or could have passed upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provisions before the extrinsic validity of the will was resolved (underscoring supplied). WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion to Suspend Proceedings is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. Special Proceedings No. 9993396 is hereby DISMISSED without pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. [7] Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by the RTC in its order dated October 14, 1999. Petitioners contend that: THE RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED IN EXCESS OF HER JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION AND DECIDED A QUESTION OF LAW NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE IN ISSUING THE QUESTIONED ORDERS, DATED 10 AUGUST 1999 AND 14 OCTOBER 1999 (ATTACHMENTS "A" AND "B" HEREOF) CONSIDERING THAT: I. THE RESPONDENT JUDGE, WITHOUT EVEN COMPLYING WITH SECTIONS 3 AND 4 OF RULE 76 OF THE RULES OF COURT ON THE PROPER PROCEDURE FOR SETTING THE CASE FOR INITIAL HEARING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE JURISDICTIONAL FACTS, DISMISSED THE TESTATE CASE ON THE ALLEGED GROUND THAT THE TESTATORS WILL IS VOID ALLEGEDLY BECAUSE OF THE EXISTENCE OF PRETERITION, WHICH GOES INTO THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL, DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT IS A SETTLED RULE THAT THE AUTHORITY OF PROBATE COURTS IS LIMITED ONLY TO A DETERMINATION OF THE EXTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL, I.E., THE DUE EXECUTION THEREOF, THE TESTATORS TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY AND THE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUISITES OR SOLEMNITIES PRESCRIBED BY LAW; EVEN ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO RULE UPON THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL OF THE TESTATOR, IT IS INDUBITABLE FROM THE FACE OF THE TESTATORS WILL THAT NO PRETERITON EXISTS AND THAT THE WILL IS BOTH INTRINSICALLY AND EXTRINSICALLY VALID; AND, III. RESPONDENT JUDGE WAS DUTY BOUND TO SUSPEND THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE INTESTATE CASE CONSIDERING THAT IT IS A SETTLED RULE THAT TESTATE PROCEEDINGS TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER INTESTATE PROCEEDINGS. Petitioners argue, as follows: First, respondent judge did not comply with Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court which respectively mandate the court to: a) fix the time and place for proving the will when all concerned may appear to contest the allowance thereof, and cause notice of such time and place to be published three weeks successively previous to the appointed time in a newspaper of general circulation; and, b) cause the mailing of said notice to the heirs, legatees and devisees of the testator Segundo; Second, the holographic will does not contain any institution of an heir, but rather, as its title clearly states, Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, simply contains a disinheritance of a compulsory heir. Thus, there is no preterition in the decedents will and the holographic will on its face is not intrinsically void; Third, the testator intended all his compulsory heirs, petitioners and private respondents alike, with the sole exception of Alfredo, to inherit his estate. None of the compulsory heirs in the direct line of Segundo were preterited in the holographic will since there was no institution of an heir; Fourth, inasmuch as it clearly appears from the face of the holographic will that it is both intrinsically and extrinsically valid, respondent judge was mandated to proceed with the hearing of the testate case; and, Lastly, the continuation of the proceedings in the intestate case will work injustice to petitioners, and will render nugatory the disinheritance of Alfredo. The purported holographic will of Segundo that was presented by petitioners was dated, signed and written by him in his own handwriting. Except on the ground of preterition, private respondents did not raise any issue as regards the authenticity of the document. The document, entitled Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, unmistakably showed Segundos intention of excluding his eldest son, Alfredo, as an heir to his estate for the reasons that he cited therein. In effect, Alfredo was disinherited by Segundo. For disinheritance to be valid, Article 916 of the Civil Code requires that the same must be effected through a will wherein the legal cause therefor shall be specified. With regard to the reasons for the disinheritance that were stated by Segundo in his document, the Court believes that the incidents, taken as a whole, can be considered a form of maltreatment of Segundo by his son, Alfredo, and that the matter presents a sufficient cause for the disinheritance of a child or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code: Article 919. The following shall be sufficient causes for the disinheritance of children and descendants, legitimate as well as illegitimate: (1) When a child or descendant has been found guilty of an attempt against the life of the testator, his or her spouse, descendants, or ascendants; (2) When a child or descendant has accused the testator of a crime for which the law prescribes imprisonment for six years or more, if the accusation has been found groundless;

II.

48

Wills Testamentary Succession (3) When a child or descendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with the spouse of the testator; (4) When a child or descendant by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence causes the testator to make a will or to change one already made; (5) A refusal without justifiable cause to support the parents or ascendant who disinherit such child or descendant; with. Article 838 of the Civil Code provides that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. Thus, unless the will is probated, the right of a person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory. [17] In view of the foregoing, the trial court, therefore, should have allowed the holographic will to be probated. It is settled that testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. [18] WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 21, dated August 10, 1999 and October 14, 1999, are set aside. Respondent judge is directed to reinstate and hear SP Proc. No. 99-93396 for the allowance of the holographic will of Segundo Seangio. The intestate case or SP. Proc. No. 98-90870 is hereby suspended until the termination of the aforesaid testate proceedings. No costs. Footnotes

(6)

Maltreatment of the testator by word or deed, by the child or descendant; [8]

(7) When a child or descendant leads a dishonorable or disgraceful life; (8) Conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction. Now, the critical issue to be determined is whether the document executed by Segundo can be considered as a holographic will. A holographic will, as provided under Article 810 of the Civil Code, must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed. Segundos document, although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance instrument, conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law. It is written, dated and signed by the hand of Segundo himself. An intent to dispose mortis causa [9] can be clearly deduced from the terms of the instrument, and while it does not make an affirmative disposition of the latters property, the disinheritance of Alfredo, nonetheless, is an act of disposition in itself. In other words, the disinheritance results in the disposition of the property of the testator Segundo in favor of those who would succeed in the absence of Alfredo. [10] Moreover, it is a fundamental principle that the intent or the will of the testator, expressed in the form and within the limits prescribed by law, must be recognized as the supreme law in succession. All rules of construction are designed to ascertain and give effect to that intention. It is only when the intention of the testator is contrary to law, morals, or public policy that it cannot be given effect. [11] Holographic wills, therefore, being usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law, as illustrated in the present case, should be construed more liberally than the ones drawn by an expert, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the execution of the instrument and the intention of the testator. [12] In this regard, the Court is convinced that the document, even if captioned as Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, was intended by Segundo to be his last testamentary act and was executed by him in accordance with law in the form of a holographic will. Unless the will is probated, [13] the disinheritance cannot be given effect. [14] With regard to the issue on preterition, [15] the Court believes that the compulsory heirs in the direct line were not preterited in the will. It was, in the Courts opinion, Segundos last expression to bequeath his estate to all his compulsory heirs, with the sole exception of Alfredo. Also, Segundo did not institute an heir [16] to the exclusion of his other compulsory heirs. The mere mention of the name of one of the petitioners, Virginia, in the document did not operate to institute her as the universal heir. Her name was included plainly as a witness to the altercation between Segundo and his son, Alfredo. Considering that the questioned document is Segundos holographic will, and that the law favors testacy over intestacy, the probate of the will cannot be dispensed

[1] Under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. [2] Records, p. 20. [3] Id. at 17. [4] Id. at 63. [5] Id. at 65. [6] Id. at 82. [7] Id. at 96. [8] Emphasis supplied. [9] Article 783 of the Civil Code states: "A will is an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate, to take effect after his death." [10] Tolentino, Arturo M., "Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the Philippines," Volume III, p. 30. [11] Id. at 38. [12] Id. at 37-39. [13] In a petition to admit a holographic will to probate, the only issues to be resolved are: 1) whether the instrument submitted is, indeed, the decedents last will and testament; 2) whether said will was executed in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law; 3) whether the decedent had the necessary testamentary capacity at the time the will was executed; and, 4) whether the execution of the will and its signing were the voluntary acts of the decedents. As a general rule, courts in probate proceedings are limited to pass only upon the extrinsic validity of the will sought to be probated. However, in exceptional circumstances, courts are not powerless to do what the situation constrains them to do, and pass upon certain provisions of the will (Ajero v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 106720, September 15, 1994, 236 SCRA 488). [14] Supra note 10. [15] Article 854 of the Civil Code states: "The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devisees and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious. If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution shall be effectual, without prejudice to the right of representation." [16] Article 841 of the Civil Code states: "A will is valid even though it should not contain an institution of an heir, or such institution should not comprise the entire estate, and even though the person so instituted should not accept the inheritance or should be incapacitated to succeed. In such cases the testamentary dispositions made in accordance with law shall be complied with and the remainder of the estate shall pass to the legal heirs." [17] Maninang v. Court of Appeals, No. L-57848, June 19, 1982, 114 SCRA 478. [18] Cuenco v. Court of Appeals, No. L-24742, October 26, 1973, 53 SCRA 360.

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Wills Testamentary Succession SECOND DIVISION February 15, 1982


b.Y en cuanto a las dos terceras partes restantes, a favor de la nombrada Da. Wanda de Nrobleski con sustitucion vulgar v fideicomisaria a saber: En cuanto a la mitad de dichas dos terceras partes, a favor de D. Juan Pablo Jankowski, de Son Rapina Palma de Mallorca; y encuanto a la mitad restante, a favor de su sobrino, D. Horace V. Ramirez, San Luis Building, Florida St. Ermita, Manila, I.F. A pesar de las sustituciones fideiconiisarias precedentemente ordinadas, las usufiructuarias nombradas conjuntamente con los nudo propietarios, podran en cualquier memento vender a tercero los bienes objeto delegado, sin intervencion alguna de los titulares fideicomisaarios.

G.R. No. L-27952

TESTATE ESTATE OF JOSE EUGENIO RAMIREZ, MARIA LUISA PALACIOS, Administratrix, petitioner-appellee, vs. MARCELLE D. VDA. DE RAMIREZ, ET AL., oppositors, JORGE and ROBERTO RAMIREZ, legatees, oppositors- appellants. ABAD SANTOS, J.: The main issue in this appeal is the manner of partitioning the testate estate of Jose Eugenio Ramirez among the principal beneficiaries, namely: his widow Marcelle Demoron de Ramirez; his two grandnephews Roberto and Jorge Ramirez; and his companion Wanda de Wrobleski. The task is not trouble-free because the widow Marcelle is a French who lives in Paris, while the companion Wanda is an Austrian who lives in Spain. Moreover, the testator provided for substitutions. Jose Eugenio Ramirez, a Filipino national, died in Spain on December 11, 1964, with only his widow as compulsory heir. His will was admitted to probate by the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch X, on July 27, 1965. Maria Luisa Palacios was appointed administratrix of the estate. In due time she submitted an inventory of the estate as follows:
INVENTARIO Una sexta parte (1/6) proindiviso de un te rreno, con sus mejoras y edificaciones, situadoen la Escolta, Manila............................................................. P500,000.00 Una sexta parte (1/6) proindiviso de dos parcelas de terreno situadas en Antipolo, Rizal................... 658.34 Cuatrocientos noventa y uno (491) acciones de la 'Central Azucarera de la Carlota a P17.00 por accion ................................................................................8,347.00 Diez mil ochocientos seize (10,806) acciones de la 'Central Luzon Milling Co.', disuelta y en liquidacion a P0.15 por accion ..............................................1,620.90 Cuenta de Ahorros en el Philippine Trust Co.............................................................................................. 2,350.73 TOTAL.............................................................. P512,976.97 MENOS: Deuda al Banco de las Islas Filipinas, garantizada con prenda de las acciones de La Carlota ......... P 5,000,00 VALOR LIQUIDO........................................... P507,976.97

On June 23, 1966, the administratrix submitted a project of partition as follows: the property of the deceased is to be divided into two parts. One part shall go to the widow 'en pleno dominio" in satisfaction of her legitime; the other part or "free portion" shall go to Jorge and Roberto Ramirez "en nuda propriedad." Furthermore, one third (1/3) of the free portion is charged with the widow's usufruct and the remaining two-thirds (2/3) with a usufruct in favor of Wanda. Jorge and Roberto opposed the project of partition on the grounds: (a) that the provisions for vulgar substitution in favor of Wanda de Wrobleski with respect to the widow's usufruct and in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horacio V. Ramirez, with respect to Wanda's usufruct are invalid because the first heirs Marcelle and Wanda) survived the testator; (b) that the provisions for fideicommissary substitutions are also invalid because the first heirs are not related to the second heirs or substitutes within the first degree, as provided in Article 863 of the Civil Code; (c) that the grant of a usufruct over real property in the Philippines in favor of Wanda Wrobleski, who is an alien, violates Section 5, Article III of the Philippine Constitution; and that (d) the proposed partition of the testator's interest in the Santa Cruz (Escolta) Building between the widow Marcelle and the appellants, violates the testator's express win to give this property to them Nonetheless, the lower court approved the project of partition in its order dated May 3, 1967. It is this order which Jorge and Roberto have appealed to this Court. 1. The widow's legitime. The appellant's do not question the legality of giving Marcelle one-half of the estate in full ownership. They admit that the testator's dispositions impaired his widow's legitime. Indeed, under Art. 900 of the Civil Code "If the only survivor is the widow or widower, she or he shall be entitled to one-half of the hereditary estate." And since Marcelle alone survived the deceased, she is entitled to one-half of his estate over which he could impose no burden, encumbrance, condition or substitution of any kind whatsoever. (Art. 904, par. 2, Civil Code.) It is the one-third usufruct over the free portion which the appellants question and justifiably so. It appears that the court a quo approved the usufruct in favor of Marcelle because the testament provides for a usufruct in her favor of one-third of the estate. The court a quo erred for Marcelle who is entitled to one-half of the estate "en pleno dominio" as her legitime and which is more than what she is given under the will is not entitled to have any additional share in the estate. To give Marcelle more than her legitime will run counter to the testator's intention for as stated above his dispositions even impaired her legitime and tended to favor Wanda. 2. The substitutions. It may be useful to recall that "Substitution is the appoint- judgment of another heir so that he may enter into the inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted." (Art. 857, Civil Code. And that there are several kinds of substitutions, namely: simple or common, brief or compendious, reciprocal, and fideicommissary (Art. 858,

The testamentary dispositions are as follows:


A.En nuda propiedad, a D. Roberto y D. Jorge Ramirez, ambas menores de edad, residentes en Manila, I.F., calle 'Alright, No. 1818, Malate, hijos de su sobrino D. Jose Ma. Ramirez, con sustitucion vulgar a favor de sus respectivos descendientes, y, en su defecto, con sustitucion vulgar reciprocal entre ambos. El precedente legado en nuda propiedad de la participacion indivisa de la finca Santa Cruz Building, lo ordena el testador a favor de los legatarios nombrados, en atencion a que dicha propiedad fue creacion del querido padre del otorgante y por ser aquellos continuadores del apellido Ramirez, B.Y en usufructo a saber: a. En cuanto a una tercera parte, a favor de la esposa del testador, Da. Marcelle Ramirez, domiciliada en IE PECO, calle del General Gallieni No. 33, Seine Francia, con sustitucion vulgar u fideicomisaria a favor de Da. Wanda de Wrobleski, de Palma de Mallorca, Son Rapina Avenida de los Reyes 13,

50

Wills Testamentary Succession Civil Code.) According to Tolentino, "Although the Code enumerates four classes, there are really only two principal classes of substitutions: the simple and the fideicommissary. The others are merely variations of these two." (111 Civil Code, p. 185 [1973].) The simple or vulgar is that provided in Art. 859 of the Civil Code which reads: ART. 859. The testator may designate one or more persons to substitute the heir or heirs instituted in case such heir or heirs should die before him, or should not wish, or should be incapacitated to accept the inheritance. A simple substitution, without a statement of the cases to which it refers, shall comprise the three mentioned in the preceding paragraph, unless the testator has otherwise provided. The fideicommissary substitution is described in the Civil Code as follows: ART. 863. A fideicommissary substitution by virtue of which the fiduciary or first heir instituted is entrusted with the obligation to preserve and to transmit to a second heir the whole or part of inheritance, shall be valid and shall take effect, provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted, and provided further that the fiduciary or first heir and the second heir are living at time of the death of the testator. It will be noted that the testator provided for a vulgar substitution in respect of the legacies of Roberto and Jorge Ramirez, the appellants, thus: con sustitucion vulgar a favor de sus respectivos descendientes, y, en su defecto, con substitution vulgar reciprocal entre ambos. The appellants do not question the legality of the substitution so provided. The appellants question the sustitucion vulgar y fideicomisaria a favor de Da. Wanda de Wrobleski" in connection with the one-third usufruct over the estate given to the widow Marcelle However, this question has become moot because as We have ruled above, the widow is not entitled to any usufruct. The appellants also question the sustitucion vulgar y fideicomisaria in connection with Wanda's usufruct over two thirds of the estate in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace v. Ramirez. They allege that the substitution in its vulgar aspect as void because Wanda survived the testator or stated differently because she did not predecease the testator. But dying before the testator is not the only case for vulgar substitution for it also includes refusal or incapacity to accept the inheritance as provided in Art. 859 of the Civil Code, supra. Hence, the vulgar substitution is valid. As regards the substitution in its fideicommissary aspect, the appellants are correct in their claim that it is void for the following reasons: (a) The substitutes (Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez) are not related to Wanda, the heir originally instituted. Art. 863 of the Civil Code validates a fideicommissary substitution "provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted." What is meant by "one degree" from the first heir is explained by Tolentino as follows: Scaevola Maura, and Traviesas construe "degree" as designation, substitution, or transmission. The Supreme Court of Spain has decidedly adopted this construction. From this point of view, there can be only one tranmission or substitution, and the substitute need not be related to the first heir. Manresa, Morell and Sanchez Roman, however, construe the word "degree" as generation, and the present Code has obviously followed this interpretation. by providing that the substitution shall not go beyond one degree "from the heir originally instituted." The Code thus clearly indicates that the second heir must be related to and be one generation from the first heir. From this, it follows that the fideicommissary can only be either a child or a parent of the first heir. These are the only relatives who are one generation or degree from the fiduciary (Op. cit., pp. 193-194.) (b) There is no absolute duty imposed on Wanda to transmit the usufruct to the substitutes as required by Arts. 865 and 867 of the Civil Code. In fact, the appellee admits "that the testator contradicts the establishment of a fideicommissary substitution when he permits the properties subject of the usufruct to be sold upon mutual agreement of the usufructuaries and the naked owners." (Brief, p. 26.) 3. The usufruct of Wanda. The appellants claim that the usufruct over real properties of the estate in favor of Wanda is void because it violates the constitutional prohibition against the acquisition of lands by aliens. The 1935 Constitution which is controlling provides as follows: SEC. 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the Philippines. (Art. XIII.) The court a quo upheld the validity of the usufruct given to Wanda on the ground that the Constitution covers not only succession by operation of law but also testamentary succession. We are of the opinion that the Constitutional provision which enables aliens to acquire private lands does not extend to testamentary succession for otherwise the prohibition will be for naught and meaningless. Any alien would be able to circumvent the prohibition by paying money to a Philippine landowner in exchange for a devise of a piece of land. This opinion notwithstanding, We uphold the usufruct in favor of Wanda because a usufruct, albeit a real right, does not vest title to the land in the usufructuary and it is the vesting of title to land in favor of aliens which is proscribed by the Constitution. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the estate of Jose Eugenio Ramirez is hereby ordered distributed as follows: One-half (1/2) thereof to his widow as her legitime; One-half (1/2) thereof which is the free portion to Roberto and Jorge Ramirez in naked ownership and the usufruct to Wanda de Wrobleski with a simple substitution in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez. The distribution herein ordered supersedes that of the court a quo. No special pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. Barredo (Chairman), Concepcion, Jr., De Castro, Ericta and Escolin, JJ., concur. Aquino J., took no part.

51

Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC G.R. Nos. L-27860 and L-27896 March 29, 1974 PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BANK, Administrator of the Testate Estate of Charles Newton Hodges (Sp. Proc. No. 1672 of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo), petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE VENICIO ESCOLIN, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, Branch II, and AVELINA A. MAGNO, respondents. G.R. Nos. L-27936 & L-27937 March 29, 1974 TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE LINNIE JANE HODGES (Sp. Proc. No. 1307). TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE CHARLES NEWTON HODGES (Sp. Proc. No. 1672). PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BANK,administratorappellant, vs. LORENZO CARLES, JOSE PABLICO, ALFREDO CATEDRAL, SALVADOR GUZMAN, BELCESAR CAUSING, FLORENIA BARRIDO, PURIFICACION CORONADO, GRACIANO LUCERO, ARITEO THOMAS JAMIR, MELQUIADES BATISANAN, PEPITO IYULORES, ESPERIDION PARTISALA, WINIFREDO ESPADA, ROSARIO ALINGASA, ADELFA PREMAYLON, SANTIAGO PACAONSIS, and AVELINA A. MAGNO, the last as Administratrix in Sp. Proc. No. 1307, appellees, WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, INC., movant-appellee. San Juan, Africa, Gonzales and San Agustin for Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank. Manglapus Law Office, Antonio Law Office and Rizal R. Quimpo for private respondents and appellees Avelina A. Magno, etc., et al. BARREDO, J.:p Certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction; certiorari to "declare all acts of the respondent court in the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (Sp. Proc. No. 1307 of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo) subsequent to the order of December 14, 1957 as null and void for having been issued without jurisdiction"; prohibition to enjoin the respondent court from allowing, tolerating, sanctioning, or abetting private respondent Avelina A. Magno to perform or do any acts of administration, such as those enumerated in the petition, and from exercising any authority or power as Regular Administratrix of above-named Testate Estate, by entertaining manifestations, motion and pleadings filed by her and acting on them, and also to enjoin said court from allowing said private respondent to interfere, meddle or take part in any manner in the administration of the Testate Estate of Charles Newton Hodges (Sp. Proc. No. 1672 of the same court and branch); with prayer for preliminary injunction, which was issued by this Court on August 8, 1967 upon a bond of P5,000; the petition being particularly directed against the orders of the respondent court of October 12, 1966 denying petitioner's motion of April 22, 1966 and its order of July 18, 1967 denying the motion for reconsideration of said order. Related to and involving basically the same main issue as the foregoing petition, thirty-three (33) appeals from different orders of the same respondent court approving or otherwise sanctioning the acts of administration of the respondent Magno on behalf of the testate Estate of Mrs. Hodges. THE FACTS On May 23, 1957, Linnie Jane Hodges died in Iloilo City leaving a will executed on November 22, 1952 pertinently providing as follows: FIRST: I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be first paid out of my estate. SECOND: I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both personal and real, wherever situated, or located, to my beloved husband, Charles Newton Hodges, to have and to hold unto him, my said husband, during his natural lifetime. THIRD: I desire, direct and provide that my husband, Charles Newton Hodges, shall have the right to manage, control, use and enjoy said estate during his lifetime, and he is hereby given the right to make any changes in the physical properties of said estate, by sale or any part thereof which he may think best, and the purchase of any other or additional property as he may think best; to execute conveyances with or without general or special warranty, conveying in fee simple or for any other term or time, any property which he may deem proper to dispose of; to lease any of the real property for oil, gas and/or other minerals, and all such deeds or leases shall pass the absolute fee simple title to the interest so conveyed in such property as he may elect to sell. All rents, emoluments and income from said estate shall belong to him, and he is further authorized to use any part of the principal of said estate as he may need or desire. It is provided herein, however, that he shall not sell or otherwise dispose of any of the improved property now owned by us located at, in or near the City of Lubbock, Texas, but he shall have the full right to lease, manage and enjoy the same during his lifetime, above provided. He shall have the right to subdivide any farm land and sell lots therein. and may sell unimproved town lots. FOURTH: At the death of my said husband, Charles Newton Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, wherever situated or located, to be equally divided among my brothers and sisters, share and share alike, namely: Esta Higdon, Emma Howell, Leonard Higdon, Roy Higdon, Saddie Rascoe, Era Roman and Nimroy Higdon. FIFTH: In case of the death of any of my brothers and/or sisters named in item Fourth, above, prior to the death of my husband, Charles Newton Hodges, then it is my will and bequest that the heirs of such deceased brother or sister shall take jointly the share which would have gone to such brother or sister had she or he survived. SIXTH: I nominate and appoint my said husband, Charles Newton Hodges, to be executor of this, my last will and testament, and direct that no bond or other security be required of him as such executor. SEVENTH: It is my will and bequest that no action be had in the probate court, in the administration of my estate, other than that necessary to prove and record this will and to return an inventory and appraisement of my estate and list of claims. (Pp. 2-4, Petition.) This will was subsequently probated in aforementioned Special Proceedings No. 1307 of respondent court on June 28, 1957, with the widower Charles Newton Hodges being appointed as Executor, pursuant to the provisions thereof. Previously, on May 27, 1957, the said widower (hereafter to be referred to as Hodges) had been appointed Special Administrator, in which capacity he filed a motion on the same date as follows:

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Wills Testamentary Succession URGENT EX-PARTE MOTION TO ALLOW OR AUTHORIZE PETITIONER TO CONTINUE THE BUSINESS IN WHICH HE WAS ENGAGED AND TO PERFORM ACTS WHICH HE HAD BEEN DOING WHILE DECEASED WAS LIVING Come petitioner in the above-entitled special proceedings, thru his undersigned attorneys, to the Hon. Court, most respectfully states: 1. That Linnie Jane Hodges died leaving her last will and testament, a copy of which is attached to the petition for probate of the same. 2. That in said last will and testament herein petitioner Charles Newton Hodges is directed to have the right to manage, control use and enjoy the estate of deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, in the same way, a provision was placed in paragraph two, the following: "I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, to my beloved husband, Charles Newton Hodges, to have and (to) hold unto him, my said husband, during his natural lifetime." 3. That during the lifetime of Linnie Jane Hodges, herein petitioner was engaged in the business of buying and selling personal and real properties, and do such acts which petitioner may think best. 4. That deceased Linnie Jane Hodges died leaving no descendants or ascendants, except brothers and sisters and herein petitioner as executor surviving spouse, to inherit the properties of the decedent. 5. That the present motion is submitted in order not to paralyze the business of petitioner and the deceased, especially in the purchase and sale of properties. That proper accounting will be had also in all these transactions. WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed that, petitioner C. N. Hodges (Charles Newton Hodges) be allowed or authorized to continue the business in which he was engaged and to perform acts which he had been doing while deceased Linnie Jane Hodges was living. City of Iloilo, May 27, 1957. (Annex "D", Petition.) which the respondent court immediately granted in the following order: It appearing in the urgent ex-parte motion filed by petitioner C. N. Hodges, that the business in which said petitioner and the deceased were engaged will be paralyzed, unless and until the Executor is named and appointed by the Court, the said petitioner is allowed or authorized to continue the business in which he was engaged and to perform acts which he had been doing while the deceased was living. SO ORDERED. City of Iloilo May 27, 1957. (Annex "E", Petition.) Under date of December 11, 1957, Hodges filed as such Executor another motion thus: MOTION TO APPROVE ALL SALES, CONVEYANCES, LEASES, MORTGAGES THAT THE EXECUTOR HAD MADE FURTHER AND SUBSEQUENT TRANSACTIONS WHICH THE EXECUTOR MAY DO IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAST WISH OF THE DECEASED LINNIE JANE HODGES. Comes the Executor in the above-entitled proceedings, thru undersigned attorney, to the Hon. Court, most respectfully states: his 1. That according to the last will and testament of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, the executor as the surviving spouse and legatee named in the will of the deceased; has the right to dispose of all the properties left by the deceased, portion of which is quoted as follows: Second: I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both personal and real, wherever situated, or located, to my beloved husband, Charles Newton Hodges, to have and to hold unto him, my said husband, during his natural lifetime. Third: I desire, direct and provide that my husband, Charles Newton Hodges, shall have the right to manage, control, use and enjoy said estate during his lifetime, and he is hereby given the right to make any changes in the physical properties of said estate, by sale or any part thereof which he may think best, and the purchase of any other or additional property as he may think best; to execute conveyances with or without general or special warranty, conveying in fee simple or for any other term or time, any property which he may deem proper to dispose of; to lease any of the real property for oil, gas and/or other minerals, and all such deeds or leases shall pass the absolute fee simple title to the interest so conveyed in such property as he may elect to sell. All rents, emoluments and income from said estate shall belong to him, and he is further authorized to use any part of the principal of said estate as he may need or desire. ... 2. That herein Executor, is not only part owner of the properties left as conjugal, but also, the successor to all the properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges. That during the lifetime of herein Executor, as Legatee has the right to sell, convey, lease or dispose of the properties in the Philippines. That inasmuch as C.N. Hodges was and is engaged in the buy and sell of real and personal properties, even before the death of Linnie Jane Hodges, a motion to authorize said C.N. Hodges was filed in Court, to allow him to continue in the business of buy and sell, which motion was favorably granted by the Honorable Court. 3. That since the death of Linnie Jane Hodges, Mr. C.N. Hodges had been buying and selling real and personal properties, in accordance with the wishes of the late Linnie Jane Hodges. 4. That the Register of Deeds for Iloilo, had required of late the herein Executor to have all the sales, leases, conveyances or mortgages made by him, approved by the Hon. Court. 5. That it is respectfully requested, all the sales, conveyances leases and mortgages executed by the Executor, be approved by the Hon. Court. and subsequent sales conveyances, leases and mortgages in compliances with the wishes of the late Linnie Jane Hodges, and within the scope of the terms of the last will and testament, also be approved; 6. That the Executor is under obligation to submit his yearly accounts, and the properties conveyed can also be accounted for, especially the amounts received. WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed that, all the sales, conveyances, leases, and mortgages executed by the Executor, be approved by the Hon. Court, and also the subsequent sales, conveyances, leases, and mortgages in consonance with the wishes of the deceased contained in her last will and testament, be with authorization and approval of the Hon. Court. City of Iloilo, December 11, 1967. (Annex "G", Petition.)

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Wills Testamentary Succession which again was promptly granted by the respondent court on December 14, 1957 as follows: ORDER As prayed for by Attorney Gellada, counsel for the Executor for the reasons stated in his motion dated December 11, 1957, which the Court considers well taken all the sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of all properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges executed by the Executor Charles N. Hodges are hereby APPROVED. The said Executor is further authorized to execute subsequent sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of the properties left by the said deceased Linnie Jane Hodges in consonance with the wishes conveyed in the last will and testament of the latter. So ordered. Iloilo City. December 14, 1957. (Annex "H", Petition.) On April 14, 1959, in submitting his first statement of account as Executor for approval, Hodges alleged: Pursuant to the provisions of the Rules of Court, herein executor of the deceased, renders the following account of his administration covering the period from January 1, 1958 to December 31, 1958, which account may be found in detail in the individual income tax return filed for the estate of deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, to wit: That a certified public accountant has examined the statement of net worth of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, the assets and liabilities, as well as the income and expenses, copy of which is hereto attached and made integral part of this statement of account as Annex "A". IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, it is most respectfully prayed that, the statement of net worth of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, the assets and liabilities, income and expenses as shown in the individual income tax return for the estate of the deceased and marked as Annex "A", be approved by the Honorable Court, as substantial compliance with the requirements of the Rules of Court. That no person interested in the Philippines of the time and place of examining the herein accounts be given notice, as herein executor is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased, in accordance with the last will and testament already probated by the Honorable court. City of Iloilo April 14, 1959. (Annex "I", Petition.) The respondent court approved this statement of account on April 21, 1959 in its order worded thus: Upon petition of Atty. Gellada, in representation of the Executor, the statement of net worth of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, assets and liabilities, income and expenses as shown in the individual income tax return for the estate of the deceased and marked as Annex "A" is approved. SO ORDERED. City of Iloilo April 21, 1959. (Annex "J", Petition.) His accounts for the periods January 1, 1959 to December 31, 1959 and January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1960 were submitted likewise accompanied by allegations identical mutatis mutandis to those of April 14, 1959, quoted above; and the respective orders approving the same, dated July 30, 1960 and May 2, 1961, were substantially identical to the above-quoted order of April 21, 1959. In connection with the statements of account just mentioned, the following assertions related thereto made by respondent-appellee Magno in her brief do not appear from all indications discernible in the record to be disputable: Under date of April 14, 1959, C.N. Hodges filed his first "Account by the Executor" of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. In the "Statement of Networth of Mr. C.N. Hodges and the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges" as of December 31, 1958 annexed thereto, C.N. Hodges reported that the combined conjugal estate earned a net income of P328,402.62, divided evenly between him and the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. Pursuant to this, he filed an "individual income tax return" for calendar year 1958 on the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges reporting, under oath, the said estate as having earned income of P164,201.31, exactly one-half of the net income of his combined personal assets and that of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. (p. 91, Appellee's Brief.) xxx xxx xxx Under date of July 21, 1960, C.N. Hodges filed his second "Annual Statement of Account by the Executor" of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. In the "Statement of Networth of Mr. C.N. Hodges and the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges" as of December 31, 1959 annexed thereto, C.N. Hodges reported that the combined conjugal estate earned a net income of P270,623.32, divided evenly between him and the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. Pursuant to this, he filed an "individual income tax return" for calendar year 1959 on the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges reporting, under oath, the said estate as having earned income of P135,311.66, exactly onehalf of the net income of his combined personal assets and that of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. (pp. 91-92. Appellee's Brief.) xxx xxx xxx Under date of April 20, 1961, C.N. Hodges filed his third "Annual Statement of Account by the Executor for the Year 1960" of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. In the "Statement of Net Worth of Mr. C.N. Hodges and the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges" as of December 31, 1960 annexed thereto, C.N. Hodges reported that the combined conjugal estate earned a net income of P314,857.94, divided evenly between him and the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. Pursuant to this, he filed an "individual income tax return" for calendar year 1960 on the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges reporting, under oath, the said estate as having earned income of P157,428.97, exactly onehalf of the net income of his combined personal assets and that of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. (Pp. 92-93, Appellee's Brief.) Likewise the following: In the petition for probate that he (Hodges) filed, he listed the seven brothers and sisters of Linnie Jane as her "heirs" (see p. 2, Green ROA). The order of the court admitting the will to probate unfortunately omitted one of the heirs, Roy Higdon (see p. 14, Green ROA). Immediately, C.N. Hodges filed a verified motion to have Roy Higdon's name included as an heir, stating that he wanted to straighten the records "in order the heirs of deceased Roy Higdon may not think or believe they were omitted, and that

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Wills Testamentary Succession they were really and are interested in the estate of deceased Linnie Jane Hodges. . As an executor, he was bound to file tax returns for the estate he was administering under American law. He did file such as estate tax return on August 8, 1958. In Schedule "M" of such return, he answered "Yes" to the question as to whether he was contemplating "renouncing the will". On the question as to what property interests passed to him as the surviving spouse, he answered: "None, except for purposes of administering the Estate, paying debts, taxes and other legal charges. It is the intention of the surviving husband of deceased to distribute the remaining property and interests of the deceased in their Community estate to the devisees and legatees named in the will when the debts, liabilities, taxes and expenses of administration are finally determined and paid." Again, on August 9, 1962, barely four months before his death, he executed an "affidavit" wherein he ratified and confirmed all that he stated in Schedule "M" of his estate tax returns as to his having renounced what was given him by his wife's will. 1 As appointed executor, C.N. Hodges filed an "Inventory" dated May 12, 1958. He listed all the assets of his conjugal partnership with Linnie Jane Hodges on a separate balance sheet and then stated expressly that her estate which has come into his possession as executor was "one-half of all the items" listed in said balance sheet. (Pp. 89-90, Appellee's Brief.) Parenthetically, it may be stated, at this juncture, that We are taking pains to quote wholly or at least, extensively from some of the pleadings and orders whenever We feel that it is necessary to do so for a more comprehensive and clearer view of the important and decisive issues raised by the parties and a more accurate appraisal of their respective positions in regard thereto. The records of these cases do not show that anything else was done in the abovementioned Special Proceedings No. 1307 until December 26, 1962, when on account of the death of Hodges the day before, the same lawyer, Atty. Leon P. Gellada, who had been previously acting as counsel for Hodges in his capacity as Executor of his wife's estate, and as such had filed the aforequoted motions and manifestations, filed the following: URGENT EX-PARTE MOTION ADMINISTRATRIX FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF A SPECIAL at the death of her husband Charles Newton Hodges, the said properties shall be equally divided among their heirs. That there are real and personal properties left by Charles Newton Hodges, which need to be administered and taken care of. 4. That the estate of deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, as well as that of Charles Newton Hodges, have not as yet been determined or ascertained, and there is necessity for the appointment of a general administrator to liquidate and distribute the residue of the estate to the heirs and legatees of both spouses. That in accordance with the provisions of Section 2 of Rule 75 of the Rules of Court, the conjugal partnership of Linnie Jane Hodges and Charles Newton Hodges shall be liquidated in the testate proceedings of the wife. 5. That the undersigned counsel, has perfect personal knowledge of the existence of the last will and testament of Charles Newton Hodges, with similar provisions as that contained in the last will and testament of Linnie Jane Hodges. However, said last will and testament of Charles Newton Hodges is kept inside the vault or iron safe in his office, and will be presented in due time before this honorable Court. 6. That in the meantime, it is imperative and indispensable that, an Administratrix be appointed for the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and a Special Administratrix for the estate of Charles Newton Hodges, to perform the duties required by law, to administer, collect, and take charge of the goods, chattels, rights, credits, and estate of both spouses, Charles Newton Hodges and Linnie Jane Hodges, as provided for in Section 1 and 2, Rule 81 of the Rules of Court. 7. That there is delay in granting letters testamentary or of administration, because the last will and testament of deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, is still kept in his safe or vault, and in the meantime, unless an administratrix (and,) at the same time, a Special Administratrix is appointed, the estate of both spouses are in danger of being lost, damaged or go to waste. 8. That the most trusted employee of both spouses Linnie Jane Hodges and C.N. Hodges, who had been employed for around thirty (30) years, in the person of Miss Avelina Magno, (should) be appointed Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and at the same time Special Administratrix of the estate of Charles Newton Hodges. That the said Miss Avelina Magno is of legal age, a resident of the Philippines, the most fit, competent, trustworthy and well-qualified person to serve the duties of Administratrix and Special Administratrix and is willing to act as such. 9. That Miss Avelina Magno is also willing to file bond in such sum which the Hon. Court believes reasonable. WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, it is most respectfully prayed that, Miss AVELINA A. MAGNO be immediately appointed Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and as Special Administratrix of the estate of Charles Newton Hodges, with powers and duties provided for by law. That the Honorable Court fix the reasonable bond of P1,000.00 to be filed by Avelina A. Magno. (Annex "O", Petition.) which respondent court readily acted on in its order of even date thus: . For the reasons alleged in the Urgent Ex-parte Motion filed by counsel for the Executor dated December 25, 1962, which the Court finds meritorious,

COMES the undersigned attorney for the Executor in the above-entitled proceedings, to the Honorable Court, most respectfully states: 1. That in accordance with the Last Will and Testament of Linnie Jane Hodges (deceased), her husband, Charles Newton Hodges was to act as Executor, and in fact, in an order issued by this Hon. Court dated June 28, 1957, the said Charles Newton Hodges was appointed Executor and had performed the duties as such. 2. That last December 22, 1962, the said Charles Newton Hodges was stricken ill, and brought to the Iloilo Mission Hospital for treatment, but unfortunately, he died on December 25, 1962, as shown by a copy of the death certificate hereto attached and marked as Annex "A". 3. That in accordance with the provisions of the last will and testament of Linnie Jane Hodges, whatever real and personal properties that may remain

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Wills Testamentary Succession Miss AVELINA A. MAGNO, is hereby appointed Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and as Special Administratrix of the estate of Charles Newton Hodges, in the latter case, because the last will of said Charles Newton Hodges is still kept in his vault or iron safe and that the real and personal properties of both spouses may be lost, damaged or go to waste, unless a Special Administratrix is appointed. Miss Avelina A. Magno is required to file bond in the sum of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00), and after having done so, let letters of Administration be issued to her." (Annex "P", Petition.) On December 29, 1962, however, upon urgent ex-parte petition of respondent Magno herself, thru Atty. Gellada, Harold, R. Davies, "a representative of the heirs of deceased Charles Newton Hodges (who had) arrived from the United States of America to help in the administration of the estate of said deceased" was appointed as Co-Special Administrator of the estate of Hodges, (pp. 29-33, Yellow - Record on Appeal) only to be replaced as such co-special administrator on January 22, 1963 by Joe Hodges, who, according to the motion of the same attorney, is "the nephew of the deceased (who had) arrived from the United States with instructions from the other heirs of the deceased to administer the properties or estate of Charles Newton Hodges in the Philippines, (Pp. 47-50, id.) Meanwhile, under date of January 9, 1963, the same Atty. Gellada filed in Special Proceedings 1672 a petition for the probate of the will of Hodges, 2 with a prayer for the issuance of letters of administration to the same Joe Hodges, albeit the motion was followed on February 22, 1963 by a separate one asking that Atty. Fernando Mirasol be appointed as his co-administrator. On the same date this latter motion was filed, the court issued the corresponding order of probate and letters of administration to Joe Hodges and Atty. Mirasol, as prayed for. At this juncture, again, it may also be explained that just as, in her will, Mrs. Hodges bequeathed her whole estate to her husband "to have and to hold unto him, my said husband, during his natural lifetime", she, at the same time or in like manner, provided that "at the death of my said husband I give devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, wherever situated or located, to be equally divided among my brothers and sisters, share and share alike ". Accordingly, it became incumbent upon Hodges, as executor of his wife's will, to duly liquidate the conjugal partnership, half of which constituted her estate, in order that upon the eventuality of his death, "the rest, residue and remainder" thereof could be determined and correspondingly distributed or divided among her brothers and sisters. And it was precisely because no such liquidation was done, furthermore, there is the issue of whether the distribution of her estate should be governed by the laws of the Philippines or those of Texas, of which State she was a national, and, what is more, as already stated, Hodges made official and sworn statements or manifestations indicating that as far as he was concerned no "property interests passed to him as surviving spouse "except for purposes of administering the estate, paying debts, taxes and other legal charges" and it was the intention of the surviving husband of the deceased to distribute the remaining property and interests of the deceased in their Community Estate to the devisees and legatees named in the will when the debts, liabilities, taxes and expenses of administration are finally determined and paid", that the incidents and controversies now before Us for resolution arose. As may be observed, the situation that ensued upon the death of Hodges became rather unusual and so, quite understandably, the lower court's actuations presently under review are apparently wanting in consistency and seemingly lack proper orientation. Thus, We cannot discern clearly from the record before Us the precise perspective from which the trial court proceeded in issuing its questioned orders. And, regretably, none of the lengthy briefs submitted by the parties is of valuable assistance in clearing up the matter. To begin with, We gather from the two records on appeal filed by petitioner, as appellant in the appealed cases, one with green cover and the other with a yellow cover, that at the outset, a sort of modus operandi had been agreed upon by the parties under which the respective administrators of the two estates were supposed to act conjointly, but since no copy of the said agreement can be found in the record before Us, We have no way of knowing when exactly such agreement was entered into and under what specific terms. And while reference is made to said modus operandi in the order of September 11, 1964, on pages 205-206 of the Green Record on Appeal, reading thus: The present incident is to hear the side of administratrix, Miss Avelina A. Magno, in answer to the charges contained in the motion filed by Atty. Cesar Tirol on September 3, 1964. In answer to the said charges, Miss Avelina A. Magno, through her counsel, Atty. Rizal Quimpo, filed a written manifestation. After reading the manifestation here of Atty. Quimpo, for and in behalf of the administratrix, Miss Avelina A. Magno, the Court finds that everything that happened before September 3, 1964, which was resolved on September 8, 1964, to the satisfaction of parties, was simply due to a misunderstanding between the representative of the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank and Miss Magno and in order to restore the harmonious relations between the parties, the Court ordered the parties to remain in status quo as to their modus operandi before September 1, 1964, until after the Court can have a meeting with all the parties and their counsels on October 3, as formerly agreed upon between counsels, Attys. Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta, Attys. Tirol and Tirol and Atty. Rizal Quimpo. In the meantime, the prayers of Atty. Quimpo as stated in his manifestation shall not be resolved by this Court until October 3, 1964. SO ORDERED. there is nothing in the record indicating whatever happened to it afterwards, except that again, reference thereto was made in the appealed order of October 27, 1965, on pages 292-295 of the Green Record on Appeal, as follows: On record is an urgent motion to allow PCIB to open all doors and locks in the Hodges Office at 206-208 Guanco Street, Iloilo City, to take immediate and exclusive possession thereof and to place its own locks and keys for security purposes of the PCIB dated October 27, 1965 thru Atty. Cesar Tirol. It is alleged in said urgent motion that Administratrix Magno of the testate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges refused to open the Hodges Office at 206-208 Guanco Street, Iloilo City where PCIB holds office and therefore PCIB is suffering great moral damage and prejudice as a result of said act. It is prayed that an order be issued authorizing it (PCIB) to open all doors and locks in the said office, to take immediate and exclusive possession thereof and place thereon its own locks and keys for security purposes; instructing the clerk of court or any available deputy to witness and supervise the opening of all doors and locks and taking possession of the PCIB. A written opposition has been filed by Administratrix Magno of even date (Oct. 27) thru counsel Rizal Quimpo stating therein that she was compelled to close the office for the reason that the PCIB failed to comply with the order of this Court signed by Judge Anacleto I. Bellosillo dated September 11, 1964 to the effect that both estates should remain in status quo to their modus operandi as of September 1, 1964.

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Wills Testamentary Succession To arrive at a happy solution of the dispute and in order not to interrupt the operation of the office of both estates, the Court aside from the reasons stated in the urgent motion and opposition heard the verbal arguments of Atty. Cesar Tirol for the PCIB and Atty. Rizal Quimpo for Administratix Magno. After due consideration, the Court hereby orders Magno to open all doors and locks in the Hodges Office at 206-208 Guanco Street, Iloilo City in the presence of the PCIB or its duly authorized representative and deputy clerk of court Albis of this branch not later than 7:30 tomorrow morning October 28, 1965 in order that the office of said estates could operate for business. Pursuant to the order of this Court thru Judge Bellosillo dated September 11, 1964, it is hereby ordered: (a) That all cash collections should be deposited in the joint account of the estates of Linnie Jane Hodges and estates of C.N. Hodges; (b) That whatever cash collections that had been deposited in the account of either of the estates should be withdrawn and since then deposited in the joint account of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and the estate of C.N. Hodges; (c) That the PCIB should countersign the check in the amount of P250 in favor of Administratrix Avelina A. Magno as her compensation as administratrix of the Linnie Jane Hodges estate chargeable to the testate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges only; (d) That Administratrix Magno is hereby directed to allow the PCIB to inspect whatever records, documents and papers she may have in her possession in the same manner that Administrator PCIB is also directed to allow Administratrix Magno to inspect whatever records, documents and papers it may have in its possession; (e) That the accountant of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges shall have access to all records of the transactions of both estates for the protection of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges; and in like manner the accountant or any authorized representative of the estate of C.N. Hodges shall have access to the records of transactions of the Linnie Jane Hodges estate for the protection of the estate of C.N. Hodges. Once the estates' office shall have been opened by Administratrix Magno in the presence of the PCIB or its duly authorized representative and deputy clerk Albis or his duly authorized representative, both estates or any of the estates should not close it without previous consent and authority from this court. SO ORDERED. As may be noted, in this order, the respondent court required that all collections from the properties in the name of Hodges should be deposited in a joint account of the two estates, which indicates that seemingly the so-calledmodus operandi was no longer operative, but again there is nothing to show when this situation started. Likewise, in paragraph 3 of the petitioner's motion of September 14, 1964, on pages 188-201 of the Green Record on Appeal, (also found on pp. 83-91 of the Yellow Record on Appeal) it is alleged that: 3. On January 24, 1964 virtually all of the heirs of C.N. Hodges, Joe Hodges and Fernando P. Mirasol acting as the two co-administrators of the estate of C.N. Hodges, Avelina A. Magno acting as the administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and Messrs. William Brown and Ardell Young acting for all of the Higdon family who claim to be the sole beneficiaries of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and various legal counsel representing the aforementioned parties entered into an amicable agreement, which was approved by this Honorable Court, wherein the parties thereto agreed that certain sums of money were to be paid in settlement of different claims against the two estates and that the assets (to the extent they existed) of both estates would be administered jointly by the PCIB as administrator of the estate of C.N. Hodges and Avelina A. Magno as administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, subject, however, to the aforesaid October 5, 1963 Motion, namely, the PCIB's claim to exclusive possession and ownership of one hundred percent (100%) (or, in the alternative, seventyfive percent (75%) of all assets owned by C.N. Hodges or Linnie Jane Hodges situated in the Philippines. On February 1, 1964 (pp. 934-935, CFI Rec., S.P. No. 1672) this Honorable Court amended its order of January 24, 1964 but in no way changed its recognition of the afore-described basic demand by the PCIB as administrator of the estate of C.N. Hodges to one hundred percent (100%) of the assets claimed by both estates. but no copy of the mentioned agreement of joint administration of the two estates exists in the record, and so, We are not informed as to what exactly are the terms of the same which could be relevant in the resolution of the issues herein. On the other hand, the appealed order of November 3, 1965, on pages 313-320 of the Green Record on Appeal, authorized payment by respondent Magno of, inter alia, her own fees as administratrix, the attorney's fees of her lawyers, etc., as follows: Administratrix Magno thru Attys. Raul S. Manglapus and Rizal. R. Quimpo filed a Manifestation and Urgent Motion dated June 10, 1964 asking for the approval of the Agreement dated June 6, 1964 which Agreement is for the purpose of retaining their services to protect and defend the interest of the said Administratrix in these proceedings and the same has been signed by and bears the express conformity of the attorney-in-fact of the late Linnie Jane Hodges, Mr. James L. Sullivan. It is further prayed that the Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges be directed to pay the retailers fee of said lawyers, said fees made chargeable as expenses for the administration of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (pp. 1641-1642, Vol. V, Sp. 1307). An opposition has been filed by the Administrator PCIB thru Atty. Herminio Ozaeta dated July 11, 1964, on the ground that payment of the retainers fee of Attys. Manglapus and Quimpo as prayed for in said Manifestation and Urgent Motion is prejudicial to the 100% claim of the estate of C. N. Hodges; employment of Attys. Manglapus and Quimpo is premature and/or unnecessary; Attys. Quimpo and Manglapus are representing conflicting interests and the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges should be closed and terminated (pp. 1679-1684, Vol, V, Sp. 1307). Atty. Leon P. Gellada filed a memorandum dated July 28, 1964 asking that the Manifestation and Urgent Motion filed by Attys. Manglapus and Quimpo be denied because no evidence has been presented in support thereof. Atty. Manglapus filed a reply to the opposition of counsel for the Administrator of the C. N. Hodges estate wherein it is claimed that expenses of administration include reasonable counsel or attorney's fees for services to the executor or administrator. As a matter of fact the fee agreement dated February 27, 1964 between the PCIB and the law firm of Ozaeta, Gibbs & Ozaeta as its counsel (Pp. 1280-1284, Vol. V, Sp. 1307) which stipulates the fees for said law firm has been approved by the Court in its order dated March 31, 1964. If payment of the fees of the lawyers for

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Wills Testamentary Succession the administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges will cause prejudice to the estate of C. N. Hodges, in like manner the very agreement which provides for the payment of attorney's fees to the counsel for the PCIB will also be prejudicial to the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (pp. 1801-1814, Vol. V, Sp. 1307). Atty. Herminio Ozaeta filed a rejoinder dated August 10, 1964 to the reply to the opposition to the Manifestation and Urgent Motion alleging principally that the estates of Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges are not similarly situated for the reason that C. N. Hodges is an heir of Linnie Jane Hodges whereas the latter is not an heir of the former for the reason that Linnie Jane Hodges predeceased C. N. Hodges (pp. 1839-1848, Vol. V, Sp. 1307); that Attys. Manglapus and Quimpo formally entered their appearance in behalf of Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges on June 10, 1964 (pp. 1639-1640, Vol. V, Sp. 1307). Atty. Manglapus filed a manifestation dated December 18, 1964 stating therein that Judge Bellosillo issued an order requiring the parties to submit memorandum in support of their respective contentions. It is prayed in this manifestation that the Manifestation and Urgent Motion dated June 10, 1964 be resolved (pp. 6435-6439, Vol. VII, Sp. 1307). Atty. Roman Mabanta, Jr. for the PCIB filed a counter- manifestation dated January 5, 1965 asking that after the consideration by the court of all allegations and arguments and pleadings of the PCIB in connection therewith (1) said manifestation and urgent motion of Attys. Manglapus and Quimpo be denied (pp. 6442-6453, Vol. VII, Sp. 1307). Judge Querubin issued an order dated January 4, 1965 approving the motion dated June 10, 1964 of the attorneys for the administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and agreement annexed to said motion. The said order further states: "The Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges is authorized to issue or sign whatever check or checks may be necessary for the above purpose and the administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges is ordered to countersign the same. (pp. 6518-6523, Vol VII, Sp. 1307). Atty. Roman Mabanta, Jr. for the PCIB filed a manifestation and motion dated January 13, 1965 asking that the order of January 4, 1965 which was issued by Judge Querubin be declared null and void and to enjoin the clerk of court and the administratrix and administrator in these special proceedings from all proceedings and action to enforce or comply with the provision of the aforesaid order of January 4, 1965. In support of said manifestation and motion it is alleged that the order of January 4, 1965 is null and void because the said order was never delivered to the deputy clerk Albis of Branch V (the sala of Judge Querubin) and the alleged order was found in the drawer of the late Judge Querubin in his office when said drawer was opened on January 13, 1965 after the death of Judge Querubin by Perfecto Querubin, Jr., the son of the judge and in the presence of Executive Judge Rovira and deputy clerk Albis (Sec. 1, Rule 36, New Civil Code) (Pp. 6600-6606, Vol. VIII, Sp. 1307). Atty. Roman Mabanta, Jr. for the PCIB filed a motion for reconsideration dated February 23, 1965 asking that the order dated January 4, 1964 be reversed on the ground that: 1. Attorneys retained must render services to the estate not to the personal heir; 2. If services are rendered to both, fees should be pro-rated between them; 3. Attorneys retained should not represent conflicting interests; to the prejudice of the other heirs not represented by said attorneys; 4. Fees must be commensurate to the actual services rendered to the estate; 5. There must be assets in the estate to pay for said fees (Pp. 6625-6636, Vol. VIII, Sp. 1307). Atty. Quimpo for Administratrix Magno of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges filed a motion to submit dated July 15, 1965 asking that the manifestation and urgent motion dated June 10, 1964 filed by Attys. Manglapus and Quimpo and other incidents directly appertaining thereto be considered submitted for consideration and approval (pp. 6759-6765, Vol. VIII, Sp. 1307). Considering the arguments and reasons in support to the pleadings of both the Administratrix and the PCIB, and of Atty. Gellada, hereinbefore mentioned, the Court believes that the order of January 4, 1965 is null and void for the reason that the said order has not been filed with deputy clerk Albis of this court (Branch V) during the lifetime of Judge Querubin who signed the said order. However, the said manifestation and urgent motion dated June 10, 1964 is being treated and considered in this instant order. It is worthy to note that in the motion dated January 24, 1964 (Pp. 11491163, Vol. V, Sp. 1307) which has been filed by Atty. Gellada and his associates and Atty. Gibbs and other lawyers in addition to the stipulated fees for actual services rendered. However, the fee agreement dated February 27, 1964, between the Administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges and Atty. Gibbs which provides for retainer fee of P4,000 monthly in addition to specific fees for actual appearances, reimbursement for expenditures and contingent fees has also been approved by the Court and said lawyers have already been paid. (pp. 1273-1279, Vol. V, Sp. Proc. 1307 pp. 1372-1373, Vol. V, Sp. Proc. 1307). WHEREFORE, the order dated January 4, 1965 is hereby declared null and void. The manifestation and motion dated June 10, 1964 which was filed by the attorneys for the administratrix of the testate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges is granted and the agreement annexed thereto is hereby approved. The administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges is hereby directed to be needed to implement the approval of the agreement annexed to the motion and the administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges is directed to countersign the said check or checks as the case may be. SO ORDERED. thereby implying somehow that the court assumed the existence of independent but simultaneous administrations. Be that as it may, again, it appears that on August 6, 1965, the court, acting on a motion of petitioner for the approval of deeds of sale executed by it as administrator of the estate of Hodges, issued the following order, also on appeal herein: Acting upon the motion for approval of deeds of sale for registered land of the PCIB, Administrator of the Testate Estate of C. N. Hodges in Sp. Proc. 1672 (Vol. VII, pp. 2244-2245), dated July 16, 1965, filed by Atty. Cesar T. Tirol in representation of the law firms of Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta and Tirol and Tirol and the opposition thereto of Atty. Rizal R. Quimpo (Vol. VIII, pp. 6811-6813) dated July 22, 1965 and considering the allegations and

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Wills Testamentary Succession reasons therein stated, the court believes that the deeds of sale should be signed jointly by the PCIB, Administrator of the Testate Estate of C. N. Hodges and Avelina A. Magno, Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and to this effect the PCIB should take the necessary steps so that Administratrix Avelina A. Magno could sign the deeds of sale. SO ORDERED. (p. 248, Green Record on Appeal.) Notably this order required that even the deeds executed by petitioner, as administrator of the Estate of Hodges, involving properties registered in his name, should be co-signed by respondent Magno. 3 And this was not an isolated instance. In her brief as appellee, respondent Magno states: After the lower court had authorized appellee Avelina A. Magno to execute final deeds of sale pursuant to contracts to sell executed by C. N. Hodges on February 20, 1963 (pp. 45-46, Green ROA), motions for the approval of final deeds of sale (signed by appellee Avelina A. Magno and the administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges, first Joe Hodges, then Atty. Fernando Mirasol and later the appellant) were approved by the lower court upon petition of appellee Magno's counsel, Atty. Leon P. Gellada, on the basis of section 8 of Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court. Subsequently, the appellant, after it had taken over the bulk of the assets of the two estates, started presenting these motions itself. The first such attempt was a "Motion for Approval of Deeds of Sale for Registered Land and Cancellations of Mortgages" dated July 21, 1964 filed by Atty. Cesar T. Tirol, counsel for the appellant, thereto annexing two (2) final deeds of sale and two (2) cancellations of mortgages signed by appellee Avelina A. Magno and D. R. Paulino, Assistant Vice-President and Manager of the appellant (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, Vol. V, pp. 1694-1701). This motion was approved by the lower court on July 27, 1964. It was followed by another motion dated August 4, 1964 for the approval of one final deed of sale again signed by appellee Avelina A. Magno and D. R. Paulino (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307. Vol. V, pp. 1825-1828), which was again approved by the lower court on August 7, 1964. The gates having been opened, a flood ensued: the appellant subsequently filed similar motions for the approval of a multitude of deeds of sales and cancellations of mortgages signed by both the appellee Avelina A. Magno and the appellant. A random check of the records of Special Proceeding No. 1307 alone will show Atty. Cesar T. Tirol as having presented for court approval deeds of sale of real properties signed by both appellee Avelina A. Magno and D. R. Paulino in the following numbers: (a) motion dated September 21, 1964 6 deeds of sale; (b) motion dated November 4, 1964 1 deed of sale; (c) motion dated December 1, 1964 4 deeds of sale; (d) motion dated February 3, 1965 8 deeds of sale; (f) motion dated May 7, 1965 9 deeds of sale. In view of the very extensive landholdings of the Hodges spouses and the many motions filed concerning deeds of sale of real properties executed by C. N. Hodges the lower court has had to constitute special separate expedientes in Special Proceedings Nos. 1307 and 1672 to include mere motions for the approval of deeds of sale of the conjugal properties of the Hodges spouses. As an example, from among the very many, under date of February 3, 1965, Atty. Cesar T. Tirol, as counsel for the appellant, filed "Motion for Approval of Deeds of Sale for Registered Land and Cancellations of Mortgages" (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, Vol. VIII, pp. 6570-6596) the allegations of which read: "1. In his lifetime, the late C. N. Hodges executed "Contracts to Sell" real property, and the prospective buyers under said contracts have already paid the price and complied with the terms and conditions thereof; "2. In the course of administration of both estates, mortgage debtors have already paid their debts secured by chattel mortgages in favor of the late C. N. Hodges, and are now entitled to release therefrom; "3. There are attached hereto documents executed jointly by the Administratrix in Sp. Proc. No. 1307 and the Administrator in Sp. Proc. No. 1672, consisting of deeds of sale in favor Fernando Cano, Bacolod City, Occ. Negros Fe Magbanua, Iloilo City Policarpio M. Pareno, La Paz, Iloilo City Rosario T. Libre, Jaro, Iloilo City Federico B. Torres, Iloilo City Reynaldo T. Lataquin, La Paz, Iloilo City Anatolio T. Viray, Iloilo City Benjamin Rolando, Jaro, Iloilo City and cancellations of mortgages in favor of Pablo Manzano, Oton, Iloilo Ricardo M. Diana, Dao, San Jose, Antique Simplicio Tingson, Iloilo City Amado Magbanua, Pototan, Iloilo Roselia M. Baes, Bolo, Roxas City William Bayani, Rizal Estanzuela, Iloilo City Elpidio Villarete, Molo, Iloilo City Norma T. Ruiz, Jaro, Iloilo City "4. That the approval of the aforesaid documents will not reduce the assets of the estates so as to prevent any creditor from receiving his full debt or diminish his dividend." And the prayer of this motion is indeed very revealing: "WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that, under Rule 89, Section 8 of the Rules of Court, this honorable court approve the aforesaid deeds of sale and cancellations of mortgages." (Pp. 113-117, Appellee's Brief.) None of these assertions is denied in Petitioner's reply brief. Further indicating lack of concrete perspective or orientation on the part of the respondent court and its hesitancy to clear up matters promptly, in its other appealed order of November 23, 1965, on pages 334-335 of the Green Record on Appeal, said respondent court allowed the movant Ricardo Salas, President of appellee Western Institute of Technology (successor of Panay Educational Institutions, Inc.), one of the parties with whom Hodges had contracts that are in question in the appeals herein, to pay petitioner, as Administrator of the estate of Hodges and/or respondent Magno, as Administrator of the estate of Mrs. Hodges, thus: Considering that in both cases there is as yet no judicial declaration of heirs nor distribution of properties to whomsoever are entitled thereto, the Court believes that payment to both the administrator of the testate estate of C. N. Hodges and the administratrix of the testate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges or to either one of the two estates is proper and legal. WHEREFORE, movant Ricardo T. Salas can pay to both estates or either of them.

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Wills Testamentary Succession SO ORDERED. (Pp. 334-335, Green Record on Appeal.) On the other hand, as stated earlier, there were instances when respondent Magno was given authority to act alone. For instance, in the other appealed order of December 19, 1964, on page 221 of the Green Record on Appeal, the respondent court approved payments made by her of overtime pay to some employees of the court who had helped in gathering and preparing copies of parts of the records in both estates as follows: Considering that the expenses subject of the motion to approve payment of overtime pay dated December 10, 1964, are reasonable and are believed by this Court to be a proper charge of administration chargeable to the testate estate of the late Linnie Jane Hodges, the said expenses are hereby APPROVED and to be charged against the testate estate of the late Linnie Jane Hodges. The administrator of the testate estate of the late Charles Newton Hodges is hereby ordered to countersign the check or checks necessary to pay the said overtime pay as shown by the bills marked Annex "A", "B" and "C" of the motion. SO ORDERED. (Pp. 221-222, Green Record on Appeal.) Likewise, the respondent court approved deeds of sale executed by respondent Magno alone, as Administratrix of the estate of Mrs. Hodges, covering properties in the name of Hodges, pursuant to "contracts to sell" executed by Hodges, irrespective of whether they were executed by him before or after the death of his wife. The orders of this nature which are also on appeal herein are the following: 1. Order of March 30, 1966, on p. 137 of the Green Record on Appeal, approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellee Lorenzo Carles on February 24, 1966, pursuant to a "contract to sell" signed by Hodges on June 17, 1958, after the death of his wife, which contract petitioner claims was cancelled by it for failure of Carles to pay the installments due on January 7, 1965. Order of April 5, 1966, on pp. 139-140, id., approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellee Salvador Guzman on February 28, 1966 pursuant to a "contract to sell" signed by Hodges on September 13, 1960, after the death of his wife, which contract petitioner claims it cancelled on March 3, 1965 in view of failure of said appellee to pay the installments on time. Order of April 20, 1966, on pp. 167-168, id., approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellee Purificacion Coronado on March 28, 1966 pursuant to a "contract to sell" signed by Hodges on August 14, 1961, after the death of his wife. Order of April 20, 1966, on pp. 168-169, id., approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellee Florenia Barrido on March 28, 1966, pursuant to a "contract to sell" signed by Hodges on February 21, 1958, after the death of his wife. Order of June 7, 1966, on pp. 184-185, id., approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellee Belcezar Causing on May 2, 1966, pursuant to a "contract to sell" signed by Hodges on February 10, 1959, after the death of his wife.

6.

Order of June 21, 1966, on pp. 211-212, id., approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellee Artheo Thomas Jamir on June 3, 1966, pursuant to a "contract to sell" signed by Hodges on May 26, 1961, after the death of his wife. Order of June 21, 1966, on pp. 212-213, id., approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellees Graciano Lucero and Melquiades Batisanan on June 6 and June 3, 1966, respectively, pursuant to "contracts to sell" signed by Hodges on June 9, 1959 and November 27, 1961, respectively, after the death of his wife. Order of December 2, 1966, on pp. 303-304, id., approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellees Espiridion Partisala, Winifredo Espada and Rosario Alingasa on September 6, 1966, August 17, 1966 and August 3, 1966, respectively, pursuant to "contracts to sell" signed by Hodges on April 20, 1960, April 18, 1960 and August 25, 1958, respectively, that is, after the death of his wife. Order of April 5, 1966, on pp. 137-138, id., approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellee Alfredo Catedral on March 2, 1966, pursuant to a "contract to sell" signed by Hodges on May 29, 1954, before the death of his wife, which contract petitioner claims it had cancelled on February 16, 1966 for failure of appellee Catedral to pay the installments due on time. of April 5, 1966, on pp. 138-139, id., approving the deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellee Jose Pablico on March 7, 1966, pursuant to a "contract to sell" signed by Hodges on March 7, 1950, after the death of his wife, which contract petitioner claims it had cancelled on June 29, 1960, for failure of appellee Pablico to pay the installments due on time. deed of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellee Pepito Iyulores on September 6, 1966, pursuant to a "contract to sell" signed by Hodges on February 5, 1951, before the death of his wife.

7.

8.

9.

10. Order

11. Order of December 2, 1966, on pp. 303-304, id., insofar as it approved the

2.

12. Order of January 3, 1967, on pp. 335-336, id., approving three deeds of sale
executed by respondent Magno, one in favor of appellees Santiago Pacaonsis and two in favor of appellee Adelfa Premaylon on December 5, 1966 and November 3, 1966, respectively, pursuant to separate "promises to sell" signed respectively by Hodges on May 26, 1955 and January 30, 1954, before the death of his wife, and October 31, 1959, after her death. In like manner, there were also instances when respondent court approved deeds of sale executed by petitioner alone and without the concurrence of respondent Magno, and such approvals have not been the subject of any appeal. No less than petitioner points this out on pages 149-150 of its brief as appellant thus: The points of fact and law pertaining to the two abovecited assignments of error have already been discussed previously. In the first abovecited error, the order alluded to was general, and as already explained before, it was, as admitted by the lower court itself, superseded by the particular orders approving specific final deeds of sale executed by the appellee, Avelina A. Magno, which are subject of this appeal, as well as the particular orders approving specific final deeds of sale executed by the appellant, Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank, which were never appealed by the

3.

4.

5.

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Wills Testamentary Succession appellee, Avelina A. Magno, nor by any party for that matter, and which are now therefore final. Now, simultaneously with the foregoing incidents, others of more fundamental and all embracing significance developed. On October 5, 1963, over the signature of Atty. Allison J. Gibbs in representation of the law firm of Ozaeta, Gibbs & Ozaeta, as counsel for the co-administrators Joe Hodges and Fernando P. Mirasol, the following self-explanatory motion was filed: URGENT MOTION FOR AN ACCOUNTING AND DELIVERY TO ADMINISTRATION OF THE ESTATE OF C. N. HODGES OF ALL OF THE ASSETS OF THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP OF THE DECEASED LINNIE JANE HODGES AND C N. HODGES EXISTING AS OF MAY 23, 1957 PLUS ALL THE RENTS, EMOLUMENTS AND INCOME THEREFROM. COMES NOW the co-administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges, Joe Hodges, through his undersigned attorneys in the above-entitled proceedings, and to this Honorable Court respectfully alleges: (1) On May 23, 1957 Linnie Jane Hodges died in Iloilo City. (2) On June 28, 1957 this Honorable Court admitted to probate the Last Will and Testament of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges executed November 22, 1952 and appointed C. N. Hodges as Executor of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (pp. 24-25, Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307). (3) On July 1, 1957 this Honorable Court issued Letters Testamentary to C. N. Hodges in the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (p. 30, Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307). (4) On December 14, 1957 this Honorable Court, on the basis of the following allegations in a Motion dated December 11, 1957 filed by Leon P. Gellada as attorney for the executor C. N. Hodges: "That herein Executor, (is) not only part owner of the properties left as conjugal, but also,the successor to all the properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges." (p. 44, Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307; emphasis supplied.) issued the following order: "As prayed for by Attorney Gellada, counsel for the Executory, for the reasons stated in his motion dated December 11, 1957 which the court considers well taken, all the sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of all properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges are hereby APPROVED. The said executor is further authorized to execute subsequent sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of the properties left by the said deceased Linnie Jane Hodges in consonance with the wishes contained in the last will and testament of the latter." (p. 46, Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307; emphasis supplied.) (5) On April 21, 1959 this Honorable Court approved the inventory and accounting submitted by C. N. Hodges through his counsel Leon P. Gellada on April 14, 1959 wherein he alleged among other things "That no person interested in the Philippines of the time and place of examining the herein account, be given notice, as herein executor is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased, in accordance with the last will and testament already probated by the Honorable Court." (pp. 77-78, Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307; emphasis supplied.). (6) On July 30, 1960 this Honorable Court approved the "Annual Statement of Account" submitted by C. N. Hodges through his counsel Leon P. Gellada on July 21, 1960 wherein he alleged among other things: "That no person interested in the Philippines of the time and place of examining the herein account, be given notice as herein executor is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, in accordance with the last will and testament of the deceased, already probated by this Honorable Court." (pp. 81-82. Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307; emphasis supplied.) (7) On May 2, 1961 this Honorable court approved the "Annual Statement of Account By The Executor for the Year 1960" submitted through Leon P. Gellada on April 20, 1961 wherein he alleged: That no person interested in the Philippines be given notice, of the time and place of examining the herein account, as herein Executor is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, in accordance with the last will and testament of the deceased, already probated by this Honorable Court. (pp. 90-91. Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307; emphasis supplied.) (8) On December 25, 1962, C.N. Hodges died. (9) On December 25, 1962, on the Urgent Ex-parte Motion of Leon P. Gellada filed only in Special Proceeding No. 1307, this Honorable Court appointed Avelina A. Magno "Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and as Special Administratrix of the estate of Charles Newton Hodges, in the latter case, because the last will of said Charles Newton Hodges is still kept in his vault or iron safe and that the real and personal properties of both spouses may be lost, damaged or go to waste, unless a Special Administratrix is appointed." (p. 100. Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307) (10) On December 26, 1962 Letters of Administration were issued to Avelina Magno pursuant to this Honorable Court's aforesaid Order of December 25, 1962 "With full authority to take possession of all the property of said deceased in any province or provinces in which it may be situated and to perform all other acts necessary for the preservation of said property, said Administratrix and/or Special Administratrix having filed a bond satisfactory to the Court." (p. 102, Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307) (11) On January 22, 1963 this Honorable Court on petition of Leon P. Gellada of January 21, 1963 issued Letters of Administration to: (a) Avelina A. Magno as Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges; (b) Avelina A. Magno as Special Administratrix of the Estate of Charles Newton Hodges; and (c) Joe Hodges as Co-Special Administrator of the Estate of Charles Newton Hodges. (p. 43, Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307)

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Wills Testamentary Succession (12) On February 20, 1963 this Honorable Court on the basis of a motion filed by Leon P. Gellada as legal counsel on February 16, 1963 for Avelina A. Magno acting as Administratrix of the Estate of Charles Newton Hodges (pp. 114-116, Sp. Proc. 1307) issued the following order: "... se autoriza a aquella (Avelina A. Magno) a firmar escrituras de venta definitiva de propiedades cubiertas por contratos para vender, firmados, en vida, por el finado Charles Newton Hodges, cada vez que el precio estipulado en cada contrato este totalmente pagado. Se autoriza igualmente a la misma a firmar escrituras de cancelacion de hipoteca tanto de bienes reales como personales cada vez que la consideracion de cada hipoteca este totalmente pagada. "Cada una de dichas escrituras que se otorguen debe ser sometida para la aprobacion de este Juzgado." (p. 117, Sp. Proc. 1307). [Par 1 (c), Reply to Motion For Removal of Joe Hodges] (13) On September l6, 1963 Leon P. Gellada, acting as attorney for Avelina A. Magno as Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, alleges: 3. That since January, 1963, both estates of Linnie Jane Hodges and Charles Newton Hodges have been receiving in full, payments for those "contracts to sell" entered into by C. N. Hodges during his lifetime, and the purchasers have been demanding the execution of definite deeds of sale in their favor. 4. That hereto attached are thirteen (13) copies deeds of sale executed by the Administratrix and by the co-administrator (Fernando P. Mirasol) of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and Charles Newton Hodges respectively, in compliance with the terms and conditions of the respective "contracts to sell" executed by the parties thereto." (14) The properties involved in the aforesaid motion of September 16, 1963 are all registered in the name of the deceased C. N. Hodges. (15) Avelina A. Magno, it is alleged on information and belief, has been advertising in the newspaper in Iloilo thusly: For Sale Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and Charles Newton Hodges. All Real Estate or Personal Property will be sold on First Come First Served Basis. Avelina A. Magno Administratrix (16) Avelina A. Magno, it is alleged on information and belief, has paid and still is paying sums of money to sundry persons. (17) Joe Hodges through the undersigned attorneys manifested during the hearings before this Honorable Court on September 5 and 6, 1963 that the estate of C. N. Hodges was claiming all of the assets belonging to the deceased spouses Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges situated in Philippines because of the aforesaid election by C. N. Hodges wherein he claimed and took possession as sole owner of all of said assets during the administration of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges on the ground that he was the sole devisee and legatee under her Last Will and Testament. (18) Avelina A. Magno has submitted no inventory and accounting of her administration as Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and Special Administratrix of the estate of C. N. Hodges. However, from manifestations made by Avelina A. Magno and her legal counsel, Leon P. Gellada, there is no question she will claim that at least fifty per cent (50%) of the conjugal assets of the deceased spouses and the rents, emoluments and income therefrom belong to the Higdon family who are named in paragraphs Fourth and Fifth of the Will of Linnie Jane Hodges (p. 5, Rec. Sp. Proc. 1307). WHEREFORE, premises considered, movant respectfully prays that this Honorable Court, after due hearing, order: (1) Avelina A. Magno to submit an inventory and accounting of all of the funds, properties and assets of any character belonging to the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges which have come into her possession, with full details of what she has done with them; (2) Avelina A. Magno to turn over and deliver to the Administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges all of the funds, properties and assets of any character remaining in her possession; (3) Pending this Honorable Court's adjudication of the aforesaid issues, Avelina A. Magno to stop, unless she first secures the conformity of Joe Hodges (or his duly authorized representative, such as the undersigned attorneys) as the Co-administrator and attorney-in-fact of a majority of the beneficiaries of the estate of C. N. Hodges: (a) Advertising the sale and the sale of the properties of the estates: (b) Employing personnel and paying them any compensation. (4) Such other relief as this Honorable Court may deem just and equitable in the premises. (Annex "T", Petition.) Almost a year thereafter, or on September 14, 1964, after the co-administrators Joe Hodges and Fernando P. Mirasol were replaced by herein petitioner Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank as sole administrator, pursuant to an agreement of all the heirs of Hodges approved by the court, and because the above motion of October 5, 1963 had not yet been heard due to the absence from the country of Atty. Gibbs, petitioner filed the following: MANIFESTATION AND MOTION, INCLUDING MOTION TO SET FOR HEARING AND RESOLVE "URGENT MOTION FOR AN ACCOUNTING AND DELIVERY TO ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF C. N. HODGES OF ALL THE ASSETS OF THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP OF THE DECEASED LINNIE JANE HODGES AND C. N. HODGES EXISTING AS OF MAY 23, 1957 PLUS ALL OF THE RENTS, EMOLUMENTS AND INCOME THEREFROM OF OCTOBER 5, 1963. COMES NOW Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank (hereinafter referred to as PCIB), the administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges, deceased, in Special Proceedings No. 1672, through its undersigned counsel, and to this Honorable Court respectfully alleges that: 1. On October 5, 1963, Joe Hodges acting as the co-administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges filed, through the undersigned attorneys, an "Urgent Motion For An Accounting and Delivery To Administrator of the Estate of C.

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Wills Testamentary Succession N. Hodges of all Of The Assets Of The Conjugal Partnership of The Deceased Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges Existing as Of May, 23, 1957 Plus All Of The Rents, Emoluments and Income Therefrom" (pp. 536-542, CFI Rec. S. P. No. 1672). 2. On January 24, 1964 this Honorable Court, on the basis of an amicable agreement entered into on January 23, 1964 by the two co-administrators of the estate of C. N. Hodges and virtually all of the heirs of C. N. Hodges (p. 912, CFI Rec., S. P. No. 1672), resolved the dispute over who should act as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges by appointing the PCIB as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges (pp. 905-906, CFI Rec. S. P. No. 1672) and issuing letters of administration to the PCIB. 3. On January 24, 1964 virtually all of the heirs of C. N. Hodges, Joe Hodges and Fernando P. Mirasol acting as the two co-administrators of the estate of C. N. Hodges, Avelina A. Magno acting as the administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, and Messrs. William Brown and Ardel Young Acting for all of the Higdon family who claim to be the sole beneficiaries of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and various legal counsel representing the aforenamed parties entered into an amicable agreement, which was approved by this Honorable Court, wherein the parties thereto agreed that certain sums of money were to be paid in settlement of different claims against the two estates and that the assets (to the extent they existed)of both estates would be administrated jointly by the PCIB as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges and Avelina A. Magno as administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, subject, however, to the aforesaid October 5, 1963 Motion, namely, the PCIB's claim to exclusive possession and ownership of one-hundred percent (10017,) (or, in the alternative, seventyfive percent [75%] of all assets owned by C. N. Hodges or Linnie Jane Hodges situated in the Philippines. On February 1, 1964 (pp. 934-935, CFI Rec., S. P. No. 1672) this Honorable Court amended its order of January 24, 1964 but in no way changes its recognition of the aforedescribed basic demand by the PCIB as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges to one hundred percent (100%) of the assets claimed by both estates. 4. On February 15, 1964 the PCIB filed a "Motion to Resolve" the aforesaid Motion of October 5, 1963. This Honorable Court set for hearing on June 11, 1964 the Motion of October 5, 1963. 5. On June 11, 1964, because the undersigned Allison J. Gibbs was absent in the United States, this Honorable Court ordered the indefinite postponement of the hearing of the Motion of October 5, 1963. 6. Since its appointment as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges the PCIB has not been able to properly carry out its duties and obligations as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges because of the following acts, among others, of Avelina A. Magno and those who claim to act for her as administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges: (a) Avelina A. Magno illegally acts as if she is in exclusive control of all of the assets in the Philippines of both estates including those claimed by the estate of C. N. Hodges as evidenced in part by her locking the premises at 206-208 Guanco Street, Iloilo City on August 31, 1964 and refusing to reopen same until ordered to do so by this Honorable Court on September 7, 1964. (b) Avelina A. Magno illegally acts as though she alone may decide how the assets of the estate of C.N. Hodges should be administered, who the PCIB shall employ and how much they may be paid as evidenced in party by her refusal to sign checks issued by the PCIB payable to the undersigned counsel pursuant to their fee agreement approved by this Honorable Court in its order dated March 31, 1964. (c) Avelina A. Magno illegally gives access to and turns over possession of the records and assets of the estate of C.N. Hodges to the attorney-in-fact of the Higdon Family, Mr. James L. Sullivan, as evidenced in part by the cashing of his personal checks. (d) Avelina A. Magno illegally refuses to execute checks prepared by the PCIB drawn to pay expenses of the estate of C. N. Hodges as evidenced in part by the check drawn to reimburse the PCIB's advance of P48,445.50 to pay the 1964 income taxes reported due and payable by the estate of C.N. Hodges. 7. Under and pursuant to the orders of this Honorable Court, particularly those of January 24 and February 1, 1964, and the mandate contained in its Letters of Administration issued on January 24, 1964 to the PCIB, it has "full authority to take possession of all the property of the deceased C. N. Hodges "and to perform all other acts necessary for the preservation of said property." (p. 914, CFI Rec., S.P. No. 1672.) 8. As administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges, the PCIB claims the right to the immediate exclusive possession and control of all of the properties, accounts receivables, court cases, bank accounts and other assets, including the documentary records evidencing same, which existed in the Philippines on the date of C. N. Hodges' death, December 25, 1962, and were in his possession and registered in his name alone. The PCIB knows of no assets in the Philippines registered in the name of Linnie Jane Hodges, the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, or, C. N. Hodges, Executor of the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges on December 25, 1962. All of the assets of which the PCIB has knowledge are either registered in the name of C. N. Hodges, alone or were derived therefrom since his death on December 25, 1962. 9. The PCIB as the current administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges, deceased, succeeded to all of the rights of the previously duly appointed administrators of the estate of C. N. Hodges, to wit: (a) On December 25, 1962, date of C. N. Hodges' death, this Honorable Court appointed Miss Avelina A. Magno simultaneously as: (i) Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (p. 102, CFI Rec., S.P. No. 1307) to replace the deceased C. N. Hodges who on May 28, 1957 was appointed Special Administrator (p. 13. CFI Rec. S.P. No. 1307) and on July 1, 1957 Executor of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (p. 30, CFI Rec., S. P. No. 1307). (ii) Special Administratrix of the estate of C. N. Hodges (p. 102, CFI Rec., S.P. No. 1307). (b) On December 29, 1962 this Honorable Court appointed Harold K. Davies as co-special administrator of the estate of C.N. Hodges along with Avelina A. Magno (pp. 108-111, CFI Rec., S. P. No. 1307). (c) On January 22, 1963, with the conformity of Avelina A. Magno, Harold K. Davies resigned in favor of Joe Hodges (pp. 35-36, CFI

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Wills Testamentary Succession Rec., S.P. No. 1672) who thereupon was appointed on January 22, 1963 by this Honorable Court as special co-administrator of the estate of C.N. Hodges (pp. 38-40 & 43, CFI Rec. S.P. No. 1672) along with Miss Magno who at that time was still acting as special co-administratrix of the estate of C. N. Hodges. (d) On February 22, 1963, without objection on the part of Avelina A. Magno, this Honorable Court appointed Joe Hodges and Fernando P. Mirasol as co-administrators of the estate of C.N. Hodges (pp. 76-78, 81 & 85, CFI Rec., S.P. No. 1672). 10. Miss Avelina A. Magno, pursuant to the orders of this Honorable Court of December 25, 1962, took possession of all Philippine Assets now claimed by the two estates. Legally, Miss Magno could take possession of the assets registered in the name of C. N. Hodges alone only in her capacity as Special Administratrix of the Estate of C.N. Hodges. With the appointment by this Honorable Court on February 22, 1963 of Joe Hodges and Fernando P. Mirasol as the co-administrators of the estate of C.N. Hodges, they legally were entitled to take over from Miss Magno the full and exclusive possession of all of the assets of the estate of C.N. Hodges. With the appointment on January 24, 1964 of the PCIB as the sole administrator of the estate of C.N. Hodges in substitution of Joe Hodges and Fernando P. Mirasol, the PCIB legally became the only party entitled to the sole and exclusive possession of all of the assets of the estate of C. N. Hodges. 11. The PCIB's predecessors submitted their accounting and this Honorable Court approved same, to wit: (a) The accounting of Harold K. Davies dated January 18, 1963 (pp. 16-33, CFI Rec. S.P. No. 1672); which shows or its face the: (i) Conformity of Avelina A. Magno acting as "Administratrix of the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and Special Administratrix of the Estate of C. N. Hodges"; (ii) Conformity of Leslie Echols, a Texas lawyer acting for the heirs of C.N. Hodges; and (iii) Conformity of William Brown, a Texas lawyer acting for the Higdon family who claim to be the only heirs of Linnie Jane Hodges (pp. 18, 25-33, CFI Rec., S. P. No. 1672). Note: This accounting was approved by this Honorable Court on January 22, 1963 (p. 34, CFI Rec., S. P. No. 1672). (b) The accounting of Joe Hodges and Fernando P. Mirasol as of January 23, 1964, filed February 24, 1964 (pp. 990-1000, CFI Rec. S.P. No. 1672 and pp. 1806-1848, CFI Rec. S.P. No. 1307). Note: This accounting was approved by this Honorable Court on March 3, 1964. (c) The PCIB and its undersigned lawyers are aware of no report or accounting submitted by Avelina A. Magno of her acts as administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges or special administratrix of the estate of C.N. Hodges, unless it is the accounting of Harold K. Davies as special co-administrator of the estate of C.N. Hodges dated January 18, 1963 to which Miss Magno manifested her conformity (supra). 12. In the aforesaid agreement of January 24, 1964, Miss Avelina A. Magno agreed to receive P10,000.00 "for her services as administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges" and in addition she agreed to be employed, starting February 1, 1964, at "a monthly salary of P500.00 for her services as an employee of both estates." 24 ems. 13. Under the aforesaid agreement of January 24, 1964 and the orders of this Honorable Court of same date, the PCIB as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges is entitled to the exclusive possession of all records, properties and assets in the name of C. N. Hodges as of the date of his death on December 25, 1962 which were in the possession of the deceased C. N. Hodges on that date and which then passed to the possession of Miss Magno in her capacity as Special Co-Administratrix of the estate of C. N. Hodges or the possession of Joe Hodges or Fernando P. Mirasol as coadministrators of the estate of C. N. Hodges. 14. Because of Miss Magno's refusal to comply with the reasonable request of PCIB concerning the assets of the estate of C. N. Hodges, the PCIB dismissed Miss Magno as an employee of the estate of C. N. Hodges effective August 31, 1964. On September 1, 1964 Miss Magno locked the premises at 206-208 Guanco Street and denied the PCIB access thereto. Upon the Urgent Motion of the PCIB dated September 3, 1964, this Honorable Court on September 7, 1964 ordered Miss Magno to reopen the aforesaid premises at 206-208 Guanco Street and permit the PCIB access thereto no later than September 8, 1964. 15. The PCIB pursuant to the aforesaid orders of this Honorable Court is again in physical possession of all of the assets of the estate of C. N. Hodges. However, the PCIB is not in exclusive control of the aforesaid records, properties and assets because Miss Magno continues to assert the claims hereinabove outlined in paragraph 6, continues to use her own locks to the doors of the aforesaid premises at 206-208 Guanco Street, Iloilo City and continues to deny the PCIB its right to know the combinations to the doors of the vault and safes situated within the premises at 206-208 Guanco Street despite the fact that said combinations were known to only C. N. Hodges during his lifetime. 16. The Philippine estate and inheritance taxes assessed the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges were assessed and paid on the basis that C. N. Hodges is the sole beneficiary of the assets of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges situated in the Philippines. Avelina A. Magno and her legal counsel at no time have questioned the validity of the aforesaid assessment and the payment of the corresponding Philippine death taxes. 17. Nothing further remains to be done in the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges except to resolve the aforesaid Motion of October 5, 1963 and grant the PCIB the exclusive possession and control of all of the records, properties and assets of the estate of C. N. Hodges. 18. Such assets as may have existed of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges were ordered by this Honorable Court in special Proceedings No. 1307 to be turned over and delivered to C. N. Hodges alone. He in fact took possession of them before his death and asserted and exercised the right of exclusive ownership over the said assets as the sole beneficiary of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges.

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Wills Testamentary Succession WHEREFORE, premises considered, the PCIB respectfully petitions that this Honorable court: (1) Set the Motion of October 5, 1963 for hearing at the earliest possible date with notice to all interested parties; (2) Order Avelina A. Magno to submit an inventory and accounting as Administratrix of the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and Co-Administratrix of the Estate of C. N. Hodges of all of the funds, properties and assets of any character belonging to the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges which have come into her possession, with full details of what she has done with them; (3) Order Avelina A. Magno to turn over and deliver to the PCIB as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges all of the funds, properties and assets of any character remaining in her possession; (4) Pending this Honorable Court's adjudication of the aforesaid issues, order Avelina A. Magno and her representatives to stop interferring with the administration of the estate of C. N. Hodges by the PCIB and its duly authorized representatives; (5) Enjoin Avelina A. Magno from working in the premises at 206-208 Guanco Street, Iloilo City as an employee of the estate of C. N. Hodges and approve her dismissal as such by the PCIB effective August 31, 1964; (6) Enjoin James L. Sullivan, Attorneys Manglapus and Quimpo and others allegedly representing Miss Magno from entering the premises at 206-208 Guanco Street, Iloilo City or any other properties of C. N. Hodges without the express permission of the PCIB; (7) Order such other relief as this Honorable Court finds just and equitable in the premises. (Annex "U" Petition.) On January 8, 1965, petitioner also filed a motion for "Official Declaration of Heirs of Linnie Jane Hodges Estate" alleging: COMES NOW Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank (hereinafter referred to as PCIB), as administrator of the estate of the late C. N. Hodges, through the undersigned counsel, and to this Honorable Court respectfully alleges that: 1. During their marriage, spouses Charles Newton Hodges and Linnie Jane Hodges, American citizens originally from the State of Texas, U.S.A., acquired and accumulated considerable assets and properties in the Philippines and in the States of Texas and Oklahoma, United States of America. All said properties constituted their conjugal estate. 2. Although Texas was the domicile of origin of the Hodges spouses, this Honorable Court, in its orders dated March 31 and December 12, 1964 (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, pp. ----; Sp. Proc. No. 1672, p. ----), conclusively found and categorically ruled that said spouses had lived and worked for more than 50 years in Iloilo City and had, therefore, acquired a domicile of choice in said city, which they retained until the time of their respective deaths. 3. On November 22, 1952, Linnie Jane Hodges executed in the City of Iloilo her Last Will and Testament, a copy of which is hereto attached as Annex "A". The bequests in said will pertinent to the present issue are the second, third, and fourth provisions, which we quote in full hereunder. SECOND: I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both personal and real, wherever situated, or located, to my husband, Charles Newton Hodges, to have and to hold unto him, my said husband during his natural lifetime. THIRD: I desire, direct and provide that my husband, Charles Newton Hodges, shall have the right to manage, control, use and enjoy said estate during his lifetime, and he is hereby given the right to make any changes in the physical properties of said estate by sale of any part thereof which he think best, and the purchase of any other or additional property as he may think best; to execute conveyances with or without general or special warranty, conveying in fee simple or for any other term or time, any property which he may deem proper to dispose of; to lease any of the real property for oil, gas and/or other minerals, and all such deeds or leases shall pass the absolute fee simple title to the interest so conveyed in such property as he may elect to sell. All rents, emoluments and income from said estate shall belong to him, and he is further authorized to use any part of the principal of said estate as he may need or desire. It is provided herein, however, that he shall not sell or otherwise dispose of any of the improved property now owned by us located at, in or near the City of Lubbock, Texas, but he shall have the full right to lease, manage and enjoy the same during his lifetime, as above provided. He shall have the right to sub-divide any farmland and sell lots therein, and may sell unimproved town lots. FOURTH: At the death of my said husband, Charles Newton Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate both real and personal, wherever situated or located, to be equally divided among my brothers and sisters, share and share alike, namely: "Esta Higdon, Emma Howell, Leonard Higdon, Roy Higdon, Sadie Rascoe, Era Boman and Nimray Higdon." 4. On November 14, 1953, C. N. Hodges executed in the City of Iloilo his Last Will and Testament, a copy of which is hereto attached as Annex "B ". In said Will, C. N. Hodges designated his wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, as his beneficiary using the identical language she used in the second and third provisos of her Will, supra. 5. On May 23, 1957 Linnie Jane Hodges died in Iloilo City, predeceasing her husband by more than five (5) years. At the time of her death, she had no forced or compulsory heir, except her husband, C. N. Hodges. She was survived also by various brothers and sisters mentioned in her Will (supra), which, for convenience, we shall refer to as the HIGDONS. 6. On June 28, 1957, this Honorable Court admitted to probate the Last Will and Testament of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges (Annex "A"), and appointed C. N. Hodges as executor of her estate without bond. (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, pp. 24-25). On July 1, 1957, this Honorable Court issued letters testamentary to C. N. Hodges in the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, p. 30.) 7. The Will of Linnie Jane Hodges, with respect to the order of succession, the amount of successional rights, and the intrinsic of its testamentary provisions, should be governed by Philippine laws because: (a) The testatrix, Linnie Jane Hodges, intended Philippine laws to govern her Will;

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Wills Testamentary Succession (b) Article 16 of the Civil Code provides that "the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found", shall prevail. However, the Conflict of Law of Texas, which is the "national law" of the testatrix, Linnie Jane Hodges, provide that the domiciliary law (Philippine law see paragraph 2, supra) should govern the testamentary dispositions and successional rights over movables (personal properties), and the law of the situs of the property (also Philippine law as to properties located in the Philippines) with regards immovable (real properties). Thus applying the "Renvoi Doctrine", as approved and applied by our Supreme Court in the case of "In The Matter Of The Testate Estate of Eduard E. Christensen", G.R. No. L-16749, promulgated January 31, 1963, Philippine law should apply to the Will of Linnie Jane Hodges and to the successional rights to her estate insofar as her movable andimmovable assets in the Philippines are concerned. We shall not, at this stage, discuss what law should govern the assets of Linnie Jane Hodges located in Oklahoma and Texas, because the only assets in issue in this motion are those within the jurisdiction of this motion Court in the two above-captioned Special Proceedings. 8. Under Philippine and Texas law, the conjugal or community estate of spouses shall, upon dissolution, be divided equally between them. Thus, upon the death of Linnie Jane Hodges on May 23, 1957, one-half (1/2) of the entirety of the assets of the Hodges spouses constituting their conjugal estate pertained automatically to Charles Newton Hodges, not by way of inheritance, but in his own right as partner in the conjugal partnership. The other one-half (1/2) portion of the conjugal estate constituted the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. This is the only portion of the conjugal estate capable of inheritance by her heirs. 9. This one-half (1/2) portion of the conjugal assets pertaining to Linnie Jane Hodges cannot, under a clear and specific provision of her Will, be enhanced or increased by income, earnings, rents, or emoluments accruing after her death on May 23, 1957. Linnie Jane Hodges' Will provides that "all rents, emoluments and income from said estate shall belong to him (C. N. Hodges) and he is further authorized to use any part of the principal of said estate as he may need or desire." (Paragraph 3, Annex "A".) Thus, by specific provision of Linnie Jane Hodges' Will, "all rents, emoluments and income" must be credited to the one-half (1/2) portion of the conjugal estate pertaining to C. N. Hodges. Clearly, therefore, the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, capable of inheritance by her heirs, consisted exclusively of no more than one-half (1/2) of the conjugal estate, computed as of the time of her death on May 23, 1957. 10. Articles 900, 995 and 1001 of the New Civil Code provide that the surviving spouse of a deceased leaving no ascendants or descendants is entitled, as a matter of right and by way of irrevocable legitime, to at least 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 surviving spouse. In fact, her husband is entitled to said one-half (1/2) portion of her estate by way of legitime. (Article 886, Civil Code.) Clearly, therefore, immediately upon the death of Linnie Jane Hodges, C. N. Hodges was the owner of at least three-fourths (3/4) or seventy-five (75%) percent of all of the conjugal assets of the spouses, (1/2 or 50% by way of conjugal partnership share and 1/4 or 25% by way of inheritance and legitime) plus all "rents, emoluments and income" accruing to said conjugal estate from the moment of Linnie Jane Hodges' death (see paragraph 9, supra). 11. The late Linnie Jane Hodges designated her husband C.N. Hodges as her sole and exclusive heir with full authority to do what he pleased, as exclusive heir and owner of all the assets constituting her estate, except only with regards certain properties "owned by us, located at, in or near the City of Lubbock, Texas". Thus, even without relying on our laws of succession and legitime, which we have cited above, C. N. Hodges, by specific testamentary designation of his wife, was entitled to the entirely to his wife's estate in the Philippines. 12. Article 777 of the New Civil Code provides that "the rights of the successor are transmitted from the death of the decedent". Thus, title to the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges was transmitted to C. N. Hodges immediately upon her death on May 23, 1957. For the convenience of this Honorable Court, we attached hereto as Annex "C" a graph of how the conjugal estate of the spouses Hodges should be divided in accordance with Philippine law and the Will of Linnie Jane Hodges. 13. In his capacity as sole heir and successor to the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges as above-stated, C. N. Hodges, shortly after the death of Linnie Jane Hodges, appropriated to himself the entirety of her estate. He operated all the assets, engaged in business and performed all acts in connection with the entirety of the conjugal estate, in his own name alone, just as he had been operating, engaging and doing while the late Linnie Jane Hodges was still alive. Upon his death on December 25, 1962, therefore, all said conjugal assets were in his sole possession and control, and registered in his name alone, not as executor, but as exclusive owner of all said assets. 14. All these acts of C. N. Hodges were authorized and sanctioned expressly and impliedly by various orders of this Honorable Court, as follows: (a) In an Order dated May 27, 1957, this Honorable Court ruled that C. N. Hodges "is allowed or authorized to continue the business in which he was engaged, and to perform acts which he had been doing while the deceased was living." (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, p. 11.) (b) On December 14, 1957, this Honorable Court, on the basis of the following fact, alleged in the verified Motion dated December 11, 1957 filed by Leon P. Gellada as attorney for the executor C. N. Hodges: That herein Executor, (is) not only part owner of the properties left as conjugal, but also, the successor to all the properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges.' (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, p. 44; emphasis supplied.) issued the following order: "As prayed for by Attorney Gellada, counsel for the Executor, for the reasons stated in his motion dated December 11, 1957, which the Court considers well taken, all the sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of all the properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges executed by the Executor, Charles Newton Hodges are hereby APPROVED. The said Executor is further authorized to execute subsequent sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of the properties left by the said deceased Linnie Jane Hodges in consonance with the wishes contained in the last will and testament of the latter." (CFI Record. Sp. Proc. No. 1307, p. 46; emphasis supplied.)

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Wills Testamentary Succession 24 ems (c) On April 21, 1959, this Honorable Court approved the verified inventory and accounting submitted by C. N. Hodges through his counsel Leon P. Gellada on April 14, 1959 wherein he alleged among other things, "That no person interested in the Philippines of the time and place of examining the herein account, be given notice, as herein executor is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased, in accordance with the last will and testament already probated by the Honorable Court." (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, pp. 77-78; emphasis supplied.) (d) On July 20, 1960, this Honorable Court approved the verified "Annual Statement of Account" submitted by C. N. Hodges through his counsel Leon P. Gellada on July 21, 1960 wherein he alleged, among other things. "That no person interested in the Philippines of the time and place of examining the herein account, be given notice as herein executor is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, in accordance with the last will and testament ofthe deceased, already probated by this Honorable Court." (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, pp. 81-82; emphasis supplied.) (e) On May 2, 1961, this Honorable Court approved the verified "Annual Statement of Account By The Executor For the Year 1960" submitted through Leon P. Gellada on April 20, 1961 wherein he alleged: "That no person interested in the Philippines be given notice, ofthe time and place of examining the herein account, as herein executor is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, in accordance with the last will and testament ofthe deceased, already probated by this Honorable Court." (CFI Record, Sp. Proc. No. 1307, pp. 90-91; emphasis supplied.) 15. Since C. N. Hodges was the sole and exclusive heir of Linnie Jane Hodges, not only by law, but in accordance with the dispositions of her will, there was, in fact, no need to liquidate the conjugal estate of the spouses. The entirely of said conjugal estate pertained to him exclusively, therefore this Honorable Court sanctioned and authorized, as above-stated, C. N. Hodges to manage, operate and control all the conjugal assets as owner. 16. By expressly authorizing C. N. Hodges to act as he did in connection with the estate of his wife, this Honorable Court has (1) declared C. N. Hodges as the sole heir of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, and (2) delivered and distributed her estate to C. N. Hodges as sole heir in accordance with the terms and conditions of her Will. Thus, although the "estate of Linnie Jane Hodges" still exists as a legal and juridical personality, it had no assets or properties located in the Philippines registered in its name whatsoever at the time of the death of C. N. Hodges on December 25, 1962. 17. The Will of Linnie Jane Hodges (Annex "A"), fourth paragraph, provides as follows: "At the death of my said husband, Charles Newton Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate both real and personal, wherever situated or located, to be equally divided among my brothers and sisters, share and share alike, namely: "Esta Higdon, Emma Howell, Leonard Higdon, Roy Higdon, Sadie Rascoe, Era Boman and Nimray Higdon." Because of the facts hereinabove set out there is no "rest, residue and remainder", at least to the extent of the Philippine assets, which remains to vest in the HIGDONS, assuming this proviso in Linnie Jane Hodges' Will is valid and binding against the estate of C. N. Hodges. 18. Any claims by the HIGDONS under the above-quoted provision of Linnie Jane Hodges' Will is without merit because said provision is void and invalid at least as to the Philippine assets. It should not, in anyway, affect the rights of the estate of C. N. Hodges or his heirs to the properties, which C. N. Hodges acquired by way of inheritance from his wife Linnie Jane Hodges upon her death. (a) In spite of the above-mentioned provision in the Will of Linnie Jane Hodges, C. N. Hodges acquired, not merely a usufructuary right, but absolute title and ownership to her estate. In a recent case involving a very similar testamentary provision, the Supreme Court held that the heir first designated acquired full ownership of the property bequeathed by the will, not mere usufructuary rights. (Consolacion Florentino de Crisologo, et al., vs. Manuel Singson, G. R. No. L-13876, February 28, 1962.) (b) Article 864, 872 and 886 of the New Civil Code clearly provide that no charge, condition or substitution whatsoever upon the legitime can be imposed by a testator. Thus, under the provisions of Articles 900, 995 and 1001 of the New Civil Code, the legitime of a surviving spouse is 1/2 of the estate of the deceased spouse. Consequently, the above-mentioned provision in the Will of Linnie Jane Hodges is clearly invalid insofar as the legitime of C. N. Hodges was concerned, which consisted of 1/2 of the 1/2 portion of the conjugal estate, or 1/4 of the entire conjugal estate of the deceased. (c) There are generally only two kinds of substitution provided for and authorized by our Civil Code (Articles 857-870), namely, (1) simple or common substitution, sometimes referred to as vulgar substitution (Article 859), and (2) fideicommissary substitution (Article 863). All other substitutions are merely variations of these. The substitution provided for by paragraph four of the Will of Linnie Jane Hodges is not fideicommissary substitution, because there is clearly no obligation on the part of C. N. Hodges as the first heir designated, to preserve the properties for the substitute heirs. (Consolacion Florentino de Crisologo et al. vs. Manuel Singson, G. R. No. L-13876.) At most, it is a vulgar or simple substitution. However, in order that a vulgar orsimple substitution can be valid, three alternative conditions must be present, namely, that the first designated heir (1) should die before the testator; or (2) should not wish to accept the inheritance; or (3) should be incapacitated to do so. None of these conditions apply to C. N. Hodges, and, therefore, the substitution provided for by the above-quoted provision of the Will is not authorized by the Code, and, therefore, it is void. Manresa, commenting on these kisses of substitution, meaningfully stated that: "... cuando el testador instituyeun primer heredero, y por fallecimiento de este nombra otro u otros, ha de entenderse que estas segundas designaciones solo han de llegar a tener efectividad en el caso de que el primer instituido muera

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Wills Testamentary Succession antes que el testador, fuera o no esta su verdadera intencion. ...". (6 Manresa, 7 a ed., pag. 175.) In other words, when another heir is designated to inherit upon the death of a first heir, the second designation can have effect only in case the first instituted heir dies before the testator, whether or not that was the true intention of said testator. Since C. N. Hodges did not die before Linnie Jane Hodges, the provision for substitution contained in Linnie Jane Hodges' Willis void. (d) In view of the invalidity of the provision for substitution in the Will, C. N. Hodges' inheritance to the entirety of the Linnie Jane Hodges estate is irrevocable and final. 19. Be that as it may, at the time of C. N. Hodges' death, the entirety of the conjugal estate appeared and was registered in him exclusively as owner. Thus, the presumption is that all said assets constituted his estate. Therefore (a) If the HIGDONS wish to enforce their dubious rights as substituted heirs to 1/4 of the conjugal estate (the other 1/4 is covered by the legitime of C. N. Hodges which can not be affected by any testamentary disposition), their remedy, if any, is to file their claim against the estate of C. N. Hodges, which should be entitled at the present time to full custody and control of all the conjugal estate of the spouses. (b) The present proceedings, in which two estates exist under separate administration, where the administratrix of the Linnie Jane Hodges estate exercises an officious right to object and intervene in matters affecting exclusively the C. N. Hodges estate, is anomalous. WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed that after trial and reception of evidence, this Honorable Court declare: 1. That the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges was and is composed exclusively of one-half (1/2) share in the conjugal estate of the spouses Hodges, computed as of the date of her death on May 23, 1957; 2. That the other half of the conjugal estate pertained exclusively to C. N. Hodges as his share as partner in the conjugal partnership; 3. That all "rents, emoluments and income" of the conjugal estate accruing after Linnie Jane Hodges' death pertains to C. N. Hodges; 4. That C. N. Hodges was the sole and exclusive heir of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges; 5. That, therefore, the entire conjugal estate of the spouses located in the Philippines, plus all the "rents, emoluments and income" above-mentioned, now constitutes the estate of C. N. Hodges, capable of distribution to his heirs upon termination of Special Proceedings No. 1672; 6. That PCIB, as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges, is entitled to full and exclusive custody, control and management of all said properties; and 7. That Avelina A. Magno, as administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, as well as the HIGDONS, has no right to intervene or participate in the administration of the C. N. Hodges estate. PCIB further prays for such and other relief as may be deemed just and equitable in the premises." (Record, pp. 265-277) Before all of these motions of petitioner could be resolved, however, on December 21, 1965, private respondent Magno filed her own "Motion for the Official Declaration of Heirs of the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges" as follows: COMES NOW the Administratrix of the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and, through undersigned counsel, unto this Honorable Court most respectfully states and manifests: 1. That the spouses Charles Newton Hodges and Linnie Jane Hodges were American citizens who died at the City of Iloilo after having amassed and accumulated extensive properties in the Philippines; 2. That on November 22, 1952, Linnie Jane Hodges executed a last will and testament (the original of this will now forms part of the records of these proceedings as Exhibit "C" and appears as Sp. Proc. No. 1307, Folio I, pp. 17-18); 3. That on May 23, 1957, Linnie Jane Hodges died at the City of Iloilo at the time survived by her husband, Charles Newton Hodges, and several relatives named in her last will and testament; 4. That on June 28, 1957, a petition therefor having been priorly filed and duly heard, this Honorable Court issued an order admitting to probate the last will and testament of Linnie Jane Hodges (Sp. Proc. No. 1307, Folio I, pp. 24-25, 26-28); 5. That the required notice to creditors and to all others who may have any claims against the decedent, Linnie Jane Hodges has already been printed, published and posted (Sp. Proc. No. 1307, Folio I. pp. 34-40) and the reglamentary period for filing such claims has long ago lapsed and expired without any claims having been asserted against the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, approved by the Administrator/Administratrix of the said estate, nor ratified by this Honorable Court; 6. That the last will and testament of Linnie Jane Hodges already admitted to probate contains an institution of heirs in the following words: "SECOND: I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both personal and real, wherever situated or located, to my beloved husband, Charles Newton Hodges to have and to hold unto him, my said husband, during his natural lifetime. THIRD: I desire, direct and provide that my husband, Charles Newton Hodges, shall have the right to manage, control, use and enjoy said estate during his lifetime, and, he is hereby given the right to make any changes in the physical properties of said estate, by sale of any part thereof which he may think best, and the purchase of any other or additional property as he may think best; to execute conveyances with or without general or special warranty, conveying in fee simple or for any other term or time, any property which he may deem proper to dispose of; to lease any of the real property for oil, gas and/or other minerals, and all such deeds or leases shall pass the absolute fee simple title to the interest so conveyed in such property as he elect to sell. All rents, emoluments and income from said estate shall belong to him, and he is further authorized to use any part of the principal of said estate as he may need or desire. It is provided herein, however, that he shall not sell or otherwise dispose of any of the improved property now owned by us located at, in or near the City of Lubbock Texas, but he shall have the full right to lease, manage

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Wills Testamentary Succession and enjoy the same during his lifetime, above provided. He shall have the right to subdivide any farm land and sell lots therein, and may sell unimproved town lots. FOURTH: At the death of my said husband, Charles Newton Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, wherever situated or located, to be equally divided among my brothers and sisters, share and share alike, namely: Esta Higdon, Emma Howell, Leonard Higdon, Roy Higdon, Sadie Rascoe, Era Boman and Nimroy Higdon. FIFTH: In case of the death of any of my brothers and/or sisters named in item Fourth, above, prior to the death of my husband, Charles Newton Hodges, then it is my will and bequest that the heirs of such deceased brother or sister shall take jointly the share which would have gone to such brother or sister had she or he survived." 7. That under the provisions of the last will and testament already abovequoted, Linnie Jane Hodges gave a life-estate or a usufruct over all her estate to her husband, Charles Newton Hodges, and a vested remainderestate or the naked title over the same estate to her relatives named therein; 8. That after the death of Linnie Jane Hodges and after the admission to probate of her last will and testament, but during the lifetime of Charles Newton Hodges, the said Charles Newton Hodges with full and complete knowledge of the life-estate or usufruct conferred upon him by the will since he was then acting as Administrator of the estate and later as Executor of the will of Linnie Jane Hodges, unequivocably and clearly through oral and written declarations and sworn public statements, renounced, disclaimed and repudiated his life-estate and usufruct over the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges; 9. That, accordingly, the only heirs left to receive the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges pursuant to her last will and testament, are her named brothers and sisters, or their heirs, to wit: Esta Higdon, Emma Howell, Leonard Higdon, Aline Higdon and David Higdon, the latter two being the wife and son respectively of the deceased Roy Higdon, Sadie Rascoe Era Boman and Nimroy Higdon, all of legal ages, American citizens, with residence at the State of Texas, United States of America; 10. That at the time of the death of Linnie Jane Hodges on May 23, 1957, she was the co-owner (together with her husband Charles Newton Hodges) of an undivided one-half interest in their conjugal properties existing as of that date, May 23, 1957, which properties are now being administered sometimes jointly and sometimes separately by the Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and/or the Administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges but all of which are under the control and supervision of this Honorable Court; 11. That because there was no separation or segregation of the interests of husband and wife in the combined conjugal estate, as there has been no such separation or segregation up to the present, both interests have continually earned exactly the same amount of "rents, emoluments and income", the entire estate having been continually devoted to the business of the spouses as if they were alive; 12. That the one-half interest of Linnie Jane Hodges in the combined conjugal estate was earning "rents, emoluments and income" until her death on May 23, 1957, when it ceased to be saddled with any more charges or expenditures which are purely personal to her in nature, and her estate kept on earning such "rents, emoluments and income" by virtue of their having been expressly renounced, disclaimed and repudiated by Charles Newton Hodges to whom they were bequeathed for life under the last will and testament of Linnie Jane Hodges; 13. That, on the other hand, the one-half interest of Charles Newton Hodges in the combined conjugal estate existing as of May 23, 1957, while it may have earned exactly the same amount of "rents, emoluments and income" as that of the share pertaining to Linnie Jane Hodges, continued to be burdened by charges, expenditures, and other dispositions which are purely personal to him in nature, until the death of Charles Newton Hodges himself on December 25, 1962; 14. That of all the assets of the combined conjugal estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and Charles Newton Hodges as they exist today, the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges is clearly entitled to a portion more than fifty percent (50%) as compared to the portion to which the estate of Charles Newton Hodges may be entitled, which portions can be exactly determined by the following manner: a. An inventory must be made of the assets of the combined conjugal estate as they existed on the death of Linnie Jane Hodges on May 23, 1957 one-half of these assets belong to the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges; b. An accounting must be made of the "rents, emoluments and income" of all these assets again one-half of these belong to the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges; c. Adjustments must be made, after making a deduction of charges, disbursements and other dispositions made by Charles Newton Hodges personally and for his own personal account from May 23, 1957 up to December 25, 1962, as well as other charges, disbursements and other dispositions made for him and in his behalf since December 25, 1962 up to the present; 15. That there remains no other matter for disposition now insofar as the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges is concerned but to complete the liquidation of her estate, segregate them from the conjugal estate, and distribute them to her heirs pursuant to her last will and testament. WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully moved and prayed that this Honorable Court, after a hearing on the factual matters raised by this motion, issue an order: a. Declaring the following persons, to wit: Esta Higdon, Emma Howell, Leonard Higdon, Aline Higdon, David Higdon, Sadie Rascoe, Era Boman and Nimroy Higdon, as the sole heirs under the last will and testament of Linnie Jane Hodges and as the only persons entitled to her estate; b. Determining the exact value of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges in accordance with the system enunciated in paragraph 14 of this motion; c. After such determination ordering its segregation from the combined conjugal estate and its delivery to the Administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges for distribution to the heirs to whom they properly belong and appertain.

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Wills Testamentary Succession (Green Record on Appeal, pp. 382-391) whereupon, instead of further pressing on its motion of January 8, 1965 aforequoted, as it had been doing before, petitioner withdrew the said motion and in addition to opposing the above motion of respondent Magno, filed a motion on April 22, 1966 alleging in part that: 1. That it has received from the counsel for the administratrix of the supposed estate of Linnie Jane Hodges a notice to set her "Motion for Official Declaration of Heirs of the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges"; 2. That before the aforesaid motion could be heard, there are matters pending before this Honorable Court, such as: a. The examination already ordered by this Honorable Court of documents relating to the allegation of Avelina Magno that Charles Newton Hodges "through ... written declarations and sworn public statements, renounced, disclaimed and repudiated life-estate and usufruct over the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges'; b. That "Urgent Motion for An Accounting and Delivery to the Estate of C. N. Hodges of All the Assets of the Conjugal Partnership of the Deceased Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges Existing as of May 23, 1957 Plus All the Rents, Emoluments and Income Therefrom"; c. Various motions to resolve the aforesaid motion; d. Manifestation of September 14, 1964, detailing acts of interference of Avelina Magno under color of title as administratrix of the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges; which are all prejudicial, and which involve no issues of fact, all facts involved therein being matters of record, and therefore require only the resolution of questions of law; 3. That whatever claims any alleged heirs or other persons may have could be very easily threshed out in the Testate Estate of Charles Newton Hodges; 4. That the maintenance of two separate estate proceedings and two administrators only results in confusion and is unduly burdensome upon the Testate Estate of Charles Newton Hodges, particularly because the bond filed by Avelina Magno is grossly insufficient to answer for the funds and property which she has inofficiously collected and held, as well as those which she continues to inofficiously collect and hold; 5. That it is a matter of record that such state of affairs affects and inconveniences not only the estate but also third-parties dealing with it;" (Annex "V", Petition.) and then, after further reminding the court, by quoting them, of the relevant allegations of its earlier motion of September 14, 1964, Annex U, prayed that: 1. Immediately order Avelina Magno to account for and deliver to the administrator of the Estate of C. N. Hodges all the assets of the conjugal partnership of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges, plus all the rents, emoluments and income therefrom; 2. Pending the consideration of this motion, immediately order Avelina Magno to turn over all her collections to the administrator Philippine Commercial & Industrial Bank; 3. Declare the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (Sp. Proc. No. 1307) closed; 4. Defer the hearing and consideration of the motion for declaration of heirs in the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges until the matters hereinabove set forth are resolved. (Prayer, Annex "V" of Petition.) On October 12, 1966, as already indicated at the outset of this opinion, the respondent court denied the foregoing motion, holding thus: ORDER On record is a motion (Vol. X, Sp. 1672, pp. 4379-4390) dated April 22, 1966 of administrator PCIB praying that (1) Immediately order Avelina Magno to account for and deliver to the administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges all assets of the conjugal partnership of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges, plus all the rents, emoluments and income therefrom; (2) Pending the consideration of this motion, immediately order Avelina Magno to turn over all her collections to the administrator PCIB; (3) Declare the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (Sp. Proc. No. 1307) closed; and (4) Defer the hearing and consideration of the motion for declaration of heirs in the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges until the matters hereinabove set forth are resolved. This motion is predicated on the fact that there are matters pending before this court such as (a) the examination already ordered by this Honorable Court of documents relating to the allegation of Avelina Magno that Charles Newton Hodges thru written declaration and sworn public statements renounced, disclaimed and repudiated his life-estate and usufruct over the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (b) the urgent motion for accounting and delivery to the estate of C. N. Hodges of all the assets of the conjugal partnership of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges existing as of May 23, 1957 plus all the rents, emoluments and income therefrom; (c) various motions to resolve the aforesaid motion; and (d) manifestation of September 14, 1964, detailing acts of interference of Avelina Magno under color of title as administratrix of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. These matters, according to the instant motion, are all pre-judicial involving no issues of facts and only require the resolution of question of law; that in the motion of October 5, 1963 it is alleged that in a motion dated December 11, 1957 filed by Atty. Leon Gellada as attorney for the executor C. N. Hodges, the said executor C. N. Hodges is not only part owner of the properties left as conjugal but also the successor to all the properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges. Said motion of December 11, 1957 was approved by the Court in consonance with the wishes contained in the last will and testament of Linnie Jane Hodges. That on April 21, 1959 this Court approved the inventory and accounting submitted by C. N. Hodges thru counsel Atty. Leon Gellada in a motion filed on April 14, 1959 stating therein that executor C. N. Hodges is the only devisee or legatee of Linnie Jane Hodges in accordance with the last will and testament already probated by the Court. That on July 13, 1960 the Court approved the annual statement of accounts submitted by the executor C. N. Hodges thru his counsel Atty. Gellada on July 21, 1960 wherein it is stated that the executor, C. N. Hodges is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges; that on May 2, 1961 the Court approved the annual statement of accounts submitted by executor, C. N. Hodges for the year 1960 which was submitted by Atty.

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Wills Testamentary Succession Gellada on April 20, 1961 wherein it is stated that executor Hodges is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges; That during the hearing on September 5 and 6, 1963 the estate of C. N. Hodges claimed all the assets belonging to the deceased spouses Linnie Jane Hodges and C. N. Hodges situated in the Philippines; that administratrix Magno has executed illegal acts to the prejudice of the testate estate of C. N. Hodges. An opposition (Sp. 1672, Vol. X, pp. 4415-4421) dated April 27, 1966 of administratrix Magno has been filed asking that the motion be denied for lack of merit and that the motion for the official declaration of heirs of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges be set for presentation and reception of evidence. It is alleged in the aforesaid opposition that the examination of documents which are in the possession of administratrix Magno can be made prior to the hearing of the motion for the official declaration of heirs of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, during said hearing. That the matters raised in the PCIB's motion of October 5, 1963 (as well as the other motion) dated September 14, 1964 have been consolidated for the purpose of presentation and reception of evidence with the hearing on the determination of the heirs of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. It is further alleged in the opposition that the motion for the official declaration of heirs of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges is the one that constitutes a prejudicial question to the motions dated October 5 and September 14, 1964 because if said motion is found meritorious and granted by the Court, the PCIB's motions of October 5, 1963 and September 14, 1964 will become moot and academic since they are premised on the assumption and claim that the only heir of Linnie Jane Hodges was C. N. Hodges. That the PCIB and counsel are estopped from further questioning the determination of heirs in the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges at this stage since it was PCIB as early as January 8, 1965 which filed a motion for official declaration of heirs of Linnie Jane Hodges that the claim of any heirs of Linnie Jane Hodges can be determined only in the administration proceedings over the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and not that of C. N. Hodges, since the heirs of Linnie Jane Hodges are claiming her estate and not the estate of C. N. Hodges. A reply (Sp. 1672, Vol. X, pp. 4436-4444) dated May 11, 1966 of the PCIB has been filed alleging that the motion dated April 22, 1966 of the PCIB is not to seek deferment of the hearing and consideration of the motion for official declaration of heirs of Linnie Jane Hodges but to declare the testate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges closed and for administratrix Magno to account for and deliver to the PCIB all assets of the conjugal partnership of the deceased spouses which has come to her possession plus all rents and income. A rejoinder (Sp. 1672, Vol. X, pp. 4458-4462) of administratrix Magno dated May 19, 1966 has been filed alleging that the motion dated December 11, 1957 only sought the approval of all conveyances made by C. N. Hodges and requested the Court authority for all subsequent conveyances that will be executed by C. N. Hodges; that the order dated December 14, 1957 only approved the conveyances made by C. N. Hodges; that C. N. Hodges represented by counsel never made any claim in the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and never filed a motion to declare himself as the heir of the said Linnie Jane Hodges despite the lapse of more than five (5) years after the death of Linnie Jane Hodges; that it is further alleged in the rejoinder that there can be no order of adjudication of the estate unless there has been a prior express declaration of heirs and so far no declaration of heirs in the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges (Sp. 1307) has been made. Considering the allegations and arguments in the motion and of the PCIB as well as those in the opposition and rejoinder of administratrix Magno, the Court finds the opposition and rejoinder to be well taken for the reason that so far there has been no official declaration of heirs in the testate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and therefore no disposition of her estate. WHEREFORE, the motion of the PCIB dated April 22, 1966 is hereby DENIED. (Annex "W", Petition) In its motion dated November 24, 1966 for the reconsideration of this order, petitioner alleged inter alia that: It cannot be over-stressed that the motion of December 11, 1957 was based on the fact that: a. Under the last will and testament of the deceased, Linnie Jane Hodges, the late Charles Newton Hodges was the sole heir instituted insofar as her properties in the Philippines are concerned; b. Said last will and testament vested upon the said late Charles Newton Hodges rights over said properties which, in sum, spell ownership, absolute and in fee simple; c. Said late Charles Newton Hodges was, therefore, "not only part owner of the properties left as conjugal, but also, the successor to all the properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges. Likewise, it cannot be over-stressed that the aforesaid motion was granted by this Honorable Court "for the reasons stated" therein. Again, the motion of December 11, 1957 prayed that not only "all the sales, conveyances, leases, and mortgages executed by" the late Charles Newton Hodges, but also all "the subsequent sales, conveyances, leases, and mortgages ..." be approved and authorized. This Honorable Court, in its order of December 14, 1957, "for the reasons stated" in the aforesaid motion, granted the same, and not only approved all the sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of all properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges executed by the late Charles Newton Hodges, but also authorized "all subsequent sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of the properties left by the said deceased Linnie Jane Hodges. (Annex "X", Petition) and reiterated its fundamental pose that the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges had already been factually, although not legally, closed with the virtual declaration of Hodges and adjudication to him, as sole universal heir of all the properties of the estate of his wife, in the order of December 14, 1957, Annex G. Still unpersuaded, on July 18, 1967, respondent court denied said motion for reconsideration and held that "the court believes that there is no justification why the order of October 12, 1966 should be considered or modified", and, on July 19, 1967, the motion of respondent Magno "for official declaration of heirs of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges", already referred to above, was set for hearing. In consequence of all these developments, the present petition was filed on August 1, 1967 (albeit petitioner had to pay another docketing fee on August 9, 1967, since

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Wills Testamentary Succession the orders in question were issued in two separate testate estate proceedings, Nos. 1307 and 1672, in the court below). Together with such petition, there are now pending before Us for resolution herein, appeals from the following: 1. The order of December 19, 1964 authorizing payment by respondent Magno of overtime pay, (pp. 221, Green Record on Appeal) together with the subsequent orders of January 9, 1965, (pp. 231-232, id.) October 27, 1965, (pp. 227, id.) and February 15, 1966 (pp. 455-456, id.) repeatedly denying motions for reconsideration thereof. 2. The order of August 6, 1965 (pp. 248, id.) requiring that deeds executed by petitioner to be co-signed by respondent Magno, as well as the order of October 27, 1965 (pp. 276-277) denying reconsideration. 3. The order of October 27, 1965 (pp. 292-295, id.) enjoining the deposit of all collections in a joint account and the same order of February 15, 1966 mentioned in No. 1 above which included the denial of the reconsideration of this order of October 27, 1965. 4. The order of November 3, 1965 (pp. 313-320, id.) directing the payment of attorney's fees, fees of the respondent administratrix, etc. and the order of February 16, 1966 denying reconsideration thereof. 5. The order of November 23, 1965 (pp. 334-335, id.) allowing appellee Western Institute of Technology to make payments to either one or both of the administrators of the two estates as well as the order of March 7, 1966 (p. 462, id.) denying reconsideration. 6. The various orders hereinabove earlier enumerated approving deeds of sale executed by respondent Magno in favor of appellees Carles, Catedral, Pablito, Guzman, Coronado, Barrido, Causing, Javier, Lucero and Batisanan, (see pp. 35 to 37 of this opinion), together with the two separate orders both dated December 2, 1966 (pp. 306-308, and pp. 308-309, Yellow Record on Appeal) denying reconsideration of said approval. 7. The order of January 3, 1967, on pp. 335-336, Yellow Record on Appeal, approving similar deeds of sale executed by respondent Magno, as those in No. 6, in favor of appellees Pacaonsis and Premaylon, as to which no motion for reconsideration was filed. 8. Lastly, the order of December 2, 1966, on pp. 305-306, Yellow Record on Appeal, directing petitioner to surrender to appellees Lucero, Batisanan, Javier, Pablito, Barrido, Catedral, Causing, Guzman, and Coronado, the certificates of title covering the lands involved in the approved sales, as to which no motion for reconsideration was filed either. Strictly speaking, and considering that the above orders deal with different matters, just as they affect distinctly different individuals or persons, as outlined by petitioner in its brief as appellant on pp. 12-20 thereof, there are, therefore, thirty-three (33) appeals before Us, for which reason, petitioner has to pay also thirty-one (31) more docket fees. It is as well perhaps to state here as elsewhere in this opinion that in connection with these appeals, petitioner has assigned a total of seventy-eight (LXXVIII) alleged errors, the respective discussions and arguments under all of them covering also the fundamental issues raised in respect to the petition for certiorari and prohibition, thus making it feasible and more practical for the Court to dispose of all these cases together. 4 The assignments of error read thus:
I to IV THE ORDER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE FINAL DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES, PEPITO G. IYULORES, ESPIRIDION PARTISALA, WINIFREDO C. ESPADA AND ROSARIO ALINGASA, EXECUTED BY THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, COVERING PARCELS OF LAND OWNED BY THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, AND THE CONTRACTS TO SELL COVERING WHICH WERE EXECUTED BY HIM DURING HIS LIFETIME. V to VIII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES, PEPITO G. IYULORES, ESPIRIDION PARTISALA, WINIFREDO C. ESPADA AND ROSARIO ALINGASA, COVERING PARCELS OF LAND FOR WHICH THEY HAVE NEVER PAID IN FULL IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ORIGINAL CONTRACTS TO SELL. IX to XII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DETERMINING THE RIGHTS OF OWNERSHIP OVER REAL PROPERTY OF THE APPELLEES, PEPITO G. IYULORES, ESPIRIDION PARTISALA, WINIFREDO C. ESPADA AND ROSARIO ALINGASA, WHILE ACTING AS A PROBATE COURT. XIII to XV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE FINAL DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES ADELFA PREMAYLON (LOT NO. 102), SANTIAGO PACAONSIS, AND ADELFA PREMAYLON (LOT NO. 104), EXECUTED BY THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, COVERING PARCELS OF LAND OWNED BY THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, AND THE CONTRACTS TO SELL COVERING WHICH WERE EXECUTED BY HIM DURING HIS LIFETIME. XVI to XVIII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES ADELFA PREMAYLON (LOT NO. 102), SANTIAGO PACAONSIS, AND ADELFA PREMAYLON (LOT NO. 104) COVERING PARCELS OF LAND FOR WHICH THEY HAVE NEVER PAID IN FULL IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ORIGINAL CONTRACTS TO SELL. XIX to XXI THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DETERMINING THE RIGHTS OF OWNERSHIP OVER REAL PROPERTY OF THE APPELLEES ADELFA PREMAYLON (LOT NO. 102), SANTIAGO PACAONSIS, AND ADELFA PREMAYLON (LOT NO. 104) WHILE ACTING AS A PROBATE COURT. XXII to XXV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE FINAL DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES LORENZO CARLES, JOSE PABLICO, ALFREDO CATEDRAL AND SALVADOR S. GUZMAN, EXECUTED BY THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, COVERING PARCELS OF LAND OWNED BY THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, AND THE CONTRACTS TO SELL COVERING WHICH WERE EXECUTED BY HIM DURING HIS LIFETIME. XXVI to XXIX THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE FINAL DEED OF SALE EXECUTED IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES, LORENZO CARLES, JOSE PABLICO, ALFREDO CATEDRAL AND SALVADOR S. GUZMAN PURSUANT TO CONTRACTS TO SPELL WHICH WERE CANCELLED AND RESCINDED. XXX to XXXIV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DETERMINING THE RIGHTS OF OWNERSHIP OVER REAL PROPERTY OF THE LORENZO CARLES, JOSE PABLICO, ALFREDO CATEDRAL AND SALVADOR S. GUZMAN, WHILE ACTING AS A PROBATE COURT.

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XXXV to XXXVI THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE FINAL DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES, FLORENIA BARRIDO AND PURIFICACION CORONADO, EXECUTED BY THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, COVERING PARCELS OF LAND OWNED BY THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, AND THE CONTRACTS TO SELL COVERING WHICH WERE EXECUTED BY HIM DURING HIS LIFETIME. XXXVII to XXXVIII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES, FLORENIA BARRIDO AND PURIFICACION CORONADO, ALTHOUGH THEY WERE IN ARREARS IN THE PAYMENTS AGREED UPON IN THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT TO SELL WHICH THEY EXECUTED WITH THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, IN THE AMOUNT OF P10,680.00 and P4,428.90, RESPECTIVELY. XXXIX to XL THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DEPRIVING THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, OF THE CONTRACTUAL RIGHT, EXERCISED THROUGH HIS ADMINISTRATOR, THE INSTANT APPELLANT, TO CANCEL THE CONTRACTS TO SELL OF THE APPELLEES, FLORENIA BARRIDO AND PURIFICACION CORONADO. XLI to XLIII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE FINAL DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES, GRACIANO LUCERO, ARITEO THOMAS JAMIR AND MELQUIADES BATISANAN, EXECUTED BY THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, COVERING PARCELS OF LAND OWNED BY THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, AND THE CONTRACTS TO SELL COVERING WHICH WERE EXECUTED BY HIM DURING HIS LIFETIME. XLIV to XLVI THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE FINAL DEED OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES, GRACIANO LUCERO, ARITEO THOMAS JAMIR AND MELQUIADES BATISANAN, PURSUANT TO CONTRACTS TO SELL EXECUTED BY THEM WITH THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF WHICH THEY HAVE NEVER COMPLIED WITH. XLVII to XLIX THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DEPRIVING THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, OF HIS RIGHT, EXERCISED THROUGH HIS ADMINISTRATION, THE INSTANT APPELLANT, TO CANCEL THE CONTRACTS TO SELL OF THE APPELLEES, GRACIANO LUCERO, ARITEO THOMAS JAMIR AND MELQUIADES BATISANAN, AND IN DETERMINING THE RIGHTS OF THE SAID APPELLEES OVER REAL PROPERTY WHILE ACTING AS A PROBATE COURT. L THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE FINAL DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEE, BELCESAR CAUSING, EXECUTED BY THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, COVERING PARCELS OF LAND OWNED BY THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, AND THE CONTRACTS TO SELL COVERING WHICH WERE EXECUTED BY HIM DURING HIS LIFETIME. LI THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE DEEDS OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEE, BELCESAR CAUSING, ALTHOUGH HE WAS IN ARREARS IN THE PAYMENTS AGREED UPON IN THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT TO SELL WHICH HE EXECUTED WITH THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, IN THE AMOUNT OF P2,337.50. LII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPROVING THE DEED OF SALE IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEE, BELCESAR CAUSING, ALTHOUGH THE SAME WAS NOT EXECUTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RULES OF COURT. LIII to LXI THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE APPELLANT, PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BANK TO SURRENDER THE OWNER'S DUPLICATE CERTIFICATES OF TITLE OVER THE RESPECTIVE LOTS COVERED BY THE DEEDS OF SALE EXECUTED BY THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, IN FAVOR OF THE OTHER APPELLEES, JOSE PABLICO, ALFREDO CATEDRAL, SALVADOR S. GUZMAN, FLRENIA BARRIDO, PURIFICACION CORONADO, BELCESAR CAUSING, ARITEO THOMAS JAMIR, MAXIMA BATISANAN AND GRACIANO L. LUCERO. LXII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RESOLVING THE MOTION OF THE APPELLEE, WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, DATED NOVEMBER 3, 1965, WITHOUT ANY COPY THEREOF HAVING BEEN SERVED UPON THE APPELLANT, PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL BANK. LXIII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HEARING AND CONSIDERING THE MOTION OF THE APPELLEE, WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, DATED NOVEMBER 3rd, 1965, ON NOVEMBER 23, 1965, WHEN THE NOTICE FOR THE HEARING THEREOF WAS FOR NOVEMBER 20, 1965. LXIV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE APPELLEE, WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY A RELIEF OTHER THAN THAT PRAYED FOR IN ITS MOTION, DATED NOVEMBER 3, 1965, IN THE ABSENCE OF A PRAYER FOR GENERAL RELIEF CONTAINED THEREIN. LXV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE APPELLEE, WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, TO CONTINUE PAYMENTS UPON A CONTRACT TO SELL THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF WHICH IT HAS FAILED TO FULFILL. LXVI THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DETERMINING THE RIGHTS OF THE APPELLEE, WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY OVER THE REAL PROPERTY SUBJECT MATTER OF THE CONTRACT TO SELL IT EXECUTED WITH THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, WHILE ACTING AS A PROBATE COURT. LXVII LOWER COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE CONTINUATION OF PAYMENTS BY THE APPELLEE, WESTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, UPON A CONTRACT TO SELL EXECUTED BY IT AND THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, TO A PERSON OTHER THAN HIS LAWFULLY APPOINTED ADMINISTRATOR. LXVIII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE PAYMENT OF RETAINER'S FEES FROM THE SUPPOSED ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, LINNIE JANE HODGES, WHEN THERE IS NEITHER SUCH ESTATE NOR ASSETS THEREOF. LXIX THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE PAYMENT OF RETAINER'S FEES OF LAWYERS OF ALLEGED HEIRS TO THE SUPPOSED ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, LINNIE JANE HODGES.

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LXX THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN IMPLEMENTING THE ALLEGED AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE HEIRS OF THE SUPPOSED ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, LINNIE JANE HODGES, AND THEIR LAWYERS. LXXI THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE PREMATURE DISTRIBUTION OF ESTATE ASSETS TO ALLEGED HEIRS OR BENEFICIARIES THEREOF, BY WAY OF RETAINER'S FEES. LXXII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THAT ALL FINAL DEEDS OF SALE EXECUTED PURSUANT TO CONTRACTS TO SELL ENTERED INTO BY THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, DURING HIS LIFETIME, BE SIGNED JOINTLY BY THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, AND THE APPELLANT, PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BANK, AND NOT BY THE LATTER ONLY AS THE LAWFULLY APPOINTED ADMINISTRATOR OF HIS ESTATE. LXXIII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE PAYMENT OF LEGAL EXPENSES FROM THE SUPPOSED ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, LINNIE JANE HODGES, WHEN THERE IS NEITHER SUCH ESTATE NOR ASSETS THEREOF. LXXIV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE PAYMENT OF LEGAL EXPENSES OF LAWYERS OF ALLEGED HEIRS TO THE SUPPOSED ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, LINNIE JANE HODGES. LXXV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE PREMATURE DISTRIBUTION OF ESTATE ASSETS TO ALLEGED HEIRS OR BENEFICIARIES THEREOF, BY WAY OF LEGAL EXPENSES. LXXVI THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION TO THE PURPORTED ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE SUPPOSED ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, LINNIE JANE HODGES, THE INSTANT APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, WHEN THERE IS NEITHER SUCH ESTATE NOR ASSETS THEREOF. LXXVII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THAT THE FUNDS OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, BE PLACED IN A JOINT ACCOUNT OF THE APPELLANT, PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BANK, AND THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, WHO IS A COMPLETE STRANGER TO THE AFORESAID ESTATE. LXXVIII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THAT THE APPELLEE, AVELINA A. MAGNO, BE GIVEN EQUAL ACCESS TO THE RECORDS OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, CHARLES NEWTON HODGES, WHEN SHE IS A COMPLETE STRANGER TO THE AFORESAID ESTATE. (Pp. 73-83, Appellant's Brief.)

respondent court violative of its injunction of August 8, 1967, hence without force and effect (see Resolution of September 8, 1972 and February 1, 1973). Subsequently, Atty. Efrain B. Trenas, one of the lawyers of said heirs, appeared no longer for the proposed administrator Lopez but for the heirs themselves, and in a motion dated October 26, 1972 informed the Court that a motion had been filed with respondent court for the removal of petitioner PCIB as administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges in Special Proceedings 1672, which removal motion alleged that 22.968149% of the share of C. N. Hodges had already been acquired by the heirs of Mrs. Hodges from certain heirs of her husband. Further, in this connection, in the answer of PCIB to the motion of respondent Magno to have it declared in contempt for disregarding the Court's resolution of September 8, 1972 modifying the injunction of August 8, 1967, said petitioner annexed thereto a joint manifestation and motion, appearing to have been filed with respondent court, informing said court that in addition to the fact that 22% of the share of C. N. Hodges had already been bought by the heirs of Mrs. Hodges, as already stated, certain other heirs of Hodges representing 17.343750% of his estate were joining cause with the heirs of Mrs. Hodges as against PCIB, thereby making somewhat precarious, if not possibly untenable, petitioners' continuation as administrator of the Hodges estate. RESOLUTION OF ISSUES IN THE CERTIORARI AND PROHIBITION CASES I As to the Alleged Tardines of the Present Appeals The priority question raised by respondent Magno relates to the alleged tardiness of all the aforementioned thirty-three appeals of PCIB. Considering, however, that these appeals revolve around practically the same main issues and that it is admitted that some of them have been timely taken, and, moreover, their final results hereinbelow to be stated and explained make it of no consequence whether or not the orders concerned have become final by the lapsing of the respective periods to appeal them, We do not deem it necessary to pass upon the timeliness of any of said appeals. II The Propriety Here of Certiorari and Prohibition instead of Appeal The other preliminary point of the same respondent is alleged impropriety of the special civil action of certiorariand prohibition in view of the existence of the remedy of appeal which it claims is proven by the very appeals now before Us. Such contention fails to take into account that there is a common thread among the basic issues involved in all these thirty-three appeals which, unless resolved in one single proceeding, will inevitably cause the proliferation of more or less similar or closely related incidents and consequent eventual appeals. If for this consideration alone, and without taking account anymore of the unnecessary additional effort, expense and time which would be involved in as many individual appeals as the number of such incidents, it is logical and proper to hold, as We do hold, that the remedy of appeal is not adequate in the present cases. In determining whether or not a special civil action of certiorari or prohibition may be resorted to in lieu of appeal, in instances wherein lack or excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion is alleged, it is not enough that the remedy of appeal exists or is possible. It is indispensable that taking all the relevant circumstances of the given case, appeal would better serve the interests of justice. Obviously, the longer delay, augmented expense and trouble and unnecessary repetition of the same work attendant to the present multiple appeals, which, after all, deal with practically the same basic issues that can be more expeditiously resolved or determined in a single special civil action, make the remedies of certiorari and prohibition, pursued by petitioner, preferable, for purposes of resolving the common basic issues raised in all of them,

To complete this rather elaborate, and unavoidably extended narration of the factual setting of these cases, it may also be mentioned that an attempt was made by the heirs of Mrs. Hodges to have respondent Magno removed as administratrix, with the proposed appointment of Benito J. Lopez in her place, and that respondent court did actually order such proposed replacement, but the Court declared the said order of

74

Wills Testamentary Succession despite the conceded availability of appeal. Besides, the settling of such common fundamental issues would naturally minimize the areas of conflict between the parties and render more simple the determination of the secondary issues in each of them. Accordingly, respondent Magno's objection to the present remedy of certiorari and prohibition must be overruled. We come now to the errors assigned by petitioner-appellant, Philippine Commercial & Industrial Bank, (PCIB, for short) in the petition as well as in its main brief as appellant. III On Whether or Not There is Still Any Part of the TestateEstate Mrs. Hodges that may be Adjudicated to her brothers and sisters as her estate, of which respondent Magno is the unquestioned Administratrix in special Proceedings 1307. In the petition, it is the position of PCIB that the respondent court exceeded its jurisdiction or gravely abused its discretion in further recognizing after December 14, 1957 the existence of the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and in sanctioning purported acts of administration therein of respondent Magno. Main ground for such posture is that by the aforequoted order of respondent court of said date, Hodges was already allowed to assert and exercise all his rights as universal heir of his wife pursuant to the provisions of her will, quoted earlier, hence, nothing else remains to be done in Special Proceedings 1307 except to formally close it. In other words, the contention of PCIB is that in view of said order, nothing more than a formal declaration of Hodges as sole and exclusive heir of his wife and the consequent formal unqualified adjudication to him of all her estate remain to be done to completely close Special Proceedings 1307, hence respondent Magno should be considered as having ceased to be Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Mrs. Hodges since then. After carefully going over the record, We feel constrained to hold that such pose is patently untenable from whatever angle it is examined. To start with, We cannot find anywhere in respondent Order of December 14, 1957 the sense being read into it by PCIB. The tenor of said order bears no suggestion at all to such effect. The declaration of heirs and distribution by the probate court of the estate of a decedent is its most important function, and this Court is not disposed to encourage judges of probate proceedings to be less than definite, plain and specific in making orders in such regard, if for no other reason than that all parties concerned, like the heirs, the creditors, and most of all the government, the devisees and legatees, should know with certainty what are and when their respective rights and obligations ensuing from the inheritance or in relation thereto would begin or cease, as the case may be, thereby avoiding precisely the legal complications and consequent litigations similar to those that have developed unnecessarily in the present cases. While it is true that in instances wherein all the parties interested in the estate of a deceased person have already actually distributed among themselves their respective shares therein to the satisfaction of everyone concerned and no rights of creditors or third parties are adversely affected, it would naturally be almost ministerial for the court to issue the final order of declaration and distribution, still it is inconceivable that the special proceeding instituted for the purpose may be considered terminated, the respective rights of all the parties concerned be deemed definitely settled, and the executor or administrator thereof be regarded as automatically discharged and relieved already of all functions and responsibilities without the corresponding definite orders of the probate court to such effect. Indeed, the law on the matter is specific, categorical and unequivocal. Section 1 of Rule 90 provides: SECTION 1. When order for distribution of residue made. When the debts, funeral charges, and expenses of administration, the allowance to the widow and inheritance tax, if any, chargeable to the estate in accordance with law have been paid, the court, on the application of the executor or administrator, or of a person interested in the estate, and after hearing upon notice, shall assign the residue of the estate to the persons entitled to the same, naming them and the proportions, or parts, to which each is entitled, and such persons may demand and recover their respective shares from the executor or administrator, or any other person having the same in his possession. If there is a controversy before the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive shares to which each person is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary cases. No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the obligations above mentioned has been made or provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them give a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the court, conditioned for the payment of said obligations within such time as the court directs. These provisions cannot mean anything less than that in order that a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of a deceased may be deemed ready for final closure, (1) there should have been issued already an order of distribution or assignment of the estate of the decedent among or to those entitled thereto by will or by law, but (2) such order shall not be issued until after it is shown that the "debts, funeral expenses, expenses of administration, allowances, taxes, etc. chargeable to the estate" have been paid, which is but logical and proper. (3) Besides, such an order is usually issued upon proper and specific application for the purpose of the interested party or parties, and not of the court. ... it is only after, and not before, the payment of all debts, funeral charges, expenses of administration, allowance to the widow, and inheritance tax shall have been effected that the court should make a declaration of heirs or of such persons as are entitled by law to the residue. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 2nd ed., Vol. II, p. 397, citing Capistrano vs. Nadurata, 49 Phil., 726; Lopez vs. Lopez, 37 Off. Gaz., 3091.) (JIMOGA-ON v. BELMONTE, 84 Phil. 545, 548) (p. 86, Appellee's Brief) xxx xxx xxx Under Section 753 of the Code of Civil Procedure, (corresponding to Section 1, Rule 90) what brings an intestate (or testate) proceeding to a close is the order of distribution directing delivery of the residue to the persons entitled thereto after paying the indebtedness, if any, left by the deceased. (Santiesteban vs. Santiesteban, 68 Phil. 367, 370.) In the cases at bar, We cannot discern from the voluminous and varied facts, pleadings and orders before Us that the above indispensable prerequisites for the declaration of heirs and the adjudication of the estate of Mrs. Hodges had already been complied with when the order of December 14, 1957 was issued. As already stated, We are not persuaded that the proceedings leading to the issuance of said order, constituting barely of the motion of May 27, 1957, Annex D of the petition, the order of even date, Annex E, and the motion of December 11, 1957, Annex H, all aforequoted, are what the law contemplates. We cannot see in the order of December 14, 1957, so much relied upon by the petitioner, anything more than an explicit approval of "all the sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of all the properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges executed by the Executor Charles N. Hodges" (after the death of his wife and prior to the date of the motion), plus a general advance authorization to enable said "Executor to execute subsequent sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of the properties left the said deceased Linnie Jane Hodges in consonance with wishes conveyed in the last will 75

Wills Testamentary Succession and testament of the latter", which, certainly, cannot amount to the order of adjudication of the estate of the decedent to Hodges contemplated in the law. In fact, the motion of December 11, 1957 on which the court predicated the order in question did not pray for any such adjudication at all. What is more, although said motion did allege that "herein Executor (Hodges) is not only part owner of the properties left as conjugal, but also, the successor to all the properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges", it significantly added that "herein Executor, as Legatee (sic), has the right to sell, convey, lease or dispose of the properties in the Philippines during his lifetime", thereby indicating that what said motion contemplated was nothing more than either the enjoyment by Hodges of his rights under the particular portion of the dispositions of his wife's will which were to be operative only during his lifetime or the use of his own share of the conjugal estate, pending the termination of the proceedings. In other words, the authority referred to in said motions and orders is in the nature of that contemplated either in Section 2 of Rule 109 which permits, in appropriate cases, advance or partial implementation of the terms of a duly probated will before final adjudication or distribution when the rights of third parties would not be adversely affected thereby or in the established practice of allowing the surviving spouse to dispose of his own share of he conjugal estate, pending its final liquidation, when it appears that no creditors of the conjugal partnership would be prejudiced thereby, (see the Revised Rules of Court by Francisco, Vol. V-B, 1970 ed. p. 887) albeit, from the tenor of said motions, We are more inclined to believe that Hodges meant to refer to the former. In any event, We are fully persuaded that the quoted allegations of said motions read together cannot be construed as a repudiation of the rights unequivocally established in the will in favor of Mrs. Hodges' brothers and sisters to whatever have not been disposed of by him up to his death. Indeed, nowhere in the record does it appear that the trial court subsequently acted upon the premise suggested by petitioner. On the contrary, on November 23, 1965, when the court resolved the motion of appellee Western Institute of Technology by its order We have quoted earlier, it categorically held that as of said date, November 23, 1965, "in both cases (Special Proceedings 1307 and 1672) there is as yet no judicial declaration of heirs nor distribution of properties to whomsoever are entitled thereto." In this connection, it may be stated further against petitioner, by way of some kind of estoppel, that in its own motion of January 8, 1965, already quoted in full on pages 54-67 of this decision, it prayed inter alia that the court declare that "C. N. Hodges was the sole and exclusive heir of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges", which it would not have done if it were really convinced that the order of December 14, 1957 was already the order of adjudication and distribution of her estate. That said motion was later withdrawn when Magno filed her own motion for determination and adjudication of what should correspond to the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges does not alter the indubitable implication of the prayer of the withdrawn motion. It must be borne in mind that while it is true that Mrs. Hodges bequeathed her whole estate to her husband and gave him what amounts to full powers of dominion over the same during his lifetime, she imposed at the same time the condition that whatever should remain thereof upon his death should go to her brothers and sisters. In effect, therefore, what was absolutely given to Hodges was only so much of his wife's estate as he might possibly dispose of during his lifetime; hence, even assuming that by the allegations in his motion, he did intend to adjudicate the whole estate to himself, as suggested by petitioner, such unilateral act could not have affected or diminished in any degree or manner the right of his brothers and sistersin-law over what would remain thereof upon his death, for surely, no one can rightly contend that the testamentary provision in question allowed him to so adjudicate any part of the estate to himself as to prejudice them. In other words, irrespective of whatever might have been Hodges' intention in his motions, as Executor, of May 27, 1957 and December 11, 1957, the trial court's orders granting said motions, even in the terms in which they have been worded, could not have had the effect of an absolute and unconditional adjudication unto Hodges of the whole estate of his wife. None of them could have deprived his brothers and sisters-in-law of their rights under said will. And it may be added here that the fact that no one appeared to oppose the motions in question may only be attributed, firstly, to the failure of Hodges to send notices to any of them, as admitted in the motion itself, and, secondly, to the fact that even if they had been notified, they could not have taken said motions to be for the final distribution and adjudication of the estate, but merely for him to be able, pending such final distribution and adjudication, to either exercise during his lifetime rights of dominion over his wife's estate in accordance with the bequest in his favor, which, as already observed, may be allowed under the broad terms of Section 2 of Rule 109, or make use of his own share of the conjugal estate. In any event, We do not believe that the trial court could have acted in the sense pretended by petitioner, not only because of the clear language of the will but also because none of the interested parties had been duly notified of the motion and hearing thereof. Stated differently, if the orders of May 27, 1957 and December 4, 1957 were really intended to be read in the sense contended by petitioner, We would have no hesitancy in declaring them null and void. Petitioner cites the case of Austria vs. Ventenilla, G. R. No. L-10018, September 19, 1956, (unreported but a partial digest thereof appears in 99 Phil. 1069) in support of its insistence that with the orders of May 27 and December 14, 1957, the closure of Mrs. Hodges' estate has become a mere formality, inasmuch as said orders amounted to the order of adjudication and distribution ordained by Section 1 of Rule 90. But the parallel attempted to be drawn between that case and the present one does not hold. There the trial court had in fact issued a clear, distinct and express order of adjudication and distribution more than twenty years before the other heirs of the deceased filed their motion asking that the administratrix be removed, etc. As quoted in that decision, the order of the lower court in that respect read as follows: En orden a la mocion de la administradora, el juzgado la encuentra procedente bajo la condicion de que no se hara entrega ni adjudicacion de los bienes a los herederos antes de que estos presten la fianza correspondiente y de acuerdo con lo prescrito en el Art. 754 del Codigo de Procedimientos: pues, en autos no aparece que hayan sido nombrados comisionados de avaluo y reclamaciones. Dicha fianza podra ser por un valor igual al de los bienes que correspondan a cada heredero segun el testamento. Creo que no es obice para la terminacion del expediente el hecho de que la administradora no ha presentado hasta ahora el inventario de los bienes; pues, segun la ley, estan exentos de esta formalidad os administradores que son legatarios del residuo o remanente de los bienes y hayan prestado fianza para responder de las gestiones de su cargo, y aparece en el testamento que la administradora Alejandra Austria reune dicha condicion. POR TODO LO EXPUESTO, el juzgado declara, 1.o: no haber lugar a la mocion de Ramon Ventenilla y otros; 2.o, declara asimismo que los unicos herederos del finado Antonio Ventenilla son su esposa Alejandra Austria, Maria Ventenilla, hermana del testador, y Ramon Ventenilla, Maria Ventenilla, Ramon Soriano, Eulalio Soriano, Jose Soriano, Gabriela Ventenilla, Lorenzo Ventenilla, Felicitas Ventenilla, Eugenio Ventenilla y Alejandra Ventenilla, en representacion de los difuntos Juan, Tomas, Catalino y Froilan, hermanos del testador, declarando, ademas que la heredera Alejandra Austria tiene derecho al remanente de todos los bienes dejados por el finado, despues de deducir de ellos la porcion que corresponde a cada uno de sus coherederos, conforme esta mandado en las clausulas 8.a, 9.a, 10.a, 11.a, 12.a y 13.a del testamento; 3.o, se aprueba el pago hecho por la administradora de los gastos de la ultima enfermedad y funerales del testador, de la donacion hecha por el testador 76

Wills Testamentary Succession a favor de la Escuela a Publica del Municipio de Mangatarem, y de las misas en sufragio del alma del finado; 4.o, que una vez prestada la fianza mencionada al principio de este auto, se haga la entrega y adjudicacion de los bienes, conforme se dispone en el testamento y se acaba de declarar en este auto; 5.o, y, finalmente, que verificada la adjudicacion, se dara por terminada la administracion, revelandole toda responsabilidad a la administradora, y cancelando su fianza. ASI SE ORDENA. Undoubtedly, after the issuance of an order of such tenor, the closure of any proceedings for the settlement of the estate of a deceased person cannot be but perfunctory. In the case at bar, as already pointed out above, the two orders relied upon by petitioner do not appear ex-facie to be of the same tenor and nature as the order just quoted, and, what is more, the circumstances attendant to its issuance do not suggest that such was the intention of the court, for nothing could have been more violative of the will of Mrs. Hodges. Indeed, to infer from Hodges' said motions and from his statements of accounts for the years 1958, 1959 and 1960, A Annexes I, K and M, respectively, wherein he repeatedly claimed that "herein executor (being) the only devisee or legatee of the deceased, in accordance with the last will and testament already probated," there is "no (other) person interested in the Philippines of the time and place of examining herein account to be given notice", an intent to adjudicate unto himself the whole of his wife's estate in an absolute manner and without regard to the contingent interests of her brothers and sisters, is to impute bad faith to him, an imputation which is not legally permissible, much less warranted by the facts of record herein. Hodges knew or ought to have known that, legally speaking, the terms of his wife's will did not give him such a right. Factually, there are enough circumstances extant in the records of these cases indicating that he had no such intention to ignore the rights of his co-heirs. In his very motions in question, Hodges alleged, thru counsel, that the "deceased Linnie Jane Hodges died leaving no descendants and ascendants, except brothers and sisters and herein petitioner, as surviving spouse, to inherit the properties of the decedent", and even promised that "proper accounting will be had in all these transactions" which he had submitted for approval and authorization by the court, thereby implying that he was aware of his responsibilities vis-a-vis his co-heirs. As alleged by respondent Magno in her brief as appellee: Under date of April 14, 1959, C. N. Hodges filed his first "Account by the Executor" of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. In the "Statement of Networth of Mr. C. N. Hodges and the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges" as of December 31, 1958 annexed thereto, C. N. Hodges reported that the combined conjugal estate earned a net income of P328,402.62, divided evenly between him and the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. Pursuant to this, he filed an "individual income tax return" for calendar year 1958 on the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges reporting, under oath, the said estate as having earned income of P164,201.31, exactly one-half of the net income of his combined personal assets and that of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. (p. 91, Appellee's Brief.) Under date of July 21, 1960, C. N. Hodges filed his second "Annual Statement of Account by the Executor" of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. In the "Statement of Networth of Mr. C. N. Hodges and the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges" as of December 31, 1959 annexed thereto, C. N. Hodges reported that the combined conjugal estate earned a net income of P270,623.32, divided evenly between him and the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. Pursuant to this, he filed an "individual income tax return" for calendar year 1959 on the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges reporting, under oath, the said estate as having earned income of P135,311.66, exactly onehalf of the net income of his combined personal assets and that of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. (pp. 91-92, id.) Under date of April 20, 1961, C. N. Hodges filed his third "Annual Statement of Account by the Executor for the year 1960" of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. In the "Statement of Net Worth of Mr. C. N. Hodges and the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges" as of December 31, 1960 annexed thereto, C. N. Hodges reported that the combined conjugal estate earned a net income of P314,857.94, divided of Linnie Jane Hodges. Pursuant to this, he filed an "individual evenly between him and the estate income tax return" for calendar year 1960 on the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges reporting, under oath, the said estate as having earned income of P157,428.97, exactly onehalf of the net income of his combined personal assets and that of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges. (pp. 92-93, id.) In the petition for probate that he (Hodges) filed, he listed the seven brothers and sisters of Linnie Jane as her "heirs" (see p. 2, Green ROA). The order of the court admitting the will to probate unfortunately omitted one of the heirs, Roy Higdon (see p. 14, Green ROA). Immediately, C. N. Hodges filed a verified motion to have Roy Higdon's name included as an heir, stating that he wanted to straighten the records "in order (that) the heirs of deceased Roy Higdon may not think or believe they were omitted, and that they were really and are interested in the estate of deceased Linnie Jane Hodges". Thus, he recognized, if in his own way, the separate identity of his wife's estate from his own share of the conjugal partnership up to the time of his death, more than five years after that of his wife. He never considered the whole estate as a single one belonging exclusively to himself. The only conclusion one can gather from this is that he could have been preparing the basis for the eventual transmission of his wife's estate, or, at least, so much thereof as he would not have been able to dispose of during his lifetime, to her brothers and sisters in accordance with her expressed desire, as intimated in his tax return in the United States to be more extensively referred to anon. And assuming that he did pay the corresponding estate and inheritance taxes in the Philippines on the basis of his being sole heir, such payment is not necessarily inconsistent with his recognition of the rights of his co-heirs. Without purporting to rule definitely on the matter in these proceedings, We might say here that We are inclined to the view that under the peculiar provisions of his wife's will, and for purposes of the applicable inheritance tax laws, Hodges had to be considered as her sole heir, pending 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 any such remainder then is a matter that could well be taken care of by the internal revenue authorities in due time. It is to be noted that the lawyer, Atty. Leon P. Gellada, who signed the motions of May 27, 1957 and December 11, 1957 and the aforementioned statements of account was the very same one who also subsequently signed and filed the motion of December 26, 1962 for the appointment of respondent Magno as "Administratrix of the Estate of Mrs. Linnie Jane Hodges" wherein it was alleged that "in accordance with the provisions of the last will and testament of Linnie Jane Hodges, whatever real properties that may remain at the death of her husband, Charles Newton Hodges, the said properties shall be equally divided among their heirs." And it appearing that said attorney was Hodges' lawyer as Executor of the estate of his wife, it stands to reason that his understanding of the situation, implicit in his allegations just quoted, could somehow be reflective of Hodges' own understanding thereof.

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Wills Testamentary Succession As a matter of fact, the allegations in the motion of the same Atty. Gellada dated July 1, 1957, a "Request for Inclusion of the Name of Roy Higdon in the Order of the Court dated July 19, 1957, etc.", reference to which is made in the above quotation from respondent Magno's brief, are over the oath of Hodges himself, who verified the motion. Said allegations read: 1. That the Hon. Court issued orders dated June 29, 1957, ordering the probate of the will. 2. That in said order of the Hon. Court, the relatives of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges were enumerated. However, in the petition as well as in the testimony of Executor during the hearing, the name Roy Higdon was mentioned, but deceased. It was unintentionally omitted the heirs of said Roy Higdon who are his wife Aline Higdon and son David Higdon, all of age, and residents of Quinlan, Texas, U.S.A. 3. That to straighten the records, and in order the heirs of deceased Roy Higdon may not think or believe they were omitted, and that they were really and are interested in the estate of deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, it is requested of the Hon. Court to insert the names of Aline Higdon and David Higdon, wife and son of deceased Roy Higdon in the said order of the Hon. Court dated June 29, 1957. (pars. 1 to 3, Annex 2 of Magno's Answer Record, p. 260) As can be seen, these italicized allegations indicate, more or less, the real attitude of Hodges in regard to the testamentary dispositions of his wife. In connection with this point of Hodges' intent, We note that there are documents, copies of which are annexed to respondent Magno's answer, which purportedly contain Hodges' own solemn declarations recognizing the right of his co-heirs, such as the alleged tax return he filed with the United States Taxation authorities, identified as Schedule M, (Annex 4 of her answer) and his supposed affidavit of renunciation, Annex 5. In said Schedule M, Hodges appears to have answered the pertinent question thus: 2a. Had the surviving spouse the right to declare an election between (1) the provisions made in his or her favor by the will and (11) dower, curtesy or a statutory interest? (X) Yes ( ) No 2d. Does the surviving spouse contemplate renouncing the will and electing to take dower, curtesy, or a statutory interest? (X) Yes ( ) No 3. According to the information and belief of the person or persons filing the return, is any action described under question 1 designed or contemplated? ( ) Yes (X) No (Annex 4, Answer Record, p. 263) and to have further stated under the item, "Description of property interests passing to surviving spouse" the following: None, except for purposes of administering the Estate, paying debts, taxes and other legal charges. It is the intention of the surviving husband of deceased to distribute the remaining property and interests of the deceased in their Community Estate to the devisees and legatees named in the will when the debts, liabilities, taxes and expenses of administration are finally determined and paid. (Annex 4, Answer Record, p. 263) In addition, in the supposed affidavit of Hodges, Annex 5, it is stated: I, C. N. Hodges, being duly sworn, on oath affirm that at the time the United States Estate Tax Return was filed in the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges on August 8, 1958, I renounced and disclaimed any and all right to receive the rents, emoluments and income from said estate, as shown by the statement contained in Schedule M at page 29 of said return, a copy of which schedule is attached to this affidavit and made a part hereof. The purpose of this affidavit is to ratify and confirm, and I do hereby ratify and confirm, the declaration made in Schedule M of said return and hereby formally disclaim and renounce any right on my part to receive any of the said rents, emoluments and income from the estate of my deceased wife, Linnie Jane Hodges. This affidavit is made to absolve me or my estate from any liability for the payment of income taxes on income which has accrued to the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges since the death of the said Linnie Jane Hodges on May 23, 1957. (Annex 5, Answer Record, p. 264) Although it appears that said documents were not duly presented as evidence in the court below, and We cannot, therefore, rely on them for the purpose of the present proceedings, still, We cannot close our eyes to their existence in the record nor fail to note that their tenor jibes with Our conclusion discussed above from the circumstances related to the orders of May 27 and December 14, 1957. 5 Somehow, these documents, considering they are supposed to be copies of their originals found in the official files of the governments of the United States and of the Philippines, serve to lessen any possible apprehension that Our conclusion from the other evidence of Hodges' manifest intent vis-a-vis the rights of his co-heirs is without basis in fact. Verily, with such eloquent manifestations of his good intentions towards the other heirs of his wife, We find it very hard to believe that Hodges did ask the court and that the latter agreed that he be declared her sole heir and that her whole estate be adjudicated to him without so much as just annotating the contingent interest of her brothers and sisters in what would remain thereof upon his demise. On the contrary, it seems to us more factual and fairer to assume that Hodges was well aware of his position as executor of the will of his wife and, as such, had in mind the following admonition made by the Court in Pamittan vs. Lasam, et al., 60 Phil., 908, at pp. 913-914: Upon the death of Bernarda in September, 1908, said lands continued to be conjugal property in the hands of the defendant Lasam. It is provided in article 1418 of the Civil Code that upon the dissolution of the conjugal partnership, an inventory shall immediately be made and this court in construing this provision in connection with section 685 of the Code of Civil Procedure (prior to its amendment by Act No. 3176 of November 24, 1924) has repeatedly held that in the event of the death of the wife, the law imposes upon the husband the duty of liquidating the affairs of the partnership without delay (desde luego) (Alfonso vs. Natividad, 6 Phil., 240; Prado vs. Lagera, 7 Phil., 395; De la Rama vs. De la Rama, 7 Phil., 745; Enriquez vs. Victoria, 10 Phil., 10; Amancio vs. Pardo, 13 Phil., 297; Rojas vs. Singson Tongson, 17 Phil., 476; Sochayseng vs. Trujillo, 31 Phil., 153; Molera vs. Molera, 40 Phil., 566; Nable Jose vs. Nable Jose, 41 Phil., 713.) In the last mentioned case this court quoted with approval the case of Leatherwood vs. Arnold (66 Texas, 414, 416, 417), in which that court discussed the powers of the surviving spouse in the administration of the community property. Attention was called to the fact that the surviving husband, in the management of the conjugal property after the death of the wife, was a trustee of unique character who is liable for any fraud committed by him with relation to the property while he is charged with its administration. In the liquidation of the conjugal partnership, he had wide powers (as the law stood prior to Act No. 3176) and the high degree of trust reposed in him stands out more clearly in view of the fact that he was the owner of a half interest in his own right of the conjugal estate which he was charged to administer. He could therefore no more acquire a title by

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Wills Testamentary Succession prescription against those for whom he was administering the conjugal estate than could a guardian against his ward or a judicial administrator against the heirs of estate. Section 38 of Chapter III of the Code of Civil Procedure, with relation to prescription, provides that "this chapter shall not apply ... in the case of a continuing and subsisting trust." The surviving husband in the administration and liquidation of the conjugal estate occupies the position of a trustee of the highest order and is not permitted by the law to hold that estate or any portion thereof adversely to those for whose benefit the law imposes upon him the duty of administration and liquidation. No liquidation was ever made by Lasam hence, the conjugal property which came into his possession on the death of his wife in September, 1908, still remains conjugal property, a continuing and subsisting trust. He should have made a liquidation immediately (desde luego). He cannot now be permitted to take advantage of his own wrong. One of the conditions of title by prescription (section 41, Code of Civil Procedure) is possession "under a claim of title exclusive of any other right". For a trustee to make such a claim would be a manifest fraud. And knowing thus his responsibilities in the premises, We are not convinced that Hodges arrogated everything unto himself leaving nothing at all to be inherited by his wife's brothers and sisters. PCIB insists, however, that to read the orders of May 27 and December 14, 1957, not as adjudicatory, but merely as approving past and authorizing future dispositions made by Hodges in a wholesale and general manner, would necessarily render the said orders void for being violative of the provisions of Rule 89 governing the manner in which such dispositions may be made and how the authority therefor and approval thereof by the probate court may be secured. If We sustained such a view, the result would only be that the said orders should be declared ineffective either way they are understood, considering We have already seen it is legally impossible to consider them as adjudicatory. As a matter of fact, however, what surges immediately to the surface, relative to PCIB's observations based on Rule 89, is that from such point of view, the supposed irregularity would involve no more than some non-jurisdictional technicalities of procedure, which have for their evident fundamental purpose the protection of parties interested in the estate, such as the heirs, its creditors, particularly the government on account of the taxes due it; and since it is apparent here that none of such parties are objecting to said orders or would be prejudiced by the unobservance by the trial court of the procedure pointed out by PCIB, We find no legal inconvenience in nor impediment to Our giving sanction to the blanket approval and authority contained in said orders. This solution is definitely preferable in law and in equity, for to view said orders in the sense suggested by PCIB would result in the deprivation of substantive rights to the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges, whereas reading them the other way will not cause any prejudice to anyone, and, withal, will give peace of mind and stability of rights to the innocent parties who relied on them in good faith, in the light of the peculiar pertinent provisions of the will of said decedent. Now, the inventory submitted by Hodges on May 12, 1958 referred to the estate of his wife as consisting of "One-half of all the items designated in the balance sheet, copy of which is hereto attached and marked as "Annex A"." Although, regrettably, no copy of said Annex A appears in the records before Us, We take judicial notice, on the basis of the undisputed facts in these cases, that the same consists of considerable real and other personal kinds of properties. And since, according to her will, her husband was to be the sole owner thereof during his lifetime, with full power and authority to dispose of any of them, provided that should there be any remainder upon his death, such remainder would go to her brothers and sisters, and furthermore, there is no pretension, much less any proof that Hodges had in fact disposed of all of them, and, on the contrary, the indications are rather to the effect that he had kept them more or less intact, it cannot truthfully be said that, upon the death of Hodges, there was no more estate of Mrs. Hodges to speak of. It is Our conclusion, therefore, that properties do exist which constitute such estate, hence Special Proceedings 1307 should not yet be closed. Neither is there basis for holding that respondent Magno has ceased to be the Administratrix in said proceeding. There is no showing that she has ever been legally removed as such, the attempt to replace her with Mr. Benito Lopez without authority from the Court having been expressly held ineffective by Our resolution of September 8, 1972. Parenthetically, on this last point, PCIB itself is very emphatic in stressing that it is not questioning said respondent's status as such administratrix. Indeed, it is not clear that PCIB has any standing to raise any objection thereto, considering it is a complete stranger insofar as the estate of Mrs. Hodges is concerned. It is the contention of PCIB, however, that as things actually stood at the time of Hodges' death, their conjugal partnership had not yet been liquidated and, inasmuch as the properties composing the same were thus commingled pro indiviso and, consequently, the properties pertaining to the estate of each of the spouses are not yet identifiable, it is PCIB alone, as administrator of the estate of Hodges, who should administer everything, and all that respondent Magno can do for the time being is to wait until the properties constituting the remaining estate of Mrs. Hodges have been duly segregated and delivered to her for her own administration. Seemingly, PCIB would liken the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges to a party having a claim of ownership to some properties included in the inventory of an administrator of the estate of a decedent, (here that of Hodges) and who normally has no right to take part in the proceedings pending the establishment of his right or title; for which as a rule it is required that an ordinary action should be filed, since the probate court is without jurisdiction to pass with finality on questions of title between the estate of the deceased, on the one hand, and a third party or even an heir claiming adversely against the estate, on the other. We do not find such contention sufficiently persuasive. As We see it, the situation obtaining herein cannot be compared with the claim of a third party the basis of which is alien to the pending probate proceedings. In the present cases what gave rise to the claim of PCIB of exclusive ownership by the estate of Hodges over all the properties of the Hodges spouses, including the share of Mrs. Hodges in the community properties, were the orders of the trial court issued in the course of the very settlement proceedings themselves, more specifically, the orders of May 27 and December 14, 1957 so often mentioned above. In other words, the root of the issue of title between the parties is something that the court itself has done in the exercise of its probate jurisdiction. And since in the ultimate analysis, the question of whether or not all the properties herein involved pertain exclusively to the estate of Hodges depends on the legal meaning and effect of said orders, the claim that respondent court has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of and decide the said issue is incorrect. If it was within the competence of the court to issue the root orders, why should it not be within its authority to declare their true significance and intent, to the end that the parties may know whether or not the estate of Mrs. Hodges had already been adjudicated by the court, upon the initiative of Hodges, in his favor, to the exclusion of the other heirs of his wife instituted in her will? At this point, it bears emphasis again that the main cause of all the present problems confronting the courts and the parties in these cases was the failure of Hodges to secure, as executor of his wife's estate, from May, 1957 up to the time of his death in December, 1962, a period of more than five years, the final adjudication of her estate and the closure of the proceedings. The record is bare of any showing that he ever exerted any effort towards the early settlement of said estate. While, on the one hand, there are enough indications, as already discuss that he had intentions of leaving intact her share of the conjugal properties so that it may pass wholly to his co-heirs upon his death, pursuant to her will, on the other hand, by not

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Wills Testamentary Succession terminating the proceedings, his interests in his own half of the conjugal properties remained commingled pro-indiviso with those of his co-heirs in the other half. Obviously, such a situation could not be conducive to ready ascertainment of the portion of the inheritance that should appertain to his co-heirs upon his death. Having these considerations in mind, it would be giving a premium for such procrastination and rather unfair to his co-heirs, if the administrator of his estate were to be given exclusive administration of all the properties in question, which would necessarily include the function of promptly liquidating the conjugal partnership, thereby identifying and segregating without unnecessary loss of time which properties should be considered as constituting the estate of Mrs. Hodges, the remainder of which her brothers and sisters are supposed to inherit equally among themselves. To be sure, an administrator is not supposed to represent the interests of any particular party and his acts are deemed to be objectively for the protection of the rights of everybody concerned with the estate of the decedent, and from this point of view, it maybe said that even if PCIB were to act alone, there should be no fear of undue disadvantage to anyone. On the other hand, however, it is evidently implicit in section 6 of Rule 78 fixing the priority among those to whom letters of administration should be granted that the criterion in the selection of the administrator is not his impartiality alone but, more importantly, the extent of his interest in the estate, so much so that the one assumed to have greater interest is preferred to another who has less. Taking both of these considerations into account, inasmuch as, according to Hodges' own inventory submitted by him as Executor of the estate of his wife, practically all their properties were conjugal which means that the spouses have equal shares therein, it is but logical that both estates should be administered jointly by representatives of both, pending their segregation from each other. Particularly is such an arrangement warranted because the actuations so far of PCIB evince a determined, albeit groundless, intent to exclude the other heirs of Mrs. Hodges from their inheritance. Besides, to allow PCIB, the administrator of his estate, to perform now what Hodges was duty bound to do as executor is to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of Section 2 of Rule 78 which expressly provides that "The executor of an executor shall not, as such, administer the estate of the first testator." It goes without saying that this provision refers also to the administrator of an executor like PCIB here. We are not unmindful of the fact that under Section 2 of Rule 73, "When the marriage is dissolved by the death of the husband or wife, the community property shall be inventoried, administered, and liquidated, and the debts thereof paid, in the testate or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse. If both spouses have died, the conjugal partnership shall be liquidated in the testate or intestate proceedings of either." Indeed, it is true that the last sentence of this provision allows or permits the conjugal partnership of spouses who are both deceased to be settled or liquidated in the testate or intestate proceedings of either, but precisely because said sentence allows or permits that the liquidation be made in either proceeding, it is a matter of sound judicial discretion in which one it should be made. After all, the former rule referring to the administrator of the husband's estate in respect to such liquidation was done away with by Act 3176, the pertinent provisions of which are now embodied in the rule just cited. Thus, it can be seen that at the time of the death of Hodges, there was already the pending judicial settlement proceeding of the estate of Mrs. Hodges, and, more importantly, that the former was the executor of the latter's will who had, as such, failed for more than five years to see to it that the same was terminated earliest, which was not difficult to do, since from ought that appears in the record, there were no serious obstacles on the way, the estate not being indebted and there being no immediate heirs other than Hodges himself. Such dilatory or indifferent attitude could only spell possible prejudice of his co-heirs, whose rights to inheritance depend entirely on the existence of any remainder of Mrs. Hodges' share in the community properties, and who are now faced with the pose of PCIB that there is no such remainder. Had Hodges secured as early as possible the settlement of his wife's estate, this problem would not arisen. All things considered, We are fully convinced that the interests of justice will be better served by not permitting or allowing PCIB or any administrator of the estate of Hodges exclusive administration of all the properties in question. We are of the considered opinion and so hold that what would be just and proper is for both administrators of the two estates to act conjointly until after said estates have been segregated from each other. At this juncture, it may be stated that we are not overlooking the fact that it is PCIB's contention that, viewed as a substitution, the testamentary disposition in favor of Mrs. Hodges' brothers and sisters may not be given effect. To a certain extent, this contention is correct. Indeed, legally speaking, Mrs. Hodges' will provides neither for a simple or vulgar substitution under Article 859 of the Civil Code nor for a fideicommissary substitution under Article 863 thereof. There is no vulgar substitution therein because there is no provision for either (1) predecease of the testator by the designated heir or (2) refusal or (3) incapacity of the latter to accept the inheritance, as required by Article 859; and neither is there a fideicommissary substitution therein because no obligation is imposed thereby upon Hodges to preserve the estate or any part thereof for anyone else. But from these premises, it is not correct to jump to the conclusion, as PCIB does, that the testamentary dispositions in question are therefore inoperative and invalid. The error in PCIB's position lies simply in the fact that it views the said disposition exclusively in the light of substitutions covered by the Civil Code section on that subject, (Section 3, Chapter 2, Title IV, Book III) when it is obvious that substitution occurs only when another heir is appointed in a will "so that he may enter into inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted," (Article 857, id.) and, in the present case, no such possible default is contemplated. The brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges are not substitutes for Hodges because, under her will, they are not to inherit what Hodges cannot, would not or may not inherit, but what he would not dispose of from his inheritance; rather, therefore, they are also heirs instituted simultaneously with Hodges, subject, however, to certain conditions, partially resolutory insofar as Hodges was concerned and correspondingly suspensive with reference to his brothers and sisters-in-law. It is partially resolutory, since it bequeaths unto Hodges the whole of her estate to be owned and enjoyed by him as universal and sole heir with absolute dominion over them 6 only during his lifetime, which means that while he could completely and absolutely dispose of any portion thereof inter vivos to anyone other than himself, he was not free to do so mortis causa, and all his rights to what might remain upon his death would cease entirely upon the occurrence of that contingency, inasmuch as the right of his brothers and sisters-in-law to the inheritance, although vested already upon the death of Mrs. Hodges, would automatically become operative upon the occurrence of the death of Hodges in the event of actual existence of any remainder of her estate then. Contrary to the view of respondent Magno, however, it was not the usufruct alone of her estate, as contemplated in Article 869 of the Civil Code, that she bequeathed to Hodges during his lifetime, but the full ownership thereof, although the same was to last also during his lifetime only, even as there was no restriction whatsoever against his disposing or conveying the whole or any portion thereof to anybody other than himself. The Court sees no legal impediment to this kind of institution, in this jurisdiction or under Philippine law, except that it cannot apply to the legitime of Hodges as the surviving spouse, consisting of one-half of the estate, considering that Mrs. Hodges had no surviving ascendants nor descendants. (Arts. 872, 900, and 904, New Civil Code.) But relative precisely to the question of how much of Mrs. Hodges' share of the conjugal partnership properties may be considered as her estate, the parties are in disagreement as to how Article 16 of the Civil Code 7 should be applied. On the one

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Wills Testamentary Succession hand, petitioner claims that inasmuch as Mrs. Hodges was a resident of the Philippines at the time of her death, under said Article 16, construed in relation to the pertinent laws of Texas and the principle ofrenvoi, what should be applied here should be the rules of succession under the Civil Code of the Philippines, and, therefore, her estate could consist of no more than one-fourth of the said conjugal properties, the other fourth being, as already explained, the legitime of her husband (Art. 900, Civil Code) which she could not have disposed of nor burdened with any condition (Art. 872, Civil Code). On the other hand, respondent Magno denies that Mrs. Hodges died a resident of the Philippines, since allegedly she never changed nor intended to change her original residence of birth in Texas, United States of America, and contends that, anyway, regardless of the question of her residence, she being indisputably a citizen of Texas, under said Article 16 of the Civil Code, the distribution of her estate is subject to the laws of said State which, according to her, do not provide for any legitime, hence, the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges are entitled to the remainder of the whole of her share of the conjugal partnership properties consisting of one-half thereof. Respondent Magno further maintains that, in any event, Hodges had renounced his rights under the will in favor of his co-heirs, as allegedly proven by the documents touching on the point already mentioned earlier, the genuineness and legal significance of which petitioner seemingly questions. Besides, the parties are disagreed as to what the pertinent laws of Texas provide. In the interest of settling the estates herein involved soonest, it would be best, indeed, if these conflicting claims of the parties were determined in these proceedings. The Court regrets, however, that it cannot do so, for the simple reason that neither the evidence submitted by the parties in the court below nor their discussion, in their respective briefs and memoranda before Us, of their respective contentions on the pertinent legal issues, of grave importance as they are, appear to Us to be adequate enough to enable Us to render an intelligent comprehensive and just resolution. For one thing, there is no clear and reliable proof of what in fact the possibly applicable laws of Texas are. 7* Then also, the genuineness of documents relied upon by respondent Magno is disputed. And there are a number of still other conceivable related issues which the parties may wish to raise but which it is not proper to mention here. In Justice, therefore, to all the parties concerned, these and all other relevant matters should first be threshed out fully in the trial court in the proceedings hereafter to be held therein for the purpose of ascertaining and adjudicating and/or distributing the estate of Mrs. Hodges to her heirs in accordance with her duly probated will. To be more explicit, all that We can and do decide in connection with the petition for certiorari and prohibition are: (1) that regardless of which corresponding laws are applied, whether of the Philippines or of Texas, and taking for granted either of the respective contentions of the parties as to provisions of the latter, 8 and regardless also of whether or not it can be proven by competent evidence that Hodges renounced his inheritance in any degree, it is easily and definitely discernible from the inventory submitted by Hodges himself, as Executor of his wife's estate, that there are properties which should constitute the estate of Mrs. Hodges and ought to be disposed of or distributed among her heirs pursuant to her will in said Special Proceedings 1307; (2) that, more specifically, inasmuch as the question of what are the pertinent laws of Texas applicable to the situation herein is basically one of fact, and, considering that the sole difference in the positions of the parties as to the effect of said laws has reference to the supposed legitime of Hodges it being the stand of PCIB that Hodges had such a legitime whereas Magno claims the negative it is now beyond controversy for all future purposes of these proceedings that whatever be the provisions actually of the laws of Texas applicable hereto, the estate of Mrs. Hodges is at least, one-fourth of the conjugal estate of the spouses; the existence and effects of foreign laws being questions of fact, and it being the position now of PCIB that the estate of Mrs. Hodges, pursuant to the laws of Texas, should only be one-fourth of the conjugal estate, such contention constitutes an admission of fact, and consequently, it would be in estoppel in any further proceedings in these cases to claim that said estate could be less, irrespective of what might be proven later to be actually the provisions of the applicable laws of Texas; (3) that Special Proceedings 1307 for the settlement of the testate estate of Mrs. Hodges cannot be closed at this stage and should proceed to its logical conclusion, there having been no proper and legal adjudication or distribution yet of the estate therein involved; and (4) that respondent Magno remains and continues to be the Administratrix therein. Hence, nothing in the foregoing opinion is intended to resolve the issues which, as already stated, are not properly before the Court now, namely, (1) whether or not Hodges had in fact and in law waived or renounced his inheritance from Mrs. Hodges, in whole or in part, and (2) assuming there had been no such waiver, whether or not, by the application of Article 16 of the Civil Code, and in the light of what might be the applicable laws of Texas on the matter, the estate of Mrs. Hodges is more than the one-fourth declared above. As a matter of fact, even our finding above about the existence of properties constituting the estate of Mrs. Hodges rests largely on a general appraisal of the size and extent of the conjugal partnership gathered from reference made thereto by both parties in their briefs as well as in their pleadings included in the records on appeal, and it should accordingly yield, as to which exactly those properties are, to the more concrete and specific evidence which the parties are supposed to present in support of their respective positions in regard to the foregoing main legal and factual issues. In the interest of justice, the parties should be allowed to present such further evidence in relation to all these issues in a joint hearing of the two probate proceedings herein involved. After all, the court a quo has not yet passed squarely on these issues, and it is best for all concerned that it should do so in the first instance. Relative to Our holding above that the estate of Mrs. Hodges cannot be less than the remainder of one-fourth of the conjugal partnership properties, it may be mentioned here that during the deliberations, the point was raised as to whether or not said holding might be inconsistent with Our other ruling here also that, since there is no reliable evidence as to what are the applicable laws of Texas, U.S.A. "with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights" that may be willed by a testator which, under Article 16 of the Civil Code, are controlling in the instant cases, in view of the undisputed Texan nationality of the deceased Mrs. Hodges, these cases should be returned to the court a quo, so that the parties may prove what said law provides, it is premature for Us to make any specific ruling now on either the validity of the testamentary dispositions herein involved or the amount of inheritance to which the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges are entitled. After nature reflection, We are of the considered view that, at this stage and in the state of the records before Us, the feared inconsistency is more apparent than real. Withal, it no longer lies in the lips of petitioner PCIB to make any claim that under the laws of Texas, the estate of Mrs. Hodges could in any event be less than that We have fixed above. It should be borne in mind that as above-indicated, the question of what are the laws of Texas governing the matters herein issue is, in the first instance, one of fact, not of law. Elementary is the rule that foreign laws may not be taken judicial notice of and have to be proven like any other fact in dispute between the parties in any proceeding, with the rare exception in instances when the said laws are already within the actual knowledge of the court, such as when they are well and generally known or they have been actually ruled upon in other cases before it and none of the parties concerned do not claim otherwise. (5 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, p. 41, 1970 ed.) In Fluemer vs. Hix, 54 Phil. 610, it was held: It is the theory of the petitioner that the alleged will was executed in Elkins West Virginia, on November 3, 1925, by Hix who had his residence in that jurisdiction, and that the laws of West Virginia govern. To this end, there was submitted a copy of section 3868 of Acts 1882, c. 84 as found in West Virginia Code, Annotated, by Hogg Charles E., vol. 2, 1914, p. 1960, and as certified to by the Director of the National 81

Wills Testamentary Succession Library. But this was far from a compliance with the law. The laws of a foreign jurisdiction do not prove themselves in our courts. The courts of the Philippine Islands are not authorized to take judicial notice of the laws of the various States of the American Union. Such laws must be proved as facts. (In re Estate of Johnson [1918], 39 Phil., 156.) Here the requirements of the law were not met. There was no showing that the book from which an extract was taken was printed or published under the authority of the State of West Virginia, as provided in section 300 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Nor was the extract from the law attested by the certificate of the officer having charge of the original, under the seal of the State of West Virginia, as provided in section 301 of the Code of Civil Procedure. No evidence was introduced to show that the extract from the laws of West Virginia was in force at the time the alleged will was executed." No evidence of the nature thus suggested by the Court may be found in the records of the cases at bar. Quite to the contrary, the parties herein have presented opposing versions in their respective pleadings and memoranda regarding the matter. And even if We took into account that in Aznar vs. Garcia, the Court did make reference to certain provisions regarding succession in the laws of Texas, the disparity in the material dates of that case and the present ones would not permit Us to indulge in the hazardous conjecture that said provisions have not been amended or changed in the meantime. On the other hand, in In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156, We held: Upon the other point as to whether the will was executed in conformity with the statutes of the State of Illinois we note that it does not affirmatively appear from the transcription of the testimony adduced in the trial court that any witness was examined with reference to the law of Illinois on the subject of the execution of will. The trial judge no doubt was satisfied that the will was properly executed by examining section 1874 of the Revised Statutes of Illinois, as exhibited in volume 3 of Starr & Curtis's Annotated Illinois Statutes, 2nd ed., p. 426; and he may have assumed that he could take judicial notice of the laws of Illinois under section 275 of the Code of Civil Procedure. If so, he was in our opinion mistaken. That section authorizes the courts here to take judicial notice, among other things, of the acts of the legislative department of the United States. These words clearly have reference to Acts of the Congress of the United States; and we would hesitate to hold that our courts can, under this provision, take judicial notice of the multifarious laws of the various American States. Nor do we think that any such authority can be derived from the broader language, used in the same section, where it is said that our courts may take judicial notice of matters of public knowledge "similar" to those therein enumerated. The proper rule we think is to require proof of the statutes of the States of the American Union whenever their provisions are determinative of the issues in any action litigated in the Philippine courts. Nevertheless, even supposing that the trial court may have erred in taking judicial notice of the law of Illinois on the point in question, such error is not now available to the petitioner, first, because the petition does not state any fact from which it would appear that the law of Illinois is different from what the court found, and, secondly, because the assignment of error and argument for the appellant in this court raises no question based on such supposed error. Though the trial court may have acted upon pure conjecture as to the law prevailing in the State of Illinois, its judgment could not be set aside, even upon application made within six months under section 113 of the Code of Civil Procedure, unless it should be made to appear affirmatively that the conjecture was wrong. The petitioner, it is true, states in general terms that the will in question is invalid and inadequate to pass real and personal property in the State of Illinois, but this is merely a conclusion of law. The affidavits by which the petition is accompanied contain no reference to the subject, and we are cited to no authority in the appellant's brief which might tend to raise a doubt as to the correctness of the conclusion of the trial court. It is very clear, therefore, that this point cannot be urged as of serious moment. It is implicit in the above ruling that when, with respect to certain aspects of the foreign laws concerned, the parties in a given case do not have any controversy or are more or less in agreement, the Court may take it for granted for the purposes of the particular case before it that the said laws are as such virtual agreement indicates, without the need of requiring the presentation of what otherwise would be the competent evidence on the point. Thus, in the instant cases wherein it results from the respective contentions of both parties that even if the pertinent laws of Texas were known and to be applied, the amount of the inheritance pertaining to the heirs of Mrs. Hodges is as We have fixed above, the absence of evidence to the effect that, actually and in fact, under said laws, it could be otherwise is of no longer of any consequence, unless the purpose is to show that it could be more. In other words, since PCIB, the petitioner-appellant, concedes that upon application of Article 16 of the Civil Code and the pertinent laws of Texas, the amount of the estate in controversy is just as We have determined it to be, and respondent-appellee is only claiming, on her part, that it could be more, PCIB may not now or later pretend differently. To be more concrete, on pages 20-21 of its petition herein, dated July 31, 1967, PCIB states categorically: Inasmuch as Article 16 of the Civil Code provides that "intestate and testamentary successions both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found", while the law of Texas (the Hodges spouses being nationals of U.S.A., State of Texas), in its conflicts of law rules, provides that the domiciliary law (in this case Philippine law) governs the testamentary dispositions and successional rights over movables or personal properties, while the law of the situs (in this case also Philippine law with respect to all Hodges properties located in the Philippines), governs with respect to immovable properties, and applying therefore the 'renvoi doctrine' as enunciated and applied by this Honorable Court in the case of In re Estate of Christensen (G.R. No. L-16749, Jan. 31, 1963), there can be no question that Philippine law governs the testamentary dispositions contained in the Last Will and Testament of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, as well as the successional rights to her estate, both with respect to movables, as well as to immovables situated in the Philippines. In its main brief dated February 26, 1968, PCIB asserts: The law governing successional rights. As recited above, there is no question that the deceased, Linnie Jane Hodges, was an American citizen. There is also no question that she was a national of the State of Texas, U.S.A. Again, there is likewise no question that she had her domicile of choice in the City of Iloilo, Philippines, as this has already been pronounced by the above-cited orders of the lower court, pronouncements which are by now res adjudicata (par. [a], See. 49, Rule 39, Rules of Court; In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156). Article 16 of the Civil Code provides:

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Wills Testamentary Succession "Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found." Thus the aforecited provision of the Civil Code points towards the national law of the deceased, Linnie Jane Hodges, which is the law of Texas, as governing succession "both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions ...". But the law of Texas, in its conflicts of law rules, provides that the domiciliary law governs the testamentary dispositions and successional rights over movables or personal property, while the law of the situs governs with respect to immovable property. Such that with respect to both movable property, as well as immovable property situated in the Philippines, the law of Texas points to the law of the Philippines. Applying, therefore, the so-called "renvoi doctrine", as enunciated and applied by this Honorable Court in the case of "In re Christensen" (G.R. No. L-16749, Jan. 31, 1963), there can be no question that Philippine law governs the testamentary provisions in the Last Will and Testament of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges, as well as the successional rights to her estate, both with respect to movables, as well as immovables situated in the Philippines. The subject of successional rights. Under Philippine law, as it is under the law of Texas, the conjugal or community property of the spouses, Charles Newton Hodges and Linnie Jane Hodges, upon the death of the latter, is to be divided into two, one-half pertaining to each of the spouses, as his or her own property. Thus, upon the death of Linnie Jane Hodges, one-half of the conjugal partnership property immediately pertained to Charles Newton Hodges as his own share, and not by virtue of any successional rights. There can be no question about this. Again, Philippine law, or more specifically, Article 900 of the Civil Code provides: If the only survivor is the widow or widower, she or he shall be entitled to one-half of the hereditary estate of the deceased spouse, and the testator may freely dispose of the other half. If the marriage between the surviving spouse and the testator was solemnized in articulo mortis, and the testator died within three months from the time of the marriage, the legitime of the surviving spouse as the sole heir shall be one-third of the hereditary estate, except when they have been living as husband and wife for more than five years. In the latter case, the legitime of the surviving spouse shall be that specified in the preceding paragraph. This legitime of the surviving spouse cannot be burdened by a fideicommisary substitution (Art. 864, Civil code), nor by any charge, condition, or substitution (Art, 872, Civil code). It is clear, therefore, that in addition to one-half of the conjugal partnership property as his own conjugal share, Charles Newton Hodges was also immediately entitled to one-half of the half conjugal share of the deceased, Linnie Jane Hodges, or one-fourth of the entire conjugal property, as his legitime. One-fourth of the conjugal property therefore remains at issue. In the summary of its arguments in its memorandum dated April 30, 1968, the following appears: Briefly, the position advanced by the petitioner is: a. That the Hodges spouses were domiciled legally in the Philippines (pp. 19-20, petition). This is now a matter of res adjudicata (p. 20, petition). b. That under Philippine law, Texas law, and the renvoi doctrine, Philippine law governs the successional rights over the properties left by the deceased, Linnie Jane Hodges (pp. 20-21, petition). c. That under Philippine as well as Texas law, one-half of the Hodges properties pertains to the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges (p. 21, petition). This is not questioned by the respondents. d. That under Philippine law, the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, automatically inherited one-half of the remaining one-half of the Hodges properties as his legitime (p. 21, petition). e. That the remaining 25% of the Hodges properties was inherited by the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, under the will of his deceased spouse (pp. 22-23, petition). Upon the death of Charles Newton Hodges, the substitution 'provision of the will of the deceased, Linnie Jane Hodges, did not operate because the same is void (pp. 23-25, petition). f. That the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, asserted his sole ownership of the Hodges properties and the probate court sanctioned such assertion (pp. 25-29, petition). He in fact assumed such ownership and such was the status of the properties as of the time of his death (pp. 29-34, petition). Of similar tenor are the allegations of PCIB in some of its pleadings quoted in the earlier part of this option. On her part, it is respondent-appellee Magno's posture that under the laws of Texas, there is no system of legitime, hence the estate of Mrs. Hodges should be one-half of all the conjugal properties. It is thus unquestionable that as far as PCIB is concerned, the application to these cases of Article 16 of the Civil Code in relation to the corresponding laws of Texas would result in that the Philippine laws on succession should control. On that basis, as We have already explained above, the estate of Mrs. Hodges is the remainder of one-fourth of the conjugal partnership properties, considering that We have found that there is no legal impediment to the kind of disposition ordered by Mrs. Hodges in her will in favor of her brothers and sisters and, further, that the contention of PCIB that the same constitutes an inoperative testamentary substitution is untenable. As will be recalled, PCIB's position that there is no such estate of Mrs. Hodges is predicated exclusively on two propositions, namely: (1) that the provision in question in Mrs. Hodges' testament violates the rules on substitution of heirs under the Civil Code and (2) that, in any event, by the orders of the trial court of May 27, and December 14, 1957, the trial court had already finally and irrevocably adjudicated to her husband the whole free portion of her estate to the exclusion of her brothers and sisters, both of which poses, We have overruled. Nowhere in its pleadings, briefs and memoranda does PCIB maintain that the application of the laws of Texas would result in the other heirs of Mrs. Hodges not inheriting anything under her will. And since PCIB's representations in regard to the laws of Texas

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Wills Testamentary Succession virtually constitute admissions of fact which the other parties and the Court are being made to rely and act upon, PCIB is "not permitted to contradict them or subsequently take a position contradictory to or inconsistent with them." (5 Moran, id, p. 65, citing Cunanan vs. Amparo, 80 Phil. 227; Sta. Ana vs. Maliwat, L-23023, Aug. 31, 1968, 24 SCRA 1018). Accordingly, the only question that remains to be settled in the further proceedings hereby ordered to be held in the court below is how much more than as fixed above is the estate of Mrs. Hodges, and this would depend on (1) whether or not the applicable laws of Texas do provide in effect for more, such as, when there is no legitime provided therein, and (2) whether or not Hodges has validly waived his whole inheritance from Mrs. Hodges. In the course of the deliberations, it was brought out by some members of the Court that to avoid or, at least, minimize further protracted legal controversies between the respective heirs of the Hodges spouses, it is imperative to elucidate on the possible consequences of dispositions made by Hodges after the death of his wife from the mass of the unpartitioned estates without any express indication in the pertinent documents as to whether his intention is to dispose of part of his inheritance from his wife or part of his own share of the conjugal estate as well as of those made by PCIB after the death of Hodges. After a long discussion, the consensus arrived at was as follows: (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 constituting part of Hodges' inheritance from his wife, it appearing from the tenor of his motions of May 27 and December 11, 1957 that in asking for general authority to make sales or other disposals of properties under the jurisdiction of the court, which include his own share of the conjugal estate, he was not invoking particularly his right over his own share, but rather his right to dispose of any part of his inheritance pursuant to the will of his wife; (2) as regards sales, exchanges or other remunerative transfers, the proceeds of such sales or the properties taken in by virtue of such exchanges, shall be considered as merely the products of "physical changes" of the properties of her estate which the will expressly authorizes Hodges to make, provided that whatever of said products should remain with the estate at the time of the death of Hodges should go to her brothers and sisters; (3) the dispositions made by PCIB after the death of Hodges must naturally be deemed as covering only the properties belonging to his estate considering that being only the administrator of the estate of Hodges, PCIB could not have disposed of properties belonging to the estate of his wife. Neither could such dispositions be considered as involving conjugal properties, for the simple reason that the conjugal partnership automatically ceased when Mrs. Hodges died, and by the peculiar provision of her will, under discussion, the remainder of her share descended also automatically upon the death of Hodges to her brothers and sisters, thus outside of the scope of PCIB's administration. Accordingly, these construction of the will of Mrs. Hodges should be adhered to by the trial court in its final order of adjudication and distribution and/or partition of the two estates in question. THE APPEALS A cursory examination of the seventy-eight assignments of error in appellant PCIB's brief would readily reveal that all of them are predicated mainly on the contention that inasmuch as Hodges had already adjudicated unto himself all the properties constituting his wife's share of the conjugal partnership, allegedly with the sanction of the trial court per its order of December 14, 1957, there has been, since said date, no longer any estate of Mrs. Hodges of which appellee Magno could be administratrix, hence the various assailed orders sanctioning her actuations as such are not in accordance with law. Such being the case, with the foregoing resolution holding such posture to be untenable in fact and in law and that it is in the best interest of justice that for the time being the two estates should be administered conjointly by the respective administrators of the two estates, it should follow that said assignments of error have lost their fundamental reasons for being. There are certain matters, however, relating peculiarly to the respective orders in question, if commonly among some of them, which need further clarification. For instance, some of them authorized respondent Magno to act alone or without concurrence of PCIB. And with respect to many of said orders, PCIB further claims that either the matters involved were not properly within the probate jurisdiction of the trial court or that the procedure followed was not in accordance with the rules. Hence, the necessity of dealing separately with the merits of each of the appeals. Indeed, inasmuch as the said two estates have until now remained commingled proindiviso, due to the failure of Hodges and the lower court to liquidate the conjugal partnership, to recognize appellee Magno as Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Mrs. Hodges which is still unsegregated from that of Hodges is not to say, without any qualification, that she was therefore authorized to do and perform all her acts complained of in these appeals, sanctioned though they might have been by the trial court. As a matter of fact, it is such commingling pro-indivisoof the two estates that should deprive appellee of freedom to act independently from PCIB, as administrator of the estate of Hodges, just as, for the same reason, the latter should not have authority to act independently from her. And considering that the lower court failed to adhere consistently to this basic point of view, by allowing the two administrators to act independently of each other, in the various instances already noted in the narration of facts above, the Court has to look into the attendant circumstances of each of the appealed orders to be able to determine whether any of them has to be set aside or they may all be legally maintained notwithstanding the failure of the court a quo to observe the pertinent procedural technicalities, to the end only that graver injury to the substantive rights of the parties concerned and unnecessary and undesirable proliferation of incidents in the subject proceedings may be forestalled. In other words, We have to determine, whether or not, in the light of the unusual circumstances extant in the record, there is need to be more pragmatic and to adopt a rather unorthodox approach, so as to cause the least disturbance in rights already being exercised by numerous innocent third parties, even if to do so may not appear to be strictly in accordance with the letter of the applicable purely adjective rules. Incidentally, it may be mentioned, at this point, that it was principally on account of the confusion that might result later from PCIB's continuing to administer all the community properties, notwithstanding the certainty of the existence of the separate estate of Mrs. Hodges, and to enable both estates to function in the meantime with a relative degree of regularity, that the Court ordered in the resolution of September 8, 1972 the modification of the injunction issued pursuant to the resolutions of August 8, October 4 and December 6, 1967, by virtue of which respondent Magno was completely barred from any participation in the administration of the properties herein involved. In the September 8 resolution, We ordered that, pending this decision, Special Proceedings 1307 and 1672 should proceed jointly and that the respective administrators therein "act conjointly none of them to act singly and independently of each other for any purpose." Upon mature deliberation, We felt that to allow PCIB to continue managing or administering all the said properties to the exclusion of the administratrix of Mrs. Hodges' estate might place the heirs of Hodges at an unduly advantageous position which could result in considerable, if not irreparable, damage or injury to the other parties concerned. It is indeed to be regretted that apparently, up to this date, more than a year after said resolution, the same has not been given due regard, as may be gleaned from the fact that recently, respondent Magno has filed in these proceedings a motion to declare PCIB in contempt for alleged failure to abide therewith, notwithstanding that its repeated motions for reconsideration thereof have all been denied soon after they were filed. 9

84

Wills Testamentary Succession Going back to the appeals, it is perhaps best to begin first with what appears to Our mind to be the simplest, and then proceed to the more complicated ones in that order, without regard to the numerical sequence of the assignments of error in appellant's brief or to the order of the discussion thereof by counsel. Assignments of error numbers LXXII, LXXVII and LXXVIII. These assignments of error relate to (1) the order of the trial court of August 6, 1965 providing that "the deeds of sale (therein referred to involving properties in the name of Hodges) should be signed jointly by the PCIB, as Administrator of Testate Estate of C.N. Hodges, and Avelina A. Magno, as Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, and to this effect, the PCIB should take the necessary steps so that Administratrix Avelina A. Magno could sign the deeds of sale," (p. 248, Green Rec. on Appeal) (2) the order of October 27, 1965 denying the motion for reconsideration of the foregoing order, (pp. 276-277, id.) (3) the other order also dated October 27, 1965 enjoining inter alia, that "(a) all cash collections should be deposited in the joint account of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and estate of C. N. Hodges, (b) that whatever cash collections (that) had been deposited in the account of either of the estates should be withdrawn and since then (sic) deposited in the joint account of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and the estate of C. N. Hodges; ... (d) (that) Administratrix Magno allow the PCIB to inspect whatever records, documents and papers she may have in her possession, in the same manner that Administrator PCIB is also directed to allow Administratrix Magno to inspect whatever records, documents and papers it may have in its possession" and "(e) that the accountant of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges shall have access to all records of the transactions of both estates for the protection of the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges; and in like manner, the accountant or any authorized representative of the estate of C. N. Hodges shall have access to the records of transactions of the Linnie Jane Hodges estate for the protection of the estate of C. N. Hodges", (pp. 292295, id.) and (4) the order of February 15, 1966, denying, among others, the motion for reconsideration of the order of October 27, 1965 last referred to. (pp. 455456, id.) As may be readily seen, the thrust of all these four impugned orders is in line with the Court's above-mentioned resolution of September 8, 1972 modifying the injunction previously issued on August 8, 1967, and, more importantly, with what We have said the trial court should have always done pending the liquidation of the conjugal partnership of the Hodges spouses. In fact, as already stated, that is the arrangement We are ordering, by this decision, to be followed. Stated differently, since the questioned orders provide for joint action by the two administrators, and that is precisely what We are holding out to have been done and should be done until the two estates are separated from each other, the said orders must be affirmed. Accordingly the foregoing assignments of error must be, as they are hereby overruled. Assignments of error Numbers LXVIII to LXXI and LXXIII to LXXVI. The orders complained of under these assignments of error commonly deal with expenditures made by appellee Magno, as Administratrix of the Estate of Mrs. Hodges, in connection with her administration thereof, albeit additionally, assignments of error Numbers LXIX to LXXI put into question the payment of attorneys fees provided for in the contract for the purpose, as constituting, in effect, premature advances to the heirs of Mrs. Hodges. More specifically, assignment Number LXXIII refers to reimbursement of overtime pay paid to six employees of the court and three other persons for services in copying the court records to enable the lawyers of the administration to be fully informed of all the incidents in the proceedings. The reimbursement was approved as proper legal expenses of administration per the order of December 19, 1964, (pp. 221-222, id.) and repeated motions for reconsideration thereof were denied by the orders of January 9, 1965, (pp. 231-232, id.) October 27, 1965, (p. 277, id.) and February 15, 1966. (pp. 455-456, id.) On the other hand, Assignments Numbers LXVIII to LXXI, LXXIV and LXXV question the trial court's order of November 3, 1965 approving the agreement of June 6, 1964 between Administratrix Magno and James L. Sullivan, attorney-in-fact of the heirs of Mrs. Hodges, as Parties of the First Part, and Attorneys Raul Manglapus and Rizal R. Quimpo, as Parties of the Second Part, regarding attorneys fees for said counsel who had agreed "to prosecute and defend their interests (of the Parties of the First Part) in certain cases now pending litigation in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo , more specifically in Special Proceedings 1307 and 1672 " (pp. 126-129, id.) and directing Administratrix Magno "to issue and sign whatever check or checks maybe needed to implement the approval of the agreement annexed to the motion" as well as the "administrator of the estate of C. N. Hodges to countersign the said check or checks as the case maybe." (pp. 313320, id.), reconsideration of which order of approval was denied in the order of February 16, 1966, (p. 456,id.) Assignment Number LXXVI imputes error to the lower court's order of October 27, 1965, already referred to above, insofar as it orders that "PCIB should counter sign the check in the amount of P250 in favor of Administratrix Avelina A. Magno as her compensation as administratrix of Linnie Jane Hodges estate chargeable to the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges only." (p. 294, id.) Main contention again of appellant PCIB in regard to these eight assigned errors is that there is no such estate as the estate of Mrs. Hodges for which the questioned expenditures were made, hence what were authorized were in effect expenditures from the estate of Hodges. As We have already demonstrated in Our resolution above of the petition for certiorari and prohibition, this posture is incorrect. Indeed, in whichever way the remaining issues between the parties in these cases are ultimately resolved, 10 the final result will surely be that there are properties constituting the estate of Mrs. Hodges of which Magno is the current administratrix. It follows, therefore, that said appellee had the right, as such administratrix, to hire the persons whom she paid overtime pay and to be paid for her own services as administratrix. That she has not yet collected and is not collecting amounts as substantial as that paid to or due appellant PCIB is to her credit. Of course, she is also entitled to the services of counsel and to that end had the authority to enter into contracts for attorney's fees in the manner she had done in the agreement of June 6, 1964. And as regards to the reasonableness of the amount therein stipulated, We see no reason to disturb the discretion exercised by the probate court in determining the same. We have gone over the agreement, and considering the obvious size of the estate in question and the nature of the issues between the parties as well as the professional standing of counsel, We cannot say that the fees agreed upon require the exercise by the Court of its inherent power to reduce it. PCIB insists, however, that said agreement of June 6, 1964 is not for legal services to the estate but to the heirs of Mrs. Hodges, or, at most, to both of them, and such being the case, any payment under it, insofar as counsels' services would redound to the benefit of the heirs, would be in the nature of advances to such heirs and a premature distribution of the estate. Again, We hold that such posture cannot prevail. Upon the premise We have found plausible that there is an existing estate of Mrs. Hodges, it results that juridically and factually the interests involved in her estate are distinct and different from those involved in her estate of Hodges and vice versa. Insofar as the matters related exclusively to the estate of Mrs. Hodges, PCIB, as administrator of the estate of Hodges, is a complete stranger and it is without personality to question the actuations of the administratrix thereof regarding matters not affecting the estate of Hodges. Actually, considering the obviously considerable size of the estate of Mrs. Hodges, We see no possible cause for apprehension that when the two estates are segregated from each other, the

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Wills Testamentary Succession amount of attorney's fees stipulated in the agreement in question will prejudice any portion that would correspond to Hodges' estate. And as regards the other heirs of Mrs. Hodges who ought to be the ones who should have a say on the attorney's fees and other expenses of administration assailed by PCIB, suffice it to say that they appear to have been duly represented in the agreement itself by their attorney-in-fact, James L. Sullivan and have not otherwise interposed any objection to any of the expenses incurred by Magno questioned by PCIB in these appeals. As a matter of fact, as ordered by the trial court, all the expenses in question, including the attorney's fees, may be paid without awaiting the determination and segregation of the estate of Mrs. Hodges. Withal, the weightiest consideration in connection with the point under discussion is that at this stage of the controversy among the parties herein, the vital issue refers to the existence or non-existence of the estate of Mrs. Hodges. In this respect, the interest of respondent Magno, as the appointed administratrix of the said estate, is to maintain that it exists, which is naturally common and identical with and inseparable from the interest of the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges. Thus, it should not be wondered why both Magno and these heirs have seemingly agreed to retain but one counsel. In fact, such an arrangement should be more convenient and economical to both. The possibility of conflict of interest between Magno and the heirs of Mrs. Hodges would be, at this stage, quite remote and, in any event, rather insubstantial. Besides, should any substantial conflict of interest between them arise in the future, the same would be a matter that the probate court can very well take care of in the course of the independent proceedings in Case No. 1307 after the corresponding segregation of the two subject estates. We cannot perceive any cogent reason why, at this stage, the estate and the heirs of Mrs. Hodges cannot be represented by a common counsel. Now, as to whether or not the portion of the fees in question that should correspond to the heirs constitutes premature partial distribution of the estate of Mrs. Hodges is also a matter in which neither PCIB nor the heirs of Hodges have any interest. In any event, since, as far as the records show, the estate has no creditors and the corresponding estate and inheritance taxes, except those of the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges, have already been paid, 11 no prejudice can caused to anyone by the comparatively small amount of attorney's fees in question. And in this connection, it may be added that, although strictly speaking, the attorney's fees of the counsel of an administrator is in the first instance his personal responsibility, reimbursable later on by the estate, in the final analysis, when, as in the situation on hand, the attorney-in-fact of the heirs has given his conformity thereto, it would be idle effort to inquire whether or not the sanction given to said fees by the probate court is proper. For the foregoing reasons, Assignments of Error LXVIII to LXXI and LXXIII to LXXVI should be as they are hereby overruled. Assignments of error I to I, XIII to XV, XXII to XXV, XXXV to XXX VI, XLI to XLIII and L. These assignments of error deal with the approval by the trial court of various deeds of sale of real properties registered in the name of Hodges but executed by appellee Magno, as Administratrix of the Estate of Mrs. Hodges, purportedly in implementation of corresponding supposed written "Contracts to Sell" previously executed by Hodges during the interim between May 23, 1957, when his wife died, and December 25, 1962, the day he died. As stated on pp. 118-120 of appellant's main brief, "These are: the, contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Pepito G. Iyulores executed on February 5, 1961; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellant Esperidion Partisala, executed on April 20, 1960; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Winifredo C. Espada, executed on April 18, 1960; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Rosario Alingasa, executed on August 25, 1958; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Lorenzo Carles, executed on June 17, 1958; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Salvador S. Guzman, executed on September 13, 1960; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Florenia Barrido, executed on February 21, 1958; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Purificacion Coronado, executed on August 14, 1961; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Graciano Lucero, executed on November 27, 1961; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Ariteo Thomas Jamir, executed on May 26, 1961; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Melquiades Batisanan, executed on June 9, 1959; the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Belcezar Causing, executed on February 10, 1959 and the contract to sell between the deceased, Charles Newton Hodges, and the appellee, Adelfa Premaylon, executed on October 31, 1959, re Title No. 13815." Relative to these sales, it is the position of appellant PCIB that, inasmuch as pursuant to the will of Mrs. Hodges, her husband was to have dominion over all her estate during his lifetime, it was as absolute owner of the properties respectively covered by said sales that he executed the aforementioned contracts to sell, and consequently, upon his death, the implementation of said contracts may be undertaken only by the administrator of his estate and not by the administratrix of the estate of Mrs. Hodges. Basically, the same theory is invoked with particular reference to five other sales, in which the respective "contracts to sell" in favor of these appellees were executed by Hodges before the death of his wife, namely, those in favor of appellee Santiago Pacaonsis, Alfredo Catedral, Jose Pablico, Western Institute of Technology and Adelfa Premaylon. Anent those deeds of sale based on promises or contracts to sell executed by Hodges after the death of his wife, those enumerated in the quotation in the immediately preceding paragraph, it is quite obvious that PCIB's contention cannot be sustained. As already explained earlier, 1 1* all proceeds of remunerative transfers or dispositions made by Hodges after the death of his wife should be deemed as continuing to be parts of her estate and, therefore, subject to the terms of her will in favor of her brothers and sisters, in the sense that should there be no showing that such proceeds, whether in cash or property have been subsequently conveyed or assigned subsequently by Hodges to any third party by acts inter vivos with the result that they could not thereby belong to him anymore at the time of his death, they automatically became part of the inheritance of said brothers and sisters. The deeds here in question involve transactions which are exactly of this nature. Consequently, the payments made by the appellees should be considered as payments to the estate of Mrs. Hodges which is to be distributed and partitioned among her heirs specified in the will. The five deeds of sale predicated on contracts to sell executed Hodges during the lifetime of his wife, present a different situation. At first blush, it would appear that as to them, PCIB's position has some degree of plausibility. Considering, however, that the adoption of PCIB's theory would necessarily have tremendous repercussions and would bring about considerable disturbance of property rights that have somehow accrued already in favor of innocent third parties, the five purchasers aforenamed, the Court is inclined to take a pragmatic and practical view of the legal situation involving them by overlooking the possible technicalities in the way, the non-observance of which would not, after all, detract materially from what should substantially correspond to each and all of the parties concerned. To start with, these contracts can hardly be ignored. Bona fide third parties are involved; as much as possible, they should not be made to suffer any prejudice on

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Wills Testamentary Succession account of judicial controversies not of their own making. What is more, the transactions they rely on were submitted by them to the probate court for approval, and from already known and recorded actuations of said court then, they had reason to believe that it had authority to act on their motions, since appellee Magno had, from time to time prior to their transactions with her, been allowed to act in her capacity as administratrix of one of the subject estates either alone or conjointly with PCIB. All the sales in question were executed by Magno in 1966 already, but before that, the court had previously authorized or otherwise sanctioned expressly many of her act as administratrix involving expenditures from the estate made by her either conjointly with or independently from PCIB, as Administrator of the Estate of Hodges. Thus, it may be said that said buyers-appellees merely followed precedents in previous orders of the court. Accordingly, unless the impugned orders approving those sales indubitably suffer from some clearly fatal infirmity the Court would rather affirm them. It is quite apparent from the record that the properties covered by said sales are equivalent only to a fraction of what should constitute the estate of Mrs. Hodges, even if it is assumed that the same would finally be held to be only one-fourth of the conjugal properties of the spouses as of the time of her death or, to be more exact, one-half of her estate as per the inventory submitted by Hodges as executor, on May 12, 1958. In none of its numerous, varied and voluminous pleadings, motions and manifestations has PCIB claimed any possibility otherwise. Such being the case, to avoid any conflict with the heirs of Hodges, the said properties covered by the questioned deeds of sale executed by appellee Magno may be treated as among those corresponding to the estate of Mrs. Hodges, which would have been actually under her control and administration had Hodges complied with his duty to liquidate the conjugal partnership. Viewing the situation in that manner, the only ones who could stand to be prejudiced by the appealed orders referred to in the assignment of errors under discussion and who could, therefore, have the requisite interest to question them would be only the heirs of Mrs. Hodges, definitely not PCIB. It is of no moment in what capacity Hodges made the "contracts to sell' after the death of his wife. Even if he had acted as executor of the will of his wife, he did not have to submit those contracts to the court nor follow the provisions of the rules, (Sections 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 of Rule 89 quoted by appellant on pp. 125 to 127 of its brief) for the simple reason that by the very orders, much relied upon by appellant for other purposes, of May 27, 1957 and December 14, 1957, Hodges was "allowed or authorized" by the trial court "to continue the business in which he was engaged and to perform acts which he had been doing while the deceased was living", (Order of May 27) which according to the motion on which the court acted was "of buying and selling personal and real properties", and "to execute subsequent sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of the properties left by the said deceased Linnie Jane Hodges in consonance with the wishes conveyed in the last will and testament of the latter." (Order of December 14) In other words, if Hodges acted then as executor, it can be said that he had authority to do so by virtue of these blanket orders, and PCIB does not question the legality of such grant of authority; on the contrary, it is relying on the terms of the order itself for its main contention in these cases. On the other hand, if, as PCIB contends, he acted as heir-adjudicatee, the authority given to him by the aforementioned orders would still suffice. As can be seen, therefore, it is of no moment whether the "contracts to sell" upon which the deeds in question were based were executed by Hodges before or after the death of his wife. In a word, We hold, for the reasons already stated, that the properties covered by the deeds being assailed pertain or should be deemed as pertaining to the estate of Mrs. Hodges; hence, any supposed irregularity attending the actuations of the trial court may be invoked only by her heirs, not by PCIB, and since the said heirs are not objecting, and the defects pointed out not being strictly jurisdictional in nature, all things considered, particularly the unnecessary disturbance of rights already created in favor of innocent third parties, it is best that the impugned orders are not disturbed. In view of these considerations, We do not find sufficient merit in the assignments of error under discussion. Assignments of error V to VIII,XVI to XVIII, XXVI to XXIX, XXXVII to XXXVIII, XLIV to XLVI and LI. All these assignments of error commonly deal with alleged non-fulfillment by the respective vendees, appellees herein, of the terms and conditions embodied in the deeds of sale referred to in the assignments of error just discussed. It is claimed that some of them never made full payments in accordance with the respective contracts to sell, while in the cases of the others, like Lorenzo Carles, Jose Pablico, Alfredo Catedral and Salvador S. Guzman, the contracts with them had already been unilaterally cancelled by PCIB pursuant to automatic rescission clauses contained in them, in view of the failure of said buyers to pay arrearages long overdue. But PCIB's posture is again premised on its assumption that the properties covered by the deeds in question could not pertain to the estate of Mrs. Hodges. We have already held above that, it being evident that a considerable portion of the conjugal properties, much more than the properties covered by said deeds, would inevitably constitute the estate of Mrs. Hodges, to avoid unnecessary legal complications, it can be assumed that said properties form part of such estate. From this point of view, it is apparent again that the questions, whether or not it was proper for appellee Magno to have disregarded the cancellations made by PCIB, thereby reviving the rights of the respective buyers-appellees, and, whether or not the rules governing new dispositions of properties of the estate were strictly followed, may not be raised by PCIB but only by the heirs of Mrs. Hodges as the persons designated to inherit the same, or perhaps the government because of the still unpaid inheritance taxes. But, again, since there is no pretense that any objections were raised by said parties or that they would necessarily be prejudiced, the contentions of PCIB under the instant assignments of error hardly merit any consideration. Assignments of error IX to XII, XIX to XXI, XXX to XXIV, XXXIX to XL, XLVII to XLIX, LII and LIII to LXI. PCIB raises under these assignments of error two issues which according to it are fundamental, namely: (1) that in approving the deeds executed by Magno pursuant to contracts to sell already cancelled by it in the performance of its functions as administrator of the estate of Hodges, the trial court deprived the said estate of the right to invoke such cancellations it (PCIB) had made and (2) that in so acting, the court "arrogated unto itself, while acting as a probate court, the power to determine the contending claims of third parties against the estate of Hodges over real property," since it has in effect determined whether or not all the terms and conditions of the respective contracts to sell executed by Hodges in favor of the buyers-appellees concerned were complied with by the latter. What is worse, in the view of PCIB, is that the court has taken the word of the appellee Magno, "a total stranger to his estate as determinative of the issue". Actually, contrary to the stand of PCIB, it is this last point regarding appellee Magno's having agreed to ignore the cancellations made by PCIB and allowed the buyers-appellees to consummate the sales in their favor that is decisive. Since We have already held that the properties covered by the contracts in question should be deemed to be portions of the estate of Mrs. Hodges and not that of Hodges, it is PCIB that is a complete stranger in these incidents. Considering, therefore, that the estate of Mrs. Hodges and her heirs who are the real parties in interest having the right to oppose the consummation of the impugned sales are not objecting, and that they are the ones who are precisely urging that said sales be sanctioned, the

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Wills Testamentary Succession assignments of error under discussion have no basis and must accordingly be as they are hereby overruled. With particular reference to assignments LIII to LXI, assailing the orders of the trial court requiring PCIB to surrender the respective owner's duplicate certificates of title over the properties covered by the sales in question and otherwise directing the Register of Deeds of Iloilo to cancel said certificates and to issue new transfer certificates of title in favor of the buyers-appellees, suffice it to say that in the light of the above discussion, the trial court was within its rights to so require and direct, PCIB having refused to give way, by withholding said owners' duplicate certificates, of the corresponding registration of the transfers duly and legally approved by the court. Assignments of error LXII to LXVII All these assignments of error commonly deal with the appeal against orders favoring appellee Western Institute of Technology. As will be recalled, said institute is one of the buyers of real property covered by a contract to sell executed by Hodges prior to the death of his wife. As of October, 1965, it was in arrears in the total amount of P92,691.00 in the payment of its installments on account of its purchase, hence it received under date of October 4, 1965 and October 20, 1965, letters of collection, separately and respectively, from PCIB and appellee Magno, in their respective capacities as administrators of the distinct estates of the Hodges spouses, albeit, while in the case of PCIB it made known that "no other arrangement can be accepted except by paying all your past due account", on the other hand, Magno merely said she would "appreciate very much if you can make some remittance to bring this account up-to-date and to reduce the amount of the obligation." (See pp. 295-311, Green R. on A.) On November 3, 1965, the Institute filed a motion which, after alleging that it was ready and willing to pay P20,000 on account of its overdue installments but uncertain whether it should pay PCIB or Magno, it prayed that it be "allowed to deposit the aforesaid amount with the court pending resolution of the conflicting claims of the administrators." Acting on this motion, on November 23, 1965, the trial court issued an order, already quoted in the narration of facts in this opinion, holding that payment to both or either of the two administrators is "proper and legal", and so "movant can pay to both estates or either of them", considering that "in both cases (Special Proceedings 1307 and 1672) there is as yet no judicial declaration of heirs nor distribution of properties to whomsoever are entitled thereto." The arguments under the instant assignments of error revolve around said order. From the procedural standpoint, it is claimed that PCIB was not served with a copy of the Institute's motion, that said motion was heard, considered and resolved on November 23, 1965, whereas the date set for its hearing was November 20, 1965, and that what the order grants is different from what is prayed for in the motion. As to the substantive aspect, it is contended that the matter treated in the motion is beyond the jurisdiction of the probate court and that the order authorized payment to a person other than the administrator of the estate of Hodges with whom the Institute had contracted. The procedural points urged by appellant deserve scant consideration. We must assume, absent any clear proof to the contrary, that the lower court had acted regularly by seeing to it that appellant was duly notified. On the other hand, there is nothing irregular in the court's having resolved the motion three days after the date set for hearing the same. Moreover, the record reveals that appellants' motion for reconsideration wherein it raised the same points was denied by the trial court on March 7, 1966 (p. 462, Green R. on A.) Withal, We are not convinced that the relief granted is not within the general intent of the Institute's motion. Insofar as the substantive issues are concerned, all that need be said at this point is that they are mere reiterations of contentions We have already resolved above adversely to appellants' position. Incidentally, We may add, perhaps, to erase all doubts as to the propriety of not disturbing the lower court's orders sanctioning the sales questioned in all these appeal s by PCIB, that it is only when one of the parties to a contract to convey property executed by a deceased person raises substantial objections to its being implemented by the executor or administrator of the decedent's estate that Section 8 of Rule 89 may not apply and, consequently, the matter has, to be taken up in a separate action outside of the probate court; but where, as in the cases of the sales herein involved, the interested parties are in agreement that the conveyance be made, it is properly within the jurisdiction of the probate court to give its sanction thereto pursuant to the provisions of the rule just mentioned. And with respect to the supposed automatic rescission clauses contained in the contracts to sell executed by Hodges in favor of herein appellees, the effect of said clauses depend on the true nature of the said contracts, despite the nomenclature appearing therein, which is not controlling, for if they amount to actual contracts of sale instead of being mere unilateral accepted "promises to sell", (Art. 1479, Civil Code of the Philippines, 2nd paragraph) thepactum commissorium or the automatic rescission provision would not operate, as a matter of public policy, unless there has been a previous notarial or judicial demand by the seller (10 Manresa 263, 2nd ed.) neither of which have been shown to have been made in connection with the transactions herein involved. Consequently, We Number LXII to LXVII. find no merit in the assignments of error

SUMMARY Considering the fact that this decision is unusually extensive and that the issues herein taken up and resolved are rather numerous and varied, what with appellant making seventy-eight assignments of error affecting no less than thirty separate orders of the court a quo, if only to facilitate proper understanding of the import and extent of our rulings herein contained, it is perhaps desirable that a brief restatement of the whole situation be made together with our conclusions in regard to its various factual and legal aspects. . The instant cases refer to the estate left by the late Charles Newton Hodges as well as that of his wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, who predeceased him by about five years and a half. In their respective wills which were executed on different occasions, each one of them provided mutually as follows: "I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder (after funeral and administration expenses, taxes and debts) of my estate, both real and personal, wherever situated or located, to my beloved (spouse) to have and to hold unto (him/her) during (his/her) natural lifetime", subject to the condition that upon the death of whoever of them survived the other, the remainder of what he or she would inherit from the other is "give(n), devise(d) and bequeath(ed)" to the brothers and sisters of the latter. Mrs. Hodges died first, on May 23, 1957. Four days later, on May 27, Hodges was appointed special administrator of her estate, and in a separate order of the same date, he was "allowed or authorized to continue the business in which he was engaged, (buying and selling personal and real properties) and to perform acts which he had been doing while the deceased was living." Subsequently, on December 14, 1957, after Mrs. Hodges' will had been probated and Hodges had been appointed and had qualified as Executor thereof, upon his motion in which he asserted that he was "not only part owner of the properties left as conjugal, but also, the successor to all the properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges", the trial court ordered that "for the reasons stated in his motion dated December 11, 1957, which the Court considers well taken, ... all the sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages of all properties left by the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges executed by the Executor, Charles Newton Hodges are hereby APPROVED. The said Executor is further authorized to execute subsequent sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages

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Wills Testamentary Succession of the properties left by the said deceased Linnie Jane Hodges in consonance with the wishes contained in the last will and testament of the latter." Annually thereafter, Hodges submitted to the court the corresponding statements of account of his administration, with the particularity that in all his motions, he always made it point to urge the that "no person interested in the Philippines of the time and place of examining the herein accounts be given notice as herein executor is the only devisee or legatee of the deceased in accordance with the last will and testament already probated by the Honorable Court." All said accounts approved as prayed for. Nothing else appears to have been done either by the court a quo or Hodges until December 25, 1962. Importantly to be the provision in the will of Mrs. Hodges that her share of the conjugal partnership was to be inherited by her husband "to have and to hold unto him, my said husband, during his natural lifetime" and that "at the death of my said husband, I give, devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, wherever situated or located, to be equally divided among my brothers and sisters, share and share alike", which provision naturally made it imperative that the conjugal partnership be promptly liquidated, in order that the "rest, residue and remainder" of his wife's share thereof, as of the time of Hodges' own death, may be readily known and identified, no such liquidation was ever undertaken. The record gives no indication of the reason for such omission, although relatedly, it appears therein: 1. That in his annual statement submitted to the court of the net worth of C. N. Hodges and the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, Hodges repeatedly and consistently reported the combined income of the conjugal partnership and then merely divided the same equally between himself and the estate of the deceased wife, and, more importantly, he also, as consistently, filed corresponding separate income tax returns for each calendar year for each resulting half of such combined income, thus reporting that the estate of Mrs. Hodges had its own income distinct from his own. 2. That when the court a quo happened to inadvertently omit in its order probating the will of Mrs. Hodges, the name of one of her brothers, Roy Higdon then already deceased, Hodges lost no time in asking for the proper correction "in order that the heirs of deceased Roy Higdon may not think or believe they were omitted, and that they were really interested in the estate of the deceased Linnie Jane Hodges". 3. That in his aforementioned motion of December 11, 1957, he expressly stated that "deceased Linnie Jane Hodges died leaving no descendants or ascendants except brothers and sisters and herein petitioner as the surviving spouse, to inherit the properties of the decedent", thereby indicating that he was not excluding his wife's brothers and sisters from the inheritance. 4. That Hodges allegedly made statements and manifestations to the United States inheritance tax authorities indicating that he had renounced his inheritance from his wife in favor of her other heirs, which attitude he is supposed to have reiterated or ratified in an alleged affidavit subscribed and sworn to here in the Philippines and in which he even purportedly stated that his reason for so disclaiming and renouncing his rights under his wife's will was to "absolve (him) or (his) estate from any liability for the payment of income taxes on income which has accrued to the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges", his wife, since her death. On said date, December 25, 1962, Hodges died. The very next day, upon motion of herein respondent and appellee, Avelina A. Magno, she was appointed by the trial court as Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, in Special Proceedings No. 1307 and as Special Administratrix of the estate of Charles Newton Hodges, "in the latter case, because the last will of said Charles Newton Hodges is still kept in his vault or iron safe and that the real and personal properties of both spouses may be lost, damaged or go to waste, unless Special Administratrix is appointed," (Order of December 26, 1962, p. 27, Yellow R. on A.) although, soon enough, on December 29, 1962, a certain Harold K. Davies was appointed as her CoSpecial Administrator, and when Special Proceedings No. 1672, Testate Estate of Charles Newton Hodges, was opened, Joe Hodges, as next of kin of the deceased, was in due time appointed as Co-Administrator of said estate together with Atty. Fernando P. Mirasol, to replace Magno and Davies, only to be in turn replaced eventually by petitioner PCIB alone. At the outset, the two probate proceedings appear to have been proceeding jointly, with each administrator acting together with the other, under a sort of modus operandi. PCIB used to secure at the beginning the conformity to and signature of Magno in transactions it wanted to enter into and submitted the same to the court for approval as their joint acts. So did Magno do likewise. Somehow, however, differences seem to have arisen, for which reason, each of them began acting later on separately and independently of each other, with apparent sanction of the trial court. Thus, PCIB had its own lawyers whom it contracted and paid handsomely, conducted the business of the estate independently of Magno and otherwise acted as if all the properties appearing in the name of Charles Newton Hodges belonged solely and only to his estate, to the exclusion of the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges, without considering whether or not in fact any of said properties corresponded to the portion of the conjugal partnership pertaining to the estate of Mrs. Hodges. On the other hand, Magno made her own expenditures, hired her own lawyers, on the premise that there is such an estate of Mrs. Hodges, and dealth with some of the properties, appearing in the name of Hodges, on the assumption that they actually correspond to the estate of Mrs. Hodges. All of these independent and separate actuations of the two administrators were invariably approved by the trial court upon submission. Eventually, the differences reached a point wherein Magno, who was more cognizant than anyone else about the ins and outs of the businesses and properties of the deceased spouses because of her long and intimate association with them, made it difficult for PCIB to perform normally its functions as administrator separately from her. Thus, legal complications arose and the present judicial controversies came about. Predicating its position on the tenor of the orders of May 27 and December 14, 1957 as well as the approval by the court a quo of the annual statements of account of Hodges, PCIB holds to the view that the estate of Mrs. Hodges has already been in effect closed with the virtual adjudication in the mentioned orders of her whole estate to Hodges, and that, therefore, Magno had already ceased since then to have any estate to administer and the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges have no interests whatsoever in the estate left by Hodges. Mainly upon such theory, PCIB has come to this Court with a petition for certiorari and prohibition praying that the lower court's orders allowing respondent Magno to continue acting as administratrix of the estate of Mrs. Hodges in Special Proceedings 1307 in the manner she has been doing, as detailed earlier above, be set aside. Additionally, PCIB maintains that the provision in Mrs. Hodges' will instituting her brothers and sisters in the manner therein specified is in the nature of a testamentary substitution, but inasmuch as the purported substitution is not, in its view, in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Civil Code, it is ineffective and may not be enforced. It is further contended that, in any event, inasmuch as the Hodges spouses were both residents of the Philippines, following the decision of this Court in Aznar vs. Garcia, or the case of Christensen, 7 SCRA 95, the estate left by Mrs. Hodges could not be more than onehalf of her share of the conjugal partnership, notwithstanding the fact that she was citizen of Texas, U.S.A., in accordance with Article 16 in relation to Articles 900 and

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Wills Testamentary Succession 872 of the Civil Code. Initially, We issued a preliminary injunction against Magno and allowed PCIB to act alone. At the same time PCIB has appealed several separate orders of the trial court approving individual acts of appellee Magno in her capacity as administratrix of the estate of Mrs. Hodges, such as, hiring of lawyers for specified fees and incurring expenses of administration for different purposes and executing deeds of sale in favor of her co-appellees covering properties which are still registered in the name of Hodges, purportedly pursuant to corresponding "contracts to sell" executed by Hodges. The said orders are being questioned on jurisdictional and procedural grounds directly or indirectly predicated on the principal theory of appellant that all the properties of the two estates belong already to the estate of Hodges exclusively. On the other hand, respondent-appellee Magno denies that the trial court's orders of May 27 and December 14, 1957 were meant to be finally adjudicatory of the hereditary rights of Hodges and contends that they were no more than the court's general sanction of past and future acts of Hodges as executor of the will of his wife in due course of administration. As to the point regarding substitution, her position is that what was given by Mrs. Hodges to her husband under the provision in question was a lifetime usufruct of her share of the conjugal partnership, with the naked ownership passing directly to her brothers and sisters. Anent the application of Article 16 of the Civil Code, she claims that the applicable law to the will of Mrs. Hodges is that of Texas under which, she alleges, there is no system of legitime, hence, the estate of Mrs. Hodges cannot be less than her share or one-half of the conjugal partnership properties. She further maintains that, in any event, Hodges had as a matter of fact and of law renounced his inheritance from his wife and, therefore, her whole estate passed directly to her brothers and sisters effective at the latest upon the death of Hodges. In this decision, for the reasons discussed above, and upon the issues just summarized, We overrule PCIB's contention that the orders of May 27, 1957 and December 14, 1957 amount to an adjudication to Hodges of the estate of his wife, and We recognize the present existence of the estate of Mrs. Hodges, as consisting of properties, which, while registered in that name of Hodges, do actually correspond to the remainder of the share of Mrs. Hodges in the conjugal partnership, it appearing that pursuant to the pertinent provisions of her will, any portion of said share still existing and undisposed of by her husband at the time of his death should go to her brothers and sisters share and share alike. Factually, We find that the proven circumstances relevant to the said orders do not warrant the conclusion that the court intended to make thereby such alleged final adjudication. Legally, We hold that the tenor of said orders furnish no basis for such a conclusion, and what is more, at the time said orders were issued, the proceedings had not yet reached the point when a final distribution and adjudication could be made. Moreover, the interested parties were not duly notified that such disposition of the estate would be done. At best, therefore, said orders merely allowed Hodges to dispose of portions of his inheritance in advance of final adjudication, which is implicitly permitted under Section 2 of Rule 109, there being no possible prejudice to third parties, inasmuch as Mrs. Hodges had no creditors and all pertinent taxes have been paid. More specifically, We hold that, on the basis of circumstances presently extant in the record, and on the assumption that Hodges' purported renunciation should not be upheld, the estate of Mrs. Hodges inherited by her brothers and sisters consists of one-fourth of the community estate of the spouses at the time of her death, minus whatever Hodges had gratuitously disposed of therefrom during the period from, May 23, 1957, when she died, to December 25, 1962, when he died provided, that with regard to remunerative dispositions made by him during the same period, the proceeds thereof, whether in cash or property, should be deemed as continuing to be part of his wife's estate, unless it can be shown that he had subsequently disposed of them gratuitously. At this juncture, it may be reiterated that the question of what are the pertinent laws of Texas and what would be the estate of Mrs. Hodges under them is basically one of fact, and considering the respective positions of the parties in regard to said factual issue, it can already be deemed as settled for the purposes of these cases that, indeed, the free portion of said estate that could possibly descend to her brothers and sisters by virtue of her will may not be less than one-fourth of the conjugal estate, it appearing that the difference in the stands of the parties has reference solely to the legitime of Hodges, PCIB being of the view that under the laws of Texas, there is such a legitime of one-fourth of said conjugal estate and Magno contending, on the other hand, that there is none. In other words, hereafter, whatever might ultimately appear, at the subsequent proceedings, to be actually the laws of Texas on the matter would no longer be of any consequence, since PCIB would anyway be in estoppel already to claim that the estate of Mrs. Hodges should be less than as contended by it now, for admissions by a party related to the effects of foreign laws, which have to be proven in our courts like any other controverted fact, create estoppel. In the process, We overrule PCIB's contention that the provision in Mrs. Hodges' will in favor of her brothers and sisters constitutes ineffective hereditary substitutions. But neither are We sustaining, on the other hand, Magno's pose that it gave Hodges only a lifetime usufruct. We hold that by said provision, Mrs. Hodges simultaneously instituted her brothers and sisters as co-heirs with her husband, with the condition, however, that the latter would have complete rights of dominion over the whole estate during his lifetime and what would go to the former would be only the remainder thereof at the time of Hodges' death. In other words, whereas they are not to inherit only in case of default of Hodges, on the other hand, Hodges was not obliged to preserve anything for them. Clearly then, the essential elements of testamentary substitution are absent; the provision in question is a simple case of conditional simultaneous institution of heirs, whereby the institution of Hodges is subject to a partial resolutory condition the operative contingency of which is coincidental with that of the suspensive condition of the institution of his brothers and sisters-in-law, which manner of institution is not prohibited by law. We also hold, however, that the estate of Mrs. Hodges inherited by her brothers and sisters could be more than just stated, but this would depend on (1) whether upon the proper application of the principle of renvoi in relation to Article 16 of the Civil Code and the pertinent laws of Texas, it will appear that Hodges had no legitime as contended by Magno, and (2) whether or not it can be held that Hodges had legally and effectively renounced his inheritance from his wife. Under the circumstances presently obtaining and in the state of the record of these cases, as of now, the Court is not in a position to make a final ruling, whether of fact or of law, on any of these two issues, and We, therefore, reserve said issues for further proceedings and resolution in the first instance by the court a quo, as hereinabove indicated. We reiterate, however, that pending such further proceedings, as matters stand at this stage, Our considered opinion is that it is beyond cavil that since, under the terms of the will of Mrs. Hodges, her husband could not have anyway legally adjudicated or caused to be adjudicated to himself her whole share of their conjugal partnership, albeit he could have disposed any part thereof during his lifetime, the resulting estate of Mrs. Hodges, of which Magno is the uncontested administratrix, cannot be less than one-fourth of the conjugal partnership properties, as of the time of her death, minus what, as explained earlier, have beengratuitously disposed of therefrom, by Hodges in favor of third persons since then, for even if it were assumed that, as contended by PCIB, under Article 16 of the Civil Code and applying renvoi the laws of the Philippines are the ones ultimately applicable, such one-fourth share would be her free disposable portion, taking into account already the legitime of her husband under Article 900 of the Civil Code. The foregoing considerations leave the Court with no alternative than to conclude that in predicating its orders on the assumption, albeit unexpressed therein, that 90

Wills Testamentary Succession there is an estate of Mrs. Hodges to be distributed among her brothers and sisters and that respondent Magno is the legal administratrix thereof, the trial court acted correctly and within its jurisdiction. Accordingly, the petition for certiorari and prohibition has to be denied. The Court feels however, that pending the liquidation of the conjugal partnership and the determination of the specific properties constituting her estate, the two administrators should act conjointly as ordered in the Court's resolution of September 8, 1972 and as further clarified in the dispositive portion of its decision. Anent the appeals from the orders of the lower court sanctioning payment by appellee Magno, as administratrix, of expenses of administration and attorney's fees, it is obvious that, with Our holding that there is such an estate of Mrs. Hodges, and for the reasons stated in the body of this opinion, the said orders should be affirmed. This We do on the assumption We find justified by the evidence of record, and seemingly agreed to by appellant PCIB, that the size and value of the properties that should correspond to the estate of Mrs. Hodges far exceed the total of the attorney's fees and administration expenses in question. With respect to the appeals from the orders approving transactions made by appellee Magno, as administratrix, covering properties registered in the name of Hodges, the details of which are related earlier above, a distinction must be made between those predicated on contracts to sell executed by Hodges before the death of his wife, on the one hand, and those premised on contracts to sell entered into by him after her death. As regards the latter, We hold that inasmuch as the payments made by appellees constitute proceeds of sales of properties belonging to the estate of Mrs. Hodges, as may be implied from the tenor of the motions of May 27 and December 14, 1957, said payments continue to pertain to said estate, pursuant to her intent obviously reflected in the relevant provisions of her will, on the assumption that the size and value of the properties to correspond to the estate of Mrs. Hodges would exceed the total value of all the properties covered by the impugned deeds of sale, for which reason, said properties may be deemed as pertaining to the estate of Mrs. Hodges. And there being no showing that thus viewing the situation, there would be prejudice to anyone, including the government, the Court also holds that, disregarding procedural technicalities in favor of a pragmatic and practical approach as discussed above, the assailed orders should be affirmed. Being a stranger to the estate of Mrs. Hodges, PCIB has no personality to raise the procedural and jurisdictional issues raised by it. And inasmuch as it does not appear that any of the other heirs of Mrs. Hodges or the government has objected to any of the orders under appeal, even as to these parties, there exists no reason for said orders to be set aside. DISPOSITIVE PART IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING PREMISES, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING the petition in G. R. Nos. L-27860 and L-27896, and AFFIRMING, in G. R. Nos. L-27936-37 and the other thirty-one numbers hereunder ordered to be added after payment of the corresponding docket fees, all the orders of the trial court under appeal enumerated in detail on pages 35 to 37 and 80 to 82 of this decision; the existence of the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, with respondent-appellee Avelina A. Magno, as administratrix thereof is recognized, and it is declared that, until final judgment is ultimately rendered regarding (1) the manner of applying Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines to the situation obtaining in these cases and (2) the factual and legal issue of whether or not Charles Newton Hodges had effectively and legally renounced his inheritance under the will of Linnie Jane Hodges, the said estate consists of one-fourth of the community properties of the said spouses, as of the time of the death of the wife on May 23, 1957, minus whatever the husband had already gratuitously disposed of in favor of third persons from said date until his death, provided, first, that with respect to remunerative dispositions, the proceeds thereof shall continue to be part of the wife's estate, unless subsequently disposed of gratuitously to third parties by the husband, and second, that should the purported renunciation be declared legally effective, no deductions whatsoever are to be made from said estate; in consequence, the preliminary injunction of August 8, 1967, as amended on October 4 and December 6, 1967, is lifted, and the resolution of September 8, 1972, directing that petitionerappellant PCIB, as Administrator of the Testate Estate of Charles Newton Hodges, in Special Proceedings 1672, and respondent-appellee Avelina A. Magno, as Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, in Special Proceedings 1307, should act thenceforth always conjointly, never independently from each other, as such administrators, is reiterated, and the same is made part of this judgment and shall continue in force, pending the liquidation of the conjugal partnership of the deceased spouses and the determination and segregation from each other of their respective estates, provided, that upon the finality of this judgment, the trial court should immediately proceed to the partition of the presently combined estates of the spouses, to the end that the one-half share thereof of Mrs. Hodges may be properly and clearly identified; thereafter, the trial court should forthwith segregate the remainder of the one-fourth herein adjudged to be her estate and cause the same to be turned over or delivered to respondent for her exclusive administration in Special Proceedings 1307, while the other one-fourth shall remain under the joint administration of said respondent and petitioner under a joint proceedings in Special Proceedings 1307 and 1672, whereas the half unquestionably pertaining to Hodges shall be administered by petitioner exclusively in Special Proceedings 1672, without prejudice to the resolution by the trial court of the pending motions for its removal as administrator 12; and this arrangement shall be maintained until the final resolution of the two issues of renvoi and renunciation hereby reserved for further hearing and determination, and the corresponding complete segregation and partition of the two estates in the proportions that may result from the said resolution. Generally and in all other respects, the parties and the court a quo are directed to adhere henceforth, in all their actuations in Special Proceedings 1307 and 1672, to the views passed and ruled upon by the Court in the foregoing opinion. Appellant PCIB is ordered to pay, within five (5) days from notice hereof, thirty-one additional appeal docket fees, but this decision shall nevertheless become final as to each of the parties herein after fifteen (15) days from the respective notices to them hereof in accordance with the rules. Costs against petitioner-appellant PCIB. Zaldivar, Castro, Esguerra and Fernandez, JJ., concur. Makasiar, Antonio, Muoz Palma and Aquino, JJ., concur in the result.

Separate Opinions FERNANDO, J., concurring: I concur on the basis of the procedural pronouncements in the opinion.

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring: I concur in the result of dismissal of the petition for certiorari and prohibition in Cases L-27860 and L-27896 and with the affirmance of the appealed orders of the probate court in Cases L-27936-37. I also concur with the portion of the dispositive part of the judgment penned by Mr. Justice Barredo decreeing thelifting of the Court's writ of preliminary injunction of August 8, 1967 as amended on October 4, and December 6, 1967 1 and ordering in

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Wills Testamentary Succession lieu thereof that the Court's resolution of September 8, 1972 2 which directed thatpetitioner-appellant PCIB as administrator of C. N. (Charles Newton) Hodges' estate (Sp. Proc. No. 1672 and respondent-appellee Avelina A. Magno as administratrix of Linnie Jane Hodges' estate (Sp. Proc. No. 1307) should act always conjointly never independently from each other, as such administrators, is reiterated and shall continue in force and made part of the judgment. It is manifest from the record that petitioner-appellant PCIB's primal contention in the cases at bar belatedly filedby it with this Court on August 1, 1967 (over ten (10) years after Linnie Jane Hodges' death on May 23, 1957 and (over five (5) years after her husband C.N. Hodges' death on December 25, 1962 during which time both estates have been pending settlement and distribution to the decedents' respective rightful heirs all this time up to now) that the probate court per its order of December 14, 1957 (supplementing an earlier order of May 25, 1957) 3 in granting C. N. Hodges' motion as Executor of his wife Linnie's estate to continue their "business of buying and selling personal and real properties" and approving "all sales, conveyances, leases and mortgages" made and to be made by him as such executor under his obligation to submit his yearly accounts in effect declared him as sole heir of his wife's estate and nothing remains to be done except to formally close her estate (Sp. Proc. No. 1307) as her estate was thereby merged with his own so that nothing remains of it that may be adjudicated to her brothers and sisters as her designated heirs after him, 4 is wholly untenable and deserves scant consideration. Aside from having been put forth as an obvious afterthought much too late in the day, this contention of PCIB that there no longer exists any separate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges after the probate court's order of December 14, 1957 goes against the very acts and judicial admissions of C.N. Hodges as her executor whereby he consistently recognized the separate existence and identity of his wife's estate apart from his own separate estate and from his own share of their conjugal partnership and estate and "never considered the whole estate as a single one belonging exclusively to himself" during the entire period that he survived her for over five (5) years up to the time of his own death on December 25, 1962 5 and against the identical acts and judicial admissions of PCIB as administrator of C.N. Hodges' estate until PCIB sought in 1966 to take over both estates as pertaining to its sole administration. PCIB is now barred and estopped from contradicting or taking a belated position contradictory to or inconsistent with its previous admissions 6 (as well as those of C.N. Hodges himself in his lifetime and of whose estate PCIB is merely an administrator) recognizing the existence and identity of Linnie Jane Hodges' separate estate and the legal rights and interests therein of her brothers and sisters as her designated heirs in her will. PCIB's petition for certiorari and prohibition to declare all acts of the probate court in Linnie Jane Hodges' estate subsequent to its order of December 14, 1957 as "null and void for having been issued without jurisdiction" must therefore be dismissed with the rejection of its belated and untenable contention that there is no longer any estate of Mrs. Hodges of which respondent Avelina Magno is the duly appointed and acting administratrix. PCIB's appeal 7 from the probate court's various orders recognizing respondent Magno as administratrix of Linnie's estate (Sp. Proc No. 1307) and sanctioning her acts of administration of said estate and approving the sales contracts executed by her with the various individual appellees, which involve basically the same primal issue raised in the petition as to whether there still exists a separate estate of Linnie of which respondent-appellee Magno may continue to be the administratrix, must necessarily fail a result of the Court's main opinion at bar that there does exist such an estate and that the two estates (husband's and wife's) must be administered cojointlyby their respective administrators (PCIB and Magno). The dispositive portion of the main opinion The main opinion disposes that: IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING PREMISES, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING the petition in G. R. Nos. L-27860 and L-27896, and AFFIRMING, in G. R. Nos. L-27936-37 and the other thirty-one numbers hereunder ordered to be added after payment of the corresponding docket fees, all the orders of the trial court under appeal enumerated in detail on pages 35 to 37 and 80 to 82 of this decision: The existence of the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges, with respondentappellee Avelina A. Magno, as administratrix thereof is recognized, and It is declared that, until final judgment is ultimately rendered regarding (1) the manner of applying Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines to the situation obtaining in these cases and (2) the factual and legal issues of whether or not Charles Newton Hodges has effectively and legally renounced his inheritance under the will of Linnie Jane Hodges, the said estate consists of one-fourthof the community properties of the said spouses, as of the time of the death of the wife on May 23, 1957, minus whatever the husband had already gratuitously disposed of in favor of third persons from said date until his death, provided, first, that with respect to remunerative dispositions, the proceeds thereof shall continue to be part of the wife's estate, unless subsequently disposed of gratuitously to third parties by the husband, and second, that should the purported renunciation be declared legally effective, no deduction whatsoever are to be made from said estate; In consequence, the preliminary injunction of August 8, 1967, as amended on October 4 and December 6, 1967, is lifted and the resolution of September 8, 1972, directing that petitioner-appellant PCIB, as Administrator of the Testate Estate of Charles Newton Hodges in Special Proceedings 1672, and respondent-appellee Avelina A. Magno, as Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges in Special Proceedings 1307, should act thenceforth always conjointly, never independently from each other, as such administrators, is reiterated, and the same is made part of this judgment and shall continue in force, pending the liquidation of the conjugal partnership of the deceased spouses and the determination and segregation from each other of their respective estates; provided, that upon the finality of this judgment, the trial court should immediately proceed to the partition of the presently combined estates of the spouses, to the end that the one-half share thereof of Mrs. Hodges may be properly and clearly identified; Thereafter, the trial court should forthwith segregate the remainder of the one-fourth herein adjudged to be her estate and cause the same to be turned over or delivered to respondent for her exclusive administration in Special Proceedings 1307, while the other one-fourth shall remain under the joint administrative of said respondent and petitioner under a joint proceedings in Special Proceedings 1307 and 1672, whereas the half unquestionably pertaining to Hodges shall be administered bypetitioner exclusively in Special Proceedings 1672, without prejudice to the resolution by the trial court of the pending motions for its removal as administrator;

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Wills Testamentary Succession And this arrangement shall be maintained until the final resolution of the two issues of renvoi andrenunciation hereby reserved for further hearing and determination, and the corresponding completesegregation and partition of the two estates in the proportions that may result from the said resolution. Generally and in all other respects, the parties and the court a quo are directed to adhere henceforth, in all their actuations in Special Proceedings 1307 and 1672, to the views passed and ruled upon by the Court in the foregoing opinion. 8 Minimum estimate of Mrs. Hodges' estate:One-fourth of conjugal properties. The main opinion in declaring the existence of a separate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges which shall pass to her brothers and sisters with right of representation (by their heirs) as her duly designated heirs declares that her estate consists as a minimum (i.e. assuming (1) that under Article 16 of the Philippine Civil Code C. N. Hodges as surviving husband was entitled to one-half of her estate as legitime and (2) that he had not effectively and legallyrenounced his inheritance under her will) of "one-fourth of the community properties of the said spouses, as of the time of the death of the wife on May 23, 1957, minus whatever the husband had already gratuitously disposed of in favor of third persons from said date until his death," with the proviso that proceeds of remunerative dispositions or sales for valuable consideration made by C. N. Hodges after his wife Linnie's death shall continue to be part of her estate unless subsequently disposed of by him gratuitously to third parties subject to the condition, however, that if he is held to have validly and effectively renounced his inheritance under his wife's will, no deductions of any dispositions made by Hodges even if gratuitously are to be made from his wife Linnie's estate which shall passintact to her brothers and sisters as her designated heirs called in her will to succeed to her estate upon the death of her husband C. N. Hodges. Differences with the main opinion I do not share the main opinion's view that Linnie Jane Hodges instituted her husband as her heir under her will "to have dominion over all her estate during his lifetime ... as absolute owner of the properties ..." 9 and that she bequeathed "the whole of her estate to be owned and enjoyed by him as universal and sole heir with absolute dominion over them only during his lifetime, which means that while he could completely and absolutely dispose of any portion thereof inter vivos to anyone other than himself, he was not free to do so mortis causa, and all his rights to what might remain upon his death would cease entirely upon the occurrence of that contingency, inasmuch as the right of his brothers and sisters-in-law to the inheritance, although vested already upon the death of Mrs. Hodges, would automatically become operative upon the occurrence of the death of Hodges in the event of actual existence of any remainder of her estate then." 10 As will be amplified hereinafter, I do not subscribe to such a view that Linnie Jane Hodges willed "full and absolute ownership" and "absolute dominion" over her estate to her husband, but rather that she named her husband C. N. Hodges and her brothers and sisters as instituted heirs with a term under Article 885 of our Civil Code, to wit, Hodges as instituted heir with a resolutory term whereunder his right to the succession ceased in diem upon arrival of the resolutory term of his death on December 25, 1962 and her brothers and sisters as instituted heirs with asuspensive term whereunder their right to the succession commenced ex die upon arrival of the suspensive term of the death of C. N. Hodges on December 25, 1962. Hence, while agreeing with the main opinion that the proceeds of all remunerative dispositions made by C. N. Hodges after his wife's death remain an integral part of his wife's estate which she willed to her brothers and sisters, I submit that C. N. Hodges could not validly make gratuitous dispositions of any part or all of his wife's estate "completely and absolutely dispose of any portion thereof inter vivos to anyone other than himself" in the language of the main opinion, supra and thereby render ineffectual and nugatory her institution of her brothers and sisters as her designated heirs to succeed to her whole estate "at the death of (her) husband." If according to the main opinion, Hodges could not make such gratuitous "complete and absolute dispositions" of his wife Linnie's estate "mortis causa," it would seem that by the same token and rationale he was likewise proscribed by the will from making such dispositions of Linnie's estate inter vivos. I believe that the two questions of renvoi and renunciation should ber esolved preferentially and expeditiously by the probate court ahead of the partition and segregation of the minimum one-fourth of the conjugal or community properties constituting Linnie Jane Hodges' separate estate, which task considering that it is now seventeen (17) years since Linnie Jane Hodges' death and her conjugal estate with C. N. Hodges has remained unliquidated up to now might take a similar number of years to unravel with the numerous items, transactions and details of the sizable estates involved. Such partition of the minimum one-fourth would not be final, since if the two prejudicial questions of renvoi andrenunciation were resolved favorably to Linnie's estate meaning to say that if it should be held that C. N. Hodges is not entitled to any legitime of her estate and at any rate he had totally renounced his inheritance under the will), then Linnie's estate would consist not only of the minimum onefourth but one-half of the conjugal or community properties of the Hodges spouses, which would require again the partition and segregation of still another one-fourth of said. properties to complete Linnie's separate estate. My differences with the main opinion involve further the legal concepts, effects and consequences of the testamentary dispositions of Linnie Jane Hodges in her will and the question of the best to reach a solution of the pressing question of expediting the closing of the estates which after all do not appear to involve any outstanding debts nor any dispute between the heirs and should therefore be promptly settled now after all these years without any further undue complications and delays and distributed to the heirs for their full enjoyment and benefit. As no consensus appears to have been reached thereon by a majority of the Court, I propose to state views as concisely as possible with the sole end in view that they may be of some assistance to the probate court and the parties in reaching an expeditious closing and settlement of the estates of the Hodges spouses. Two Assumptions As indicated above, the declaration of the minimum of Mrs. Hodges' estate as onefourth of the conjugal properties is based on two assumptions most favorable to C. N. Hodges' estate and his heirs, namely (1) that the probate court must accept the renvoi or "reference back" 11 allegedly provided by the laws of the State of Texas (of which state the Hodges spouses were citizens) whereby the civil laws of the Philippines as the domicile of the Hodges spouses would govern their succession notwithstanding the provisions of Article 16 of our Civil Code (which provides that the national law of the decedents, in this case, of Texas, shall govern their succession) with the result that her estate would consist of no more than onefourth of the conjugal properties since the legitime of her husband (the other onefourth of said conjugal properties or one-half of her estate, under Article 900 of our Civil Code) could not then be disposed of nor burdened with any condition by her and (2) that C.N. Hodges had noteffectively and legally renounced his inheritance under his wife's will. These two assumptions are of course flatly disputed by respondent-appellee Magno as Mrs. Hodges' administratrix, who avers that the law of the State of Texas governs her succession and does not provide for and legitime, hence, her brothers and 93

Wills Testamentary Succession sisters are entitled to succeed to the whole of her share of the conjugal properties which is one-half thereof and that in any event, Hodges had totally renounced all his rights under the will. The main opinion concedes that "(I)n the interest of settling the estates herein involved soonest, it would be best, indeed, if these conflicting claims of the parties were determined in these proceedings." It observes however that this cannot be done due to the inadequacy of the evidence submitted by the parties in the probate court and of the parties' discussion, viz, "there is no clear and reliable proof of what the possibly applicable laws of Texas are. Then also, the genuineness of the documents relied upon by respondent Magno [re Hodges' renunciation] is disputed." 12 Hence, the main opinion expressly reserves resolution and determination on these two conflicting claims and issues which it deems "are not properly before the Court now," 13 and specifically holds that "(A)ccordingly, the only question that remains to be settled in the further proceedings hereby ordered to be held in the court below is how much more than as fixed above is the estate of Mrs. Hodges, and this would depend on (1) whether or not the applicable laws of Texas do provide in effect for more, such as, when there is no legitime provided therein, and (2) whether or not Hodges has validly waived his whole inheritance from Mrs. Hodges." 14 Suggested guidelines Considering that the only unresolved issue has thus been narrowed down and in consonance with the ruling spirit of our probate law calling for the prompt settlement of the estates of deceased persons for the benefit of creditors and those entitled to the residue by way of inheritance considering that the estates have been long pending settlement since 1957 and 1962, respectively it was felt that the Court should lay down specific guidelines for the guidance of the probate court towards the end that it may expedite the closing of the protracted estates proceedings below to the mutual satisfaction of the heirs and without need of a dissatisfied party elevating its resolution of this only remaining issue once more to this Court and dragging out indefinitely the proceedings. After all, the only question that remains depends for its determination on the resolution of the two questions ofrenvoi and renunciation, i.e. as to whether C. N. Hodges can claim a legitime and whether he had renounced the inheritance. But as already indicated above, the Court without reaching a consensus which would finally resolve the conflicting claims here and now in this case opted that "these and other relevant matters should first be threshed out fully in the trial court in the proceedings hereinafter to be held for the purpose of ascertaining and/or distributing the estate of Mrs. Hodges to her heirs in accordance with her duly probated will." 15 The writer thus feels that laying down the premises and principles governing the nature, effects and consequences of Linnie Jane Hodges' testamentary dispositions in relation to her conjugal partnership and co-ownership of properties with her husband C. N. Hodges and "thinking out" the end results, depending on whether the evidence directed to be formally received by the probate court would bear out that under renvoi C. N. Hodges was or was not entitled to claim a legitime of one-half of his wife Linnie's estate and/or that he had or had not effectively and validly renounced his inheritance should help clear the decks, as it were, and assist the probate court in resolving the only remaining question of how much more than the minimum one-fourth of the community properties of the Hodges spouses herein finally determined should be awarded as the separate estate of Linnie, particularly since the views expressed in the main opinion have not gained a consensus of the Court. Hence, the following suggested guidelines, which needless to state, represent the personal opinion and views of the writer: 1. To begin with, as pointed out in the main opinion, "according to Hodges' own inventory submitted by him as executor of the estate of his wife, practically all their properties were conjugal which means that the spouses haveequal shares therein." 16 2. Upon the death of Mrs. Hodges on May 23, 1957, and the dissolution thereby of the marriage, the law imposed upon Hodges as surviving husband the duty of inventorying, administering and liquidating the conjugal or community property. 17 Hodges failed to discharge this duty of liquidating the conjugal partnership and estate. On the contrary, he sought and obtained authorization from the probate court to continue the conjugal partnership'sbusiness of buying and selling real and personal properties. In his annual accounts submitted to the probate court as executor of Mrs. Hodges' estate, Hodges thusconsistently reported the considerable combined income (in six figures) of the conjugal partnership or coownershipand then divided the same equally between himself and Mrs. Hodges' estate and as consistently filed separate income tax returns and paid the income taxes for each resulting half of such combined income corresponding to his own and to Mrs. Hodges' estate. 18 (Parenthetically, he could not in law do this, had he adjudicated Linnie's entire estate to himself, thus supporting the view advanced even in the main opinion that "Hodges waived not only his rights to the fruits but to the properties themselves." 19 By operation of the law of trust 20 as well as by his own acknowledgment and acts, therefore, all transactions made by Hodges after his wife's death were deemed for and on behalf of their unliquidated conjugal partnership andcommunity estate and were so reported and treated by him. 3. With this premise established that all transactions of Hodges after his wife's death were for and on behalf of their unliquidated conjugal partnership and community estate, share and share alike, it should be clear that nogratuitous dispositions, if any, made by C. N. Hodges from his wife Linnie's estate should be deducted from herseparate estate as held in the main opinion. On the contrary, any such gratuitous dispositions should be charged to his own share of the conjugal estate since he had no authority or right to make any gratuitous dispositions of Linnie's properties to the prejudice of her brothers and sisters whom she called to her succession upon his death, not to mention that the very authority obtained by him from the probate court per its orders of May 25, and December 14, 1957 was to continue the conjugal partnership's business of buying and selling real properties for the account of their unliquidated conjugal estate and co-ownership, share and share alike and not to make anyfree dispositions of Linnie's estate. 4. All transactions as well after the death on December 25, 1962 of Hodges himself appear perforce and necessarily to have been conducted, on the same premise, for and on behalf of their unliquidated conjugal partnership and/or co-ownership, share and share alike since the conjugal partnership remained unliquidated which is another way of saying that such transactions, purchases and sales, mostly the latter, must be deemed in effect to have been made for the respective estates of C. N. Hodges and of his wife Linnie Jane Hodges, as both estates continued to have an equal stake and share in the conjugal partnership which was not only leftunliquidated but continued as a co-ownership or joint business with the probate court's approval by Hodges during the five-year period that he survived his wife. This explains the probate court's action of requiring that deeds of sale executed by PCIB as Hodges' estate's administrator be "signed jointly" by respondent Magno as Mrs. Hodges' estate's administratrix, as well as its order authorizing payment by lot purchasers from the Hodges to either estate, since "there is as yet no judicial declaration of heirs nor distribution of properties to whomsoever are entitled thereto." 22

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Wills Testamentary Succession And this equally furnishes the rationale of the main opinion for continued conjoint administration by the administrators of the two estates of the deceased spouses, "pending the liquidation of the conjugal partnership,"23 since "it is but logical that both estates should be administered jointly by the representatives of both, pending their segregation from each other. Particularly ... because the actuations so far of PCIB evince a determined, albeit groundless, intent to exclude the other heirs of Mrs. Hodges from their inheritance." 24 5. Antly by the representatives of both, pending their segregation from each other. Particularly ... because the actuations so far of PCIB evince a determined, albeit groundless, intent to exclude the other heirs of Mrs. Hodges from their inheritance." 24 5. As stressed in the main opinion, the determination of the only unresolved issue of how much more than the minimum of one-fourth of the community or conjugal properties of the Hodges spouses pertains to Mrs. Hodges' estate depends on the twin questions of renunciation and renvoi. It directed consequently that "a joint hearing of the two probate proceedings herein involved" be held by the probate court for the reception of "further evidence" in order to finally resolved these twin questions. 25 (a) On the question of renunciation, it is believed that all that the probate court has to do is to receive formally in evidence the various documents annexed to respondent Magno's answer at bar, 26 namely: Copy of the U.S. Estate Tax Return filed on August 8, 1958 by C. N. Hodges for his wife Linnie's estate wherein he purportedly declared that he was renouncing his inheritance under his wife's will in favor of her brothers and sisters as co-heirs designated with him and that it was his "intention (as) surviving husband of the deceased to distribute the remaining property and interests of the deceased in their community estate to the devisee and legatees named in the will when the debts, liabilities, taxes and expenses of administration are finally determined and paid;" 27 and The affidavit of ratification of such renunciation (which places him in estoppel) allegedly executed on August 9, 1962 by C. N. Hodges in Iloilo City wherein he reaffirmed that "... on August 8, 1958, I renounced and disclaimed any and all right to receive the rents, emoluments and income from said estate" and further declared that "(T)he purpose of this affidavit is to ratify and confirm, and I do hereby ratify and confirm, the declaration made in schedule M of said return and hereby formally disclaim and renounce any right on my part to receive any of the said rents, emoluments and income from the estate of my deceased wife, Linnie Jane Hodges. This affidavit is made to absolve me or my estate from any liability for the payment of income taxes on income which has accrued to the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges since the death of the said Linnie Jane Hodges on May 23, 1957." 28 (b) On the question of renvoi, all that remains for the probate court to do is to formally receive in evidence duly authenticated copies of the laws of the State of Texas governing the succession of Linnie Jane Hodges and her husband C. N. Hodges as citizens of said State at the time of their respective deaths on May 23, 1957 andDecember 25, 1962. 29 6. The text and tenor of the declarations by C. N. Hodges of renunciation of his inheritance from his wife in favor of her other named heirs in her will (her brothers and sisters and their respective heirs) as ratified and reiteratedexpressly in his affidavit of renunciation executed four years later for the avowed purpose of not being held liable for payment of income taxes on income which has accrued to his wife's estate since her death indicate a valid and effective renunciation. Once the evidence has been formally admitted and its genuineness and legal effectivity established by the probate court, the renunciation by C. N. Hodges must be given due effect with the result that C. N. Hodges therefore acquired no part of his wife's one-half share of the community properties since he removed himself as an heir by virtue of his renunciation. By simple substitution then under Articles 857 and 859 of our Civil Code 30 and by virtue of the will's institution of heirs, since "the heir originally instituted C. N. Hodges) does not become an heir"31 by force of his renunciation, Mrs. Hodges' brothers and sisters whom she designated as her heirs upon her husband's death are called immediately to her succession. Consequently, the said community and conjugal properties would then pertain pro indiviso share and share alike to their respective estates, with each estate, however, shouldering its own expenses of administration, estate and inheritance taxes, if any remain unpaid, attorneys' fees and other like expenses and the net remainder to be adjudicated directly to the decedents' respective brothers and sisters (and their heirs) as the heirs duly designated in their respective wills. The question of renvoi becomes immaterial since most laws and our lawspermit such renunciation of inheritance. 7. If there were no renunciation (or the same may somehow be declared to have not been valid and effective) by C. N. Hodges of his inheritance from his wife, however, what would be the consequence? (a) If the laws on succession of the State of Texas do provide for renvoi or "reference back" to Philippine law as the domiciliary law of the Hodges' spouses governing their succession, then petitioners' view that Mrs. Hodges' estate would consist only of the minimum of "one-fourth of the community properties of the said spouses, as of the time of (her) death on May 23, 1957" would have to be sustained and C. N. Hodges' estate would consist of three-fourths of the community properties, comprising his own one-half (or two-fourths) share and the other fourth of Mrs. Hodges' estate as the legitime granted him as surviving spouse by Philippine law (Article 900 of the Civil Code) which could not be disposed of nor burdened with any condition by Mrs. Hodges as testatrix. (b) If the laws on succession of the State of Texas do not provide for such renvoi and respondent Magno's assertion is correct that the Texas law which would then prevail, provides for no legitime for C. N. Hodges as the surviving spouse, then respondent Magno's assertion that Mrs. Hodges' estate would consist of one-half of the community properties (with the other half pertaining to C. N. Hodges) would have to be sustained. The community and conjugal properties would then pertain share and share alike to their respective estates, with each estate shouldering its own expenses of administration in the same manner stated in the last paragraph of paragraph 6 hereof. . 8. As to the nature of the institution of heirs made by Mrs. Hodges in her will, the main opinion holds that "(T)he brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges are not substitutes for Hodges; rather, they are also heirs institutedsimultaneously with Hodges," but goes further and holds that "it was not the usufruct alone of her estate ... that she bequeathed to Hodges during his lifetime, but the full ownership thereof, although the same was to last also during his lifetime only, even as there was no restriction against his disposing or conveying the whole or any portion thereof anybody other than himself" and describes Hodges "as universal and sole heir with absolute dominion over Mrs. Hodges' estate (except over their Lubbock, Texas property ), 32 adding that "Hodges was not obliged to preserve anything for them" (referring to Mrs. Hodges' brothers and sisters as instituted coheirs). 33 Contrary to this view of the main opinion, the writer submits that the provisions of Mrs. Hodges' will did not grant to C.N. Hodges "full ownership" nor "absolute dominion" over her estate, such that he could as "universal and sole heir" by the mere expedient of gratuitously disposing to third persons her whole estate during his lifetime nullify her institution of her brothers and sisters as his co-heirs to succeed to her whole estate "at the death of (her) husband," deprive them of any inheritance and make his own brothers and sisters in effect sole heirs not only of his own estate but of his wife's estate as well. 95

Wills Testamentary Succession Thus, while Linnie Jane Hodges did not expressly name her brothers and sisters as substitutes for Hodges because she willed that they would enter into the succession upon his death, still it cannot be gainsaid, as the main opinion concedes, "that they are also heirs instituted simultaneously with Hodges, subject however to certain conditions, partially resolutory insofar as Hodges was concerned and correspondingly suspensive with reference to his brothers and sisters-in-law." 34 Hence, if Hodges is found to have validly renounced his inheritance, there would be a substitution of heirs in fact and in law since Linnie's brothers and sisters as the heirs "simultaneously instituted" with a suspensive term would be called immediately to her succession instead of waiting for the arrival of suspensive term of Hodges' death, since as the heir originally instituted he does not become an heir by force of his renunciation and therefore they would "enter into the inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted" (Hodges) under the provisions of Article 857 and 859 of our Civil Code, supra, 35 thus accelerating their succession to her estate as a consequence of Hodges' renunciation. Consequently, Linnie Jane Hodges willed that her husband C.N. Hodges would "during his natural lifetime ...manage, control, use and enjoy said estate" and that only "all rents, emoluments and income" alone shall belong to him. She further willed that while he could sell and purchase properties of her estate, and "use any part of the principal estate," such principal notwithstanding "any changes in the physical properties of said estate"(i.e. new properties acquired or exchanged) would still pertain to her estate, which at the time of his death would pass in full dominion to her brothers and sisters as the ultimate sole and universal heirs of her estate. 36 The testatrix Linnie Jane Hodges in her will thus principally provided that "I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both personal and real ... to my beloved husband, Charles Newton Hodges, to have and to hold with him ... during his natural lifetime;" 37 that "(he) shall have the right to manage, control, use and enjoy said estate during his lifetime, ... to make any changes in the physical properties of said estate, by sale ... and the purchase of any other or additional property as he may think best ... . All rents, emoluments and income from said estate shall belong to him and he is further authorized to use any part of the principal of said estate as he may need or desire, ... he shall not sell or otherwise dispose of any of the improved property now owned by us, located at ... City of Lubbock, Texas ... . He shall have the right to subdivide any farmland and sell lots therein, and may sell unimproved town lots;" 38 that "(A)t the death of my said husband, Charles Newton, I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both personal and real, ... to be equally divided among my brothers and sisters, share and share alike, namely: Esta Higdon, Emma Howell, Leonard Higdon, Roy Higdon, Sadie Rascoe, Era Roman and Nimroy Higdon;" 39 and that "(I)n case of the death of any of my brothers and/or sisters ... prior to the death of my husband ... the heirs of such deceased brother or sister shall take jointly the share which would have gone to such brother or sister had she or he survived." 40 Such provisions are wholly consistent with the view already fully expounded above that all transactions and sales made by Hodges after his wife Linnie's death were by operation of the law of trust as well as by his ownacknowledgment and acts deemed for and on behalf of their unliquidated conjugal partnership and community estate, share and share alike, with the express authorization of the probate court per its orders of May 25, and December 14, 1957 granting Hodges' motion to continue the conjugal partnership business of buying and selling real estate even after her death. By the same token, Hodges could not conceivably be deemed to have had any authority or right to dispose gratuitously of any portion of her estate to whose succession she had called her brothers and sisters upon his death. 9. Such institutions of heirs with a term are expressly recognized and permitted under Book III, Chapter 2, section 4 of our Civil Code dealing with "conditional testamentary dispositions and testamentary dispositions with a term." 41 Thus, Article 885 of our Civil Code expressly provides that: ART 885. The designation of the day or time when the effects of the institution of an heir shallcommence or cease shall be valid. In both cases, the legal heir shall be considered as called to the succession until the arrival of the period or its expiration. But in the first case he shall not enter into possession of the property until after having given sufficient security, with the intervention of the instituted heir. Accordingly, under the terms of Mrs. Hodges' will, her husband's right to the succession as the instituted heir ceased in diem, i.e. upon the arrival of the resolutory term of his death on December 25, 1962, while her brothers' and sisters' right to the succession also as instituted heirs commenced ex die, i.e. upon the expiration of the suspensive term (as far as they were concerned) of the death of C. N. Hodges on December 25, 1962 . 42 As stated in Padilla's treatise on the Civil Code, "A term is a period whose arrival is certain although the exact date thereof may be uncertain. A term may have either a suspensive or a resolutory effect. The designation of the day when the legacy "shall commence" is ex die, or a term with a suspensive effect, from a certain day. The designation of the day when the legacy "shall cease" is in diem or a term with a resolutory effect, until a certain day." He adds that "A legacy based upon a certain age or upon the death of a person is not a condition but aterm. If the arrival of the term would commence the right of the heir, it is suspensive. If the arrival of the term would terminate his right, it is resolutory" and that "upon the arrival of the period, in case of a suspensive term, theinstituted heir is entitled to the succession, and in case of a resolutory term, his right terminates." 43 10. The sizable estates herein involved have now been pending settlement for a considerably protracted period (of seventeen years counted from Linnie's death in 1957), and all that is left to be done is to resolve the onlyremaining issue (involving the two questions of renunciation and renvoi) hereinabove discussed in order to close up the estates and finally effect distribution to the deceased spouses' respective brothers and sisters and their heirs as the heirs duly instituted in their wills long admitted to probate. Hence, it is advisable for said instituted heirs and their heirs in turn 44 to come to terms for the adjudication and distribution to them pro-indiviso of the up to now unliquidated community properties of the estates of the Hodges spouses (derived from their unliquidatedconjugal partnership) rather than to get bogged down with the formidable task of physically segregating andpartitioning the two estates with the numerous transactions, items and details and physical changes of properties involved. The estates proceedings would thus be closed and they could then name their respective attorneys-in-fact to work out the details of segregating, dividing or partitioning the unliquidated community properties or liquidating them which can be done then on their own without further need of intervention on the part of the probate court as well as allow them meanwhile to enjoy and make use of the income and cash and liquid assets of the estates in such manner as may be agreed upon between them. Such a settlement or modus vivendi between the heirs of the unliquidated two estates for the mutual benefit of all of them should not prove difficult, considering that it appears as stated in the main opinion that 22.968149% of the share or undivided estate of C. N. Hodges have already been acquired by the heirs of Linnie Jane Hodges from certain heirs of her husband, while certain other heirs representing 17.34375% of Hodges' estate were joining cause with Linnie's heirs in

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Wills Testamentary Succession their pending and unresolved motion for the removal of petitioner PCIB as administrator of Hodges' estate, 45 apparently impatient with the situation which has apparently degenerated into a running battle between the administrators of the two estates to the common prejudice of all the heirs. 11. As earlier stated, the writer has taken the pain of suggesting these guidelines which may serve to guide the probate court as well as the parties towards expediting the winding up and closing of the estates and the distribution of the net estates to the instituted heirs and their successors duly entitled thereto. The probate court should exert all effort towards this desired objective pursuant to the mandate of our probate law, bearing in mind the Court's admonition in previous cases that "courts of first instance should exert themselves to close up estate within twelve months from the time they are presented, and they may refuse to allow any compensation to executors and administrators who do not actively labor to that end, and they may even adopt harsher measures."46 Timeliness of appeals and imposition of thirty-one (31) additional docket fees Two appeals were docketed with this Court, as per the two records on appeal submitted (one with a green cover and the other with a yellow cover). As stated at the outset, these appeals involve basically the same primal issue raised in the petition for certiorari as to whether there still exists a separate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges which has to continue to be administered by respondent Magno. Considering the main opinion's ruling in the affirmative and that her estate and that of her husband (since they jointly comprise unliquidated community properties) must be administered conjointly by their respective administrators (PCIB and Magno), the said appeals (involving thirty-three different orders of the probate court approving sales contracts and other acts of administration executed and performed by respondent Magno on behalf of Linnie's estate) have been necessarily overruled by the Court's decision at bar. (a) The "priority question" raised by respondent Magno as to the patent failure of the two records on appeal to show on their face and state the material data that the appeals were timely taken within the 30-day reglamentary period as required by Rule 41, section 6 of the Rules of Court, has been brushed aside by the main opinion with the statement that it is "not necessary to pass upon the timeliness of any of said appeals" since they "revolve around practically the same main issues and ... it is admitted that some of them have been timely taken." 47 The main opinion thus proceeded with the determination of the thirty-three appealed orders despite the grave defect of the appellant PCIB's records on appeal and their failure to state the required material data showing the timeliness of the appeals. Such disposition of the question of timeliness deemed as "mandatory and jurisdictional" in a number of cases merits the writer's concurrence in that the question raised has been subordinated to the paramount considerations of substantial justice and a "liberal interpretation of the rules" applied so as not to derogate and detract from the primary intent and purpose of the rules, viz "the proper and just determination of a litigation" 48 which calls for "adherence to a liberal construction of the procedural rules in order to attain their objective of substantial justice and of avoiding denials of substantial justice due to procedural technicalities." 49 Thus, the main opinion in consonance with the same paramount considerations of substantial justice has likewise overruled respondents' objection to petitioner's taking the recourse of "the present remedy of certiorari and prohibition" "despite the conceded availability of appeal" on the ground that "there is a common thread among the basic issues involved in all these thirty-three appeals (which) deal with practically the same basic issues that can be more expeditiously resolved or determined in a single special civil action . . . " 50 (b) Since the basic issues have been in effect resolved in the special civil action at bar (as above stated) with the dismissal of the petition by virtue of the Court's judgment as to the continued existence of a separate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges and the affirmance as a necessary consequence of the appealed orders approving and sanctioning respondent Magno's sales contracts and acts of administration, some doubt would arise as to the propriety of the main opinion requiring the payment by PCIB of thirty-one (31) additional appeal docket fees. This doubt is further enhanced by the question of whether it would make the cost of appeal unduly expensive or prohibitive by requiring the payment of a separate appeal docket fee for each incidental order questioned when the resolution of all such incidental questioned orders involve basically one and the same main issue (in this case, the existence of a separate estate of Linnie Jane Hodges) and can be more expeditiously resolved or determined in a single special civil action" (for which a single docket fee is required) as stated in the main opinion. 51Considering the importance of the basic issues and the magnitude of the estates involved, however, the writer haspro hac vice given his concurrence to the assessment of the said thirty-one (31) additional appeal docket fees.

MAKALINTAL, C.J., concurring: I concur in the separate opinion of Justice Teehankee, which in turn agrees with the dispositive portion of the main opinion of Justice Barredo insofar as it dismisses the petition for certiorari and prohibition in Cases L-27860 and L-27896 and affirms the appealed orders of the probate court in cases L-27936-37. However, I wish to make one brief observation for the sake of accuracy. Regardless of whether or not C. N. Hodges was entitled to a legitime in his deceased wife's estate which question, still to be decided by the said probate court, may depend upon what is the law of Texas and upon its applicability in the present case the said estate consists of one-half, not one-fourth, of the conjugal properties. There is neither a minimum of one-fourth nor a maximum beyond that. It is important to bear this in mind because the estate of Linnie Hodges consists of her share in the conjugal properties, is still under 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. Footnotes
1 Actually, the affidavit reads as follows: "I, C. N. Hodges, being duly sworn, on oath affirm that at the time the United States Estate Tax Return was filed in the Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges on August 8, 1958, I renounced and disclaimed any and all right to receive the rents, emoluments and income from said estate, as shown by the statement contained in schedule M at page 29 of said return, a copy of which schedule is attached to this affidavit and made a part hereof. "The purpose of this affidavit is to ratify and confirm, and I do hereby ratify and confirm, the declaration made in schedule M of said return and hereby formally disclaim and renounce any right on my part to receive any of the said rents, emoluments and income from the estate of my deceased wife, Linnie Jane Hodges. This affidavit is made to absolve me or my estate from any liability for the payment of

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income taxes on income which has accrued to the estate of Linnie Jane Hodges since the death of the said Linnie Jane Hodges on May 23, 1957." ( annex 5, Answer of respondent Avelina Magno, p. 264, L-27860 Rollo.) 2 The will of Hodges executed on November 14, 1953 contained mutually similar dispositions as those of his wife as follows: xxx xxx xxx "FIRST: I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be first paid out of my estate. SECOND: I give, devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both personal and real, wherever situated, or located, to my beloved wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, to have and to hold unto her, my said wife, during her natural lifetime. THIRD: I desire, direct and provide that my wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, shall have the right to manage, control, use and enjoy said estate during her lifetime, and she is hereby given the right to make any changes in the physical properties of said estate, by sale or any part thereof which she may think best; to execute conveyances with or without general or special warranty, conveying in fee simple or for any other term or time, any property which she may deem proper to dispose of; to lease any of the real property for oil, gas and/or other minerals, and all such deeds or leases shall pass the absolute fee simple title to the interest so conveyed in such property as she may elect to sell. All rents, emoluments and income from said estate shall belong to her, and she is further authorized to use any part of the principal of said estate as she may need or desire. It is provided herein, however, that she shall not sell or otherwise dispose of any of the improved property now owned by us located at, in or near the City of Lubbock, Texas, but she shall have the full right to lease, manage and enjoy the same during her lifetime, as above provided. She shall have the right to subdivide any farm land and sell lots therein, and may sell unimproved town lots. xxx xxx xxx FIFTH: At the death of my beloved wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath to the heirs of my half brother, Robert Hodges, who is now deceased, a half brother's share of my estate. SIXTH: At the death of my said wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath to the heirs of my deceased full sister, Mattie Hodges Simpkins, a full sister's share of my estate. SEVENTH: At the death of my said wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath to the heirs of my deceased half sister, Barbara O'dell, a half sister's share of my estate. EIGHT: At the death of my said wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath to the heirs of my full brother, Joe Hodges, deceased, a full brother's share of my estate. . NINTH: At the death of my said wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath to the heirs of my half brother, Willie Carver, deceased, a half brother's share of my estate. TENTH: At the death of my said wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, wherever situated or located, to be equally divided among my other full brothers and full sisters, share and share alike, namely: J. A. Hodges, B. F. Hodges, Laura Holland and Addie Elliot. ELEVENTH: In case of the death of any of my full brothers and/or full sisters named in Item Tenth above, prior to the death of my wife, Linnie Jane Hodges, then it is my will and bequest that the heirs of such deceased full brother or full sister shall take jointly the share which would have gone to such full brother or full sister had he or she survived. xxx xxx xxx All erasures and interlineations made before signing." 3 None of the two records on appeal contains any copy of the motion and the opposition upon which the court acted. 4 More specific factual details related to these appeals will be stated later in the course of the distribution of the assignments of error. 5 It should be noted that in his affidavit, Hodges ratified and confirmed the "declaration made in Schedule M (of the inheritance tax return he filed in the U.S.)" wherein he declared that no property interests passed to him as the surviving spouse, except for purposes of administration and distribution to the devisees and legatees named in the will of his wife, and further disclaimed and renounced any right on his part to receive rents, emoluments and income therefrom because he wanted to be "absolved ... from liability for the payment of income taxes on income that has accrued to the estate of" his wife. While We cannot make any definite ruling on the point now, We might at least express the impression that reading all these statements together, one can hardly escape the conclusion that in the literal sense the idea conveyed by them is that Hodges waived not only his rights to the fruits but to the properties themselves. 6 With the exception of the limitations referring to the Texas properties. 7 "Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found." (Article 16, Civil Code.) 7* The question of what is the law of a foreign country is one of fact subject to proof like any other factual issue. (Sy Joc Lien vs. Sy Quia, 16 Phil. 137; Ching Huat vs. Co Heong 77 Phil. 988.) 8 PCIB claims that pursuant to the laws of Texas, Mrs. Hodges' estate is only onefourth of the conjugal estate, while, on the other hand, Magno contends that under said laws, it is one-half of said estate since there is no legitime for the surviving spouse provided in said laws. 9 The motion for contempt will be separately taken up in due time. 10 The issues We have expressly reserved for later resolution. (See pp. 111-114 of this opinion.) 11 If it should be found by the court later that Hodges did renounce his inheritance from Mrs. Hodges, as seems to be indicated in the documents mentioned in the opinion, Schedule M of the Inheritance Tax Return filed by Hodges in the United States, Annex 4 of the Answer in G. R. Nos. L- 27860 & L-27896, and the affidavit of Hodges, Annex 5 also of the same answer, it is likely that Hodges did not have to pay any inheritance tax, and it would only be after these proceedings are finally terminated with a judgment favorable to the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Hodges that taxes could be assessed against them according to their respective individual shares. 11* See page 114-I ante. 12 See page 89-A of this decision. TEEHANKEE J., CONCURRING: 1 This writ enjoined respondent court from acting in Sp. Proc. No. 1307 (Testate Estate of Linnie Jane Hodges) and respondent-appellee Avelina A. Magno from interfering and intervening therein, pendingdetermination of the main issue raised by petitionerappellant PCIB as to whether or not Mrs. Hodges' estate continued to exist as such so as to require the services of said Avelina A. Magno as administratrix thereof in view of PCIB's contention that her (Mrs. Hodges') entire estate had been adjudicated in 1957 by the probate court to her surviving husband C. N. Hodges as "the only devisee or legatee" under her will, which contention has now been rejected in the Court's decision at bar. 2 This resolution was based on "the inherent fairness of allowing the administratrix of the estate of Mrs. Hodges [Avelina A. Magno] to jointly administer the properties, rights and interests comprising both estates [Linnie Jane Hodges' and that of her husband C. N. Hodges] until they are separated from each other" in order to give adequate protection to the rights and interests of their respective brothers and sisters as their designated heirs rather than "if the whole [both] proceedings were to be under the administration of the estate of Mr. Hodges [PCIB] to the exclusion of any representative of the heirs of Mrs. Hodges." 3 See page 5 et seq of main opinion. 4 See page 91 et seq of main opinion. 5 See page 100 of main opinion. 6 "Sec. 2. Judicial Admissions. Admissions made by the parties in the pleadings, or in the course of the trial or other proceedings do not require proof and can not be contradicted unless previously shown to have been made through palpable mistake." (Rule 129). See also 5 Moran's 1970 Ed. 65 and cases cited. 7 See p. 114-1 et seq. of main opinion. 8 At pp., 136-137 of main opinion; paragraphing and emphasis supplied. 9 At page 121 of main opinion. 10 At pages 110-11 of main opinion. 11 See In re: Testate Estate of Edward E. Christiansen, deceased, Aznar vs. Garcia, 7 SCRA 95, 103, 107 (1963).

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12 At p. 112, main opinion. See also p. 103, where the main opinion refers to still other documentsevidencing Hodges' renunciation and observes that "we cannot close our eyes to their existence in the record." (emphasis supplied). 13 At p. 113, main opinion. 14 At p. 114-I, main opinion, emphasis supplied. 15 At page 112, main opinion. 16 At page 109, main opinion; emphasis supplied. 17 "SEC 2. Where estate settled upon dissolution of marriage. When the marriage is dissolved by the death of the husband or wife, the community property shall be inventoried, administered, and liquidated, and the debts thereof paid, in the testate or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse. If both spouses have died, the conjugal partnership shall be liquidated in the testate or intestate proceedings of either." (Rule 73) 18 At pp. 129-130, main opinion. 19 At page 103, main opinion, fn. 5. 20 Pamittan vs. Lasam, 60 Phil. 908 (1934), where the Court stressed the "high degree of trust" reposed in the surviving husband as "owner of a half interest in his own right of the conjugal estate which he was charged to administer" and that the conjugal property which thus comes into his possession upon his wife's death "remains conjugal property, a continuing and subsisting trust" for as long as it remains unliquidated. 21 Order of August 6, 1965, p. 248 Green Record on Appeal; see p. 30, main opinion. 22 Appealed order of November 23, 1965 against Western Institute of Technology, Inc. as purchaser-appellee, pp. 334-335, Green Rec. on App. see pp. 33-34, main opinion. 23 At p. 137, main opinion. 24 At pp. 108-109, main opinion. 25 At p. 114, main opinion, which notes that "the question of what are the laws of Texas governing the matter here in issue is . . . one of fact, not of law." 26 See p. 102 et seq. main opinion; Annexes 4 and 5 Answer, pp. 163-264 of Rollo. 27 Annex 4, Answer, p. 263 of Rollo; emphasis supplied. 28 Annex 5, Answer, see p. 103, main opinion; emphasis supplied. 29 See pp. 114 et seq. main opinion. 30 "ART. 857. Substitution is the appointment of another heir so that he may enter into the inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted." (Civil Code) "ART. 859. The testator may designate one or more persons to substitute the heir or heirs instituted in case such heir or heirs should die before him, or should not wish, or should be incapacitated to accept the inheritance. "A simple substitution, without a statement of the cases to which it refers, shall comprise the three mentioned in the preceding paragraph, unless the testator has otherwise provided." (Civil Code, emphasis supplied) 31 6 Manresa 116, cited in III Padilla's Civil Code 1973 Ed., p. 241. 32 At pp. 110-112, main opinion; emphasis supplied. 33 At p. 134, main opinion. 34 At page 110, main opinion. 35 Text reproduced in fn. 30 hereof. 36 C.N. Hodges' own will contained identical provisions in favor of his wife, Linnie Jane Hodges to "manage, control, use and enjoy (his)estate during her lifetime" and making specific bequests of his whole estate to his full and half-brothers and sisters in clauses Fifth to Tenth thereof all "at the death of my said wife, Linnie Jane Hodges. "At p. 18 et seq. main opinion. 37 Second of seven clauses of will, emphasis supplied. 38 Third clause of will, idem. 39 Fourth clause of will, idem. 40 Fifth clause of will, idem. 41 Art. 871, Civil Code provides that "(T)he institution of an heir may he made conditionally, or for a certain purpose or cause." 42 An analogous case is found in Crisologo vs. Singson, 4 SCRA 491 (1962) where the testatrix provided that the property willed by her to a grandniece was to pass to her brothers "to be effective or to take place upon the death of the (grandniece)" whether this happens before or after the testatrix's own death. 43 Padilla's Civil Code, 1973 Ed. p. 284. The main opinion at pp. 110-111 also concedes the suspensive and resolutory effects of Mrs. Hodges' institution of heirs. 44 Linnie Jane Hodges' brothers and sisters at her death on May 23, 1957 had ages ranging from 62 to 74 yrs. (except for Nimroy Higdon who was then 50 yrs. old) and most likely have all passed away or are already too old to enjoy their inheritance. Green Rec. on Appeal, p. 2. 45 At page 89-a, main opinion. 46 Medina et al. vs. C. A., L-34760, September 28, 1973, citing Lizarraga Hnos. vs. Abada, 40 Phil. 124 and other cases. 47 At p. 90, main opinion. 48 Ronquillo vs. Marasigan, 5 SCRA 304, cited in Berkenkotter vs. C.A., L-36629, September 28, 1973, per Esguerra, J. 49 See the writer's concurring op. in Sison vs. Gatchalian, L-34709, June 15, 1973 and dissenting op. in Velasco vs. C.A., L-31018, June 29, 1973. 50 At pp. 90-91, main opinion. 51 At p. 91, main opinion.

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Wills Testamentary Succession THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 113725 June 29, 2000 JOHNNY S. RABADILLA, 1 petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND MARIA MARLENA 2 COSCOLUELLA Y BELLEZA VILLACARLOS, respondents. PURISIMA, J.: This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals, 3 dated December 23, 1993, in CA-G.R. No. CV-35555, which set aside the decision of Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City, and ordered the defendants-appellees (including herein petitioner), as heirs of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey title over Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza.1wphi1.nt The antecedent facts are as follows: In a Codicil appended to the Last Will and Testament of testatrix Aleja Belleza, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, predecessor-in-interest of the herein petitioner, Johnny S. Rabadilla, was instituted as a devisee of 511, 855 square meters of that parcel of land surveyed as Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre. The said Codicil, which was duly probated and admitted in Special Proceedings No. 4046 before the then Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, contained the following provisions: FIRST I give, leave and bequeath the following property owned by me to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla resident of 141 P. Villanueva, Pasay City: (a) Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002 (10942), which is registered in my name according to the records of the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental. (b) That should Jorge Rabadilla die ahead of me, the aforementioned property and the rights which I shall set forth hereinbelow, shall be inherited and acknowledged by the children and spouse of Jorge Rabadilla. xxx xxx xxx FOURTH (a) It is also my command, in this my addition (Codicil), that should I die and Jorge Rabadilla shall have already received the ownership of the said Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002 (10942), and also at the time that the lease of Balbinito G. Guanzon of the said lot shall expire, Jorge Rabadilla shall have the obligation until he dies, every year to give to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, Seventy (75) (sic) piculs of Export sugar and Twenty Five (25) piculs of Domestic sugar, until the said Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza dies. FIFTH (a) Should Jorge Rabadilla die, his heir to whom he shall give Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT4002 (10492), shall have the obligation to still give yearly, the sugar as specified in the Fourth paragraph of his testament, to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza on the month of December of each year. SIXTH 3. I command, in this my addition (Codicil) that the Lot No. 1392, in the event that the one to whom I have left and bequeathed, and his heir shall later sell, lease, mortgage this said Lot, the buyer, lessee, mortgagee, shall have also the obligation to respect and deliver yearly ONE HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, on each month of December, SEVENTY FIVE (75) piculs of Export and TWENTY FIVE (25) piculs of Domestic, until Maria Marlina shall die, lastly should the buyer, lessee or the mortgagee of this lot, not have respected my command in this my addition (Codicil), Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, shall immediately seize this Lot No. 1392 from my heir and the latter's heirs, and shall turn it over to my near desendants; (sic) and the latter shall then have the obligation to give the ONE HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar until Maria Marlina shall die. I further command in this my addition (Codicil) that my heir and his heirs of this Lot No. 1392, that they will obey and follow that should they decide to sell, lease, mortgage, they cannot negotiate with others than my near descendants and my sister. 4 Pursuant to the same Codicil, Lot No. 1392 was transferred to the deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 44498 thereto issued in his name. Dr. Jorge Rabadilla died in 1983 and was survived by his wife Rufina and children Johnny (petitioner), Aurora, Ofelia and Zenaida, all surnamed Rabadilla. On August 21, 1989, Maria Marlena Coscolluela y Belleza Villacarlos brought a complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 5588, before Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City, against the above-mentioned heirs of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, to enforce the provisions of subject Codicil. The Complaint alleged that the defendantheirs violated the conditions of the Codicil, in that: 1. Lot No. 1392 was mortgaged to the Philippine National Bank and the Republic Planters Bank in disregard of the testatrix's specific instruction to sell, lease, or mortgage only to the near descendants and sister of the testatrix. Defendant-heirs failed to comply with their obligation to deliver one hundred (100) piculs of sugar (75 piculs export sugar and 25 piculs domestic sugar) to plaintiff Maria Marlena Coscolluela y Belleza from sugar crop years 1985 up to the filing of the complaint as mandated by the Codicil, despite repeated demands for compliance. The banks failed to comply with the 6th paragraph of the Codicil which provided that in case of the sale, lease, or mortgage of the property, the buyer, lessee, or mortgagee shall likewise have the obligation to deliver 100 piculs of sugar per crop year to herein private respondent.

2.

The plaintiff then prayed that judgment be rendered ordering defendant-heirs to reconvey/return Lot No. 1392 to the surviving heirs of the late Aleja Belleza, the cancellation of TCT No. 44498 in the name of the deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, and the issuance of a new certificate of title in the names of the surviving heirs of the late Aleja Belleza. On February 26, 1990, the defendant-heirs were declared in default but an March 28, 1990 the Order of Default was lifted, with respect to defendant Johnny S. Rabadilla, who filed his Answer, accordingly. During the pre-trial, the parties admitted that: On November 15, 1998, the plaintiff (private respondent) and a certain Alan Azurin, son-in-law of the herein petitioner who was lessee of the property and acting as attorney-in-fact of defendant-heirs, arrived at an amicable settlement and entered

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Wills Testamentary Succession into a Memorandum of Agreement on the obligation to deliver one hundred piculs of sugar, to the following effect: That for crop year 1988-89, the annuity mentioned in Entry No. 49074 of TCT No. 44489 will be delivered not later than January of 1989, more specifically, to wit: 75 piculs of "A" sugar, and 25 piculs of "B" sugar, or then existing in any of our names, Mary Rose Rabadilla y Azurin or Alan Azurin, during December of each sugar crop year, in Azucar Sugar Central; and, this is considered compliance of the annuity as mentioned, and in the same manner will compliance of the annuity be in the next succeeding crop years. That the annuity above stated for crop year 1985-86, 1986-87, and 198788, will be complied in cash equivalent of the number of piculs as mentioned therein and which is as herein agreed upon, taking into consideration the composite price of sugar during each sugar crop year, which is in the total amount of ONE HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P105,000.00). That the above-mentioned amount will be paid or delivered on a staggered cash installment, payable on or before the end of December of every sugar crop year, to wit: For 1985-86, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1988-89; For 1986-87, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1989-90; For 1987-88, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1990-91; and For 1988-89, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1991-92. 5 However, there was no compliance with the aforesaid Memorandum of Agreement except for a partial delivery of 50.80 piculs of sugar corresponding to sugar crop year 1988-1989. On July 22, 1991, the Regional Trial Court came out with a decision, dismissing the complaint and disposing as follows: WHEREFORE, in the light of the aforegoing findings, the Court finds that the action is prematurely filed as no cause of action against the defendants has as yet arose in favor of plaintiff. While there maybe the non-performance of the command as mandated exaction from them simply because they are the children of Jorge Rabadilla, the title holder/owner of the lot in question, does not warrant the filing of the present complaint. The remedy at bar must fall. Incidentally, being in the category as creditor of the left estate, it is opined that plaintiff may initiate the intestate proceedings, if only to establish the heirs of Jorge Rabadilla and in order to give full meaning and semblance to her claim under the Codicil. In the light of the aforegoing findings, the Complaint being prematurely filed is DISMISSED without prejudice. SO ORDERED. 6 On appeal by plaintiff, the First Division of the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court; ratiocinating and ordering thus: Therefore, the evidence on record having established plaintiff-appellant's right to receive 100 piculs of sugar annually out of the produce of Lot No. 1392; defendants-appellee's obligation under Aleja Belleza's codicil, as heirs of the modal heir, Jorge Rabadilla, to deliver such amount of sugar to plaintiff-appellant; defendants-appellee's admitted non-compliance with said obligation since 1985; and, the punitive consequences enjoined by both the codicil and the Civil Code, of seizure of Lot No. 1392 and its reversion to the estate of Aleja Belleza in case of such non-compliance, this Court deems it proper to order the reconveyance of title over Lot No. 1392 from the estates of Jorge Rabadilla to the estate of Aleja Belleza. However, plaintiff-appellant must institute separate proceedings to re-open Aleja Belleza's estate, secure the appointment of an administrator, and distribute Lot No. 1392 to Aleja Belleza's legal heirs in order to enforce her right, reserved to her by the codicil, to receive her legacy of 100 piculs of sugar per year out of the produce of Lot No. 1392 until she dies. Accordingly, the decision appealed from is SET ASIDE and another one entered ordering defendants-appellees, as heirs of Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey title over Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza. SO ORDERED. 7 Dissatisfied with the aforesaid disposition by the Court of Appeals, petitioner found his way to this Court via the present petition, contending that the Court of Appeals erred in ordering the reversion of Lot 1392 to the estate of the testatrix Aleja Belleza on the basis of paragraph 6 of the Codicil, and in ruling that the testamentary institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla is a modal institution within the purview of Article 882 of the New Civil Code. The petition is not impressed with merit. Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in resolving the appeal in accordance with Article 882 of the New Civil Code on modal institutions and in deviating from the sole issue raised which is the absence or prematurity of the cause of action. Petitioner maintains that Article 882 does not find application as there was no modal institution and the testatrix intended a mere simple substitution i.e. the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, was to be substituted by the testatrix's "near descendants" should the obligation to deliver the fruits to herein private respondent be not complied with. And since the testatrix died single and without issue, there can be no valid substitution and such testamentary provision cannot be given any effect. The petitioner theorizes further that there can be no valid substitution for the reason that the substituted heirs are not definite, as the substituted heirs are merely referred to as "near descendants" without a definite identity or reference as to who are the "near descendants" and therefore, under Articles 843 8 and 845 9 of the New Civil Code, the substitution should be deemed as not written. The contentions of petitioner are untenable. Contrary to his supposition that the Court of Appeals deviated from the issue posed before it, which was the propriety of the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of prematurity of cause of action, there was no such deviation. The Court of Appeals found that the private respondent had a cause of action against the petitioner. The disquisition made on modal institution was, precisely, to stress that the private respondent had a legally demandable right against the petitioner pursuant to subject Codicil; on which issue the Court of Appeals ruled in accordance with law. It is a general rule under the law on succession that successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent 10 and compulsory heirs are

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Wills Testamentary Succession called to succeed by operation of law. The legitimate children and descendants, in relation to their legitimate parents, and the widow or widower, are compulsory heirs. 11 Thus, the petitioner, his mother and sisters, as compulsory heirs of the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, succeeded the later by operation of law, without need of further proceedings, and the successional rights were transmitted to them from the moment of death of the decedent, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. Under Article 776 of the New Civil Code, inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a person, not extinguished by his death. Conformably, whatever rights Dr. Jorge Rabadilla had by virtue of subject Codicil were transmitted to his forced heirs, at the time of his death. And since obligations not extinguished by death also form part of the estate of the decedent; corollarily, the obligations imposed by the Codicil on the deceased Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, were likewise transmitted to his compulsory heirs upon his death. In the said Codicil, testatrix Aleja Belleza devised Lot No. 1392 to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, subject to the condition that the usufruct thereof would be delivered to the herein private respondent every year. Upon the death of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, his compulsory heirs succeeded to his rights and title over the said property, and they also assumed his (decedent's) obligation to deliver the fruits of the lot involved to herein private respondent. Such obligation of the instituted heir reciprocally corresponds to the right of private respondent over the usufruct, the fulfillment or performance of which is now being demanded by the latter through the institution of the case at bar. Therefore, private respondent has a cause of action against petitioner and the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint below. Petitioner also theorizes that Article 882 of the New Civil Code on modal institutions is not applicable because what the testatrix intended was a substitution Dr. Jorge Rabadilla was to be substituted by the testatrix's near descendants should there be non-compliance with the obligation to deliver the piculs of sugar to private respondent. Again, the contention is without merit. Substitution is the designation by the testator of a person or persons to take the place of the heir or heirs first instituted. Under substitutions in general, the testator may either (1) provide for the designation of another heir to whom the property shall pass in case the original heir should die before him/her, renounce the inheritance or be incapacitated to inherit, as in a simple substitution, 12or (2) leave his/her property to one person with the express charge that it be transmitted subsequently to another or others, as in a fideicommissary substitution. 13 The Codicil sued upon contemplates neither of the two. In simple substitutions, the second heir takes the inheritance in default of the first heir by reason of incapacity, predecease or renunciation. 14 In the case under consideration, the provisions of subject Codicil do not provide that should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla default due to predecease, incapacity or renunciation, the testatrix's near descendants would substitute him. What the Codicil provides is that, should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the conditions imposed in the Codicil, the property referred to shall be seized and turned over to the testatrix's near descendants. Neither is there a fideicommissary substitution here and on this point, petitioner is correct. In a fideicommissary substitution, the first heir is strictly mandated to preserve the property and to transmit the same later to the second heir. 15 In the case under consideration, the instituted heir is in fact allowed under the Codicil to alienate the property provided the negotiation is with the near descendants or the sister of the testatrix. Thus, a very important element of a fideicommissary substitution is lacking; the obligation clearly imposing upon the first heir the preservation of the property and its transmission to the second heir. "Without this obligation to preserve clearly imposed by the testator in his will, there is no fideicommissary substitution." 16 Also, the near descendants' right to inherit from the testatrix is not definite. The property will only pass to them should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the obligation to deliver part of the usufruct to private respondent. Another important element of a fideicommissary substitution is also missing here. Under Article 863, the second heir or the fideicommissary to whom the property is transmitted must not be beyond one degree from the first heir or the fiduciary. A fideicommissary substitution is therefore, void if the first heir is not related by first degree to the second heir. 17 In the case under scrutiny, the near descendants are not at all related to the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. The Court of Appeals erred not in ruling that the institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is in the nature of a modal institution and therefore, Article 882 of the New Civil Code is the provision of law in point. Articles 882 and 883 of the New Civil Code provide: Art. 882. The statement of the object of the institution or the application of the property left by the testator, or the charge imposed on him, shall not be considered as a condition unless it appears that such was his intention. That which has been left in this manner may be claimed at once provided that the instituted heir or his heirs give security for compliance with the wishes of the testator and for the return of anything he or they may receive, together with its fruits and interests, if he or they should disregard this obligation. Art. 883. When without the fault of the heir, an institution referred to in the preceding article cannot take effect in the exact manner stated by the testator, it shall he complied with in a manner most analogous to and in conformity with his wishes. The institution of an heir in the manner prescribed in Article 882 is what is known in the law of succession as an institucion sub modo or a modal institution. In a modal institution, the testator states (1) the object of the institution, (2) the purpose or application of the property left by the testator, or (3) the charge imposed, by the testator upon the heir. 18 A "mode" imposes an obligation upon the heir or legatee but it does not affect the efficacy of his rights to the succession. 19 On the other hand, in a conditional testamentary disposition, the condition must happen or be fulfilled in order for the heir to be entitled to succeed the testator. The condition suspends but does not obligate; and the mode obligates but does not suspend. 20 To some extent, it is similar to a resolutory condition. 21 From the provisions of the Codicil litigated upon, it can be gleaned unerringly that the testatrix intended that subject property be inherited by Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. It is likewise clearly worded that the testatrix imposed an obligation on the said instituted heir and his successors-in-interest to deliver one hundred piculs of sugar to the herein private respondent, Marlena Coscolluela Belleza, during the lifetime of the latter. However, the testatrix did not make Dr. Jorge Rabadilla's inheritance and the effectivity of his institution as a devisee, dependent on the performance of the said obligation. It is clear, though, that should the obligation be not complied with, the property shall be turned over to the testatrix's near descendants. The manner of institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is evidently modal in nature because it imposes a charge upon the instituted heir without, however, affecting the efficacy of such institution. Then too, since testamentary dispositions are generally acts of liberality, an obligation imposed upon the heir should not be considered a condition unless it

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Wills Testamentary Succession clearly appears from the Will itself that such was the intention of the testator. In case of doubt, the institution should be considered as modal and not conditional. 22 Neither is there tenability in the other contention of petitioner that the private respondent has only a right of usufruct but not the right to seize the property itself from the instituted heir because the right to seize was expressly limited to violations by the buyer, lessee or mortgagee. In the interpretation of Wills, when an uncertainty arises on the face of the Will, as to the application of any of its provisions, the testator's intention is to be ascertained from the words of the Will, taking into consideration the circumstances under which it was made. 23 Such construction as will sustain and uphold the Will in all its parts must be adopted. 24 Subject Codicil provides that the instituted heir is under obligation to deliver One Hundred (100) piculs of sugar yearly to Marlena Belleza Coscuella. Such obligations is imposed on the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, his heirs, and their buyer, lessee, or mortgagee should they sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise negotiate the property involved. The Codicil further provides that in the event that the obligation to deliver the sugar is not respected, Marlena Belleza Coscuella shall seize the property and turn it over to the testatrix's near descendants. The non-performance of the said obligation is thus with the sanction of seizure of the property and reversion thereof to the testatrix's near descendants. Since the said obligation is clearly imposed by the testatrix, not only on the instituted heir but also on his successors-in-interest, the sanction imposed by the testatrix in case of nonfulfillment of said obligation should equally apply to the instituted heir and his successors-in-interest. Similarly unsustainable is petitioner's submission that by virtue of the amicable settlement, the said obligation imposed by the Codicil has been assumed by the lessee, and whatever obligation petitioner had become the obligation of the lessee; that petitioner is deemed to have made a substantial and constructive compliance of his obligation through the consummated settlement between the lessee and the private respondent, and having consummated a settlement with the petitioner, the recourse of the private respondent is the fulfillment of the obligation under the amicable settlement and not the seizure of subject property. Suffice it to state that a Will is a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a person disposes of his property, to take effect after his death. 25 Since the Will expresses the manner in which a person intends how his properties be disposed, the wishes and desires of the testator must be strictly followed. Thus, a Will cannot be the subject of a compromise agreement which would thereby defeat the very purpose of making a Will. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated December 23, 1993, in CA-G.R. No. CV-35555 AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. Vitug, J., please see separate (concurring in result) opinion. Melo, J., I concur as well in the separate opinion of Justice Vitug. Panganiban, J., I join the separate opinion of Justice Vitug. Gonzaga-Reyes, J., took no part. By virtue of a codicil appended to her will, Aleja Belleza devised a 511,856-square meter parcel of land in Bacolod City, denominated Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastral Survey, to Jorge Ravadilla (predecessor-in-interest of petitioner), 1 carrying with it an obligation to deliver to private respondent, Maria Marlena Cosculluela y Belleza, one hundred piculs of sugar per crop year during her lifetime. The portions of the codicil, pertinent to the instant controversy, read: FIRST I give, leave and bequeath the following property owned by me to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, resident of 141 P. Villanueva Pasay City: (a) Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002(10942), which is registered in my name according to the records of the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental. (b) That should Jorge Rabadilla die ahead of me, the aforementioned property and the rights which I shall set forth hereinbelow, shall be inherited and acknowledged by the children and spouse of Jorge Rabadilla. xxx xxx xxx FOURTH (a) It is also my command, in this my addition (codicil), that should I die and Jorge Rabadilla shall have already received the ownership of the said Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002(10942), and also at the time that the lease of Balbinito Guanzon of the said lot shall expire, Jorge Rabadilla shall have the obligation until he dies, every year to give to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, Seventeen (75) (sic) piculs of Export sugar and Twenty Five (25) piculs of Domestic sugar, until the said Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza dies. FIFTH (a) Should Jorge Rabadilla die, his heir to whom he shall give Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT4002(10942), shall have the obligation to still give yearly, the sugar as specified in the Fourth paragraph of this testament, to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza on the month of December of each year. SIXTH I command, in this my addition (Codicil) that the Lot No. 1392, in the event that the one to whom I have left and bequeathed, and his heir shall later sell, lease, mortgage this said Lot, the buyer, lessee, mortgagee, shall have also the obligation to respect and deliver yearly ONE HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, on each month of December, SEVENTY FIVE (75) piculs of Export and TWENTY FIVE (25) piculs of Domestic, until Maria Marlina shall die, lastly should the buyer, lessee, or the mortgagee of this lot, not have respected my command in this my addition (Codicil), Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, shall immediately seize this Lot No. 1392 from my heir and the latter's heirs, and shall turn it over to my near descendants, 2 and the latter shall then have the obligation to give the ONE HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar until Maria Marlina shall die. I further command in this my addition (Codicil) that my heirs of this Lot No. 1392, that they will obey and follow that should decide to sell, lease, mortgage, they cannot negotiate with others than my near descendants and my sister. 3

Separate Opinions VITUG, J., separate opinion;

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Wills Testamentary Succession Pursuant to the above provisions of the codicil, ownership of Lot No. 1392 was transferred to Jorge Rabadilla and Transfer Certified of Title No. T44498 was issued in his name. Sometime in 1983, Jorge Rabadilla died, survived by his wife, Rufina, and their children Johnny, Aurora, Ofelia and Zenaida. On 21 August 1989, on account of the failure of the heirs of Jorge Rabadilla to comply with the obligation under the codicil, private respondent filed an action, docketed Civil Case No. 5588, against the Rabadilla heirs before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 52, of Bacolod City for the reconveyance of Lot 1392 to the heirs of Aleja Belleza and the cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 44498 covering the property in the name of Jorge Rabadilla. The trial court dismissed the complaint "without prejudice." 4 On appeal taken by private respondent to the Court of Appeals, the appellate court set aside the appealed decision and held: Therefore, the evidence on record having established plaintiff-appellant's right to receive 100 piculs of sugar annually out of the produce of Lot No. 1392; defendants-appellees' obligation under Aleja Belleza's codicil, as heirs of the modal heir, Jorge Rabadilla, to deliver such amount of sugar to plaintiff-appellant; defendant-appellees' admitted non-compliance with said obligation since 1985; and, the punitive consequences enjoined by both codicil and the Civil Code, of seizure of Lot No. 1392 and its reversion to the estate of Aleja Belleza in case of such non-compliance, this Court deems it proper to order the reconveyance of title over Lot No. 1392 from the estate of Aleja Belleza. However, plaintiff-appellant must institute separate proceedings to re-open Aleja Belleza's estate, secure the appointment of an administrator, and distribute Lot No. 1392 to Aleja Belleza's legal heirs on order to enforce her right, reversed to her by the codicil, to receive her legacy of 100 piculs of sugar per year out of the produce of Lot No. 1392 until she dies. Accordingly, the decision appealed from its SET ASIDE and another one entered ordering defendants-appellees, as heirs of Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey title over Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza. SO ORDERED. 5 Petitioner, in the instant petition for review, submits that the appellate court has erred in: (1) ordering the reversion of Lot 1392 to the estate of Aleja Belleza on the basis of paragraph six of the codicil, and (2) in ruling that the testamentary institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla is a modal institution within the purview of Article 882 of the Civil Code. Additionally, he avers that respondent court has improvidently deviated from the sole issue raised which is the prematurity of the action before the court a quo. Upon the other hand, respondent would have this Court sustain the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals contending that the appellate court is completely justified in delving into the nature of the institution in the codicil, the same having a direct significance on the issue of whether or not the complaint before the trial court has been prematurely filed. Private respondent adds that the institution in question is modal within the context of Article 882 of the Civil Code which gives her the right her the right to seize the subject property. I agree with my colleagues that "substitution" is not here apropos. Substitution is the appointment of another heir so that he may enter into the inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted. 6Substitution is simple when the testator designates one or more persons to substitute the heir or heirs instituted in case the latter should die before him, or should not wish, or should be incapacitated to accept the inheritance, and a substitution without a statement of the cases to which it refers shall compromise all said three cases. 7 There is no simple substitution that takes place where the heir originally instituted is able to succeed. 8 Fideicommissary substitution, on the other hand, occurs when the fiduciary or first heir instituted us entrusted with the obligation to preserve and to transmit to a second heir the whole or part of the inheritance. 9 Every fideicommissary substitution should be expressly made in order that it may be valid. 10 The term "fideicommissary substitution" need not, however, be used in the will; it is enough that there is a clear and unequivocal statement that one shall usufructuary or other rights, short of naked ownership or title, over certain property of the testator with the obligation to preserve the property and to transmit it to a second heir. 11 It is essential for the validity of a fideicommissary substitution that both heirs are living and qualified to succeed at the time of death by the testator and that the substitute does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted. The term "one degree" has been the subject of varies interpretation. One view is to the effect that the term means one transfer, citing the Supreme Tribunal of Spain and as advocated by eminent civilists as Justices J.B.L. Reyes, R. Puno, E. Caguioa, and D. Jurado. In Ramirez vs. Ramirez, 12 decided on 15 February 1982, the Court, however, adopted the literal view that "one decree" means relationship or generation as so advanced by equally eminent writers Dr. A. Padilla, Justice E. Paras and Dr. A. Tolentino. In the subsequent case of the Testate Estate case of Fr. Aranas, 13 however, the Court upheld the usufructuary right of the Roman Catholic Church under a legacy that now renders doubtful the continued validity of the Ramirez doctrine. The institution of Jorge Rabadilla in the Belleza codicil partook the nature of an institution sub modo, rather than one of substitution, governed by the provisions of Article 882 of the Civil Code. This law provides: Art. 882. The statement of the object of the institution, or the application of the property, left by the testator, or the charge imposed by him, shall not be considered as a condition unless it appears that such was his intention. That which has been left in this manner may be claimed at once provided that the instituted heir or his heirs give security for compliance with the wishes of the testator and for the return of anything he or they may receive, together with its fruits and interests, if he or they should disregard this obligation. (Emphasis supplied) A mode is distinguished from a condition contemplated in the rules on succession in that the latter dictates the efficacy, either in a suspensive or resolutory manner, of a testamentary disposition while the former obligates the instituted heir to comply with the mandate made by the testator but does not prevent the heir from at once claiming the inheritance provided he gives a security to ensure compliance with the will of the testator and the return of the thing received together with its fruits and interest, "should (the heir) disregarding this obligation." The obligation imposed upon the heir or legatee is deemed not to be a condition for his entry forthwith into the inheritance unless a contrary intention of the testator is evident. In case of doubt, the institution is considered modal, rather than conditional. Much of the variance in the legal effects of two classes, 14 however, is now practically theoretical and merely conceptual. Under the old Civil Code 15 an instuticion sub modocould be said to be more akin to an institution sub deminstratione, or an expression of a wish or suggestion of the testator that did not have any real obligatory force, that matter being left instead to the discretion of the heir, i.e., whether to abide by it or not. The amendatory provisions of the new Civil Code now hardly differentiates between the principal effect of the non-compliance with the mode and that of the occurrence of a resolutory expressed in the will. In both instances, the property must be returned to the estate of the decedent to then pass on under the rules on intestacy. ACCORDINGLY, I also vote for the dismissal of the instant petition.

104

Wills Testamentary Succession


14 Morente vs. De la Santa, 9 Phil. 387; Chiong vs. Vao, 8 Phil. 119. 15 See Art. 797. 1 Was spelled interchangeably in Rollo as Ravadilla. 2 Was spelled interchangeably in Rollo as Marlina. 3 Penned by Justice Santiago M. Kapunan (Chairman) and concurred in by Justices Minerva P. Gonzaga-Reyes and Eduardo G. Montenegro, (Members). 4 Annex "C", Rollo, pp. 34-35. 5 Rollo, pp. 65-66. 6 RTC Decision, pp. 8-9. 7 CA Decision, p. 14. 8 Art. 843. The testator shall designate the heir by his name and surname, and when there are two persons having the same names, he shall indicate some circumstance by which the instituted heir may be known. Even though the testator may have omitted the name of the heir, should he designate him in such manner that there can be no doubt as to who has been instituted, the institution shall be valid. 9 Art. 845. Every disposition in favor of an unknown person shall be void, unless by some event or circumstance his identity becomes certain. However, a disposition in favor of a definite class or group of persons shall be valid. 10 Art. 777, New Civil Code. 11 Ibid., Article 887. 12 Ibid., Article 859. 13 Ibid., Article 863. 14 Ibid., Article 859. 15 Arturo Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code, Volume III, p. 212. 16 Ibid., p. 212. 17 Ramirez vs. Vda. De Ramos, 111 SCRA 704. 18 Tolentino, supra, pp. 241-242. 19 Ibid., p. 242. 20 Ibid. 21 Jottings and Jurisprudence in Civil Law, Ruben Balane, p. 249. 22 Tolentino, supra, p. 242. 23 Art. 789, NCC. 24 Tolentino, supra, p. 34. 25 Art. 783, NCC and Tolentino, p. 28-29.

Footnotes

VITUG, J., separate opinion;


1 The will, along with the codicil, was probated and admitted in Special Proceedings No. 4048 before the then Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. 2 Relative to the intimation that the term "near descendants" of the testatrix is too indefinite and opposed to the requirement of Article 843 of the Code, attention might be invited to the provisions of Article 845, in relation to Article 959, of the Code that can permit proper identification some means other than the given name and surname of the intended testate heirs enough to render the institution valid and effective. The ponencia, in any case, states that the testatrix "died single and without issue." 3 Rollo, pp. 34-35. 4 The trial court opined that the action was premature since no cause of action had as yet arisen in favor of private respondent and noted that the banking institutions, mortgagees of the property, were not privies to the obligation of Jorge Rabadilla under the Belleza codicil. 5 Rollo, p. 73. 6 Art. 857, New Civil Code. 7 Art. 859, New Civil Code. 8 The codicil indicates that the testatrix clearly intended Jorge Rabadilla to have the ownership of the lot in question pass on to him upon her death. 9 Art. 863, New Civil Code. 10 Art. 864, New Civil Code. 11 See Crisologo vs. Singson, 4 SCRA 491. 12 111 SCRA 704. 13 29 May 1987.

105

Wills Testamentary Succession FIRST DIVISION February 27, 1987 Art. 980. The children of the deceased shall always inherit from him in their own right, dividing the inheritance in equal shares. Art. 981. Should children of the deceased and descendants of other children who are dead, survive, the former shall inherit in their own right, and the latter by right of representation. Art. 982. The grandchildren and other descendants shag inherit by right of representation, and if any one of them should have died, leaving several heirs, the portion pertaining to him shall be divided among the latter in equal portions. Art. 999. When the widow or widower survives with legitimate children or their descendants and illegitimate children or their descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate, such widow or widower shall be entitled to the same share as that of a legitimate child. There is no provision in the Civil Code which states that a widow (surviving spouse) is an intestate heir of her mother-in-law. The entire Code is devoid of any provision which entitles her to inherit from her mother-in- law either by her own right or by the right of representation. The provisions of the Code which relate to the order of intestate succession (Articles 978 to 1014) enumerate with meticulous exactitude the intestate heirs of a decedent, with the State as the final intestate heir. The conspicuous absence of a provision which makes a daughter-in-law an intestate heir of the deceased all the more confirms Our observation. If the legislature intended to make the surviving spouse an intestate heir of the parent-in-law, it would have so provided in the Code. Petitioner argues that she is a compulsory heir in accordance with the provisions of Article 887 of the Civil Code which provides that: Art. 887. The following are compulsory heirs: (1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants; (2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and descendants; (3) The widow or widower; (4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction; (5) Other illegitimate children referred to in article 287; Compulsory heirs mentioned in Nos. 3, 4 and 5 are not excluded by those in Nos. 1 and 2; neither do they exclude one another. In all cases of illegitimate children, their filiation must be duly proved. The father or mother of illegitimate children of the three classes mentioned, shall inherit from them in the manner and to the extent established by this Code. The aforesaid provision of law 3 refers to the estate of the deceased spouse in which case the surviving spouse (widow or widower) is a compulsory heir. It does not apply to the estate of a parent-in-law. Indeed, the surviving spouse is considered a third person as regards the estate of the parent-in-law. We had occasion to make this observation in Lachenal v. Salas, 4 to Wit: We hold that the title to the fishing boat should be determined in Civil Case No. 3597 (not in the intestate proceeding) because it affects the lessee 106

G.R. No. L-40789

INTESTATE ESTATE OF PETRA V. ROSALES, IRENEA C. ROSALES, petitioner, vs. FORTUNATO ROSALES, MAGNA ROSALES ACEBES, MACIKEQUEROX ROSALES and ANTONIO ROSALES,respondents. Jose B. Echaves for petitioner. Jose A. Binghay and Paul G. Gorres for respondents. GANCAYCO, J.: In this Petition for Review of two (2) Orders of the Court of First Instance of Cebu the question raised is whether the widow whose husband predeceased his mother can inherit from the latter, her mother-in-law. It appears from the record of the case that on February 26, 1971, Mrs. Petra V. Rosales, a resident of Cebu City, died intestate. She was survived by her husband Fortunate T. Rosales and their two (2) children Magna Rosales Acebes and Antonio Rosales. Another child, Carterio Rosales, predeceased her, leaving behind a child, Macikequerox Rosales, and his widow Irenea C. Rosales, the herein petitioner. The estate of the dismissed has an estimated gross value of about Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00). On July 10, 1971, Magna Rosales Acebes instituted the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the deceased in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. The case was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 3204-R. Thereafter, the trial court appointed Magna Rosales Acebes administratrix of the said estate. In the course of the intestate proceedings, the trial court issued an Order dated June 16, 1972 declaring the following in individuals the legal heirs of the deceased and prescribing their respective share of the estate Fortunata T. Rosales (husband), 1/4; Magna R. Acebes (daughter), 1/4; Macikequerox Rosales, 1/4; and Antonio Rosales son, 1/4. This declaration was reiterated by the trial court in its Order I dated February 4, 1975. These Orders notwithstanding, Irenea Rosales insisted in getting a share of the estate in her capacity as the surviving spouse of the late Carterio Rosales, son of the deceased, claiming that she is a compulsory heir of her mother-in-law together with her son, Macikequerox Rosales. Thus, Irenea Rosales sought the reconsideration of the aforementioned Orders. The trial court denied her plea. Hence this petition. In sum, the petitioner poses two (2) questions for Our resolution petition. First is a widow (surviving spouse) an intestate heir of her mother-in-law? Second are the Orders of the trial court which excluded the widow from getting a share of the estate in question final as against the said widow? Our answer to the first question is in the negative. Intestate or legal heirs are classified into two (2) groups, namely, those who inherit by their own right, and those who inherit by the right of representation. 1 Restated, an intestate heir can only inherit either by his own right, as in the order of intestate succession provided for in the Civil Code, 2 or by the right of representation provided for in Article 981 of the same law. The relevant provisions of the Civil Code are:

Wills Testamentary Succession thereof, Lope L. Leoncio, the decedent's son-in-law, who, although married to his daughter or compulsory heir, is nevertheless a third person with respect to his estate. ... (Emphasis supplied). By the same token, the provision of Article 999 of the Civil Code aforecited does not support petitioner's claim. A careful examination of the said Article confirms that the estate contemplated therein is the estate of the deceased spouse. The estate which is the subject matter of the intestate estate proceedings in this case is that of the deceased Petra V. Rosales, the mother-in-law of the petitioner. It is from the estate of Petra V. Rosales that Macikequerox Rosales draws a share of the inheritance by the right of representation as provided by Article 981 of the Code. The essence and nature of the right of representation is explained by Articles 970 and 971 of the Civil Code, viz Art. 970. Representation is a right created by fiction of law, by virtue of which the representative is raised to the place and the degree of the person represented, and acquires the rights which the latter would have if he were living or if he could have inherited. Art. 971. The representative is called to the succession by the law and not by the person represented. The representative does not succeed the person represented but the one whom the person represented would have succeeded. (Emphasis supplied.) Article 971 explicitly declares that Macikequerox Rosales is called to succession by law because of his blood relationship. He does not succeed his father, Carterio Rosales (the person represented) who predeceased his grandmother, Petra Rosales, but the latter whom his father would have succeeded. Petitioner cannot assert the same right of representation as she has no filiation by blood with her mother-in-law. Petitioner however contends that at the time of the death of her husband Carterio Rosales he had an inchoate or contingent right to the properties of Petra Rosales as compulsory heir. Be that as it may, said right of her husband was extinguished by his death that is why it is their son Macikequerox Rosales who succeeded from Petra Rosales by right of representation. He did not succeed from his deceased father, Carterio Rosales. On the basis of the foregoing observations and conclusions, We find it unnecessary to pass upon the second question posed by the petitioner. Accordingly, it is Our considered opinion, and We so hold, that a surviving spouse is not an intestate heir of his or her parent-in-law. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit, with costs against the petitioner. Let this case be remanded to the trial-court for further proceedings. SO ORDERED. Yap (Chairman), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Feliciano and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1 III Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the Philippines 461, 1979 ed. 2 Articles 978 to 1014. 3 Art. 887 (3), Civil Code. 4 71 SCRA 262, 265 L-42257, June 14, 1976.

107

Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC After first securing an extension of time to file a petition for review of the order of dismissal issued by the juvenile and domestic relations court, the petitioner filed the present petition on 14 October 1969. The same was given due course and answer thereto was filed by respondent, who prayed for the affirmance of the said order. 3 Although the defendant below, the herein respondent Eufemio S. Eufemio, filed counterclaims, he did not pursue them after the court below dismissed the case. He acquiesced in the dismissal of said counterclaims by praying for the affirmance of the order that dismissed not only the petition for legal separation but also his counterclaim to declare the Eufemio-Lapuz marriage to be null and void ab initio. But petitioner Carmen O. Lapuz Sy (through her self-assumed substitute for the lower court did not act on the motion for substitution) stated the principal issue to be as follows: When an action for legal separation is converted by the counterclaim into one for a declaration of nullity of a marriage, does the death of a party abate the proceedings? The issue as framed by petitioner injects into it a supposed conversion of a legal separation suit to one for declaration of nullity of a marriage, which is without basis, for even petitioner asserted that "the respondent has acquiesced to the dismissal of his counterclaim" (Petitioner's Brief, page 22). Not only this. The petition for legal separation and the counterclaim to declare the nullity of the self same marriage can stand independent and separate adjudication. They are not inseparable nor was the action for legal separation converted into one for a declaration of nullity by the counterclaim, for legal separation pre-supposes a valid marriage, while the petition for nullity has a voidable marriage as a pre-condition. The first real issue in this case is: Does the death of the plaintiff before final decree, in an action for legal separation, abate the action? If it does, will abatement also apply if the action involves property rights? . An action for legal separation which involves nothing more than the bed-and-board separation of the spouses (there being no absolute divorce in this jurisdiction) is purely personal. The Civil Code of the Philippines recognizes this in its Article 100, by allowing only the innocent spouse (and no one else) to claim legal separation; and in its Article 108, by providing that the spouses can, by their reconciliation, stop or abate the proceedings and even rescind a decree of legal separation already rendered. Being personal in character, it follows that the death of one party to the action causes the death of the action itself actio personalis moritur cum persona. ... When one of the spouses is dead, there is no need for divorce, because the marriage is dissolved. The heirs cannot even continue the suit, if the death of the spouse takes place during the course of the suit (Article 244, Section 3). The action is absolutely dead (Cass., July 27, 1871, D. 71. 1. 81; Cass. req., May 8, 1933, D. H. 1933, 332.") 4 . Marriage is a personal relation or status, created under the sanction of law, and an action for divorce is a proceeding brought for the purpose of effecting a dissolution of that relation. The action is one of a personal nature. In the absence of a statute to the contrary, the death of one of the parties to such action abates the action, for the reason that death has settled the question of separation beyond all controversy and deprived the court of jurisdiction, both over the persons of the parties to the action and of the subject-matter of the action itself. For this reason the courts are almost unanimous in holding that the death of either party to a divorce proceeding, before final decree, abates the action. 1 Corpus Juris, 208; Wren v. Moss, 2 Gilman, 72; Danforth v. Danforth, 111 Ill. 236; Matter of Grandall, 196 N.Y. 127, 89 N.E. 578; 134 Am St. Rep. 830; 17 Ann. Cas.

G.R. No. L-30977

January 31, 1972

CARMEN LAPUZ SY, represented by her substitute MACARIO LAPUZ, petitioner-appellant, vs. EUFEMIO S. EUFEMIO alias EUFEMIO SY UY, respondent-appellee. Jose W. Diokno for petitioner-appellant. D. G. Eufemio for respondent-appellee. REYES J.B.L., J.:p Petition, filed after the effectivity of Republic Act 5440, for review by certiorari of an order, dated 29 July 1969, of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Manila, in its Civil Case No. 20387, dismissing said case for legal separation on the ground that the death of the therein plaintiff, Carmen O. Lapuz Sy, which occurred during the pendency of the case, abated the cause of action as well as the action itself. The dismissal order was issued over the objection of Macario Lapuz, the heir of the deceased plaintiff (and petitioner herein) who sought to substitute the deceased and to have the case prosecuted to final judgment. On 18 August 1953, Carmen O. Lapuz Sy filed a petition for legal separation against Eufemio S. Eufemio, alleging, in the main, that they were married civilly on 21 September 1934 and canonically on 30 September 1934; that they had lived together as husband and wife continuously until 1943 when her husband abandoned her; that they had no child; that they acquired properties during their marriage; and that she discovered her husband cohabiting with a Chinese woman named Go Hiok at 1319 Sisa Street, Manila, on or about March 1949. She prayed for the issuance of a decree of legal separation, which, among others, would order that the defendant Eufemio S. Eufemio should be deprived of his share of the conjugal partnership profits. In his second amended answer to the petition, herein respondent Eufemio S. Eufemio alleged affirmative and special defenses, and, along with several other claims involving money and other properties, counter-claimed for the declaration of nullity ab initio of his marriage with Carmen O. Lapuz Sy, on the ground of his prior and subsisting marriage, celebrated according to Chinese law and customs, with one Go Hiok, alias Ngo Hiok. Issues having been joined, trial proceeded and the parties adduced their respective evidence. But before the trial could be completed (the respondent was already scheduled to present surrebuttal evidence on 9 and 18 June 1969), petitioner Carmen O. Lapuz Sy died in a vehicular accident on 31 May 1969. Counsel for petitioner duly notified the court of her death. On 9 June 1969, respondent Eufemio moved to dismiss the "petition for legal separation" 1 on two (2) grounds, namely: that the petition for legal separation was filed beyond the one-year period provided for in Article 102 of the Civil Code; and that the death of Carmen abated the action for legal separation. On 26 June 1969, counsel for deceased petitioner moved to substitute the deceased Carmen by her father, Macario Lapuz. Counsel for Eufemio opposed the motion. On 29 July 1969, the court issued the order under review, dismissing the case. 2 In the body of the order, the court stated that the motion to dismiss and the motion for substitution had to be resolved on the question of whether or not the plaintiff's cause of action has survived, which the court resolved in the negative. Petitioner's moved to reconsider but the motion was denied on 15 September 1969.

108

Wills Testamentary Succession 874; Wilcon v. Wilson, 73 Mich, 620, 41 N.W. 817; Strickland v. Strickland, 80 Ark. 452, 97 S. W. 659; McCurley v. McCurley, 60 Md. 185, 45 Am. Rep. 717; Begbie v. Begbie, 128 Cal. 155, 60 Pac. 667, 49 L.R.A. 141. 5 The same rule is true of causes of action and suits for separation and maintenance (Johnson vs. Bates, Ark. 101 SW 412; 1 Corpus Juris 208). A review of the resulting changes in property relations between spouses shows that they are solely the effect of the decree of legal separation; hence, they can not survive the death of the plaintiff if it occurs prior to the decree. On the point, Article 106 of the Civil Code provides: . Art. 106. The decree of legal separation shall have the following effects: (1) The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other, but the marriage bonds shall not be severed; . (2) The conjugal partnership of gains or the absolute conjugal community of property shall be dissolved and liquidated, but the offending spouse shall have no right to any share of the profits earned by the partnership or community, without prejudice to the provisions of article 176; (3) The custody of the minor children shall be awarded to the innocent spouse, unless otherwise directed by the court in the interest of said minors, for whom said court may appoint a guardian; (4) The offending spouse shall be disqualified from inheriting from the innocent spouse by intestate succession. Moreover, provisions in favor of the offending spouse made in the will of the innocent one shall be revoked by operation of law. From this article it is apparent that the right to the dissolution of the conjugal partnership of gains (or of the absolute community of property), the loss of right by the offending spouse to any share of the profits earned by the partnership or community, or his disqualification to inherit by intestacy from the innocent spouse as well as the revocation of testamentary provisions in favor of the offending spouse made by the innocent one, are all rights and disabilities that, by the very terms of the Civil Code article, are vested exclusively in the persons of the spouses; and by their nature and intent, such claims and disabilities are difficult to conceive as assignable or transmissible. Hence, a claim to said rights is not a claim that "is not thereby extinguished" after a party dies, under Section 17, Rule 3, of the Rules of Court, to warrant continuation of the action through a substitute of the deceased party. Sec. 17. Death of party. After a party dies and the claim is not thereby extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of the deceased to appear and to be substituted for the deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days, or within such time as may be granted... The same result flows from a consideration of the enumeration of the actions that survive for or against administrators in Section 1, Rule 87, of the Revised Rules of Court: SECTION 1. Actions which may and which may not be brought against executor or administrator. No action upon a claim for the recovery of money or debt or interest thereon shall be commenced against the executor or administrator; but actions to recover real or personal property, or an interest therein, from the estate, or to enforce a lien thereon, and actions to recover damages for an injury to person or property, real or personal, may be commenced against him. Neither actions for legal separation or for annulment of marriage can be deemed fairly included in the enumeration.. A further reason why an action for legal separation is abated by the death of the plaintiff, even if property rights are involved, is that these rights are mere effects of decree of separation, their source being the decree itself; without the decree such rights do not come into existence, so that before the finality of a decree, these claims are merely rights in expectation. If death supervenes during the pendency of the action, no decree can be forthcoming, death producing a more radical and definitive separation; and the expected consequential rights and claims would necessarily remain unborn. As to the petition of respondent-appellee Eufemio for a declaration of nullity ab initio of his marriage to Carmen Lapuz, it is apparent that such action became moot and academic upon the death of the latter, and there could be no further interest in continuing the same after her demise, that automatically dissolved the questioned union. Any property rights acquired by either party as a result of Article 144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines 6 could be resolved and determined in a proper action for partition by either the appellee or by the heirs of the appellant. In fact, even if the bigamous marriage had not been void ab initio but only voidable under Article 83, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code, because the second marriage had been contracted with the first wife having been an absentee for seven consecutive years, or when she had been generally believed dead, still the action for annulment became extinguished as soon as one of the three persons involved had died, as provided in Article 87, paragraph 2, of the Code, requiring that the action for annulment should be brought during the lifetime of any one of the parties involved. And furthermore, the liquidation of any conjugal partnership that might have resulted from such voidable marriage must be carried out "in the testate or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse", as expressly provided in Section 2 of the Revised Rule 73, and not in the annulment proceeding. ACCORDINGLY, the appealed judgment of the Manila Court of Juvenile and Domestic Relations is hereby affirmed. No special pronouncement as to costs. Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Villamor and Makasiar, JJ., concur. Footnotes
1 Per Annex "G" to Petition, rollo, pages 96-98, being the motion to dismiss. 2 Per Annex "I" to Petition, rollo, pages 132-137, being the order of dismissal. 3 Answer, rollo, pages 174-182. 4 Planiol, Civil Law Treatise, Vol. 1, Part 1, pages 658-659. 5 Bushnell v. Cooper, 124 N. E. 521, 522. 6 "Art. 144. When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife, but they are not married, or that marriage is void from the beginning, the property acquired by either or both of them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership."

109

Wills Testamentary Succession SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 82233 March 22, 1990 JOSE BARITUA and EDGAR BITANCOR, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, NICOLAS NACARIO and VICTORIA RONDA NACARIO, respondents. Domingo Lucenario for petitioners. Ernesto A. Atienza for private respondents. SARMIENTO, J.: This petition for review on certiorari assails as erroneous and contrary to existing relevant laws and applicable jurisprudence the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated December 11, 1987 which reversed and set aside that of the Regional Trial Court, Branch XXXII, at Pili, Camarines Sur. 2 The challenged decision adjudged the petitioners liable to the private respondents in the total amount of P20,505.00 and for costs. The facts are as follows: In the evening of November 7, 1979, the tricycle then being driven by Bienvenido Nacario along the national highway at Barangay San Cayetano, in Baao, Camarines Sur, figured in an accident with JB Bus No. 80 driven by petitioner Edgar Bitancor and owned and operated by petitioner Jose Baritua. 3 As a result of that accident Bienvenido and his passenger died 4 and the tricycle was damaged. 5 No criminal case arising from the incident was ever instituted. 6 Subsequently, on March 27, 1980, as a consequence of the extra-judicial settlement of the matter negotiated by the petitioners and the bus insurer Philippine First Insurance Company, Incorporated (PFICI for brevity) Bienvenido Nacario's widow, Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario, received P18,500.00. In consideration of the amount she received, Alicia executed on March 27, 1980 a "Release of Claim" in favor of the petitioners and PFICI, releasing and forever discharging them from all actions, claims, and demands arising from the accident which resulted in her husband's death and the damage to the tricycle which the deceased was then driving. Alicia likewise executed an affidavit of desistance in which she formally manifested her lack of interest in instituting any case, either civil or criminal, against the petitioners. 7 On September 2, 1981, or about one year and ten months from the date of the accident on November 7, 1979, the private respondents, who are the parents of Bienvenido Nacario, filed a complaint for damages against the petitioners with the then Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur. 8 In their complaint, the private respondents alleged that during the vigil for their deceased son, the petitioners through their representatives promised them (the private respondents) that as extra-judicial settlement, they shall be indemnified for the death of their son, for the funeral expenses incurred by reason thereof, and for the damage for the tricycle the purchase price of which they (the private respondents) only loaned to the victim. The petitioners, however, reneged on their promise and instead negotiated and settled their obligations with the long-estranged wife of their late son. The Nacario spouses prayed that the defendants, petitioners herein, be ordered to indemnify them in the amount of P25,000.00 for the death of their son Bienvenido, P10,000.00 for the damaged tricycle, P25,000.00 for compensatory and exemplary damages, P5,000.00 for attorney's fees, and for moral damages. 9 After trial, the court a quo dismissed the complaint, holding that the payment by the defendants (herein petitioners) to the widow and her child, who are the preferred heirs and successors-in-interest of the deceased Bienvenido to the exclusion of his parents, the plaintiffs (herein private respondents), extinguished any claim against the defendants (petitioners). 10 The parents appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed the judgment of the trial court. The appellate court ruled that the release executed by Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario did not discharge the liability of the petitioners because the case was instituted by the private respondents in their own capacity and not as "heirs, representatives, successors, and assigns" of Alicia; and Alicia could not have validly waived the damages being prayed for (by the private respondents) since she was not the one who suffered these damages arising from the death of their son. Furthermore, the appellate court said that the petitioners "failed to rebut the testimony of the appellants (private respondents) that they were the ones who bought the tricycle that was damaged in the incident. Appellants had the burden of proof of such fact, and they did establish such fact in their testimony . . . 11 Anent the funeral expenses, "(T)he expenses for the funeral were likewise shouldered by the appellants (the private respondents). This was never contradicted by the appellees (petitioners). . . . Payment (for these) were made by the appellants, therefore, the reimbursement must accrue in their favor. 12 Consequently, the respondent appellate court ordered the petitioners to pay the private respondents P10,000.00 for the damage of the tricycle, P5,000.00 for "complete" funeral services, P450.00 for cemetery lot, P55.00 for oracion adulto, and P5,000.00 for attorney's fees. 13 The petitioners moved for a reconsideration of the appellate court's decision 14 but their motion was denied. 15 Hence, this petition. The issue here is whether or not the respondent appellate court erred in holding that the petitioners are still liable to pay the private respondents the aggregate amount of P20,505.00 despite the agreement of extrajudicial settlement between the petitioners and the victim's compulsory heirs. The petition is meritorious. Obligations are extinguished by various modes among them being by payment. Article 1231 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides: Art. 1231. Obligations are extinguished: (1) By payment or performance; (2) By the loss of the thing due; (3) By the condonation or remission of the debt; (4) By the confusion or merger of the rights of creditor and debtor; (5) By compensation; (6) By novation. (Emphasis ours.) There is no denying that the petitioners had paid their obligation petition arising from the accident that occurred on November 7, 1979. The only question now is whether or not Alicia, the spouse and the one who received the petitioners' payment, is entitled to it. Article 1240 of the Civil Code of the Philippines enumerates the persons to whom payment to extinguish an obligation should be made. Art 1240. Payment shall be made to the person in whose favor the obligation has been constituted, or his successor in interest, or any person authorized to receive it. Certainly there can be no question that Alicia and her son with the deceased are the successors in interest referred to in law as the persons authorized to receive payment. The Civil Code states: Article 887. The following are compulsory heirs:

110

Wills Testamentary Succession 1. Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants; 2. In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants with respect to their legitimate children and decendants; 3. The widow or widower; 4. Acknowledged natural children and natural children by legal fiction; 5. Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287. Compulsory heirs mentioned in Nos. 3, 4 and 5 are not excluded by those in Nos. 1 and 2. Neither do they exclude one another. (Emphasis ours.) Article 985. In default of legitimate children and descendants of the deceased, his parents and ascendants shall inherit from him, to the exclusion of collateral relatives. (Emphasis ours.) It is patently clear that the parents of the deceased succeed only when the latter dies without a legitimate descendant. On the other hand, the surviving spouse concurs with all classes of heirs. As it has been established that Bienvenido was married to Alicia and that they begot a child, the private respondents are not successors-in-interest of Bienvenido; they are not compulsory heirs. The petitioners therefore acted correctly in settling their obligation with Alicia as the widow of Bienvenido and as the natural guardian of their lone child. This is so even if Alicia had been estranged from Bienvenido. Mere estrangement is not a legal ground for the disqualification of a surviving spouse as an heir of the deceased spouse. Neither could the private respondents, as alleged creditors of Bienvenido, seek relief and compensation from the petitioners. While it may be true that the private respondents loaned to Bienvenido the purchase price of the damaged tricycle and shouldered the expenses for his funeral, the said purchase price and expenses are but money claims against the estate of their deceased son. 16 These money claims are not the liabilities of the petitioners who, as we have said, had been released by the agreement of the extra-judicial settlement they concluded with Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario, the victim's widow and heir, as well as the natural guardian of their child, her co-heir. As a matter of fact, she executed a "Release Of Claim" in favor of the petitioners. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED; the decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the decision of the Regional Trial Court is hereby REINSTATED. Costs against the private respondents. SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur. Footnotes
1 Chua, Segundino G., J., ponente, Ejercito, Bienvenido C., and Lapea, Nicolas P., Jr., JJ., concurring. 2 Judge Conchita Carpio-Rosales, presiding. 3 Rollo, 46. 4 Id. 5 Id., 42. 6 Id., 46. 7 Id., 42. 8 Id., 24. 9 Id., 62-65. 10 Id., 42-44. 11 Id., 50. 12 Id. 13 Id., 45-51. 14 Id., 52-58. 15 Id., 61. 16 Rule 87, Section 1, Rules of Court; see also, MORAN, 3 Comments on the Rules of Court, 479-480 (1980).

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Wills Testamentary Succession FIRST DIVISION The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code (FC), the applicable law to determine their validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of their celebration. 5 A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code, 6 the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) 7 in relation to Article 58. 8 The requirement and issuance of marriage license is the State's demonstration of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general public is interested. 9 This interest proceeds from the constitutional mandate that the State recognizes the sanctity of family life and of affording protection to the family as a basic "autonomous social institution." 10 Specifically, the Constitution considers marriage as an "inviolable social institution," and is the foundation of family life which shall be protected by the State. 11 This is why the Family Code considers marriage as "a special contract of permanent union" 12 and case law considers it "not just an adventure but a lifetime commitment." 13 However, there are several instances recognized by the Civil Code wherein a marriage license is dispensed with, one of which is that provided in Article 76, 14 referring to the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken period of at least five years before the marriage. The rationale why no license is required in such case is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage due to the publication of every applicant's name for a marriage license. The publicity attending the marriage license may discourage such persons from legitimizing their status. 15 To preserve peace in the family, avoid the peeping and suspicious eye of public exposure and contain the source of gossip arising from the publication of their names, the law deemed it wise to preserve their privacy and exempt them from that requirement. There is no dispute that the marriage of petitioners' father to respondent Norma was celebrated without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, they executed an affidavit stating that "they have attained the age of majority, and, being unmarried, have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years, and that we now desire to marry each other." 16 The only issue that needs to be resolved pertains to what nature of cohabitation is contemplated under Article 76 of the Civil Code to warrant the counting of the five year period in order to exempt the future spouses from securing a marriage license. Should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties are capacitated to marry each other during the entire five-year continuous period or should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife during the entire five-year continuous period regardless of whether there is a legal impediment to their being lawfully married, which impediment may have either disappeared or intervened sometime during the cohabitation period? Working on the assumption that Pepito and Norma have lived together as husband and wife for five years without the benefit of marriage, that five-year period should be computed on the basis of a cohabitation as "husband and wife" where the only missing factor is the special contract of marriage to validate the union. In other words, the five-year common-law cohabitation period, which is counted back from the date of celebration of marriage, should be a period of legal union had it not been for the absence of the marriage. This 5-year period should be the years immediately before the day of the marriage and it should be a period of cohabitation characterized by exclusivity meaning no third party was involved at anytime within the 5 years and continuity that is unbroken. Otherwise, if that continuous 5-year cohabitation is computed without any distinction as to whether the parties were capacitated to marry each other during the entire five years, then the law would be sanctioning immorality and encouraging parties to have common law relationships and placing them on the same footing with those who lived faithfully 112

G.R. No. 133778

March 14, 2000

ENGRACE NIAL for Herself and as Guardian ad Litem of the minors BABYLINE NIAL, INGRID NIAL, ARCHIE NIAL & PEPITO NIAL, JR., petitioners, vs. NORMA BAYADOG, respondent. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: May the heirs of a deceased person file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage after his death? Pepito Nial was married to Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. Out of their marriage were born herein petitioners. Teodulfa was shot by Pepito resulting in her death on April 24, 1985. One year and 8 months thereafter or on December 11, 1986, Pepito and respondent Norma Badayog got married without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, Pepito and Norma executed an affidavit dated December 11, 1986 stating that they had lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and were thus exempt from securing a marriage license. On February 19, 1997, Pepito died in a car accident. After their father's death, petitioners filed a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of Pepito to Norma alleging that the said marriage was void for lack of a marriage license. The case was filed under the assumption that the validity or invalidity of the second marriage would affect petitioner's successional rights. Norma filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that petitioners have no cause of action since they are not among the persons who could file an action for "annulment of marriage" under Article 47 of the Family Code. Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos of the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissed the petition after finding that the Family Code is "rather silent, obscure, insufficient" to resolve the following issues: (1) Whether or not plaintiffs have a cause of action against defendant in asking for the declaration of the nullity of marriage of their deceased father, Pepito G. Nial, with her specially so when at the time of the filing of this instant suit, their father Pepito G. Nial is already dead; (2) Whether or not the second marriage of plaintiffs' deceased father with defendant is null and voidab initio; (3) Whether or not plaintiffs are estopped from assailing the validity of the second marriage after it was dissolved due to their father's death. 1 Thus, the lower court ruled that petitioners should have filed the action to declare null and void their father's marriage to respondent before his death, applying by analogy Article 47 of the Family Code which enumerates the time and the persons who could initiate an action for annulment of marriage. 2 Hence, this petition for review with this Court grounded on a pure question of law. This petition was originally dismissed for non-compliance with Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and because "the verification failed to state the basis of petitioner's averment that the allegations in the petition are "true and correct"." It was thus treated as an unsigned pleading which produces no legal effect under Section 3, Rule 7, of the 1997 Rules. 3 However, upon motion of petitioners, this Court reconsidered the dismissal and reinstated the petition for review. 4

Wills Testamentary Succession with their spouse. Marriage being a special relationship must be respected as such and its requirements must be strictly observed. The presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife is based on the approximation of the requirements of the law. The parties should not be afforded any excuse to not comply with every single requirement and later use the same missing element as a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify their marriage. There should be no exemption from securing a marriage license unless the circumstances clearly fall within the ambit of the exception. It should be noted that a license is required in order to notify the public that two persons are about to be united in matrimony and that anyone who is aware or has knowledge of any impediment to the union of the two shall make it known to the local civil registrar. 17 The Civil Code provides: Art. 63: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advice the local civil registrar thereof. . . . Art. 64: Upon being advised of any alleged impediment to the marriage, the local civil registrar shall forthwith make an investigation, examining persons under oath. . . . This is reiterated in the Family Code thus: Art. 17 provides in part: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advise the local civil registrar thereof. . . . Art. 18 reads in part: . . . In case of any impediment known to the local civil registrar or brought to his attention, he shall note down the particulars thereof and his findings thereon in the application for a marriage license. . . . This is the same reason why our civil laws, past or present, absolutely prohibited the concurrence of multiple marriages by the same person during the same period. Thus, any marriage subsequently contracted during the lifetime of the first spouse shall be illegal and void, 18 subject only to the exception in cases of absence or where the prior marriage was dissolved or annulled. The Revised Penal Code complements the civil law in that the contracting of two or more marriages and the having of extramarital affairs are considered felonies, i.e., bigamy and concubinage and adultery. 19 The law sanctions monogamy. In this case, at the time of Pepito and respondent's marriage, it cannot be said that they have lived with each other as husband and wife for at least five years prior to their wedding day. From the time Pepito's first marriage was dissolved to the time of his marriage with respondent, only about twenty months had elapsed. Even assuming that Pepito and his first wife had separated in fact, and thereafter both Pepito and respondent had started living with each other that has already lasted for five years, the fact remains that their five-year period cohabitation was not the cohabitation contemplated by law. It should be in the nature of a perfect union that is valid under the law but rendered imperfect only by the absence of the marriage contract. Pepito had a subsisting marriage at the time when he started cohabiting with respondent. It is immaterial that when they lived with each other, Pepito had already been separated in fact from his lawful spouse. The subsistence of the marriage even where there was actual severance of the filial companionship between the spouses cannot make any cohabitation by either spouse with any third party as being one as "husband and wife". Having determined that the second marriage involved in this case is not covered by the exception to the requirement of a marriage license, it is void ab initio because of the absence of such element. The next issue to be resolved is: do petitioners have the personality to file a petition to declare their father's marriage void after his death? Contrary to respondent judge's ruling, Article 47 of the Family Code 20 cannot be applied even by analogy to petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. The second ground for annulment of marriage relied upon by the trial court, which allows "the sane spouse" to file an annulment suit "at anytime before the death of either party" is inapplicable. Article 47 pertains to the grounds, periods and persons who can file an annulment suit, not a suit for declaration of nullity of marriage. The Code is silent as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of a marriage. Voidable and void marriages are not identical. A marriage that is annulable is valid until otherwise declared by the court; whereas a marriage that is void ab initio is considered as having never to have taken place21 and cannot be the source of rights. The first can be generally ratified or confirmed by free cohabitation or prescription while the other can never be ratified. A voidable marriage cannot be assailed collaterally except in a direct proceeding while a void marriage can be attacked collaterally. Consequently, void marriages can be questioned even after the death of either party but voidable marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime of the parties and not after death of either, in which case the parties and their offspring will be left as if the marriage had been perfectly valid. 22 That is why the action or defense for nullity is imprescriptible, unlike voidable marriages where the action prescribes. Only the parties to a voidable marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a void marriage. Void marriages have no legal effects except those declared by law concerning the properties of the alleged spouses, regarding co-ownership or ownership through actual joint contribution, 23 and its effect on the children born to such void marriages as provided in Article 50 in relation to Article 43 and 44 as well as Article 51, 53 and 54 of the Family Code. On the contrary, the property regime governing voidable marriages is generally conjugal partnership and the children conceived before its annulment are legitimate. Contrary to the trial court's ruling, the death of petitioner's father extinguished the alleged marital bond between him and respondent. The conclusion is erroneous and proceeds from a wrong premise that there was a marriage bond that was dissolved between the two. It should be noted that their marriage was void hence it is deemed as if it never existed at all and the death of either extinguished nothing. Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no judicial decree is necessary in order to establish the nullity of a marriage. 24 "A void marriage does not require a judicial decree to restore the parties to their original rights or to make the marriage void but though no sentence of avoidance be absolutely necessary, yet as well for the sake of good order of society as for the peace of mind of all concerned, it is expedient that the nullity of the marriage should be ascertained and declared by the decree of a court of competent jurisdiction." 25 "Under ordinary circumstances, the effect of a void marriage, so far as concerns the conferring of legal rights upon the parties, is as though no marriage had ever taken place. And therefore, being good for no legal purpose, its invalidity can be maintained in any proceeding in which the fact of marriage may be material, either direct or collateral, in any civil court between any parties at any time, whether before or after the death of either or both the husband and the wife, and upon mere proof of the facts rendering such marriage void, it will be disregarded or treated as non-existent by the courts." It is not like a voidable marriage which cannot be collaterally attacked except in direct proceeding instituted during the lifetime of the parties so that on the death of either, the marriage cannot be impeached, and is made good ab initio. 26 But Article 40 of the Family Code expressly provides that there must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a second marriage 27 and such absolute nullity can be based only on a final judgment to that effect. 28 For the same reason, the law makes either the action or defense for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage imprescriptible. 29 Corollarily, if the death of either party would extinguish the cause of action or the ground for defense, then the same cannot be considered imprescriptible.

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Wills Testamentary Succession However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question the same so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue that may arise in the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of declaration of nullity is necessary even if the purpose is other than to remarry. The clause "on the basis of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void" in Article 40 of the Family Code connotes that such final judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Order of the Regional Trial Court, Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissing Civil Case No. T-639, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The said case is ordered REINSTATED.1wphi1.nt SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno and Kapunan, JJ., concur. Pardo, J., on official business abroad. Footnotes
1 The dispositive portion of the Order dated March 27, 1998 issued by Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 59, Toledo City, reads: "WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant's motion to dismiss is hereby granted and this instant case is hereby ordered dismissed without costs." (p. 6; Rollo, p. 21). 2 Order, p. 4; Rollo, p. 19. 3 Minute Resolution dated July 13, 1998; Rollo, p. 39. 4 Minute Resolution dated October 7, 1998; Rollo, p. 50. 5 Tamano v. Ortiz, 291 SCRA 584 (1998). 6 Now Article 3, Family Code. Art. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all the requisites are complied with: (1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties; their consent, freely given; (2) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and (3) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character. 7 Now Article 4, Family Code. Art. 80. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning: xxx xxx xxx (3) Those solemnized without a marriage license, save marriages of exceptional character. xxx xxx xxx 8 Art. 58. Save marriages of an exceptional character authorized in Chapter 2 of this Title, but not those under article 75, no marriage shall be solemnized without a license first being issued by the local civil registrar of the municipality where either contracting party habitually resides. 9 Perido v. Perido, 63 SCRA 97 (1975). 10 Sec. 12, Article II, 1987 Constitution; Hernandez v. CA, G.R. No. 126010, December 8, 1999; See also Tuason v. CA, 256 SCRA 158 (1996). 11 Sec. 2, Article XV (The Family), 1987 Constitution. 12 Art. 1, Family Code provides: "Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal or family life. . . . 13 Santos v. CA, 58 SCAD 17 (1995); 310 Phil. 21, 41 (1995). 14 Now Article 34, Family Code. Art. 76. No marriage license shall be necessary when a man and a woman who have attained the age of majority and who, being unmarried, have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years, desire to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The official, priest or minister who solemnized the marriage shall also state in an affidavit that he took steps to ascertain the ages and other qualifications of the contracting parties and that he found no legal impediment to the marriage. 15 Report of the Code Commission, p. 80. 16 Rollo, p. 29. 17 Art. 63 and 64, Civil Code; Article 17 and 18, Family Code. 18 Art. 83, Civil Code provides "Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of the first spouse of such person with any person other than such first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless: (1) the first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or (2) the first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years. . . . Art. 41 of the Family Code reads: "A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years. . ." 19 Arts. 333 and 334, Revised Penal Code. 20 Art. 47. The action for annulment of marriage must be filed by the following persons and within the periods indicated herein: (1) For causes mentioned in number 1 of Article 45 by the party whose parent or guardian did not give his or her consent, within five years after attaining the age of twenty-one; or by the parent or guardian or person having legal charge of the minor, at any time before such party has reached the age of twenty-one; (2) For causes mentioned in number 2 of Article 45, by the sane spouse, who had no knowledge of the other's insanity; or by any relative or guardian or person having legal charge of the insane, at anytime before the death of either party, or by the insane spouse during a lucid interval or after regaining sanity; (3) For causes mentioned in number 3 of Article 45, by the injured party, within five years after the discovery of the fraud; (4) For causes mentioned in number 4 of Article 45, by the injured party, within five years from the time the force, intimidation or undue influence disappeared or ceased; For causes mentioned in numbers 5 and 6 of Article 45, by the injured party, within five years after the marriage. 21 Suntay v. Cojuanco-Suntay, 300 SCRA 760 (1998); People v. Retirement Board, 272 III. App. 59 cited in I Tolentino, Civil Code, 1990 ed. p. 271. 22 In re Conza's Estate, 176 III. 192; Miller v. Miller, 175 Cal. 797, 167 Pac. 394 cited in I Tolentino, Civil Code, 1990 ed., p. 271. 23 Art. 148-149, Family Code; Article 144, Civil Code. 24 Odayat v. Amante, 77 SCRA 338 (1977); Weigel v. Sempio-Dy, 143 SCRA 499 (1986); People v. Mendoza, 95 Phil. 845 (1954); 50 O.G. (10) 4767 cited in People v. Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033 (1957); 53 O.G. 3749. 25 35 Am. Jur. 219-220. 26 18 RCL 446-7; 35 Am Jur. 221. 27 Apiag v. Cantero, 335 Phil. 511 (1997); 268 SCRA 47 (1997); Atienza v. Judge Brillantes, Jr., 60 SCAD 119; 312 Phil. 939 (1995). 28 Domingo v. CA, 226 SCRA 572 (1993). 29 Art. 39, Family Code as amended by E.O. 209 and 227 s. 1987 and further amended by R.A. No. 8533 dated February 23, 1998.

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Wills Testamentary Succession THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 179922 December 16, 2008 JUAN DE DIOS CARLOS, petitioner, vs. FELICIDAD SANDOVAL, also known as FELICIDAD S. VDA. DE CARLOS or FELICIDAD SANDOVAL CARLOS or FELICIDAD SANDOVAL VDA. DE CARLOS, and TEOFILO CARLOS II, respondents. REYES, R.T., J.: DECISION Mangangata River; and on the West., along line 6-1, by Lot 28-B of the subd. plan x x x containing an area of ONE THUSAND AND SEVENTY-SIX (1,076) SQUARE METERS. PARCEL No. 5 PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 50, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. de Solocan. Linda por el NW, con la parcela 49; por el NE, con la parcela 36; por el SE, con la parcela 51; y por el SW, con la calle Dos Castillas. Partiendo de un punto marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se halla a S. gds. 01'W, 72.50 mts. Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo un extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150) METROS CUADRADOS. PARCEL No. 6 PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 51, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. De Solocon. Linda por el NW, con la parcela 50; por el NE, con la parcela 37; por el SE, con la parcela 52; por el SW, con la Calle Dos Castillas. Partiendo de un punto Marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se halla at S. 43 gds. 01'E, 82.50 mts. Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo una extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150) METROS CUADRADOS.3 During the lifetime of Felix Carlos, he agreed to transfer his estate to Teofilo. The agreement was made in order to avoid the payment of inheritance taxes. Teofilo, in turn, undertook to deliver and turn over the share of the other legal heir, petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. Eventually, the first three (3) parcels of land were transferred and registered in the name of Teofilo. These three (3) lots are now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 234824 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; TCT No. 139061 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; and TCT No. 139058 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City. Parcel No. 4 was registered in the name of petitioner. The lot is now covered by TCT No. 160401 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City. On May 13, 1992, Teofilo died intestate. He was survived by respondents Felicidad and their son, Teofilo Carlos II (Teofilo II). Upon Teofilo's death, Parcel Nos. 5 & 6 were registered in the name of respondent Felicidad and co-respondent, Teofilo II. The said two (2) parcels of land are covered by TCT Nos. 219877 and 210878, respectively, issued by the Registry of Deeds of Manila. In 1994, petitioner instituted a suit against respondents before the RTC in Muntinlupa City, docketed as Civil Case No. 94-1964. In the said case, the parties submitted and caused the approval of a partial compromise agreement. Under the compromise, the parties acknowledged their respective shares in the proceeds from the sale of a portion of the first parcel of land. This includes the remaining 6,691square-meter portion of said land. On September 17, 1994, the parties executed a deed of extrajudicial partition, dividing the remaining land of the first parcel between them. Meanwhile, in a separate case entitled Rillo v. Carlos,4 2,331 square meters of the second parcel of land were adjudicated in favor of plaintiffs Rillo. The remaining 10,000-square meter portion was later divided between petitioner and respondents.

ONLY a spouse can initiate an action to sever the marital bond for marriages solemnized during the effectivity of the Family Code, except cases commenced prior to March 15, 2003. The nullity and annulment of a marriage cannot be declared in a judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of judgment. We pronounce these principles as We review on certiorari the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) which reversed and set aside the summary judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in an action for declaration of nullity of marriage, status of a child, recovery of property, reconveyance, sum of money, and damages. The Facts The events that led to the institution of the instant suitare unveiled as follows: Spouses Felix B. Carlos and Felipa Elemia died intestate. They left six parcels of land to their compulsory heirs, Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. The lots are particularly described as follows: Parcel No. 1 Lot No. 162 of the MUNTINLUPA ESTATE SUBDIVISION, Case No. 6137 of the Court of Land Registration. Exemption from the provisions of Article 567 of the Civil Code is specifically reserved. Area: 1 hectare, 06 ares, 07 centares. Parcel No. 2 A parcel of land (Lot No. 159-B), being a portion of Lot 159, situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Municipality of Muntinlupa, Province of Rizal, x x x containing an area of Thirteen Thousand Four Hundred Forty One (13,441) square meters. Parcel No. 3 A parcel of land (Lot 159-B-2 of the subd. plan [LRC] Psd-325903, approved as a non-subd. project), being a portion of Lot 159-B [LRC] Psd- Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Island of Luzon. Bounded on the NE, points 2 to 4 by Lot 155, Muntinlupa Estate; on the SE, point 4 to 5 by Lot 159-B-5; on the S, points 5 to 1 by Lot 159-B-3; on the W, points 1 to 2 by Lot 159-B-1 (Road widening) all of the subd. plan, containing an area of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY (130) SQ. METERS, more or less. PARCEL No. 4 A parcel of land (Lot 28-C of the subd. plan Psd-13-007090, being a portion of Lot 28, Muntinlupa Estate, L.R.C. Rec. No. 6137), situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. Bounded on the NE, along lines 1-2 by Lot 27, Muntinlupa Estate; on the East & SE, along lines 2 to 6 by

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Wills Testamentary Succession The division was incorporated in a supplemental compromise agreement executed on August 17, 1994, with respect to Civil Case No. 94-1964. The parties submitted the supplemental compromise agreement, which was approved accordingly. Petitioner and respondents entered into two more contracts in August 1994. Under the contracts, the parties equally divided between them the third and fourth parcels of land. In August 1995, petitioner commenced an action, docketed as Civil Case No. 95-135, against respondents before the court a quo with the following causes of action: (a) declaration of nullity of marriage; (b) status of a child; (c) recovery of property; (d) reconveyance; and (e) sum of money and damages. The complaint was raffled to Branch 256 of the RTC in Muntinlupa. In his complaint, petitioner asserted that the marriage between his late brother Teofilo and respondent Felicidad was a nullity in view of the absence of the required marriage license. He likewise maintained that his deceased brother was neither the natural nor the adoptive father of respondent Teofilo Carlos II. Petitioner likewise sought the avoidance of the contracts he entered into with respondent Felicidad with respect to the subject real properties. He also prayed for the cancellation of the certificates of title issued in the name of respondents. He argued that the properties covered by such certificates of title, including the sums received by respondents as proceeds, should be reconveyed to him. Finally, petitioner claimed indemnification as and by way of moral and exemplary damages, attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and costs of suit. On October 16, 1995, respondents submitted their answer. They denied the material averments of petitioner's complaint. Respondents contended that the dearth of details regarding the requisite marriage license did not invalidate Felicidad's marriage to Teofilo. Respondents declared that Teofilo II was the illegitimate child of the deceased Teofilo Carlos with another woman. On the grounds of lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, respondents prayed for the dismissal of the case before the trial court. They also asked that their counterclaims for moral and exemplary damages, as well as attorney's fees, be granted. But before the parties could even proceed to pre-trial, respondents moved for summary judgment. Attached to the motion was the affidavit of the justice of the peace who solemnized the marriage. Respondents also submitted the Certificate of Live Birth of respondent Teofilo II. In the certificate, the late Teofilo Carlos and respondent Felicidad were designated as parents. On January 5, 1996, petitioner opposed the motion for summary judgment on the ground of irregularity of the contract evidencing the marriage. In the same breath, petitioner lodged his own motion for summary judgment. Petitioner presented a certification from the Local Civil Registrar of Calumpit, Bulacan, certifying that there is no record of birth of respondent Teofilo II. Petitioner also incorporated in the counter-motion for summary judgment the testimony of respondent Felicidad in another case. Said testimony was made in Civil Case No. 89-2384, entitled Carlos v. Gorospe, before the RTC Branch 255, Las Pias. In her testimony, respondent Felicidad narrated that co-respondent Teofilo II is her child with Teofilo.5 Subsequently, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa submitted to the trial court its report and manifestation, discounting the possibility of collusion between the parties. RTC and CA Dispositions On April 8, 1996, the RTC rendered judgment, disposing as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant's (respondent's) Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby denied. Plaintiff's (petitioner's) CounterMotion for Summary Judgment is hereby granted and summary judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff as follows: 1. Declaring the marriage between defendant Felicidad Sandoval and Teofilo Carlos solemnized at Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962, evidenced by the Marriage Certificate submitted in this case, null and void ab initio for lack of the requisite marriage license; 2. Declaring that the defendant minor, Teofilo S. Carlos II, is not the natural, illegitimate, or legally adopted child of the late Teofilo E. Carlos; 3. Ordering defendant Sandoval to pay and restitute to plaintiff the sum of P18,924,800.00 together with the interest thereon at the legal rate from date of filing of the instant complaint until fully paid; 4. Declaring plaintiff as the sole and exclusive owner of the parcel of land, less the portion adjudicated to plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 11975, covered by TCT No. 139061 of the Register of Deeds of Makati City, and ordering said Register of Deeds to cancel said title and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein; 5. Declaring the Contract, Annex "K" of complaint, between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and void, and ordering the Register of Deeds of Makati City to cancel TCT No. 139058 in the name of Teofilo Carlos, and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein; 6. Declaring the Contract, Annex M of the complaint, between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and void; 7. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210877 in the names of defendant Sandoval and defendant minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the exclusive name of plaintiff herein; 8. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210878 in the name of defendant Sandoval and defendant Minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein. Let this case be set for hearing for the reception of plaintiff's evidence on his claim for moral damages, exemplary damages, attorney's fees, appearance fees, and litigation expenses on June 7, 1996 at 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon. SO ORDERED.6 Dissatisfied, respondents appealed to the CA. In the appeal, respondents argued, inter alia, that the trial court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in rendering summary judgment annulling the marriage of Teofilo, Sr. and Felicidad and in declaring Teofilo II as not an illegitimate child of Teofilo, Sr. On October 15, 2002, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC ruling, disposing as follows: WHEREFORE, the summary judgment appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and in lieu thereof, a new one is entered REMANDING the case to the court of origin for further proceedings. SO ORDERED.7

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Wills Testamentary Succession The CA opined: We find the rendition of the herein appealed summary judgment by the court a quo contrary to law and public policy as ensconced in the aforesaid safeguards. The fact that it was appellants who first sought summary judgment from the trial court, did not justify the grant thereof in favor of appellee. Not being an action "to recover upon a claim" or "to obtain a declaratory relief," the rule on summary judgment apply (sic) to an action to annul a marriage. The mere fact that no genuine issue was presented and the desire to expedite the disposition of the case cannot justify a misinterpretation of the rule. The first paragraph of Article 88 and 101 of the Civil Code expressly prohibit the rendition of decree of annulment of a marriage upon a stipulation of facts or a confession of judgment. Yet, the affidavits annexed to the petition for summary judgment practically amount to these methods explicitly proscribed by the law. We are not unmindful of appellee's argument that the foregoing safeguards have traditionally been applied to prevent collusion of spouses in the matter of dissolution of marriages and that the death of Teofilo Carlos on May 13, 1992 had effectively dissolved the marriage herein impugned. The fact, however, that appellee's own brother and appellant Felicidad Sandoval lived together as husband and wife for thirty years and that the annulment of their marriage is the very means by which the latter is sought to be deprived of her participation in the estate left by the former call for a closer and more thorough inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the case. Rather that the summary nature by which the court a quo resolved the issues in the case, the rule is to the effect that the material facts alleged in the complaint for annulment of marriage should always be proved. Section 1, Rule 19 of the Revised Rules of Court provides: "Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. - Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved." (Underscoring supplied) Moreover, even if We were to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case at bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quo for appellee would still not be warranted. While it may be readily conceded that a valid marriage license is among the formal requisites of marriage, the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) in relation to Article 58 of the Civil Code the failure to reflect the serial number of the marriage license on the marriage contract evidencing the marriage between Teofilo Carlos and appellant Felicidad Sandoval, although irregular, is not as fatal as appellee represents it to be. Aside from the dearth of evidence to the contrary, appellant Felicidad Sandoval's affirmation of the existence of said marriage license is corroborated by the following statement in the affidavit executed by Godofredo Fojas, then Justice of the Peace who officiated the impugned marriage, to wit: "That as far as I could remember, there was a marriage license issued at Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962 as basis of the said marriage contract executed by Teofilo Carlos and Felicidad Sandoval, but the number of said marriage license was inadvertently not placed in the marriage contract for the reason that it was the Office Clerk who filled up the blanks in the Marriage Contract who in turn, may have overlooked the same." Rather than the inferences merely drawn by the trial court, We are of the considered view that the veracity and credibility of the foregoing statement as well as the motivations underlying the same should be properly threshed out in a trial of the case on the merits. If the non-presentation of the marriage contract - the primary evidence of marriage - is not proof that a marriage did not take place, neither should appellants' non-presentation of the subject marriage license be taken as proof that the same was not procured. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage, it must be emphasized, rests upon the plaintiff and any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. Considering that the burden of proof also rests on the party who disputes the legitimacy of a particular party, the same may be said of the trial court's rejection of the relationship between appellant Teofilo Carlos II and his putative father on the basis of the inconsistencies in appellant Felicidad Sandoval's statements. Although it had effectively disavowed appellant's prior claims regarding the legitimacy of appellant Teofilo Carlos II, the averment in the answer that he is the illegitimate son of appellee's brother, to Our mind, did not altogether foreclose the possibility of the said appellant's illegitimate filiation, his right to prove the same or, for that matter, his entitlement to inheritance rights as such. Without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, We find appellee's bare allegation that appellant Teofilo Carlos II was merely purchased from an indigent couple by appellant Felicidad Sandoval, on the whole, insufficient to support what could well be a minor's total forfeiture of the rights arising from his putative filiation. Inconsistent though it may be to her previous statements, appellant Felicidad Sandoval's declaration regarding the illegitimate filiation of Teofilo Carlos II is more credible when considered in the light of the fact that, during the last eight years of his life, Teofilo Carlos allowed said appellant the use of his name and the shelter of his household. The least that the trial court could have done in the premises was to conduct a trial on the merits in order to be able to thoroughly resolve the issues pertaining to the filiation of appellant Teofilo Carlos II.8 On November 22, 2006, petitioner moved for reconsideration and for the inhibition of the ponente, Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador. The CA denied the twin motions. Issues In this petition under Rule 45, petitioner hoists the following issues:

1.

That, in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment under the Decision, Annex A hereof, and in denying petitioner's Motion for reconsideration under the Resolution, Annex F hereof, with respect to the nullity of the impugned marriage, petitioner respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed a grave reversible error in applying Articles 88 and 101 of the Civil Code, despite the fact that the circumstances of this case are different from that contemplated and intended by law, or has otherwise decided a question of substance not theretofore decided by the Supreme Court, or has decided it in a manner probably not in accord with law or with the applicable decisions of this Honorable Court; That in setting aside and reversing the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another remanding the case to the court of origin for

2.

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Wills Testamentary Succession further proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed a serious reversible error in applying Section 1, Rule 19 (now Section 1, Rule 34) of the Rules of Court providing for judgment on the pleadings, instead of Rule 35 governing Summary Judgments; (2) The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of marriage must be proved. No judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of judgment shall be allowed. (Underscoring supplied) Likewise instructive is the Court's pronouncement in Republic v. Sandiganbayan.13 In that case, We excluded actions for nullity or annulment of marriage from the application of summary judgments. Prescinding from the foregoing discussion, save for annulment of marriage or declaration of its nullity or for legal separation, summary judgment is applicable to all kinds of actions.14 (Underscoring supplied) By issuing said summary judgment, the trial court has divested the State of its lawful right and duty to intervene in the case. The participation of the State is not terminated by the declaration of the public prosecutor that no collusion exists between the parties. The State should have been given the opportunity to present controverting evidence before the judgment was rendered.15 Both the Civil Code and the Family Code ordain that the court should order the prosecuting attorney to appear and intervene for the State. It is at this stage when the public prosecutor sees to it that there is no suppression of evidence. Concomitantly, even if there is no suppression of evidence, the public prosecutor has to make sure that the evidence to be presented or laid down before the court is not fabricated. To further bolster its role towards the preservation of marriage, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages reiterates the duty of the public prosecutor, viz.: SEC. 13. Effect of failure to appear at the pre-trial. - (a) x x x (b) x x x If there is no collusion, the court shall require the public prosecutor to intervene for the State during the trial on the merits to prevent suppression or fabrication of evidence. (Underscoring supplied) Truly, only the active participation of the public prosecutor or the Solicitor General will ensure that the interest of the State is represented and protected in proceedings for declaration of nullity of marriages by preventing the fabrication or suppression of evidence.16 II. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or wife. Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced before the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC; and (2) Marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil Code. Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may not be filed by any party outside of the marriage. The Rule made it exclusively a right of the spouses by stating: SEC. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. (a) Who may file. - A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. (Underscoring supplied) Section 2(a) of the Rule makes it the sole right of the husband or the wife to file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage. The rationale of the Rule is enlightening, viz.: Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the 118

3.

That in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion, disregarded judicial admissions, made findings on ground of speculations, surmises, and conjectures, or otherwise committed misapplications of the laws and misapprehension of the facts.9 (Underscoring supplied)

Essentially, the Court is tasked to resolve whether a marriage may be declared void ab initio through a judgment on the pleadings or a summary judgment and without the benefit of a trial. But there are other procedural issues, including the capacity of one who is not a spouse in bringing the action for nullity of marriage. Our Ruling I. The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage must be proved. Neither judgment on the pleadings nor summary judgment is allowed. So is confession of judgment disallowed. Petitioner faults the CA in applying Section 1, Rule 1910 of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides: SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. - Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. He argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of the Rules of Court governing summary judgment, instead of the rule on judgment on the pleadings. Petitioner is misguided. The CA did not limit its finding solely within the provisions of the Rule on judgment on the pleadings. In disagreeing with the trial court, the CA likewise considered the provisions on summary judgments, to wit: Moreover, even if We are to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case at bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quo for appellee would still not be warranted. x x x11 But whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings or summary judgment, the CA was correct in reversing the summary judgment rendered by the trial court. Both the rules on judgment on the pleadings and summary judgments have no place in cases of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage and even in annulment of marriage. With the advent of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, known as "Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages," the question on the application of summary judgments or even judgment on the pleadings in cases of nullity or annulment of marriage has been stamped with clarity. The significant principle laid down by the said Rule, which took effect on March 15, 200312 is found in Section 17, viz.: SEC. 17. Trial. - (1) The presiding judge shall personally conduct the trial of the case. No delegation of evidence to a commissioner shall be allowed except as to matters involving property relations of the spouses.

Wills Testamentary Succession spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to file the petition.Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their predecessor, and, hence, can only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its dissolution.17 (Underscoring supplied) The new Rule recognizes that the husband and the wife are the sole architects of a healthy, loving, peaceful marriage. They are the only ones who can decide when and how to build the foundations of marriage. The spouses alone are the engineers of their marital life. They are simultaneously the directors and actors of their matrimonial true-to-life play. Hence, they alone can and should decide when to take a cut, but only in accordance with the grounds allowed by law. The innovation incorporated in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC sets forth a demarcation line between marriages covered by the Family Code and those solemnized under the Civil Code. The Rule extends only to marriages entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988.18 The advent of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages marks the beginning of the end of the right of the heirs of the deceased spouse to bring a nullity of marriage case against the surviving spouse. But the Rule never intended to deprive the compulsory or intestate heirs of their successional rights. While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are without any recourse under the law. They can still protect their successional right, for, as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the validity of the marriage of the spouses, not in a proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts.19 It is emphasized, however, that the Rule does not apply to cases already commenced before March 15, 2003 although the marriage involved is within the coverage of the Family Code. This is so, as the new Rule which became effective on March 15, 200320 is prospective in its application. Thus, the Court held in Enrico v. Heirs of Sps. Medinaceli,21 viz.: As has been emphasized, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC covers marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines, and is prospective in its application.22 (Underscoring supplied) Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case against respondent Felicidad in 1995. The marriage in controversy was celebrated on May 14, 1962. Which law would govern depends upon when the marriage took place.23 The marriage having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable law is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration.24 But the Civil Code is silent as to who may bring an action to declare the marriage void. Does this mean that any person can bring an action for the declaration of nullity of marriage? We respond in the negative. The absence of a provision in the Civil Code cannot be construed as a license for any person to institute a nullity of marriage case. Such person must appear to be the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. 25 Elsewise stated, plaintiff must be the real party-in-interest. For it is basic in procedural law that every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party-in-interest.26 Interest within the meaning of the rule means material interest or an interest in issue to be affected by the decree or judgment of the case, as distinguished from mere curiosity about the question involved or a mere incidental interest. One having no material interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as plaintiff in an action. When plaintiff is not the real party-in-interest, the case is dismissible on the ground of lack of cause of action.27 Illuminating on this point is Amor-Catalan v. Court of Appeals,28 where the Court held: True, under the New Civil Code which is the law in force at the time the respondents were married, or even in the Family Code, there is no specific provision as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of marriage; however, only a party who can demonstrate "proper interest" can file the same. A petition to declare the nullity of marriage, like any other actions, must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest and must be based on a cause of action. Thus, in Nial v. Badayog, the Court held that the children have the personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage of their deceased father to their stepmother as it affects their successional rights. xxxx In fine, petitioner's personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage cannot be ascertained because of the absence of the divorce decree and the foreign law allowing it. Hence, a remand of the case to the trial court for reception of additional evidence is necessary to determine whether respondent Orlando was granted a divorce decree and whether the foreign law which granted the same allows or restricts remarriage. If it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained and the same did not allow respondent Orlando's remarriage, then the trial court should declare respondent's marriage as bigamous and void ab initio but reduced the amount of moral damages from P300,000.00 to P50,000.00 and exemplary damages from P200,000.00 to P25,000.00. On the contrary, if it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained which allowed Orlando to remarry, then the trial court must dismiss the instant petition to declare nullity of marriage on the ground that petitioner Felicitas Amor-Catalan lacks legal personality to file the same.29(Underscoring supplied) III. The case must be remanded to determine whether or not petitioner is a real-party-in-interest to seek the declaration of nullity of the marriage in controversy. In the case at bench, the records reveal that when Teofilo died intestate in 1992, his only surviving compulsory heirs are respondent Felicidad and their son, Teofilo II. Under the law on succession, successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent and the compulsory heirs are called to succeed by operation of law.30 Upon Teofilo's death in 1992, all his property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance are transmitted to his compulsory heirs. These heirs were respondents Felicidad and Teofilo II, as the surviving spouse and child, respectively. Article 887 of the Civil Code outlined who are compulsory heirs, to wit: (1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants;

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Wills Testamentary Succession (2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and descendants; (3) The widow or widower; (4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction; (5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287 of the Civil Code.31 Clearly, a brother is not among those considered as compulsory heirs. But although a collateral relative, such as a brother, does not fall within the ambit of a compulsory heir, he still has a right to succeed to the estate. Articles 1001 and 1003 of the New Civil Code provide: ART. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the latter shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other half. ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in accordance with the following articles. (Underscoring supplied) Indeed, only the presence of descendants, ascendants or illegitimate children excludes collateral relatives from succeeding to the estate of the decedent. The presence of legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted child or children of the deceased precludes succession by collateral relatives.32 Conversely, if there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the decedent.33 If respondent Teofilo II is declared and finally proven not to be the legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo, petitioner would then have a personality to seek the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. This is so, considering that collateral relatives, like a brother and sister, acquire successional right over the estate if the decedent dies without issue and without ascendants in the direct line. The records reveal that Teofilo was predeceased by his parents. He had no other siblings but petitioner. Thus, if Teofilo II is finally found and proven to be not a legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo, petitioner succeeds to the other half of the estate of his brother, the first half being allotted to the widow pursuant to Article 1001 of the New Civil Code. This makes petitioner a real-party-interest to seek the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of his deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. If the subject marriage is found to be void ab initio, petitioner succeeds to the entire estate. It bears stressing, however, that the legal personality of petitioner to bring the nullity of marriage case is contingent upon the final declaration that Teofilo II is not a legitimate, adopted, or illegitimate son of Teofilo. If Teofilo II is proven to be a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo, then petitioner has no legal personality to ask for the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother and respondent Felicidad. This is based on the ground that he has no successional right to be protected, hence, does not have proper interest. For although the marriage in controversy may be found to be void from the beginning, still, petitioner would not inherit. This is because the presence of descendant, illegitimate,34 or even an adopted child35 excludes the collateral relatives from inheriting from the decedent. Thus, the Court finds that a remand of the case for trial on the merits to determine the validity or nullity of the subject marriage is called for. But the RTC is strictly instructed to dismiss the nullity of marriage case for lack of cause of action if it is proven by evidence that Teofilo II is a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo Carlos, the deceased brother of petitioner. IV. Remand of the case regarding the question of filiation of respondent Teofilo II is proper and in order. There is a need to vacate the disposition of the trial court as to the other causes of action before it. Petitioner did not assign as error or interpose as issue the ruling of the CA on the remand of the case concerning the filiation of respondent Teofilo II. This notwithstanding, We should not leave the matter hanging in limbo. This Court has the authority to review matters not specifically raised or assigned as error by the parties, if their consideration is necessary in arriving at a just resolution of the case.36 We agree with the CA that without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, petitioner's bare allegation that respondent Teofilo II was adopted from an indigent couple is insufficient to support a total forfeiture of rights arising from his putative filiation. However, We are not inclined to support its pronouncement that the declaration of respondent Felicidad as to the illegitimate filiation of respondent Teofilo II is more credible. For the guidance of the appellate court, such declaration of respondent Felicidad should not be afforded credence. We remind the CA of the guaranty provided by Article 167 of the Family Code to protect the status of legitimacy of a child, to wit: ARTICLE 167. The child shall be considered legitimate although the mother may have declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress. (Underscoring supplied) It is stressed that Felicidad's declaration against the legitimate status of Teofilo II is the very act that is proscribed by Article 167 of the Family Code. The language of the law is unmistakable. An assertion by the mother against the legitimacy of her child cannot affect the legitimacy of a child born or conceived within a valid marriage.37 Finally, the disposition of the trial court in favor of petitioner for causes of action concerning reconveyance, recovery of property, and sum of money must be vacated. This has to be so, as said disposition was made on the basis of its finding that the marriage in controversy was null and void ab initio. WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is MODIFIED as follows: 1. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court in regard to the action on the status and filiation of respondent Teofilo Carlos II and the validity or nullity of marriage between respondent Felicidad Sandoval and the late Teofilo Carlos; 2. If Teofilo Carlos II is proven to be the legitimate, or illegitimate, or legally adopted son of the late Teofilo Carlos, the RTC is strictly INSTRUCTED to DISMISS the action for nullity of marriage for lack of cause of action; 3. The disposition of the RTC in Nos. 1 to 8 of the fallo of its decision is VACATED AND SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to conduct trial on the merits with dispatch and to give this case priority in its calendar. No costs. SO ORDERED.

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citing Pioneer Insurance & Surety Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 84197 & 84157, July 18, 1989, 175 SCRA 668. 28 G.R. No. 167109, February 6, 2007, 514 SCRA 607, citing Rules of Court, Rule 3, Sec. 2, Rule 2, Sec. 1; Nial v. Badayog, G.R. No. 133778, March 14, 2000, 328 SCRA 122. 29 Amor-Catalan v. Court of Appeals, id. at 614-615. 30 Rabadilla v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 113725, June 29, 2000, 334 SCRA 522. 31 Paragraphs 4 & 5 are no longer controlling. The distinctions among different classes of illegitimate children under the Civil Code have been removed. All of them fall in the category of illegitimate children, as provided under Article 165 of the Family Code: Article 165. Children conceived and born outside a valid marriage are illegitimate, unless otherwise provided in this Code. 32 See Gonzales v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 117740, October 30, 1998, 298 SCRA 322; see also Reyes v. Sotero, G.R. No. 167405, February 16, 2006, 482 SCRA 520; Pedrosa v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 118680, March 5, 2001, 353 SCRA 620; Heirs of Ignacio Conti v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 118464, December 21, 1998, 300 SCRA 345. 33 Heirs of Ignacio Conti v. Court of Appeals, supra. 34 Gonzales v. Court of Appeals, supra note 32. 35 Reyes v. Sotero, supra note 32; Pedrosa v. Court of Appeals, supra note 32. 36 Maricalum Mining Corporation v. Brion, G.R. Nos. 157696-97, February 9, 2006, 482 SCRA 87, citing Sociedad Europea de Financiacion, S.A. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 75787, January 21, 1991, 193 SCRA 105, 114, citing in turn Saura Import & Export Co., Inc. v. Philippine International Co., Inc., 118 Phil. 150, 156 (1963); and Miguel v. Court of Appeals, 140 Phil. 304, 312 (1969). 37 Concepcion v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123450, August 31, 2005, 468 SCRA 438

Footnotes
1

Rollo, pp. 47-63. Dated October 15, 2002. Penned by Associate Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador, with Associate Justices Cancio C. Garcia and Bernardo P. Abesamis, concurring. 2 Civil Case No. 95-135. 3 Rollo, pp. 49-51. 4 Docketed as Civil Case No. 11975, CA decision, p. 6. 5 Rollo, p. 55. 6 CA rollo, pp. 48-49. 7 Id. at 63. 8 Id. at 60-63. 9 Rollo, pp. 24-25. 10 Rules of Civil Procedure (1997), Rule 34, Sec. 1. SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. - Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. However, in actions for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. 11 CA rollo, p. 61. 12 Sec. 25. Effectivity. - This Rule shall take effect on March 15, 2003 following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation not later than March 7, 2003. 13 G.R. No. 152154, November 18, 2003, 416 SCRA 133, citing Family Code, Arts. 48 & 60, and Roque v. Encarnacion, 96 Phil. 643 (1954). 14 Republic v. Sandiganbayan, id. at 143. 15 Republic v. Cuison-Melgar, G.R. No. 139676, March 31, 2006, 486 SCRA 177, citing Malcampo-Sin v. Sin, G.R. No. 137590, March 26, 2001, 355 SCRA 285, 289, and Republic v. Dagdag, G.R. No. 109975, February 9, 2001, 351 SCRA 425, 435. 16 Id. at 187-188, citing Republic v. Iyoy, G.R. No. 152577, September 21, 2005, 470 SCRA 508, 529, andAncheta v. Ancheta, G.R. No. 145370, March 4, 2004, 424 SCRA 725, 740. 17 Enrico v. Heirs of Sps. Medinaceli , G.R. No. 173614, September 28, 2007, 534 SCRA 418, 429, citing Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, Legal Separation and Provisional Orders. 18 Id. at 427-428, citing Modequillo v. Brava, G.R. No. 86355, May 31, 1990, 185 SCRA 766, 772. (Note in the citation omitted.) 19 Id. at 429-430. 20 A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC - Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages. SEC. 25. Effectivity. - This Rule shall take effect on March 15, 2003 following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation not later than March 7, 2003. 21 Supra note 17. 22 Enrico v. Heirs of Sps. Medinaceli, id. at 428. 23 Malang v. Moson, G.R. No. 119064, August 22, 2000, 338 SCRA 393. 24 See Republic v. Dayot, G.R. No. 175581, and Tecson-Dayot v. Dayot, G.R. No. 179474, March 28, 2008;Alcantara v. Alcantara, G.R. No. 167746, August 28, 2007, 531 SCRA 446. 25 Republic v. Agunoy, Sr., G.R. No. 155394, February 17, 2005, 451 SCRA 735, 746. 26 Oco v. Limbaring, G.R. No. 161298, January 31, 2006, 481 SCRA 348. 27 Id. at 358, citing Abella, Jr. v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 152574, November 17, 2004, 442 SCRA 507, 521; Pascual v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 115925, August 15, 2003, 409 SCRA 105, 117; and Bank of America NT & SA v. Court of Appeals, 448 Phil. 181, 194-195 (2003); Borlongan v. Madrideo, 380 Phil. 215, 224 (2000); Mathay v. Court of Appeals, 378 Phil. 466, 482 (1999); Ralla v. Ralla, G.R. No. 78646, July 23, 1991, 199 SCRA 495, 499; Rebollido v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 81123, February 28, 1989, 170 SCRA 800, 806; Chua v. Torres, G.R. No. 151900, August 30, 2005, 468 SCRA 358, citing Tan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127210, August 7, 2003, 408 SCRA 470, 475-76; citing in turn University of the Philippines Board of Regents v. LigotTelan, G.R. No. 110280, October 21, 1993, 227 SCRA 342, 355; Ralla v. Ralla, supra; Rebollido v. Court of Appeals, supra; Shipside, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 143377, February 20, 2001, 352 SCRA 334, 346, in turn

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Wills Testamentary Succession FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 83484 February 12, 1990 CELEDONIA SOLIVIO, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and CONCORDIA JAVELLANA VILLANUEVA, respondents. Rex Suiza Castillon for petitioner. Salas & Villareal for private respondent. MEDIALDEA, J.: This is a petition for review of the decision dated January 26, 1988 of the Court of Appeals in CA GR CV No. 09010 (Concordia Villanueva v. Celedonia Solivio) affirming the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 13207 for partition, reconveyance of ownership and possession and damages, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered for the plaintiff and against defendant: a) Ordering that the estate of the late Esteban Javellana, Jr. be divided into two (2) shares: one-half for the plaintiff and one-half for defendant. From both shares shall be equally deducted the expenses for the burial, mausoleum and related expenditures. Against the share of defendants shall be charged the expenses for scholarship, awards, donations and the 'Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Memorial Foundation;' b) Directing the defendant to submit an inventory of the entire estate property, including but not limited to, specific items already mentioned in this decision and to render an accounting of the property of the estate, within thirty (30) days from receipt of this judgment; one-half (1/2) of this produce shall belong to plaintiff; c) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff P5,000.00 as expenses of litigation; P10,000.00 for and as attorney's fees plus costs. SO ORDERED. (pp. 42-43, Rollo) This case involves the estate of the late novelist, Esteban Javellana, Jr., author of the first post-war Filipino novel "Without Seeing the Dawn," who died a bachelor, without descendants, ascendants, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces. His only surviving relatives are: (1) his maternal aunt, petitioner Celedonia Solivio, the spinster halfsister of his mother, Salustia Solivio; and (2) the private respondent, Concordia Javellana-Villanueva, sister of his deceased father, Esteban Javellana, Sr. He was a posthumous child. His father died barely ten (10) months after his marriage in December, 1916 to Salustia Solivio and four months before Esteban, Jr. was born. Salustia and her sister, Celedonia (daughter of Engracio Solivio and his second wife Josefa Fernandez), a teacher in the Iloilo Provincial High School, brought up Esteban, Jr. Salustia brought to her marriage paraphernal properties (various parcels of land in Calinog, Iloilo covered by 24 titles) which she had inherited from her mother, Gregoria Celo, Engracio Solivio's first wife (p. 325, Record), but no conjugal property was acquired during her short-lived marriage to Esteban, Sr. On October 11, 1959, Salustia died, leaving all her properties to her only child, Esteban, Jr., including a house and lot in La Paz, Iloilo City, where she, her son, and her sister lived. In due time, the titles of all these properties were transferred in the name of Esteban, Jr. During his lifetime, Esteban, Jr. had, more than once, expressed to his aunt Celedonia and some close friends his plan to place his estate in a foundation to honor his mother and to help poor but deserving students obtain a college education. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack on February 26,1977 without having set up the foundation. Two weeks after his funeral, Concordia and Celedonia talked about what to do with Esteban's properties. Celedonia told Concordia about Esteban's desire to place his estate in a foundation to be named after his mother, from whom his properties came, for the purpose of helping indigent students in their schooling. Concordia agreed to carry out the plan of the deceased. This fact was admitted by her in her "Motion to Reopen and/or Reconsider the Order dated April 3, 1978" which she filed on July 27, 1978 in Special Proceeding No. 2540, where she stated: 4. That petitioner knew all along the narrated facts in the immediately preceding paragraph [that herein movant is also the relative of the deceased within the third degree, she being the younger sister of the late Esteban Javellana, father of the decedent herein], because prior to the filing of the petition they (petitioner Celedonia Solivio and movant Concordia Javellana) have agreed to make the estate of the decedent a foundation, besides they have closely known each other due to their filiation to the decedent and they have been visiting each other's house which are not far away for (sic) each other. (p. 234, Record; Emphasis supplied.) Pursuant to their agreement that Celedonia would take care of the proceedings leading to the formation of the foundation, Celedonia in good faith and upon the advice of her counsel, filed on March 8, 1977 Spl. Proceeding No. 2540 for her appointment as special administratrix of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. (Exh. 2). Later, she filed an amended petition (Exh. 5) praying that letters of administration be issued to her; that she be declared sole heir of the deceased; and that after payment of all claims and rendition of inventory and accounting, the estate be adjudicated to her (p. 115, Rollo). After due publication and hearing of her petition, as well as her amended petition, she was declared sole heir of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. She explained that this was done for three reasons: (1) because the properties of the estate had come from her sister, Salustia Solivio; (2) that she is the decedent's nearest relative on his mother's side; and (3) with her as sole heir, the disposition of the properties of the estate to fund the foundation would be facilitated. On April 3, 1978, the court (Branch II, CFI, now Branch 23, RTC) declared her the sole heir of Esteban, Jr. Thereafter, she sold properties of the estate to pay the taxes and other obligations of the deceased and proceeded to set up the "SALUSTIA SOLIVIO VDA. DE JAVELLANA FOUNDATION" which she caused to be registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 17,1981 under Reg. No. 0100027 (p. 98, Rollo). Four months later, or on August 7, 1978, Concordia Javellana Villanueva filed a motion for reconsideration of the court's order declaring Celedonia as "sole heir" of Esteban, Jr., because she too was an heir of the deceased. On October 27, 1978, her motion was denied by the court for tardiness (pp. 80-81, Record). Instead of appealing the denial, Concordia filed on January 7, 1980 (or one year and two months later), Civil Case No. 13207 in the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, Branch 26,

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Wills Testamentary Succession entitled "Concordia Javellana- Villanueva v. Celedonia Solivio" for partition, recovery of possession, ownership and damages. On September 3, 1984, the said trial court rendered judgment in Civil Case No. 13207, in favor of Concordia Javellana-Villanueva. On Concordia's motion, the trial court ordered the execution of its judgment pending appeal and required Celedonia to submit an inventory and accounting of the estate. In her motions for reconsideration of those orders, Celedonia averred that the properties of the deceased had already been transferred to, and were in the possession of, the 'Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation." The trial court denied her motions for reconsideration. In the meantime, Celedonia perfected an appeal to the Court of Appeals (CA GR CV No. 09010). On January 26, 1988, the Court of Appeals, Eleventh Division, rendered judgment affirming the decision of the trial court in toto.Hence, this petition for review wherein she raised the following legal issues: 1. whether Branch 26 of the RTC of Iloilo had jurisdiction to entertain Civil Case No. 13207 for partition and recovery of Concordia Villanueva's share of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. even while the probate proceedings (Spl. Proc. No. 2540) were still pending in Branch 23 of the same court; 2. whether Concordia Villanueva was prevented from intervening in Spl. Proc. No. 2540 through extrinsic fraud; 3. whether the decedent's properties were subject to reserva troncal in favor of Celedonia, his relative within the third degree on his mother's side from whom he had inherited them; and 4. whether Concordia may recover her share of the estate after she had agreed to place the same in the Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation, and notwithstanding the fact that conformably with said agreement, the Foundation has been formed and properties of the estate have already been transferred to it. I. The question of jurisdiction After a careful review of the records, we find merit in the petitioner's contention that the Regional Trial Court, Branch 26, lacked jurisdiction to entertain Concordia Villanueva's action for partition and recovery of her share of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. while the probate proceedings (Spl, Proc. No. 2540) for the settlement of said estate are still pending in Branch 23 of the same court, there being as yet no orders for the submission and approval of the administratix's inventory and accounting, distributing the residue of the estate to the heir, and terminating the proceedings (p. 31, Record). It is the order of distribution directing the delivery of the residue of the estate to the persons entitled thereto that brings to a close the intestate proceedings, puts an end to the administration and thus far relieves the administrator from his duties (Santiesteban v. Santiesteban, 68 Phil. 367, Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank v. Escolin, et al., L-27860, March 29, 1974, 56 SCRA 266). The assailed order of Judge Adil in Spl. Proc. No. 2540 declaring Celedonia as the sole heir of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. did not toll the end of the proceedings. As a matter of fact, the last paragraph of the order directed the administratrix to "hurry up the settlement of the estate." The pertinent portions of the order are quoted below: 2. As regards the second incident [Motion for Declaration of Miss Celedonia Solivio as Sole Heir, dated March 7, 1978], it appears from the record that despite the notices posted and the publication of these proceedings as required by law, no other heirs came out to interpose any opposition to the instant proceeding. It further appears that herein Administratrix is the only claimant-heir to the estate of the late Esteban Javellana who died on February 26, 1977. During the hearing of the motion for declaration as heir on March 17, 1978, it was established that the late Esteban Javellana died single, without any known issue, and without any surviving parents. His nearest relative is the herein Administratrix, an elder [sic] sister of his late mother who reared him and with whom he had always been living with [sic] during his lifetime. xxxxxxxxx 2. Miss Celedonia Solivio, Administratrix of this estate, is hereby declared as the sole and legal heir of the late Esteban S. Javellana, who died intestate on February 26, 1977 at La Paz, Iloilo City. The Administratrix is hereby instructed to hurry up with the settlement of this estate so that it can be terminated. (pp, 14-16, Record) In view of the pendency of the probate proceedings in Branch 11 of the Court of First Instance (now RTC, Branch 23), Concordia's motion to set aside the order declaring Celedonia as sole heir of Esteban, and to have herself (Concordia) declared as coheir and recover her share of the properties of the deceased, was properly filed by her in Spl. Proc. No. 2540. Her remedy when the court denied her motion, was to elevate the denial to the Court of Appeals for review on certiorari. However, instead of availing of that remedy, she filed more than one year later, a separate action for the same purpose in Branch 26 of the court. We hold that the separate action was improperly filed for it is the probate court that has exclusive jurisdiction to make a just and legal distribution of the estate. In the interest of orderly procedure and to avoid confusing and conflicting dispositions of a decedent's estate, a court should not interfere with probate proceedings pending in a co-equal court. Thus, did we rule in Guilas v. Judge of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, L-26695, January 31, 1972, 43 SCRA 111, 117, where a daughter filed a separate action to annul a project of partition executed between her and her father in the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of her mother: The probate court loses jurisdiction of an estate under administration only after the payment of all the debts and the remaining estate delivered to the heirs entitled to receive the same. The finality of the approval of the project of The probate court, in the exercise of its jurisdiction to make distribution, has power to determine the proportion or parts to which each distributed is entitled. ... The power to determine the legality or illegality of the testamentary provision is inherent in the jurisdiction of the court making a just and legal distribution of the inheritance. ... To hold that a separate and independent action is necessary to that effect, would be contrary to the general tendency of the jurisprudence of avoiding multiplicity of suits; and is further, expensive, dilatory, and impractical. (Marcelino v. Antonio, 70 Phil. 388) A judicial declaration that a certain person is the only heir of the decedent is exclusively within the range of the administratrix proceedings and can not properly be made an independent action. (Litam v. Espiritu, 100 Phil. 364) A separate action for the declaration of heirs is not proper. (Pimentel v. Palanca, 5 Phil. 436)

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Wills Testamentary Succession partition by itself alone does not terminate the probate proceeding (Timbol v. Cano, 1 SCRA 1271, 1276, L-15445, April 29, 1961; Siguiong v. Tecson, 89 Phil. pp. 28, 30). As long as the order of the distribution of the estate has not been complied with, the probate proceedings cannot be deemed closed and terminated Siguiong v. Tecson, supra); because a judicial partition is not final and conclusive and does not prevent the heirs from bringing an action to obtain his share, provided the prescriptive period therefore has not elapsed (Mari v. Bonilia, 83 Phil. 137). The better practice, however, for the heir who has not received his share, is to demand his share through a proper motion in the same probate or administration proceedings, or for reopening of the probate or administrative proceedings if it had already been closed, and not through an independent action, which would be tried by another court or Judge which may thus reverse a decision or order of the probate or intestate court already final and executed and re-shuffle properties long ago distributed and disposed of. (Ramos v. Ortuzar, 89 Phil. 730, 741-742; Timbol v. Cano, supra; Jingco v. Daluz, L-5107, April 24, 1953, 92 Phil. 1082; Roman Catholic v. Agustines, L-14710, March 29, 1960, 107 Phil. 455, 460-461; Emphasis supplied) In Litam et al., v. Rivera, 100 Phil. 364, where despite the pendency of the special proceedings for the settlement of the intestate estate of the deceased Rafael Litam the plaintiffs-appellants filed a civil action in which they claimed that they were the children by a previous marriage of the deceased to a Chinese woman, hence, entitled to inherit his one-half share of the conjugal properties acquired during his marriage to Marcosa Rivera, the trial court in the civil case declared that the plaintiffs-appellants were not children of the deceased, that the properties in question were paraphernal properties of his wife, Marcosa Rivera, and that the latter was his only heir. On appeal to this Court, we ruled that "such declarations (that Marcosa Rivera was the only heir of the decedent) is improper, in Civil Case No. 2071, it being within the exclusive competence of the court in Special Proceedings No. 1537, in which it is not as yet, in issue, and, will not be, ordinarily, in issue until the presentation of the project of partition. (p. 378). However, in the Guilas case, supra, since the estate proceedings had been closed and terminated for over three years, the action for annulment of the project of partition was allowed to continue. Considering that in the instant case, the estate proceedings are still pending, but nonetheless, Concordia had lost her right to have herself declared as co-heir in said proceedings, We have opted likewise to proceed to discuss the merits of her claim in the interest of justice. The orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 26, in Civil Case No. 13207 setting aside the probate proceedings in Branch 23 (formerly Branch 11) on the ground of extrinsic fraud, and declaring Concordia Villanueva to be a co-heir of Celedonia to the estate of Esteban, Jr., ordering the partition of the estate, and requiring the administratrix, Celedonia, to submit an inventory and accounting of the estate, were improper and officious, to say the least, for these matters he within the exclusive competence of the probate court. II. The question of extrinsic fraud Was Concordia prevented from intervening in the intestate proceedings by extrinsic fraud employed by Celedonia? It is noteworthy that extrinsic fraud was not alleged in Concordia's original complaint in Civil Case No. 13207. It was only in her amended complaint of March 6, 1980, that extrinsic fraud was alleged for the first time. Extrinsic fraud, as a ground for annulment of judgment, is any act or conduct of the prevailing party which prevented a fair submission of the controversy (Francisco v. David, 38 O.G. 714). A fraud 'which prevents a party from having a trial or presenting all of his case to the court, or one which operates upon matters pertaining, not to the judgment itself, but to the manner by which such judgment was procured so much so that there was no fair submission of the controversy. For instance, if through fraudulent machination by one [his adversary], a litigant was induced to withdraw his defense or was prevented from presenting an available defense or cause of action in the case wherein the judgment was obtained, such that the aggrieved party was deprived of his day in court through no fault of his own, the equitable relief against such judgment may be availed of. (Yatco v. Sumagui, 44623-R, July 31, 1971). (cited in Philippine Law Dictionary, 1972 Ed. by Moreno; Varela v. Villanueva, et al., 96 Phil. 248) A judgment may be annulled on the ground of extrinsic or collateral fraud, as distinguished from intrinsic fraud, which connotes any fraudulent scheme executed by a prevailing litigant 'outside the trial of a case against the defeated party, or his agents, attorneys or witnesses, whereby said defeated party is prevented from presenting fully and fairly his side of the case. ... The overriding consideration is that the fraudulent scheme of the prevailing litigant prevented a party from having his day in court or from presenting his case. The fraud, therefore, is one that affects and goes into the jurisdiction of the court. (Libudan v. Gil, L-21163, May 17, 1972, 45 SCRA 17, 27-29; Sterling Investment Corp. v. Ruiz, L-30694, October 31, 1969, 30 SCRA 318, 323) The charge of extrinsic fraud is, however, unwarranted for the following reasons: 1. Concordia was not unaware of the special proceeding intended to be filed by Celedonia. She admitted in her complaint that she and Celedonia had agreed that the latter would "initiate the necessary proceeding" and pay the taxes and obligations of the estate. Thus paragraph 6 of her complaint alleged: 6. ... for the purpose of facilitating the settlement of the estate of the late Esteban Javellana, Jr. at the lowest possible cost and the least effort, the plaintiff and the defendant agreed that the defendant shall initiate the necessary proceeding, cause the payment of taxes and other obligations, and to do everything else required by law, and thereafter, secure the partition of the estate between her and the plaintiff, [although Celedonia denied that they agreed to partition the estate, for their agreement was to place the estate in a foundation.] (p. 2, Record; emphasis supplied) Evidently, Concordia was not prevented from intervening in the proceedings. She stayed away by choice. Besides, she knew that the estate came exclusively from Esteban's mother, Salustia Solivio, and she had agreed with Celedonia to place it in a foundation as the deceased had planned to do. 2. The probate proceedings are proceedings in rem. Notice of the time and place of hearing of the petition is required to be published (Sec. 3, Rule 76 in relation to Sec. 3, Rule 79, Rules of Court). Notice of the hearing of Celedonia's original petition was published in the "Visayan Tribune" on April 25, May 2 and 9, 1977 (Exh 4, p. 197, Record). Similarly, notice of the hearing of her amended petition of May 26, 1977 for the settlement of the estate was, by order of the court, published in "Bagong Kasanag" (New Light) issues of May 27, June 3 and 10, 1977 (pp. 182-305, Record). The publication of the notice of the proceedings was constructive notice to the whole world. Concordia was not deprived of her right to intervene in the proceedings for she had actual, as well as constructive notice of the same. As pointed out by the probate court in its order of October 27, 1978:

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Wills Testamentary Succession ... . The move of Concordia Javellana, however, was filed about five months after Celedonia Solivio was declared as the sole heir. ... . Considering that this proceeding is one in rem and had been duly published as required by law, despite which the present movant only came to court now, then she is guilty of laches for sleeping on her alleged right. (p. 22, Record) The court noted that Concordia's motion did not comply with the requisites of a petition for relief from judgment nor a motion for new trial. The rule is stated in 49 Corpus Juris Secundum 8030 as follows: Where petition was sufficient to invoke statutory jurisdiction of probate court and proceeding was in rem no subsequent errors or irregularities are available on collateral attack. (Bedwell v. Dean 132 So. 20) Celedonia's allegation in her petition that she was the sole heir of Esteban within the third degree on his mother's side was not false. Moreover, it was made in good faith and in the honest belief that because the properties of Esteban had come from his mother, not his father, she, as Esteban's nearest surviving relative on his mother's side, is the rightful heir to them. It would have been self-defeating and inconsistent with her claim of sole heirship if she stated in her petition that Concordia was her coheir. Her omission to so state did not constitute extrinsic fraud. Failure to disclose to the adversary, or to the court, matters which would defeat one's own claim or defense is not such extrinsic fraud as will justify or require vacation of the judgment. (49 C.J.S. 489, citing Young v. Young, 2 SE 2d 622; First National Bank & Trust Co. of King City v. Bowman, 15 SW 2d 842; Price v. Smith, 109 SW 2d 1144, 1149) It should be remembered that a petition for administration of a decedent's estate may be filed by any "interested person" (Sec. 2, Rule 79, Rules of Court). The filing of Celedonia's petition did not preclude Concordia from filing her own. III. On the question of reserva troncal We find no merit in the petitioner's argument that the estate of the deceased was subject to reserva troncal and that it pertains to her as his only relative within the third degree on his mother's side. The reserva troncal provision of the Civil Code is found in Article 891 which reads as follows: ART. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree and who belong to the line from which said property came. The persons involved in reserva troncal are:

3.

The propositusthe descendant who received by gratuitous title and died without issue, making his other ascendant inherit by operation of law. (p. 692, Civil Law by Padilla, Vol. II, 1956 Ed.)

Clearly, the property of the deceased, Esteban Javellana, Jr., is not reservable property, for Esteban, Jr. was not an ascendant, but the descendant of his mother, Salustia Solivio, from whom he inherited the properties in question. Therefore, he did not hold his inheritance subject to a reservation in favor of his aunt, Celedonia Solivio, who is his relative within the third degree on his mother's side. The reserva troncal applies to properties inherited by an ascendant from a descendant who inherited it from another ascendant or 9 brother or sister. It does not apply to property inherited by a descendant from his ascendant, the reverse of the situation covered by Article 891. Since the deceased, Esteban Javellana, Jr., died without descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, surviving spouse, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces, what should apply in the distribution of his estate are Articles 1003 and 1009 of the Civil Code which provide: ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in accordance with the following articles. ART. 1009. Should there be neither brothers nor sisters, nor children of brothers or sisters, the other collateral relatives shall succeed to the estate. The latter shall succeed without distinction of lines or preference among them by reason of relationship by the whole blood. Therefore, the Court of Appeals correctly held that: Both plaintiff-appellee and defendant-appellant being relatives of the decedent within the third degree in the collateral line, each, therefore, shall succeed to the subject estate 'without distinction of line or preference among them by reason of relationship by the whole blood,' and is entitled one-half (1/2) share and share alike of the estate. (p. 57, Rollo) IV. The question of Concordia's one-half share However, inasmuch as Concordia had agreed to deliver the estate of the deceased to the foundation in honor of his mother, Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana (from whom the estate came), an agreement which she ratified and confirmed in her "Motion to Reopen and/or Reconsider Order dated April 3, 1978" which she filed in Spl. Proceeding No. 2540: 4. That ... prior to the filing of the petition they (petitioner Celedonia Solivio and movant Concordia Javellana) have agreed to make the estate of the decedent a foundation, besides they have closely known each other due to their filiation to the decedent and they have been visiting each other's house which are not far away for (sic) each other. (p. 234, Record; Emphasis supplied) she is bound by that agreement. It is true that by that agreement, she did not waive her inheritance in favor of Celedonia, but she did agree to place all of Esteban's estate in the "Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation" which Esteban, Jr., during his lifetime, planned to set up to honor his mother and to finance the education of indigent but deserving students as well. Her admission may not be taken lightly as the lower court did. Being a judicial admission, it is conclusive and no evidence need be presented to prove the agreement (Cunanan v. Amparo, 80 Phil. 227; Granada v. Philippine National Bank,

1. 2.

The person obliged to reserve is the reservor (reservista)the ascendant who inherits by operation of law property from his descendants. The persons for whom the property is reserved are the reservees (reservatarios)relatives within the third degree counted from the descendant (propositus), and belonging to the line from which the property came.

125

Wills Testamentary Succession L-20745, Sept. 2, 1966, 18 SCRA 1; Sta. Ana v. Maliwat, L-23023, Aug. 31, 1968, 24 SCRA 1018; People v. Encipido, G.R.70091, Dec. 29, 1986, 146 SCRA 478; and Rodillas v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. 58652, May 20, 1988, 161 SCRA 347). The admission was never withdrawn or impugned by Concordia who, significantly, did not even testify in the case, although she could have done so by deposition if she were supposedly indisposed to attend the trial. Only her husband, Narciso, and son-in-law, Juanito Domin, actively participated in the trial. Her husband confirmed the agreement between his wife and Celedonia, but he endeavored to dilute it by alleging that his wife did not intend to give all, but only one-half, of her share to the foundation (p. 323, Record). The records show that the "Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation" was established and duly registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission under Reg. No. 0100027 for the following principal purposes: 1. To provide for the establishment and/or setting up of scholarships for such deserving students as the Board of Trustees of the Foundation may decide of at least one scholar each to study at West Visayas State College, and the University of the Philippines in the Visayas both located in Iloilo City. To provide a scholarship for at least one scholar for St. Clements Redemptorist Community for a deserving student who has the religious vocation to become a priest. To foster, develop, and encourage activities that will promote the advancement and enrichment of the various fields of educational endeavors, especially in literary arts. Scholarships provided for by this foundation may be named after its benevolent benefactors as a token of gratitude for their contributions. To direct or undertake surveys and studies in the community to determine community needs and be able to alleviate partially or totally said needs. To maintain and provide the necessary activities for the proper care of the Solivio-Javellana mausoleum at Christ the King Memorial Park, Jaro, Iloilo City, and the Javellana Memorial at the West Visayas State College, as a token of appreciation for the contribution of the estate of the late Esteban S. Javellana which has made this foundation possible. Also, in perpetuation of his Roman Catholic beliefs and those of his mother, Gregorian masses or their equivalents will be offered every February and October, and Requiem masses every February 25th and October llth, their death anniversaries, as part of this provision. To receive gifts, legacies, donations, contributions, endowments and financial aids or loans from whatever source, to invest and reinvest the funds, collect the income thereof and pay or apply only the income or such part thereof as shall be determined by the Trustees for such endeavors as may be necessary to carry out the objectives of the Foundation. To acquire, purchase, own, hold, operate, develop, lease, mortgage, pledge, exchange, sell, transfer, or otherwise, invest, trade, or deal, in any manner permitted by law, in real and personal property of every kind and description or any interest herein. To do and perform all acts and things necessary, suitable or proper for the accomplishments of any of the purposes herein enumerated or which shall at any time appear conducive to the protection or benefit of the corporation, including the exercise of the powers, authorities and attributes concerned upon the corporation organized under the laws of the Philippines in general, and upon domestic corporation of like nature in particular. (pp. 9-10, Rollo) As alleged without contradiction in the petition' for review: The Foundation began to function in June, 1982, and three (3) of its eight Esteban Javellana scholars graduated in 1986, one (1) from UPV graduated Cum Laude and two (2) from WVSU graduated with honors; one was a Cum Laude and the other was a recipient of Lagos Lopez award for teaching for being the most outstanding student teacher. The Foundation has four (4) high school scholars in Guiso Barangay High School, the site of which was donated by the Foundation. The School has been selected as the Pilot Barangay High School for Region VI. The Foundation has a special scholar, Fr. Elbert Vasquez, who would be ordained this year. He studied at St. Francis Xavier Major Regional Seminary at Davao City. The Foundation likewise is a member of the Redemptorist Association that gives yearly donations to help poor students who want to become Redemptorist priests or brothers. It gives yearly awards for Creative writing known as the Esteban Javellana Award. Further, the Foundation had constructed the Esteban S. Javellana Multipurpose Center at the West Visayas State University for teachers' and students' use, and has likewise contributed to religious civic and cultural fund-raising drives, amongst other's. (p. 10, Rollo) Having agreed to contribute her share of the decedent's estate to the Foundation, Concordia is obligated to honor her commitment as Celedonia has honored hers. WHEREFORE, the petition for review is granted. The decision of the trial court and the Court of Appeals are hereby SET ASIDE. Concordia J. Villanueva is declared an heir of the late Esteban Javellana, Jr. entitled to one-half of his estate. However, comformably with the agreement between her and her co-heir, Celedonia Solivio, the entire estate of the deceased should be conveyed to the "Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javallana Foundation," of which both the petitioner and the private respondent shall be trustees, and each shall be entitled to nominate an equal number of trustees to constitute the Board of Trustees of the Foundation which shall administer the same for the purposes set forth in its charter. The petitioner, as administratrix of the estate, shall submit to the probate court an inventory and accounting of the estate of the deceased preparatory to terminating the proceedings therein. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, Cruz, Gancayco and Grio-Aquino, JJ., concur.

2.

3.

4. 5.

6.

7.

8.

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Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC November 15, 1919 property; that, as a reservist, the heir of the said Mercedes Florentino deceased had been gathering for herself alone the fruits of lands described in the complaint; that each and every one of the parties mentioned in said complaint is entitled to oneseventh of the fruits of the reservable property described therein, either by direct participation or by representation, in the manner mentioned in paragraph 9 of the complaint. That several times the plaintiffs have, in an amicable manner, asked the defendants to deliver their corresponding part of the reservable property; that without any justifiable motive the defendants have refused and do refuse to deliver said property or to pay for its value; that for nine years Mercedes Florentino has been receiving, as rent for the lands mentioned, 360 bundles of palay at fifty pesos per bundle and 90 bundles of corn at four pesos per bundle; that thereby the plaintiffs have suffered damages in the sum of fifteen thousand four hundred and twenty-eight pesos and fifty-eight centavos, in addition to three hundred and eight pesos and fifty-eight centavos for the value of the fruits not gathered, of one thousand pesos (P1,000) for the unjustifiable retention of the aforementioned reservable property and for the expenses of this suit. Wherefore they pray it be declared that all the foregoing property is reservable property; that the plaintiffs had and do have a right to the same, in the quantity and proportion mentioned in the aforementioned paragraph 9 of the complaint; that the defendants Mercedes Florentino and her husband be ordered to deliver to the plaintiffs their share of the property in question, of the palay and of the corn above mentioned, or their value; and that they be condemned to pay the plaintiffs the sum of one thousand pesos (P1,000) together with the costs of this instance. To the preceding complaint counsel for the defendants demurred, alleging that the cause of action is based on the obligation of the widow Severina Faz de Leon to reserve the property she inherited from her deceased son Apolonio Florentino y de Leon who, in turn, inherited same from his father Apolonio Isabelo Florentino; that, there being no allegation to the contrary, it is to be presumed that the widow Severina Faz de Leon did not remarry after the death of this husband nor have any natural child; that the right claimed by the plaintiffs is not that mentioned in article 968 and the following articles, but that established in article 811 of the Civil Code; that the object of the provisions of the aforementioned articles is to avoid the transfer of said reservable property to those extraneous to the family of the owner thereof; that if the property inherited by the widow Severina Faz de Leon from her deceased son Apolonio Florentino y Faz de Leon (property which originated from his father and her husband) has all passed into the hands of the defendant, Mercedes Florentino y Encarnacion, a daughter of the common ancestor's second marriage (said Apolonio Isabelo Florentino with the deceased Severina Faz de Leon) it is evident that the property left at the death of the posthumos son Apolonio Florentino y Faz de Leon did not pass after the death of his mother Severina, his legitimate heirs as an ascendant, into the hands of strangers; that said property having been inherited by Mercedes Florentino y Encarnacion from her mother (Severina), article 811 of the Civil Code is absolutely inapplicable to the present case because, when the defendant Mercedes, by operation law, entered into and succeeded to, the possession, of the property lawfully inherited from her mother Severina Faz de Leon, said property had, while in the possession of her mother, lost the character of reservable property there being a legitimate daughter of Severina Faz de Leon with the right to succeed her in all her rights, property and actions; that the restraints of the law whereby said property may not passed into the possession of strangers are void, inasmuch as the said widow had no obligation to reserve same, as Mercedes Florentino is a forced heiress of her mother Severina Faz de Leon; that, in the present case, there is no property reserved for the plaintiffs since there is a forced heiress, entitled to the property left by the death of the widow Severina Faz de Leon who never remarried; that the obligation to reserve is secondary to the duty of respecting the legitime; that in the instant case, the widow

G.R. No. L-14856

ENCARNACION FLORENTINO, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, vs. MERCEDES FLORENTINO, ET AL., defendants-appellees. Ramon Querubin, Simeon Ramos and Orense and Vera for appellants. Vicente Foz, Jose Singsong Tongson and Angel Encarnacion for appellees. TORRES, J.: On January 17, 1918, counsel for Encarnacion (together with her husband Simeon Serrano), Gabriel, Magdalena, Ramon, Miguel, Victorino, and Antonino of the surname Florentino; for Miguel Florentino, guardian ad litem of the minor Rosario Florentino; for Eugenio Singson, the father and guardian ad litem of Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores of the surname Singson y Florentino; and for Eugenio Singson, guardian of the minors Jose and Asuncion Florentino, filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur, against Mercedes Florentino and her husband, alleging as follows: That Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II married the first time Antonia Faz de Leon; that during the marriage he begot nine children called, Jose, Juan, Maria, Encarnacion, Isabel, Espirita, Gabriel, Pedro, and Magdalena of the surname Florentino y de Leon; that on becoming a widower he married the second time Severina Faz de Leon with whom he had two children, Mercedes and Apolonio III of the surname Florentino y de Leon; that Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II died on February 13, 1890; that he was survived by his second wife Severina Faz de Leon and the ten children first above mentioned; that his eleventh son, Apolonio III, was born on the following 4th of March 1890. That of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo's aforementioned eleven children, Juan, Maria and Isabel died single, without leaving any ascendants or descendants; that Ramon, Miguel, Victorino, Antonio, and Rosario are the legitimate children of the deceased Jose Florentino who was one of the children of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo; that Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores are the legitimate children of Espirita Florentino, now deceased, and her husband Eugenio Singson; that Jose and Asuncion are the children of Pedro Florentino, another son of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino. That on January 17 and February 13, 1890, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino executed a will before the notary public of Ilocos Sur, instituting as his universal heirs his aforementioned ten children, the posthumos Apolonio III and his widow Severina Faz de Leon; that he declared, in one of the paragraphs of said will, all his property should be divided among all of his children of both marriages. That, in the partition of the said testator's estate, there was given to Apolonio Florentino III, his posthumos son, the property marked with the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F in the complaint, a gold rosary, pieces of gold, of silver and of table service, livestock, palay, some personal property and other objects mentioned in the complaint. That Apolonio Florentino III, the posthumos son of the second marriage, died in 1891; that his mother, Severina Faz de Leon, succeeded to all his property described in the complaint; that the widow, Severina Faz de Leon died on November 18, 1908, leaving a will instituting as her universal heiress her only living daughter, Mercedes Florentino; that, as such heir, said daughter took possession of all the property left at the death of her mother, Severina Faz de Leon; that among same is included the property, described in the complaint, which the said Severina Faz de Leon inherited from her deceased son, the posthumos Apolonio, as reservable

127

Wills Testamentary Succession Severina Faz de Leon was in duty bound to respect the legitime of her daughter Mercedes the defendant; that her obligation to reserve the property could not be fulfilled to the prejudice of the legitime which belongs to her forced heiress, citing in support of these statements the decision of the supreme court of Spain of January 4, 1911; that, finally, the application of article 811 of the Civil Code in favor of the plaintiffs would presuppose the exclusion of the defendant from here right to succeed exclusively to all the property, rights and actions left by her legitimate mother, although the said defendant has a better right than the plaintiffs; and that there would be injustice if the property claimed be adjudicated to the plaintiffs, as well as violation of section 5 of the Jones Law which invalidates any law depriving any person of an equal protection. Wherefore they prayed that the demurrer be sustained, with costs against the plaintiffs. After the hearing of the demurrer, on August 22, 1918, the judge absolved the defendants from the complaint and condemned the plaintiffs to pay the costs. Counsel for the plaintiffs excepted to this order, moved to vacate it and to grant them a new trial; said motion was overruled; the plaintiffs expected thereto and filed the corresponding bill of exceptions which was allowed, certified and forwarded to the clerk of this court. On appeal the trial judge sustained the demurrer of the defendants to the complaint of the plaintiffs, but, instead of ordering the latter to amend their complaint within the period prescribed by the rules undoubtedly believing that the plaintiffs could not alter nor change the facts constituting the cause of action, and that, as both parties were agreed as to the facts alleged in the complaint as well as in the demurrer, every question reduced itself to one of the law, already submitted to the decision of the court the said judge, disregarding the ordinary procedure established by law, decided the case by absolving the defendants from the complaint and by condemning the plaintiffs to pay the costs of the instance. There certainly was no real trial, inasmuch as the defendants, instead of answering the complaint of the plaintiffs, confined themselves to filing a demurrer based on the ground that the facts alleged in the complaint do not constitute a cause of action. However, the judge preferred to absolve the defendants, thereby making an end to the cause, instead of dismissing the same, because undoubtedly he believed, in view of the controversy between the parties, that the arguments adduced to support the demurrer would be the same which the defendants would allege in their answer those dealing with a mere question of law which the courts would have to decide and that, the demurrer having been sustained, if the plaintiffs should insist they could do no less upon alleging the same facts as those set out in their complaint and if another demurrer were afterwards set up, he would be obliged to dismiss said complaint with costs against the plaintiffs in spite of being undoubtedly convinced in the instant case that the plaintiffs absolutely lack the right to bring the action stated in their complaint. Being of the opinion that the emendation of the indicated defects is not necessary as in this case what has been done does not prejudice the parties the appellate court will now proceed to decide the suit according to its merits, as found in the record and to the legal provisions applicable to the question of law in controversy so that unnecessary delay and greater expense may be avoided, inasmuch as, even if all the ordinary proceedings be followed, the suit would be subsequently decided in the manner and terms that it is now decided in the opinion thoughtfully and conscientiously formed for its determination. In order to decide whether the plaintiffs are or are not entitled to invoke, in their favor, the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code, and whether the same article is applicable to the question of law presented in this suit, it is necessary to determine whether the property enumerated in paragraph 5 of the complaint is of the nature of reservable property; and if so, whether in accordance with the provision of the Civil Code in article 811, Severina Faz de Leon (the widow of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino) who inherited said property from her son Apolonio Florentino III (born after the death of his father Apolonio Isabelo) had the obligation to preserve and reserve same for the relatives, within the third degree, of her aforementioned deceased son Apolonio III. The above mentioned article reads: Any ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property acquired by the latter gratuitously from some other ascendant, or from a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such of the property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which such property came. During the marriage of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II and Severina Faz de Leon two children were born, namely the defendant Mercedes Florentino and Apolonio Florentino III (born after the death of his father). At the death of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino under a will, his eleven children succeeded to the inheritance he left, one of whom, the posthumos son Apolonio III, was given, as his share, the aforementioned property enumerated in the complaint. In 1891 the said posthumos son Apolonio Florentino III died and was succeeded by his legitimate mother Severina Faz de Leon, who inherited the property he left and who on dying, November 18, 1908, instituted by will as her sole heiress her surviving daughter, Mercedes Florentino, the defendant herein, who took possession of all property left by her father, same constituting the inheritance. Included in said inheritance is the property, specified in by the posthumos son Apolonio Florentino III from his father Apolonio Isabelo Florentino, and which, at the death of the said posthumos son, had in turn been inherited by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon. Even if Severina left in her will said property, together with her own, to her only daughter and forced heiress, Mercedes Florentino, nevertheless this property had not lost its reservable nature inasmuch as it originated from the common ancestor of the litigants, Apolonio Isabelo; was inherited by his son Apolonio III; was transmitted by same (by operation of law) to his legitimate mother and ascendant, Severina Faz de Leon. The posthumos son, Apolonio Florentino III, acquired the property, now claimed by his brothers, by a lucrative title or by inheritance from his aforementioned legitimate father, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. Although said property was inherited by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon, nevertheless, she was in duty bound, according to article 811 of the Civil Code, to reserve the property thus acquired for the benefit of the relatives, within the third degree, of the line from which such property came. According to the provisions of law, ascendants do not inherit the reservable property, but its enjoyment, use or trust, merely for the reason that said law imposes the obligation to reserve and preserve same for certain designated persons who, on the death of the said ascendants reservists, (taking into consideration the nature of the line from which such property came) acquire the ownership of said property in fact and by operation of law in the same manner as forced heirs (because they are also such) said property reverts to said line as long as the aforementioned persons who, from the death of the ascendant-reservists, acquire in fact the right of reservatarios (person for whom property is reserved), and are relatives, within the third degree, of the descendant from whom the reservable property came. Any ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property, while there are living, within the third degree, relatives of the latter, is nothing but a life usufructuary or a fiduciary of the reservable property received. He is, however, the legitimate owner of his own property which is not reservable property and which constitutes his legitime, according to article 809 of the Civil Code. But if, afterwards, all of the relatives, within the third degree, of the descendant (from whom came the 128

Wills Testamentary Succession reservable property) die or disappear, the said property becomes free property, by operation of law, and is thereby converted into the legitime of the ascendant heir who can transmit it at his death to his legitimate successors or testamentary heirs. This property has now lost its nature of reservable property, pertaining thereto at the death of the relatives, called reservatarios, who belonged within the third degree to the line from which such property came.lawphil.net Following the order prescribed by law in legitimate succession, when there are relatives of the descendant within the third degree, the right of the nearest relative, called reservatario, over the property which the reservista (person holding it subject to reservation) should return to him, excludes that of the one more remote. The right of representation cannot be alleged when the one claiming same as a reservatario of the reservable property is not among the relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which such property came, inasmuch as the right granted by the Civil Code in article 811 is in the highest degree personal and for the exclusive benefit of designated persons who are the relatives, within the third degree, of the person from whom the reservable property came. Therefore, relatives of the fourth and the succeeding degrees can never be considered as reservatarios, since the law does not recognize them as such. In spite of what has been said relative to the right of representation on the part of one alleging his right as reservatario who is not within the third degree of relationship, nevertheless there is right of representation on the part of reservatarios who are within the third degree mentioned by law, as in the case of nephews of the deceased person from whom the reservable property came. These reservatarios have the right to represent their ascendants (fathers and mothers) who are the brothers of the said deceased person and relatives within the third degree in accordance with article 811 of the Civil Code. In this case it is conceded without denial by defendants, that the plaintiffs Encarnacion, Gabriel and Magdalena are the legitimate children of the first marriage of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II; that Ramon, Miguel, Ceferino, Antonio, and Rosario are both grandchildren of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II, and children of his deceased son, Jose Florentino; that the same have the right to represent their aforementioned father, Jose Florentino; that Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores are the legitimate children of the deceased Espirita Florentino, one of the daughters of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II, and represent the right of their aforementioned mother; and that the other plaintiffs, Jose and Asuncion, have also the right to represent their legitimate father Pedro Florentino one of the sons of the aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. It is a fact, admitted by both parties, that the other children of the first marriage of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II died without issue so that this decision does not deal with them. There are then seven "reservatarios" who are entitled to the reservable property left at the death of Apolonio III; the posthumos son of the aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo II, to wit, his three children of his first marriage Encarnacion, Gabriel, Magdalena; his three children, Jose, Espirita and Pedro who are represented by their own twelve children respectively; and Mercedes Florentino, his daughter by a second marriage. All of the plaintiffs are the relatives of the deceased posthumos son, Apolonio Florentino III, within the third degree (four of whom being his halfbrothers and the remaining twelve being his nephews as they are the children of his three half-brothers). As the first four are his relatives within the third degree in their own right and the other twelve are such by representation, all of them are indisputably entitled as reservatarios to the property which came from the common ancestor, Apolonio Isabelo, to Apolonio Florentino III by inheritance during his lifetime, and in turn by inheritance to his legitimate mother, Severina Faz de Leon, widow of the aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. In spite of the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code already cited, the trial judge refused to accept the theory of the plaintiffs and, accepting that of the defendants, absolved the latter from the complaint on the ground that said article is absolutely inapplicable to the instant case, inasmuch as the defendant Mercedes Florentino survived her brother, Apolonio III, from whom the reservable property came and her mother, Severina Faz de Leon, the widow of her father, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II; that the defendant Mercedes, being the only daughter of Severina Faz de Leon, is likewise her forced heiress; that when she inherited the property left at the death of her mother, together with that which came from her deceased brother Apolonio III, the fundamental object of article 811 of the Code was thereby complied with, inasmuch as the danger that the property coming from the same line might fall into the hands of strangers had been avoided; and that the hope or expectation on the part of the plaintiffs of the right to acquire the property of the deceased Apolonio III never did come into existence because there is a forced heiress who is entitled to such property. The judgment appealed from is also founded on the theory that article 811 of the Civil Code does not destroy the system of legitimate succession and that the pretension of the plaintiffs to apply said article in the instant case would be permitting the reservable right to reduce and impair the forced legitimate which exclusively belongs to the defendant Mercedes Florentino, in violation of the precept of article 813 of the same Code which provides that the testator cannot deprive his heirs of their legitime, except in the cases expressly determined by law. Neither can he impose upon it any burden, condition, or substitution of any kind whatsoever, saving the provisions concerning the usufruct of the surviving spouse, citing the decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of January 4, 1911. The principal question submitted to the court for decision consists mainly in determining whether they property left at the death of Apolonio III, the posthumos son of Apolonio Isabelo II, was or was not invested with the character of reservable property when it was received by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon. The property enumerated by the plaintiffs in paragraph 5 of their complaint came, without any doubt whatsoever, from the common ancestor Apolonio Isabelo II, and when, on the death of Apolonio III without issue the same passed by operation of law into the hands of his legitimate mother, Severina Faz de Leon, it became reservable property, in accordance with the provision of article 811 of the Code, with the object that the same should not fall into the possession of persons other than those comprehended within the order of person other than those comprehended within the order of succession traced by the law from Apolonio Isabelo II, the source of said property. If this property was in fact clothed with the character and condition of reservable property when Severina Faz de Leon inherited same from her son Apolonio III, she did not thereby acquire the dominion or right of ownership but only the right of usufruct or of fiduciary with the necessary obligation to preserve and to deliver or return it as such reservable property to her deceased son's relatives within the third degree, among whom is her daughter, Mercedes Florentino. Reservable property neither comes, nor falls under, the absolute dominion of the ascendant who inherits and receives same from his descendant, therefore it does not form part of his own property nor become the legitimate of his forced heirs. It becomes his own property only in case that all the relatives of his descendant shall have died (reservista) in which case said reservable property losses such character. With full right Severina Faz de Leon could have disposed in her will of all her own property in favor of her only living daughter, Mercedes Florentino, as forced heiress. But whatever provision there is in her will concerning the reservable property received from her son Apolonio III, or rather, whatever provision will reduce the rights of the other reservatarios, the half brothers and nephews of her daughter

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Wills Testamentary Succession Mercedes, is unlawful, null and void, inasmuch as said property is not her own and she has only the right of usufruct or of fiduciary, with the obligation to preserve and to deliver same to the reservatarios, one of whom is her own daughter, Mercedes Florentino. It cannot reasonably be affirmed, founded upon an express provision of law, that by operation of law all of the reservable property, received during lifetime by Severina Faz de Leon from her son, Apolonio III, constitutes or forms parts of the legitime pertaining to Mercedes Florentino. If said property did not come to be the legitimate and exclusive property of Severina Faz de Leon, her only legitimate and forced heiress, the defendant Mercedes, could not inherit all by operation of law and in accordance with the order of legitimate succession, because the other relatives of the deceased Apolonio III, within the third degree, as well as herself are entitled to such reservable property. For this reason, in no manner can it be claimed that the legitime of Mercedes Florentino, coming from the inheritance of her mother Severina Faz de Leon, has been reduced and impaired; and the application of article 811 of the Code to the instant case in no way prejudices the rights of the defendant Mercedes Florentino, inasmuch as she is entitled to a part only of the reservable property, there being no lawful or just reason which serves as real foundation to disregard the right to Apolonio III's other relatives, within the third degree, to participate in the reservable property in question. As these relatives are at present living, claiming for it with an indisputable right, we cannot find any reasonable and lawful motive why their rights should not be upheld and why they should not be granted equal participation with the defendant in the litigated property. The claim that because of Severina Faz de Leon's forced heiress, her daughter Mercedes, the property received from the deceased son Apolonio III lost the character, previously held, of reservable property; and that the mother, the said Severina, therefore, had no further obligation to reserve same for the relatives within the third degree of the deceased Apolonio III, is evidently erroneous for the reason that, as has been already stated, the reservable property, left in a will by the aforementioned Severina to her only daughter Mercedes, does not form part of the inheritance left by her death nor of the legitimate of the heiress Mercedes. Just because she has a forced heiress, with a right to her inheritance, does not relieve Severina of her obligation to reserve the property which she received from her deceased son, nor did same lose the character of reservable property, held before the reservatarios received same. It is true that when Mercedes Florentino, the heiress of the reservista Severina, took possession of the property in question, same did not pass into the hands of strangers. But it is likewise true that the said Mercedes is not the only reservataria. And there is no reason founded upon law and upon the principle of justice why the other reservatarios, the other brothers and nephews, relatives within the third degree in accordance with the precept of article 811 of the Civil Code, should be deprived of portions of the property which, as reservable property, pertain to them. From the foregoing it has been shown that the doctrine announced by the Supreme Court of Spain on January 4, 1911, for the violation of articles 811, 968 and consequently of the Civil Code is not applicable in the instant case. Following the provisions of article 813, the Supreme Court of Spain held that the legitime of the forced heirs cannot be reduced or impaired and said article is expressly respected in this decision. However, in spite of the efforts of the appellee to defend their supposed rights, it has not been shown, upon any legal foundation, that the reservable property belonged to, and was under the absolute dominion of, the reservista, there being relatives within the third degree of the person from whom same came; that said property, upon passing into the hands of the forced heiress of the deceased reservista, formed part of the legitime of the former; and that the said forced heiress, in addition to being a reservataria, had an exclusive right to receive all of said property and to deprive the other reservatarios, her relatives within the third degree of certain portions thereof. Concerning the prayer in the complaint relative to the indemnity for damages and the delivery of the fruits collected, it is not proper to grant the first for there is no evidence of any damage which can give rise to the obligation of refunding same. As to the second, the delivery of the fruits produced by the land forming the principal part of the reservable property, the defendants are undoubtedly in duty bound to deliver to the plaintiffs six-sevenths of the fruits or rents of the portions of land claimed in the complaint, in the quantity expressed in paragraph 11 of the same, from January 17, 1918, the date the complaint was filed; and the remaining seventh part should go to the defendant Mercedes. For the foregoing reasons it follows that with the reversal of the order of decision appealed from we should declare, as we hereby do, that the aforementioned property, inherited by the deceased Severina Faz de Leon from her son Apolonio Florentino III, is reservable property; that the plaintiffs, being relatives of the deceased Apolonio III within the third degree, are entitled to six-sevenths of said reservable property; that the defendant Mercedes is entitled to the remaining seventh part thereof; that the latter, together with her husband Angel Encarnacion, shall deliver to the plaintiffs, jointly, six-sevenths of the fruits or rents, claimed from said portion of the land and of the quantity claimed, from January 17, 1918, until fully delivered; and that the indemnity for one thousand pesos (P1,000) prayed for in the complaint is denied, without special findings as to the costs of both instances. So ordered. Arellano, C.J., Johnson, Araullo, Street, Malcolm and Avancea, JJ., concur.

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Wills Testamentary Succession EN BANC September 13, 1913 operation of law for the relatives who are within the third degree and belong to the line whence the property proceeded. (Civil Code, art. 811.) Marcelina Edroso, ascendant of Pedro Sablan, inherited from him these two parcels of land which he had acquired without a valuable consideration that is, by inheritance from another ascendant, his father Victoriano. Having acquired them by operation of law, she is obligated to relatives within the third degree and belong to the line of Mariano Sablan and Maria Rita Fernandez, whence the lands proceeded. The trial court's ruling that they partake of the nature property required by law to be reserved is therefore in accordance with the law. But the appellant contends that it is not proven that the two parcels of land in question have been acquired by operation of law, and that only property acquired without a valuable consideration, which is by operation of law, is required by law to reserved. The appellees justly argue that this defense was not alleged or discussed in first instance, but only herein. Certainly, the allegation in first instance was merely that "Pedro Sablan acquired the property in question in 1882, before the enforcement of the Civil Code, which establishes the alleged right required by law to be reserved, of which the opponents speak; hence, prescription of the right of action; and finally, opponents' renunciation of their right, admitting that it existed and that they had it" (p. 49). However that be, it is not superflous to say, although it may be unnecessary, that the applicant inherited the two parcels of land from her son Pedro, who died "unmarried and without issue." The trial court so held as a conclusion of fact, without any objection on the appellant's part. (B. of E., 17, 20.) When Pedro Sablan died without issue, his mother became his heir by virtue of her right to her son's legal portion under article 935 of the Civil Code: In the absence of legitimate children and descendants of the deceased, his ascendants shall from him, to the exclusion of collaterals. The contrary could only have occurred if the heiress had demonstrated that any of these lands had passed into her possession by free disposal in her son's will; but the case presents no testamentary provision that demonstrate any transfer of property from the son to the mother, not by operation of law, but by her son's wish. The legal presumption is that the transfer of the two parcels of land was abintestate or by operation of law, and not by will or the wish of the predecessor in interest. (Act No. 190, sec. 334, No. 26.) All the provision of article 811 of the Civil Code have therefore been fully complied with. If Pedro Sablan had instituted his mother in a will as the universal heiress of his property, all he left at death would not be required by law to be reserved, but only what he would have perforce left her as the legal portion of a legitimate ascendant. The legal portion of the parents or ascendants is constituted by one-half of the hereditary estate of the children and descendants. The latter may unrestrictedly dispose of the other half, with the exception of what is established in article 836. (Civil Code, art. 809.) In such case only the half constituting the legal portion would be required by law to be reserved, because it is what by operation of law could full to the mother from her son's inheritance; the other half at free disposal would not have to be reserved. This is all that article 811 of the Civil Code says. No error has been incurred in holding that the two parcels of land which are the subject matter of the application are required by law to be reserved, because the interested party has not proved that either of them became her inheritance through the free disposal of her son.

G.R. No. 6878

MARCELINA EDROSO, petitioner-appellant, vs. PABLO and BASILIO SABLAN, opponents-appellees. Francisco Dominguez for appellant. Crispin Oben for appellees. ARELLANO, C.J.: The subject matter of this appeal is the registration of certain property classified as required by law to be reserved. Marcelina Edroso applied for registration and issuance of title to two parcels of land situated in the municipality of Pagsanjan, Province of Laguna, one of 1 hectare 77 ares and 63 centares, and the other 1 hectare 6 ares and 26 centares. Two applications were filed, one for each parcel, but both were heard and decided in a single judgment. Marcelina Edroso was married to Victoriano Sablan until his death on September 22, 1882. In this marriage they had a son named Pedro, who was born on August 1, 1881, and who at his father's death inherited the two said parcels. Pedro also died on July 15, 1902, unmarried and without issue and by this decease the two parcels of land passed through inheritance to his mother, Marcelina Edroso. Hence the hereditary title whereupon is based the application for registration of her ownership. Two legitimate brothers of Victoriano Sablan that is, two uncles german of Pedro Sablan appeared in the case to oppose the registration, claiming one of two things: Either that the registration be denied, "or that if granted to her the right reserved by law to the opponents be recorded in the registration of each parcel." (B. of E., 11, 12.) The Court of Land Registration denied the registration and the application appealed through a bill of exceptions. Registration was denied because the trial court held that the parcels of land in question partake of the nature of property required by law to be reserved and that in such a case application could only be presented jointly in the names of the mother and the said two uncles of Pedro Sablan. The appellant impugns as erroneous the first idea advanced (second assignment of error), and denies that the land which are the subject matter of the application are required by law to be reserved a contention we regard as indefensible. Facts: (1) The applicant acquired said lands from her descendant Pedro Sablan by inheritance; (2) Pedro Sablan had acquired them from his ascendant Victoriano Sablan, likewise by inheritance; (3) Victoriano Sablan had likewise acquired them by inheritance from his ascendants, Mariano Sablan and Maria Rita Fernandez, they having been adjudicated to him in the partition of hereditary property had between him and his brothers. These are admitted facts. A very definite conclusions of law is that the hereditary title is one without a valuable consideration [gratuitous title], and it is so characterized in article 968 of the Civil Code, for he who acquires by inheritance gives nothing in return for what he receives; and a very definite conclusion of law also is that the uncles german are within the third degree of blood relationship. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant property which the latter acquired without a valuable consideration from another ascendant, or from a brother or sister, is under obligation to reserve what he has acquired by

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Wills Testamentary Succession Proof testate succession devolves upon the heir or heiress who alleges it. It must be admitted that a half of Pedro Sablan's inheritance was acquired by his mother by operation of law. The law provides that the other half is also presumed to be acquired by operation of law that is, by intestate succession. Otherwise, proof to offset this presumption must be presented by the interested party, that is, that the other half was acquired by the man's wish and not by operation of law. Nor is the third assignments of error admissible that the trial court failed to sustain the renunciation of the right required by law to be reserved, which the applicant attributes to the opponents. Such renunciation does not appear in the case. The appellant deduces it from the fact that the appellees did not contradict the following statement of hers at the trial: The day after my brother-in-law Pablo Sablan dies and was buried, his brother came to my house and said that those rice lands were mine, because we had already talked about making delivery of them. (p. 91). The other brother alluded to is Basilio Sablan, as stated on page 92. From the fact that Basilio Sablan said that the lands belong to the appellant and must be delivered to her it cannot be deduced that he renounced the right required by law to be reserved in such lands by virtue of the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code, for they really belong to her and must be delivered to her. The fourth assignments of error set up the defense of prescription of the right of action. The appellant alleges prescription of the opponent's right of action for requiring fulfillment of the obligation they attribute to her recording in the property registry the right required by law to be reserved, in accordance with the provisions of the Mortgage Law; and as such obligation is created by law, it prescribed in the time fixed in No. 2 of section 43 of Act No. 190. She adds: "Prescription of the right alleged to the reserved by force of law has not been invoked." (Eight allegation.) The appellant does not state in her brief what those provisions of the Mortgage Law are. Nor did she do so in first instance, where she says only the following, which is quoted from the record: "I do not refer to the prescription of the right required by law to be reserved in the property; I refer to the prescription of the right of action of those who are entitled to the guaranty of that right for seeking that guaranty, for those who are entitled to that right the Mortgage Law grants a period of time for recording it in the property registry, if I remember correctly, ninety days, for seeking entry in the registry; but as they have not exercised that right of action, such right of action for seeking here that it be recorded has prescribed. The right of action for requiring that the property be reserved has not prescribed, but the right of action for guaranteeing in the property registry that this property is required by law to be reserved" (p. 69 of the record). The appellees reply: It is true that their right of action has prescribed for requiring the applicant to constitute the mortgage imposed by the Mortgage Law for guaranteeing the effectiveness of the required by law to be reserved; but because that right of action has prescribed, that property has not been divested of its character of property required by law to be reserved; that it has such character by virtue of article 8112 of the Civil Code, which went into effect in the Philippine in December, 1889, and not by virtue of the Mortgage Law, which only went into effect in the country by law of July 14, 1893; that from December, 1889, to July, 1893, property which under article 811 of the Civil Code acquired the character of property reserved by operation of law was such independently of the Mortgage Law, which did not yet form part of the positive legislation of the country; that although the Mortgage Law has been in effect in the country since July, 1893, still it has in no way altered the force of article 811 of the Civil Code, but has operated to reinforce the same merely by granting the right of action to the persons in whose favor the right is reserved by operation of law to require of the person holding the property a guaranty in the form of a mortgage to answer for the enforcement, in due time, of the right; that to lose the right of action to the guaranty is not to lose the right itself; that the right reserved is the principal obligation and the mortgage the accessory obligation, and loss of the accessory does not mean loss of the principal. (Fifth and sixth allegations.) The existence of the right required by law to be reserved in the two parcels of land in question being indisputable, even though it be admitted that the right of action which the Mortgage Law grants as a guaranty of final enforcement of such right has prescribed, the only thing to be determined by this appeal is the question raised in the first assignment of error, that is, how said two parcels of land can and ought to be registered, not in the property registry newly established by the Mortgage Law, but in the registry newly organized by Act No. 496. But as the have slipped into the allegations quoted some rather inexact ideas that further obscure such an intricate subject as this of the rights required to be reserved in Spanish-Philippine law, a brief disgression on the most essential points may not be out of place here. The Mortgage Law of July 14, 1893, to which the appellees allude, is the amended one of the colonies, not the first enforced in the colonies and consequently in the Philippines. The preamble of said amended Mortgage Law states: The Mortgage Law in force in Spain for thirty years went into effect, with the modifications necessary for its adaptation, in the Antilles on May 1, 1880, and in the Philippines on December 1, 1889, thus commencing in those regions the renovation of the law on real property, and consequently of agrarian credit. The Civil Code went into effect in the Philippines in the same year, 1889, but on the eight day. Two kinds of property required by law to be reserved are distinguished in the Civil Code, as set forth in article 968 thereof, where it says: Besides the reservation imposed by article 811, the widow or widower contracting a seconds marriage shall be obliged to set apart for the children and descendants of the first marriage the ownership of all the property he or she may have required from the deceased spouse by will, by intestate succession, by gift, or other transfer without a valuable consideration." The Mortgage Law of Spain and the first law that went into effect in the Philippines on December 1, 189, do not contain any provision that can be applied to the right reserved by article 811 of the Civil Code, for such right is a creation of the Civil Code. In those laws appear merely the provisions intended to guarantee the effectiveness of the right in favor of the children of the first marriage when their father or mother contracts a second marriage. Nevertheless, the holding of the supreme court of Spain, for the first time set forth in the decision on appeal of November 8, 1894, has been reiterated: That while the provisions of articles 977 and 978 of the Civil Code that tend to secure the right required to be reserved in the property refer especially to the spouses who contract second or later marriages, they do not thereby cease to be applicable to the right establishes in article 811, because, aside from the legal reason, which is the same in both cases, such must be the construction from the important and conclusive circumstance that said provisions are set forth in the chapter that deals with inheritances in common, either testate or intestate, and because article 968, which heads the section that deals in general with property required by law to be reserved, makes reference to the provisions in article 811; and it would consequently be contradictory to the principle of the law and of the common nature of said provisions not to hold them applicable to that right.

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Wills Testamentary Succession Thus it was again stated in a decision on appeal, December 30, 1897, that: "As the supreme court has already declared, the guaranties that the Code fixes in article 977 and 978 for the rights required by law to the reserved to which said articles refer, are applicable to the special right dealt with in article 811, because the same principle exists and because of the general nature of the provisions of the chapter in which they are found." From this principle of jurisprudence it is inferred that if from December, 1889, to July, 1893, a case had occurred of a right required to be reserved by article 811, the persons entitled to such right would have been able to institute, against the ascendant who must make the reservation, proceedings for the assurance and guaranty that article 977 and 978 grant to the children of a first marriage against their father or mother who has married again. The proceedings for assurance, under article 977; are: Inventory of the property subject to the right reserved, annotation in the property registry of such right reserved in the real property and appraisal of the personal property; and the guaranty, under article 978, is the assurance by mortgage, in the case of realty, of the value of what is validly alienated. But since the amended Mortgage Law went into effect by law of July 14, 1893, in the Philippines this is not only a principle of jurisprudence which may be invoked for the applicability to the right reserved in article 811 of the remedies of assurance and guaranty provided for the right reserved in article 968, but there is a positive provision of said law, which is an advantage over the law of Spain, to wit, article 199, which read thus: The special mortgage for guaranteeing the right reserved by article 811 of the Civil Code can only be required by the relatives in whose favor the property is to be reserved, if they are of age; if minors, it will be require by the person who should legally represent them. In either case the right of the persons in whose favor the property must be reserved will be secured by the same requisites as set forth in the preceding article (relative to the right reserved by article 968 of the Civil Code), applying to the person obligated to reserve the right the provisions with respect to the father. In article 168 of the same law the new subsection 2 is added in connection with article 199 quoted, so that said article 168 reads as thus: Legal mortgage is established: 1. . . . 2. In favor of the relatives to whom article 811 of the Civil Code refers, for the property required to be reserved, upon the property of the person obliged to reserve it. This being admitted, and admitted also that both the litigating parties agree that the period of ninety days fixed for the right of action to the guaranty, that is, to require the mortgage that guarantees the effectiveness of the right required by law to be reserved, has prescribed, it is necessary to lay down a principle in this matter. Now it should by noted that such action has not prescribed, because the period of ninety days fixed by the Mortgage Law is not for the exercise of the right of action of the persons entitled to the right reserved, but for the fulfillment of the obligation of the person who must make the reservation. Article 191 of the reads thus: "If ninety days pass without the father's instituting in court the proceeding to which the foregoing article refers, the relatives themselves may demand fulfillment, etc., . . . applying, according to said article 199, to the person obligated to reserve the right the provisions with respect to the father." Article 203 of the regulation for the application of the Mortgage Law says: "In the case of article 199 of the law the proceedings to which article 190 thereof refers will be instituted within the ninety days succeeding the date of the date of the acceptation of the inheritance by the person obligated to reserve the property; after this period has elapsed, the interested parties may require the institution of such proceedings, if they are of age; and in any other case, their legal representatives." Thus it clearly appears that the lapse of the ninety days is not the expiration by prescription of the period for the right must be reserved, but really the commencement thereof, enables them to exercise it at any time, since no limits is set in the law. So, if the annotation of the right required by law to be reserved in the two parcels of land in question must be made in the property registry of the Mortgage Law, the persons entitled to it may now institute proceedings to that end, and an allegation of prescription against the exercise of such right of action cannot be sustained. Since the applicant confesses that she does not allege prescription of the right of action for requiring that the property be reserved, for she explicitly so stated at the trial, and as the case presents no necessity for the proceedings that should be instituted in accordance with the provisions of the Mortgage Law, this prescription of the right of action cannot take place, because such right of action does not exist with reference to instituting proceedings for annotation in the registry of Act No. 496 of the right to the property required by law to be reserved. It is sufficient, as was done in the present case, to intervene in the registration proceedings with the claim set up by the two opponents for recording therein the right reserved in either parcel of land. Now comes the main point in the appeal. The trial court denied the registration because of this finding set forth in its decision: Absolute title to the two parcels of land undoubtedly belongs to the applicant and the two uncles of the deceased Pedro Sablan, and the application cannot be made except in the name of all of them in common. (B. of E., p. 20.) It must be remembered that absolute title consists of the rights to use, enjoy, dispose of, and recover. The person who has in himself all these rights has the absolute or complete ownership of the thing; otherwise, the person who has the right to use and enjoy will have the usufruct, and the person who has the rights of disposal and recovery the direct title. The person who by law, act, or contract is granted the right of usufruct has the first two rights or using an enjoying, and then he is said not to have the fee simple that is, the rights of disposal and recovery, which pertain to another who, after the usufruct expires, will come into full ownership. The question set up in the first assignment of error of the appellant's brief is this: What are the rights in the property of the person who holds it subject to the reservation of article 811 of the Civil Code? There are not lacking writers who say, only those of a usufructuary, the ultimate title belonging to the person in whose favor the reservation is made. If that were so, the person holding the property could not apply for registration of title, but the person in whose favor it must be reserved, with the former's consent. This opinion does not seem to be admissible, although it appears to be supported by decisions of the supreme court of Spain of May 21, 1861, and June 18, 1880, prior to the Civil Code, and of June 22, 1895, somewhat subsequent to the enforcement thereof. Another writer says: "This opinion only looks at two salient points the usufruct and the fee simple; the remaining features of the arrangement are not perceived, but become obscure in the presence of that deceptive emphasis which only brings out

133

Wills Testamentary Succession two things: that the person holding the property will enjoy it and that he must keep what he enjoys for other persons." (Manresa, VII, 189.) In another place he says: "We do not believe that the third opinion can now be maintained that is, that the surviving spouse (the person obliged by article 968 to make the reservation) can be regarded as a mere usufructuary and the descendants immediately as the owner; such theory has no serious foundation in the Code." (Ibid., 238.) The ascendants who inherits from a descendants, whether by the latter's wish or by operation of law, requires the inheritance by virtue of a title perfectly transferring absolute ownership. All the attributes of the right of ownership belong to him exclusively use, enjoyment, disposal and recovery. This absolute ownership, which is inherent in the hereditary title, is not altered in the least, if there be no relatives within the third degree in the line whence the property proceeds or they die before the ascendant heir who is the possessor and absolute owner of the property. If there should be relatives within the third degree who belong to the line whence the property proceeded, then a limitation to that absolute ownership would arise. The nature and scope of this limitation must be determined with exactness in order not to vitiate rights that the law wishes to be effective. The opinion which makes this limitation consist in reducing the ascendant heir to the condition in of a mere usufructuary, depriving him of the right of disposal and recovery, does not seem to have any support in the law, as it does not have, according to the opinion that he has been expressed in speaking of the rights of the father or mother who has married again. There is a marked difference between the case where a man's wish institutes two persons as his heirs, one as usufructuary and the other as owner of his property, and the case of the ascendant in article 811 or of the father or mother in article 968. In the first case, there is not the slightest doubt that the title to the hereditary property resides in the hereditary owner and h