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IV. Provisions Common to Testate and Intestate Succession A. Right to Accretion G.R. No. L-25966 November 1, 1926

In the matter of the estate of Tomas Rodriguez, deceased. MANUEL TORRES, special administrator, and LUZ LOPEZ DE BUENO, heir, appellee, vs. MARGARITA LOPEZ, opponent-appellant. Marcaida, Capili and Ocampo and Camus, Delgado and Recto for appellant. Araneta and Zaragoza for appellee.

STREET, J.: This appeal involves a controversy over one-half of the estate of Tomas Rodriguez, decedent. The appellant, Margarita Lopez, claims said half by the intestate succession as next of kin and nearest heir; while the appellee, Luz Lopez de Bueno, claims the same by accredition and in the character of universal heir the will of the decedent. The trial court decided the point of controversy in favor of Luz Lopez de Bueno, and Margariat Lopez appealed. The facts necessary to an understanding of the case are these: On January 3, 1924, Tomas Rodriguez executed his last will and testament, in the second clause of which he declared: I institute as the only and universal heirs to all my property, my cousin Vicente F. Lopez and his daughter Luz Lopez de Bueno. Prior to the time of the execution of this will the testator, Tomas Rodriguez, had been judicially declared incapable of taking care of himself and had been placed under the care of his cousin Vicente F. Lopez, as guardian. On January 7, 1924, or only four days after the will above-mentioned was made, Vicente F. Lopez died; and the testator, Tomas Rodriguez, died on February 25, 1924, thereafter. At the time the will was made Vicente F. Lopez had not presented his final accounts as guardian, and no such accounts had been presented by him at the time of his death. Margariat Lopez was a cousin and nearest relative of the decedent. The will referred to, and after having been contested, has been admitted to probate by judicial determination (Torres and Lopez de Bueno vs. Lopez, 48 Phil., 772). Our discussion of the legal problem presented should begin with article 753 of the Civil Code which in effect declares that, with certain exceptions in favor of near relatives, no testamentary provision shall be valid when made by a ward in favor of his guardian before the final accounts of the latter have been approved. This provision is of undoubted application to the situation before us; and the provision made in the will of Tomas Rodriguez in favor of Vicente F. Lopez was not any general incapacity on his part, but a special incapacity due to the accidental relation of guardian and ward existing between the parties. We now pass to article 982 of the Civil Code, defining the right of accretion. It is there declared, in effect, that accretion take place in a testamentary succession, first when the two or more persons are called to the same inheritance or the same portion thereof without special designation of shares; and secondly, when one of the persons so called dies before the testator or renounces the inheritance or is disqualifying to receive it. In the case before us we have a will calling Vicente F. Lopez and his daughter, Luz Lopez de Bueno, to the same inheritance without special designation of shares. In addition to this, one of the persons named as heir has predeceased the testator, this person being also disqualified to receive the estate even if he had been alive at the time of the testator's death. This article (982) is therefore also of exact application to the case in hand; and its effect is to give to the survivor, Luz Lopez de Bueno, not only the undivided half which she would have received in conjunction with her father if he had been alive and qualified to take, but also the half which pertained to him. There was no error whatever, therefore, in the order of the trial court declaring Luz Lopez de Bueno entitled to the whole estate. The argument in favor of the appellant supposes that there has supervened a partial intestacy with respect to the half of the estate which was intended for Vicente F. Lopez and that this half has descended to the appellant, Margarita Lopez, as next of kin and sole heir at law of the decedent. In this connection attention is directed to article 764 of the Civil Code wherein it is declared, among other things, that a will may be valid even though the person instituted as heir is disqualified to inherit. Our attention is next invited to article 912 wherein it is declared, among other things, that legal succession takes place if the heir dies before the testator and also when the heir instituted is disqualified to succeed. Upon these provisions an argument is planted conducting to the conclusion that the will of Tomas Rodriguez was valid, notwithstanding the fact that one of the individuals named as heirs in the will was disqualified to take, and that as a consequence Margarita Lopez s entitled to inherit the share of said disqualified heir. We are the opinion that this contention is untenable and that the appellee clearly has the better right. In playing the provisions of the Code it is the duty of the court to harmonize its provisions as far as possible, giving due effect to all; and in case of conflict between two provisions the more general is to be considered as being limited by the more specific. As between articles 912 and 983, it is obvious that the former is the more general of the two, dealing, as it does, with the general topic of intestate succession while the latter is more specific, defining the particular conditions under which accretion takes place. In case of conflict, therefore, the provisions of the former article must be considered limited by the latter. Indeed, in subsection 3 of article 912 the provision with respect to intestate succession is expressly subordinated to article 983 by the expression "and (if) there is no right of accretion." It is true that the same express qualification is not found in subsection 4 of article 912, yet it must be so understood, in view of the rule of interpretation above referred to, by which the more specific is held to control the general. Besides, this interpretation supplies the only possible means of harmonizing the two provisions. In addition to this, article 986 of the Civil Code affords independent proof that intestate succession to a vacant portion can only occur when accretion is impossible. The attorneys for the appellant direct attention to the fact that, under paragraph 4 of article 912, intestate succession occurs when the heir instituted is disqualified to succeed (incapaz de suceder), while, under the last provision in paragraph 2 of article 982, accretion occurs when one of the persons called to inherit under the will is disqualified to receive the inheritance (incapaz de recibirla). A distinction is then drawn between incapacity to succeed and incapacity to take, and it is contended that the disability of Vicente F. Lopez was such as to bring the case under article 912 rather than 982. We are of the opinion that the case cannot be made to turn upon so refined an interpretation of the language of the Code, and at any rate the disability to which Vicente F. Lopez was subject was not a general disability to succeed but an accidental incapacity to receive the legacy, a consideration which makes a case for accretion rather than for intestate succession. The opinions of the commentators, so far as they have expressed themselves on the subject, tend to the conclusion that the right of accretion with regard to portions of an inheritance left vacant by the death or disqualification of one of the heirs or his renunciation of the inheritance is governed by article 912, without being limited, to the extent supposed in appellant's brief, by provisions of the Code relative to intestate succession (Manresa, Comentarios al Codigo Civil Español, 4th ed., vol. VII, pp. 310, 311; id., 34; 13 Mucius Scaevola, pp. 372, 373, 285-287; 16 Mucius Scaevola, 186). Says Escriche: "It is to be understood that one of the coheirs or colegatees fails if nonexistent at the time of the making of the will, or he renounces the inheritance or legacy, if he dies before the testator, if the condition be not fulfilled, or if he becomes otherwise incapacitated. . . . (Diccionario de Legislacion y Jurisprudencia, vol. I, p. 225.)lawphil.net

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In conclusion it may be worth observing that there has always existed both in the civil and in the common law a certain legal intendment, amounting to a mild presumption, against partial intestacy. In Roman law, as is well known, partial testacy systems a presumption against it, — a presumption which has its basis in the supposed intention of the testator. The judgment appealed from will be affirmed, and it is so ordered, with costs against the appellant. B. Capacity to Succeed by Will/Intestacy G.R. No. L-22036 April 30, 1979 TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE REVEREND FATHER PASCUAL RIGOR. THE PARISH PRIEST OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF VICTORIA, TARLAC, petitioner-appellant, vs. BELINA RIGOR, NESTORA RIGOR, FRANCISCA ESCOBAR DE RIGOR and JOVITA ESCOBAR DE FAUSTO, respondents-appellees. D. Tañedo, Jr. for appellants. J. Palanca, Sr. for appellee.

AQUINO, J.: This case is about the efficaciousness or enforceability of a devise of ricelands located at Guimba, Nueva Ecija, with a total area of around forty- four hectares That devise was made in the will of the late Father Pascual Rigor, a native of Victoria Tarlac, in favor of his nearest male relative who would study for the priesthood. The parish priest of Victoria, who claimed to be a trustee of the said lands, appealed to this Court from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the order of the probate court declaring that the said devise was inoperative (Rigor vs. Parish Priest of the Roman Catholic Church of Victoria, Tarlac, CA-G.R. No. 24319-R, August 1, 1963). The record discloses that Father Rigor, the parish priest of Pulilan, Bulacan, died on August 9, 1935, leaving a will executed on October 29, 1933 which was probated by the Court of First Instance of Tarlac in its order of December 5, 1935. Named as devisees in the will were the testators nearest relatives, namely, his three sisters: Florencia Rigor-Escobar, Belina Rigor-Manaloto and Nestora Rigor-Quiambao. The testator gave a devise to his cousin, Fortunato Gamalinda. In addition, the will contained the following controversial bequest (paragraphing supplied to facilitate comprehension of the testamentary provisions): Doy y dejo como legado CUATRO (4) PARCELAS de terreno palayeros situados en el municipiooo de Guimba de la provinciaaa de NUEVA ECIJA, cuyo num. de CERTIFICADO DE TRANSFERENCIA DE TITULO SON; — Titulo Num. 6530, mide 16,249 m. cuadrados de superficie Titulo Num. 6548, mide 242,998 m. cuadrados de superficie y annual 6525, mide 62,665 m. cuadrados de superficie; y Titulo Num. 6521, mide 119,251 m. cuadrados de superficie; a cualquier pariente mio varon mas cercano que estudie la carrera eclesiatica hasta ordenarse de Presbiterado o sea Sacerdote; las condiciones de estate legado son; (1.a) Prohibe en absoluto la venta de estos terrenos arriba situados objectos de este legado; (2.a) Que el legatario pariente mio mas cercano tendra derecho de empezar a gozar y administrar de este legado al principiar a curzar la Sagrada Teologio, y ordenado de Sacerdote, hasta su muerte; pero que pierde el legatario este derecho de administrar y gozar de este legado al dejar de continuar sus estudios para ordenarse de Presbiterado (Sacerdote). Que el legatario una vez Sacerdote ya estara obligado a celebrar cada año VEINTE (20) Misas rezadas en sufragio de mi alma y de mis padres difuntos, y si el actual legatario, quedase excomulgado, IPSO FACTO se le despoja este legado, y la administracion de esto pasara a cargo del actual Parroco y sus sucesores de la Iglecia Catolica de Victoria, Tarlac. Y en intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado segun lo arriba queda expresado, pasara la administracion de este legado a cargo del actual Parroco Catolico y sus sucesores, de Victoria, Tarlac. El Parroco administrador de estate legado, acumulara, anualmente todos los productos que puede tener estate legado, ganando o sacando de los productos anuales el CINCO (5) por ciento para su administracion, y los derechos correspondientes de las VEINTE (20) Misas rezadas que debiera el Parroco celebrar cada año, depositando todo lo restante de los productos de estate legado, en un banco, a nombre de estate legado. To implement the foregoing bequest, the administratix in 1940 submitted a project containing the following item: 5. LEGACY OF THE CHURCH That it be adjudicated in favor of the legacy purported to be given to the nearest male relative who shall take the priesthood, and in the interim to be administered by the actual Catholic Priest of the Roman Catholic Church of Victoria, Tarlac, Philippines, or his successors, the real properties hereinbelow indicated, to wit: Title No. Lot No. Area in Has. Tax Dec. Ass. Value T-6530

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3663 1.6249 18740 P 340.00 T-6548 3445-C 24.2998 18730 7,290.00 T-6525 3670 6.2665 18736 1,880.00 T-6521 3666 11.9251 18733 3,580.00 Total amount and value — 44.1163 P13,090.00 Judge Roman A. Cruz in his order of August 15, 1940, approving the project of partition, directed that after payment of the obligations of the estate (including the sum of P3,132.26 due to the church of the Victoria parish) the administratrix should deliver to the devisees their respective shares. It may be noted that the administratrix and Judge Cruz did not bother to analyze the meaning and implications of Father Rigor's bequest to his nearest male relative who would study for the priesthood. Inasmuch as no nephew of the testator claimed the devise and as the administratrix and the legal heirs believed that the parish priest of Victoria had no right to administer the ricelands, the same were not delivered to that ecclesiastic. The testate proceeding remained pending. About thirteen years after the approval of the project of partition, or on February 19, 1954, the parish priest of Victoria filed in the pending testate proceeding a petition praying for the appointment of a new administrator (succeeding the deceased administration Florencia Rigor), who should deliver to the church the said ricelands, and further praying that the possessors thereof be ordered to render an accounting of the fruits. The probate court granted the petition. A new administrator was appointed. On January 31, 1957 the parish priest filed another petition for the delivery of the ricelands to the church as trustee. The intestate heirs of Father Rigor countered with a petition dated March 25, 1957 praying that the bequest be d inoperative and that they be adjudged as the persons entitled to the said ricelands since, as admitted by the parish priest of Victoria, "no nearest male relative of" the testator "has ever studied for the priesthood" (pp. 25 and 35, Record on Appeal). That petition was opposed by the parish priest of Victoria. Finding that petition to be meritorious, the lower court, through Judge Bernabe de Aquino, declared the bequest inoperative and adjudicated the ricelands to the testator's legal heirs in his order of June 28, 1957. The parish priest filed two motions for reconsideration. Judge De Aquino granted the respond motion for reconsideration in his order of December 10, 1957 on the ground that the testator had a grandnephew named Edgardo G. Cunanan (the grandson of his first cousin) who was a seminarian in the San Jose Seminary of the Jesuit Fathers in Quezon City. The administrator was directed to deliver the ricelands to the parish priest of Victoria as trustee.

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The legal heirs appealed to the Court of Appeals. It reversed that order. It held that Father Rigor had created a testamentary trust for his nearest male relative who would take the holy orders but that such trust could exist only for twenty years because to enforce it beyond that period would violate "the rule against perpetuities. It ruled that since no legatee claimed the ricelands within twenty years after the testator's death, the same should pass to his legal heirs, citing articles 888 and 912(2) of the old Civil Code and article 870 of the new Civil Code. The parish priest in this appeal contends that the Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the testator created a public charitable trust and in not liberally construing the testamentary provisions so as to render the trust operative and to prevent intestacy. As refutation, the legal heirs argue that the Court of Appeals d the bequest inoperative because no one among the testator's nearest male relatives had studied for the priesthood and not because the trust was a private charitable trust. According to the legal heirs, that factual finding is binding on this Court. They point out that appellant priest's change of theory cannot be countenanced in this appeal . In this case, as in cases involving the law of contracts and statutory construction, where the intention of the contracting parties or of the lawmaking body is to be ascertained, the primary issue is the determination of the testator's intention which is the law of the case (dicat testor et erit lex. Santos vs. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209, 215; Rodriguez vs. Court of Appeals, L-28734, March 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 546). The will of the testator is the first and principal law in the matter of testaments. When his intention is clearly and precisely expressed, any interpretation must be in accord with the plain and literal meaning of his words, except when it may certainly appear that his intention was different from that literally expressed (In re Estate of Calderon, 26 Phil. 333). The intent of the testator is the cardinal rule in the construction of wills." It is "the life and soul of a will It is "the first greatest rule, the sovereign guide, the polestar, in giving effect to a will". (See Dissent of Justice Moreland in Santos vs. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209, 223, 237-8.) One canon in the interpretation of the testamentary provisions is that "the testator's intention is to be ascertained from the words of the wilt taking into consideration the circumstances under which it was made", but excluding the testator's oral declarations as to his intention (Art. 789, Civil Code of the Philippines). To ascertain Father Rigor's intention, it may be useful to make the following re-statement of the provisions of his will. 1. that he bequeathed the ricelands to anyone of his nearest male relatives who would pursue an ecclesiastical career until his ordination as a priest. 2. That the devisee could not sell the ricelands. 3. That the devisee at the inception of his studies in sacred theology could enjoy and administer the ricelands, and once ordained as a priest, he could continue enjoying and administering the same up to the time of his death but the devisee would cease to enjoy and administer the ricelands if he discontinued his studies for the priesthood. 4. That if the devisee became a priest, he would be obligated to celebrate every year twenty masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of Father Rigor and his parents. 5. That if the devisee is excommunicated, he would be divested of the legacy and the administration of the riceland would pass to the incumbent parish priest of Victoria and his successors. 6. That during the interval of time that there is no qualified devisee as contemplated above, the administration of the ricelands would be under the responsibility of the incumbent parish priest of Victoria and his successors, and 7. That the parish priest-administrator of the ricelands would accumulate annually the products thereof, obtaining or getting from the annual produce five percent thereof for his administration and the fees corresponding to the twenty masses with prayers that the parish priest would celebrate for each year, depositing the balance of the income of the devise in the bank in the name of his bequest. From the foregoing testamentary provisions, it may be deduced that the testator intended to devise the ricelands to his nearest male relative who would become a priest, who was forbidden to sell the ricelands, who would lose the devise if he discontinued his studies for the priesthood, or having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated, and who would be obligated to say annually twenty masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of the testator and his parents. On the other hand, it is clear that the parish priest of Victoria would administer the ricelands only in two situations: one, during the interval of time that no nearest male relative of the testator was studying for the priesthood and two, in case the testator's nephew became a priest and he was excommunicated. What is not clear is the duration of "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado", or how long after the testator's death would it be determined that he had a nephew who would pursue an ecclesiastical vocation. It is that patent ambiguity that has brought about the controversy between the parish priest of Victoria and the testator's legal heirs. Interwoven with that equivocal provision is the time when the nearest male relative who would study for the priesthood should be determined. Did the testator contemplate only his nearest male relative at the time of his death? Or did he have in mind any of his nearest male relatives at anytime after his death? We hold that the said bequest refers to the testator's nearest male relative living at the time of his death and not to any indefinite time thereafter. "In order to be capacitated to inherit, the heir, devisee or legatee must be living at the moment the succession opens, except in case of representation, when it is proper" (Art. 1025, Civil Code). The said testamentary provisions should be sensibly or reasonably construed. To construe them as referring to the testator's nearest male relative at anytime after his death would render the provisions difficult to apply and create uncertainty as to the disposition of his estate. That could not have been his intention. In 1935, when the testator died, his nearest leagal heirs were his three sisters or second-degree relatives, Mrs. Escobar, Mrs. Manaloto and Mrs. Quiambao. Obviously, when the testator specified his nearest male relative, he must have had in mind his nephew or a son of his sister, who would be his third-degree relative, or possibly a grandnephew. But since he could not prognosticate the exact date of his death or state with certitude what category of nearest male relative would be living at the time of his death, he could not specify that his nearest male relative would be his nephew or grandnephews (the son of his nephew or niece) and so he had to use the term "nearest male relative". It is contended by the legal heirs that the said devise was in reality intended for Ramon Quiambao, the testator's nephew and godchild, who was the son of his sister, Mrs. Quiambao. To prove that contention, the legal heirs presented in the lower court the affidavit of Beatriz Gamalinda, the maternal grandmother of Edgardo Cunanan, who deposed that after Father Rigor's death her own son, Valentin Gamalinda, Jr., did not claim the devise, although he was studying for the priesthood at

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the San Carlos Seminary, because she (Beatriz) knew that Father Rigor had intended that devise for his nearest male relative beloning to the Rigor family (pp. 105114, Record on Appeal). Mrs. Gamalinda further deposed that her own grandchild, Edgardo G. Cunanan, was not the one contemplated in Father Rigor's will and that Edgardo's father told her that he was not consulted by the parish priest of Victoria before the latter filed his second motion for reconsideration which was based on the ground that the testator's grandnephew, Edgardo, was studying for the priesthood at the San Jose Seminary. Parenthetically, it should be stated at this juncture that Edgardo ceased to be a seminarian in 1961. For that reason, the legal heirs apprised the Court of Appeals that the probate court's order adjudicating the ricelands to the parish priest of Victoria had no more leg to stand on (p. 84, Appellant's brief). Of course, Mrs. Gamalinda's affidavit, which is tantamount to evidence aliunde as to the testator's intention and which is hearsay, has no probative value. Our opinion that the said bequest refers to the testator's nephew who was living at the time of his death, when his succession was opened and the successional rights to his estate became vested, rests on a judicious and unbiased reading of the terms of the will. Had the testator intended that the "cualquier pariente mio varon mas cercano que estudie la camera eclesiatica" would include indefinitely anyone of his nearest male relatives born after his death, he could have so specified in his will He must have known that such a broad provision would suspend for an unlimited period of time the efficaciousness of his bequest. What then did the testator mean by "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado"? The reasonable view is that he was referring to a situation whereby his nephew living at the time of his death, who would like to become a priest, was still in grade school or in high school or was not yet in the seminary. In that case, the parish priest of Victoria would administer the ricelands before the nephew entered the seminary. But the moment the testator's nephew entered the seminary, then he would be entitled to enjoy and administer the ricelands and receive the fruits thereof. In that event, the trusteeship would be terminated. Following that interpretation of the will the inquiry would be whether at the time Father Rigor died in 1935 he had a nephew who was studying for the priesthood or who had manifested his desire to follow the ecclesiastical career. That query is categorically answered in paragraph 4 of appellant priest's petitions of February 19, 1954 and January 31, 1957. He unequivocally alleged therein that "not male relative of the late (Father) Pascual Rigor has ever studied for the priesthood" (pp. 25 and 35, Record on Appeal). Inasmuch as the testator was not survived by any nephew who became a priest, the unavoidable conclusion is that the bequest in question was ineffectual or inoperative. Therefore, the administration of the ricelands by the parish priest of Victoria, as envisaged in the wilt was likewise inoperative. The appellant in contending that a public charitable trust was constituted by the testator in is favor assumes that he was a trustee or a substitute devisee That contention is untenable. A reading of the testamentary provisions regarding the disputed bequest not support the view that the parish priest of Victoria was a trustee or a substitute devisee in the event that the testator was not survived by a nephew who became a priest. It should be understood that the parish priest of Victoria could become a trustee only when the testator's nephew living at the time of his death, who desired to become a priest, had not yet entered the seminary or, having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated. Those two contingencies did not arise, and could not have arisen in this case because no nephew of the testator manifested any intention to enter the seminary or ever became a priest. The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that this case is covered by article 888 of the old Civil Code, now article 956, which provides that if "the bequest for any reason should be inoperative, it shall be merged into the estate, except in cases of substitution and those in which the right of accretion exists" ("el legado ... por qualquier causa, no tenga efecto se refundira en la masa de la herencia, fuera de los casos de sustitucion y derecho de acrecer"). This case is also covered by article 912(2) of the old Civil Code, now article 960 (2), which provides that legal succession takes place when the will "does not dispose of all that belongs to the testator." There being no substitution nor accretion as to the said ricelands the same should be distributed among the testator's legal heirs. The effect is as if the testator had made no disposition as to the said ricelands. The Civil Code recognizes that a person may die partly testate and partly intestate, or that there may be mixed succession. The old rule as to the indivisibility of the testator's win is no longer valid. Thus, if a conditional legacy does not take effect, there will be intestate succession as to the property recovered by the said legacy (Macrohon Ong Ham vs. Saavedra, 51 Phil. 267). We find no merit in the appeal The Appellate Court's decision is affirmed. Costs against the petitioner. C. Acceptance and Repudiation of Inheritance G.R. No. L-41171 July 23, 1987

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

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF VITO BORROMEO, DECEASED, PILAR N. BORROMEO, MARIA B. PUTONG, FEDERICO V. BORROMEO, JOSE BORROMEO, CONSUELO B. MORALES, AND CANUTO V. BORROMEO, JR., heirs-appellants, vs. FORTUNATO BORROMEO, claimant-appellee. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x No. L-62895 July 23, 1987

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

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x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x No. L-63818 July 23, 1987

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

PETRA BORROMEO, VITALIANA BORROMEO, AMELINDA BORROMEO, and JOSE CUENCO BORROMEO, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE FRANCISCO P. BURGOS, Presiding Judge of Branch XV, Regional Trial Court of Cebu; RICARDO V. REYES, Administrator of the Estate of VITO BORROMEO in Sp. Proc. No. 916-R; and DOMINGO L. ANTIGUA, respondents. GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: These cases before us all stem from SP. PROC. NO. 916-R of the then Court of First Instance of Cebu. G.R. No. 41171 Vito Borromeo, a widower and permanent resident of Cebu City, died on March 13, 1952, in Paranaque, Rizal at the age of 88 years, without forced heirs but leaving extensive properties in the province of Cebu. On April 19, 1952, Jose Junquera filed with the Court of First Instance of Cebu a petition for the probate of a one page document as the last will and testament left by the said deceased, devising all his properties to Tomas, Fortunato and Amelia, all surnamed Borromeo, in equal and undivided shares, and designating Junquera as executor thereof. The case was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 916-R. The document, drafted in Spanish, was allegedly signed and thumbmarked by the deceased in the presence of Cornelio Gandionco, Eusebio Cabiluna, and Felixberto Leonardo who acted as witnesses. Oppositions to the probate of the will were filed. On May 28, 1960, after due trial, the probate court held that the document presented as the will of the deceased was a forgery. On appeal to this Court, the decision of the probate court disallowing the probate of the will was affirmed in Testate Estate of Vito Borromeo, Jose H. Junquera et al. v. Crispin Borromeo et al. (19 SCRA 656). The testate proceedings was converted into an intestate proceedings. Several parties came before the court filing claims or petitions alleging themselves as heirs of the intestate estate of Vito Borromeo. The following petitions or claims were filed: 1. On August 29, 1967, the heirs of Jose Ma. Borromeo and Cosme Borromeo filed a petition for declaration of heirs and determination of heirship. There was no opposition filed against said petition. 2. On November 26, 1967, Vitaliana Borromeo also filed a petition for declaration as heir. The heirs of Jose Ma. Borromeo and Cosme Borromeo filed an opposition to this petition. 3. On December 13, 1967, Jose Barcenilla, Jr., Anecita Ocampo de Castro, Ramon Ocampo, Lourdes Ocampo, Elena Ocampo, Isagani Morre, Rosario Morre, Aurora Morre, Lila Morre, Lamberto Morre, and Patricia Morre, filed a petition for declaration of heirs and determination of shares. The petition was opposed by the heirs of Jose and Cosme Borromeo. 4. On December 2, 1968, Maria Borromeo Atega, Luz Borromeo, Hermenegilda Borromeo Nonnenkamp, Rosario Borromeo, and Fe Borromeo Queroz filed a claim. Jose Cuenco Borromeo, Crispin Borromeo, Vitaliana Borromeo and the heirs of Carlos Borromeo represented by Jose Talam filed oppositions to this claim. When the aforementioned petitions and claims were heard jointly, the following facts were established: 1. Maximo Borromeo and Hermenegilda Galan, husband and wife (the latter having predeceased the former), were survived by their eight (8) children, namely, Jose Ma. Borromeo Cosme Borromeo Pantaleon Borromeo Vito Borromeo Paulo Borromeo Anecita Borromeo Quirino Borromeo and Julian Borromeo 2. Vito Borromeo died a widower on March 13, 1952, without any issue, and all his brothers and sisters predeceased him. 3. Vito's brother Pantaleon Borromeo died leaving the following children:

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a. Ismaela Borromeo,who died on Oct. 16, 1939 b. Teofilo Borromeo, who died on Aug. 1, 1955, or 3 years after the death of Vito Borromeo. He was married to Remedios Cuenco Borromeo, who died on March 28, 1968. He had an only son-Atty. Jose Cuenco Borromeo one of the petitioners herein. c. Crispin Borromeo, who is still alive. 4. Anecita Borromeo, sister of Vito Borromeo, died ahead of him and left an only daughter, Aurora B. Ocampo, who died on Jan. 30, 1950 leaving the following children: a. Anecita Ocampo Castro b. Ramon Ocampo c. Lourdes Ocampo d. Elena Ocampo, all living, and e. Antonieta Ocampo Barcenilla (deceased), survived by claimant Jose Barcenilla, Jr. 5. Cosme Borromeo, another brother of Vito Borromeo, died before the war and left the following children: a. Marcial Borromeo b. Carlos Borromeo,who died on Jan. 18, 1965,survived by his wife, Remedios Alfonso, and his only daughter, Amelinda Borromeo Talam c. Asuncion Borromeo d. Florentina Borromeo, who died in 1948. e. Amilio Borromeo, who died in 1944. f. Carmen Borromeo, who died in 1925. The last three died leaving no issue. 6. Jose Ma. Borromeo, another brother of Vito Borromeo, died before the war and left the following children: a. Exequiel Borromeo,who died on December 29, 1949 b. Canuto Borromeo, who died on Dec. 31, 1959, leaving the following children: aa. Federico Borromeo bb. Marisol Borromeo (Maria B. Putong, Rec. p. 85) cc. Canuto Borromeo, Jr. dd. Jose Borromeo ee. Consuelo Borromeo ff. Pilar Borromeo gg. Salud Borromeo hh. Patrocinio Borromeo Herrera c. Maximo Borromeo, who died in July, 1948 d. Matilde Borromeo, who died on Aug. 6, 1946 e. Andres Borromeo, who died on Jan. 3, 1923, but survived by his children: aa. Maria Borromeo Atega bb. Luz Borromeo cc. Hermenegilda Borromeo Nonnenkamp dd. Rosario Borromeo ee. Fe Borromeo Queroz On April 10, 1969, the trial court, invoking Art. 972 of the Civil Code, issued an order declaring the following, to the exclusion of all others, as the intestate heirs of the deceased Vito Borromeo: 1. Jose Cuenco Borromeo

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2. Judge Crispin Borromeo 3. Vitaliana Borromeo 4. Patrocinio Borromeo Herrera 5. Salud Borromeo 6. Asuncion Borromeo 7. Marcial Borromeo 8. Amelinda Borromeo de Talam, and 9. The heirs of Canuto Borromeo The court also ordered that the assets of the intestate estate of Vito Borromeo shall be divided into 4/9 and 5/9 groups and distributed in equal and equitable shares among the 9 abovenamed declared intestate heirs. On April 21 and 30, 1969, the declared heirs, with the exception of Patrocinio B. Herrera, signed an agreement of partition of the properties of the deceased Vito Borromeo which was approved by the trial court, in its order of August 15, 1969. In this same order, the trial court ordered the administrator, Atty Jesus Gaboya, Jr., to partition the properties of the deceased in the way and manner they are divided and partitioned in the said Agreement of Partition and further ordered that 40% of the market value of the 4/9 and 5/9 of the estate shall be segregated. All attorney's fees shall be taken and paid from this segregated portion. On August 25, 1972, respondent Fortunato Borromeo, who had earlier claimed as heir under the forged will, filed a motion before the trial court praying that he be declared as one of the heirs of the deceased Vito Borromeo, alleging that he is an illegitimate son of the deceased and that in the declaration of heirs made by the trial court, he was omitted, in disregard of the law making him a forced heir entitled to receive a legitime like all other forced heirs. As an acknowledged illegitimate child, he stated that he was entitled to a legitime equal in every case to four-fifths of the legitime of an acknowledged natural child. Finding that the motion of Fortunato Borromeo was already barred by the order of the court dated April 12, 1969 declaring the persons named therein as the legal heirs of the deceased Vito Borromeo, the court dismissed the motion on June 25, 1973. Fortunato Borromeo filed a motion for reconsideration. In the memorandum he submitted to support his motion for reconsideration, Fortunato changed the basis for his claim to a portion of the estate. He asserted and incorporated a Waiver of Hereditary Rights dated July 31, 1967, supposedly signed by Pilar N. Borromeo, Maria B. Putong, Jose Borromeo, Canuto V. Borromeo, Jr., Salud Borromeo, Patrocinio Borromeo-Herrera, Marcial Borromeo, Asuncion Borromeo, Federico V. Borromeo, Consuelo B. Morales, Remedios Alfonso and Amelinda B. Talam In the waiver, five of the nine heirs relinquished to Fortunato their shares in the disputed estate. The motion was opposed on the ground that the trial court, acting as a probate court, had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the claim; that respondent Fortunato Borromeo is estopped from asserting the waiver agreement; that the waiver agreement is void as it was executed before the declaration of heirs; that the same is void having been executed before the distribution of the estate and before the acceptance of the inheritance; and that it is void ab initio and inexistent for lack of subject matter. On December 24, 1974, after due hearing, the trial court concluding that the five declared heirs who signed the waiver agreement assigning their hereditary rights to Fortunato Borromeo had lost the same rights, declared the latter as entitled to 5/9 of the estate of Vito Borromeo. A motion for reconsideration of this order was denied on July 7, 1975. In the present petition, the petitioner seeks to annul and set aside the trial court's order dated December 24, 1974, declaring respondent Fortunato Borromeo entitled to 5/9 of the estate of Vito Borromeo and the July 7, 1975 order, denying the motion for reconsideration. The petitioner argues that the trial court had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the claim of respondent Fortunato Borromeo because it is not a money claim against the decedent but a claim for properties, real and personal, which constitute all of the shares of the heirs in the decedent's estate, heirs who allegedly waived their rights in his favor. The claim of the private respondent under the waiver agreement, according to the petitioner, may be likened to that of a creditor of the heirs which is improper. He alleges that the claim of the private respondent under the waiver agreement was filed beyond the time allowed for filing of claims as it was filed only sometime in 1973, after there had been a declaration of heirs (April 10, 1969), an agreement of partition (April 30, 1969), the approval of the agreement of partition and an order directing the administrator to partition the estate (August 15, 1969), when in a mere memorandum, the existence of the waiver agreement was brought out. It is further argued by the petitioner that the document entitled " waiver of Hereditary Rights" executed on July 31, 1967, aside from having been cancelled and revoked on June 29, 1968, by Tomas L. Borromeo, Fortunato Borromeo and Amelia Borromeo, is without force and effect because there can be no effective waiver of hereditary rights before there has been a valid acceptance of the inheritance the heirs intend to transfer. Pursuant to Article 1043 of the Civil Code, to make acceptance or repudiation of inheritance valid, the person must be certain of the death of the one from whom he is to inherit and of his right to the inheritance. Since the petitioner and her co-heirs were not certain of their right to the inheritance until they were declared heirs, their rights were, therefore, uncertain. This view, according to the petitioner, is also supported by Article 1057 of the same Code which directs heirs, devicees, and legatees to signify their acceptance or repudiation within thirty days after the court has issued an order for the distribution of the estate. Respondent Fortunato Borromeo on the other hand, contends that under Article 1043 of the Civil Code there is no need for a person to be first declared as heir before he can accept or repudiate an inheritance. What is required is that he must first be certain of the death of the person from whom he is to inherit and that he must be certain of his right to the inheritance. He points out that at the time of the signing of the waiver document on July 31, 1967, the signatories to the waiver document were certain that Vito Borromeo was already dead as well as of their rights to the inheritance as shown in the waiver document itself. With respect to the issue of jurisdiction of the trial court to pass upon the validity of the waiver of hereditary rights, respondent Borromeo asserts that since the waiver or renunciation of hereditary rights took place after the court assumed jurisdiction over the properties of the estate it partakes of the nature of a partition of the properties of the estate needing approval of the court because it was executed in the course of the proceedings. lie further maintains that the probate court loses jurisdiction of the estate only after the payment of all the debts of the estate and the remaining estate is distributed to those entitled to the same. The prevailing jurisprudence on waiver of hereditary rights is that "the properties included in an existing inheritance cannot be considered as belonging to third persons with respect to the heirs, who by fiction of law continue the personality of the former. Nor do such properties have the character of future property, because the heirs acquire a right to succession from the moment of the death of the deceased, by principle established in article 657 and applied by article 661 of the Civil Code, according to which the heirs succeed the deceased by the mere fact of death. More or less, time may elapse from the moment of the death of the deceased until the heirs enter into possession of the hereditary property, but the acceptance in any event retroacts to the moment of the death, in accordance with article 989 of

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the Civil Code. The right is vested, although conditioned upon the adjudication of the corresponding hereditary portion." (Osorio v. Osorio and Ynchausti Steamship Co., 41 Phil., 531). The heirs, therefore, could waive their hereditary rights in 1967 even if the order to partition the estate was issued only in 1969. In this case, however, the purported "Waiver of Hereditary Rights" cannot be considered to be effective. For a waiver to exist, three elements are essential: (1) the existence of a right; (2) the knowledge of the existence thereof; and (3) an intention to relinquish such right. (People v. Salvador, (CA) 53 O.G. No. 22, p. 8116, 8120). The intention to waive a right or advantage must be shown clearly and convincingly, and when the only proof of intention rests in what a party does, his act should be so manifestly consistent with, and indicative of an intent to, voluntarily relinquish the particular right or advantage that no other reasonable explanation of his conduct is possible (67 C.J., 311). (Fernandez v. Sebido, et al., 70 Phil., 151, 159). The circumstances of this case show that the signatories to the waiver document did not have the clear and convincing intention to relinquish their rights, Thus: (1) On October 27, 1967. Fortunato, Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo filed a pleading entitled "Compliance" wherein they submitted a proposal for the amicable settlement of the case. In that Compliance, they proposed to concede to all the eight (8) intestate heirs of Vito Borromeo all properties, personal and real, including all cash and sums of money in the hands of the Special Administrator, as of October 31, 1967, not contested or claimed by them in any action then pending in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. In turn, the heirs would waive and concede to them all the 14 contested lots. In this document, the respondent recognizes and concedes that the petitioner, like the other signatories to the waiver document, is an heir of the deceased Vito Borromeo, entitled to share in the estate. This shows that the "Waiver of Hereditary Rights" was never meant to be what the respondent now purports it to be. Had the intent been otherwise, there would not be any reason for Fortunato, Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo to mention the heirs in the offer to settle the case amicably, and offer to concede to them parts of the estate of the deceased; (2) On April 21 and 30, 1969, the majority of the declared heirs executed an Agreement on how the estate they inherited shall be distributed. This Agreement of Partition was approved by the trial court on August 15, 1969; (3) On June 29, 1968, the petitioner, among others, signed a document entitled Deed of Assignment" purporting to transfer and assign in favor of the respondent and Tomas and Amelia Borromeo all her (Patrocinio B. Herrera's) rights, interests, and participation as an intestate heir in the estate of the deceased Vito Borromeo. The stated consideration for said assignment was P100,000.00; (4) On the same date, June 29, 1968, the respondent Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo (assignees in the aforementioned deed of assignment) in turn executed a "Deed of Reconveyance" in favor of the heirs-assignors named in the same deed of assignment. The stated consideration was P50,000.00; (5) A Cancellation of Deed of Assignment and Deed of Reconveyance was signed by Tomas Borromeo and Amelia Borromeo on October 15, 1968, while Fortunato Borromeo signed this document on March 24, 1969. With respect to the issue of jurisdiction, we hold that the trial court had jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of the waiver agreement. It must be noted that in Special Proceedings No. 916-R the lower court disallowed the probate of the will and declared it as fake. Upon appeal, this Court affirmed the decision of the lower court on March 30, 1967, in G.R. No. L-18498. Subsequently, several parties came before the lower court filing claims or petitions alleging themselves as heirs of the intestate estate of Vito Borromeo. We see no impediment to the trial court in exercising jurisdiction and trying the said claims or petitions. Moreover, the jurisdiction of the trial court extends to matters incidental and collateral to the exercise of its recognized powers in handling the settlement of the estate. In view of the foregoing, the questioned order of the trial court dated December 24, 1974, is hereby SET ASIDE. G.R. No. 55000 This case was originally an appeal to the Court of Appeals from an order of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch 11, dated December 24, 1974, declaring the waiver document earlier discussed in G.R. No. 41171 valid. The appellate court certified this case to this Court as the questions raised are all of law. The appellants not only assail the validity of the waiver agreement but they also question the jurisdiction of the lower court to hear and decide the action filed by claimant Fortunato Borromeo. The appellants argue that when the waiver of hereditary right was executed on July 31, 1967, Pilar Borromeo and her children did not yet possess or own any hereditary right in the intestate estate of the deceased Vito Borromeo because said hereditary right was only acquired and owned by them on April 10, 1969, when the estate was ordered distributed. They further argue that in contemplation of law, there is no such contract of waiver of hereditary right in the present case because there was no object, which is hereditary right, that could be the subject matter of said waiver, and, therefore, said waiver of hereditary right was not only null and void ab initio but was inexistent. With respect to the issue of jurisdiction, the appellants contend that without any formal pleading filed by the lawyers of Fortunato Borromeo for the approval of the waiver agreement and without notice to the parties concerned, two things which are necessary so that the lower court would be vested with authority and jurisdiction to hear and decide the validity of said waiver agreement, nevertheless, the lower court set the hearing on September 25, 1973 and without asking for the requisite pleading. This resulted in the issuance of the appealed order of December 24, 1974, which approved the validity of the waiver agreement. The appellants contend that this constitutes an error in the exercise of jurisdiction. The appellee on the other hand, maintains that by waiving their hereditary rights in favor of Fortunato Borromeo, the signatories to the waiver document tacitly and irrevocably accepted the inheritance and by virtue of the same act, they lost their rights because the rights from that moment on became vested in Fortunato Borromeo. It is also argued by the appellee that under Article 1043 of the Civil Code there is no need for a person to be declared as heir first before he can accept or repudiate an inheritance. What is required is that he is certain of the death of the person from whom he is to inherit, and of his right to the inheritance. At the time of the signing of the waiver document on July 31, 1967, the signatories to the waiver document were certain that Vito Borromeo was already dead and they were also certain of their right to the inheritance as shown by the waiver document itself. On the allegation of the appellants that the lower court did not acquire jurisdiction over the claim because of the alleged lack of a pleading invoking its jurisdiction to decide the claim, the appellee asserts that on August 23, 1973, the lower court issued an order specifically calling on all oppositors to the waiver document to submit their comments within ten days from notice and setting the same for hearing on September 25, 1973. The appellee also avers that the claim as to a 5/9 share in the inheritance involves no question of title to property and, therefore, the probate court can decide the question. The issues in this case are similar to the issues raised in G.R. No. 41171. The appellants in this case, who are all declared heirs of the late Vito Borromeo are contesting the validity of the trial court's order dated December 24, 1974, declaring Fortunato Borromeo entitled to 5/9 of the estate of Vito Borromeo under the waiver agreement. As stated in G.R. No. 41171, the supposed waiver of hereditary rights can not be validated. The essential elements of a waiver, especially the clear and convincing intention to relinquish hereditary rights, are not found in this case. The October 27, 1967 proposal for an amicable settlement conceding to all the eight (8) intestate heirs various properties in consideration for the heirs giving to the respondent and to Tomas, and Amelia Borromeo the fourteen (14) contested lots was filed inspite of the fact that on July 31, 1967, some of the heirs had allegedly already waived or sold their hereditary rights to the respondent.

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The agreement on how the estate is to be distributed, the June 29, 1968 deed of assignment, the deed of reconveyance, and the subsequent cancellation of the deed of assignment and deed of reconveyance all argue against the purported waiver of hereditary rights. Concerning the issue of jurisdiction, we have already stated in G.R. No. 41171 that the trial court acquired jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of the waiver agreement because the trial court's jurisdiction extends to matters incidental and collateral to the exercise of its recognized powers in handling the settlement of the estate. The questioned order is, therefore, SET ASIDE. G.R. No. 62895 A motion dated April 28, 1972, was filed by Atty. Raul M. Sesbreno, representative of some of the heirs-distributees, praying for the immediate closure of Special Proceeding No. 916-R. A similar motion dated May 29, 1979 was filed by Atty. Jose Amadora. Both motions were grounded on the fact that there was nothing more to be done after the payment of all the obligations of the estate since the order of partition and distribution had long become final. Alleging that respondent Judge Francisco P. Burgos failed or refused to resolve the aforesaid motions, petitioner Jose Cuenco Borromeo-filed a petition for mandamus before the Court of Appeals to compel the respondent judge to terminate and close Special Proceedings No. 916-R. Finding that the inaction of the respondent judge was due to pending motions to compel the petitioner, as co-administrator, to submit an inventory of the real properties of the estate and an accounting of the cash in his hands, pending claims for attorney's fees, and that mandamus will not lie to compel the performance of a discretionary function, the appellate court denied the petition on May 14, 1982. The petitioner's motion for reconsideration was likewise denied for lack of merit. Hence, this petition. The petitioner's stand is that the inaction of the respondent judge on the motion filed on April 28, 1972 for the closure of the administration proceeding cannot be justified by the filing of the motion for inventory and accounting because the latter motion was filed only on March 2, 1979. He claimed that under the then Constitution, it is the duty of the respondent judge to decide or resolve a case or matter within three months from the date of its submission. The respondents contend that the motion to close the administration had already been resolved when the respondent judge cancelled all settings of all incidents previously set in his court in an order dated June 4, 1979, pursuant to the resolution and restraining order issued by the Court of Appeals enjoining him to maintain status quo on the case. As stated in G.R. No. 41171, on April 21 and 30, 1969, the declared heirs, with the exception of Patrocinio B. Herrera, signed an agreement of partition of the properties of the deceased Vito Borromeo which was approved by the trial court, in its order dated August 15, 1969. In this same order, the trial court ordered the administrator, Atty. Jesus Gaboya, Jr., to partition the properties of the deceased in the way and manner they are divided and partitioned in the said Agreement of Partition and further ordered that 40% of the market value of the 4/9 and 5/9 of the estate shall be segregated and reserved for attorney's fees. According to the manifestation of Judge Francisco Burgos dated July 5, 1982, (p. 197, Rollo, G. R. No. 41171) his court has not finally distributed to the nine (9) declared heirs the properties due to the following circumstances: 1. The court's determination of the market value of the estate in order to segregate the 40% reserved for attorney's fees; 2. The order of December 24, 1974, declaring Fortunato Borromeo as beneficiary of the 5/9 of the estate because of the waiver agreement signed by the heirs representing the 5/9 group which is still pending resolution by this Court (G.R. No. 4117 1); 3. The refusal of administrator Jose Cuenco Borromeo to render his accounting; and 4. The claim of Marcela Villegas for 1/2 of the estate causing annotations of notices of lis pendens on the different titles of the properties of the estate. Since there are still real properties of the estate that were not vet distributed to some of the declared heirs, particularly the 5/9 group of heirs due to the pending resolution of the waiver agreement, this Court in its resolution of June 15, 1983, required the judge of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch 11, to expedite the determination of Special Proceedings No. 916-R and ordered the co-administrator Jose Cuenco Borromeo to submit an inventory of real properties of the estate and to render an accounting of cash and bank deposits realized from rents of several properties. The matter of attorney's fees shall be discussed in G.R. No. 65995. Considering the pronouncements stated in: 1. G.R. No. 41171 & G.R. No. 55000, setting aside the Order of the trial court dated December 24, 1974; 2. G.R. No. 63818, denying the petition for review seeking to modify the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court insofar as it disqualifies and inhibits Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further hearing the Intestate Estate of Vito Borromeo and ordering the remand of the case to the Executive,Judge of the Regional trial Court of Cebu for re-raffling; and 3. G.R. No. 65995, granting the petition to restrain the respondents from further acting on any and all incidents in Special proceedings No. 916-11 because of the affirmation of the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court in G.R. No. 63818. the trial court may now terminate and close Special Proceedings No. 916-R, subject to the submission of an inventory of the real properties of the estate and an accounting of the call and bank deposits of the petitioner, as co-administrator of the estate, if he has not vet done so, as required by this Court in its Resolution dated June 15, 1983. This must be effected with all deliberate speed. G.R. No. 63818 On June 9, 1979, respondents Jose Cuenco Borromeo and Petra 0. Borromeo filed a motion for inhibition in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch 11, presided over by Judge Francisco P. Burgos to inhibit the judge from further acting in Special Proceedings No. 916-R. 'The movants alleged, among others, the following: xxx xxx xxx

6. To keep the agitation to sell moving, Atty. Antigua filed a motion for the production of the certificates of title and to deposit the same with the Branch Clerk of Court, presumably for the ready inspection of interested buyers. Said motion was granted by the Hon. Court in its order of October 2, 1978 which, however, became

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the subject of various motions for reconsideration from heirs-distributees who contended that as owners they cannot be deprived of their titles for the flimsy reasons advanced by Atty, Antigua. In view of the motions for reconsideration, Atty Antigua ultimately withdraw his motions for production of titles. 7. The incident concerning the production of titles triggered another incident involving Atty. Raul H. Sesbreno who was then the counsel of herein movants Petra O. Borromeo and Amelinda B. Talam In connection with said incident, Atty. Sesbreno filed a pleading which the tion. presiding, Judge Considered direct contempt because among others, Atty. Sesbreno insinuated that the Hon. Presiding Judge stands to receive "fat commission" from the sale of the entire property. Indeed, Atty. Sesbreno was seriously in danger of being declared in contempt of court with the dim prospect of suspension from the practice of his profession. But obviously to extricate himself from the prospect of contempt and suspension. Atty. Sesbreno chose rapproachment and ultimately joined forces with Atty. Antigua, et al., who, together, continued to harass administrator xxx xxx xxx

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

16. With all due respect, petitioners regret the necessity of having to state herein that respondent Hon. Francisco P. Burgos has shown undue interest in pursing the sale initiated by Atty. Domingo L. Antigua, et al. Significantly, a brother of respondent Hon. Francisco P. Burgos is married to a sister of Atty. Domingo L. Antigua. 17. Evidence the proposed sale of the entire properties of the estate cannot be legally done without the conformity of the heirs-distributees because the certificates of title are already registered in their names Hence, in pursuit of the agitation to sell, respondent Hon. Francisco P. Burgos urged the heirs-distributees to sell the entire property based on the rationale that proceeds thereof deposited in the bank will earn interest more than the present income of the so called estate. Most of the heirsdistributees, however. have been petitioner timid to say their piece. Only the 4/9 group of heirs led by Jose Cuenco Borromeo have had the courage to stand up and refuse the proposal to sell clearly favored by respondent Hon. Francisco P. Burgos. xxx xxx xxx

20. Petitioners will refrain from discussing herein the merits of the shotgun motion of Atty. Domingo L. Antigua as well as other incidents now pending in the court below which smack of harassment against the herein petitioners. For, regardless of the merits of said incidents, petitioners respectfully contend that it is highly improper for respondent Hon. Francisco P. Burgos to continue to preside over Sp. Proc. No. 916-R by reason of the following circumstances: (a) He has shown undue interest in the sale of the properties as initiated by Atty. Domingo L. Antigua whose sister is married to a brother of respondent. (b) The proposed sale cannot be legally done without the conformity of the heirs-distributees, and petitioners have openly refused the sale, to the great disappointment of respondent. (c) The shot gun motion of Atty. Antigua and similar incidents are clearly intended to harass and embarrass administrator Jose Cuenco Borromeo in order to pressure him into acceding to the proposed sale. (d) Respondent has shown bias and prejudice against petitioners by failing to resolve the claim for attorney's fees filed by Jose Cuenco Borromeo and the late Crispin Borromeo. Similar claims by the other lawyers were resolved by respondent after petitioners refused the proposed sale. (pp. 41-43, Rollo) On March 1, 1983, the appellate court rendered its decision granting the petition for certiorari and/or prohibition and disqualifying Judge Francisco P. Burgos from taking further cognizance of Special Proceedings No. 916-R. The court also ordered the transmission of the records of the case to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Region VII for re-raffling. A motion for reconsideration of the decision was denied by the appellate court on April 11, 1983. Hence, the present petition for review seeking to modify the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court insofar as it disqualifies and inhibits Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further hearing the case of Intestate Estate of Vito Borromeo and orders the remand of the case to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu for re-raffling. The principal issue in this case has become moot and academic because Judge Francisco P. Burgos decided to retire from the Regional Trial Court of Cebu sometime before the latest reorganization of the judiciary. However, we decide the petition on its merits for the guidance of the judge to whom this case will be reassigned and others concerned. The petitioners deny that respondent Jose Cuenco Borromeo has been harassed. They contend that Judge Burgos has benn shown unusual interest in the proposed sale of the entire estate for P6,700,000.00 in favor of the buyers of Atty. Antigua. They claim that this disinterest is shown by the judge's order of March 2, 1979 assessing the property of the estate at P15,000,000.00. They add that he only ordered the administrator to sell so much of the properties of the estate to pay the attorney's fees of the lawyers-claimants. To them, the inhibition of Judge Burgos would have been unreasonable because his orders against the failure of Jose Cuenco Borromeo, as administrator, to give an accounting and inventory of the estate were all affirmed by the appellate court. They claim that the respondent court, should also have taken judicial notice of the resolution of this Court directing the said judge to "expedite the settlement and adjudication of the case" in G.R. No. 54232. And finally, they state that the disqualification of judge Burgos would delay further the closing of the administration proceeding as he is the only judge who is conversant with the 47 volumes of the records of the case.

12

Respondent Jose Cuenco Borromeo, to show that he had been harassed. countered that Judge Burgos appointed Ricardo V. Reyes as co-administrator of the estate on October 11, 1972, yet Borromeo was singled out to make an accounting of what t he was supposed to have received as rentals for the land upon which the Juliana Trade Center is erected, from January, 1977 to February 1982, inclusive, without mentioning the withholding tax for the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In order to bolster the agitation to sell as proposed by Domingo L. Antigua, Judge Burgos invited Antonio Barredo, Jr., to a series of conferences from February 26 to 28, 1979. During the conferences, Atty. Antonio Barredo, Jr., offered to buy the shares of the heirs-distributees presumably to cover up the projected sale initiated by Atty. Antigua. On March 2, 1979, or two days after the conferences, a motion was filed by petitioner Domingo L. Antigua praying that Jose Cuenco Borromeo be required to file an inventory when he has already filed one to account for cash, a report on which the administrators had already rendered: and to appear and be examined under oath in a proceeding conducted by Judge Burgos lt was also prayed that subpoena duces tecum be issued for the appearance of the Manager of the Consolidated Bank and Trust Co., bringing all the bank records in the name of Jose Cuenco Borromeo jointly with his wife as well as the appearance of heirs-distributees Amelinda Borromeo Talam and another heir distributee Vitaliana Borromeo. Simultaneously with the filing of the motion of Domingo Antigua, Atty. Raul H. Sesbreno filed a request for the issuance of subpoena duces tecum to the Manager of Consolidated Bank and 'Trust Co., Inc.; Register of Deeds of Cebu City; Register of Deeds for the Province of Cebu and another subpoena duces tecum to Atty. Jose Cuenco Borromeo. On the same date, the Branch Clerk of Court issued a subpoena duces tecum to the Managert of the bank, the Register of deeds for the City of Cebu, the Register of Deeds for the Province, of Cebu. and to Jose Cuenco Borromeo. On the following day, March 3, 1979, Atty Gaudioso v. Villagonzalo in behalf of the heirs of Marcial Borromeo who had a common cause with Atty Barredo, Jr., joined petitioner Domingo L. Antigua by filing a motion for relief of the administrator. On March 5, 1979, Atty. Villagonzalo filed a request for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum to private respondent Jose Cuenco Borromeo to bring and produce all the owners" copies of the titles in the court presided order by Judge Burgos. Consequently. the Branch Clerk of Court issued a subpoena duces tecum commanding Atty. Jose Cuenco Borromeo to bring and produce the titles in court. All the above-incidents were set for hearing on June 7, 1979 but on June 14, 1979, before the date of the hearing, Judge Burgos issued an order denying the private respondents' motion for reconsideration and the motion to quash the subpoena.1avvphi1 It was further argued by the private respondents that if ,judge Francisco P. Burgos is not inhibited or disqualified from trying Sp. Proc. No. 916-R, there would be a miscarriage of justice Because for the past twelve years, he had not done anything towards the closure of the estate proceedings except to sell the properties of the heirs-distributees as initiated by petitioner Domingo L. Antigua at 6.7 million pesos while the Intestate Court had already evaluated it at 15 million pesos. The allegations of the private respondents in their motion for inhibition, more specifically, the insistence of the trial judge to sell the entire estate at P6,700,000.00, where 4/9 group of heirs objected, cannot easily be ignored. Suspicion of partiality on the part of a trial judge must be avoided at all costs. In the case of Bautista v. Rebeuno (81 SCRA 535), this Court stated: ... The Judge must maintain and preserve the trust and faith of the parties litigants. He must hold himself above reproach and suspicion. At the very first sign of lack of faith and trust to his actions, whether well grounded or not, the Judge has no other alternative but inhibit himself from the case. A judge may not be legally Prohibited from sitting in a litigation, but when circumstances appear that will induce doubt to his honest actuations and probity in favor or of either partly or incite such state of mind, he should conduct a careful self-examination. He should exercise his discretion in a way that the people's faith in the Courts of Justice is not impaired, "The better course for the Judge under such circumstances is to disqualify himself "That way he avoids being misunderstood, his reputation for probity and objectivity is preserve ed. what is more important, the Ideal of impartial administration of justice is lived up to. In this case, the fervent distrust of the private respondents is based on sound reasons. As Earlier stated, however, the petition for review seeking to modify the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court insofar as it disqualifies and inhibits Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further hearing the Intestate Estate of Vito Borromeo case and ordering the remand of the case to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court for re-raffling should be DENIED for the decision is not only valid but the issue itself has become moot and academic. G.R. No. 65995 The petitioners seek to restrain the respondents from further acting on any and all incidents in Special Proceedings No. 916-R during the pendency of this petition and No. 63818. They also pray that all acts of the respondents related to the said special proceedings after March 1, 1983 when the respondent Judge was disqualified by the appellate court be declared null and void and without force and effect whatsoever. The petitioners state that the respondent Judge has set for hearing all incidents in Special Proceedings No. 916-R, including the reversion from the heirs-distributees to the estate, of the distributed properties already titled in their names as early as 1970, notwithstanding the pending inhibition case elevated before this Court which is docketed as G.R. No. 63818. The petitioners further argue that the present status of Special Proceeding No. 916-R requires only the appraisal of the attorney's fees of the lawyers-claimants who were individually hired by their respective heirs-clients, so their attorney's fees should be legally charged against their respective clients and not against the estate. On the other hand, the respondents maintain that the petition is a dilatory one and barred by res judicata because this Court on July 8, 1981, in G.R. No. 54232 directed the respondent Judge to expedite the settlement and liquidation of the decedent's estate. They claim that this resolution, which was already final and executory, was in effect reversed and nullified by the Intermediate Appellate Court in its case-AC G.R.-No. SP - 11145 — when it granted the petition for certiorari and or prohibition and disqualified Judge Francisco P. Burgos from taking further cognizance of Special Proceedings No. 916R as well as ordering the transmission of the records of the case to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Region VII for re-raffling on March 1, 1983, which was appealed to this Court by means of a Petition for Review (G.R. No. 63818). We agree with the petitioners' contention that attorney's fees are not the obligation of the estate but of the individual heirs who individually hired their respective lawyers. The portion, therefore, of the Order of August 15, 1969, segregating the exhorbitantly excessive amount of 40% of the market value of the estate from which attorney's fees shall be taken and paid should be deleted. Due to our affirmance of the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court in G.R. No. 63818, we grant the petition. WHEREFORE, —

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(1) In G.R. No. 41171, the order of the respondent judge dated December 24, 1974, declaring the respondent entitled to 5/9 of the estate of the late Vito Borromeo and the order dated July 7, 1975, denying the petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the aforementioned order are hereby SET ASIDE for being NULL and VOID; (2) In G.R. No. 55000, the order of the trial court declaring the waiver document valid is hereby SET ASIDE; (3) In G.R. No. 63818, the petition is hereby DENIED. The issue in the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court disqualifying and ordering the inhibition of Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further hearing Special Proceedings No. 916-R is declared moot and academic. The judge who has taken over the sala of retired Judge Francisco P. Burgos shall immediately conduct hearings with a view to terminating the proceedings. In the event that the successor-judge is likewise disqualified, the order of the Intermediate Appellate Court directing the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu to re-raffle the case shall be implemented: (4) In G.R. No. 65995, the petition is hereby GRANTED. 'The issue seeking to restrain Judge Francisco P. Burgos from further acting in G.R. No. 63818 is MOOT and ACADEMIC: (5) In G.R, No, 62895, the trial court is hereby ordered to speedily terminate the close Special Proceedings No. 916-R, subject to the submission of an inventory of the real properties of the estate and an accounting of the cash and bank deposits by the petitioner-administrator of the estate as required by this Court in its Resolution dated June 15, 1983; and (6) The portion of the Order of August 15, 1969, segregating 40% of the market value of the estate from which attorney's fees shall be taken and paid should be, as it is hereby DELETED. The lawyers should collect from the heirs-distributees who individually hired them, attorney's fees according to the nature of the services rendered but in amounts which should not exceed more than 20% of the market value of the property the latter acquired from the estate as beneficiaries. G.R. No. 112483 October 8, 1999 ELOY IMPERIAL, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF LEGASPI CITY, CESAR VILLALON, JR., TERESA VILLALON, ANTONIO VILLALON, AUGUSTO VILLALON, ROBERTO VILLALON, RICARDO VILLALON and ESTHER VILLALON, respondents. GONZAGA-REYES, J.: Petitioner seeks to set aside the Decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CV No. 31976 1, affirming the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Legaspi City 2, which rendered inofficious the donation made by Leoncio Imperial in favor of herein petitioner, to the extent that it impairs the legitime of Victor Imperial, and ordering petitioner to convey to herein private respondents, heirs of said Victor Imperial, that portion of the donated land proportionate to Victor Imperial's legitime. Leoncio Imperial was the registered owner of a 32,837-square meter parcel of land covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 200, also known as Lot 45 of the Cadastral Survey of Albay. On July 7, 1951, Leoncio sold the said lot for P1.00 to his acknowledged natural son, petitioner herein, who then acquired title over the land and proceeded to subdivide it into several lots. Petitioner and private respondents admit that despite the contract's designation as one of "Absolute Sale", the transaction was in fact a donation.1âwphi1.nêt On July 28, 1953, or barely two years after the donation, Leoncio filed a complaint for annulment of the said Deed of Absolute Sale, docketed as Civil Case No. 1177, in the then Court of First Instance of Albay, on the ground that he was deceived by petitioner herein into signing the said document. The dispute, however, was resolved through a compromise agreement, approved by the Court of First Instance of Albay on November 3, 1961 3, under which terms: (1) Leoncio recognized the legality and validity of the rights of petitioner to the land donated; and (2) petitioner agreed to sell a designated 1,000-square meter portion of the donated land, and to deposit the proceeds thereof in a bank, for the convenient disposal of Leoncio. In case of Leoncio's death, it was agreed that the balance of the deposit will be withdrawn by petitioner to defray burial costs. On January 8, 1962, and pending execution of the above judgment, Leoncio died, leaving only two heirs — the herein petitioner, who is his acknowledged natural son, and an adopted son, Victor Imperial. On March 8, 1962, Victor was substituted in place of Leoncio in the above-mentioned case, and it was he who moved for execution of judgment. On March 15, 1962, the motion for execution was duly granted. Fifteen years thereafter, or on July 26, 1977, Victor died single and without issue, survived only by his natural father, Ricardo Villalon, who was a lessee of a portion of the disputed land. Four years hence, or on September 25, 1981, Ricardo died, leaving as his only heirs his two children, Cesar and Teresa Villalon. Five years thereafter, or sometime in 1986, Cesar and Teresa filed a complaint for annulment of the donation with the Regional Trial Court of Legazpi City, docketed as Civil Case No. 7646. Petitioner moved to dismiss on the ground of res judicata, by virtue of the compromise judgment rendered by the Court of First Instance of Albay. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, but the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's order and remanded the case for further proceedings. On October 18, 1989, Cesar and Teresa filed an amended complaint in the same case, Civil Case No. 7646, for "Annulment of Documents, Reconveyance and Recovery of Possession" with the Regional Trial Court of Legazpi City, seeking the nullification of the Deed of Absolute Sale affecting the above property, on grounds of fraud, deceit and inofficiousness. In the amended complaint, it was alleged that petitioner caused Leoncio to execute the donation by taking undue advantage of the latter's physical weakness and mental unfitness, and that the conveyance of said property in favor of petitioner impaired the legitime of Victor Imperial, their natural brother and predecessor-in-interest. 4 In his Answer, petitioner: (1) alleged that Leoncio had conveyed sufficient property to Victor to cover his legitime, consisting of 563 hectares of agricultural land in Manito, Albay; (2) reiterated the defense of res judicata, and (3) raised the additional defenses of prescription and laches. Plaintiff Cesar Villalon died on December 26, 1989, while the case was pending in the Regional Trial Court, and was substituted in this action by his sons, namely, Antonio, Roberto, Augusto, Ricardo and Cesar, Jr., all surnamed Villalon, and his widow, Esther H. Villalon. The RTC held the donation to be inofficious and impairing the legitime of Victor, on the basis of its finding that at the time of Leoncio's death, he left no property other than the 32,837-square meter parcel of land which he had donated to petitioner. The RTC went on further to state that petitioner's allegation that other properties existed and were inherited by Victor was not substantiated by the evidence. 5 The legitime of Victor was determined by the trial court in this manner:

14
Considering that the property donated is 32,837 square meters, one half of that or 16,418 square meters becomes the free portion of Leoncio which could be absorbed in the donation to defendant. The other half, which is also 16,418 square meters is where the legitime of the adopted son Victor Imperial has to be taken. The proportion of the legitime of the legitimate child (including the adopted child) in relation to the acknowledged natural child (defendant) is 10 is to 5[,] with the acknowledged natural child getting 1/2 of the legitime of the legitimate (adopted) child, in accordance with Art. 895 of the New Civil Code which provides: The legitime of each of the acknowledged natural children and each of the natural children by legal fiction shall consist of one-half of the legitime of each of the legitimate children or descendants. From the 16,418 square meters left (after the free portion has been taken) plaintiffs are therefore entitled to 10,940 square meters while defendant gets 5,420 square meters. 6 The trial court likewise held that the applicable prescriptive period is 30 years under Article 1141 of the Civil Code 7, reckoned from March 15, 1962, when the writ of execution of the compromise judgment in Civil Case 1177 was issued, and that the original complaint having been filed in 1986, the action has not yet prescribed. In addition, the trial court regarded the defense of prescription as having been waived, this not being one of the issues agreed upon at pre-trial. Thus, the dispositive portion of the RTC's Decision of December 13, 1990 reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Deed of Absolute Sale otherwise known as Doc. No. 8; Book No. 14; Page No. 1; Series of 1951 of the Notarial file of Pompeyo B. Calleja which is considered a donation, is hereby reduced proportionately insofar as it affected the legitime of the late Victor Imperial, which share is inherited by the plaintiffs herein, to the extent that plaintiffs are ordered to be given by defendant a portion of 10,940 square meters thereof. In order to avoid further conflict, the 10,940 share to be given to plaintiffs should include the portion which they are presently occupying, by virtue of the extended lease to their father Ricardo Villalon, where the bungalow in question stands. The remaining portion to be given to plaintiffs may come from any other portion that may be agreed upon by the parties, otherwise, this court will appoint a commissioner to undertake the partition. The other 21,897 square meters should go to the defendant as part of his legitime and by virtue of the reduced donation. No pronouncement as to damages as they were not sufficiently proved. SO ORDERED. 8 The Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC Decision in toto. Before us, petitioner questions the following findings of respondent court: (1) that there was no res judicata, there being no identity of parties and cause of action between the instant case and Civil Case No. 1177; (2) that private respondents had a right to question the donation; (3) that private respondents' action is barred by prescription, laches and estoppel; and (4) that the donation was inofficious and should be reduced. It is an indispensable requirement in res judicata that there be, between the first and second action, identity of parties, of subject matter and of cause of action. 9 A perusal of the records leads us to conclude that there is no identity of parties and of cause of action as between Civil Case No. 1177 and Civil Case No. 7646. Civil Case No. 1177 was instituted by Leoncio in his capacity as donor of the questioned donation. While it is true that upon his death, Victor was substituted as plaintiff of the action, such does not alter the fact that Victor's participation in the case was in representation of the interests of the original plaintiff, Leoncio. The purpose behind the rule on substitution of parties is to ensure that the deceased party would continue to be properly represented in the suit through the duly appointed legal representative of the estate 10, or his heir, as in this case, for which no court appointment is required. 11 Petitioner's argument, therefore, that there is substantial identity between Leoncio and private respondents, being heirs and successors-in-interest of Victor, is unavailing. Moreover, Leoncio's cause of action as donor of the property was fraud, purportedly employed upon him by petitioner in the execution of the donation. While the same circumstances of fraud and deceit are alleged in private respondents' complaint, it also raises the additional ground of inofficiousness of donation. Contrary to petitioner's contentions, inofficiousness of donation does not, and could not, form part of Leoncio's cause of action in Civil Case No. 1177. Inofficiousness as a cause of action may arise only upon the death of the donor, as the value of the donation will then be contrasted with the net value of the estate of the donor-deceased. 12 Consequently, while in Civil Case No. 1177, Leoncio sought the revocation in full of the donation on ground of fraud, the instant case actually has two alternative causes of action. First, for fraud and deceit, under the same circumstances as alleged in Leoncio's complaint, which seeks the annulment in full of the donation, and which the trial court correctly dismissed because the compromise agreement in Civil Case No. 1177 served as a ratification and waiver on the part of Leoncio of whatever defects in voluntariness and consent may have been attendant in the making of the donation. The second cause of action is the alleged inofficiousness of the donation, resulting in the impairment of Victor's legitime, which seeks the annulment, not of the entire donation, but only of that portion diminishing the legitime. 13 It is on the basis of this second cause of action that private respondents prevailed in the lower courts. Petitioner next questions the right of private respondents to contest the donation. Petitioner sources his argument from Article 772 of the Civil Code, thus: Only those who at the time of the donor's death have a right to the legitime and their heirs and successors in interest may ask for the reduction of inofficious donations . . . . As argued by petitioner, when Leoncio died on January 8, 1962, it was only Victor who was entitled to question the donation. However, instead of filing an action to contest the donation, Victor asked to be substituted as plaintiff in Civil Case No. 1177 and even moved for execution of the compromise judgment therein. No renunciation of legitime may be presumed from the foregoing acts. It must be remembered that at the time of the substitution, the judgment approving the compromise agreement has already been rendered. Victor merely participated in the execution of the compromise judgment. He was not a party to the compromise agreement. More importantly, our law on succession does not countenance tacit repudiation of inheritance. Rather, it requires an express act on the part of the heir. Thus, under Article 1051 of Civil Code: The repudiation of an inheritance shall be made in a public or authentic instrument, or by petition presented to the court having jurisdiction over the testamentary or intestate proceedings.

15
Thus, when Victor substituted Leoncio in Civil Case No. 1177 upon the latter's death, his act of moving for execution of the compromise judgment cannot be considered an act of renunciation of his legitime. He was, therefore, not precluded or estopped from subsequently seeking the reduction of the donation, under Article 772. Nor are Victor's heirs, upon his death, precluded from doing so, as their right to do so is expressly recognized under Article 772, and also in Article 1053: If the heir should die without having accepted or repudiated the inheritance, his right shall be transmitted to his heirs. Be that as it may, we find merit in petitioner's other assignment of errors. Having ascertained this action as one for reduction of an inofficious donation, we cannot sustain the holding of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals that the applicable prescriptive period is thirty years, under Article 1141 of the Civil Code. The sense of both courts that this case is a "real action over an immovable" allots undue credence to private respondents' description of their complaint, as one for "Annulment of Documents, Reconveyance and Recovery of Possession of Property", which suggests the action to be, in part, a real action enforced by those with claim of title over the disputed land.1âwphi1.nêt Unfortunately for private respondents, a claim for legitime does not amount to a claim of title. In the recent case of Vizconde vs. Court of Appeals 14, we declared that what is brought to collation is not the donated property itself, but the value of the property at the time it was donated. The rationale for this is that the donation is a real alienation which conveys ownership upon its acceptance, hence, any increase in value or any deterioration or loss thereof is for the account of the heir or donee. 15 What, then, is the prescriptive period for an action for reduction of an inofficious donation? The Civil Code specifies the following instances of reduction or revocation of donations: (1) four years, in cases of subsequent birth, appearance, recognition or adoption of a child; 16 (2) four years, for non-compliance with conditions of the donation; 17 and (3) at any time during the lifetime of the donor and his relatives entitled to support, for failure of the donor to reserve property for his or their support. 18 Interestingly, donations as in the instant case, 19 the reduction of which hinges upon the allegation of impairment of legitime, are not controlled by a particular prescriptive period, for which reason we must resort to the ordinary rules of prescription. Under Article 1144 of the Civil Code, actions upon an obligation created by law must be brought within ten years from the time the right of action accrues. Thus, the ten-year prescriptive period applies to the obligation to reduce inofficious donations, required under Article 771 of the Civil Code, to the extent that they impair the legitime of compulsory heirs. From when shall the ten-year period be reckoned? The case of Mateo vs. Lagua, 29 SCRA 864, which involved the reduction for inofficiousness of a donation propter nuptias, recognized that the cause of action to enforce a legitime accrues upon the death of the donor-decedent. Clearly so, since it is only then that the net estate may be ascertained and on which basis, the legitimes may be determined. It took private respondents 24 years since the death of Leoncio to initiate this case. The action, therefore, has long prescribed. As for the trial court's holding that the defense of prescription had been waived, it not being one of the issues agreed upon at pre-trial, suffice it to say that while the terms of the pre-trial order bind the parties as to the matters to be taken up in trial, it would be the height of injustice for us to adhere to this technicality when the fact of prescription is manifest in the pleadings of the parties, as well as the findings of fact of the lower courts. 20 A perusal of the factual antecedents reveals that not only has prescription set in, private respondents are also guilty of estoppel by laches. It may be recalled that Leoncio died on January 8, 1962. Fifteen years later, Victor died, leaving as his sole heir Ricardo Villalon, who also died four years later. While Victor was alive, he gave no indication of any interest to contest the donation of his deceased father. As we have discussed earlier, the fact that he actively participated in Civil Case No. 1177 did not amount to a renunciation of his inheritance and does not preclude him from bringing an action to claim his legitime. These are matters that Victor could not possibly be unaware of, considering that he is a lawyer 21. Ricardo Villalon was even a lessee of a portion of the donated property, and could have instituted the action as sole heir of his natural son, or at the very least, raised the matter of legitime by way of counterclaim in an ejectment case 22 filed against him by petitioner in 1979. Neither does it help private respondents' cause that five years have elapsed since the death of Ricardo in 1981 before they filed their complaint with the RTC. Estoppel by laches is the failure or neglect for an unreasonable or unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, warranting a presumption that the person has abandoned his right or declined to assert it. 23 We find the necessity for the application of the principle of estoppel by laches in this case, in order to avoid an injustice. A final word on collation of donations. We observe that after finding the donation to be inofficious because Leoncio had no other property at the time of his death, the RTC computed the legitime of Victor based on the area of the donated property. Hence, in its dispositive portion, it awarded a portion of the property to private respondents as Victor's legitime. This was upheld by the Court of Appeals. Our rules of succession require that before any conclusion as to the legal share due to a compulsory heir may be reached, the following steps must be taken: (1) the net estate of the decedent must be ascertained, by deducting all the payable obligations and charges from the value of the property owned by the deceased at the time of his death; (2) the value of all donations subject to collation would be added to it. 24 Thus, it is the value of the property at the time it is donated, and not the property itself, which is brought to collation. Consequently, even when the donation is found inofficious and reduced to the extent that it impaired Victor's legitime, private respondents will not receive a corresponding share in the property donated. Thus, in this case where the collatable property is an immovable, what may be received is: (1) an equivalent, as much as possible, in property of the same nature, class and quality; 25 (2) if such is impracticable, the equivalent value of the impaired legitime in cash or marketable securities; 26 or (3) in the absence of cash or securities in the estate, so much of such other property as may be necessary, to be sold in public auction. 27 We believe this worth mentioning, even as we grant the petition on grounds of prescription and laches. ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 31976, affirming in toto the decision of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 7646, is reversed and set aside. No costs. G.R. No. 163707 September 15, 2006

MICHAEL C. GUY, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. SIXTO MARELLA, JR., Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 138, Makati City and minors, KAREN DANES WEI and KAMILLE DANES WEI, represented by their mother, REMEDIOS OANES, respondents. DECISION YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

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This petition for review on certiorari assails the January 22, 2004 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79742, which affirmed the Orders dated July 21, 20002 and July 17, 20033 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138 in SP Proc. Case No. 4549 denying petitioner's motion to dismiss; and its May 25, 2004 Resolution4 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration. The facts are as follows: On June 13, 1997, private respondent-minors Karen Oanes Wei and Kamille Oanes Wei, represented by their mother Remedios Oanes (Remedios), filed a petition for letters of administration5 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138. The case was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 4549 and entitled Intestate Estate of Sima Wei (a.k.a. Rufino Guy Susim). Private respondents alleged that they are the duly acknowledged illegitimate children of Sima Wei, who died intestate in Makati City on October 29, 1992, leaving an estate valued at P10,000,000.00 consisting of real and personal properties. His known heirs are his surviving spouse Shirley Guy and children, Emy, Jeanne, Cristina, George and Michael, all surnamed Guy. Private respondents prayed for the appointment of a regular administrator for the orderly settlement of Sima Wei's estate. They likewise prayed that, in the meantime, petitioner Michael C. Guy, son of the decedent, be appointed as Special Administrator of the estate. Attached to private respondents' petition was a Certification Against Forum Shopping6 signed by their counsel, Atty. Sedfrey A. Ordoñez. In his Comment/Opposition,7 petitioner prayed for the dismissal of the petition. He asserted that his deceased father left no debts and that his estate can be settled without securing letters of administration pursuant to Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court. He further argued that private respondents should have established their status as illegitimate children during the lifetime of Sima Wei pursuant to Article 175 of the Family Code. The other heirs of Sima Wei filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss8 on the ground that the certification against forum shopping should have been signed by private respondents and not their counsel. They contended that Remedios should have executed the certification on behalf of her minor daughters as mandated by Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court. In a Manifestation/Motion as Supplement to the Joint Motion to Dismiss,9 petitioner and his co-heirs alleged that private respondents' claim had been paid, waived, abandoned or otherwise extinguished by reason of Remedios' June 7, 1993 Release and Waiver of Claim stating that in exchange for the financial and educational assistance received from petitioner, Remedios and her minor children discharge the estate of Sima Wei from any and all liabilities. The Regional Trial Court denied the Joint Motion to Dismiss as well as the Supplemental Motion to Dismiss. It ruled that while the Release and Waiver of Claim was signed by Remedios, it had not been established that she was the duly constituted guardian of her minor daughters. Thus, no renunciation of right occurred. Applying a liberal application of the rules, the trial court also rejected petitioner's objections on the certification against forum shopping. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but was denied. He filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals which affirmed the orders of the Regional Trial Court in its assailed Decision dated January 22, 2004, the dispositive portion of which states: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present petition is hereby DENIED DUE COURSE and accordingly DISMISSED, for lack of merit. Consequently, the assailed Orders dated July 21, 2000 and July 17, 2003 are hereby both AFFIRMED. Respondent Judge is hereby DIRECTED to resolve the controversy over the illegitimate filiation of the private respondents (sic) minors [-] Karen Oanes Wei and Kamille Oanes Wei who are claiming successional rights in the intestate estate of the deceased Sima Wei, a.k.a. Rufino Guy Susim. SO ORDERED.10 The Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration, hence, this petition. Petitioner argues that the Court of Appeals disregarded existing rules on certification against forum shopping; that the Release and Waiver of Claim executed by Remedios released and discharged the Guy family and the estate of Sima Wei from any claims or liabilities; and that private respondents do not have the legal personality to institute the petition for letters of administration as they failed to prove their filiation during the lifetime of Sima Wei in accordance with Article 175 of the Family Code. Private respondents contend that their counsel's certification can be considered substantial compliance with the rules on certification of non-forum shopping, and that the petition raises no new issues to warrant the reversal of the decisions of the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals. The issues for resolution are: 1) whether private respondents' petition should be dismissed for failure to comply with the rules on certification of non-forum shopping; 2) whether the Release and Waiver of Claim precludes private respondents from claiming their successional rights; and 3) whether private respondents are barred by prescription from proving their filiation. The petition lacks merit. Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court provides that the certification of non-forum shopping should be executed by the plaintiff or the principal party. Failure to comply with the requirement shall be cause for dismissal of the case. However, a liberal application of the rules is proper where the higher interest of justice would be served. In Sy Chin v. Court of Appeals,11 we ruled that while a petition may have been flawed where the certificate of non-forum shopping was signed only by counsel and not by the party, this procedural lapse may be overlooked in the interest of substantial justice.12 So it is in the present controversy where the merits13 of the case and the absence of an intention to violate the rules with impunity should be considered as compelling reasons to temper the strict application of the rules. As regards Remedios' Release and Waiver of Claim, the same does not bar private respondents from claiming successional rights. To be valid and effective, a waiver must be couched in clear and unequivocal terms which leave no doubt as to the intention of a party to give up a right or benefit which legally pertains to him. A waiver may not be attributed to a person when its terms do not explicitly and clearly evince an intent to abandon a right.14 In this case, we find that there was no waiver of hereditary rights. The Release and Waiver of Claim does not state with clarity the purpose of its execution. It merely states that Remedios received P300,000.00 and an educational plan for her minor daughters "by way of financial assistance and in full settlement of any and all claims of whatsoever nature and kind x x x against the estate of the late Rufino Guy Susim."15 Considering that the document did not specifically mention private respondents' hereditary share in the estate of Sima Wei, it cannot be construed as a waiver of successional rights. Moreover, even assuming that Remedios truly waived the hereditary rights of private respondents, such waiver will not bar the latter's claim. Article 1044 of the Civil Code, provides: ART. 1044. Any person having the free disposal of his property may accept or repudiate an inheritance.

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Any inheritance left to minors or incapacitated persons may be accepted by their parents or guardians. Parents or guardians may repudiate the inheritance left to their wards only by judicial authorization. The right to accept an inheritance left to the poor shall belong to the persons designated by the testator to determine the beneficiaries and distribute the property, or in their default, to those mentioned in Article 1030. (Emphasis supplied) Parents and guardians may not therefore repudiate the inheritance of their wards without judicial approval. This is because repudiation amounts to an alienation of property16 which must pass the court's scrutiny in order to protect the interest of the ward. Not having been judicially authorized, the Release and Waiver of Claim in the instant case is void and will not bar private respondents from asserting their rights as heirs of the deceased. Furthermore, it must be emphasized that waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a known right. Where one lacks knowledge of a right, there is no basis upon which waiver of it can rest. Ignorance of a material fact negates waiver, and waiver cannot be established by a consent given under a mistake or misapprehension of fact.17 In the present case, private respondents could not have possibly waived their successional rights because they are yet to prove their status as acknowledged illegitimate children of the deceased. Petitioner himself has consistently denied that private respondents are his co-heirs. It would thus be inconsistent to rule that they waived their hereditary rights when petitioner claims that they do not have such right. Hence, petitioner's invocation of waiver on the part of private respondents must fail. Anent the issue on private respondents' filiation, we agree with the Court of Appeals that a ruling on the same would be premature considering that private respondents have yet to present evidence. Before the Family Code took effect, the governing law on actions for recognition of illegitimate children was Article 285 of the Civil Code, to wit: ART. 285. The action for the recognition of natural children may be brought only during the lifetime of the presumed parents, except in the following cases: (1) If the father or mother died during the minority of the child, in which case the latter may file the action before the expiration of four years from the attainment of his majority; (2) If after the death of the father or of the mother a document should appear of which nothing had been heard and in which either or both parents recognize the child. In this case, the action must be commenced within four years from the finding of the document. (Emphasis supplied) We ruled in Bernabe v. Alejo18 that illegitimate children who were still minors at the time the Family Code took effect and whose putative parent died during their minority are given the right to seek recognition for a period of up to four years from attaining majority age. This vested right was not impaired or taken away by the passage of the Family Code.19 On the other hand, Articles 172, 173 and 175 of the Family Code, which superseded Article 285 of the Civil Code, provide: ART. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following: (1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or (2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned. In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved by: (1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or (2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws. ART. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be brought by the child during his or her lifetime and shall be transmitted to the heirs should the child die during minority or in a state of insanity. In these cases, the heirs shall have a period of five years within which to institute the action. The action already commenced by the child shall survive notwithstanding the death of either or both of the parties. ART. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same, evidence as legitimate children. The action must be brought within the same period specified in Article 173, except when the action is based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which case the action may be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent. Under the Family Code, when filiation of an illegitimate child is established by a record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment, or an admission of filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument signed by the parent concerned, the action for recognition may be brought by the child during his or her lifetime. However, if the action is based upon open and continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child, or any other means allowed by the rules or special laws, it may only be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent. It is clear therefore that the resolution of the issue of prescription depends on the type of evidence to be adduced by private respondents in proving their filiation. However, it would be impossible to determine the same in this case as there has been no reception of evidence yet. This Court is not a trier of facts. Such matters may be resolved only by the Regional Trial Court after a full-blown trial. While the original action filed by private respondents was a petition for letters of administration, the trial court is not precluded from receiving evidence on private respondents' filiation. Its jurisdiction extends to matters incidental and collateral to the exercise of its recognized powers in handling the settlement of the estate, including the determination of the status of each heir.20 That the two causes of action, one to compel recognition and the other to claim inheritance, may be joined in one complaint is not new in our jurisprudence.21 As held in Briz v. Briz:22 The question whether a person in the position of the present plaintiff can in any event maintain a complex action to compel recognition as a natural child and at the same time to obtain ulterior relief in the character of heir, is one which in the opinion of this court must be answered in the affirmative, provided always that the conditions justifying the joinder of the two distinct causes of action are present in the particular case. In other words, there is no absolute necessity requiring that the action to compel acknowledgment should have been instituted and prosecuted to a successful conclusion prior to the action in which that same plaintiff seeks

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additional relief in the character of heir. Certainly, there is nothing so peculiar to the action to compel acknowledgment as to require that a rule should be here applied different from that generally applicable in other cases. x x x The conclusion above stated, though not heretofore explicitly formulated by this court, is undoubtedly to some extent supported by our prior decisions. Thus, we have held in numerous cases, and the doctrine must be considered well settled, that a natural child having a right to compel acknowledgment, but who has not been in fact acknowledged, may maintain partition proceedings for the division of the inheritance against his coheirs (Siguiong vs. Siguiong, 8 Phil., 5; Tiamson vs. Tiamson, 32 Phil., 62); and the same person may intervene in proceedings for the distribution of the estate of his deceased natural father, or mother (Capistrano vs. Fabella, 8 Phil., 135; Conde vs. Abaya, 13 Phil., 249; Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil., 855). In neither of these situations has it been thought necessary for the plaintiff to show a prior decree compelling acknowledgment. The obvious reason is that in partition suits and distribution proceedings the other persons who might take by inheritance are before the court; and the declaration of heirship is appropriate to such proceedings. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision dated January 22, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79742 affirming the denial of petitioner's motion to dismiss; and its Resolution dated May 25, 2004 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED. Let the records be REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138 for further proceedings. D. Executors and Administrators E. Collation G.R. No. L-46903 July 23, 1987

BUHAY DE ROMA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and FELICIDAD CARINGAL, as Guardian of Rosalinda de Roma, respondents. CRUZ, J.: Candelaria de Roma had two legally adopted daughters, Buhay de Roma and Rosalinda de Roma. She died intestate on April 30, 1971, and administration proceedings were instituted in the Court of First Instance of Laguna by the private respondent as guardian of Rosalinda. Buhay was appointed administratrix and in due time filed an inventory of the estate. This was opposed by Rosalinda on the ground that certain properties earlier donated by Candelaria to Buhay, and the fruits thereof, had not been included.1 The properties in question consisted of seven parcels of coconut land worth P10,297.50.2 There is no dispute regarding their evaluation; what the parties cannot agree upon is whether these lands are subject to collation. The private respondent rigorously argues that it is, conformably to Article 1061 of the Civil Code. Buhay, for her part, citing Article 1062, claims she has no obligation to collate because the decedent prohibited such collation and the donation was not officious. The two articles provide as follows: Article 1061. Every compulsory heir, who succeeds with other compulsory heirs, must bring into the mass of the estate any property or right which he may have received from the decedent during the lifetime of the latter, by way of donation, or any other gratuitous title, in order that it may be computed in the determination of the legitime of each heir, and in the account of the partition. Article 1062. Collation shall not take place among compulsory heirs if the donor should have so expressly provided, or if the donor should repudiate the inheritance, unless the donation should be reduced as inofficious. The issue was resolved in favor of the petitioner by the trial court,* which held that the decedent, when she made the donation in favor of Buhay, expressly prohibited collation. Moreover, the donation did not impair the legitimes of the two adopted daughters as it could be accommodated in, and in fact was imputed to, the free portion of Candelaria's estate.3 On appeal, the order of the trial court was reversed, the respondent court** holding that the deed of donation contained no express prohibition to collate as an exception to Article 1062. Accordingly, it ordered collation and equally divided the net estate of the decedent, including the fruits of the donated property, between Buhay and Rosalinda.4 The pertinent portions of the deed of donation are as follows: IKALAWA. Na alang-alang sa aking pagmamahal, pagtingin at pagsisilbi sa akin ng aking anak na si BUHAY DE ROMA, kasal kay Arabella Castaneda, may karampatang gulang, mamamayang Pilipino at naninirahan at may pahatirang-sulat din dito sa Lunsod ng San Pablo sa pamamagitan ng kasulatang ito ay kusangloob kong ibinibigay, ipinagkakaloob at inililipat sa nabanggit na BUHAY DE ROMA, sa kanyang mga kahalili at tagapagmana, sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay na di na mababawing muli, ang lahat ng mga lagay ng lupa na sinasabi sa itaas, sa ilalim ng kasunduan na ngayon pa ay siya na ang nagmamay-aring tunay ng mga lupang ito at kanya nang maaring ipalipat ang mga hoja declaratoria ng mga lupang ito sa kanyang pangalan, datapwa't samantalang ako ay nabubuhay, ay ako rin ang makikinabang sa mga mapuputi at mamomosesion sa mga nasabing lupa; IKATLO. Na pinagtibay ko na ako ay marami pang ibang mga pag-aari sa sapat pang aking ikabuhay at sa pagbibigay kong ito ay hindi masisira ang legitimate ng mga tao na dapat magmana sa akin, sapagkat ang mga lupang sinasabi sa itaas ay bahagui ng aking kabuhayan na ako ay may layang ipamigay kahit na kaninong tao na kung tawagin ay Libre Disposicion. 5 We agree with the respondent court that there is nothing in the above provisions expressly prohibiting the collation of the donated properties. As the said court correctly observed, the phrase "sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay na di na mababawing muli" merely described the donation as "irrevocable" and should not be construed as an express prohibition against collation.6 The fact that a donation is irrevocable does not necessarily exempt the subject thereof from the collation required under Article 1061. We surmise from the use of such terms as "legitime" and "free portion" in the deed of donation that it was prepared by a lawyer, and we may also presume he understood the legal consequences of the donation being made. It is reasonable to suppose, given the precise language of the document, that he would have included therein an express prohibition to collate if that had been the donor's intention. Anything less than such express prohibition will not suffice under the clear language of Article 1062.1awphil The suggestion that there was an implied prohibition because the properties donated were imputable to the free portion of the decedent's estate merits little consideration. Imputation is not the question here, nor is it claimed that the disputed donation is officious The sole issue is whether or not there was an express prohibition to collate, and we see none.

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The intention to exempt from collation should be expressed plainly and unequivocally as an exception to the general rule announced in Article 1062. Absent such a clear indication of that intention, we apply not the exception but the rule, which is categorical enough. There is no need to dwell long on the other error assigned by the petitioner regarding the decision of the appealed case by the respondent court beyond the 12-month period prescribed by Article X, Section 11 (1) of the 1973 Constitution. As we held in Marcelino v. Cruz,7 the said provision was merely directory and failure to decide on time would not deprive the corresponding courts of jurisdiction or render their decisions invalid. It is worth stressing that the aforementioned provision has now been reworded in Article VIII, Section 15, of the 1987 Constitution, which also impresses upon the courts of justice, indeed with greater urgency, the need for the speedy disposition of the cases that have been clogging their dockets these many years. Serious studies and efforts are now being taken by the Court to meet that need. WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED in toto, with costs against the petitioner. It is so ordered. G.R. No. L-65800 October 3, 1986 PARTENZA LUCERNA VDA. DE TUPAS, petitioner-appellant, vs. BRANCH XLIII of the HON. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, respondent, and TUPAS FOUNDATION, INC., private respondentappellee. Abraham D. Caña for petitioner-appellant. Jose R. Edis for private respondent-appellee.

NARVASA, J.: Involved in this appeal is the question of whether or not a donation inter vivos by a donor now deceased is inofficious and should be reduced at the instance of the donor's widow. Epifanio R. Tupas died on August 20, 1978 in Bacolod City, childless, leaving his widow, Partenza Lucerna, as his only surviving compulsory heir. He also left a win dated May 18, 1976, which was admitted to probate on September 30, 1980 in Special Proceedings No. 13994 of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. Among the assets listed in his will were lots Nos. 837, 838 and 839 of the Sagay Cadastre, admittedly his private capital. However, at the time of his death, these lots were no longer owned by him, he having donated them the year before (on August 2, 1977) to the Tupas Foundation, Inc., which had thereafter obtained title to said lots. Claiming that said donation had left her practically destitute of any inheritance, Tupas' widow brought suit against Tupas Foundation, Inc. in the same Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental (docketed as Civil Case No. 16089) to have the donation declared inofficious insofar as it prejudiced her legitime, therefore reducible " ... by one-half or such proportion as ... (might be deemed) justified ... and " ... the resulting deduction ... " restored and conveyed or delivered to her. The complaint also prayed for attorney's fees and such other relief as might be proper. The Trial Court did not see things her way. Upon the facts above stated, on which the parties stipulated, 1 said Court dismissed the complaint for lack of merit, rejecting her claim on several grounds, viz.: ... (1) Article 900 relied upon by plaintiff is not applicable because the properties which were disposed of by way of donation one year before the death of Epifanio Tupas were no longer part of his hereditary estate at the time of his death on August 20, 1978; (2) the donation properties were Epifanio's capital or separate estate; and (3) Tupas Foundation, Inc. being a stranger and not a compulsory heir, the donation inter vivos made in its favor was not subject to collation under Art. 106 1, C.C. 2 The Trial Court is in error on all counts and must be reversed. A person's prerogative to make donations is subject to certain limitations, one of which is that he cannot give by donation more than he can give by will (Art. 752, Civil Code). 3 If he does, so much of what is donated as exceeds what he can give by will is deemed inofficious and the donation is reducible to the extent of such excess, though without prejudice to its taking effect in the donor's lifetime or the donee's appropriating the fruits of the thing donated (Art. 771, Civil Code). Such a donation is, moreover, collationable that is, its value is imputable into the hereditary estate of the donor at the tune of his death for the purpose of determining the legitime of the forced or compulsory heirs and the freely disposable portion of the estate. This is true as well of donations to strangers as of gifts to compulsory heirs, although the language of Article 1061 of the Civil Code would seem to limit collation to the latter class of donations. And this has been held to be a longestablished rule in Liguez vs. Honorable Court of Appeals, et al., 4 where this Court said: ... Hence, the forced heirs are entitled to have the donation set aside in so far as inofficious: i.e., in excess of the portion of free disposal (Civil Code of 1889, Articles 636, 645), computed as provided in Articles 818 and 819, and bearing in mind that collationable gifts' under Article 818 should include gifts made not only in favor of the forced heirs, but even those made in favor of strangers, as decided by the Supreme Court of Spain in its decision of 4 May 1899 and 16 June 1902. So that in computing the legitimes, the value of the property donated to herein appellant, Conchita Liguez, should be considered part of the donor's estate. Once again, only the court of origin has the requisite data to determine whether the donation is inofficious or not. 5 The fact, therefore, that the donated property no longer actually formed part of the estate of the donor at the time of his death cannot be asserted to prevent its being brought to collation. Indeed, it is an obvious proposition that collation contemplates and particularly applies to gifts inter vivos. 6 The further fact that the lots donated were admittedly capital or separate property of the donor is of no moment, because a claim of inofficiousness does not assert that the donor gave what was not his, but that he gave more than what was within his power to give. Since it is clear that the questioned donation is collationable and that, having been made to a stranger (to the donor) it is, by law 7 chargeable to the freely disposable portion of the donor's estate, to be reduced insofar as inofficious, i.e., it exceeds said portion and thus impairs the legitime of the compulsory heirs, in order to find out whether it is inofficious or not, recourse must be had to the rules established by the Civil Code for the determination of the legitime and, by extension, of the disposable portion. These rules are set forth in Articles 908, 909 and 910 of the Code, on the basis of which the following step-by-step procedure has been correctly outlined: (1) determination of the value of the property which remains at the time of the testator's death; (2) determination of the obligations, debts, and charges which have to be paid out or deducted from the value of the property thus left;

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(3) the determination of the difference between the assets and the liabilities, giving rise to the hereditary estate; (4) the addition to the net value thus found, of the value, at the time they were made, of donations subject to collation; and (5) the determination of the amount of the legitimes by getting from the total thus found the portion that the law provides as the legitime of each respective compulsory heir. 8 Deducting the legitimes from the net value of the hereditary estate leaves the freely disposable portion by which the donation in question here must be measured. If the value of the donation at the time it was made does not exceed that difference, then it must be allowed to stand. But if it does, the donation is inofficious as to the excess and must be reduced by the amount of said excess. In this case, if any excess be shown, it shall be returned or reverted to the petitioner-appellant as the sole compulsory heir of the deceased Epifanio R. Tupas. For obvious reasons, this determination cannot now be made, as it requires appreciation of data not before this Court and may necessitate the production of evidence in the Court a quo. WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is reversed and petitioner-appellant Partenza Lucerna Vda. de Tupas is adjudged entitled to so much of the donated property in question, as may be found in excess of the freely disposable portion of the estate of Epifanio B. Tupas, determined in the manner above-indicated. Let the case be remanded to the Trial Court for further appropriate proceedings in accordance with this decision. C.A. No. 299 March 18, 1946

FELIX ADAN, plaintiff-appellant, vs. AGAPITO CASILI and VICTORIA ADAN, defendants-appellees. Cesareo A. Fabricante for appellant. Francisco Celebrando for appellees. OZAETA, J.: The plaintiff Felix Adan commenced this action in the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur against his sister Victoria Adan and the latter's husband, Agapito Casili, to secure the judicial partition of the estate left by their deceased mother, Simplicia Nepomuceno, alleged to consist of six parcels of land which are specifically described in the complaint. Parcels 1 and 3, however, were subsequently discarded, the first having been sold by the parties to the municipality of Libmanan, Camarines Sur, and the second being admittedly the property of Maria Adan, a half sister of the parties litigant. The remaining four parcels, referred to in the record as lots Nos. 2, 4, 5, and 6, are valued by both parties at P2,783.55. The defendants interposed the following defense: That the four lots in question were ceded by the deceased Simplicia Nepomuceno to her daughter Victoria Adan as her share of the inheritance; and that the plaintiff has received more than his share consisting of money, livestock, palay, and real property, namely: Expenses of the plaintiff as a student from 1918 to 1925 P8,000.00 Twelve carabaos received by the plaintiff from his mother, at P30 each 9;360.00 Three hundred cavans of palay, at P4.20 a cavan 1,260.00 Cash taken by the plaintiff from his mother in 1927 1,110.00 Two parcels of land bought by the plaintiff with money he received from his mother 1,220.00 The trial court found that the alleged donation by the deceased Simplicia Nepomuceno of the four parcels of land in question had not been duly proven, there being no written document to support it, and that therefore the said four parcels of land should be brought into collation. It also found that the alleged receipt by the plaintiff from his mother of P1,110 in cash and of P1,220 with which the plaintiff purchased the two parcels of land mentioned in defendants' answer, had not been satisfactorily proven. It found, however, that the plaintiff received from his mother during her lifetime various sums aggregating P3,000 for his expenses while studying surveying in Manila, one-half of which, or P1,500, should be brought into collation; that he also received or took from his mother twelve carabaos worth P30 a head, or P360, and 300 cavans of palay at P4.20 a cavan, or P1,260, all of which amounted to P3,120 — more than the value of the four parcels of land now in the possession of the defendants. Hence it absolved the defendants from the complaint without any finding as to costs. The plaintiff appealed from the judgment of the trial court and makes the following assignment of errors: 1. The lower court erred finding that it has been, sufficiently and satisfactorily proven (a) that the plaintiff and appellant took from the deceased Simplicia Nepomuceno three hundred (300) cavans of palay worth P4.20 a cavan; (b) that plaintiff and appellant appropriated to himself twelve carabaos belonging to said

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deceased the price of which is P30 per head; and (c) that plaintiff and appellant received the amount of three thousand pesos (P3,000) to support his studies in Manila as surveyor from 1918 to 1926. 2. The lower court erred in not giving any credit to the testimony of the witness for the plaintiff and appellant concerning the fruits or produce of one of the parcels, described as lot No. 4, of the estate in question. 3. The lower court erred in not declaring that the parcel described as lot No. 4 produced eight hundred (800) cavans of palay yearly. 4. The lower court erred in not including in its computation of the distributable inheritance the fruits or produce of lot No. 4 of the estate in question from the death of the deceased Simplicia Nepomuceno until the date of this suit. 5. The lower court erred in its determination of the hereditary estate divisible between the plaintiff and appellant and the defendants and appellees herein. We find the record that the plaintiff and appellant did not prove his contentions. He was supposed to know the facts of his case better than anybody else, and yet he did not testify in his own behalf. The only witness who testified in chief for the plaintiff was his own lawyer, Cesareo Fabricante, who limited himself to presenting copies of the tax declarations covering the parcels of land in question and to testifying as to the annual produce of No. 4, which he claimed was 800 cavans of palay a year. On the other hand, the defendant spouses both testified in their own behalf, and in addition to their testimony they called another witness named Sisenando Inocencio to corroborate their declaration regarding the appropriation by the plaintiff of twelve carabaos belonging to his deceased mother and of which the said witness was the caretaker. We find no competent evidence in the record to disprove or impeach the testimony of the defendants to the effect that the plaintiff took and received from his mother during the latter's lifetime P1,110 in cash and 300 cavans of palay in the manner and under the circumstances narrated by the defendant spouses as witnesses in their own behalf. The 300 cavans of palay was taken by the plaintiff from the granary of his mother in 1927. The cash consisting of twenty-peso and five-peso bills and amounting in all to P1,110 was taken by the plaintiff from his mother's trunk on an occasion when she suffered a collapse and when the plaintiff took some money from the same trunk with which to pay for injections. As we have said, the plaintiff did not testify to deny the testimony of the defendants. It is admitted in the brief for the plaintiff and appellant that the latter took 300 cavans of palay from his mother's granary, but it is claimed that said palay belonged to him. In the absence of plaintiff's testimony to support such claim, there is no basis upon which to sustain it. It was also proved during the trial that the plaintiff took possession of twelve carabaos belonging to his mother and that the value of said animals was P30 a head. It was also established during the trial that the plaintiff studied surveying in Manila and that during his studies his mother and sister sent him money for his support and expenses, amounting to approximately P500 a year. Although the defendants claim that his studies lasted from 1918 to 1925, we sustain the contention of the plaintiff and appellant in his brief that it took him only two years to finish the course of surveying, because it is a matter of common knowledge that surveying is a two-year course, and it is probable that the rest of the time was spent by him in acquiring a high-school education. Under the article 1041 of the Civil Code, allowances for support, education, attendance in illnesses, even though unusually expensive, apprenticeship, ordinary equipment, or customary presents are not subject to collation. But article 1042 of the same Code provides that expenses which may have been incurred by the parents in giving their children a professional or artistic career shall not be brought to collation unless the parent so orders or they encroach upon the legitimate. It also provides that in cases in which it is proper to collate them, the money which the child would have spent if it had lived in the house and company of its parents shall be deducted therefrom. Since the career of surveyor is a professional one, and since the expenses incurred by plaintiff's mother in giving him that career encroached upon the legitimate, it is proper to collate one-half of the amount spent by her for him during the two years he studied surveying, the other half being considered as the amount which the plaintiff would have spent if he had lived in the house and company of his mother. The claim of the plaintiff that parcel No. 4 described in the complaint produced 800 cavans of palay a year which he contends should form part of the estate, has not been established by competent evidence. The plaintiff claims that at the rate of 800 cavans a year parcel No. 4 produced from 1938 to 1943 a total of 3,200 cavans, which at P2.50 a cavan amounted to P8,000. Such claim seems to us highly exaggerated, considering that the value of said lot No. 4, as alleged by the plaintiff himself, was only P693.55. It seems to us unbelievable that a piece of land worth less than P700 could produce a net income of P8,000 in five years. The unfair exaggeration in which plaintiff and appellant indulges may be further noted from the fact that while he in his brief appraises the 300 cavans of palay taken by him at P1.50 a cavan, he values the 3,200 cavans of palay which he claims was produced by lot No. 4 at P2.50 a cavan. On the other hand, we find that the price of P4.20 a cavan claimed by the defendants for the 300 cavans of palay was also exaggerated. We accept the testimony of Pedro Fabricante, a rebuttal witness for the plaintiff, to the effect that in 1928 the price of palay in Libmanan oscillated from P1.20 to P2.20 a cavan, depending upon the season of the year in which the grain was sold. Since the plaintiff himself claimed that the price of palay in Libmanan was P2.50 a cavan, we accept the maximum price given by the witness Fabricante, to wit, P2.20, as the most reasonable. Summarizing the evidence, we find that the plaintiff has received from the estate of his mother the following: Cash P1,110.00 Twelve carabaos, at P30 a head 9;360.00 Three hundred cavans of palay, at P2.20 a cavan 660.00 Amount spent by the plaintiff's mother to give him a professional career, to wit, P1,000, of which one-half is collationable 500.00 Total

22

P2,630.00 The defendant Victoria Adan, on the other hand, received from her deceased mother the four parcels of land in question, the agreed value of which is P2,783.55. It was proven during the trial that she spent P300 for the funeral of the deceased, and deducting that sum from the value of the property she received would leave only P2,483.55 as her net share, which is less than that received by the plaintiff. Whatever produce the defendants may have obtained from the four parcels of land received by them must have been compensated more or less by the fruit or interest of the money and other property received by the plaintiff. It will be noted that, by a different process of reasoning, based upon our own independent study of the evidence, we arrive at the same result as that reached by the trial court, namely, that the plaintiff is not entitled to the relief he seeks. The judgment is affirmed, with costs. V. Partition and Distribution of the Estate A. Partition G.R. No. L-32344 March 31, 1930

VIVENCIO LEGASTO, special administrator of the Intestate estate of Sabina Almadin, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MARIA VERZOSA, ET AL, defendants-appellants. Felipe Agoncillo for appellants. Guevara, Francisco and Recto for appellee. VILLA-REAL, J.: This is an appeal taken by the defendants, Maria Verzosa et al., from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Laguna, the dispositive part whereof is as follows: Wherefore, the court hereby orders the defendants to deliver to the plaintiff, as administrator of the estate of Sabina Almadin, the parcels of land described in paragraph 7 of this amended complaints (reply) dated January 5, 1929, as said paragraph is amended on pages, excluding the lots described in certificates to title Nos. 6557, 6558 and 6559 of the Laguna registry of deeds, which are hereby declared to be the absolute property of Victoria Verzosa, wife to Jose Carasco. Without express pronouncement as to costs. In support of their appeal, the appellants assign the following alleged errors as committed by the court below in its decision, to wit: 1. he court below erred in ordering the defendants to make delivery of the property in litigation to the plaintiff as special administrator of the decedent Sabina Almadin's intestate estate. 2. The court below erred in holding that public instruments 2, 31, 42, and 73, are deeds of gift of the property in litigation made by Sabina Almadin to the defendants. 3. The court below erred in holding that said donation is void per se, inasmuch as it does not appear upon said documents that the defendants accepted and acknowledged it acceptance to the donor, Sabina Almadin. 4. The court below erred in denying the defendants' motion for a new trial. 5. The court below erred in failing to hold that the defendants are the sole and lawful owners of the property in litigation. The relevant facts proved at the trial which are essential to the solution of the questions raised by the instant appeal are as follows: On May 13, 1925, Sabina Almadin executed a will (Exhibit A-2), devising certain parcels of land belonging to her, to her four nieces, Maria Verzosa, Oliva Verzosa, Toribia Verzosa, and Ruperta Palma, daughters of her sister Catalina Almadin, designating the parcels to be given to each. On August 8, 1925, Sabina Almadin partitioned her property among her aforesaid sister and nieces, executing a deed to her niece, Maria Verzosa, assigning and making over to her three parcels of her land therein described (Exhibit 2). On September 23, 1925, Maria Verzosa and Sabina Almadin appeared before the deputy provincial assessor and municipal secretary of Biñan, Laguna, and made two sworn statements, Exhibits 3 and 5, wherein the former stated that she had purchased the parcels of land described in the assignment Exhibit 2, from Sabina Almadim, and the latter in turn declared that she had sold them to Maria Verzosa, and that said vendee had already claimed them as her property for the payment of the land tax. On the same day, August 8, 1925, Sabina Almadin executed a deed (Exhibit 31) in favor of her niece Oliva Verzosa, assigning to her two parcels of land described in said instrument, and on October 14, 1925, assignor and assignee appeared before the aforesaid deputy provincial assessor and municipality secretary of Biñan, Laguna, and subscribed two sworn statements (Exhibits 32 and 34), the former stating that she had sold the two parcels of land described in the deed of assignment, Exhibit 31, to the latter, and the latter in turn stating that she had purchased of the former the same parcels of land, the ownership of which has already been claimed by Oliva Verzosa by a tax declaration in her own name on September 25, and October 13, 1925, respectively. On the said day August 8, 1925, Sabina Almadin executed a deed, Exhibit 45, in favor of her niece Toribia Verzosa, assigning to her the four parcels of land therein described; and September 23, 1923, assignor and assignee appeared before the aforesaid deputy provincial assessor and municipal secretary of Biñan, Laguna, and subscribed a sworn statement, Exhibit 48, the former stating that she has sold to Toribia Verzosa the parcel of land described therein (Exhibit 45), bearing tax registry No. 9765, and the latter stating that she had purchased said parcel of the former and declared it to be her own property for the payment of the land tax. Again on the said day, August 8, 1925, Sabina Almadin executed a deed (Exhibit 73) to her niece Ruperta Palma assigning to her three parcels of land described therein; and on September 23, 1925, assignor and assignee appeared before the deputy provincial assessor and municipal secretary of Biñan, Laguna, and subscribed two sworn statements (Exhibit 74 and 76) wherein the former stated that she had sold to the latter the parcels of land described in the deed of assignment (Exhibit 73) and the latter stated that she had purchased said parcels of the former, and had declared them to be her own property for the payment of the land tax (Exhibits 75 and 77).

23

The assignees, Maria Verzosa, Toribia Verzosa, Oliva Verzosa, and Ruperta Palma, took possession of their respective parcels thus ceded by Sabina Almadin, and have to this day been cultivating them as exclusive owners thereof. Sabina Almadin passed away on February 22, 1926 and on March 12th the same year, her sister, Catalina Almadin, presented by Attorney Federico Marino, propounded her will, Exhibit A-2, mentioned above, for probate. By virtue of the decision rendered by the Court of First Instance of Laguna on December 22, 1926 (Exhibit A-4), affirmed by this court on appeal (Exhibit D), said will was not admitted to probate.1 Vivencio Legasto, then, the special administrator appointed by said Court of First Instance of Laguna to take charge of Sabina Almadin's estate, filed the complaint which originated this case, claiming the delivery of the parcels of land described in paragraph 7 of this aforesaid complaint as amended. The first question to decide in the instant appeal is whether the partition made by Sabina Almadin of her property among her nieces, the defendants and appellants herein, was valid enforceable. Article 1056 of the Civil Code Provides: ART. 1056. If the testator should make a partition of his property by an act inter vivos, or by will, such partition shall stand in so far as it does not prejudice the legitime of the forced heirs. The Supreme Court of Spain, in a decision rendered on June 13, 1903, laid down the following doctrine: Considering that the language of article 1056 cannot be interpreted to mean that a person may, by acts inter vivos, partition his property referred to in the section wherein said article is found, without the authority of a testament containing an expression of his last will, or the authority of law, for, otherwise, a partition thus made would be tantamount to making a will in a manner not provided for, authorized, nor included in the chapter referring to testaments, and especially, to the forms thereof, which is entirely different from the legal consequences of a free disposition made by parents during their lifetime, whereby they give to their children the whole or a part of their property; Considering that, inasmuch as the second paragraph of article 1271 makes reference to the aforesaid article, in providing that no contracts may be entered into with respect to future inheritances except those the object of which is to make a division inter vivos of the estate in accordance with article 1056, it is evident that said difference likewise leads to the conclusion that a partition thus made should be on the basis of a testemantary or legal succession and should be made a conformity with the fundamental rules thereof and the order of the heirs entitled to the estate, because neither of the two provisions could be given a wider meaning or scope than that they simply provide for the division of the estate during the lifetime of the owner, which, otherwise, would have to be done upon the death of the testator in order to carry into effect the partition of the estate among the persons interested. Manresa comments on the same article as follows: A distinction must be made between the disposition of property and its division; and the provision of article 1056 authorizing the testator to dispose of his property by acts inter vivos or by last will, must be understood in accordance with this distinction. The idea is to divide the estate among the heirs designated by the testator. This designation constitutes the disposition of the properties to take effect after his death, and said act must necessarily appear in the testament because it is the expression of the testator's last will and must be surrounded by appropriate formalities. Then comes the second part, to wit, the division in conformity with that disposition, and the testator may make this division in the same will or in another will, or by an act inter vivos. With these words the law, in article 1056 as well as in article 1057, which we shall hereafter examine, makes allusion to the forms or manner of making the partition and not to the effects thereof, which means that, for the purposes of partition the formal solemnities which must accompany every testament or last will are not necessary. Neither is it necessary to observe the special formalities required in case of donations, because it is not a matter of disposing gratuitously of properties, but of dividing those which already have been legally disposed of. It is thus seen that both the Spanish Supreme Court and the learned and authoritative commentator, Manresa, are of opinion that a testator may, by an act inter vivos, partition his property, but he must first make a will with all the formalities provided for by law. And it could not be otherwise, for without a will there can be no testator; when the law, therefore, speaks of the partition inter vivos made by a testator of his property, it necessarily refers to that property which he has devised to his heirs. A person who disposes of his property gratis inter vivos in not called a testator, but a donor. In employing the word "testator," the law evidently desired to distinguish between the one who freely donates his property in life and one who disposes of it by will to take effect his death. Sabina Almadin must have been aware of the necessity of a prior will, since before making the partition of her property among her nieces, the defendants herein, she executed a will giving to each of them the same parcels of land which she later transferred to them gratuitously. Now, then, section 625 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides: SEC. 625. Allowance necessary, and conclusive as to execution. — No will shall pass either the real or personal estate, unless it is proved and allowed in the Court of First Instance, or by appeal to the Supreme Court; and the allowance by the court of a will of real and personal estate shall be conclusive as to its due execution. As Sabina Almadin's will was disallowed for the reason that it did not contain all the essential requisites provided by law for its validity, can the aforesaid partition of her estate made by said testatrix among her nieces be deemed valid? Certainly not; for it is an indispensable condition precedent to a testator partitioning his estate inter vivos that he have made a valid will disposing of said estate among his heirs; and if this will be declared null and void, the partition made by the testator in pursuance of its provisions is likewise null and void, for where these provisions cease to exist, the partition made in conformity therewith also becomes null and void, as the cessation of the cause implies the cessation of the effect. And since Sabina Almadin's will is null and void for lack of the legal requisites, consequently, the partition which she made of her estate among her nieces the defendants-appellants herein, during her lifetime is likewise null and void. The second question to be decided is whether or not the conveyances made by Sabina Almadin of the parcels of land in litigation, in favor of her nieces, respectively, by virtue of the instruments Exhibits 2, 31, 47 and 73 can be considered valid and enforceable. Article 633 of the Civil Code provides that in order that a donation of real property be valid, it must be made by public instrument, in which the property donated must be specifically described, and that the acceptance may be made in the same deed of gift or in a separate instrument, but in the latter case notice thereof should be given the donor in due form, and a note to that effect inserted in both instruments. There is no question that the documents Exhibits 2, 31, 42, and 73 contain all the requisites for public instruments. However, they do not show the acceptance of the respective donees. It is contended that the sworn statements Exhibits 3, 5, 32, 34, 48, 74 and 76 signed by Sabina Almadin in which it appears that she has assigned to each of her nieces, respectively, the parcels of land in litigation, and wherein each of said nieces states that she has purchased the same parcels of land from her aunt Sabina Almadin, constitute a gift and an acceptance at the same time.

24
But it appears that said sworn statements before a sale and not to a gift and cannot, therefore, be considered as public instruments of gifts showing the acceptance of the donees. It is also contended that said sworn statements constitute separate deeds of acceptance; but even if that were so, there is still lacking the legal requisite of notification in due form to the donor of the donee's acceptance, and the annotation thereof in the deed of gift and in the instrument of acceptance. The formal notice calls for the agency of the same notary who authenticated the acceptance and he should under his authority make the annotation of said notice, as indicated (5 Manresa, pp. 120, 121). Furthermore, the aforesaid sworn statements are not deeds transferring title but mere acknowledgments made under oath of the fact of the transfer, required by the law in order that the provincial assessor may make the proper transfer of the tax declarations of the vendor to the vendee, where the transfer has not been recorded in the registry of deeds. In view of all the foregoing, we are of opinion and so hold: (1) That the partition made by a testator inter vivos in pursuance of a will which has been disallowed is null and void; and (2) that the gift of realty made in a public instrument which fails to show the acceptance, or wherein the formal notice of the acceptance is either not given to the donor or else not noted in the deed of gift and in the separate acceptance, is null and void. Wherefore, finding no error in the judgment appealed from, the same is hereby affirmed in its entirety, with costs against the appellants. So ordered. G.R. No. L-32344 March 31, 1930

VIVENCIO LEGASTO, special administrator of the Intestate estate of Sabina Almadin, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MARIA VERZOSA, ET AL, defendants-appellants. Felipe Agoncillo for appellants. Guevara, Francisco and Recto for appellee. VILLA-REAL, J.: This is an appeal taken by the defendants, Maria Verzosa et al., from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Laguna, the dispositive part whereof is as follows: Wherefore, the court hereby orders the defendants to deliver to the plaintiff, as administrator of the estate of Sabina Almadin, the parcels of land described in paragraph 7 of this amended complaints (reply) dated January 5, 1929, as said paragraph is amended on pages, excluding the lots described in certificates to title Nos. 6557, 6558 and 6559 of the Laguna registry of deeds, which are hereby declared to be the absolute property of Victoria Verzosa, wife to Jose Carasco. Without express pronouncement as to costs. In support of their appeal, the appellants assign the following alleged errors as committed by the court below in its decision, to wit: 1. he court below erred in ordering the defendants to make delivery of the property in litigation to the plaintiff as special administrator of the decedent Sabina Almadin's intestate estate. 2. The court below erred in holding that public instruments 2, 31, 42, and 73, are deeds of gift of the property in litigation made by Sabina Almadin to the defendants. 3. The court below erred in holding that said donation is void per se, inasmuch as it does not appear upon said documents that the defendants accepted and acknowledged it acceptance to the donor, Sabina Almadin. 4. The court below erred in denying the defendants' motion for a new trial. 5. The court below erred in failing to hold that the defendants are the sole and lawful owners of the property in litigation. The relevant facts proved at the trial which are essential to the solution of the questions raised by the instant appeal are as follows: On May 13, 1925, Sabina Almadin executed a will (Exhibit A-2), devising certain parcels of land belonging to her, to her four nieces, Maria Verzosa, Oliva Verzosa, Toribia Verzosa, and Ruperta Palma, daughters of her sister Catalina Almadin, designating the parcels to be given to each. On August 8, 1925, Sabina Almadin partitioned her property among her aforesaid sister and nieces, executing a deed to her niece, Maria Verzosa, assigning and making over to her three parcels of her land therein described (Exhibit 2). On September 23, 1925, Maria Verzosa and Sabina Almadin appeared before the deputy provincial assessor and municipal secretary of Biñan, Laguna, and made two sworn statements, Exhibits 3 and 5, wherein the former stated that she had purchased the parcels of land described in the assignment Exhibit 2, from Sabina Almadim, and the latter in turn declared that she had sold them to Maria Verzosa, and that said vendee had already claimed them as her property for the payment of the land tax. On the same day, August 8, 1925, Sabina Almadin executed a deed (Exhibit 31) in favor of her niece Oliva Verzosa, assigning to her two parcels of land described in said instrument, and on October 14, 1925, assignor and assignee appeared before the aforesaid deputy provincial assessor and municipality secretary of Biñan, Laguna, and subscribed two sworn statements (Exhibits 32 and 34), the former stating that she had sold the two parcels of land described in the deed of assignment, Exhibit 31, to the latter, and the latter in turn stating that she had purchased of the former the same parcels of land, the ownership of which has already been claimed by Oliva Verzosa by a tax declaration in her own name on September 25, and October 13, 1925, respectively. On the said day August 8, 1925, Sabina Almadin executed a deed, Exhibit 45, in favor of her niece Toribia Verzosa, assigning to her the four parcels of land therein described; and September 23, 1923, assignor and assignee appeared before the aforesaid deputy provincial assessor and municipal secretary of Biñan, Laguna, and subscribed a sworn statement, Exhibit 48, the former stating that she has sold to Toribia Verzosa the parcel of land described therein (Exhibit 45), bearing tax registry No. 9765, and the latter stating that she had purchased said parcel of the former and declared it to be her own property for the payment of the land tax. Again on the said day, August 8, 1925, Sabina Almadin executed a deed (Exhibit 73) to her niece Ruperta Palma assigning to her three parcels of land described therein; and on September 23, 1925, assignor and assignee appeared before the deputy provincial assessor and municipal secretary of Biñan, Laguna, and subscribed two sworn statements (Exhibit 74 and 76) wherein the former stated that she had sold to the latter the parcels of land described in the deed of assignment (Exhibit 73) and the latter stated that she had purchased said parcels of the former, and had declared them to be her own property for the payment of the land tax (Exhibits 75 and 77).

25
The assignees, Maria Verzosa, Toribia Verzosa, Oliva Verzosa, and Ruperta Palma, took possession of their respective parcels thus ceded by Sabina Almadin, and have to this day been cultivating them as exclusive owners thereof. Sabina Almadin passed away on February 22, 1926 and on March 12th the same year, her sister, Catalina Almadin, presented by Attorney Federico Marino, propounded her will, Exhibit A-2, mentioned above, for probate. By virtue of the decision rendered by the Court of First Instance of Laguna on December 22, 1926 (Exhibit A-4), affirmed by this court on appeal (Exhibit D), said will was not admitted to probate.1 Vivencio Legasto, then, the special administrator appointed by said Court of First Instance of Laguna to take charge of Sabina Almadin's estate, filed the complaint which originated this case, claiming the delivery of the parcels of land described in paragraph 7 of this aforesaid complaint as amended. The first question to decide in the instant appeal is whether the partition made by Sabina Almadin of her property among her nieces, the defendants and appellants herein, was valid enforceable. Article 1056 of the Civil Code Provides: ART. 1056. If the testator should make a partition of his property by an act inter vivos, or by will, such partition shall stand in so far as it does not prejudice the legitime of the forced heirs. The Supreme Court of Spain, in a decision rendered on June 13, 1903, laid down the following doctrine: Considering that the language of article 1056 cannot be interpreted to mean that a person may, by acts inter vivos, partition his property referred to in the section wherein said article is found, without the authority of a testament containing an expression of his last will, or the authority of law, for, otherwise, a partition thus made would be tantamount to making a will in a manner not provided for, authorized, nor included in the chapter referring to testaments, and especially, to the forms thereof, which is entirely different from the legal consequences of a free disposition made by parents during their lifetime, whereby they give to their children the whole or a part of their property; Considering that, inasmuch as the second paragraph of article 1271 makes reference to the aforesaid article, in providing that no contracts may be entered into with respect to future inheritances except those the object of which is to make a division inter vivos of the estate in accordance with article 1056, it is evident that said difference likewise leads to the conclusion that a partition thus made should be on the basis of a testemantary or legal succession and should be made a conformity with the fundamental rules thereof and the order of the heirs entitled to the estate, because neither of the two provisions could be given a wider meaning or scope than that they simply provide for the division of the estate during the lifetime of the owner, which, otherwise, would have to be done upon the death of the testator in order to carry into effect the partition of the estate among the persons interested. Manresa comments on the same article as follows: A distinction must be made between the disposition of property and its division; and the provision of article 1056 authorizing the testator to dispose of his property by acts inter vivos or by last will, must be understood in accordance with this distinction. The idea is to divide the estate among the heirs designated by the testator. This designation constitutes the disposition of the properties to take effect after his death, and said act must necessarily appear in the testament because it is the expression of the testator's last will and must be surrounded by appropriate formalities. Then comes the second part, to wit, the division in conformity with that disposition, and the testator may make this division in the same will or in another will, or by an act inter vivos. With these words the law, in article 1056 as well as in article 1057, which we shall hereafter examine, makes allusion to the forms or manner of making the partition and not to the effects thereof, which means that, for the purposes of partition the formal solemnities which must accompany every testament or last will are not necessary. Neither is it necessary to observe the special formalities required in case of donations, because it is not a matter of disposing gratuitously of properties, but of dividing those which already have been legally disposed of. It is thus seen that both the Spanish Supreme Court and the learned and authoritative commentator, Manresa, are of opinion that a testator may, by an act inter vivos, partition his property, but he must first make a will with all the formalities provided for by law. And it could not be otherwise, for without a will there can be no testator; when the law, therefore, speaks of the partition inter vivos made by a testator of his property, it necessarily refers to that property which he has devised to his heirs. A person who disposes of his property gratis inter vivos in not called a testator, but a donor. In employing the word "testator," the law evidently desired to distinguish between the one who freely donates his property in life and one who disposes of it by will to take effect his death. Sabina Almadin must have been aware of the necessity of a prior will, since before making the partition of her property among her nieces, the defendants herein, she executed a will giving to each of them the same parcels of land which she later transferred to them gratuitously. Now, then, section 625 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides: SEC. 625. Allowance necessary, and conclusive as to execution. — No will shall pass either the real or personal estate, unless it is proved and allowed in the Court of First Instance, or by appeal to the Supreme Court; and the allowance by the court of a will of real and personal estate shall be conclusive as to its due execution. As Sabina Almadin's will was disallowed for the reason that it did not contain all the essential requisites provided by law for its validity, can the aforesaid partition of her estate made by said testatrix among her nieces be deemed valid? Certainly not; for it is an indispensable condition precedent to a testator partitioning his estate inter vivos that he have made a valid will disposing of said estate among his heirs; and if this will be declared null and void, the partition made by the testator in pursuance of its provisions is likewise null and void, for where these provisions cease to exist, the partition made in conformity therewith also becomes null and void, as the cessation of the cause implies the cessation of the effect. And since Sabina Almadin's will is null and void for lack of the legal requisites, consequently, the partition which she made of her estate among her nieces the defendants-appellants herein, during her lifetime is likewise null and void. The second question to be decided is whether or not the conveyances made by Sabina Almadin of the parcels of land in litigation, in favor of her nieces, respectively, by virtue of the instruments Exhibits 2, 31, 47 and 73 can be considered valid and enforceable. Article 633 of the Civil Code provides that in order that a donation of real property be valid, it must be made by public instrument, in which the property donated must be specifically described, and that the acceptance may be made in the same deed of gift or in a separate instrument, but in the latter case notice thereof should be given the donor in due form, and a note to that effect inserted in both instruments. There is no question that the documents Exhibits 2, 31, 42, and 73 contain all the requisites for public instruments. However, they do not show the acceptance of the respective donees. It is contended that the sworn statements Exhibits 3, 5, 32, 34, 48, 74 and 76 signed by Sabina Almadin in which it appears that she has assigned to each of her nieces, respectively, the parcels of land in litigation, and wherein each of said nieces states that she has purchased the same parcels of land from her aunt Sabina Almadin, constitute a gift and an acceptance at the same time.

26
But it appears that said sworn statements before a sale and not to a gift and cannot, therefore, be considered as public instruments of gifts showing the acceptance of the donees. It is also contended that said sworn statements constitute separate deeds of acceptance; but even if that were so, there is still lacking the legal requisite of notification in due form to the donor of the donee's acceptance, and the annotation thereof in the deed of gift and in the instrument of acceptance. The formal notice calls for the agency of the same notary who authenticated the acceptance and he should under his authority make the annotation of said notice, as indicated (5 Manresa, pp. 120, 121). Furthermore, the aforesaid sworn statements are not deeds transferring title but mere acknowledgments made under oath of the fact of the transfer, required by the law in order that the provincial assessor may make the proper transfer of the tax declarations of the vendor to the vendee, where the transfer has not been recorded in the registry of deeds. In view of all the foregoing, we are of opinion and so hold: (1) That the partition made by a testator inter vivos in pursuance of a will which has been disallowed is null and void; and (2) that the gift of realty made in a public instrument which fails to show the acceptance, or wherein the formal notice of the acceptance is either not given to the donor or else not noted in the deed of gift and in the separate acceptance, is null and void. Wherefore, finding no error in the judgment appealed from, the same is hereby affirmed in its entirety, with costs against the appellants. So ordered. G.R. No. L-26855 April 17, 1989 FRANCISCO GARCIA, PAZ GARCIA, and MARIA GARCIA, petitioners, vs. JOSE CALALIMAN, PACIENCIA TRABADILLO & HON. COURT OF APPEALS, Third Division, respondents. Jose Gaton for petitioners. Ricardo Q. Castro for respondents.

PARAS, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision * of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 22179-R, promulgated on August 31, 1966, reversing the decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo ** in Civil Case No. 3489, and rendering a new one dismissing the complaint of petitioner herein, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed and another entered, dismissing plaintiff's complaint. No pronouncement as to costs. (p. 29 Rollo) The facts of the case are as follows: On February 11, 1946, one Gelacio Garcia died intestate, leaving a parcel of unregistered land about 372 sq. meters, situated in the Municipality of Tubungan, Province of Iloilo (Exhibits, p. 19). On his death the property was inherited by his nephews, nieces, grandnephews who are the descendants of his late brothers, Pedro, Simeon, Buenaventura and Marcos (TSN, Sept. 6,1956, p. 3). On December 3, 1954, the heirs, Juanita Bertomo, Joaquin Garcia, Porfirio Garcia, Dioscoro Garcia, Flora Garcia, Consolacion Garcia, Remedios Garcia, Trinidad Garcia, Baltazar Garcia signed a document entitled, "Extra-judicial Partition and Deed of Sale" (Exhibits, p. 19). The parcel of land subject of the document was described as follows: A parcel of residential land, about 372 square meters, lst class, Identified as Assessor's Lot No. 107, Block No. 8, bounded on the north by Paz and Federal Streets; on the south by Tabaosares and Antonia Tacalinar; on the East by Piedad Street; and on the West by Paz Street. This parcel of land has no concrete monuments to indicate its boundaries but there are dikes, stones and temporary fences used as landmarks and boundary signals. This parcel of land is covered by Tax Declaration No. 1149, S. of 1947, in the name of Gelacio Garcia, and its assessed value of P110.00. (p. 19, Exhibits) The last paragraph of the same document states: That for and in consideration of the sum of FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P500.00), Philippine Currency, to us in hand paid by the spouses, JOSE CALALIMAN, and PACIENCIA TRABADILLO, all of legal age, Filipinos and residents of the municipality of Tubungan, province of Iloilo, Philippines, receipt of which we hereby acknowledged and confessed to our entire satisfaction, do by these presents, cede, sell, convey and transfer the above-described parcel of land unto the said spouses, Jose Calaliman and Paciencia Trabadillo, their heirs, successors and assigns free from all liens and encumbrances whatever. (p. 19, Exhibits) The document was inscribed in the Register of Deeds of Iloilo on February 24,1955, Inscription No. 20814, Page 270, Vol. 64 (Exhibits, p. 20). On December 17, 1954 another group of heirs, Rosario Garcia, Margarita Garcia, Dolores Rufino, Resurreccion Tagarao, Serafin Tagarao, Buenaventura Tagarao, Fortunata Garcia and Simeon Garcia, all residents of Isabela, Negros Occidental, also sold to the spouses Jose Calaliman and Paciencia Trabadillo through their attorney-in-fact, Juanito Bertomo, their shares, rights, interest and participation in the same parcel of land. The Deed of Sale was registered in the Register of Deeds of Iloilo also on December 22, 1954, Inscription No. 20640, p. 88, Vol. 64 (Exhibits, p. 2122). On May 7, 1955 the heirs Francisco Garcia, Paz Garcia, and Maria Garcia, petitioners herein, filed against the spouses Jose Calaliman and Paciencia Trabadillo, private respondents herein, Civil Case No. 3489 with the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, for legal redemption of the 3/4 portion of the parcel of land inherited by the heirs from the late Gelacio Garcia, which portion was sold by their co-heirs to the defendants. In the complaint (Record on Appeal, p. 4) plaintiffs alleged, among others: 5. That, plaintiffs' co-owners had never offered for sale their interest and shares over the said land to the plaintiffs prior to the sale in favor of the defendants, nor given notice of such intention on their part; and that, no notice in writing has been given by said co-owners to the plaintiffs of the said sale, such that, plaintiffs came to learn of it only from other source; 6. That, plaintiffs would have purchased the interest and shares of their co-owners had the latter offered the same to them prior to the sale thereof to the defendants; and that, within 30 days after learning of the sale made to the defendants under annexes 'A', 'B' and 'B-l', plaintiffs made repeated offer to the defendants to allow them to redeem said interest and shares acquired by the defendants in accordance with the right granted to the plaintiffs by law in such a case, offering a reasonable price thereof of P300 taking into consideration the fact that the defendants had acquired only 3/4 of the land of 372 square meters more or less, in area with assessed

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value of P110 and a fair market value of 372 at Pl per square meter, the price actually obtaining in the locality at the time of the sale thereof under Annexes 'A', 'B' and 'B-l'; however, the defendants refused and have until the present refused to grant redemption thereof giving no reason why other than challenging the plaintiffs to bring their case in court: 7. That, the circumstances surrounding the transaction between the defendants and plaintiffs' co-owners, the vendors, were such that defendants could not have actually paid nor the vendors actually received the total price of P800 as stipulated in the deeds Annexes 'A', 'B' and 'B-l' while the said price fixed is grossly excessive and highly exaggerated and prohibitive for evidently ulterior motive: 8. That, the land herein described is an ancestral property and plaintiffs have actually a house standing thereon and having lived thereon ever since, such that, the defendants' refusal to allow redemption thereof has caused the plaintiffs mental torture, worry and anxiety, forcing them to litigate and retain services of counsel, therefore, plaintiffs demand against the defendants P500 for moral damage, P500 for exemplary damage, P300 for attorney's fees, aside from actual expenses incurred; and, furthermore, P5 monthly as reasonable value of defendants' occupation of a portion of the premises counting from the filing of this complaint. They prayed that the trial court render judgment: 1. Declaring the plaintiffs to be entitled to redeem from the defendants for the price of P300 or for such reasonable price as may be determined by this Honorable Court the interest and shares over the land described in this complaint of plaintiffs' co-owners, Joaquin, Porfirio, Flora, Dioscoro, Consolacion, Remedios, Trinidad, Baltazar, Rosario, Margarita, Dolores, Fortunata and Simon, all surnamed Garcia, and Resurreccion, Serafin and Buenaventura, all surnamed Tagarao, sold by them to the defendants under the deeds of sale Annexes 'A', 'B' and 'B-l' of this complaint; and ordering the defendants to execute the proper instrument of reconveyance or redemption thereof in favor of the plaintiffs; and, ordering them to vacate the premises; 2. Condemning the defendants to pay to the plaintiffs P500 for moral damage; P500 for exemplary damage; P300 for attorney's fees and actual expenses incurred; P5 monthly from the filing of this complaint as reasonable value of defendants' occupation of a portion of the land; the costs of this action; and, for such other relief and remedy as may be legal, just and equitable." On the other hand, the defendants, private respondents herein, alleged in their answer the following special affirmative defenses (Record on Appeal, p. 14): 1. That plaintiffs have no cause of action against the herein defendants; 2. That due notices in writing have been sent to plaintiff Francisco Garcia at his residence at 2875 Felix Huertas St., Sta. Cruz, Manila, sometime last June 1953, in which plaintiff Francisco Garcia was informed of his co-owners signified intention to sell their shares, and likewise, the other plaintiffs Paz and Maria Garcia were personally notified of the same hence, for that reason, they are now barred to claim legal redemption of the land in question, having filed their belated claim too late." The trial court rendered judgment on September 12, 1957 in favor of the plaintiffs (Record on Appeal, p. 15), the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: (a) Sentencing the defendants to resell the property to the plaintiffs for P800.00 which is the total consideration of the two deeds of sale Exhibits A and B; (b) In the event that the defendants fail to execute the deed of resale within ten days from the date this decision becomes final, the Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to execute the corresponding deed pursuant to the provisions of Section 10 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court; (c) Without pronouncement as to costs. On October 14, 1957 plaintiffs filed their notice of Appeal predicated on "(a) failure of the Court to adjudge the real or reasonable price of the sale or otherwise the redemption value thereof; (b) failure of the Court to adjudge damages including attorney's fees in favor of the plaintiffs and the costs." (Record on Appeal, p. 18). Defendants filed their own notice of appeal on October 15, 1957 (Record on Appeal, p. 19). On appeal the Court of Appeals in a decision promulgated on August 31, 1966 reversed the decision of the trial court and rendered another one dismissing plaintiff's complaint with no pronouncement as to costs (Rollo, p. 22). The instant petition for review by certiorari was filed with the Court on December 12, 1966 (Rollo, p. 11). The Court at first dismissed the petition in a resolution dated December 22, 1966, for insufficient supporting papers (Rollo, p. 35) but reconsidered the said Resolution of Dismissal later in a Resolution dated February 8, 1967 (Rollo, p. 97) as prayed for in a motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners on February 1, 1967 (Rollo, p. 38). The same Resolution of February 8, 1967 gave due course to the petition. The Brief for the Petitioners was filed on June 9,1967 (Rollo, p. 106); the Brief for the Respondents was received in the Court on August 31, 1967 (Rollo, p. 119). Petitioners having manifested they would not file reply brief on September 14,1967 (Rollo, p. 122) the Court considered the case submitted for decision, in a Resolution dated September 21, 1967 (Rollo, p. 124). Petitioners assign the following errors: I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE 30-DAY PERIOD PRESCRIBED IN ARTICLE 1088 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE FOR A CO-HEIR TO EXERCISE HIS RIGHT OF LEGAL REDEMPTION, HAD ALREADY ELAPSED WHEN THE HEREIN PLAINTIFFS FILED THE ACTION ON MAY 7,1955. II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THERE WAS NO OFFER TO REIMBURSE THE DEFENDANTS FOR THE PORTION OF THE LAND IN QUESTION SOLD TO THEM BY THE CO-HEIRS OF THE PLAINTIFFS. III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN REVERSING THE JUDGMENT OF THE LOWER COURT, AND IN NOT ADJUDGING DAMAGES, ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS IN FAVOR OF THE PLAINTIFFS. (Brief for the Petitioners, p. 1) There is no question that the provision of law applicable in the instant case is Art. 1088 of the New Civil Code (Art. 1067, Old Civil Code) as the matter concerns heirs and inheritance not yet distributed (Wenceslao v. Calimon, 46 Phil. 906 [1923]). Art. 1088 states:

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Article 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger before the partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him for the price of the sale, provided they do so within the period of one month from the time they were notified in writing of the sale by the vendor. The main issue is whether or not petitioners took all the necessary steps to effectuate their exercise of the right of legal redemption within the period fixed by Art. 1088 of the Civil Code. It is undisputed that no notification in writing was ever received by petitioners about the sale of the hereditary interest of some of their co-heirs in the parcel of land they inherited from the late Gelacio Garcia, although in a letter dated June 23, 1953 petitioner Francisco Garcia wrote one of his co- heirs, Joaquin Garcia, who is an uncle of petitioners, proposing to buy the hereditary interests of his co-heirs in their unpartitioned inheritance, (Exhibit, p. 3). Although said petitioner asked that his letter be answered "in order that I will know the results of what I have requested you," (Exhibit, p. 14) there is no proof that he was favored with one. Petitioners came to know that their co-heirs were selling the property on December 3, 1954 when one of the heirs, Juanito Bertomo, asked Petitioner Paz Garcia to sign a document prepared in the Municipality of Tubungan because the land they inherited was going to be sold to private respondent, Jose Calaliman (TSN, September 6, 1957, p. 60). The document mentioned by petitioner Paz Garcia could be no other than the one entitled "Extra-Judicial Partition and Deed of Sale" dated December 3, 1954 as it is in this document that the name of Paz Garcia, Maria Garcia and Amado Garcia appear unsigned by them (Exhibits, p. 19). It is not known whether the other heirs whose names appear in the document had already signed the document at the time Paz Garcia was approached by Juanito Bertomo. Paz Garcia, however, testified that she immediately informed her brother Francisco that Juanita Bertomo wanted to sell the land to Jose Calaliman (TSN, September 6,1957, p. 62). On December 26, 1954 he wrote respondents giving them notice of his desire to exercise the right of legal redemption and that he will resort to court action if denied the right (Exhibits, p. 8). The respondents received the letter on January 13, 1955 but petitioner Francisco Garcia did not get any answer from them. Neither did respondents show him a copy of the document of sale nor inform him about the price they paid for the sale when he went home to Tubungan from Manila sometime in March 1955 and went to see the respondent spouse about the matter on March 24,1955 (TSN, September 6,1957, p. 18). Because of the refusal of respondent Jose Calaliman to show him the document of sale or reveal to him the price paid for the parcel of land, petitioner Francisco Garcia went to the Office of the Register of Deeds on the same date, March 24,1955 and there found two documents of sale regarding the same parcel of land (TSN, Ibid, p. 19). Petitioners filed the case for legal redemption with the trial court on May 7, 1955. Respondents claim that the 30-day period prescribed in Article 1088 of the New Civil Code for petitioners to exercise the right to legal redemption had already elapsed at that time and that the requirement of Article 1088 of the New Civil Code that notice would be in writing is deemed satisfied because written notice would be superfluous, the purpose of the law having been fully served when petitioner Francisco Garcia went to the Office of the Register of Deeds and saw for himself, read and understood the contents of the deeds of sale (Brief for respondents, p. 6). The issue has been squarely settled in the case of Castillo v. Samonte, where this Court observed: Both the letter and spirit of the new Civil Code argue against any attempt to widen the scope of the notice specified in Article 1088 by including therein any other kind of notice, such as verbal or by registration. If the intention of the law had been to include verbal notice or any other means of information as sufficient to give the effect of this notice, then there would have been no necessity or reasons to specify in Article 1088 of the New Civil Code that the said notice be made in writing for, under the old law, a verbal notice or information was sufficient (106 Phil. 1023 [1960]). In the above-quoted decision the Court did not consider the registration of the deed of sale with the Register of Deeds sufficient notice, most specially because the property involved was unregistered land, as in the instant case. The Court took note of the fact that the registration of the deed of sale as sufficient notice of a sale under the provision of Section 51 of Act No. 496 applies only to registered lands and has no application whatsoever to a case where the property involved is, admittedly, unregistered land. Consistent with aforesaid ruling, in the interpretation of a related provision (Article 1623 of the New Civil Code) this Court had stressed that written notice is indispensable, actual knowledge of the sale acquired in some other manners by the redemptioner, notwithstanding. He or she is still entitled to written notice, as exacted by the Code, to remove all uncertainty as to the sale, its terms and its validity, and to quiet any doubt that the alienation is not definitive. The law not having provided for any alternative, the method of notifications remains exclusive, though the Code does not prescribe any particular form of written notice nor any distinctive method for written notification of redemption (Conejero et al. v. Court of Appeals et al., 16 SCRA 775 [1966]; Etcuban v. Court of Appeals, 148 SCRA 507 [1987]; Cabrera v. Villanueva, G.R. No. 75069, April 15,1988). Petitioners fault the appellate court in not awarding them damages, attorney's fees and costs. After finding in favor of respondent spouses and against petitioners herein it is untenable for petitioners to expect that the appellate court would award damages and attorney's fees and costs. However as already discussed, petitioners have not lost their right to redeem, for in the absence of a written notification of the sale by the vendors, the 30-day period has not even begun to run. Petitioners clearly can claim attorney's fees for bad faith on the part of respondents, first, for refusing redemption, and secondly for declaring the entire land as theirs, although they knew some heirs had not sold their shares. PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and the decision of the trial court is REINSTATED with the modification that petitioners be awarded damages, attorney's fees and costs in the amount prayed for. G.R. No. L-24561 June 30, 1970 MARINA DIZON-RIVERA, executrix-appellee, vs. ESTELA DIZON, TOMAS V. DIZON, BERNARDITA DIZON, JOSEFINA DIZON, ANGELINA DIZON and LILIA DIZON, oppositors-appellants. Punzalan, Yabut & Eusebio for executrix-appellee. Leonardo Abola for oppositors-appellants.

TEEHANKEE, J.: Appeal from orders of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga approving the Executrix-appellee's project of partition instead of Oppositors-Appellants' proposed counter-project of partition. 1 On January 28, 1961, the testatrix, Agripina J. Valdez, a widow, died in Angeles, Pampanga, and was survived by seven compulsory heirs, to wit, six legitimate children named Estela Dizon, Tomas V. Dizon, Bernardita Dizon, Marina Dizon (herein executrix-appellee), Angelina Dizon and Josefina Dizon, and a legitimate

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granddaughter named Lilia Dizon, who is the only legitimate child and heir of Ramon Dizon, a pre-deceased legitimate son of the said decedent. Six of these seven compulsory heirs (except Marina Dizon, the executrix-appellee) are the oppositors-appellants. The deceased testatrix left a last will executed on February 2, 1960 and written in the Pampango dialect. Named beneficiaries in her will were the above-named compulsory heirs, together with seven other legitimate grandchildren, namely Pablo Rivera, Jr., Gilbert D. Garcia, Cayetano Dizon, Francisco Rivera, Agripina Ayson, Jolly Jimenez and Laureano Tiambon. In her will, the testatrix divided, distributed and disposed of all her properties appraised at P1,801,960.00 (except two small parcels of land appraised at P5,849.60, household furniture valued at P2,500.00, a bank deposit in the sum of P409.95 and ten shares of Pampanga Sugar Development Company valued at P350.00) among her above-named heirs. Testate proceedings were in due course commenced 2 and by order dated March 13, 1961, the last will and testament of the decedent was duly allowed and admitted to probate, and the appellee Marina Dizon-Rivera was appointed executrix of the testatrix' estate, and upon her filing her bond and oath of office, letters testamentary were duly issued to her. After the executrix filed her inventory of the estate, Dr. Adelaido Bernardo of Angeles, Pampanga was appointed commissioner to appraise the properties of the estate. He filed in due course his report of appraisal and the same was approved in toto by the lower court on December 12, 1963 upon joint petition of the parties. The real and personal properties of the testatrix at the time of her death thus had a total appraised value of P1,811,695.60, and the legitime of each of the seven compulsory heirs amounted to P129,362.11. 3 (¹/7 of the half of the estate reserved for the legitime of legitimate children and descendants). 4 In her will, the testatrix "commanded that her property be divided" in accordance with her testamentary disposition, whereby she devised and bequeathed specific real properties comprising practically the entire bulk of her estate among her six children and eight grandchildren. The appraised values of the real properties thus respectively devised by the testatrix to the beneficiaries named in her will, are as follows: 1. Estela Dizon ....................................... P 98,474.80 2. Angelina Dizon .................................. 106,307.06 3. Bernardita Dizon .................................. 51,968.17 4. Josefina Dizon ...................................... 52,056.39 5. Tomas Dizon ....................................... 131,987.41 6. Lilia Dizon .............................................. 72,182.47 7. Marina Dizon ..................................... 1,148,063.71 8. Pablo Rivera, Jr. ...................................... 69,280.00 9. Lilia Dizon, Gilbert Garcia, Cayetano Dizon, Francisco Rivera, Agripina Ayson, Dioli or Jolly Jimenez, Laureano Tiamzon ................. 72,540.00 Total Value ...................... P1,801,960.01 The executrix filed her project of partition dated February 5, 1964, in substance adjudicating the estate as follows: (1) with the figure of P129,254.96 as legitime for a basis Marina (exacultrix-appellee) and Tomas (appellant) are admittedly considered to have received in the will more than their respective legitime, while the rest of the appellants, namely, Estela, Bernardita, Angelina, Josefina and Lilia received less than their respective legitime; (2) thus, to each of the latter are adjudicated the properties respectively given them in the will, plus cash and/or properties, to complete their respective legitimes to P129,254.96; (3) on the other hand, Marina and Tomas are adjudicated the properties that they received in the will less the cash and/or properties necessary to complete the prejudiced legitime mentioned in number 2 above; (4) the adjudications made in the will in favor of the grandchildren remain untouched.<äre||anº•1àw> On the other hand oppositors submitted their own counter-project of partition dated February 14, 1964, wherein they proposed the distribution of the estate on the following basis: (a) all the testamentary dispositions were proportionally reduced to the value of one-half (½) of the entire estate, the value of the said one-half (½) amounting to P905,534.78; (b) the shares of the Oppositors-Appellants should consist of their legitime, plus the devises in their favor proportionally reduced; (c) in payment of the total shares of the appellants in the entire estate, the properties devised to them plus other properties left by the Testatrix and/or cash are adjudicated to them; and (d) to the grandchildren who are not compulsory heirs are adjudicated the properties respectively devised to them subject to reimbursement by Gilbert D. Garcia, et al., of the sums by which the devise in their favor should be proportionally reduced. Under the oppositors' counter-project of partition, the testamentary disposition made by the testatrix of practically her whole estate of P1,801,960.01, as above stated, were proposed to be reduced to the amounts set forth after the names of the respective heirs and devisees totalling one-half thereof as follows: 1. Estela Dizon ........................................... P 49,485.56 2. Angelina Dizon ......................................... 53,421.42 3. Bernardita Dizon ....................................... 26,115.04 4. Josefina Dizon .......................................... 26,159.38 5. Tomas V. Dizon ......................................... 65,874.04 6. Lilia Dizon .................................................. 36,273.13 7. Marina Dizon ........................................... 576,938.82 8. Pablo Rivera, Jr. ......................................... 34,814.50 9. Grandchildren Gilbert Garcia et al .......... 36,452.80 T o t a l ................................................... P905,534.78 while the other half of the estate (P905,534.78) would be deemed as constituting the legitime of the executrix-appellee and oppositors-appellants, to be divided among them in seven equal parts of P129,362.11 as their respective legitimes. The lower court, after hearing, sustained and approved the executrix' project of partition, ruling that "(A)rticles 906 and 907 of the New Civil Code specifically provide that when the legitime is impaired or prejudiced, the same shall be completed and satisfied. While it is true that this process has been followed and adhered to in the two projects of partition, it is observed that the executrix and the oppositors differ in respect to the source from which the portion or portions shall be taken

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in order to fully restore the impaired legitime. The proposition of the oppositors, if upheld, will substantially result in a distribution of intestacy, which is in controversion of Article 791 of the New Civil Code" adding that "the testatrix has chosen to favor certain heirs in her will for reasons of her own, cannot be doubted. This is legally permissible within the limitation of the law, as aforecited." With reference to the payment in cash of some P230,552.38, principally by the executrix as the largest beneficiary of the will to be paid to her five co-heirs, the oppositors (excluding Tomas Dizon), to complete their impaired legitimes, the lower court ruled that "(T)he payment in cash so as to make the proper adjustment to meet with the requirements of the law in respect to legitimes which have been impaired is, in our opinion, a practical and valid solution in order to give effect to the last wishes of the testatrix." From the lower court's orders of approval, oppositors-appellants have filed this appeal, and raise anew the following issues: . 1. Whether or not the testamentary dispositions made in the testatrix' will are in the nature of devises imputable to the free portion of her estate, and therefore subject to reduction; 2. Whether the appellants are entitled to the devise plus their legitime under Article 1063, or merely to demand completion of their legitime under Article 906 of the Civil Code; and 3. Whether the appellants may be compelled to accept payment in cash on account of their legitime, instead of some of the real properties left by the Testatrix; which were adversely decided against them in the proceedings below. The issues raised present a matter of determining the avowed intention of the testatrix which is "the life and soul of a will." 5 In consonance therewith, our Civil Code included the new provisions found in Articles 788 and 791 thereof that "(I)f a testamentary disposition admits of different interpretations, in case of doubt, that interpretation by which the disposition is to be operative shall be preferred" and "(T)he words of a will are to receive an interpretation which will give to every expression some effect, rather than one which will render any of the expressions inoperative; and of two modes of interpreting a will, that is to be preferred which will prevent intestacy." In Villanueva vs. Juico 6 for violation of these rules of interpretation as well as of Rule 123, section 59 of the old Rules of Court, 7 the Court, speaking through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, overturned the lower court's decision and stressed that "the intention and wishes of the testator, when clearly expressed in his will, constitute the fixed law of interpretation, and all questions raised at the trial, relative to its execution and fulfillment, must be settled in accordance therewith, following the plain and literal meaning of the testator's words, unless it clearly appears that his intention was otherwise." 8 The testator's wishes and intention constitute the first and principal law in the matter of testaments, and to paraphrase an early decision of the Supreme Court of Spain, 9 when expressed clearly and precisely in his last will amount to the only law whose mandate must imperatively be faithfully obeyed and complied with by his executors, heirs and devisees and legatees, and neither these interested parties nor the courts may substitute their own criterion for the testator's will. Guided and restricted by these fundamental premises, the Court finds for the appellee. 1. Decisive of the issues at bar is the fact that the testatrix' testamentary disposition was in the nature of a partition of her estate by will. Thus, in the third paragraph of her will, after commanding that upon her death all her obligations as well as the expenses of her last illness and funeral and the expenses for probate of her last will and for the administration of her property in accordance with law, be paid, she expressly provided that "it is my wish and I command that my property be divided" in accordance with the dispositions immediately thereafter following, whereby she specified each real property in her estate and designated the particular heir among her seven compulsory heirs and seven other grandchildren to whom she bequeathed the same. This was a valid partition 10 of her estate, as contemplated and authorized in the first paragraph of Article 1080 of the Civil Code, providing that "(S)hould a person make a partition of his estate by an act inter vivos or by will, such partition shall be respected, insofar as it does not prejudice the legitime of the compulsory heirs." This right of a testator to partition his estate is subject only to the right of compulsory heirs to their legitime. The Civil Code thus provides the safeguard for the right of such compulsory heirs: ART. 906. Any compulsory heir to whom the testator has left by any title less than the legitime belonging to him may demand that the same be fully satisfied. ART. 907. Testamentary dispositions that impair or diminish the legitime of the compulsory heirs shall be reduced on petition of the same, insofar as they may be inofficious or excessive. This was properly complied with in the executrix-appellee's project of partition, wherein the five oppositors-appellants namely Estela, Bernardita, Angelina, Josefina and Lilia, were adjudicated the properties respectively distributed and assigned to them by the testatrix in her will, and the differential to complete their respective legitimes of P129,362.11 each were taken from the cash and/or properties of the executrix-appellee, Marina, and their co-oppositor-appellant, Tomas, who admittedly were favored by the testatrix and received in the partition by will more than their respective legitimes. 2. This right of a testator to partition his estate by will was recognized even in Article 1056 of the old Civil Code which has been reproduced now as Article 1080 of the present Civil Code. The only amendment in the provision was that Article 1080 "now permits any person (not a testator, as under the old law) to partition his estate by act inter vivos." 11 This was intended to repeal the then prevailing doctrine 12 that for a testator to partition his estate by an act inter vivos, he must first make a will with all the formalities provided by law. Authoritative commentators doubt the efficacy of the amendment 13 but the question does not here concern us, for this is a clear case of partition by will, duly admitted to probate, which perforce must be given full validity and effect. Aside from the provisions of Articles 906 and 907 above quoted, other codal provisions support the executrix-appellee's project of partition as approved by the lower court rather than the counter-project of partition proposed by oppositors-appellants whereby they would reduce the testamentary disposition or partition made by the testatrix to one-half and limit the same, which they would consider as mere devises or legacies, to one-half of the estate as the disposable free portion, and apply the other half of the estate to payment of the legitimes of the seven compulsory heirs. Oppositors' proposal would amount substantially to a distribution by intestacy and pro tanto nullify the testatrix' will, contrary to Article 791 of the Civil Code. It would further run counter to the provisions of Article 1091 of the Civil Code that "(A) partition legally made confers upon each heir the exclusive ownership of the property adjudicated to him." 3. In Habana vs. Imbo, 14 the Court upheld the distribution made in the will of the deceased testator Pedro Teves of two large coconut plantations in favor of his daughter, Concepcion, as against adverse claims of other compulsory heirs, as being a partition by will, which should be respected insofar as it does not prejudice the legitime of the compulsory heirs, in accordance with Article 1080 of the Civil Code. In upholding the sale made by Concepcion to a stranger of the plantations thus partitioned in her favor in the deceased's will which was being questioned by the other compulsory heirs, the Court ruled that "Concepcion Teves by operation of law, became the absolute owner of said lots because 'A partition legally made confers upon each heir the exclusive ownership of the property adjudicated to him' (Article 1091, New Civil Code), from the death of her ancestors, subject to rights and obligations of the latter, and, she can not be deprived of her rights thereto except by the methods provided for by law (Arts. 657, 659, and 661, Civil Code). 15 Concepcion Teves could, as she did, sell the lots in question as part of her share of the proposed partition of the properties, especially when, as in the present case, the sale has been expressly recognized by herself and her co-heirs ..." 4. The burden of oppositors' contention is that the testamentary dispositions in their favor are in the nature of devises of real property, citing the testatrix' repeated use of the words "I bequeath" in her assignment or distribution of her real properties to the respective heirs. From this erroneous premise, they proceed to the equally erroneous conclusion that "the legitime of the compulsory heirs passes to them by operation of law and that the testator can only dispose of the free portion, that is, the remainder of the estate after deducting the legitime of the compulsory heirs ... and all testamentary dispositions, either in the nature of institution of heirs or of devises or legacies, have to be taken from the remainder of the testator's estate constituting the free portion." 16

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Oppositors err in their premises, for the adjudications and assignments in the testatrix' will of specific properties to specific heirs cannot be considered all devises, for it clearly appear from the whole context of the will and the disposition by the testatrix of her whole estate (save for some small properties of little value already noted at the beginning of this opinion) that her clear intention was to partition her whole estate through her will. The repeated use of the words "I bequeath" in her testamentary dispositions acquire no legal significance, such as to convert the same into devises to be taken solely from the free one-half disposable portion of the estate. Furthermore, the testatrix' intent that her testamentary dispositions were by way of adjudications to the beneficiaries as heirs and not as mere devisees, and that said dispositions were therefore on account of the respective legitimes of the compulsory heirs is expressly borne out in the fourth paragraph of her will, immediately following her testamentary adjudications in the third paragraph in this wise: "FOURTH: I likewise command that in case any of those I named as my heirs in this testament any of them shall die before I do, his forced heirs under the law enforced at the time of my death shall inherit the properties I bequeath to said deceased." 17 Oppositors' conclusions necessarily are in error. The testamentary dispositions of the testatrix, being dispositions in favor of compulsory heirs, do not have to be taken only from the free portion of the estate, as contended, for the second paragraph of Article 842 of the Civil Code precisely provides that "(O)ne who has compulsory heirs may dispose of his estate provided he does not contravene the provisions of this Code with regard to the legitime of said heirs." And even going by oppositors' own theory of bequests, the second paragraph of Article 912 Civil Code covers precisely the case of the executrix-appellee, who admittedly was favored by the testatrix with the large bulk of her estate in providing that "(T)he devisee who is entitled to a legitime may retain the entire property, provided its value does not exceed that of the disposable portion and of the share pertaining to him as legitime." For "diversity of apportionment is the usual reason for making a testament; otherwise, the decedent might as well die intestate." 18 Fundamentally, of course, the dispositions by the testatrix constituted a partition by will, which by mandate of Article 1080 of the Civil Code and of the other cited codal provisions upholding the primacy of the testator's last will and testament, have to be respected insofar as they do not prejudice the legitime of the other compulsory heirs. Oppositors' invoking of Article 1063 of the Civil Code that "(P)roperty left by will is not deemed subject to collation, if the testator has not otherwise provided, but the legitime shall in any case remain unimpaired" and invoking of the construction thereof given by some authorities that "'not deemed subject to collation' in this article really means not imputable to or chargeable against the legitime", while it may have some plausibility 19 in an appropriate case, has no application in the present case. Here, we have a case of a distribution and partition of the entire estate by the testatrix, without her having made any previous donations during her lifetime which would require collation to determine the legitime of each heir nor having left merely some properties by will which would call for the application of Articles 1061 to 1063 of the Civil Code on collation. The amount of the legitime of the heirs is here determined and undisputed. 5. With this resolution of the decisive issue raised by oppositors-appellants, the secondary issues are likewise necessarily resolved. Their right was merely to demand completion of their legitime under Article 906 of the Civil Code and this has been complied with in the approved project of partition, and they can no longer demand a further share from the remaining portion of the estate, as bequeathed and partitioned by the testatrix principally to the executrix-appellee. Neither may the appellants legally insist on their legitime being completed with real properties of the estate instead of being paid in cash, per the approved project of partition. The properties are not available for the purpose, as the testatrix had specifically partitioned and distributed them to her heirs, and the heirs are called upon, as far as feasible to comply with and give effect to the intention of the testatrix as solemnized in her will, by implementing her manifest wish of transmitting the real properties intact to her named beneficiaries, principally the executrix-appellee. The appraisal report of the properties of the estate as filed by the commissioner appointed by the lower court was approved in toto upon joint petition of the parties, and hence, there cannot be said to be any question — and none is presented — as to fairness of the valuation thereof or that the legitime of the heirs in terms of cash has been understated. The plaint of oppositors that the purchasing value of the Philippine peso has greatly declined since the testatrix' death in January, 1961 provides no legal basis or justification for overturning the wishes and intent of the testatrix. The transmission of rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent (Article 777, Civil Code) and accordingly, the value thereof must be reckoned as of then, as otherwise, estates would never be settled if there were to be a revaluation with every subsequent fluctuation in the values of the currency and properties of the estate. There is evidence in the record that prior to November 25, 1964, one of the oppositors, Bernardita, accepted the sum of P50,000.00 on account of her inheritance, which, per the parties' manifestation, 20 "does not in any way affect the adjudication made to her in the projects of partition of either party as the same is a mere advance of the cash that she should receive in both projects of partition." The payment in cash by way of making the proper adjustments in order to meet the requirements of the law on non-impairment of legitimes as well as to give effect to the last will of the testatrix has invariably been availed of and sanctioned. 21 That her co-oppositors would receive their cash differentials only now when the value of the currency has declined further, whereas they could have received them earlier, like Bernardita, at the time of approval of the project of partition and when the peso's purchasing value was higher, is due to their own decision of pursuing the present appeal. ACCORDINGLY, the orders appealed from are hereby affirmed. Without cost. B. Extrajudicial Partition by Heirs C. Effect of Partition G.R. No. L-29192 February 22, 1971 GERTRUDES DE LOS SANTOS, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MAXIMO DE LA CRUZ, defendant-appellant. Benjamin Pineda for plaintiff-appellee. Ceasar R. Monteclaros for defendant-appellant.

VILLAMOR, J.: Direct appeal to this Court on questions of law from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch IX, in its Civil Case No. Q-8792. From the record of this case, we cull the following salient facts: On May 21, 1965, Gertrudes de los Santos filed a complaint for specific performance against Maximo de la Cruz, alleging, among others, that on August 24, 1963, she and several co-heirs, including the defendant, executed an extrajudicial partition agreement (a copy of which was attached to the complaint) over a certain portion of land with an area of around 20,000 sq. m.; that the parties thereto had agreed to adjudicate three (3) lots to the defendant, in addition to his corresponding share, on condition that the latter would undertake the development and subdivision of the estate which was the subject matter of the agreement, all expenses in connection therewith to be defrayed from the proceeds of the sale of the aforementioned three (3) lots; that in spite of demands by the plaintiff, by the co-heirs, and by the residents of the subdivision, the defendant refused to perform his aforesaid obligation although he had already sold the aforesaid lots. The plaintiff prayed the court to order the defendant to comply with his obligation under the extrajudicial partition agreement and to pay the sum of P1,000.00 as attorney's fees and costs.

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In his answer, the defendant admitted the due execution of the extrajudicial partition agreement, but set up the affirmative defenses that the plaintiff had no cause of action against him because the said agreement was void with respect to her, for the reason that the plaintiff was not an heir of Pelagia de la Cruz, deceased owner of the property, and was included in the extrajudicial partition agreement by mistake; and that although he had disposed of the three lots adjudicated to him, nevertheless the proceeds of the sale were not sufficient to develop and improve properly the subdivided estate. The answer contained a counterclaim wherein the defendant alleged that the plaintiff had likewise sold her share in the estate for P10,000.00, and that the extrajudicial partition agreement being void insofar as the latter was concerned, he was entitled to one-fourth (1/4) of the proceeds as his share by way of reversion. The defendant prayed that the complaint be dismissed; that the extrajudicial partition agreement be declared void with respect to the plaintiff; and, on his counterclaim, that the plaintiff be ordered to pay him the sum of P2,500.00. On motion of the defendant, the court below entered an order on July 19, 1965, declaring the plaintiff in default for not having answered the counterclaim. On July 6, 1966, the case was submitted for decision on the following stipulation of facts: 1. That the parties admit the existence and execution of the "Extra-Judicial Partition Agreement" dated August 24, 1963, which was marked as Exhibit "A" for the plaintiff, and Exhibit "I" for the defendant, which partition agreement was marked as Annex "A" in the complaint; 2. That the parties agree that the original purpose of the above-mentioned Extra-Judicial Partition Agreement was for the distribution of the in question for the heirs of Pelagia de la Cruz; however the parties further agree that several lots in the said land have been sold by some of the co-heirs, and there are houses several houses constructed therein and residents therein; 3. That the parties agree that the defendant is the appointed Administrator and In-charge of the development and subdivision of the land in question, as provided for in the aforementioned extrajudicial partition agreement; 4. That parties agree that Lots 1, 2 and 3 as described on page 3, 3rd paragraph to the last of said partition agreement have been sold by the defendant herein; and parties further agree that there are no properly constructed roads, nor proper light and water facilities; 5. That the parties agree that the defendant is the nephew of the deceased Pelagia de la Cruz aforementioned, who was the owner and predecessor in interest of the land which was the subject matter of the extra-judicial partition agreement; 6. That the parties agree that the plaintiff is the grandniece of the said Pelagia de la Cruz; 7. That Pelagia de la Cruz died intestate and without issue on October 16, 1962, as evidenced by a death certificate, which is marked as Exhibit "2" for tap defendant; and 8. That Marciana de la Cruz is the mother of the plaintiff and the niece of the said Pelagia de la Cruz, and that the said Marciana de la Cruz died on September 22, 1935, as evidenced by Exhibit "3" for the defendant. In its decision dated November 3, 1966, the court a quo held that the defendant, being a party to the extrajudicial partition agreement, was estopped from raising in issue the right of the plaintiff to inherit from the decedent Pelagia de la Cruz; hence, he must abide by the terms of the agreement. The court ordered the defendant "to perform his obligations to develop Lots 1, 2 and 3 of (LRC) Psd-29561 as described on page 2 of the Extrajudicial Partition Agreement" (meaning, apparently, that the defendant should develop the subdivision because said Lots 1, 2 and 3 were intended to be sold for this purpose), and to pay the plaintiff the sum of P2,000.00 as actual damages, the sum of P500.00 as attorney's fees, and the costs. No disposition was made of defendant's counterclaim. The defendant filed a "Motion for New Trial" but the same was denied. Hence, this appeal. The seven (7) errors assigned by defendant-appellant in his brief boil down to the following: 1. The court a quo erred in not holding that the extrajudicial partition agreement is null and void with respect to plaintiff-appellee, and, consequently, that plaintiffappellee has no cause of action against defendant-appellant. 2. The court a quo erred in holding that defendant-appellant is estopped from questioning plaintiff-appellee's right to have the agreement enforced. 3. The court a quo erred in ordering defendant-appellant to pay actual damages to plaintiff-appellee, and, on the other hand, in not granting the relief prayed for by defendant-appellant in his counterclaim. We shall discuss seriatim these errors as thus condensed. 1. In the stipulation of facts submitted to the court below, the parties admit that the owner of the estate, subject matter of the extrajudicial partition agreement, was Pelagia de la Cruz, who died intestate on October 16, 1962; that defendant-appellant is a nephew of the said decedent; that plaintiff-appellee is a grandniece of Pelagia de la Cruz, her mother, Marciana de la Cruz, being a niece of the said Pelagia de la Cruz; that plaintiff-appellee's mother died on September 22, 1935, thus predeceasing Pelagia de la Cruz; and that the purpose of the extrajudicial partition agreement was to divide and distribute the estate among the heirs of Pelagia de la Cruz. The pivotal question is whether, in the premises, plaintiff-appellee is a heir of the decedent. We are convinced that she is not. Plaintiff-appellee being a mere grandniece of Pelagia de la Cruz, she could not inherit from the latter by right of representation. ART. 972. The right of representation takes place in the direct descending line, but never in the ascending. In the collateral line, it takes place only in favor of the children of brothers or sisters, whether they be of the full or half blood. Much less could plaintiff-appellee inherit in her own right. ART. 962. In every inheritance, the relative nearest in degree excludes the more distant ones, saving the right of representation when it properly takes place. ... . Applying these two (2) provisions, this Court, in Linart y Pavia vs. Ugarte y Iturralde, 5 Phil., 176 (1905), said, ... [I]n an intestate succession a grandniece of the deceased and not participate with a niece in the inheritance, because the latter being a nearer relative, the more distant grandniece is excluded. In the collateral line the right of representation does not obtain beyond sons and daughters of the brothers and sisters, which would have been the case if Pablo Linart, the father of the plaintiff, had survived his deceased uncle.

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In the present case, the relatives "nearest in degree" to Pelagia de la Cruz are her nephews and nieces, one of whom is defendant-appellant. Necessarily, plaintiffappellee, a grandniece is excluded by law from the inheritance. But what is the legal effect of plaintiff-appellee's inclusion and participation in the extrajudicial partition agreement insofar as her right to bring the present action is concerned? They did not confer upon her the right to institute this action. The express purpose of the extrajudicial partition agreement, as admitted by the parties in the stipulation of facts, was to divide the estate among the heirs of Pelagia de la Cruz. Indeed, the said agreement itself states that plaintiff-appellee was participating therein in representation of her deceased mother. The pertinent portion of the agreement is herein quoted, thus: NOW, THEREFORE, we ... and Diego de los Santos, married to Anastasia de la Cruz; Mariano delos Santos married to Andrea Ramoy; Gertrudes delos Santos, married to Pascual Acuna; Alejo delos Santos, married to Leonila David; and Sotera delos Santos, married to Narciso Ramota; all in representation of our mother, MARCIANA DELA CRUZ, ..., do hereby by these presents, mutually, voluntarily and amicably agree among ourselves to equitably divide the property left by the deceased PELAGIA DELA CRUZ, and adjudicate unto ourselves definite and independent portions of the estate in the following manner ... . It is quite apparent that in executing the partition agreement, the parties thereto were laboring under the erroneous belief that plaintiff-appellee was one of the legal heirs of Pelagia de la Cruz. Plaintiff-appellee not being such a heir, the partition is void with respect to her, pursuant to Article 1105 of the Civil Code, which reads: ART. 1105. A partition which includes a person believed to be a heir, but who is not, shall be void only with respect to such person. Partition of property affected between a person entitled to inherit from the deceased owner thereof and another person who thought he was an heir, when he was not really and lawfully such, to the prejudice of the rights of the true heir designated by law to succeed the deceased, is null and void (De Torres vs. De Torres, et al., 28 Phil. 49). A fortiori, plaintiff-appellee could hardly derive from the agreement the right to have its terms enforced. 2. The extrajudicial partition agreement being void with respect to plaintiff-appellee, she may not be heard to assert estoppel against defendant-appellant. Estoppel cannot be predicated on a void contract (17 Am. Jur. 605), or on acts which are prohibited by law or are against public policy (Baltazar vs. Lingayen Gulf Electric Power Co., et al., G.R. Nos. 16236-38, June 30, 1965 [14 SCRA 5221). In Ramiro vs. Graño, et al., 54 Phil., 744 (1930), this Court held: No estoppel arises where the representation or conduct the party sought to be estopped is due to ignorance founded upon a mistake. And which there is authority to the contrary, the weight of authority is that the acts and declarations of a party based upon an innocent mistake as to his legal rights will not estop him to assert the same, especially where every fact known to the party sought to be estopped is equally well known to the party setting up the estoppel. (21 C.J., 1125, 1126.) And in Capili, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. L-18148, February 28, 1963 (7 SCRA 367), this Court said: Finally, petitioners-appellants claim that appellees are estopped to raise the question of ownership of the properties involved because the widow herself, during her lifetime, not only did not object to the inclusion of these properties in the inventory of the assets of her deceased husband, but also signed an extra-judicial partition of those inventoried properties. But the very authorities cited by appellants require that to constitute estoppel, the actor must have knowledge of the facts and be apprised of his rights at the time he performs the act constituting estoppel, because silence without knowledge works no estoppel. ... . 3. The award of actual damages in favor of plaintiff-appellee cannot be sustained in view of the conclusion we have arrived at above. Furthermore, actual or compensatory damages must be duly proved (Article 2199, Civil Code). Here, no proof of such damages was presented inasmuch as the case was decided on a stipulation of facts and no evidence was adduced before the trial court. We now come to defendant-appellant's counterclaim, in which he alleged that plaintiff-appelee sold her share to a certain person for the price of P10,000.00, and claims that he is entitled to one-fourth (1/4) of the proceeds by right of reversion. It will be noted that plaintiff-appellee had been declared in default on defendantappellant's counterclaim; but the latter did not present any evidence to prove the material allegation therein — more specifically, the alleged sale of the former's share for the sum of P10,000.00. That no such evidence had been adduced is understandable, for the parties expressly submitted the case for the resolution of the court upon their stipulation of facts which, unfortunately, did not make any mention of the alleged sale; and neither had defendant made any offer or move to introduce the necessary evidence to that effect for the consideration and evaluation by the trial court. Defendant-appellant contends, however, that in view of plaintiff-appellee's having been declared in default, the latter must be deemed to have admitted all the allegations in his counterclaim, so that the court a quo should have granted the relief prayed for by him. We find no merit in this contention. Section 1, Rule 18 of the Revised Rules of Court, reads: SECTION 1. Judgment by default.—if the defendant fails to answer within the time specified in these rules, the court shall, upon motion of the plaintiff and proof of such failure, declare the defendant in default. Thereupon the court shall proceed to receive the plaintiff's evidence and render judgment granting him such relief as the complaint and the facts proven may warrant. This provision applies where no answer is made to a counterclaim, crossclaim or third-party complaint within the period provided in this rule. The abovequoted rule was taken from Sections 128 and 129 of the Code of Civil Procedure. In Macondray & Co. vs. Eustaquio, 64 Phil., 446 (1937), this Court said: Under section 128 of our Code of Civil Procedure, the judgment by default against a defendant who has neither appeared nor filed his answer does not imply a waiver of rights except that of being heard and of presenting evidence in his favor. It does not imply admission by the defendant of the facts and causes of action of the plaintiff, because the codal section requires the latter to adduce his evidence in support of his allegations as an indispensable condition before final judgment could be given in his favor. Nor could it be interpreted as an admission by the defendant that the plaintiff's causes of action find support in the law or that the latter is entitled to the relief prayed for. ... . Nevertheless, the basic fact appears in the stipulation submitted by the parties that said plaintiff-appellee admitted having received a portion of the estate by virtue of the extrajudicial partition agreement dated August 24, 1963, to wit: (9). Lot 9, (LRC) Psd-29561, containing an area of 1,691 sq. m. as described in the Technical Description to be adjudicated to Diego delos Santos, married to Anastacia dela Cruz; Mariano delos Santos, married to Regina Baluyot; Hilario delos Santos, married to Andrea Ramoy; Gertrudes delos Santos, married to Pascual Acuna; Alejo delos Santos, married to Leonila David; and Sotera delos Santos, married to Narciso Ramota, in co-ownership, share and share alike. Such being the case, defendant-appellant is apparently correct in his contention that the lower court erred in not passing on his counterclaim and, consequently, in not sentencing appellee to turn over to him his corresponding share of said portion received by appellee under the void partition. Remote relatives or unrelated person who unduly received and took possession of the property of a deceased person without any right, by virtue of a null and void partition, must restore it to the legitimate successor in the inheritance (De Torres vs. De Torres, et al., supra). Of course, if such share has already been disposed of by appellee to a bona fide purchaser, as seems to be indicated in the unproven allegations of the counterclaim, We cannot render judgment awarding any specific amount to defendant-

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appellant as his proportionate share of the proceeds of such sale for the reason that, as already stated above, this aspect of the counterclaim has not been touched upon in the stipulation of facts nor has it been supported by evidence which appellant should have presented in the lower court but did not. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed and set aside; the defendant-appellant is absolved from any ability to and in favor of plaintiff-appellee; and, on appellant's counterclaim, appellee is hereby sentenced to restore or reconvey to him his corresponding share of the property she has received under the extrajudicial partition hereinbefore mentioned if the same has not already been disposed of as alleged. Costs in both instance against plaintiff-appellee. D. Rescission and Nullity of Partition

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