1. G.R. No. 127165. May 2, 2006.* SALONGA HERNANDEZ & ALLADO, petitioner, vs.

OLIVIA SENGCO PASCUAL and THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. Lawyers; Attorney’s Fees; Estate Proceedings; As a general rule, it is the executor or administrator who is primarily liable for attorney’s fees due to the lawyer who rendered legal services for the executor or administrator in relation to the settlement of the estate, and the executor or administrator may seek reimbursement from the estate for the sums paid in attorney’s fees if it can be shown that the services of the lawyer redounded to the benefit of the estate.—We reiterate that as a general rule, it is the executor or administrator who is primarily liable for attorney’s fees due to the lawyer who rendered legal services for the executor or administrator in relation to the settlement of the estate. The executor or administrator may seek reimbursement from the estate for the sums paid in attorney’s fees if it can be shown that the services of the lawyer redounded to the benefit of the estate. However, if the executor or administrator refuses to pay the attorney’s fees, the lawyer has two modes of recourse. First, the lawyer may file an action against the executor or administrator, but in his/her personal capacity and not as administrator or executor. Second, the lawyer may file a petition in the testate or intestate proceedings, asking the court to direct the payment of attorney’s fees as an expense of administration. If the second mode is resorted to, it is essential that notice to all the heirs and interested parties be made so as to enable these persons to inquire into the value of the services of the lawyer and on the necessity of his employment. Same; Same; Same; A claim for attorney’s fees partakes the nature of an administration expense, and the claim for reimbursement must be superior to the rights of the beneficiaries. —The character of such claim for attorney’s fees bears reiteration. As stated in Escueta, 5 Phil. 405 (1905), it partakes the nature of an administration expense. Administration expenses include attorney’s fees incurred in connection with the administration of the estate. It is an expense attending the accomplishment of the purpose of administration growing out of the contract or obligation entered into by the personal representative of the estate, and thus the claim for reimbursement must be superior to the rights of the beneficiaries. Same; Same; Same; Due Process; The requisite notice to the heirs, devisees, and legatees about the cla im for attorney’s fees against the estate is anchored on the constitutional principle that no person shall be deprived of property without due process of law.—The requisite notice to the heirs, devisees, and legatees is anchored on the constitutional principle that no person shall be deprived of property without due process of law. The fact that these persons were designated in the will as recipients of the testamentary dispositions from the decedent establishes their rights to the succession, which are transmitted to them from the moment of the death of the decedent. The payment of such attorney’s fees necessarily diminishes the estate of the decedent, and may effectively diminish the value of the testamentary dispositions made by the decedent. These heirs, devisees, and legatees acquire proprietary rights by reason of the will upon the moment of the death of the decedent, incipient or inchoate as such rights may be. Hence, notice to these interested persons of the claims for attorney’s fees is integral, so as to allow them to pose any objections or oppositions to such claim which, after all, could lead to the reduction of their benefits from the estate. Same; Same; Same; Same; The failure of the lawyer to give notice to the heirs, devisees, and legatees of his claim for attorney’s fees renders the claim inefficacious.—We reiterate that the direct claim against the estate for attorney’s fees must be made with due notice to the heirs, devisees, and legatees. The failure of petitioner to give such notice renders its present claim inefficacious for now. Indeed, there is sufficient cause to dismiss outright petitioner’s Motion for Writ of Immediate Execution filed with the Probate Court, for its failure to notify therein the other persons interested in the estate of Doña Adela. Nonetheless, to authorize said outright denial at this stage could unduly delay the settlement of the estate of Doña Adela, considering the likelihood that petitioner would again pursue such claim for attorney’s fees as the right to which is affirmed by law and jurisprudence.

Same; Same; Same; Same; In order not to unduly protract the settlement of the subject estate, the Court deems it proper instead to mandate the Probate Court to treat the Motion for Writ of Immediate Execution as a petition seeking a court order to direct the payment of attorney’s fees as expenses of administration, but subject to the condition that petitioner give due notice to the devisees and legatees so designated in the will of the claim prior to the requisite hearing thereon.— In order not to unduly protract further the settlement of the estate of Doña Adela, the Court deems it proper instead to mandate the Probate Court to treat the Motion for Writ of Immediate Execution as a petition seeking a court order to direct the payment of attorney’s fees as expenses of administration, but subject to the condition that petitioner give due notice to the other designated devisees and legatees so designated in the will of the claim prior to the requisite hearing thereon. Petitioner may as well seize such opportunity to formally amend or reconfigure its motion to a petition to direct payment of attorney’s fees. Once this step is accomplished, there should be no impediment to petitioner’s claim for recovery of attorney’s fees as reimbursement for necessary administration expenses, within the terms established by law, jurisprudence, and this decision. [Salonga Hernandez & Allado vs. Pascual, 488 SCRA 449(2006)] G.R. No. 127165 May 2, 2006

SALONGA HERNANDEZ & ALLADO, Petitioner, vs. OLIVIA SENGCO PASCUAL and THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents. DECISION TINGA, J.: Petitioner, a professional law partnership, brings forth this Petition for Review assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 22 December 1995. The appellate court had affirmed two orders promulgated by the Malabon Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 72 (Probate Court), in Sp. Proc. No. 136-MN, entitled "In the Matter of Testate Estate of Doña Adela Pascual, Dr. Olivia S. Pascual, Executrix." The case actually centers on two estate proceedings, that of Doña Adela Pascual (Doña Adela) and the other, her husband Don Andres Pascual's (Don Andres), who predeceased her. Don Andres died intestate, while Doña Adela left behind a last will and testament. The dispute over the intestate estate of Don Andres has spawned at 2 least two cases already settled by this Court. On 1 December 1973, an intestate proceeding for the settlement of the estate of Don Andres was commenced by his widow Doña Adela before the then Court of First Instance, now Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 23 (Intestate Court), docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 7554. Apart from his wife, who bore him no children, Don Andres was 3 survived by several nephews and nieces from his full-blood and half-blood brothers. This proceeding proved to be the source of many controversies, owing to the attempts of siblings Olivia and Hermes Pascual, acknowledged natural children of Don Andres's brother, Eligio, to be recognized as heirs of Don Andres. Olivia and Hermes Pascual procured the initial support of Doña Adela to their claims. However, on 16 October 1985, the other heirs of Don Andres entered into a Compromise Agreement over the objections of Olivia and Hermes Pascual, whereby three-fourths (3/4) of the estate would go to Doña Adela and one-fourth (1/4) to the other heirs of Don Andres, without prejudice to the final determination by the court or another compromise agreement as regards the claims 4 of Olivia and Hermes Pascual. Subsequently, the Intestate Court denied the claims of Olivia and Hermes 5 Pascual. Said denial was eventually affirmed by this Court in 1992 in Pascual v. Pascual-Bautista, applying Article 992 of the Civil Code. In the meantime, Doña Adela died on 18 August 1987, leaving behind a last will and testament executed in 1978, designating Olivia Pascual as the executrix, as well as the principal beneficiary of her estate. The will also bequeathed several legacies and devises to several individuals and institutions.
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Olivia Pascual then engaged the services of petitioner in connection with the settlement of the estate of Doña Adela. Their agreement as to the professional fees due to petitioner is contained in a letter dated 25 August 1987, signed by Atty. Esteban Salonga in behalf of petitioner and Olivia Pascual. It is stipulated therein, among others, that the final professional fee "shall be 3% of the total gross estate as well as the fruits thereof based on the court approved inventory of the estate. Fruits shall be reckoned from the time of [Olivia Pascual's] appointment as executrix of the estate. The 3% final fee shall be payable upon approval by the court of the agreement for the 6 distribution of the properties to the court designated heirs of the estate." On 26 August 1987, private respondent, represented by petitioner, commenced a petition for the probate of the last will and testament of Doña Adela before the Probate Court, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 136-MN and raffled to Branch 72 presided by Judge Benjamin M. Aquino, Jr. The petition was opposed by a certain Miguel Cornejo, Jr. 7 and his siblings, who in turn presented a purported will executed in 1985 by Doña Adela in their favor. After due trial, on 1 July 1993, the Probate Court rendered a Decision allowing probate of the 1978 Last Will and Testament of Doña Adela and disallowing the purported 1985 Will. Letters testamentary were issued to Olivia 9 Pascual. Cornejo attempted to appeal this decision of the Probate Court, but his notice of appeal was denied due course by the Probate Court, said notice "not having been accompanied by any record on appeal as required 10 under the Interim Rules and by Rule 109 of the Rules of Court." On 27 July 1993, petitioner filed a Notice of Attorney's Lien equivalent to three percent (3%) of the total gross estate of the late Doña Adela S. Pascual as well as the fruits thereof based on the court approved inventory of the estate, pursuant to the retainer agreement signed by and between petitioner and Olivia S. Pascual, on 25 August 1987. In an Order dated 4 November 1993, the Probate Court ruled that petitioner's "notice of attorney's lien, being fully supported by a retainer's contract not repudiated nor questioned by his client Olivia S. Pascual, is 11 hereby noted as a lien that must be satisfied chargeable to the share of Olivia S. Pascual." This was followed by another Order, dated 11 November 1993, wherein it was directed "that notice be x x x given, requiring all persons having claims for money against the decedent, Doña Adela S. Vda. de Pascual, arising from contracts, express or implied, whether the same be due, not due, or contingent, for funeral expenses and expenses of the last sickness of the said decedent, and judgment for money against her, to file said claims with the Clerk of Court at Malabon, 12 Metro Manila, within six (6) months from November 4, 1993." Accordingly, on 22 November 1993, petitioner filed a Motion to Annotate Attorney's Lien on Properties of the 13 Estate of Doña Adela Vda. de Pascual. It was at this stage, on 19 January 1994, that the Intestate Court rendered a Decision in Sp. Proc. No. 7554, finally giving judicial approval to the aforementioned 1985 Compromise Agreement, and partitioning the estate of Don Andres by adjudicating one-fourth (1/4) thereof to the heirs of Don Andres and three-fourths (3/4) thereof to the estate of Doña Adela. The Intestate Court also awarded attorney's fees to Atty. Jesus I. Santos, equivalent to 14 15% of the three-fourths (3/4) share of the estate of Doña Adela. Olivia Pascual filed a petition for annulment of the award of attorney's fees with the Court of Appeals, but the same was denied, first by the appellate court, then 15 finally by this Court in its 1998 decision in Pascual v. Court of Appeals. On 26 April 1994, petitioner filed a Motion for Writ of Execution for the partial execution of petitioner's attorney's lien estimated at P1,198,097.02. The figure, characterized as "tentative," was arrived at based on a Motion to Submit Project Partition dated 26 October 1993 filed by Olivia Pascual, which alleged the gross appraised value of Doña Adela's estate at P39,936,567.19. This sum was in turn derived from the alleged value of the total estate of Don Andres, three-fourths (3/4) of which had been adjudicated to Doña Adela. At the same time, petitioner noted that the stated values must be considered as only provisional, considering that they were based on a July 1988 appraisal report; thus, the claim for execution was, according to petitioner, without prejudice to an updated 16 appraisal of the properties comprising the gross estate of Doña Adela. On 29 April 1994, Olivia Pascual, through Atty. Antonio Ravelo, filed her comment and/or opposition to the motion for the issuance of a writ of execution on attorney's fees. She argued that a lawyer of an administrator or executor should charge the individual client, not the estate, for professional fees. Olivia Pascual also claimed, citing
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partial or otherwise. and not to the estate of Doña Adela. On 17 March 1995. as far as this court is concerned." had in fact already been partitioned between the estate of Doña Adela and the heirs of Don Andres at the ratio of three-fourths (3/4) and one-fourth (1/4).02 was erroneous. and for having been prematurely filed. Nonetheless. that the counsel claiming attorney's fees should give sufficient notice to all interested parties to the estate. (3) ordering the appointment of a reputable appraisal company to re-appraise the present market value of the estate of Doña Adela Pascual including the fruits thereof for the purpose of determining the value of the attorney's fees of [petitioner]." Through a petition for certiorari and mandamus. of its claim for attorney's fees: the 2 June 1994 Order and the 17 March 1995 Order.198.without prejudice to the issuance of a writ of execution after the re-appraisal of the present market value of the estate and the determination of the amount due to [petitioner] as attorney's fees." Interestingly. the Probate Court issued the first assailed order denying the motion for writ of execution in view of the fact that "the bulk of the estate of the late Doña Adela S. respectively.jurisprudence . (2) a writ of partial execution be issued for the satisfaction of the attorney's lien of the undersigned counsel [herein petitioner] in relation to the Ongpin and Valenzuela properties for the amount ofP635. petitioner assailed the two orders of the Probate Court denying its motion for the immediate execution. De Pascual is still tied-up with the estate of the late Don Andres Pascual. since it was Olivia Pascual who entered into the agreement with petitioner for the payment 17 . petitioner filed a Comment/Manifestation praying that an order be issued: (1) ordering the annotation of the attorney's lien on the properties comprising the estate of Doña Adela Pascual. In response. effectively precluding petitioner's attempt to execute on its attorney's lien. the twin orders of the RTC were affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Rule 86 of the Rules of Court. The appellate court noted that the attorney's lien issued by the Probate Court was chargeable only to the share of Olivia Pascual. assuming re-appraisal would be proper. and (4) after the re-appraisal of the estate of Doña Adela Pascual a writ of execution be issued for the full 21 satisfaction and settlement of the attorney's lien of [petitioner]. The Probate Court was also informed of the fact that the proceedings before the Intestate Court had already been terminated by reason of the 14 January 1994 Decision rendered by the latter court." On 14 November 1994. Vda. "the Ongpin Property" and "the Valenzuela Property. and that such was not accomplished by petitioner considering that no notices were given to the several 18 legatees designated in Doña Adela's will. De Pascual is 19 pending with another court sitting in Pasig.368. Olivia Pascual. Metro Manila. and of the Certificate of Authority issued by the said 20 agency. and that the enforcement of the writ of execution on the undivided estate of Don Andres would prejudice his other heirs entitled to one-fourth (1/4) thereof. It was also stated "that the corresponding estate taxes had been paid as evidenced by the Estate Tax Return filed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue. has not yet been turned over to the executrix or to the court 22 itself. because the bulk of the estate subject of this case.097. On 2 June 1994. filed with the Probate Court a Motion to Declare General Default and Distribution of Testamentary Dispositions with Cancellation of Administrator's Bond. it was also manifested that two of the properties that formed part of the estates of the spouses.14. Vda. considering that the proceedings before the Intestate Court had not yet been terminated. that the computation of the figure of P1. the Probate Court issued an order which denied petitioner's motion for a re-appraisal of the property and the issuance of a partial writ of execution "for being prematurely filed as there is no exact estate yet to be inventoried and re-appraised. It was noted therein that no creditor had filed a claim against the estate of Doña Adela despite due notice published pursuant to Section 1. the proceedings over which and the final disposition thereof with respect to the partition and segregation of what is to form part of the estate of the late Doña Adela S. It was further argued that the motion for execution was premature.

Thus. has not been turned over to the executrix or to the [c]ourt itself. since that case involved an executor who concurrently was a lawyer who subsequently claimed attorney's fees as part of the expenses of administration. it is alleged. is necessary in order to determine the three percent (3%) share in the total gross estate committed to petitioner by reason of the Retainer Agreement. Petitioner refers to the averment made by Olivia Pascual before the Probate Court that the proceedings before the Intestate Court had already been terminated. Marquez as providing the governing rule on that matter as previously settled in the 1905 case 30 of Escueta v. Petitioner sought to reconsider the Decision of the Court of Appeals.of attorney's fees in connection with the settlement of the estate of Doña Adela. but in vain. Lacson. yet refused to allow the partial execution of its claim for attorney's fees. The Court of Appeals likewise noted that in the retainer agreement between petitioner and Olivia Pascual. Reyes. and that petitioner's claim is also premature since contrary to the requisite stipulated in the Retainer Agreement. there is no longer need to await the turnover of the properties involved in the intestate estate of Don Andres which constitute part of the testate estate of Doña Adela since the Probate Court and the Intestate Court have concurrent jurisdiction over these properties as they have not yet been physically divided. Petitioner further points out that the Probate Court had authorized and approved the sale of the Ongpin Property. there is no court-approved agreement for the distribution of the properties of the estate of Doña Adela as yet. it is stipulated that "the 3% final fee shall be payable upon approval by the court of the agreement for the distribution 24 of the properties to the court designated heirs of the estate. Such re-appraisal. after notice to all the heirs and interested parties." the court-approved will comprising the agreement referred to in the contract. to direct the payment of his fees as expenses 28 of administration. to wit: . was inappropriately cited. so it claims. petitioner continues. the Court of Appeals asserted that as a rule an administrator or executor may be allowed fees for the necessary expenses he has incurred but he may not recover attorney's fees from the estate. Marquez. Petitioner correctly 29 cites Occeña v. Petitioner submits that the Probate Court ineluctably has jurisdiction over the estate of Doña Adela. Citing Lacson v. Petitioner argues that as held in Occeña v. as far as this [c]ourt is concerned. the counsel seeking to recover attorney's fees for legal services to the executor or administrator is authorized to file a petition in the testate or intestate proceedings asking the court. Sy-Juilliong. It appears that the thrust of the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is along these lines: that petitioner may directly claim attorney's fees only against Olivia Pascual and not against the estate of Doña Adela. the Court of Appeals ruled that as the petition before it did not show "that an agreement on the distribution of properties of the estate of Doña Adela 25 S. As an initial premise. 27 26 23 Hence this petition. petitioner asserts that the Probate Court erred in refusing to grant the prayer seeking the re-appraisal of the property of Doña Adela's estate. Petitioner also claims that the decision of the probate court admitting Doña Adela's will to probate sufficiently satisfies the condition in the Retainer Agreement that the final fee be payable "upon approval by the court of the agreement for the distribution of the properties to the court designated heirs of the estate. we consider whether a lawyer who renders legal services to the executor or administrator of an estate can claim attorney's fees against the estate instead of the executor or administrator. and has necessarily assumed control over the properties belonging to the said estate. Finally." the filing of the motion for execution and that of the motion for re-appraisal of the market value of the estate were both premature. Pascual has been submitted and approved by the probate court." on which the appellate court predicated its ruling that the motion for a writ of execution was premature." On this score. and that the proceeds of the sale of the Ongpin Property and the Valenzuela Property had in fact been already divided based on the three-fourths (3/4) to one-fourth (1/4) ratio between the estate of Doña Adela and the heirs of Don Andres. Petitioner also takes exception to the Probate Court's finding that "the bulk of the estate subject of this case.

No such rule exists barring direct recovery of professional legal fees from the estate by the lawyer who is not the executor or administrator of the said estate. there may be instances wherein the estate should not be charged with attorney's fees. As stated in Escueta. The limitations on such direct recovery are nonetheless established by jurisprudence. It is these perspectives that we apply to the case at bar. and not as administrator. The executor or administrator may seek reimbursement from the estate for the sums paid in attorney's 32 fees if it can be shown that the services of the lawyer redounded to the benefit of the estate. if the executor or administrator refuses to pay the attorney's fees. However. the lawyer may file a petition in the testate or intestate proceedings. If the administrator had paid the fees. The estate is. it is the executor or administrator who is primarily liable for attorney's fees due to the lawyer who rendered legal services for the executor or administrator in relation to the settlement of the estate. the liability for payment resting primarily on the executor or administrator. Lacson v. involved an executor who also happened to be the lawyer for the heirs who had filed the petition for probate. asking the court to direct the payment of attorney's fees as an expense of administration. it is essential that notice to all the heirs and interested parties be made so as to enable these persons to inquire into the value of the services of the lawyer and on the necessity of his employment. the lawyer has two modes of recourse. 1avvphil. It was pronounced therein that the administrator or executor of the estate cannot charge professional fees for legal services against the same estate.net Clearly then.The rule is that when a lawyer has rendered legal services to the executor or administrator to assist him in the execution of his trust. and should the latter fail to pay. not directly liable for his fees. after notice to all the heirs and interested parties. and claimed through the filing of the proper petition with the probate court. First. as explicitly provided under Section 7. petitioner had filed both a Notice of Attorney's Lien and a Motion for Writ of Execution. but in his/her personal capacity and not as administrator or executor. Whichever course is adopted. It is an expense attending the accomplishment of the purpose of administration growing out of the contract or obligation entered into by the personal representative of the estate. while the direct recovery of attorney's fees from the estate may be authorized if the executor refuses to pay such fees. Notably. as evinced by the rulings in Escueta and Occeña. the lawyer may file an action against the executor or administrator. Second. These two pleadings have distinct character and must be treated as such. Reyes. The procedure to be followed by counsel in order to collect his fees is to request the administrator to make payment. If the costs of counsel's fees arise out of litigation among the beneficiaries thereof themselves or in the protection of the interests of particular persons. however. and thus the 36 claim for reimbursement must be superior to the rights of the beneficiaries. although when the administrator employs competent counsel on questions which affect his/her duties as the administrator and on which he/she is in reasonable doubt. Administration expenses include attorney's fees incurred in connection with the 35 administration of the estate. We reiterate that as a general rule. or (b) file a petition in the testate or intestate proceedings asking the court. the estate generally cannot be held liable for such costs. If the second mode is resorted to. to direct the payment of his fees as expenses of administration. the heirs and other persons interested in the estate will have the right to inquire into the value of the services of the lawyer 31 and on the necessity of his employment. Rule 85 of the Rules of Court of 34 1985. cited by the appellate court. such claim remains controvertible. It has also been held that an administrator who brings on litigation for the deliberate purpose of defrauding the legitimate heirs and for his own benefit is not entitled to reimbursement for 38 counsel's fees incurred in such litigation. Notwithstanding. that case is not squarely in point to the case at bar. his attorney's fees may be allowed as expenses of administration. The character of such claim for attorney's fees bears reiteration. it partakes the nature of an administration expense. he would be entitled to reimbursement from the estate. For that reason. either to (a) file an action against him in his personal capacity. 33 . reasonable expenses for such services may be charged against the estate 37 subject to the approval of the court. This is precisely why Escueta and its progenies require that the petition be made with notice to all the heirs and interested parties.

since the Retainer Agreement on which the lien is hinged provides that the final fee "be payable upon approval by the 39 court of the agreement for the distribution of the properties to the court designated heirs of the estate. who appear on record to have served as counsels for the various oppositors to the probate of the 1978 will of Doña Adela. liable for the attorney's fees. Olivia S. and sought to file its "claim and/or lien for attorney's fees equivalent to Three Percent (3%) of the total gross estate. Fortunato Viray. In rendering its assailed Decision. originating as it did from the denial of petitioner's Motion for Writ of Execution. Clearly then. not the executor or administrator. Doña Adela's will designated 19 other individuals apart from Olivia Pascual. Such notice is material to the other heirs to Doña Adela's estate. at such time. Yet only Olivia Pascual was served with a copy of the Motion for Writ of Execution. Pascual." It may be so that petitioner. This Notice of Attorney's Lien was noted by the Probate Court in its Order of 4 November 1993. in opposing the Motion for Writ of Execution. the motion which effectively sought the immediate payment of petitioner's attorney's fees. substantially diminishes the estate of Doña Adela and may consequently cause the diminution of their devises and legacies. and not Doña Adela's estate. among other cases. as it is. especially in the amount of 3% of the total gross estate as sought for by petitioner. and cash amounts. and Crisanto Cornejo. "as a lien that must be satisfied chargeable to the share of Olivia S. However. The instant case is rooted in an incomplete attempt to resort to the second mode of recovery of attorney's fees as authorized in Escueta. Since these persons were so named in the very will itself and the action for probate which was filed by petitioner itself. The payment of attorney's fees. Escueta and its kindred cases do explicitly recognize the recourse for the lawyer to directly make the claim for attorney's fees against the estate. and the Probate Court did note that the lien be satisfied chargeable to the share of the executor. Olivia Pascual. the record bears that the requisite notice to all heirs and interested parties has not been satisfied. particularly the several devisees and legatees so named in Doña Adela's will. the Notice of Attorney's Lien cannot serve as the basis for the Probate Court to authorize the payment to petitioner of attorney's fees. Copies of this Notice of Attorney's Lien were furnished Attys. Yet the Notice of Attorney's Lien only seeks to serve notice of the pendency of the claim for attorney's fees. is only contingent on the final settlement of the estate of Doña Adela." This is also made clear by the order noting the lien. petitioner had initially filed a Notice of Attorney's Lien wherein it identified itself as "the attorney for the executrix named in the said will. already pointed out that petitioner had failed to give sufficient notice to all interested parties to the estate. did clearly lay down the manner under which such fees may be paid out even prior to the final settlement of the estate as an administration expense directly chargeable to the estate itself. the Court of Appeals relied on this qualification made by the Probate Court that the lien for attorney's fees was chargeable only to the share of Olivia Pascual. in filing this Notice of Attorney's Lien. it may be claimed only after her share to Doña Adela's estate is already determinate. It does not. . The Motion did expressly seek the payment of attorney's fees to petitioner. On its own. On the other hand. The filing of the Notice of Attorney's Lien and the qualificatory character of the rulings thereon. there is no reason why petitioner could not have given due notice to these persons on its claim for attorney's fees." pursuant to the 1987 Retainer Agreement. jewelries. Pascual". The fact that the prayer for attorney's fees was cast in a motion and not a petition should not impede such claim. The critical question in the present petition is thus whether this Motion for Writ of Execution satisfies the requisites set in Escueta for a claim for attorney's fees directly chargeable against the estate. Jr. and not the Notice of Attorney's Lien. It did identify itself as the lawyer of Olivia Pascual. Dra. considering that the motion was nonetheless filed with the Probate Court. initially intended to hold Olivia Pascual. we disagree with the opinion of the Court of Appeals that attorney's fees can be claimed only against the share of Olivia Pascual. hence implying that at the very least. and not the payment of such fees itself. Escueta andOcceña. do not preclude the resort to the mode of recovery against the estate as authorized by jurisprudence. and four (4) different institutions as recipients of devises or legacies consisting of real properties. which qualified that said lien was chargeable only to the share of Olivia Pascual. As early as 29 April 1994. Yet it must also be noted that such lien.After Doña Adela's will had been admitted to probate.

Any party interested in the estate may very well. notice to these interested persons of the claims for attorney's fees is integral. However. Evidently. but the fact remains that all the parties interested in the estate. devisees. such as for example. and settlement of the estate. Yet the claim for attorney's fees is hardly incontrovertible. In the same vein. management. so as to allow them to pose any objections or oppositions to such claim which. which establishes an obligation on the part of Olivia Pascual to pay the final fee of 3% of the gross total estate of Doña Adela. in filing its Motion for Writ of Execution. petitioner. incipient or inchoate as such rights may be. posit a myriad of objections to the attorney's fees sought. devisees or legatees. The payment of such attorney's fees necessarily diminishes the estate of the decedent. These heirs. since the recovery of attorney's fees is premised on the Retainer Agreement any award thereupon has to await the final ascertainment of value of the gross total estate of Doña Adela. Necessarily. in theory. after all.The requisite notice to the heirs. legatees. gave notice instead that the motion was being submitted for the consideration of the Probate Court without further 42 argument. and that at such time. The failure to notify the other heirs.designated heirs of the estate. which 41 are transmitted to them from the moment of the death of the decedent. The first involves a separate suit against the executor or administrator in the latter's personal capacity. Hence. Attorney's fees in this case are in the nature of administration expenses. were deprived of the opportunity to raise such objections as they were not served notice of the Motion for Writ of Execution. The instant claim for attorney's fees is thus precluded by the absence of the requisite notices by petitioner to all the interested persons such as the designated heirs. the Court does not agree. that these fees were not necessary expenses in the care. On this point. as well as the approval by the Probate Court of the agreement for the distribution of the properties. The fact that these persons were designated in the will as recipients of the testamentary dispositions from the decedent establishes their rights to the succession. and may effectively diminish the value of the testamentary dispositions made by the decedent. devisees. and the claim for attorney's fees based on the Retainer Agreement cannot ripen until these conditions are met. filed with the probate court. Escueta itself provides for two alternative approaches through which counsel may proceed with his claim for attorney's fees. Whether or not such basis for valid objections exists in this case is not evident. the existence of the Retainer Agreement between petitioner and Olivia Pascual allows petitioner two possible causes of action on which to claim attorney's fees in connection with the administration of the estate of Doña Adela. had initially set the hearing on the motion on 29 April 1994. The second approach is a direct claim against the estate itself. namely the other devisees and legatees. and legatees is anchored on the constitutional principle that no person 40 shall be deprived of property without due process of law. or necessary expenses in the first place. and legatees acquire proprietary rights by reason of the will upon the moment of the death of the decedent. but one day prior to the scheduled hearing. the remaining peripheral questions warrant clarification. payable upon approval by the Probate Court of the agreement for the distribution of the properties to the court. she had no recognized right to represent the estate of Doña Adela yet. it cannot be escaped that the Retainer Agreement was entered into between petitioner and Olivia Pascual prior to the filing of the probate petition. petitioner did not intend a full-blown hearing to ensue on whether it was entitled to the payment of attorney's fees. That the Retainer Agreement set the attorney's fees at three percent (3%) of the gross estate does not imply that the basis for attorney's fees is beyond controversy. Again. to the estate of Doña Adela likewise deprives these interested persons of the right to be heard in a hearing geared towards determining whether petitioner was entitled to the immediate payment of attorney's fees. Notably. The first possible cause of action pivots on the Retainer Agreement. as required by the jurisprudential rule laid down in Escueta. the Court of Appeals held that it was the prematurity of the claim for attorney's fees that served as the fatal impediment. devisees. could lead to the reduction of their benefits from the estate. with due notice to all interested persons. This . The Retainer Agreement 43 makes it clear that the final payment of attorney's fees is contingent on these two conditions. Moreover.

. there is sufficient cause to dismiss outright petitioner's Motion for Writ of Immediate Execution filed with the Probate Court. We reiterate that the direct claim against the estate for attorney's fees must be made with due notice to the heirs. petitioner has clearly resorted to this second cause of action. its proper remedy. and Olivia Pascual is ultimately held liable under the Retainer Agreement for attorney's fees. and not against the estate of Doña Adela. as well as the judicial approval of the final agreement of partition. to authorize said outright denial at this stage could unduly delay the settlement of the estate of Doña Adela. and this decision. she may nonetheless seek reimbursement from the estate of Doña Adela if she were able to establish that the attorney's fees paid to petitioner were necessary administration expenses. Its entitlement can be established by the actual services rendered by the lawyer necessary to the accomplishment of the purposes of administration. The character of this claim is not contractual in nature. for its failure to notify therein the other persons interested in the estate of Doña Adela. As earlier stated. and legatees. there should be no impediment to petitioner's claim for recovery of attorney's fees as reimbursement for necessary administration expenses. would be a personal action against Olivia Pascual. however. in order not to unduly protract further the settlement of the estate of Doña Adela. The failure of petitioner to give such notice renders its present claim inefficacious for now. Nonetheless. but rather. This would not preclude the Probate Court from enforcing the provisions of the Retainer Agreement if. in its sound discretion. There are consequent advantages and disadvantages to petitioner. or against the estate of Doña Adela as reimbursement for necessary administration expenses. Since the claim arises irrespective of the contingencies as stipulated in the Retainer Agreement. the attorney's fees may be collected against the estate even before the final determination of its gross total value or the final approval of the project of partition. Indeed. and not necessarily by the contract of engagement of the attorney's services. If this were the recourse pursued by petitioner. The second or alternative recourse is the direct claim for attorney's fees against the estate. In any event. the hearing will focus on the value of the services of the petitioner and the necessity of engaging petitioner as counsel. and it will be allowed if it satisfies the criteria for necessary expenses of administration. as a reimbursement for a necessary expense of administration. devisees. authorized by law and jurisprudence. jurisprudence. within the terms established by law. Yet if the Probate Court does choose to adopt the Retainer Agreement as binding on the estate of Doña Adela. such claim for reimbursement is superior to the right of the beneficiaries to the estate. is that the Retainer Agreement cannot be deemed binding on the estate or the Probate Court since the estate is not a party to such contract. but subject to the condition that petitioner give due notice to the other designated devisees and legatees so designated in the will of the claim prior to the requisite hearing thereon. considering the likelihood that petitioner would again pursue such claim for attorney's fees as the right to which is affirmed by law and jurisprudence. Once this step is accomplished. Petitioner may as well seize such opportunity to formally amend or reconfigure its motion to a petition to direct payment of attorney's fees. In either case too. there is need to finally determine the respective shares of the beneficiaries before attorney's fees in the nature of administration expenses may be paid out. Hence. the terms of payment therein are commensurate to the value of the actual services necessary to the administration of the estate actually rendered by petitioner. By filing their claim directly against the estate of Doña Adela. it remains essential that a hearing be conducted on the claim. The one distinct disadvantage. petitioner may again be precluded from immediate recovery of attorney's fees in view of the necessity or precondition of ascertaining the gross total value of the estate. the Court deems it proper instead to mandate the Probate Court to treat the Motion for Writ of Immediate Execution as a petition seeking a court order to direct the payment of attorney's fees as expenses of administration. and as such. as authorized underEscueta. whether the claim for attorney's fees was pursued through a separate suit against Olivia Pascual (in her personal capacity) for the enforcement of the Retainer Agreement.circumstance further bolsters our opinion that if petitioner insists on the judicial enforcement of the Retainer Agreement.

JR. and the character of the testamentary act. This prayer cannot obviously be granted at this stage by the Court. Branch 72. giving due notice thereof to all the heirs. or caused some other person to write his name. in the presence of the instrumental witnesses. being of sound mind. respondent. or unshattered by disease. or that his mind be wholly unbroken. MATEO. SEBASTIAN M. April 11. Civil Law. MANGALINDAN. No pronouncement as to costs. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses.One final note. Every will. on the left margin. The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. . To be of sound mind. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will. or file another with the Office of the Clerk of Court. freely executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. SO ORDERED. VIRGILIO REGALA. —Due execution of the will or its extrinsic validity pertains to whether the testator. to wit: Art. conformably with this decision. Wills. Forgetfulness is not equivalent to being of unsound mind. consistent with its position before the Probate Court that it is already entitled to at least a partial payment of its attorney's fees. depending on the particular circumstances and its ultimate basis for the determination of the appropriate attorney's fees. considering the fatal absence of due notice to the other designated beneficiaries to the estate of Doña Adela. within its discretion. and legatees designated in the 1978 Last Will and Testament executed by Doña Adela Pascual. devisees. Due execution of the will or its extrinsic validity pertains to whether the testator. unimpaired. WHEREFORE. It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time of making the will to know the nature of the estate to be disposed of. These formalities are enshrined in Articles 805 and 806 of the New Civil Code. The state of being forgetful does not necessarily make a person mentally unsound so as to render him unfit to execute a Will. ANTONIO L. LORENZO LAXA. the proper objects of his bounty. and after due hearing resolve the same with DISPATCH. and by his express direction. dated 2 June 1994 and 17 March 1995 are hereby SET ASIDE insofar as said orders denied petitioner's Motion for Writ of Immediate Execution dated 26 April 1994. The Regional Trial Court is directed to treat petitioner's aforesaid motion as a PETITION for the payment of attorney's fees as expenses of administration. each and every page thereof. Art. is capacitated to render the award of attorney's fees as administration expenses either partially or provisionally. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. it is not necessary that the testator be in full possession of all his reasoning faculties. and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof. No. 2012. PACHECO.R. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 22 December 1995 and the Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Malabon. 799. petitioners. Petitioner is hereby directed to set for hearing its claim for attorneys fees. ROSIE M. BALTAZAR. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will. 805. under his express direction. must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some other person in his presence. Testamentary Succession. it shall be interpreted to them. and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.* ANTONIO B. BALTAZAR. G. Article 799 of the New Civil Code states: Art. 806. and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. the petition is GRANTED IN PART. other than a holographic will. Still. 174489. Same. Same. as aforesaid.. NENITA A. 2. we do not doubt that the Probate Court. freely executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. vs. Same.—We agree with the position of the CA that the state of being forgetful does not necessarily make a person mentally unsound so as to render him unfit to execute a Will. Petitioner's final prayer before this court is that it be issued a partial writ of execution. shall also sign. Besides. except the last. and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. being of sound mind. and RAFAEL TITCO. injury or other cause.

such desire be given full effect independent of the attitude of the parties affected thereby. A purported will is not to be denied legalization on dubious grounds.. No. whether x x x it will be probated would have to depend largely on the attitude of those interested in [the estate of the deceased+. Otherwise.R. ANTONIO L. BALTAZAR. —It bears stressing that “*i+rrespective x x x of the posture of any of the parties as regards the authenticity and due execution of the will x x x in question. Respondent. to wit: 2 3 . [Baltazar vs. BALTAZAR. Same. 80979 which reversed the September 30. The very existence of the Will is in itself prima facie proof that the supposed testatrix has willed that her estate be distributed in the manner therein provided. the evidence and the testimonies of disinterested witnesses. SEBASTIAN M. Branch 52. MATEO. 174489 April 11. the very institution of testamentary succession will be shaken to its foundation.” “The very existence of *the Will+ is in itself prima facie proof that the supposed *testatrix+ has will ed that [her] estate be distributed in the manner therein provided. vs. Otherwise. G-1186. Furthermore. Guagua.: It is incumbent upon those who oppose the probate of a will to clearly establish that the decedent was not of sound and disposing mind at the time of the execution of said will. LORENZO LAXA.R. and it is incumbent upon the state that. if legally tenable. 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in 4 CA-G.” This. coupled with Lorenzo’s established relationship with Paciencia. J. DECISION DEL CASTILLO. it is the mandate of the law that it is the evidence before the court and/or [evidence that] ought to be before it that is controlling. for even if a will has been duly executed in fact. if not based on concrete and substantial evidence cannot suffice to move the Court to uphold said allegations. the very institution of testamentary succession will be shaken to its foundation. constrain us to tilt the balance in favor of the authenticity of the Will and its allowance for probate. MANGALINDAN. and it is incumbent upon the state that. ROSIE M. Petitioners. for even if a will has been duly executed in fact. NENITA A. and RAFAEL TITCO.Same. whether it will be probated would have to depend largely on the attitude of those interested in the estate of the deceased. Laxa. the state is duty-bound to give full effect to the wishes of the testator to distribute his estate in the manner provided in his will so long as it is legally 1 tenable. Same. CV No.” Same. Pampanga in Special Proceedings No. Same. PACHECO. VIRGILIO REGALA. JR. Same. —It is worth stressing that bare arguments. The assailed CA Decision granted the petition for probate of the notarial will of Paciencia Regala (Paciencia). no matter how forceful. “a purported will is not *to be+ denied legalization on dubious grounds. if legally tenable. 2012 ANTONIO B. Otherwise. 669 SCRA 249(2012)] Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Baguio FIRST DIVISION G. 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC). such desire be given full effect independent of the attitude of the parties affected thereby. as opposed to the total lack of evidence presented by petitioners apart from their self-serving testimonies. Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the June 15.

Laxa and Corazon F. CONVEY and GIVE all my properties enumerated in parcels 1 to 5 unto the spouses LORENZO R. SO ORDERED. [Sasmuan].In consideration of their valuable services to me since then up to the present by the spouses LORENZO LAXA and CORAZON F. 1981. LAXA. Six days after the execution of the Will or on September 19. Maria Lioba A. Paciencia expressed in the presence of the instrumental witnesses that the document is her last will and 8 testament.WHEREFORE. After which. Factual Antecedents Paciencia was a 78 year old spinster when she made her last will and testament entitled "Tauli Nang Bilin o 7 Testamento Miss Paciencia Regala" (Will) in the Pampango dialect on September 13. Childless and without any brothers or sisters. Laxa both of legal age. who are still not of legal age and living with their parents who would decide to bequeath since they are the children of the spouses.Should other properties of mine may be discovered aside from the properties mentioned in this last will and testament. LUNA LORELLA and KATHERINE ROSS LAXA. executed in the house of retired Judge Ernestino G. thus: xxxx Fourth . in the presence of Paciencia and of one another and of Judge Limpin who acted as notary public. 1981. Limpin (Dra. Paciencia bequeathed all her properties to respondent Lorenzo R. Paciencia left for the United States of America (USA). Laxa and Corazon F. finding the appeal to be impressed with merit. The witnesses to the Will were Dra. I am also bequeathing and giving the same to the spouses Lorenzo R. Pampanga and it was she who raised and cared for Lorenzo since his birth. I likewise command to fulfill the wishes of D[ñ]a Nicomeda Regala in accordance with her testament as stated in 12 my testament. Lorenzo came to know and treated Paciencia as his own mother. There. Limpin). Lorenzo is Paciencia‘s nephew whom she 13 treated as her own son. The three attested to the Will‘s due execution by affixing their signatures below 10 11 its attestation clause and on the left margin of pages 1. Laxa and their two children and I also command them to offer masses yearly for the repose of my soul and that of D[ñ]a Nicomeda Regala. I hereby BEQUEATH. Laxa (Lorenzo) and his wife Corazon F. Monica. NO. LAXA and CORAZON F. Epifania Regala and their spouses and with respect to the fishpond situated at San Antonio. 1996. 2006 CA Resolution which denied the Motion for Reconsideration thereto. Laxa and their children Luna Lorella Laxa and Katherine Ross Laxa. presently residing at Barrio Sta. Pampanga and their children. premises considered. G-1186 dated 30 September 2003. 2 and 4 thereof. LUNA LORELLA LAXA and KATHERINE LAXA. The Will. Limpin (Judge Limpin). Paciencia lived with Lorenzo‘s family in Sasmuan. the decision in SP. x x x The filial relationship of Lorenzo with Paciencia remains undisputed. Mercado (Faustino). is hereby SET ASIDE and a new one entered GRANTING the petition for the probate of the will of PACIENCIA REGALA. she resided with Lorenzo and his family until her death on January 4. was read to Paciencia twice. Petitioners call us to reverse the CA‘s assailed Decision and instead affirm the Decision of the RTC which disallowed the notarial will of Paciencia. PROC. She thereafter affixed her signature at the end of the said document on page 3 and then on the left 9 margin of pages 1. 2 and 4 thereof. 5 Also assailed herein is the August 31. Filipinos. Francisco Garcia (Francisco) and Faustino R. Conversely. xxxx [Sixth] . LAXA and their children. and the spouses Lorenzo R. 6 .

A medical certificate was presented to the court to support this allegation. The judge can walk but can no longer talk and remember her name. Petitioners also opposed the issuance of Letters of Administration in Lorenzo‘s favor arguing that Lorenzo was disqualified to be appointed as such. Mateo (Rosie) and Antonio L. that Paciencia was mentally incapable to make a Will at the time of its execution. The following day or on June 23. 2000. Limpin. Limpin stated that her father can no longer testify in court. 21 Because of this. For his part. According to him his father can no longer talk and express himself due 32 to brain damage. that Paciencia did not intend the document to be her Will. Rafael Titco. that assuming the signature to be genuine. petitioner Antonio Baltazar (Antonio) filed an opposition to Lorenzo‘s petition. the Will remained in the custody of Judge Limpin. the living arrangements of Paciencia at the time of the execution of the Will. Felix B. She testified as to the age of her father at the time the latter notarized the Will of Paciencia. 2000. in 1981 Paciencia went to the USA and lived with him and his family until her death in January 1996. Paciencia. Monico. the RTC issued an Order on June 13. Barely a month after or on July 20. Virgilio Regala. On January 29. Dra. Dra. Pacheco. Lorenzo testified that: from 1944 until his departure for the USA in April 1980. hence. docketed as Special Proceedings No. 29 petitioners filed an Opposition and Recommendation reiterating their opposition to the appointment of Lorenzo as administrator of the properties and requesting for the appointment of Antonio in his stead. Rosie M. Pampanga for the probate of the Will of Paciencia and for the issuance of Letters of Administration in his favor. 25 paragraph 3 of the Civil Code. Limpin positively identified the Will and her signatures on all its four 18 19 pages. 2000. 2000. Meanwhile. 23 his predecessor-in-interest. Lorenzo filed a petition with the RTC of Guagua. 2000. Baltazar. that she was forced to execute the Will under duress or influence of fear or threats. She likewise positively identified the signature of her father appearing thereon. Limpin testified that her father had a stroke in 20 1991 and had to undergo brain surgery. On said date. Nenita A. Aside from Dra. Limpin testified that she was one of the instrumental witnesses in the execution of the last will and testament of Paciencia on September 13. Dra. that the execution of the Will had been procured by undue and improper pressure and influence by Lorenzo or by some other persons for his benefit. 2001.. Jr. the RTC issued an Order denying the requests of both Lorenzo and Antonio to be appointed administrator since the former is a citizen and resident of the USA while the latter‘s claim as a co -owner of the properties subject of the Will has not yet been established. Dra. The Will was executed in her father‘s (Judge Limpin) home office. Pampanga with his family and his aunt. son of Faustino. Francisco and Faustino. proceedings on the petition for the probate of the Will continued.In the interim. Later still on September 26. Dra. 16 1981. Questioned by the prosecutor regarding Judge Limpin‘s present mental fitness. Antonio. There being no opposition to the petition after its due publication. Flores. More than four years after the death of Paciencia or on April 27. Mangalindan 24 filed a Supplemental Opposition contending that Paciencia‘s Will was null and void because ownership of the properties had not been transferred and/or titled to Paciencia before her death pursuant to Article 1049. Lorenzo and Monico Mercado (Monico) also took the witness stand. petitioners filed an Amended Opposition asking the RTC to deny the probate of Paciencia‘s Will on the following grounds: the Will was not executed and attested to in accordance with the requirements of the law. testified on his father‘s condition. and the lack of 31 photographs when the event took place. 15 2000 allowing Lorenzo to present evidence on June 22. he lived in Sasmuan. now joined by petitioners Sebastian M. G-1186. Petitioners prayed that Letters of Administration be instead issued in favor of Antonio. Simultaneously. Antonio averred that the properties subject of Paciencia‘s Will belong to Nicomeda Regala Mangalindan. it was obtained through fraud or trickery. that the signature of Paciencia on the Will was forged. in her presence and of two other 17 witnesses. and. the relationship between him and Paciencia was like that of a mother and 30 28 22 14 . Paciencia had no right to bequeath them to Lorenzo. Limpin was recalled for crossexamination by the petitioners. he being a citizen and resident of the 26 27 USA.

On September 13. to which the latter purportedly replied. 1981. throw them away or it is up to you. this court hereby (a) denies the petition dated April 24. Paciencia allegedly uttered the following words: "Why will I never [return]. and (b) disallows the notarized will dated September 13. Lorenzo positively identified the signature of Paciencia in three different documents and in the Will itself and stated that he was familiar with Paciencia‘s signature because he accompanied her in 34 her transactions." After which. She claimed to have helped in the household chores in the house of Paciencia thereby allowing her to stay therein from morning until evening and that during the period of her service in the said household. 1981. Upon hearing this. On cross-examination. Antonio kept the unsigned documents and eventually turned them over to Faustino on September 18. 2003. 1981 of Paciencia Regala. On cross examination. Further. Ruling of the Regional Trial Court On September 30. Lorenzo belied and denied having used force. and it was he who explained that the documents were actually a special power of attorney to lease and sell her fishpond and other properties upon her departure for the USA. Lorenzo‘s wife and his children were staying in the 38 same house. was not blind. however. He identified the Will and testified that he had seen the said document before because Paciencia brought the same to his mother‘s house and showed it to 49 him along with another document on September 16. 2000. According to him. Paciencia went to the house of Antonio‘s mother and 43 brought with her the said envelope. For petitioners. Rosie testified that her mother and Paciencia were first cousins. 1981. Paciencia left the documents with Antonio. intimidation. 1981. Paciencia thought that the documents pertained 51 to a lease of one of her rice lands. 1981. coercion or 35 trickery upon Paciencia to execute the Will as he was not in the Philippines when the same was executed. she did not suffer from any mental disorder and was of sound mind. he could no longer be presented in court as he already died on May 21. Rosie further testified that Paciencia was referred to as "magulyan" or "forgetful" because she would 45 sometimes leave her wallet in the kitchen then start looking for it moments later. she remembered Paciencia instructing Faustino to first look for money before she 42 signs them. and that it was Antonio who requested her to testify in court. A few days after or on September 16. "I know nothing about those. the same were still unsigned. Upon going home. Antonio advised Paciencia not to sign the documents if she does not want to. The more I will not sign 54 them. though. Rosie claimed that she saw Faustino bring "something" for Paciencia to sign at the 40 latter‘s house. and he was already residing in the USA 33 when the Will was executed. the envelope was no longer with 44 Paciencia. However. it was established that Rosie was neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist. Why should I die 53 already?" Thereafter. the Will was in the custody of Judge Limpin and was only given to him after Paciencia‘s death through Faustino. at the time of Paciencia‘s death. 57 . In his direct examination. Rosie admitted. 2000. SO ORDERED. and a Will 52 which would transfer her properties to Lorenzo and his family upon her death. that she did not see what that "something" was as same was placed 41 inside an envelope. Antonio alleged that when the documents were 50 shown to him. why will I sell all my properties?" Who is Lorenzo? Is he the only [son] of God? I have other relatives [who should] benefit from my properties. Lorenzo clarified that Paciencia informed him about the Will shortly after her arrival in the USA 36 but that he saw a copy of the Will only after her death. She served in the said household from 1980 unt il Paciencia‘s departure for the USA on September 39 19. violence. the RTC rendered its Decision 56 55 48 37 denying the petition thus: WHEREFORE. that her conclusion that Paciencia was "magulyan" 46 47 was based on her personal assessment. As to Francisco. Antonio stated that Paciencia was his aunt. and without brothers and sisters.child since Paciencia took care of him since birth and took him in as an adopted son. deaf or mute. Paciencia was a spinster without children.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals On appeal.The trial court gave considerable weight to the testimony of Rosie and concluded that at the time Paciencia signed the Will. no concrete circumstances or events 60 were given to prove the allegation that Paciencia was tricked or forced into signing the Will. Faithful compliance with the formalities laid down by law is apparent from the face of the Will. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN MAKING CONCLUSIONS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT PETITIONERS FAILED TO PROVE THAT PACIENCIA WAS NOT OF SOUND MIND AT THE TIME THE WILL WAS 63 ALLEGEDLY EXECUTED The pivotal issue is whether the authenticity and due execution of the notarial Will was sufficiently established to warrant its allowance for probate. Further. RULE 76 OF THE RULES OF COURT. Section 1 of the Rules of Court. III. It ratiocinated that "the state of being ‗magulyan‘ does not make a person mentally unsound so [as] to render 59 [Paciencia] unfit for executing a Will. Petitioners moved for reconsideration 2006." Moreover. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT ALLOWED THE PROBATE OF PACIENCIA‘S WILL DESPITE RESPONDENT‘S UTTER FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH SECTION 11. the oppositors in the probate proceedings were not able to overcome the presumption that every person is of sound mind. Our Ruling We deny the petition. she was no longer possessed of sufficient reason or strength of mind to have testamentary 58 capacity. II. This is . expressly provided for in Rule 75. The appellate court did not agree with the RTC‘s conclusion that Paciencia was of unsound mind when she executed th e Will. Courts are tasked to determine nothing more than the extrinsic validity of a Will in probate proceedings. Hence. which states: 64 61 but the motion was denied by the CA in its Resolution 62 dated August 31. this petition. the CA reversed the RTC Decision and granted the probate of the Will of Paciencia. Issues Petitioners come before this Court by way of Petition for Review on Certiorari ascribing upon the CA the following errors: I.

Forgetfulness is not equivalent to being of unsound mind. are all present and evident on the Will. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will. it is not necessary that the testator be in full possession of all his reasoning faculties. or unshattered by disease. a careful examination of the face of the Will shows faithful compliance with the formalities laid down by law. being of sound mind. except the last. as aforesaid. To be of sound mind. In fact. or that his mind be wholly unbroken. The signatures of the testatrix.Rule 75 Production of Will. injury or other cause. We agree with the position of the CA that the state of being forgetful does not necessarily make a person mentally 68 unsound so as to render him unfit to execute a Will. and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. Further. on the left margin. Petitioners. 806. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will. and by his express direction. shall also sign. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. unimpaired. Paciencia. Allowance of Will Necessary. Conclusive as to execution. and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof. such allowance of the will shall be conclusive as to its due execution. Art. must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence. under his express direction. her instrumental witnesses and the notary public. or file another with the Office of the Clerk of Court. other than a holographic will. Section 1. Subject to the right of appeal. and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. Article 799 of the New Civil Code states: Art. We are not convinced. each and every page thereof. The burden to prove that Paciencia was of unsound mind at the time of the execution of the will lies on the shoulders of the petitioners. Due execution of the will or its extrinsic validity pertains to whether the testator. These formalities are enshrined in Articles 805 and 806 of the New Civil Code. . Allowance necessary. or caused some other person to write his name. freely 65 executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. Here. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses. Every will. in the presence of the instrumental witnesses. even the petitioners acceded that the signature of Paciencia in the Will may be authentic although they question her state of mind when she signed the same as well as the voluntary nature of said act. claim that Paciencia was "magulyan" or forgetful so much so that it 66 effectively stripped her of testamentary capacity. the attestation clause explicitly states the critical requirement that the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses signed the Will in the presence of one another and that the witnesses attested and subscribed to the Will in the presence of the testator and of one another. Besides. 799. it shall be interpreted to them. through their witness Rosie. – No will shall pass either real or personal estate unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court. and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. 805. to wit: Art. They likewise claimed in their Motion for Reconsideration filed 67 with the CA that Paciencia was not only "magulyan" but was actually suffering from paranoia.

A third child was born after the execution of the will and was not included 70 therein as devisee. These are grounded on the alleged conversation between Paciencia and Antonio on September 16." More importantly. the proper objects of his bounty. that the execution of the Will had been procured by undue and improper pressure and influence by Lorenzo or by some other persons for his benefit. An essential element of the validity of the Will is the willingness of the testator or testatrix to execute the document that will distribute his/her earthly possessions upon his/her death. there was no showing that Paciencia was publicly known to be insane one month or less before the making of the Will. the proper objects of her bounty and the character of the testamentary act. Petitioners claim that Paciencia was forced to execute the Will under duress or influence of fear or threats. She specially requested that the customs of her faith be observed upon her death. we find more worthy of credence Dra. Limpin‘s testimony as to the soundness of mind of Paciencia when the latter went to Judge Limpin‘s house and voluntarily executed the Will. However and as earlier mentioned. no substantial evidence was presented by them to prove the same. Bare allegations of duress or influence of fear or threats.It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time of making the will to know the nature of the estate to be disposed of. and that assuming Paciencia‘s signature to be genuine. In this case. one month. 1981 wherein the former purportedly repudiated the Will and left it unsigned. undue and improper influence and pressure. Such is a prevalent and accepted cultural practice that has resulted in many family discords between those favored by the testamentary disposition of a testator and those who stand to benefit in case of intestacy. medical or otherwise. the burden to prove that Paciencia was of unsound mind lies upon the shoulders of petitioners. Clearly. She was well aware of how she acquired the properties from her parents and the properties she is bequeathing to LORENZO. fraud and trickery cannot be used as basis to deny the probate of a will. On the other hand. the person who maintains the validity of the will must prove that the testator made it during a lucid interval. it was obtained through fraud or trickery. The burden of proof that the testator was not of sound mind at the time of making his dispositions is on the person who opposes the probate of the will. It is in fact not unheard of in our culture for old maids or spinsters to care for and raise their nephews and nieces and treat them as their own children. . before making his will was publicly known to be insane. We take into consideration the unrebutted fact that Paciencia loved and treated Lorenzo as her own son and that love even extended to Lorenzo‘s wife and children. Furthermore. 800. to his wife CORAZON and to his two (2) children. apart from the testimony of Rosie pertaining to Paciencia‘s forgetfulness. thereby warranting the CA‘s finding that petitioners failed to discharge such burden. As aptly pointed out by the CA: A scrutiny of the Will discloses that [Paciencia] was aware of the nature of the document she executed. "The testimony of subscribing witnesses to a Will concerning the testator‘s mental condition is entitled to great weight where they 69 are truthful and intelligent. We are not persuaded. and the character of the testamentary act. in the absence of proof to the contrary. there is no substantial evidence. Article 800 of the New Civil Code states: Art. we are convinced that Paciencia was aware of the nature of her estate to be disposed of. a testator is presumed to be of sound mind at the time of the execution of the Will and the burden to prove otherwise lies on the oppositor. The law presumes that every person is of sound mind. that would show that Paciencia was of unsound mind at the time of the execution of the Will. thus. This kind of relationship is not unusual. or less. Here. but if the testator.

influence of fear or threats. Francisco. for even if a will has been duly executed in fact. or insanity of any of them must be satisfactorily shown to the court. pressure. Limpin stated that given such condition. and trickery which. are not supported by concrete. be allowed if the court is satisfied from the testimony of other witnesses and from all the evidence presented that the will was executed and attested in the manner required by law. If all or some of such witnesses are present in the Philippines but outside the province where the will has been filed. Subscribing witnesses produced or accounted for where will contested. or are otherwise of doubtful credibility. To prove this. the same shall be allowed if at least three (3) witnesses who know the handwriting of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. no matter how forceful. Faustino had a heart attack. petitioners neither interposed any objections to the testimonies of said witnesses nor challenged the same on cross examination. and if the court deem it necessary. We cannot agree with petitioners. all the subscribing witnesses. It is an established rule that "[a] testament may not be disallowed just . evidence shows the acknowledged fact that Paciencia‘s relationship with Lorenzo and his family is different from her relationship with petitioners. said witness presented the corresponding medical certificate. expert testimony may be resorted to. It provides: RULE 76 Allowance or Disallowance of Will Section 11. substantial and credible evidence on record. (Emphasis supplied. undue and improper influence. If any or all of them testify against the due execution of the will. whether x x x it will be probated would have to depend largely on the attitude of those interested 72 in [the estate of the deceased]. even if the latter was already married and already has children. the very institution of testamentary succession will be shaken to its foundation. We note that the inability of Faustino and Judge Limpin to appear and testify before the court was satisfactorily explained during the probate proceedings." Court should be convinced by the evidence presented before it that the Will was duly executed. the will may nevertheless. Judge Limpin. highlights the special bond between them. The very fact that she cared for and raised Lorenzo and lived with him both here and abroad. their deposition must be taken. As testified to by his son. and the death. For her part. if not based on concrete and substantial evidence cannot suffice to move the Court to uphold said 71 allegations. Petitioners dispute the authenticity of Paciencia‘s Will on the ground that Section 11 of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court was not complied with. in the absence of any competent witnesses. and the notary in the case of wills executed under the Civil Code of the Philippines. At that time. This unquestioned relationship between Paciencia and the devisees tends to support the authenticity of the said document as against petitioners‘ allegations of duress. If a holographic will is contested. or do not remember having attested to it. Dra. "a purported will is not [to be] denied legalization on dubious grounds.In this case. as well as on the proof of her handwriting. suffered a stroke in 1991 and had to undergo brain surgery.) They insist that all subscribing witnesses and the notary public should have been presented in court since all but one witness. – If the will is contested. Because of this the probate of Paciencia‘s Will may be allowed on the basis of Dra. if present in the Philippines and not insane. was already bedridden and could no longer talk and express himself due to brain damage. Otherwise. are still living. Limpin testified that her father. Limpin‘s testimony proving her sanity and the due execution of the Will. her father could no longer testify. despite ample opportunity. aside from being factual in nature. We thus hold that for all intents and purposes. Judge Limpin could no longer talk and could not even remember his daughter‘s name so that Dra. Furthermore. absence. must be produced and examined. fraud. It is worth stressing that bare arguments. Lorenzo was able to satisfactorily account for the incapacity and failure of the said subscribing witness and of the notary public to testify in court. It is well to note that at that point.

if legally tenable. the latter having jurisdiction concurrent with this Court over the Case. constrain us to tilt the balance in favor of the authenticity of the Will and its allowance for probate. the petition is DENIED. 80979 are AFFIRMED. it is the mandate of the law that it is the evidence before the court 74 and/or [evidence that] ought to be before it that is controlling. that the 73 will was or was not duly executed in the manner required by law. the propriety of granting letters testamentary to respondents. MARCOS II and IMELDA R. the February 5.R.” Same. Probate Proceedings. what is decisive is that the court is convinced by evidence before it. no error can be attributed to the CA when the action it deemed appropriate was to dismiss the petition for having availed of an improper remedy. Thus. MARCOS. 3. Nos." "The very existence of [the Will] is in itself prima facie proof that the supposed [testatrix] has willed that [her] estate be distributed in the manner therein provided. and this Court having been cited to no special and important reason for it to take cognizance of said case in the first instance." 1âwphi1 Moreover. 1997 Resolution reads: The special civil action for certiorari as well as all the other pleadings filed herein are REFERRED to the Court of Appeals for consideration and adjudication on the merits or any other action as it may deem appropriate. Based thereon. petitioner. coupled with Lorenzo‘s established relationship with Paciencia. August 4. 2009. respondents. A reading of Supreme Court Circular 2-90. SO ORDERED. FERDINAND R. do not fall within any ground which can be the subject of a direct appeal to this Court." This. The resolution is clear that the petition was referred to the CA for consideration and adjudication on the merits or any other action as it may deem appropriate.” Same. that is. this Court agrees with the ruling of the CA that said resolution gave the CA discretion and latitude to decide the petition as it may deem proper. no error can be attributed to the CA when the action it deemed appropriate was to dismiss the petition for having availed of an improper remedy. such desire be given full effect independent of the 75 attitude of the parties affected thereby. 2006 and the Resolution dated August 31. vs. Pleadings and Practice. The Decision dated June 15. the evidence and the testimonies of disinterested witnesses. Wills and Succession.R. as opposed to the total lack of evidence presented by petitioners apart from their self-serving testimonies. although they must testify. a necessary concomitant of his right to dispose of his property in the manner he wishes. —To stress. Appeals. neither does it have to be necessarily allowed just because all the attesting witnesses declare in favor of its legalization.* REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. More importantly. not necessarily from the attesting witnesses. WHEREFORE. clearly shows that the subject matter of therein petition. G. 130371 & 130855. Where the Supreme Court’s resolution is clear that the petition was referred to the Court of Appeals for consideration and adjudication on the merits or any other action as it may deem appropriate. —A reading of Supreme Court Circular 2-90. 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. and it is incumbent upon the state that. in relation to Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. the action of the CA was sanctioned under Section 4 of Supreme Court Circular 2-90 which provides that “an appeal taken to either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals by the wrong mode or inappropriate mode shall be dismissed. The choice of his executor is a precious prerogative of a testator. —At the crux of the controversy is a determination of whether . The CA was thus correct in declaring that the “issues raised by petitioner do not fal l within the purview of Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 such that the Supreme Court should take cognizance of the instant case. in relation to Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. it bears stressing that "[i]rrespective x x x of the posture of any of the parties as regards the authenticity and due execution of the will x x x in question. clearly shows that the propriety of granting letters testamentary does not fall within any ground which can be the subject of a direct appeal to the Supreme Court.because the attesting witnesses declare against its due execution. CV No.

is instructive: The choice of his executor is a precious prerogative of a testator. the filing of a “fraudulent return with intent to evade tax” is a crime involving moral turpitude as it entails willfulness and fraudulent intent on the part of the individual. however. Taxation. or conduct contrary to justice. Same. thus it could not serve to disqualify a person from being appointed as an executor. It has been held that when a will has been admitted to probate. that “not every criminal act involves moral turpitude.” Same. when no reasonable objection to his assumption of the trust can be interposed any longer. This conclusion is supported by the provisions of the NIRC as well as previous Court decisions which show that with regard to the filing of an income tax return. or good morals. The filing of a “fraudulent return with intent to evade tax” is a crime involving moral turpitude as it entails willfulness and fraudulent intent on the part of the individual. It is natural that the testator should desire to appoint one of his confidence. honesty. honesty. And as the rights granted by will take effect from the time of death (Article 777. Thus. but the same. or to society in general.—This Court stresses that an appellate court is disinclined to interfere with the action taken by the probate court in the matter of removal of an executor or administrator unless positive error or gross abuse of discretion is shown. contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman. Civil Code of the Philippines). the management of his estate by the administrator of his choice should be made as soon as practicable. Same. Same. (2) a fraudulent return with intent to evade tax. whose sensibilities are. this Court holds that even if the conviction of . however. it is the duty of the court to issue letters testamentary to the person named as executor upon his application (23 C. the term “moral turpitude” is considered as encompassing “everything which is done contrary to justice. —The “failure to file an income tax return” is not a crime involving moral turpitude as the mere omission is already a violation regardless of the fraudulent intent or willfulness of the individual. 258 SCRA 483 (1996). 420 (1953).or not respondents are incompetent to serve as executors of the will of Ferdinand Marcos. Same. 1023). a necessary concomitant of his right to dispose of his property in the manner he wishes. The curtailment of this right may be considered as a curtailment of the right to dispose. the same should not serve as a basis to disqualify him to be appointed as an executor of the will of his father. 93 Phil. and (3) failure to file a return. however. Same. Same. cannot be said for “failur e to file a return” where the mere omission already constitutes a violation. Conviction for “failure to file an income tax return” is not a crime involving moral turpitude. Same. or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow men. or good morals. The same. this Court held: As to the meaning of “moral turpitude. Same.J. vileness. Pecson. Commision on Elections. More importantly. affected by any act or omission on the part of the administrator not conformable to or in disregard of the rules of orders of the court. Same. the NIRC considers three distinct violations: (1) a false return. one who can be trusted to carry out his wishes in the disposal of the estate. in the first place.—Since respondent Ferdinand Marcos II has appealed his conviction relating to four violations of Section 45 of the NIRC. Ozeata v. The Rules of Court gives the lower court the duty and discretion to determine whether in its opinion an individual is unfit to serve as an executor—the sufficiency of any ground for removal should thus be determined by the said court. Moral Turpitude. clarified in Dela Torre vs. The Rules of Court gives the lower court the duty and discretion to determine whether in its opinion an individual is unfit to serve as an executor. Same.—Applying the foregoing considerations to the case at bar.” and that ‘‘as to what crime involves moral turpitude is for the Supreme Court to determine.” x x x x We. 369 SCRA 126 (200 1). The sufficiency of any ground for removal should thus be determined by the said court. even assuming arguendo that his conviction is later on affirmed. cannot be said for “failure to file a return” where the mere omission already constitutes a violation. Commission on Elections. In Villaber v. the same is still insufficient to disqualify him as the “failure to file an income tax return” is not a crime involving moral turpitude. modesty. Same.” we have consistently adopted the definition in Black’s Law Dictionary as “an act of baseness. The “failure to file an income tax return” is not a crime involving moral turpitude as the mere omission is already a violation regardless of the fraudulent intent or willfulness of the individual.” In In re Vinzon.

Judicial Power. without proof.—Petitioner argues that the assailed RTC Orders were based solely on their own evidence and that respondents offered no evidence to show that they were qualified to serve as executors. MARCOS. In the first place. This Court does not agree. 130371 &130855 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. Chairperson. petitioner had already raised the same argument in its motion for partial reconsideration before the RTC. Again. Courts. this Court has stressed that this Court is a court of law and not a court of public opinion. J. VELASCO. Consequently. the Supreme Court has stressed that it is a court of law and not a court of public opinion. JR. Respondents. Petitioner. Moreover. NACHURA. 2009 . 595 SCRA 43(2009)] Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court Manila THIRD DIVISION G. still did not find the same as a sufficient ground to disqualify respondents.—Petitioner contends that respondents have strongly objected to the transfer to the Philippines of the Marcos assets deposited in the Swiss Banks and thus the same should serve as a ground for their disqualification to act as executors. [Republic vs. and PERALTA. CHICO-NAZARIO. deserve scant consideration. its petition must necessarily fail.. MARCOS II and IMELDA R. Present: YNARES-SANTIAGO. Evidence. in the absence of palpable error or gross abuse of discretion. Nos. Time and again.versus - FERDINAND R. Marcos II. this Court will not interfere with the RTC’s discretion. Said court. and having failed in doing so. JJ. the same are mere allegations which. It is basic that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and a mere allegation is not evidence. It is basic that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and a mere allegation is not evidence. Supreme Court.R. however. . Time and again. it was the burden of petitioner (not respondents) to substantiate the grounds upon which it claims that respondents should be disqualified to serve as executors. Burden of Proof. Promulgated: August 4..respondent Marcos II is affirmed. the same not being a crime involving moral turpitude cannot serve as a ground for his disqualification.

Let NOTICE be given to all known heirs and creditors of the decedent.: Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. 1996. the same is hereby ALLOWED AND ADMITTED TO PROBATE.x--------------------------------------------------x DECISION PERALTA. and to any other persons having an interest in the estate for them to lay their claim against the Estate or forever hold their peace. 43450. appointing her as Special Administratrix of the Marcos Estate. The dispositive portion of the January 11. SP No. The facts of the case are as follows: On January 11. On the other hand. the petitioner Republic of the Philippines filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration[6] in so far as the January 11. 1996 Order reads: WHEREFORE.000. 1996. 1996. the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City Branch 156. 1997 Decision[2] and August 27. seeking to set aside the March 13. the RTC issued Letters of Administration[7] to BIR Commissioner Liwayway Vinzons-Chato in accordance with an earlier Order dated September 9. respondent Imelda Marcos filed her own motion for reconsideration on the ground that the will is lost and that petitioner has not proven its existence and validity. 1997 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G. On February 5. J. 1996 RTC Order and that he took his oath as named executor of the will on January 30. respondent Ferdinand Marcos II filed a Compliance stating that he already filed a bond in the amount of P50. let letters testamentary be issued in solidum to Imelda Trinidad Romualdez-Marcos AND Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos II. SO ORDERED. Pending the filing of said bond and their oath. 1994. Commissioner Liwayway Vinzons-Chato of the Bureau of Internal Revenue is hereby authorized to continue her functions as Special Administrator of the Estate of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. 1996 RTC Order granted letters testamentary to respondents. On March 13.R. respondent Ferdinand Marcos II filed a Motion to Revoke the Letters of Administration issued by the RTC to BIR Commissioner Vinzons-Chato.00 as directed by the January 11. named executors therein. acting as a probate court. On April 1. in Special Proceeding No.00. 1996. 10279. 1996. 1996.[5] On January 15. issued an Order [4] granting letters testamentary in solidum to respondents Ferdinand R. Marcos II and Imelda Trinidad Romualdez-Marcos as executors of the last will and testament of the late Ferdinand E. . Marcos.000. Upon the filing of a bond in the amount of P50. finding the Last Will and Testament of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos to have been duly executed in accordance with law.

under Ruled 45 of the Rules of Court. as well as October 3. SO ORDERED. 1996 Orders of the Court was arrived at only after extensive consideration of every legal facet available on the question of validity of the Will. the RTC issued an Order[8] denying the motion for partial reconsideration filed by petitioner as well as the motion for reconsideration filed by respondent Imelda Marcos. WHEREFORE. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING.[12] . the CA issued a Decision. Erroneous Appeals – An appeal taken to either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals by the wrong or inappropriate mode shall be dismissed.On April 26. the Court observed that these are but a mere rehash of issues already raised and passed upon by the Court. the penultimate portion of which reads: Under the Rules. One has to review the previous orders issued by the Court in this case. for lack of merit. 1996.g. therefore. 1996. 1994. 1997. the orders dated September 9. Marcos are both DENIED. and this Court having been cited to no special and important reason for it to take cognizance of said case in the first instance. Examining the arguments poised by the movants. the pertinent portions of which reads: Consequently. On February 5.[9] On June 6. 1995. the First Division of this Court issued a Resolution referring the petition to the CA. the motion for reconsideration by petitioner Republic and oppositor Imelda R. questioning the aforementioned RTC Orders granting letters testamentary to respondents. for having taken the wrong mode of appeal. to see that even as far back then. Guided by this legal precept. the latter having jurisdiction concurrent with this Court over the Case. SO ORDERED. It cannot be overstressed that the assailed January 11. petitioner filed with this Court a Petition for Review on Certiorari.[11] dismissing the referred petition for having taken the wrong mode of appeal. the Court has considered the matter of competency of the oppositors and of Commissioner Liwayway Vinzons-Chato as having been settled. November 25. the Court is constrained to DENY both. the instant petition for review is hereby DISMISSED. to wit: x x x x The special civil action for certiorari as well as all the other pleadings filed herein are REFERRED to the Court of Appeals for consideration and adjudication on the merits or any other action as it may deem appropriate. e. 1994.[10] (Emphasis and Underscoring Supplied) filed separately On March 13. 1997.. the present petition should be dismissed in accordance with the same Supreme Court Circular 2-90 which expressly provides that: 4. in resolving the two (2) motions at hand. a decedent’s testamentary privilege must be accorded utmost respect.

issued an which reads: WHEREFORE.Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration. to wit: I. WHICH ADMITTED THE MARCOS WILL TO PROBATE AND WHICH DIRECTED THE ISSUANCE OF LETTERS TESTAMENTARY IN SOLIDUM TO PRIVATE RESPONDENTS AS EXECUTORS OF SAID MARCOS WILL. to serve as such until an executor is finally appointed. MARCOS AND FERDINAND R. THE PROBATE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER THAT RESPONDENTS IMELDA R. 1997. THE PROBATE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER THAT BOTH PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAVE OBSTRUCTED THE TRANSFER TO THE PHILIPPINES OF THE MARCOS ASSETS DEPOSITED IN THE SWISS BANKS. Marcos. by the CA in a THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DISMISSING THE PETITION ON TECHNICAL GROUNDS DESPITE THE SUPREME COURT RESOLUTION SPECIFICALLY REFERRING SAID PETITION FOR A DECISION ON THE MERITS. however denied Resolution[14] dated August 27. the Court hereby appoints as joint special administrators of the estate of the late Ferdinand E. When the assailed Orders granting letters testamentary in solidum to respondents were issued by the RTC. The petition is without merit. acting on the pending unresolved motions before it. II. on October 9. V. petitioner sought to question them by filing a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. III. Hence. THE PROBATE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER THAT SAID PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAVE DENIED AND DISCLAIMED THE VERY EXISTENCE AND VALIDITY OF THE MARCOS WILL. 2002. herein petition. the RTC.[13] which was.[15] Order [16] In the meantime. Marcos II. . SO ORDERED. with petitioner raising the following assignment of errors. Imelda Romualdez Marcos and Mr. THE PROBATE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER THAT ITS ORDER OF JANUARY 11. Ferdinand R. the nominee of the Republic of the Philippines (the Undersecretary of the Department of Justice whom the Secretary of Justice will designate for this purpose) and Mrs. IV. WAS BASED ON THE EVIDENCE OF THE REPUBLIC ALONE. 1996. MARCOS II SHOULD BE DISQUALIFIED TO ACT AND SERVE AS EXECUTORS.

2-90. direct resort from the lower courts to the Supreme Court will not be entertained unless the appropriate remedy cannot be obtained in the lower tribunals. and must so remain if it is to satisfactorily perform the functions assigned to it by the Constitution and immemorial tradition. This rule is now incorporated in Section 5. do not fall within any ground which can be the subject of a direct appeal to this Court. however. The CA was thus correct in declaring that the ―issues raise d by petitioner do not fall within the purview of Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 such that the Supreme Court should take cognizance of the instant case. Judge Villarama[20] is instructive: Section 4 of Circular No. Court of Tax Appeals.‖[19] Moreover. that is. this being the clear intendment of the provision of the Interim Rules that ―(a)ppeals to the Supreme Court shall be taken by petition for certiorari which shall be governed by Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. modified or affirmed by the Supreme Court on writ of certiorari. the filing of the case directly with this Court runs afoul of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. decision or orders of the Commission on Elections. 2-90. Moreover. impost. judgments of regional trial courts may be appealed to the Supreme Court only by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court in relation to Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. (Emphasis and Underscoring Supplied) The pertinent portions of Section 17[18] of the Judiciary Act of 1948 read: The Supreme Court shall further have exclusive jurisdiction to review.Supreme Court Circular No. tax or jurisdictional questions. the propriety of granting letters testamentary to respondents. ordinance. reversed. (2) All cases involving the legality of any tax. or any penalty imposed in relation thereto. revise. judgments. Appeals from Regional Trial Courts to the Supreme Court. modify or affirm on certiorari as the law or rules of court may provide. reverse. final judgments and decrees of inferior courts as herein provided. the cases mentioned in the three next preceding paragraphs also involve questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law. Thus. Court of Appeals. (4) All other cases in which only errors or questions of law are involved: Provided. A reading of Supreme Court Circular 2-90. in – (1) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty. the aggrieved party shall appeal to the Court of Appeals. in Southern Negros Development Bank v. a petition for review on certiorari assailing the decision involving both questions of fact and law must first be brought before the Court of Appeals. clearly shows that the subject matter of therein petition. (3) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any inferior court is in issue. law. and (5) Final awards. and the Workmen’s Compensation Commission. in effect at the time of the antecedents.[21] Also. in addition to constitutional. as amended. or executive order or regulation is in question. This Court is a court of last resort. reads: 2. assessment or toll. the Court’s pronouncement in Suarez v. Court of Industrial Relations.[17] which was then in effect. revised.[22] this Court ruled: . in relation to Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. provides that an appeal taken to either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals by the wrong mode or inappropriate mode shall be dismissed. – Except in criminal cases where the penalty imposed is life imprisonment to reclusion perpetua. the Public Service Commission. Pursuant to this doctrine. That if. and the final judgment or decision of the latter may be reviewed.

It is incumbent upon private respondent qua appellants to utilize the correct mode of appeal of the decisions of trial courts to the appellate courts. In the mistaken choice of their remedy, they can blame no one but themselves (Jocson v. Baguio, 179 SCRA 550 [1989]; Yucuanseh Drug Co. v. National Labor Union, 101 Phil. 409 [1957]). x x x x Pursuant to Section 4 of Circular No. 2-90, which provides that "[a]n appeal taken to either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals by the wrong mode or inappropriate mode shall be dismissed," the only course of action of the Court to which an erroneous appeal is made is to dismiss the same. There is no longer any justification for allowing transfers of erroneous appeals from one court to another (Quesada v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 93869, November 12, 1990, First Division, Minute Resolution).[23] Based on the foregoing, petitioner cannot deny that the determination of whether or not respondents should be disqualified to act as executors is a question of fact. Hence, the proper remedy was to appeal to the CA, not to this Court. Petitioner is adamant, however, that notwithstanding the improper remedy, the CA should not have dismissed therein petition. Petitioner argues in the wise: However, as can be seen in the Resolution of February 5, 1997, (Annex ―H‖) this Honorable Court deemed it more proper to transmit the first Petition for Review to respondent appellate court for the reason that: This Court having been cited to no special and important reason for it to take cognizance of said case in the first instance. x x x It would appear then that even though this Honorable Court apparently considers the Republic’s petition as deserving to be given due course, it deemed it in the best interest of the parties concerned if the Court of Appeals would first take cognizance of said case, thereby preserving its stance as a court of last resort. Additionally, this Honorable Court itself plainly stated that the case under review is: ….REFERRED to the Court of Appeals for consideration and adjudication on the merits…. The latter having jurisdiction concurrent with this Court over the case…… [24] Petitioner’s arguments are misplaced. To stress, the February 5, 1997 Resolution reads: The special civil action for certiorari as well as all the other pleadings filed herein are REFERRED to the Court of Appeals for consideration and adjudication on the merits or any other action as it may deem appropriate, the latter having jurisdiction concurrent with this Court over the Case, and this Court having been cited to no special and important reason for it to take cognizance of said case in the first instance.[25]

Based thereon, this Court agrees with the ruling of the CA that said resolution gave the CA discretion and latitude to decide the petition as it may deem proper. The resolution is clear that the petition was referred to the CA for consideration and adjudication on the merits or any other action as it may deem appropriate. Thus, no error can be attributed to the CA when the action it deemed appropriate was to dismiss the petition for having availed of an improper remedy. More importantly, the action of the CA was sanctioned under Section 4 of Supreme Court Circular 2-90 which provides that ―an appeal taken to either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals by the wrong mode or inappropriate mode shall be dismissed.‖

Moreover, petitioner mistakenly relies in Oriental Media, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[26] in which this Court made the following pronouncements: In the case at bar, there was no urgency or need for Oriental to resort to the extraordinary remedy of certiorari for when it learned of the case and the judgment against it on July 25, 1986, due to its receipt of a copy of the decision by default; no execution had as yet been ordered by the trial court. As aforementioned, Oriental had still the time and the opportunity to file a motion for reconsideration, as was actually done. Upon the denial of its motion for reconsideration in the first case, or at the latest upon the denial of its petition for relief from judgment, Oriental should have appealed . Oriental should have followed the procedure set forth in the Rules of Court for — Rules of procedure are intended to ensure the orderly administration of justice and the protection of substantive rights in judicial and extrajudicial proceedings. It is a mistake to purpose that substantive law and adjective law are contradictory to each other or, as has often been suggested, that enforcement of procedural rules should never be permitted if it will result in prejudice to the substantive rights of the litigants. This is not exactly true; the concept is much misunderstood. As a matter of fact, the policy of the courts is to give effect to both kinds of law, as complementing each other, in the just and speedy resolution of the dispute between the parties. Observance of both substantive rights is equally guaranteed by due process whatever the source of such rights, be it the Constitution itself or only a statute or a rule of court. [27]

In the case at bar, as found by this Court in its February 5, 1997 Resolution, therein petition offered no important or special reason for the Court to take cognizance of it at the first instance. Petitioner offered no plausible reason why it went straight to this Court when an adequate and proper remedy was still available. The CA was thus correct that the remedy that petitioner should have availed of was to file an appeal under Rule 109 of the Rules of Court which states: Section 1. Orders of judgments from which appeals taken. – An interested person may appeal in special proceedings from an order or judgment rendered by a Court of First Instance or a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, where such order or judgment: (a) allows or disallows a will;

Because of the preceding discussion, herein petition must necessarily fail. However, even if this Court were to set aside petitioners’ procedural lapses, a careful review of the records of the case reveal that herein petition is without merit. At the crux of the controversy is a determination of whether or not respondents are incompetent to serve as executors of the will of Ferdinand Marcos. Ozeata v. Pecson[28] is instructive: The choice of his executor is a precious prerogative of a testator, a necessary concomitant of his right to dispose of his property in the manner he wishes. It is natural that the testator should desire to appoint one of his confidence, one who can be trusted to carry out his wishes in the disposal of the estate. The curtailment of this right may be considered as a curtailment of the right to dispose. And as the rights granted by will take effect from the time of death (Article 777, Civil Code of the Philippines), the management of his estate by the administrator of his choice should be made as soon as practicable, when no reasonable objection to his assumption of the trust can be interposed any longer. It has been held that when a will has been admitted to probate, it is the duty of the court to issue letters testamentary to the person named as executor upon his application (23 C.J. 1023). x x x x

The case of In re Erlanger's Estate, 242 N.Y.S. 249, also reiterates the same principle. The courts have always respected the right to which a testator enjoys to determine who is most suitable to settle his testamentary affairs, and his solemn selection should not lightly be disregarded. After the admission of a will to probate, the courts will not name a better executor for the testator nor disqualify, by a judicial veto, the widow or friend or other person selected in the will, except upon strict proof of the statutory grounds of incompetency . Matter of Leland's Will, 219 N.Y. 387, 393, 114 N.E. 854. x x x[29] Section 1(c), Rule 78 of the Rules of Court defines who are incompetent to serve as executors, to wit: Section 1. Who are incompetent to serve as executors or administrators. – No person is competent to serve as executor or administrator who: x x x x (c) Is in the opinion of the court unfit to execute the duties of trust by reason of drunkenness, improvidence, or want of understanding or integrity, or by reason of conviction of an offense involving moral turpitude. (Emphasis Supplied) In the case at bar, petitioner anchored its opposition to the grant of letters testamentary to respondents, specifically on the following grounds: (1) want of integrity, and (2) conviction of an offense involving moral turpitude. Petitioner contends that respondents have been convicted of a number of cases [30] and, hence, should be characterized as one without integrity, or at the least, with questionable integrity.[31] The RTC, however, in its January 11, 1996 Order, made the following findings: However, except for petitioner Republic’s allegation of want of integrity on the part of Imelda Trinidad Romualdez-Marcos and Ferdinand Romualdez Marco II, named executors in the last will and testament, so as to render them ―incompetent‖ to serve as executors, the Court sees at this time, no evidence on record, oral or documentary, to substantiate and support the said allegation . (Emphasis Supplied) Based on the foregoing, this Court stresses that an appellate court is disinclined to interfere with the action taken by the probate court in the matter of removal of an executor or administrator unless positive error or gross abuse of discretion is shown.[32] The Rules of Court gives the lower court the duty and discretion to determine whether in its opinion an individual is unfit to serve as an executor. The sufficiency of any ground for removal should thus be determined by the said court, whose sensibilities are, in the first place, affected by any act or omission on the part of the administrator not conformable to or in disregard of the rules of orders of the court. [33] Hence, in order to reverse the findings of the RTC, this Court must evaluate the evidence presented or alleged by petitioner in support of its petition for disqualification. However, after a painstaking review of the records and evidence on hand, this Court finds that the RTC committed no error or gross abuse of discretion when it ruled that petitioner failed to substantiate its allegation. Petitioner conveniently omits to state that the two cases against respondent Imelda Marcos have already been reversed by this Court. Her conviction in Criminal Case No. 17453 was reversed by this Court in Dans, Jr. v. People.[34] Likewise, her conviction in Criminal Case No. 17450 was reversed by this Court in Marcos v. Sandiganbayan.[35] Hence, the so-called ―convictions‖ against respondent Imelda Marcos cannot serve as a ground for her disqualification to serve as an executor.

or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow men. and as admitted by petitioner. In De Jesus-Paras v. the term "moral turpitude" is considered as encompassing "everything which is done contrary to justice." and that ''as to what crime involves moral turpitude is for the Supreme Court to determine.R.. since respondent Ferdinand Marcos II has appealed his conviction relating to four violations of Section 45 of the NIRC. and swindling are crimes which denote moral turpitude and. More importantly. or conduct contrary to justice."[39] Moreover. bears to stress. Therefore. 18569. The same is illustrated in Section 51(b) of the NIRC which reads: (b) Assessment and payment of deficiency tax – xxx In case a person fails to make and file a return or list at the time prescribed by law." x x x x We. honesty. robbery. or to society in general. The ―failure to file an income tax return‖ is not a cri me involving moral turpitude as the mere omission is already a violation regardless of the fraudulent intent or willfulness of the individual. (2) a fraudulent return with intent to evade tax. forgery. or makes willfully or otherwise. (Emphasis Supplied) ." we have consistently adopted the definition in Black's Law Dictionary as "an act of baseness. vileness. the NIRC considers three distinct violations: (1) a false return. Commision on Elections. CR No. and (3) failure to file a return. honesty. It. the eight cases filed against respondent Ferdinand Marcos II involve four charges for violation of Section 45 (failure to file income tax returns) and four charges for violation of Section 50 (non-payment of deficiency taxes) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977 (NIRC). Moreover. It is a matter of record. Vailoces:[40] Indeed. however. the same is still insufficient to disqualify him as the ―failure to file an income tax return‖ is not a crime involving mor al turpitude. it is well-settled that "embezzlement. that in CA-G. false or fraudulent return or list x x x. or good morals . [37] said decision is still pending appeal. contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman. modesty.S. the same should not serve as a basis to disqualify him to be appointed as an executor of the will of his father. as a general rule. or good morals. all crimes of which fraud is an element are looked on as involving moral turpitude" (58 C. even assuming arguendo that his conviction is later on affirmed.[38] this Court held: As to the meaning of "moral turpitude. In Villaber v.On the other hand. clarified in Dela Torre vs. This conclusion is supported by the provisions of the NIRC as well as previous Court decisions which show that with regard to the filing of an income tax return.J. Commission on Elections that "not every criminal act involves moral turpitude.[36] the CA acquitted respondent Ferdinand Marcos II of all the four charges for violation of Section 50 and sustained his conviction for all the four charges for violation of Section 45. however." In In re Vinzon. 1206). that the CA only ordered respondent Marcos II to pay a fine for his failure to file his income tax return.

This Court does not agree with the posture taken by petitioner. accepts the explanation given by respondents. to wit: (a) petitioner does not have the requisite interest to institute it. even if said grounds were later on overruled by the RTC. and failure to file a return is strengthened immeasurably by the last portion of the provision which segregates the situations into three different classes. namely. the tax may be assessed. supported as they are by very substantial evidence." "fraud" and "omission. respondents cannot be held guilty of estoppel as they merely acted within their rights when they put in issue legal grounds in opposing the probate proceedings. this Court will not interfere with the RTC’s discretion. said court was still of opinion that respondents were fit to serve as executors notwithstanding their earlier opposition.[41] this Court observed: To our minds we can dispense with these controversial arguments on facts. As for the remaining errors assigned by petitioner. at any time within ten years after the discovery of the (1) falsity. Petitioner contends that respondents have strongly objected to the transfer to the Philippines of the Marcos assets deposited in the Swiss Banks[44] and thus the same should serve as a ground for their disqualification to act as executors. deserve scant . this Court holds that even if the conviction of respondent Marcos II is affirmed. considering the nature of their opposition. We believe that the proper and reasonable interpretation of said provision should be that in the three different cases of (1) false return. to wit: Respondents opposed the petition for probate not because they are disclaiming the existence of the will. Our stand that the law should be interpreted to mean a separation of the three different situations of false return. Petitioner further claims that said actions clearly show that respondents lack the competence and integrity to serve as officers of the court. In the first place. but because of certain legal grounds. without proof. (b) the original copy of the will was not attached to the petition for probate as required by the rules. This Court does not agree. in Aznar v.Likewise. Anent the third error raised by petitioner. and are. "falsity. the same not being a crime involving moral turpitude cannot serve as a ground for his disqualification. and instead. estopped from claiming to be the rightful executors thereof. however. or a proceeding in court for the collection of such tax may be begun without assessment. the filing of a ―fraudulent return with intent to evade tax‖ is a crime involving moral turpitude as it entails willfulness and fraudulent intent on the part of the individual. (2) fraud. and (3) omission . Thus. the same has no merit. in the absence of palpable error or gross abuse of discretion. fraudulent return with intent to evade tax. Court of Tax Appeals. and (c) the Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue is not qualified to be appointed as administrator of the estate. therefore. carry great weight.[43] Based on the foregoing. cannot be said for ―failure to file a return‖ where the mere omission already constitute s a violation. the same are mere allegations which. by resorting to a proper interpretation of Section 332 of the NIRC."[42] (Emphasis Supplied) Applying the foregoing considerations to the case at bar. Again. (3) failure to file a return . More importantly. although we do not deny that the findings of facts by the Court of Tax Appeals. The same. Petitioner contends that respondents denied the existence of the will. the same are bereft of merit. (2) fraudulent return with intent to evade tax.

PURPOSE OF. to Imelda Romualdez-Marcos and Ferdinand Marcos II. his age. ID. deceased. Where the testator. during the hearing. and undue influence. PROBATE OF. this Court has stressed that this Court is a court of law and not a court of public opinion. —The purpose of the law (section 10. is to appraise said persons of the reasons in opposing probate so that they may prepare the necessary evidence to counteract and disprove said grounds of opposition. EVIDENCE. Again. 1997 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. . SP No. . ID. this Court will not interfer e with the RTC’s discretion. ISSUE MAY NOT BE VARIED BY PLEADINGS. at the time the contested will was made. ID. —When the genuineness of the testator's signature is put in issue..WILLS. petitioner argues that the assailed RTC Orders were based solely on their own evidence and that respondents offered no evidence to show that they were qualified to serve as executors..ID.R. L-6303. Moreover. 4. Said court. effort and continuity of motion that it had before he became quite ill and infirm. rhythm. still did not find the same as a sufficient ground to disqualify respondents. 10279. SERVICE OF OPPOSITION TO ALL PERSONS INTERESTED. FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED IN DETERMINING GENNUINENESS OF SIGNATURE OF TESTATOR. its petition must necessarily fail.ID. [46] Consequently. SO ORDERED. [No. before the probate court can allow the will it must be satisfied upon proof taken and filed. it is natural that his signature should lack the firmness. this. acting as a probate court in Special Proceeding No. that the will was duly executed. 1954] In the matter of the last will and testament of JOSE VAÑO.consideration. vs. June 30. 4. infirmity and state of health should be given due consideration. . ET AL. OPPOSITOR MAY ADD OTHER GROUNDS AND SUBMIT EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT THEREOF. it was the burden of petitioner (not respondents) to substantiate the grounds upon which it claims that respondents should be disqualified to serve as executors. 1997 Decision and August 27. however. ISSUE IN CONTESTED WILLS. Lastly. PAZ VAÑO VDA..—The rule in this jurisdiction is that the issue in contested wills is fixed by the Rules of Court. oppositors and appellees. The Regional Trial Court of Pasig City. —An oppositor objecting to the probate of a will on one or two specific grounds may.ID. in the absence of palpable error or gross abuse of discretion. This issue may not be varied by the pleadings. premises considered. the March 13. petitioner had already raised the same argument in its motion for partial reconsideration before the RTC. and having failed in doing so. DE GARCES. 43450 are herebyAFFIRMED. ID. 1. petitioner and appellant. TEODORO VAÑO. 3. Rule 77 of the Rules of Court requiring a person contesting probate to state his ground of opposition and serve copy thereof to the petitioner and other residents of the province interested in the estate. insolidum. [45] It is basic that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and a mere allegation is not evidence.. . that is. add other grounds and submit evidence in support of the same. is hereby ORDERED to issue letters testamentary. RULE IN THIS JURISDICTION —ISSUE IS FlXED BY RULES OF COURT. and that the testator at the time of its execution was of sound and disposing mind and not acting under duress. was 78 years old and suffering from apparently advanced pulmonary tuberculosis and rheumatism. 2. WHEREFORE.. menace.. or fraud. Branch 156. ID. Time and again. in addition to apprising the court itself of the issue involved in the proceeding so that it may intelligently direct the presentation of evidence during the hearing.

and the following shall be my Last Will: 1.. CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES. He left properties valued at P95. single. et al. this my Last Will and Testament in English. DE GARCES. Filipino citizen. on joint motion of both parties requesting that the appeal be elevated to the Supreme Court on the ground that the value of the properties involved as shown by the inventory was more than P50. ID. which language is known to me. et al. Vda.5. and which I talk. TEODORO VAÑO. execute and publish. said to be the LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF JOSE VAÑO. THE SON AND THE HOLY GHOST.R. read and understand. Pedro R. he was 78 years old and he die of P. I hereby make known to the world that Teodoro Ceblero Vaño is my son.. under oath assured the court that the testator voluntarily signed the will. had no interest in the execution of the will and stood to gain nothing by its probate. That I hereby bequeath to aforesaid Teodoro Ceblero Vaño all my properties. J. We reproduce said document — LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER. 2. Luspo.. in the City of Cebu. vs. 333(1954)] Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G. being of sound and disposing mind and memory. MONTEMAYOR. 95 Phil. No. The appeal was first taken to the Court of Appeals where the record on appeal and the briefs of petitioner and oppositors were filed.. Pelaez.05 as per inventory of the administrator but which according to the evidence are worth much more. [Vaño vs. 1950. L-6303 June 30. Luspo for appellant. B. Exhibit "C". PAZ VAÑO VDA.ID. Faelnar and Roque R. deceased. of legal age and resident of Cebu City. T. however. de Garces. Teodoro Ceblero Vaño petitioned the Court of First Instance of Cebu to have a document supposed to be the last will and testament of Jose Vaño. probated. 1954 In the matter of the last will and testament of JOSE VAÑO. AMEN: I. oppositors-appellees. do hereby make. petitionerappellant. Subsequently. Jose Vaño died on January 28. Pelaez and Pelaez and Ramon Duterte for appellees.913. 1950. and which he attached to his petition. their disinterested testimony can not be taken lightly. According to the certificate of the City Health Officer and Local Civil Registrar. hereby revoking and cancelling any and all testamentary provisions heretofore made by me. ID.000. the case was forwarded to this Tribunal where memoranda were filed in lieu of oral argument. (pulmonary tuberculosis). Vicente L.—Where the three subscribing witnesses to the will who were in no way related to the testator. .: This is an appeal by petitioner Teodoro Vaño from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Cebu denying probate of the document (Exhibit "A"). Jose Vaño. On February 11.

del Rosario. and all of them are entitled to participate in the said Estate of the deceased Jose Vaño in case of intestacy. 1949. 3. Sn. — Basak. de Garces and the supposed heirs of Jesus Vaño. and in witness whereof we have each signed the same in the presence of said testator and in the presence of each other. (Sgd. Cebu City O. St. the same being a mere protege of the deceased. 1950. thru their undersigned attorneys. 6. Nicolas. filed the following opposition — OPPOSITION Comes now Paz Vaño Vda. Salvador Vaño. Teodorico Vaño. whose residences are stated opposite our respective names. Paz Vaño Vda.In witness whereof. Pedro C. and the heirs of Jesus Vaño. Cebu City Teodoro asked that he be appointed administrator of the estate and that pending his appointment as regular administrator. On March 24. do hereby certify that the testator whose name is signed hereinabove. and Filomena Vaño. and Ireneo Vaño. Junquera. de Garces is the sister of the deceased Jose Vaño. Paquiao — 553 A. and has signed the same in our presence. Felicidad Vano. 1949. Philippines. Rama. Norberto Vaño. Ceniza — 494-B. P.. this 11th day of December. Cebu City Nazario R. has published unto us the foregoing WILL consisting of one page. Angel Vaño. de Garces. That the signature of the testator Jose Vaño was procured by fraud and trick on the part of Teodoro Ceblero and the said deceased Jose Vaño never intended that the said document should be his will at the time of fixing his signature thereto. 2. . are the children and heirs of Jesus (brother of Jose Vaño).) Jose Vaño Testator We. That the instrument now offered for probate as will of the deceased Jose Vaño was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of Teodoro Ceblero who is not an acknowledged natural child of the deceased Jose Vaño. the undersigned attesting witnesses. and not an adopted or acknowledged natural child. That the said Jose Vaño was mentally incapable to make a will on December 11th. Cebu City. 4. and to this Honorable Court respectfully states: 1. 1949. That the oppositor Paz Vaño Vda. 5. M. I have hereunto affixed my name at the City of Cebu. That the instrument now offered for probate as will of the deceased Jose Vaño is written in English language which is not the usual and proper language of the deceased. as his Last Will and Testament. Philippines this 11th day of December. 4. he be designated special administrator. D. and if the deceased would have had made any will he should have it written in Spanish. That the said deceased Jose Vaño never recognized Teodoro Ceblero as his acknowledged natural child. brother of Jose Vaño.

8. is a competent person to act as Administratrix of the estate of the deceased. and Teodorico Falcon. Norberto Calibo. That in this case a petition has been presented for the probate of the last will and testament of Jose Vaño. Bohol (for the City of Cebu). Salvador Flores. 6. That he is the son and only heir of Jesus Vaño. also deceased. Tagbilaran. 5. and that it be not admitted to probate. That an opposition has been filed against the probate of said will. 2. 7.7. Cebu City. 3. That Dolores Garces de Falcon. and she is willing to serve as such. That he has not authorized anybody to file an opposition in his name. who are sometimes known by the surname Vaño but that they were not related to him because he had no . 1950 Said motion of Ireneo Vaño was granted by the Court. without his knowledge and consent. March 23. That he is named as one of the oppositors. MOTION Comes now Ireneo Vaño and to this Honorable Court respectfully stated: 1. PRAYER Wherefore. On August 29. That Dolores Garces de Falcon be appointed as Administratrix of the Estate of the deceased Jose Vaño. the undersigned respectfully prays his Honorable Court to cancel his name from the list of oppositors mentioned in the opposition to the petition filed by Teodoro Vaño. now deceased. That an administratrix of the said estate be appointed who shall distribute the same among the legal heirs of the deceased. being the nearest of kin. That the deceased Jose Vaño had time and again told his sister and nephews that he will not execute a will because he wants to leave all his estate in favor of his brother and sister. PRAYER For all the foregoing considerations. already dead. In the course of the hearing. filed a motion of the following tenor. That he does not oppose nor intends to oppose the probate of the will in question. 1950. Felicidad Calibo. because that document contains a true expression of the wish and desire of Jose Vaño as to who shall inherit his property. and nephews. that he knew Filomena Falcon. a niece of the deceased Jose Vaño. we respectfully pray this Honorable Court that the said will of the deceased Jose Vaño be declared null and void. he was presented as one of the witnesses for petitioner Teodoro and he declared that he was the son of Jesus Vaño. Angle Falcon. 1950. Philippines. Ireneo Vaño one of the persons included in the opposition. August 8. That his father Jesus Vaño is a brother of Jose Vaño. 4.

that he signed Exhibit "A" in their presence. The idea sought to be conveyed by them was that the testator was in no condition to execute a will. that at the time of the execution of the document in the afternoon of December 11. a daughter of Paz Vaño Vda. especially the fact that he was suffering from rheumatism. His testimony was vigorously objected to by counsel for the petitioner on the ground that the genuineness of the signature of the testator on Exhibit "A" was never placed in issue because the written opposition of the opponents virtually admitted said genuineness and merely claimed that the will was not the testator's voluntary act because said signature was obtained thru trickery and that undue pressure and influence were brought to bear upon him. merely claiming that said signatures were obtained through trickery and fraud and under pressure and influence.brothers or sisters. and that he knew of the blood relationship between the testator and Teodoro Vaño because he (Ireneo) since childhood used to go to his uncle's house where Teodoro lived and he saw that Teodoro was treated as a son by Jose Vaño. It is his contention that the opponents not only failed to allege as a basis of their opposition that the signatures of the testator on the supposed will were forged but that on the contrary. The burden of their testimony is that from November 1949. that in December he was in serious if not critical condition. that he (Ireneo) never authorized anyone to include him as oppositor to the probate of the will of Jose Vaño and that he did not oppose its probate. Bond over that of Dr. weakness. that he had to be fed by someone. The three attesting witnesses Pedro Ceniza. de Garces and Carmen Vallore testified. Osmundo Rama and Atty. son of Jose Vaño. and accepting the expert testimony of Mr. Dolores Garces de Falcon. the learned trial court noting discrepancies in the testimonies of the three attesting witnesses as to the due execution of Exhibit "A". 1949. After hearing. that he was always in bed. One of the errors assigned by petitioner-appellant is that the trial court erred in permitting appellees over the objection of appellant to present evidence which are contrary to their allegations in their opposition. Mr. For the opposition Ciriaca Alse who formerly worked as a servant in the household of Teodoro Vaño. To counteract the testimony of Bond. that the blank space after the letter "I" in the first paragraph of Exhibit "A" was filled out by the testator himself although they (witnesses) differ as to who filled out the blank spaces on the document where the words "11th" and "December" appear. In some jurisdictions in the United States the rule is that the issue in contested wills is made up by the pleadings or framed from the same. and illness of the testator. Versoza claims that after examining the signatures of Jose Vaño on Exhibit "A" and comparing them with accepted standard signatures of the testator. Versoza. oftentimes unable to move or open his eyes and he could not maintain any conversation with anyone. no pressure or influence having been exerted on him. came to the conclusion that the supposed signatures of Jose Vaño on Exhibit "A" are not genuine but imitated and held that Exhibit "A" was not the last will and testament of Jose Vaño. and that each of them signed the same after him in his presence and in the presence of each other. and no evidence can be introduced except in support of allegations contained in such . Paul Rodriguez Versoza. he was convinced that the signatures on Exhibit "A" were forgeries. they impliedly admitted the genuineness of said signatures. he was convinced that the signatures on Exhibit "A" were genuine and that any difference noted between them were due to the age. Pacquiao told the court that it was he who prepared the will (Exhibit A) pursuant to the wishes of the testator. This point brings us to a discussion of what evidence an opponent to a probate of a will may be permitted to present at the hearing — whether or not he is limited to presenting evidence to sustain the particular objection or ground on which he bases his opposition to the probate. Jose Vaño was already very sick. the deposition of Dr. that his father Jesus Vaño was a younger brother of the testator Jose Vaño. who paid for Teodoro's board at the Colegio del Niño where the two of them were students. and that he was bed-ridden and already had bed-sores. that petitioner Teodoro Vaño was the cousin. Nazario Pacquiao testified for the petitioner and assured the court that Exhibit "A" was the last will and testament of the late Jose Vaño. Dr. Dr. another handwriting expert was taken and introduced in evidence. an examiner of questioned documents and chief of the Questioned Documents and Ballistics Division of the National Bureau of Investigation was also presented by the opposition as a handwriting expert and he told the court that after examining the supposed signature of Jose Vaño on Exhibit "A" and comparing them with his accepted standard signatures. the testator was of sound and disposing mind and memory and that it was his voluntary act. Edgar Bond. Atty.

this. those on the duplicate (Exhibit "3-A") are still more so. however. showing the effects of the concentration of attention. it is said that the issue is fixed by the statute and is practically the old common law issue "devisavit vel non. as well as any other person interested in the estate. as we have already stated. As the law in our jurisdiction on the probate of wills now stands. Their opinions seem to be plausible. section 10 of the same rule 77 provides that "anyone appearing to contest the will must file a writing stating his grounds for opposing its allowance. that said issue may not be varied by the pleadings and that every ground of attack on the validity of the will may be employed. he was suffering from apparently advanced pulmonary tuberculosis as well as rheumatism which according to Dr. then the oppositor in presenting evidence will be confined to that point. of the reasons in opposing probate so that they may prepare the necessary evidence to counteract and disprove said ground of opposition. assumed if not conceded the . and honesty of these two witnesses. changeable and uncertain. In other jurisdictions. Examining the signatures on Exhibit "A". and (e) if the signature of the testator was procured by fraud and trick. during the hearing add to the grounds and submit evidence in support of the same. Rule 77. There is no reason for doubting the qualifications. sitting up in bed only once in a while. or fraud. ( d) if it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiary. affected his joints. of the Rules of Court." is the instrument presented for probate the last will and testament of the testator?. For instance. and serve a copy thereof on the petitioner and other residents of the province interested in the estate. we are inclined to adopt the second view. under section 9 of the same rule. The testator was then 78 years old. Let us now go to the evidence on the alleged forgery of the signatures of the testator Jose Vaño. ( c) if it was executed under duress." The purpose of this legal provision is clear. a fact which naturally and not inconsiderably weakens their stand. arrived at after an analysis and comparison of the questioned signatures with the standard and accepted signatures of the testator. As we have already said. it will be readily observed that while the signatures on the original are already infirm. lying in bed most of the time. On the other hand. or threats. One of the grounds of their opposition was that the signature of the testator was procured by fraud and trick. Verzosa for the petitioner. (c) and (d) of section 12. Rule 77 as stated above. Of course. sincerity. and undue influence. including the court and the petitioner that said signature was genuine but was not valid. We have carefully read the testimony of Mr. suggesting a hand infirm and trembling. (b) if the testator was mentally incapable of making a will. but when this happen as it did in the present case. accepted signatures of the testator even as late as the last part of the year 1949. said oppositors completely changed their stand and claimed that the signature was actually forged. namely. Osmundo Rama who had been treating him until the day he died. At the hearing. his hands trembled. exertion and effort of the testator in reading and singing the original. and at those times. the original of the will. The oppositors in the present case therefore were not precluded from attacking the will on the ground of forgery despite the fact that their opposition was confined to grounds (b). and it is to apprise the person or persons seeking the probate of will. a carbon copy thereof. that conduct and attitude. But there are other and equally important considerations which favor the conclusion that Exhibit "A" was duly signed written opposition the opponents did not question but on the contrary. so much so that he developed bed-sores. or the influence of fear. a will may be disallowed ( a) if not executed and attested as required by law. lack of effort and continuity of motion that they had before he became quite ill and infirm. But we should not forget that on December 11th of the same year when he executed Exhibit "A". rough and jagged. Bond for the oppositors and the deposition of Dr. because under section 12. and state of health of the testator had not been given due consideration by the witness of the opponents and by the court. before the probate court can allow the will it must be satisfied upon proof taken and filed that the will was duly executed. It is natural that his signatures on Exhibit "A" should lack the firmness. Also. thereby leading one to believe. that the law itself fixes or determines the issue. does not strengthen their position. There is no question that there are differences and discrepancies between the two signatures reading "Jose Vaño" on Exhibit "A" and the genuine. an oppositor objecting to the probate of the will on one or two specific grounds may.pleadings. one is more or less justified in inferring that the oppositors were not sure of their ground. in addition to apprising the court itself of the issue involved in the proceedings so that it may intelligently direct the presentation of evidence during the hearing. age. that they were in doubt as to the basis of their opposition. if the only opposition to the probate of a will is lack of mental capacity of the testator. and those on "3-A". rhythm. and that the testator at the time of its execution was of sound and disposing mind and not acting under duress. but we fear that the infirmity. menace.

in our opinion. and to collect and receive the rents. Jose Vaño in 1945. The learned trial court lays emphasis on the uncertainty of the three subscribing witnesses as to who filled out the blank spaces on the will now occupied by the words "11th" and "December". cousin-in-law of the testator. Again. This same Ireneo later filed a motion in court repudiating the action taken by the opponents. entrusted him with the complete management of his business. 1950. because if there had been forgery by leaving the blank space for the name of the testator to be filled out later. wife of Teodoro Vaño. In this connection. asking Teodoro to send P5. interests. he wrote to Teodoro a note (Exhibit "I") addressing him as his "dear son" and with the complimentary clause "your loving Dad". After all. to ask. During the hearing and while Teodoro Vaño was testifying. is it any wonder that Jose Vaño should voluntarily by means of a will. etc. Said uncertainty on the part of the said three subscribing witnesses instead of affecting their veracity. One of the witness for the opposition. including the space for the date and the month. and even after Teodoro had married.genuineness of the signatures of the testator. sign. the forgers would be laying themselves open and unnecessarily creating an additional opportunity for the opponents and for the to detect the forgery.000 to him. and to collect and receive the rentals accruing from the leased properties. because it refers to minor detail and shows that they had not been rehearsed but on the contrary. and collect any and all sums of money. in her testimony called Milagros Vaño. legacies. and shortly before his death. signing the same. a wealthy man should leave all his wealth to a mere natural son (Teodoro) and leave nothing to her. a son of Jesus Vaño. according to . documents. among the oppositors. counsel for the oppositors repeatedly reffered to the testator as his (Teodoro's) father. even recognized him as such. and the opposition was filed on March 24th of the same year. that far from opposing the probate of the will of his uncle. treated like a son. Exhibits "F" and "G". this despite the fact that the original of the will (Exhibit "A") was filed in court on February 11. and to execute and sign the corresponding deeds of lease. sister of the testator. In 1946 while the testator was in Bohol. dues. some or all real properties owned by him in the City of Cebu. agreements. It seems that at least in Cebu and Bohol petitioner Teodoro Vaño was known by everyone to be the son of Jose Vaño because the latter had treated and accepted. the opponents include Ireneo Vaño. could not understand why her brother. as the daughter-in-law of Jose Vaño. This was accepted and acted by Teodoro Vaño. while they are sure that the name Jose Vaño on the space at the beginning of the first paragraph was written by the testator himself. In 1946 and 1947 the testator appointed Teodoro his attorney-in-fact giving him a power of attorney with extensive powers such as to lease to the Republic of the Philippines some of his real personal properties in the City of Cebu. there was neither necessity nor occasion for forging the signatures of the testator in the will because there is every reason to believe that said testator would leave all his property to petitioner Teodoro Vaño. meaning that Teodoro was the son of the testator. after which examination they did not doubt their genuineness. sue form recover. he believed that said will was a true expression of the wish and desire of the testator. strengthens it. but it was not altogether strange because it seems that the relations between Paz and the testator. Then at the hearing. but he testified for the petitioner and said that the petitioner Teodoro Vaño was the son of the testator and had been treated by him as such since childhood. Not only this. leave all his properties to his only son. debts. dividends. and deliver contracts. testified to what they remember. and other writings of whatever nature with any and all third persons upon terms and conditions acceptable to him (Teodoro). in a public instrument entitled "Special Power of Attorney" (Exhibit "E") referred to Teodoro Vaño as his son and appointed him as his attorney-in-fact to leave to the United States of America any. they changed their attitude and for the first time put in issue the genuineness of said signatures. execute. de Garces. the old man lived with them. he and his wife and family continued to live with the old man. The evidence shows that Teodoro was a natural son of the testator. and sent to school. In other words the opponents and their lawyers had almost one and a half months within which to examine and scrutinize the signatures on Exhibit "A". bequests. Under all these circumstances. there is every reason to believe that the fact that the space for the name Jose Vaño on Exhibit "A" was left in blank to be filled out later by the testator himself argues against the theory of forgery. demand. accounts. which thereafter become due or owing to him and to make. brother of the testator. Carmen Vallore. From childhood he had been raised by Jose Vaño. under such terms and conditions which Teodoro may deem just and reasonable. saying that he was include among the oppositors without his knowledged or consent. though natural? It is not improbable that one of the reasons prompting the filling of the opposition to the petition for probate was that Paz Vaño Vda. were rather strained and in 1949. or rather.

This fact together with the circumstance that they were not shown to have any interest in the subject of the litigation. Paz had brought a civil action against Jose Vaño and Irineo Vaño. the decision appealed from his reversed and Exhibit "A" is hereby allowed probate as the Last Will and Testament of Jose Vaño. this Court said: In the present case. must be produced and examined. under oath assured the court that Jose Vaño voluntarily signed Exhibit "A". at the time was not only a member of the bar but was an assistant provincial fiscal. 908. On this question of the weight to be given to the testimony of subscribing witnesses. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES." The law impliedly recognizes the almost conclusive weight of the testimony of attesting witnesses when it provides that "if the will is contested. has been given by this Court the consideration deserved. 60 Phil. lead the trial court to consider their testimony as worthy of credit.R. 59 Phil. et al. Roxas. July 7. 48 Off. should commit forgery by drafting Exhibit "A" and take part in forging the signature of the testator and later falsely testify in court on the due execution of said will and subject himself not only to criminal prosecution and dismissal from his post as assistant provincial fiscal. on the contrary are "subject to inherent infirmities. is a member of the bar and at the time he prepared Exhibit "A". No. we held in the case of Roxas vs. (6) 2177.. Dr. all the subscribing witnesses present in the Philippines and not insane. but also to disbarment proceedings. OBANDO. Reiterating the doctrine laid down in the case of Sotelo vs. and the death. and these three witnesses were in no way related to Teodoro or to the testator. the opinions of the two handwriting experts presented by the parties are conflicting and even assuming that there is doubt to our mind as to which of the two is to be accepted. Luzan.) In the present case. Osmundo Rama. Rule 77 Rules of Court. 692. 2010. petitioners. Gaz.. The three subscribing witnesses to the will.the evidence. 391. vs." (Section 11. he was Assistant Provincial Fiscal of Cebu. Pedro Ceniza is a responsible businessman. the positive and clear testimony of the three subscribing witnesses should prevail." There is no reason to believe that Atty. Their disinterested testimony cannot be taken lightly. 138696. the nephew of Jose Vaño who refused to oppose the probate of the will.. And during the last and prolonged illness of the testator. is a practising physician and Atty. had no interest in the execution of the will and stood to gain nothing by its probate. Paz living in the same city of Cebu. In the case of In re Will of Medina. absence or insanity of any one of them must be satisfactorily shown to the Court. 87 Phil. Pacquio who. two of the subscribing witnesses are lawyers. In view of the foregoing. did not even once visit her ailing and bed-ridden brother. we further held in the same case: In one case it was said: "It is hardly conceivable that any attorney of any standing would risk his professional reputation by falsifying a will and then go before a court and give false testimony.* FELIZARDO S. that — We do not venture to impute bias to the experts introduced during the trial but we hasten to state that the positive testimony of the three attesting witnesses ought to prevail over the expert opinions which cannot be mathematically precise but which. with costs against appellees. . 5 G. OBANDO AND JUAN S. Nazario Pacquio. in the preparation and execution of wills. respondent. The intervention of professional men specially lawyers.

and (3) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another. as in this case. a person may commit falsification of a public document by causing it to appear in a document that a person or persons participated in an act or proceeding. are accorded high respect if not conclusive effect. Same. as well as its conclusions anchored on said findings. said findings are generally binding upon the Court. Falsification of Public Documents. 624 SCRA 299(2010)] Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court Manila . and scientific. Criminal Law. thorough. 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code. said findings are generally binding upon this Court unless when that determination is clearly without evidentiary support on record. and (3) that the act of falsification is committed in a public document. and scientific. Elements of Estafa under Article 315. the elements of the crime of Falsification of Public Document under Article 172 (1) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) are: (1) that the offender is a private individual.—We find the elements of falsification of public document present in this case. Expert Witnesses. Being a complex crime. 1 (b) of the RPC are as follows: (1) that money. Estafa through Falsification of Public Documents. or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same. or when the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts or overlooked certain relevant facts which. if they find them inconsistent with the facts in the case or otherwise unreasonable. Appeals. When the trial court’s findings have been affirmed b y the appellate court. Being a complex crime.—The crime committed was estafa through falsification of public document. however. the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed in its maximum period. in fact. The courts may place whatever weight they choose upon and may reject them. Exceptions. While we sustain the conviction of petitioners of the crime charged. which we do not find in this case. (2) that the offender committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated under Article 171. par. but upon the assistance he may afford in pointing out distinguishing marks. we found. People. When faced with conflicting expert opinions. [Obando vs. goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust. when such person or persons did not. (2) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt. Under paragraph 2 of Article 171. Evidence. the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed in its maximum period. par. that the penalty imposed by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals was not proper. They are generally regarded as purely advisory in character. This is more true if such findings were affirmed by the appellate court. Elements of the Crime of Falsification of Public Documents under Article 172 (1) of the Revised Penal Code. or on commission. so participate in the act or proceeding. would justify a different conclusion. The elements of estafa under Article 315. characteristics and discrepancies in and between genuine and false specimens of writing which would ordinarily escape notice or detection from an unpracticed observer.—The rule is that the findings of fact of the trial court. thorough. When the trial court’s findings have been affirmed by the appellate court. Expert opinions are not ordinarily conclusive. or for administration. if properly considered. courts give more weight and credence to that which is more complete.—Expert opinions are not ordinarily conclusive. When faced with conflicting expert opinions. its calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses and its assessment of the probative weight thereof. Estafa. Same. courts give more weight and credence to that which is more complete.Remedial Law. The value of the opinion of a handwriting expert depends not upon his mere statements of whether a writing is genuine or false. Essentially.—The crime of falsification of public document was the means for petitioners to commit estafa. Same.

2010 x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x DECISION PERALTA. The antecedent facts are as follows: Sometime in 1964.R.SECOND DIVISION FELIZARDO S. filed a petition for the intestate proceedings of the estate of Jose . together with Eduardo and Francisco Figueras. 138696 Present: CARPIO. Chairperson. G. 20187. OBANDO and JUAN S. ABAD. Petitioners. J. de Figueras (Alegria).. and MENDOZA. Respondent. 1999 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. -versusNACHURA. No. 1998 and the Resolution dated May 17. PERALTA.: Before us is a petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioners Felizardo and Juan Obando seeking to annul and [1] [2] set aside the Decision dated August 13.R. Alegria Strebel Vda. CR No. sons of her husband Jose Figueras by previous marriage. JJ. OBANDO. Promulgated: July 7. J.

de Figueras were NOT written by one and same person. Eduardo was issued new Letters of Adminis tration with the duty to administer both Jose’s and Alegria’s estates. these conflicting parties agreed to submit the alleged will to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for [3] examination and comparison with the common standard signatures of Alegria. 61567 and 123948 were consolidated under Branch 17 of the RTC of Manila which. including all her pieces of jewelry to petitioners Felizardo and Juan. with the findings that the questioned and standard sample signatures of Alegria S. Subsequently. Fritz Strebel. as well as the rentals of the Figueras residence in Gilmore Street. While the settlement of Jose’s estate was still pending considerations in the Regional Trial Court (RTC). Later. Subsequently. Alegria was named administratrix of Jose’s estate without opposition from her stepsons. since the latter could not account for these properties which were under his possession when the probate court required him to do so. petitioner Felizardo asked to be named as executor of Alegria’s last will and testament. came forth claiming part of Alegria’s estate as Alegria died without issue whi ch the Figueras brothers made no opposition. Eduardo and Fritz questioned these acts of petitioner Felizardo and. In his petition. denied petitioner Felizardo’s prayer to be named as executor. as well as personal properties. petitioners had taken possession of the pieces of jewelry. which petition was docketed as Special Proceeding No. which bequeathed Alegria’s rights and interest in the real properties left by the Figueras couple. furniture and other personal properties enumerated in the alleged will. Eduardo and Fritz still opposed the probate of the alleged Alegria’s will. after hearing. the Figueras brothers and Fritz Strebel were served with copies of a Petition for Probate of the alleged last will and testament of Alegria filed by petitioner Felizardo Obando. they sued him for Estafa thru Falsification of Public Document since the alleged will which petitioner Felizardo submitted for probate was found to be forged. as well as petitioner Felizardo’s prayer for the issuance of a letter of administration. as brother of Alegria. 61567. After the examination and comparison of the submitted documents.Figueras. Vda. both Special Proceeding Nos. Quezon City being leased to the Community of Learners. By reason of the forged will which was the basis of the CA in appointing Felizardo as co-administrator of the Figueras estates. docketed as Special Proceedings No. NBI Document Examiner Zenaida Torres [4] submitted her report dated March 26. i nsisting that the will was a forgery. on the ground that the alleged will was done either under duress or the same was a forgery. 1990. and their families. Petitioner Felizardo appe aled the matter to the CA which partially reversed the RTC by appointing Eduardo and petitioner Felizardo as co-administrators of the joint estates of Jose and Alegria Figueras. Alegria died in May 1979. . 123948. The Figueras brothers opposed the probate of the alleged will.

000. and that she did not participate and intervene in the signing of said document.000. de Figueras had. Victorino Cruz. in the City of Manila. Figueras. with an aggregate total value of P2. 1990. except those given to her other relatives. de Figueras participated and intervened in the signing of said document when in truth and in fact as the said accused well knew. the said accused Felizardo S. Figueras thru falsification of public document in the following manner. that once the said document has been forged and falsified in the manner above set forth. Obando and Juan S. by stating in said Last Will and Testament. Obando. Santos. de Figueras had bequeathed to her nephews. with the crime of estafa thru falsification of public document. and thereafter.000. said accused Felizardo S. feigning. Figueras in the aforesaid amount of P2. Obando. 1978. and who. simulated and counterfeited the signature of the said Alegria Strebel Vda. such was not the case in that the said Last Will and Testament is an outright forgery. Obando was appointed co-administrator of said Eduardo F. Obando as the sole executor of her Last Will and Testament and the exclusive Administrator of her estate. together with the persons who signed in the alleged will. Obando and Juan S. or anybody else. Juan S. and accused Cipriano C. much less did she authorize the said accused. dated November 11. that the said Alegria Strebel Vda. misapplied and converted to their own personal use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of the said Eduardo F. Obando presented the same for probate with the Regional Trial Court of Manila wherein an ensuing litigation which ultimately reached the Court of Appeals. herein accused Felizardo S. misappropriated.000. 1978. simulating and counterfeiting or causing to be feigned. being then private individuals. Obando and Juan S. to wit: the said accused forged and falsified or caused to be forged and falsified. and that she had appointed the said Felizardo S. Farrales. de Figueras did not bequeath all her rights or interests over the aforementioned jewelries to accused Felizardo S. duly notarized by accused Cipriano C. with intent to defraud. Contrary to law. Obando and Juan S. that she had appointed accused Felizardo S. de Figueras. an Information was filed with the RTC of Manila. de Figueras on page 3 of said document. unlawfully and feloniously defraud Eduardo F. all her rights and interests over all her jewelries (sic). Obando as the sole executor of her Last Will and Testament and the exclusive Administrator of her estate. as such co-administrator. charging petitioners Felizardo S. Obando. Obando and Juan S. a document denominated as the Last Will and Testament of Alegria Strebel Vda. and causing it to appear further that the said Alegria Strebel Vda. that she did not appoint accused Felizardo S. Cipriano C. forthwith took possession of the jewelries mentioned above which the said accused subsequently. Obando. as it did appear. Mercedes B. among others. de Figueras appearing on the left hand margin of pages 1 and 2 and over the typewritten name Alegria Strebel Vda. bequeathed all her rights and interests over the said jewelries (sic) to accused Felizardo S. Obando. and Franklin A. that the late Alegria Strebel Vda.00. conspiring and confederating together and helping one another.On July 26. Obando as the sole executor of her Last Will and Testament and the exclusive administrator of her estate. Cordon. [Victorino] Cruz and Franklin A. Obando. a Notary Public. a public document. [5] . thus making it appear.00. Farrales and. committed as follows: That on or about November 11. Mercedes B. therefore. Cordon. namely. Philippine currency. to sign her name or affix her signature thereon. Philippines. that the said Alegria Strebel Vda. the said accused Felizardo S. Farrales. Santos. and for sometime prior or subsequent thereto. did then and there willfully. in fact.

SANTOS and VICTORINO CRUZ are hereby ACQUITTED. With respect to accused FRANKLIN A. from seventeen (17) years. the RTC stated that the parties stipulated that whatever testimony of witnesses utilized in the intestate and probate proceedings of the will. and that they already gave the pieces of jewelry to their sister. They posted bail for their temporary liberty. all the accused. Vda. deleted from the Information. On October 7. the RTC found that: the fact of damage was sufficiently established with the testimonies of Felizardo and Juan that Alegria's rights and interests in the real and personal properties of the Figueras couple were to go to them. and one (1) day to twenty (20) years. thus by which act. Trial thereafter ensued. OBANDO and JUAN S. thus: [7] WHEREFORE. [8] In so ruling. to be revived upon his apprehension. to Juan's wife and his two daughters. Cordon for his immediate apprehension. pleaded not guilty to the charge. in relation to Article 172. and Felizardo's daughter which showed that they had already profited from the estate of the Figueras couple even before the same was brought to the court for settlement. subsequently. since (1) Torres was the common choice of all the parties. 1996. who remains at-large up to the present.Notary Public Farrales asked for a re-investigation claiming innocence and good faith and was. Revised Penal Code. (2) Torres was definite in her conclusion that the question and standard/ sample signatures of Alegria S. 1992. Finding no evidence of culpability in their persons. the RTC gave more credence to the findings of NBI Document Examiner Zenaida Torres than that of PNP Document Section Chief Francisco Cruz. as well as the documentary evidence submitted therein. petitioners became bound to the results of said findings. PREMISES CONSIDERED. SO ORDERED. As to the matter of forgery. this Court holds accused FELIZARDO S. In its Order dated October 10. paragraph 1. the dispositive portion of which reads. sub-paragraph (b) of the Revised Penal Code. shall be utilized in the criminal case in toto subject to further cross of the defense lawyer only on matters not [6] touched in the former proceedings. OBANDO GUILTY of violating Article 315. paragraph 1. their culpability having been proven beyond reasonable doubt and are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period. Let an Alias Warrant of Arrest be issued against accused Franklin A. this case against him is hereby ordered ARCHIVED. assisted by counsel de parte. four (4) months. When arraigned. CORDON. with the exception of Franklin Cordon who is at-large. de Figueras were not written by one and . accused MERCEDES B. the RTC rendered its Decision.

to the exclusion of Eduardo and Francisco Figueras and Fritz Strebel who are forced heirs. the CA issued its assailed Decision affirming in toto the decision of the RTC. nothing would establish what document was being held by them. it will still be contested as the dispositions made therein were contrary to law most particularly that portion bequeathing to petitioners the whole residential property of the spouses Jose and Alegria Figueras. which was conjugal. The RTC found petitioners to have conspired to commit forgery as established by the following evidence. (e) the testimony of Torres that the first two pages of Exhibit “A. since Alegria being the administratrix of the estate of her husband Jose would be the last person to give this property outside of the Figueras family. Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated May 17. Petitioners filed their appeal with the CA. and (3) Torres was not paid for her services and. (c ) Juan was the one who enticed Mercedes Santos Cruz. this petition for review filed by petitioners on the following grounds: A.same person unlike Cruz's report stating that no definite conclusion can be made due to the limited amount of appropriate standard signatures for comparison. Hence. . THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAD OVERLOOKED AND FAILED TO CONSIDER THE SIGNIFICANT FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE WHICH. his sister-in-law. The RTC said that even if the alleged will was found to be authentic. and (g) that petitioners and their respective families gained enormously by reason of said will. Mercedes Santos and Victorino Cruz were acquitted for lack of evidence. 1999. and Victorino Cruz into acting as attesting witnesses and Juan's taking pictures of the entire signing ceremony which was a sign of evil intention because it was an expectancy of future rift or trouble. that while petitioners presented copies of pictures showing Alegria allegedly signing the will in the presence of Mercedes Santos Cruz. the RTC was convinced that the alleged will was not that of Alegria but of petitioners. Alcantara. to wit: (a) Felizardo admitted that the last will and testament which Alegria voiced out to him was dictated by him to a certain Atty. as well as the forged signatures were substitutes for the originals. therefore. Victorino Cruz and Franklin Cordon. (d) Felizardo held and kept the alleged will from the time of alleged signing up to Alegria's death which possession and control lasted for several months.” which contained the dispositions of the properties of the Figueras estates. Farrales who notarized the alleged will. that because of such disposition. impartial while Cruz received honorarium from Juan Obando. SHOULD HAVE DRAWN A DIFFERENT CONCLUSION AND WHICH SHALL CONSIDERABLY AFFECT THE RESULT OF THIS CASE. (b) that Felizardo retained the services of Atty. IF PROPERLY CONSIDERED. Alcantara and Atty. 1988. On August 13.

C. THE NON-PRODUCTION AND/OR NON-PRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL COPY OF THE ALLEGED FALSIFIED LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ALEGRIA STREBEL VDA. NEGATES THE FALSIFICATION AND/OR SUBSTITUTION OF THE FIRST AND SECOND PAGES OF THE SAID “LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF DOÑA ALEGRIA STREBEL VDA.B. FRANKLIN CORDON ON THE “LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT” (EXHIBIT “A”).” the prosecution.” In their Comment/Objection to the Offer of Prosecution . where the machine copy of the alleged will was marked as Exhibit “A. COUPLED WITH THE POSITIVE EVIDENCE AS TO THE DUE EXECUTION AND AUTHENTICITY OF THE WILL SHOULD FAVOR APPELLANTS. 123948 and 61567 and were simply reproduced here as agreed upon by the parties. stated that “all these (documents) form the bulk of evidence in Special Proceeding Nos. petitioners did not raise any objection when the alleged will was presented and testified to by NBI Document Examiner Torres. THE ABSENCE IN THE NBI FINDINGS (EXHIBIT “D-1”) AS TO THE GENUINENESS AND/OR FALSITY OF THE SIGNATURES OF MERCEDES SANTOS CRUZ. E. D. VICTORINO CRUZ AND ATTY. DE FIGUERAS DISPOSES ONLY OF HER RIGHTS AND INTERESTS OVER THE PROPERTIES BEQUEATHED TO FELIZARDO AND JUAN OBANDO. THE WILL OF ALEGRIA STREBEL VDA. Petitioners contend that the non-presentation of the original copy of the alleged falsified will before the RTC was a fatal defect which entitles them to an acquittal. We note that during the trial of this case. THERE IS NO ESTAFA COMMITTED BY APPELLANTS. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CONSPIRACY TO WARRANT CONVICTION OF FELIZARDO AND [JUAN] OBANDO. NEITHER DID THE PROSECUTION PROVE THE [9] COMPLEX CRIME OF ESTAFA THROUGH FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC DOCUMENT. DE FIGUERAS BEFORE THE TRIAL COURT IS A FATAL DEFECT WHICH ENTITLES HEREIN APPELLANTS TO ACQUITTAL. in the last paragraph of such offer. We also note that in the Offer of Prosecution [10] Evidence.” G. We are not persuaded. CONFLICTING EXPERT TESTIMONIES. F. DE FIGUERAS. We are compelled to mention this so that the accused [11] will have no reason for questioning their authenticity.

.. if properly considered.e. In examining the questioned signatures of Alegria. This is more true if such findings were affirmed by the appellate court. de Figueras. First. In the questioned signatures. petitioners never sought reconsideration when the RTC admitted the machine copy of the alleged will. in the alignment characteristics. thoroughly explained her findings by establishing the fundamental differences in the writing characteristics and habits existing in the questioned and standard signatures. in her direct and cross-examinations. are accorded high respect if not conclusive effect. all the letters in the name were written in an even straight base notwithstanding that some of the standard signatures were written without the horizontal line. However. She pointed out that in the standard signatures. said findings are generally binding upon this Court unless when that determination is clearly without evidentiary support on record. [12] More importantly. which was marked as Exhibits “J. a duplicate original copy of the alleged will was already admitted in the records of the case which the RTC used for comparison of the questioned signatures with that of the standard signatures of Alegria. The rule is that the findings of fact of the trial court. PNP Document Examiner Chief Francisco Cruz submitted his report where he found that the questioned signatures and the standard signatures executed in 1978 indicated that they were written by one person. Torres. petitioners moved for another examination of the same documents together with three additional documents to be conducted by the PNP. [13] Petitioners fault the RTC and the CA for giving more weight to the findings of NBI Document Examiner Torres that the signature in the alleged will was forged as against the findings of PNP Document Examination Chief Cruz that the questioned signature was genuine. 61567 and 123948. i. the parties in the probate proceedings. which we do not find in this case.” “J -1” to “J-17” in Special Proceedings Nos. we note that a duplicate original copy of the alleged will was formally offered in evidence as one of petitioners' documentary evidence and the same was already admitted by the RTC. its calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses and its assessment of the probative weight thereof.Evidence. as well as its conclusions anchored on said findings..e. or when the judgment is based on misapprehension of [14] facts or overlooked certain relevant facts which. de Figueras was written either in a going up or going down direction. then the accused admits not only of its existence but also its validity. Both Torres and Cruz testified in court. the name Alegria S. petitioners merely stated that: “If this particular document is the original copy of the Last Will and Testament of Doña Alegria Strebel Vda. Torres found that the questioned and standard/sample signatures of Alegria were not written by one and the same person. as petitioners did not agree with such findings.” but nowhere did they object to such submission of the machine copy. Thus. Vda. i. Eduardo and Fritz. Torres used the standard specimen signatures submitted by petitioners. there was no [15] even placement of the letters. In fact. When the trial court’s findings have been affirmed by the appellate court. the relationship of the letters in the name with the base line or where the letters rest. authenticity and due execution of said Last Will and Testament. would justify a different conclusion.

Torres stated that slant meant the slope of the letter in relation to the base line.. Dr. indicating that there was a radical change in the physical condition of the writer wherein the muscle and nerves were affected resulting in the loss of muscular control. Elena Cariaso. 1974. thus. PNP Document Examiner Cruz stated that there was a wide range of variations existing between the questioned signatures made in 1978 and the standard signatures executed in 1974. slow drawing movement. and consciousness which were not found in the standard signatures. i. no definite conclusion can be reached in view of the wide gap of execution.e. the proportion characteristic which meant the relationship of one letter to the next letter. 1976 and 1978. i. He then stated that the questioned signatures executed on November 11. the manner of execution of the questioned signatures was different from that of the standard signatures. 1978 and the standard signature executed in December 1978. in the arrangement characteristics. that the letter “g” was slanting to the right. [18] Fifth. the doctor who was tasked by the probate court to examine the physical and mental condition of Alegria in December 1978. He also stated that while the questioned signatures and the standard signatures were dissimilar in the manner of execution. because her signature was smooth with flowing strokes with an even alignment which indicated that Alegria had good muscular control and [20] coordination. the slopes of the letter “g” in Alegria formed an angle of less than 90 degrees. spontaneous and unconscious manner unlike that of the questioned signatures. he found they were similar and showed that they were written by one person.. We note that Cruz’s findings as to the loss of muscular control in Alegria’s hand allegedly due to her physical condition was contradicted by Torres' testimony that the standard signature executed by Alegria in December 1978. 1976 and in December 1978. there were presence of hesitations. On the other hand. Torres found that in the questioned signatures. Notably. tremors. quality of lines. because it was considered to be an [16] inconspicuous characteristic which meant that even the writers themselves would not notice that manner of signing. corroborating Torres’ finding that Alegria's hand had good muscular control and coordination. the slopes of letter “g” formed an angle of more than 90 degrees. the slight but consistent difference in the slant of the letter “g” in the name Alegria. Torres established that the standard signatures written in 1966.e. alignment and size of letter. Fourth. .Second. showed that she was in good physical condition. She found that in the standard signatures. which was most contemporaneous to the date of the execution of the [19] questioned signatures. all showed that [21] the signatures were made in a continuous. Torres intimated that such arrangement characteristic in handwriting identification was very significant. the position of the written signature in relation to the typewritten name. Third. Torres found that the one who wrote the questioned signatures had the habit of affixing the signatures across and covering the entire typewritten name. which she had explained in details in her testimony. While in the questioned [17] signatures. While in the standard signatures. one month after the alleged will was executed. testified that Alegria was physically and mentally fit with only a weakness in her lower extremities. the writer affixed the signatures above the typewritten name and there was no instance where the signature crossed the typewritten name. In fact.

Farrales testified that petiti oner Felizardo was not inside the room when the signing was ongoing which was again contrary to the claims of both Mercedes . upon our own comparison of the questioned signatures and the standard signatures taking into consideration inconspicuous differences noted by Torres on the questioned and standard signatures. should have outweighed the testimony of Torres. [29] Victorino testified that when he and Mercedes entered Alegria's room. Farrales testified that the copies of the alleged will came from his office and he was the one who gave the same to Alegria which. but upon the assistance he may afford in pointing out distinguishing marks. as in this case. Notary Public Farrales testified that when he. We are not persuaded.[30] that Alegria told petitioner Felizardo to give each one of them a copy of the document and instructed petitioner Felizardo to read the contents of the will aloud. their testimonies showed material inconsistencies which affected their credibilities.[25] that Farrales was the one who assisted Alegria in turning the pages of the documents and was the one who pointed to her the portion where she was to affix her signatures. [26] and that after the signing and notarization of the will. Farrales said that Alegria signed the will in his presence. Felizardo. Felizardo and Alegria who was in a reclined position in her bed. thorough. Alegria requested them to call on petitioner Felizardo and once Felizardo was inside the room. he saw Atty. When faced with conflicting expert opinions.Expert opinions are not ordinarily conclusive. and scientific. Petitioner claims that the testimonies of the notary public. Cordon. thorough and scientific. Alegria gave the documents to the latter who placed the will in an envelope. Attys. Mercedes testified that when she and Victorino entered Alegria's room. that petitioner Felizardo was just outside the room when the signing was on-going. The value of the opinion of a handwriting expert depends not upon his mere statements of whether a writing is genuine or false. together with another lawyer. he presented to her copies of the will which he brought from his office. courts give more weight [22] and credence to that which is more complete. characteristics and discrepancies in and between genuine and false specimens of writing [23] which would ordinarily escape notice or detection from an unpracticed observer. as well as the two attesting witnesses that they saw Alegria sign the will in their presence. [27] On the other hand. however. she saw Alegria. Notably. after Felizardo handed the same. was contrary to Victorino’s claim that petitioner Felizardo got the alleged will from the cabinet. Mercedes and Victorino.[31] and that he saw Alegria signed the will in their presence. Cordon and the other attesting witnesses. We find that the RTC had the opportunity to examine the relevant documents and make comparisons thereof. Farrales. They are generally regarded as purely advisory in character. Atty. [24] that Alegria read the same and called in petitioner Felizardo to bring some small board where she could write. The courts may place whatever weight they choose upon and may reject them. In his testimony. as well as in the presence of Atty. Farrales and Cordon. if they find them inconsistent with the facts in the case or otherwise unreasonable. went inside the room of Alegria who was in bed. that Alegria asked Felizardo to get the sealed document from a cabinet. In fact. Cordon.[28] and that Alegria and the other witnesses signed the will in the presence of each other and was duly notarized. that Alegria instructed petitioner Felizardo to read aloud the will which Felizardo did. we find that the questioned signatures showed substantial differences with that of the standard signatures of Alegria. We agree with the RTC and the CA in giving more weight and credence to the testimony of Torres as the examination conducted by Torres was complete. he again left the room. and that she saw Felizardo keep the will inside the vault.

because it is an expectancy of future rift or trouble.and Victorino that petitioner Felizardo was inside the room while the signing was on-going. Felizardo held and kept the questioned document with him from its inception to its alleged signing and up to Alegria’s death which possession and complete control lasted for several months. so participate in the act or proceeding. in petitioner Felizardo's testimony.[33] In fact. and that Alegria even instructed Felizardo to read aloud the contents of the same to them. Mercedes being his sister-in-law. Under paragraph 2 of Article 171. Farrales testified that he was the one who turned the pages of the will and was also the one who pointed to Alegria the portion where to affix her signatures and that no other person rendered such assistance except him. the elements of the crime of Falsification of Public Document under Article 172 (1) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) are: (1) that the offender is a private individual. . The so-called Will and Testament was admitted by Felizardo S. petitioner Felizardo submitted photographs which were admittedly taken by copetitioner Juan to prove the former's presence during the signing and to show that he was the one assisting Alegria in signing the will. petitioners are private individuals who presented the alleged will to the probate court and made it appear that Alegria signed the alleged will disposing of her rights and interest in the real properties. to wit: 1. as well as all of her personal properties to petitioners when in fact petitioners knew that Alegria never signed such alleged will as her signatures therein were forged. Essentially. C. he said that he was present when the will was being signed by Alegria. In this case. 4. and (3) that the act of falsification is committed in a public document. Farrales to notarize it. when such person or persons did not. a person may commit falsification of a public document by causing it to appear in a document that a person or persons participated in an act or proceeding. Juanito Obando enticed the couple Mercedes B. 2. and his taking pictures of the entire ceremony of signing such document. Notably. Such contradictory statements coming from persons who allegedly were present when the will was executed render doubtful the genuineness of the alleged forged will. Alcantara allegedly as voiced out to him by Alegria.[32] However. This taking of such pictures is itself a sign of evil intention. 3. Obando in open hearing to have been dictated by him to a certain Atty. Thus. Santos and Victorino Cruz into acting as witnesses. He said he procured the service of said lawyer and the very notary public. we find no error committed by the RTC in not giving credence to their testimonies. in fact. We find the elements of falsification of public document present in this case. one Atty. We find apropos the findings of the RTC that petitioners conspired to perpetuate such forgery. (2) that the offender committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated under Article 171.

00. The crime committed was estafa through falsification of public document. such agency between Alegria and petitioner Felizardo. Petitioner Felizardo argued that he already had in his possession the personal properties of Alegria which included the pieces of jewelry by virtue of an alleged general power of attorney executed by Alegria in his favor. thus. Such inventory was contained in the Order dated September 10. while the real properties were already sold even while the intestate and probate proceedings were still pending in court. However. and had gained possession of the jewelry. The only evidence on record which would establish the amount of the jewelry was the inventory submitted in 1966 by Alegria where she listed the jewelry in the amount of P2. Petitioners' misappropriation of the jewelry was to the prejudice of Eduardo Figueras who also has the right to Alegria's jewelry in general which were part of the declared conjugal estate of his father Jose and Alegria Figueras. that the penalty imposed by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals was not proper. par. The amount of damages is the basis of the penalty for estafa. and by which petitioner Felizardo became a coadministrator of the estate of the Figueras couple. he was not able to account for the same when ordered to do so by the probate court. goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust. Being a complex crime. (2) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt. The [34] elements of estafa under Article 315. he had no basis for taking possession and custody of Alegria’s properties after her death.150. or for administration. the penalty for [35] the most serious crime shall be imposed in its maximum period. However. was terminated upon Alegria’s death. however. as administratrix of the estate of Jose. While we sustain the conviction of petitioners of the crime charged. or on commission. Felizardo and Juanito Obando and their respective families again by their joint admissions. Notably. and (3) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another. However. we found. On the other hand. submitted in 1966 an inventory of the conjugal real and personal properties of the Figueras couple and one of those listed under conjugal personal properties was jewelry in the amount of P2. gained enormously and by reason of said will.150. as correctly argued by the Solicitor General. 1980 of the probate court and which was submitted in evidence by petitioners.5. 1 (b) of the RPC are as follows: (1) that money. The crime of falsification of public document was the means for petitioners to commit estafa.00. by virtue of the falsified will which petitioners presented for probate. Alegria. or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same. we note that the prosecution failed to satisfactorily show that the amount of jewelry misappropriated was indeed two million pesos. co-petitioner Juan admitted that the pieces of jewelry went to his daughters and nieces. .

1998 and the Resolution dated May 17.00. at a time when the statutory provision governing the formal requirement of wills was Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. petitioner. CASTILLO. the penalty is prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than P5. The Decision dated August 13. would be the falsification and. in this case. to four (4) years.* FELIX AZUELA. the applicable provision is paragraph (3) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law. The enactment of the Civil Code in 1950 did put in force a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills. 122880. Petitioners are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of one (1) year and one (1) day of prision correccional. Thus. and to pay a fine of P5. which imposes the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period. No. However. Wills and Succession. G. which should be the basis of penalty for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public document. it appears that the most serious crime. defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 805. COURT OF APPEALS. the minimum penalty should be taken from the penalty next lower in degree which is arresto mayormaximum to prision correccional minimum in any of its period. vs.150.00. the petition is DENIED. since that fact can be checked by a visual examination. April 12. Same.00 but does not exceed P6. at least insofar as the attestation clause is concerned.000. —Both Uy Coque and Andrada were decided prior to the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950. Article 809 of the Civil Code states: “In the absence of bad faith.000. or fraud. as minimum. SO ORDERED. where the amount defrauded is overP200. or undue and improper pressure and influence. while a failure by the attestation clause to state that the witnesses signed in one another’s presence should be considered a fatal flaw since the attestation is the only textual . Thus. considering that the requirement that the attestation state the number of pages of the will is extant from Section 618. the maximum penalty to be imposed in this case is the medium period of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods. at least insofar as the attestation clause is concerned. WHEREFORE. GERALDA AIDA CASTILLO substituted by ERNESTO G.00. as the maximum.R. under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code. Reliance on these cases remains apropos.000. nine (9) months and ten (10) days of prision correccional. that may vary from the philosophy that governed these two cases.” Same. 2006. Notarial Will. there being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Same. A failure by the attestation clause to state that the testator signed every page can be liberally construed.Since the amount misappropriated by petitioners was established to be only in the amount of P2. the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950 did put in force a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills.00. 1999 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED withMODIFICATION as to the penalty imposable. respondents. Attestation Clause. for gery.

Instrumental Witnesses. is for the fruition of the testator’s incontestable d esires. Same. as was the situation in Singson and Taboada. despite Article 809. is that o mission which can be supplied by an examination of the will itself. affords the public a high degree of comfort that the testator himself or herself had decided to convey property post mortem in the manner established in the will. in this case. Even if instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing the unsigned clause. Same. Same. the execution of which they had ostensibly just witnessed and subscribed to. Article 805 particularly segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the will. Whatever the inclinations of the members of the Code Commission in incorporating Article 805. The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will was written remains a fatal flaw.” Thus. of the will itself. Same. a failure by the attestation clause to state that the testator signed every page can be liberally construed. Same. since the signatu res that do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly different avowal. despite Article 809. without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence. the signatures to the attestation clause establish that . since that fact can be checked by a visual examination. from the requisite that the will be “attested and subscribed by *the instrumental witnesses+. as it now stands. The signatures on the left-hand corner of every page signify. Same. is for the fruition of the testator’s incontestable desires.—At the same time. The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is written is to safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and to prevent any increase or decrease in the pages. convinced that these remained effective safeguards against the forgery or intercalation of notarial wills. Compliance with these requirements. even as expressed in the cited comments of the Code Commission. The failure to state the number of pages equates with the absence of an averment on the part of the instrumental witnesses as to how many pages consisted the will. will not be fatal and. such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses’ undertakings in the clause. convinced that these remained effective safeguards against forgery or intercalation of notarial wills.guarantee of compliance. and not for indulgent admission of wills to probate.—The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will was written remains a fatal flaw. would not obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. from the requisite that the will be “attested and subscribed by *the instrumental witnesses+”—the respective intents behind these two classes of signature are distinct from each other. The fact remains that the members of the Code Commission saw fit to prescribe substantially the same formal requisites enumerated in Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. On the other hand. among others. The transcendent legislative intent. those omissions which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately. however picayune in impression. Following Caneda.—“*I+t may thus be stated that the rule. that the witnesses are aware that the page they are signing forms part of the will. There is substantial compliance with this requirement if the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it is comprised of. even as expressed in the comments of the Code Commission. there could have been no substantial compliance with the requirements under Article 805 since there is no statement in the attestation clause or anywhere in the will itself as to the number of pages which comprise the will. However. correspondingly. the fact remains that they saw fit to prescribe substantially the same formal requisites as enumerated in Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure.” The respective intents behind these two classes of signature are distinct from each other. while a failure by the attestation clause to state that the witnesses signed in one another’s presence should be considered a fatal flaw since the attestation is the only textual guarantee of compliance. The transcendent legislative intent. Same. Article 805 particularly segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the will. Same. Same. and not for the indulgent admission of wills to probate. Article 809 should not deviate from the need to comply with the formal requirements as enumerated under Article 805.—The Court today reiterates the continued efficacy of Cagro. there is substantial compliance with this requirement if the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it is comprised of. The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is written is to safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and to prevent any increase or decrease in the pages. However.

the attestation clause is separate and apart from the disposition of the will. A jurat is that part of an affidavit where the notary certifies that before him/her. It involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signor actually declares to the notary that the executor of the document has attested to the notary that the same is his/her own free act and deed. but not the left-hand margin of the page containing such clause. wrote “Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10 (sic). Same. Ordinarily.—It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat. It involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signor actually declares to the notary that the executor of a document has attested to the notary that the same is his/her own free act and deed. Same. Without diminishing the value of the instrumental witnesses’ signatures on each and every page. The nonobservance of Article 806 in this case is equally as critical as the other cited flaws in compliance with Article 805. Acknowledgment.” By no manner of cont emplation can those words be construed as an acknowledgment. there is another fatal defect to the will on which the denial of this petition should also hinge. The importance of this requirement is highl ighted by the fact that it had been segregated from the other requirements under Article 805 and entrusted into a separate provision.—The Court may be more charitably disposed had the witnesses in this case signed the attestation clause itself. Same. the notary public. such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses’ undertakings in the clause. the language of the jurat should avow that the document was subscribed and sworn before the notary public. Same. Indeed. Bautista. Petronio Y. The only proof in the will that the witnesses have stated these elemental facts would be their signatures on the attestation clause. Possibly though. It is the attestation clause which contains the utterances reduced into writing of the testamentary witnesses themselves—it is the witnesses. even though it does not hew to the usual language thereof. the fact that the testator had signed the will and every page thereof. An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed. Article 806. Same. Same. and not the testator. Even if the instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing the unsigned attestation clause. since the signatures that do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly different avowal.the witnesses are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself. who are required under Article 805 to state the number of pages used upon which the will was written. who are required under Article 805 to state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. It is the witnesses. the document was subscribed and sworn to by the executor. and not the testator. Same. the word “ninotario” or “notarized” encompasses the signing of and 124 124 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED . Same. An unsigned attestation clause results in an unattested will. Same.—Yet. 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila. The requirement under Article 806 that “every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses” has also not been complied with. while in this case. the document was subscribed and sworn to by the executor. Same. A jurat is that part of an affidavit whereby the notary certifies that before him/her. An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed. and that they witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. the notary public averred that he himself “signed and notarized” the document. In lieu of an acknowledgment. the fact must be noted that it is the attestation clause which contains the utterances reduced into writing of the testamentary witnesses themselves. Jurat. and should be treated as of equivalent import.

The acknowledgment coerces the testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that they had executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed. thus allowing for the criminal prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of spurious wills. Such declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury. The acknowledgment coerces the testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that they had executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed. that the decedent and the instrumental witnesses executed or signed the will as their own free act or deed. even if it is subscribed and sworn to before a notary public. even if it is subscribed and sworn to before a notary public. CARPIO MORALES. Court of Appeals swearing in of the executors of the document. A notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective. A notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective. the will would nonetheless remain invalid. 122880 Present: QUISUMBING. self-evident as it is under Article 806. Same. or those executed without the free consent of the testator.R. JJ. —It may not have been said before.. which in this case would involve the decedent and the instrumental witnesses. COURT OF APPEALS.” and not merely subscribed and sworn to. 2006 Respondents. The express requirement of Article 806 is that the will is to be “acknowledged. much less one under oath. An acknowledgement is not an empty meaningless act. Same. April 12. J. . Same. It also provides a further degree of assurance that the testator is of certain mindset in making the testamentary dispositions to those persons he/she had designated in the will. GERALDA AIDA CASTILLO Promulgated: substituted by ERNESTO G. CARPIO. Same. Same. The acknowledgment made in a will provides for another all-important legal safeguard against spurious wills or those made beyond the free consent of the testator. x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x DECISION TINGA. Same.Azuela vs. Petitioner. 487 SCRA 119(2006)] THIRD DIVISION FELIX AZUELA. J. No.” and not merely subscribed and sworn to. The will does not present any textual proof. Same. —Even if we consider what was affixed by the notary public as a jurat.versus - Chairperson. and TINGA. [Azuela vs.: . but we can assert the rule. Same. CASTILLO. Same. Court of Appeals. as the express requirement of Article 806 is that the will be “acknowledged. G.

Igsolo. nakatira sa 500 San Diego St. La Loma sangsa Pangalawa-Aking ipinagkakaloob at isinasalin ang lahat ng karapatan sa aking pamangkin na si Felix Azuela. read in full: HULING HABILIN NI EUGENIA E.The core of this petition is a highly defective notarial will. ayong sa kaugalian at patakaran ng simbahang katoliko at ang taga-pagingat (Executor) nghabiling ito ay magtatayo ng bantayog upang silbing ala-ala akin ng aking pamilya at kaibigan. Igsolo (decedent). ganoon din ibinibigay ko ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay na na katirik sa inoopahan kong lote. is fatally defective. pag-unawa at memoria ay naghahayag na ito na ang aking huling habilin at testamento. There is a distinct and consequential reason the Civil Code provides a comprehensive catalog of imperatives for the proper execution of a notarial will. Full and faithful compliance with all the detailed requisites under Article 805 of the Code leave little room for doubt as to the validity in the due execution of the notarial will. Block 24 na pagaari ng Pechaten Corporation. A notarial will executed with indifference to these two codal provisions opens itself to nagging questions as to its legitimacy. the Court is provided the opportunity to assert a few important doctrinal rules in the execution of notarial wills. Sampaloc. In refusing to give legal recognition to the due execution of this document. Ipinagkakaloob kong buong buo ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay at lupa na .. Any one of these defects is sufficient to deny probate. The will. IGSOLO. all self-evident in view of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code. who died on 16 December 1982 at the age of 80. at binabali wala ko lahat ang naunang ginawang habilin o testamento: Una-Hinihiling ko na ako ay mailibing sa Sementerio del Norte. si EUGENIA E. consisting of two (2) pages and written in the vernacular Pilipino. IGSOLO SA NGALAN NG MAYKAPAL. AMEN: AKO. purportedly executed by Eugenia E. And perhaps most importantly. but a mere jurat.numero 43. a will which does not contain an acknowledgment. A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the will is written is fatally defective. Manila. nasa hustong pagi-isip. yaong mga bahayna nakatirik sa lote numero 28. Article 806 likewise imposes another safeguard to the validity of notarial wills — that they be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The petition filed by petitioner Felix Azuela sought to admit to probate the notarial will of Eugenia E. The case stems from a petition for probate filed on 10 April 1984 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila. Petitioner is the son of the cousin of the decedent. A notarial will with all three defects is just aching for judicial rejection. na siyang nag-alaga sa akin sa mahabang panahon. A will whose attestation clause is not signed by the instrumental witnesses is fatally defective. Block 24 at nakapangalan sa Pechaten Korporasyon. pitongput siyam (79) na gulang. which was notarized on 10 June 1981.

1981 LAMBERTO C. Blcok 7. sa harap ng lahat at bawa’t sa amin. San Gabriel. sa ilalim ng nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawa’t dahonng kasulatan ito. City of Manila Res. A-458365 Issued at Manila on Jan.. Manila Res.nasa 500 San Diego St. Cert. na ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia E. Lot 61. at ang pagkakaloob kong ito ay walang pasubali’t at kondiciones. 1981. Cert. Cert. . No. at kaminamang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawa’t isa sa amin. ay nilagdaan ng nasabing tagapagmana sa ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawa’t dahon. QUIRINO AGRAVA address: 1228-Int. Aking nilagdaan ang Huling Habilin na ito dito sa Maynila ika 10 ng Hunyo. IGSOLO address: 500 San Diego St. Cavite on Feb. 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila.. Sampaloc. 21. A-7717-37 Issued at Manila on March 10. A574829 Issued at Manila on March 2. EUGENIA E. 1981. Block 24. Sampaloc. na binubuo ng ____ dahon pati ang huling dahong ito.) EUGENIA E. 7. Lot 42.MA. 1981. A-768277 issued at Carmona. Manila kay Felix Azuela PangatloNa ninunumbrahan ko si VART PAGUE na siyang nagpapatupad ng huling habiling ito at kagustuhan ko rin na hindi na kailanman siyang maglagak ng piyansiya. (Sgd. Kahilum Pandacan. IGSOLO (Tagapagmana) PATUNAY NG MGA SAKSI Ang kasulatang ito. tagapagmana na siya niyang Huling Habilin. LEAÑO address: Avenue 2. No. Manila Res. No. Cavite Res. Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10. Cert. No. Igsolo. G. ngayon ika10ng Hunyo 1981. 3. 1981 JUANITO ESTRERA address: City Court Compound.

‖[7] and from this perspective. 1232 . who predeceased her mother by three (3) months. ―Patunay Ng Mga Saksi‖: ―Ang kasulatang ito. Book No.. The petition was opposed by Geralda Aida Castillo (Geralda Castillo). rebutted oppositor’s arguments that the will was not properly executed and attested to in accordance with law. After a careful examination of the will and consideration of the testimonies of the subscribing and attesting witnesses. [4] and the mother of a legitimate child. na ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia N. Per records. After due trial.e. who represented herself as the attorney-in-fact of ―the 12 legitimate heirs‖ of the decedent. and one Irene Lynn Igsolo. and having in mind the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will. and the will was not properly acknowledged. all centering on petitioner’s right to occupy the properties of the decedent. 31. namely: petitioner himself. BAUTISTA NOTARIO PUBLIKO Until Dec. namely her grandchildren. the RTC admitted the will to probate. it was subsequently alleged that decedent was the widow of Bonifacio Igsolo. the following statement is made under the sub-title. i. . Series of 1981 (Sgd. Quirino Agrava. this Court has noted that at the end of the will after the signature of the testatrix. These twin arguments are among the central matters to this petition. The probate petition adverted to only two (2) heirs. Petitioner prayed that the will be allowed. the liberalization of the interpretation of the law on the formal requirements of a will with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes. na binubuo ng _____ dahon pati ang huling dahong ito. The RTC also called to fore ―the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will x x x with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes. in an Order dated 10 August 1992. 86 . Page No. legatees and devisees of the decedent. who was alleged to have resided abroad.[2] Geralda Castillo claimed that the will is a forgery.) PETRONIO Y. who died in 1965. 1981 PTR-152041-1/2/81-Manila TAN # 1437-977-8[1] The three named witnesses to the will affixed their signatures on the left-hand margin of both pages of the will. particularly for forcible entry and usurpation of real property. who were then residing abroad. and that the true purpose of its emergence was so it could be utilized as a defense in several court cases filed by oppositor against petitioner. Vart Prague.[3] It also asserted that contrary to the representations of petitioner. No. 43 . but not at the bottom of the attestation clause. this Court is persuaded to rule that the will in question is authentic and had been executed by the testatrix in accordance with law. the decedent was actually survived by 12 legitimate heirs. On the issue of lack of acknowledgement. and that letters testamentary be issued to the designated executor. Lamberto Leano.Doc. She pointed out that decedent’s signature did not appear on the second page of the will. and Juanito Estrada. [5] Oppositor Geralda Castillo also argued that the will was not executed and attested to in accordance with law. Asuncion E. Igsolo.[6] The RTC favorably took into account the testimony of the three (3) witnesses to the will.

‖[11] The solution to this case calls for the application of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code. Every will. the failure of the testatrix to affix her signature on the left margin of the second page. and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. sa harapng lahat at bawa’t sa amin. the defects are not of a serious nature as to invalidate the will. In a Decision dated 17 August 1995. other than a holographic will. With regard to the oppositor’s argument that the will was not numbered correlatively in letters placed on upper part of each page and that the attestation did not state the number of pages thereof. tagapagmana na siya niyang HulingHabilin. this Court is of the view that the signing by the subscribing witnesses on the left margin of the second page of the will containing the attestation clause and acknowledgment. which we replicate in full. and the second page contains the last portion of the attestation clause and acknowledgement. 805. the testimonies of the three subscribing witnesses to the will are convincing enough to establish the genuineness of the signature of the testatrix and the due execution of the will. the present petition.Igsolo. substantially satisfies the purpose of identification and attestation of the will. and by his express direction. rather than mandatory.‖ The aforequoted declaration comprises the attestation clause and the acknowledgement and is considered by this Court as a substantial compliance with the requirements of the law. [10] Hence. must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence. Petitioner argues that the requirement under Article 805 of the Civil Code that ―the number of pages used in a notarial will be stated in the attestation clause‖ is merely directory. sa ilalim ng nasabingkasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawa’t dahon ng kasulatan ito. Geralda Castillo. ngayong ika-10 ng Hunyo 1981. Such being so.[9] The Court of Appeals noted that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in the will. The first page contains the entire text of the testamentary dispositions. [8] The Order was appealed to the Court of Appeals by Ernesto Castillo. at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawa’t isa sa amin. and thus susceptible to what h e termed as ―the substantial compliance rule. . Art. it is worthy to note that the will is composed of only two pages. instead of at the bottom thereof. the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and ordered the dismissal of the petition for probate. who had substituted his since deceased motherin-law. As regards the oppositor’s assertion that the signature of the testatrix on the will is a forgery. On the oppositor’s contention that the attestation clause was not signed by the subscribing witnesses at the bottom thereof. thus rendering the will void and undeserving of probate. ay nilagdaan ng nasabing tagapagmana sa ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawa’t dahon. which contains only the last portion of the attestation clause and acknowledgment is not a fatal defect. For the same reason.

Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. the total number of sheets is stated in the attestation clause the falsification of the document will involve the inserting of new pages and the forging of the signatures of the testator and witnesses in the margin. the document might easily be so prepared that the removal of a sheet would completely change the testamentary dispositions of the will and in the absence of a statement of the total number of sheets such removal might be effected by taking out the sheet and changing the numbers at the top of the following sheets or pages. As admitted by petitioner himself.‖[16] The case of In re Will of Andrada concerned a will the attestation clause of which failed to state the number of sheets or pages used. Art. Sioca[13] and In re: Will of Andrada. a space having been allotted for the insertion of the number of pages in the attestation clause. the Court made the following consideration which remains highly relevant to this day: ―The purpose of requiring the number of sheets to be stated in the attestation clause is obvious. and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof. citing in the process Uy Coque v. But an examination of the will itself reveals several more deficiencies. and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. each and every page thereof. it must be considered material.[14] InUy Coque. The appellate court. Navas L. on the other hand. the attestation clause fails to state the number of pages of the will. the requisite was left uncomplied with. 806. a matter attended with much greater difficulty.The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will. as aforesaid. This consideration alone was sufficient for the Court to declare ―unanim[ity] upon the point that the defect pointed out in the attesting clause is fatal.‖[18] . The Court of Appeals pounced on this defect in reversing the trial court. in the presence of the instrumental witnesses. The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. the failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages of the will. [12] There was an incomplete attempt to comply with this requisite. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will. shall also sign. on the left margin. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses. and as the Legislature has seen fit to prescribe this requirement. If. except the last. considered only one defect. the Court noted that among the defects of the will in question was the failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages contained in the will. and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. under his express direction. or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. in its Decision.‖[17] It was further observed that ―it cannot be denied that the x x x requirement affords additional security against the danger that the will may be tampered with. Yet the blank was never filled in. [15] In ruling that the will could not be admitted to probate. hence. or caused some other person to write his name. it shall be interpreted to them.

66 Phil. Rosal. Sioca. Avelino Rosal. 481. not by evidence aliunde. Sarmiento.. We are not impervious of the Decisions of the Supreme Court in ―Manuel Singson versus Emilia Florentino. it will have the effect of invalidating the will if the deficiency cannot be supplied. the notarial acknowledgement in the Will states the number of pages used in the: ―x x x . and made the following distinction which petitioner is unable to rebut. but by a consideration or examination of the will itself. Uy Coque vs. the Decisions of the Supreme Court are not applicable in the aforementioned appeal at bench. in the case of ―Manuel Singson versus Emilia Florentino. 405.. which circumstance in our opinion takes this case out of the rigid rule of construction and places it within the realm of similar cases where a broad and more liberal view has been adopted to prevent the will of the testator from being defeated by purely technical considerations.Against these cited cases.‖ although the attestation in the subject Will did not state the number of pages used in the will. Echevarria vs. Florentino[19] and Taboada v. et al. 43 Phil. However. and which we adopt with approval: Even a cursory examination of the Will (Exhibit ―D‖). the Will is void and undeserving of probate. Navas L. 92 Phil. the last part of the body of the will contains a statement that it is composed of eight pages. which requirement has been held to be mandatory as an effective safeguard against the possibility of interpolation or omission of some of the pages of the will to the prejudice of the heirs to whom the property is intended to be bequeathed (In re Will of Andrada.[20] wherein the Court allowed probate to the wills concerned therein despite the fact that the attestation clause did not state the number of pages of the will. the same was found in the last part of the body of the Will: ―x x x The law referred to is article 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Yet the appellate court itself considered the import of these two cases. 54 Phil. 2645. 30. 118 SCRA 195. Quinto vs. Gumban vs. ‖ to the effect that a will may still be valid even if the attestation does not contain the number of pages used upon which the Will is written.. This is so because. however. While the attestation clause does not state the number of sheets or pages upon which the will is written. will readily show that the attestation does not state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. however. et al.. 180. which requires that the attestation clause shall state the number of pages or sheets upon which the will is written. et al. Gorcho. supra) (Underscoring supplied) In ―Apolonio Tabaoda versus Hon.‖ (page 165-165. Hon. Avelino Rosal. supra. But here the situation is different. The ratio decidendiof these cases seems to be that the attestation clause must contain a statement of the number of sheets or pages composing the will and that if this is missing or is omitted.‖ supra. 50 Phil. petitioner cites Singson v. Hence. as amended by Act No. Morata. 161 and Apolonio [Taboada] versus Hon. 611). et al. 42 Phil.

and whether all persons . supra) (Underscoring supplied).B. The will does not even contain any notarial acknowledgment wherein the number of pages of the will should be stated.We have examined the will in question and noticed that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in writing the will. it is discernible from the entire will that it is really and actually composed of only two pages duly signed by the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses. in the appeal at bench. This objective is in accord with the [modern tendency] in respect to the formalities in the execut ion of wills. at least insofar as the attestation clause is concerned. forgery. The acknowledgment itself states that ―this Last Will and Testament consists of two pages including this page‖ (pages 200-201. defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 805. which stated that ―the underlying and fundamental objective permeating the provisions on the [law] on [wills] in this project consists in the [liberalization] of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more [freedom] in [expressing] his last wishes. as examples of the application of the rule of strict construction. However. speaking for the Court on the conflicting views on the manner of interpretation of the legal formalities required in the execution of the attestation clause in wills.[28] However.[22] Reliance on these cases remains apropos. A cautionary note was struck though by Justice J. in this case.‖[24] However. that such liberalization be ―but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. petitioner conveniently omits the qualification offered by the Code Commission in the very same paragraph he cites from their report. The other page which is marked as ―Pagina dos‖ comprises the attestation clause and the acknowledgment. Court of Appeals[26] features an extensive discussion made by Justice Regalado. As earlier stated. whether the subscribing witnesses are three or the will was notarized. the Code Commission opted to recommend a more liberal construction through the ―substantial compliance rule‖ under Article 809. and defects or even omissions concerning them in the attestation clause can be safely disregarded.[27] Uy Coque and Andrada are cited therein.L. considering that the requirement that the attestation state the number of pages of the will is extant from Section 618. along with several other cases. whether the signatures appear in each and every page. But the total number of pages. the number of pages used in the will is not stated in any part of the Will. or fra ud. Article 809 of the Civil Code states: ―In the absence of bad faith.‖ In the same vein. the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950 did put in force a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills. or undue and improper pressure and influence. All these are facts that the will itself can reveal. Reyes as to how Article 809 should be applied: x x x The rule must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an examination of the will itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered. that may vary from the philosophy that governed these two cases.[23] However.‖ [25] Caneda v.[21] Both Uy Coque and Andrada were decided prior to the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950. This would have been a fatal defect were it not for the fact that. the first page which contains the entirety of the testamentary dispositions is signed by the testatrix at the end or at the bottom while the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin. petitioner cites the report of the Civil Code Commission. at a time when the statutory provision governing the formal requirement of wills was Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

those omissions which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately. the fact remains that they saw fit to prescribe substantially the same formal requisites as enumerated in Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. the Court refused to allow the probate of a will whose attestation clause failed to state that the witnesses subscribed their respective signatures to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. being the only check against perjury in the probate proceedings . The Court could thus end here and affirm the Court of Appeals. in this case.) The Court of Appeals did cite these comments by Justice J. there could have been no substantial compliance with the requirements under Article 805 since there is no statement in the attestation clause or anywhere in the will itself as to the number of pages which comprise the will. .B. while a failure by the attestation clause to state that the witnesses signed in one another’s presence should be considered a fatal flaw since the attestation is the only textual guarantee of compliance.‖[31] Thus. and not for the indulgent admission of wills to probate .[35] The transcendent legislative intent. would not obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. as it now stands. The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is written is to safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and to prevent any increase or decrease in the pages. will not be fatal and.required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the attestation clause.L. without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence. convinced that these remained effective safeguards against the forgery or intercalation of notarial wills. In Caneda itself. Following Caneda.L. however picayune in impression. since that fact can be checked by a visual examination. there is substantial compliance with this requirement if the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it is comprised of. Reyes in its assailed decision. [32] The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will was written remains a fatal flaw.[29] (Emphasis supplied. is for the fruition of the testator’s incontestable desires. considering that the failure to state the number of pages of the will in the attestation clause is one of the defects which cannot be simply disregarded. However. of the will itself. However. Caneda suggested: ―[I]t may thus be stated that the rule. even as expressed in the cited comments of the Code Commission. Whatever the inclinations of the members of the Code Commission in incorporating Article 805. an examination of the will itself reveals a couple of even more critical defects that should necessarily lead to its rejection. Reyes which to his estimation cannot be lightly disregarded. the execution of which they had ostensibly just witnessed and subscribed to.[33] The failure to state the number of pages equates with the absence of an averment on the part of the instrumental witnesses as to how many pages consisted the will. affords the public a high degree of comfort that the testator himself or herself had decided to convey property post mortem in the manner established in the will. is that omission which can be supplied by an examination of the will itself. despite Article 809.B. as was the situation in Singson and Taboada.[30] the other omission cited by Justice J. a failure by the attestation clause to state that the testator signed every page can be liberally construed.[34]Compliance with these requirements. Article 809 should not deviate from the need to comply with the formal requirements as enumerated under Article 805. At the same time. correspondingly. However.

As in this case. [39] The Court today reiterates the continued efficacy of Cagro. It is the witnesses. rendering the will fatally defective. There is no question that the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause.‖[37] While three (3) Justices[38] considered the signature requirement had been substantially complied with. The signatures on the left-hand corner of every page signify. since the omission of their signatures at the bottom thereof negatives their participation. although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the lefthand margin. since the signatures that do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly different avowal. Indeed. the signatures to the attestation clause establish that the witnesses are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself. Even if the instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing the unsigned attestation clause. the fact must be noted that it is the attestation clause which contains the utterances reduced into writing of the testamentary witnesses themselves. While the signatures of the instrumental witnesses appear on the left-hand margin of the will. We are of the opinion that the position taken by the appellant is correct. the attestation clause was not signed by the instrumental witnesses. and it must necessarily bear their signatures. and not the testator. such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses’ undertakings in the clause. ―the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause. that the witnesses are aware that the page they are signing forms part of the will. This is untenable. Without diminishing the value of the instrumental witnesses’ signatures on each and every page. although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin. An unsigned attestation clause cannot be considered as an act of the witnesses. Article 805 particularly segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the will. it would be easy to add such clause to a will on a subsequent occasion and in the absence of the testator and any or all of the witnesses. and that they witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of .For one. they do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause which after all consists of their averments before the notary public. the attestation clause is separate and apart from the disposition of the will. the fact that the testator had signed the will and every page thereof. among others. The Court may be more charitably disposed had the witnesses in this case signed the attestation clause itself. ruled that the attestation clause had not been duly signed. Cagro v. On the other hand. The petitioner and appellee contends that signatures of the three witnesses on the left-hand margin conform substantially to the law and may be deemed as their signatures to the attestation clause. who are required under Article 805 to state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. An unsigned attestation clause results in an unattested will. from the requisite that the will be ―attested and subscribed by [the instrumental witnesses]. a majority of six (6).‖ The respective intents behind these two classes of signature are distinct from each other. If an attestation clause not signed by the three witnesses at the bottom thereof. Cagro[36] is material on this point. because said signatures are in compliance with the legal mandate that the will be signed on the left-hand margin of all its pages. speaking through Chief Justice Paras. The attestation clause is "a memorandum of the facts attending the execution of the will" required by law to be made by the attesting witnesses. but not the left-hand margin of the page containing such clause. be admitted as sufficient.

the subject will cannot be considered to have been validly attested to by the instrumental witnesses. as they failed to sign the attestation clause. In lieu of an acknowledgment. wrote ―Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10 (sic). 1981 dito sa Lungsodng Maynila. and not merely subscribed and sworn to. while in this case. even though it does not hew to the usual language thereof.[43] The acknowledgment coerces the testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that they had executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed. the language of the jurat should avow that the document was subscribed and sworn before the notary public. the word ―ninotario‖ or ―notarized‖ encompasses the signing of and swearing in of the e xecutors of the document. Possibly though. A jurat is that part of an affidavit where the notary certifies that before him/her. thus allowing for the criminal prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of spurious wills. The only proof in the will that the witnesses have stated these elemental facts would be their signatures on the attestation clause. It also provides a further degree of assurance that the testator is of certain mindset in making the testamentary dispositions to those persons he/she had designated in the will.one another. Such declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury. Petronio Y.‖ By no manner of contemplation can those words be construed as an acknowledgment. and should be treated as of equivalent import. much less one under oath. there is another fatal defect to the will on which the denial of this petition should also hinge.[42] Ordinarily. as the express requirement of Article 806 is that the will be ―acknowledged‖. The acknowledgment made in a will provides for another all-important legal safeguard against spurious wills or those made beyond the free consent of the testator. The non-observance of Article 806 in this case is equally as critical as the other cited flaws in compliance with Article 805. the notary public. which in this case would involve the decedent and the instrumental witnesses. An acknowledgement is not an empty meaningless act. the document was subscribed and sworn to by the executor. . Yet even if we consider what was affixed by the notary public as a jurat. Thus. that the decedent and the instrumental witnesses executed or signed the will as their own free act or deed. [40] Bautista. the notary public averred that he himself ―signed and notarized‖ the document. An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed. Article 806. the will would nonetheless remain invalid. or those executed without the free consent of the testator. Yet. It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat.[41] It involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signor actually declares to the notary that the executor of a document has attested to the notary that the same is his/her own free act and deed. The importance of this requirement is highlighted by the fact that it had been segregated from the other requirements under Article 805 and entrusted into a separate provision. The requirement under Article 806 that ―every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses‖ has also not been complied with. The will does not present any textual proof.

the substantive law in force at the time of the testator’s death. especially the right to education.[45] Taken in isolation. the string of mortal defects which the will in question suffers from makes the probate denial inexorable. CANDICE ALBERTINE RUIZ. BRANCH 156. failed to sign both pages of the will on the left margin. and that all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. —It is settled that allowances for support under Section 3 of Rule 83 should not be limited to the “minor or incapacitated” children of the deceased. unlike the witnesses. vs. January 29. In this case. MARIA CATHRYN RUIZ. RUIZ. Estate of Hilario M. as they are no longer material to the disposition of this case. Allowances for support under Section 3 of Rule 83 should not be limited to the “minor or incapacitated” children of the deceased—the law is rooted on the fact that the right and duty to support. WHEREFORE.It may not have been said before. these omissions. may not be sufficient to deny probate to a will. they need not be dwelt on. We need not discuss them at length. Costs against petitioner. but we can assert the rule. 118671. THE COURT OF APPEALS (Former Special Sixth Division). the decedent. self-evident as it is under Article 806. MARIA PILAR RUIZ-MONTES. the deceased’s legitimate spouse and children. regardless of their age. Ruiz vs. . Court of Appeals G. No. subsist even beyond the age of majority. the will itself is not numbered correlatively in letters on each page. 1996. A notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective. are entitled to provisional support from the funds of the estate. petitioner.R. though indicative as they may be of a general lack of due regard for the requirements under Article 805 by whoever executed the will. except the last. her only signature appearing at the so-called ―logical end‖[44] of the will on its first page. All told. Yet even as these omissions are not decisive to the adjudication of this case. Support. but instead numbered with Arabic numerals. Succession. Also. SO ORDERED. There is a line of thought that has disabused the notion that these two requirements be construed as mandatory. especially the right to education. even if it is subscribed and sworn to before a notary public. by themselves. MARIA ANGELINE RUIZ and THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG. The law is rooted on the fact that the right and duty to support. EDMOND RUIZ. subsist even beyond the age of majority. the petition is DENIED. There are two other requirements under Article 805 which were not fully satisfied by the will in question. The provision requires that the testator and the instrumental witnesses sign each and every page of the will on the left margin. respondents. provides that during the liquidation of the conjugal partnership. Article 188 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.* THE ESTATE OF HILARIO M. civil status or gainful employment. Executor.

Executors and Administrators. The questioned order speaks of “notice” to creditors. expenses of administration.”—Still and all. Hilario Ruiz allegedly left no debts when he died but the taxes on his estate had not hitherto been paid. The probate of a will is conclusive as to its due execution and extrinsic validity and settles only the question of whether the testator. As executor.—In settlement of estate proceedings. Same. The law clearly limits the allowance to “widow and children” and does not extend it to the deceased’s grandchildren. or when provision is made to meet those obligations. and if not paid. he is a mere trustee of his father’s estate. being of sound mind. Same. An heir’s right of ownership over the properties of the decedent is merely inchoate as long as the estate has not been fully settled and partitioned. Conditions before distribution of estate properties can be made. Taxation. Same. — Petitioner must be reminded that his right of ownership over the properties of his father is merely inchoate as long as the estate has not been fully settled and partitioned.” Same. for the appellate court to sustain the probate court’s order granting an allowance to the grandchildren of the testator pending settlement of his estate. therefore. allowance to the widow. being of sound mind. not payment of debts and obligations. Same.Same. The right of an executor or administrator to the possession and management of the real and personal properties of the deceased is not absolute and can only be exercised “so long as it is necessary for the payment of the debts and expenses of administration. The estate tax is one of those obligations that must be paid before distribution of the estate. Same. the probate court ordered the release of the titles to the Valle Verde property and the Blue Ridge apartments to the private respondents after the lapse of six months from the date of first publication of the notice to creditors.—Be that as it may. Probate of Wills. Wills. petitioner cannot correctly claim that the assailed order deprived him of his right to take possession of all the real and personal properties of the estate. Grandchildren are not entitled to provisional support from the funds of the decedent’s estate. freely executed it in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. The estate tax is one of those obligations that must be paid before distribution of the estate. Notably. much less ascertained. grandchildren are not entitled to provisional support from the funds of the decedent’s estate. Same.—In the case at bar. The funds of the estate in his hands are trust funds and he is held to the duties and responsibilities of a trustee of the highest order. Same. Same. Same. and estate tax have been paid. the rule requires that the distributees post a bond or make such provisions as to meet the said tax obligation in proportion to their respective shares in the inheritance. Same. freely executed it in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law—questions as to intrinsic validity may still be raised even after the will has been authenticated. It was error. If not yet paid. at the time the order was issued the properties of the estate had not yet been inventoried and appraised. Questions as to the intrinsic validity and efficacy of the provisions of the will. funeral charges. Same. or (2) before payment of said obligations only if the distributees or any of them gives a bond in a sum fixed by the court conditioned upon the payment of said obligations within such time as the court directs. Same. the rule requires that the distributees post a bond or make such provisions as to meet the said tax obligation in proportion to their respective shares in the inheritance. The right of an executor or administrator to the possession and management of the real and personal properties of the deceased is not absolute and can only be exercised “so long as it is necessary for the payment of the debts and expenses of administration. An executor is a mere trustee of the estate —the funds of the estate in his hands are trust funds and he is held to the duties and responsibilities of a trustee of the highest order. regardless of their minority or incapacity. He cannot unilaterally assign to himself and possess all his parents’ properties and the fruits thereof without first submitting an . the distribution of the estate properties can only be made: (1) after all the debts. Same. the legality of any devise or legacy may be raised even after the will has been authenticated. The probate of a will is conclusive as to its due execution and extrinsic validity and settles only the question of whether the testator.—It was also too early in the day for the probate court to order the release of the titles six months after admitting the will to probate. Settlement of Estates. Trusts. Same.

Edmond Ruiz. Pasig which the testator bequeathed to Maria Cathryn. Court of Appeals.R.583. Ruiz executed a holographic will naming as his heirs his only son. 2 Oliva Street. all children of Edmond Ruiz. his adopted daughter. In compliance. On January 19. personal and real properties and named 2 Edmond Ruiz executor of his estate. 1 . Hilario M. representing the balance of 5 the rent after deducting P191. For unbeknown reasons. RUIZ. private respondents Maria Cathryn. Candice Albertine and Maria Angeline. 1992. 118671 January 29. 1993.R. respondents.inventory and appraisal of all real and personal properties of the deceased. Edmond turned over the amount of P348. MARIA ANGELINE RUIZ and THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG. the named executor. one of the properties of the estate — the house and lot at No. CANDICE ALBERTINE RUIZ. did not take any action for the probate of his father's holographic will. Executor. On November 2. 1988. On April 12. Edmond opposed the petition on the ground that the will was executed under undue influence. the amount of the obligations and estate tax. 252 SCRA 541(1996)] Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G. and his three granddaughters. [Estate of Hilario M. MARIA CATHRYN RUIZ. On June 29. Valle Verde 4 IV. Pasig. four years after the testator's death. Edmond. The testator bequeathed to his heirs substantial cash. J. Immediately thereafter. all of which are subject to a determination by the court as to their veracity.: This petition for review on certiorari seeks to annul and set aside the decision dated November 10. a petition for the probate and approval of Hilario Ruiz's 3 will and for the issuance of letters testamentary to Edmond Ruiz. Branch 156. No. 1995 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. vs. private respondent Maria Pilar Ruiz Montes. 1994 and the resolution dated January 5. 33045. 1987. rendering a true account of his administration. THE COURT OF APPEALS (Former Special Sixth Division). DECISION PUNO. on January 25.14 for repair and maintenance expenses on the estate. 1996 THE ESTATE OF HILARIO M. MARIA PILAR RUIZ-MONTES. Candice Albertine and Maria Angeline — was leased out by Edmond Ruiz to third persons. the expenses of administration. Hilario Ruiz died.000. the cash component of his estate was distributed among Edmond Ruiz and private respondents in accordance with the decedent's will. propriety and justness.00 representing the one-year lease of the Valle Verde property. the probate court ordered Edmond to deposit with the Branch Clerk of Court the rental deposit and payments totalling P540. 1993. Ruiz vs. EDMOND RUIZ. The facts show that on June 27. SP No. Surprisingly. petitioner.56. 1992. it was private respondent Maria Pilar Ruiz Montes who filed before the Regional Trial Court.416.

In March 1993, Edmond moved for the release of P50,000.00 to pay the real estate taxes on the real properties of 6 the estate. The probate court approved the release of P7,722.00. On May 14, 1993, Edmond withdrew his opposition to the probate of the will. Consequently, the probate court, on May 18, 1993, admitted the will to probate and ordered the issuance of letters testamentary to Edmond conditioned upon the filing of a bond in the amount of P50,000.00. The letters testamentary were issued on June 23, 1993. On July 28, 1993, petitioner Testate Estate of Hilario Ruiz, with Edmond Ruiz as executor, filed an "Ex-Parte Motion for Release of Funds." It prayed for the release of the rent payments deposited with the Branch Clerk of Court. Respondent Montes opposed the motion and concurrently filed a "Motion for Release of Funds to Certain Heirs" and "Motion for Issuance of Certificate of Allowance of Probate Will." Montes prayed for the release of the said rent payments to Maria Cathryn, Candice Albertine and Maria Angeline and for the distribution of the testator's properties, specifically the Valle Verde property and the Blue Ridge apartments, in accordance with the provisions of the holographic will. On August 26, 1993, the probate court denied petitioner's motion for release of funds but granted respondent Montes' motion in view of petitioner's lack of opposition. It thus ordered the release of the rent payments to the decedent's three granddaughters. It further ordered the delivery of the titles to and possession of the properties bequeathed to the three granddaughters and respondent Montes upon the filing of a bond of P50,000.00. Petitioner moved for reconsideration alleging that he actually filed his opposition to respondent Montes's motion for release of rent payments which opposition the court failed to consider. Petitioner likewise reiterated his previous motion for release of funds. On November 23, 1993, petitioner, through counsel, manifested that he was withdrawing his motion for release of 7 funds in view of the fact that the lease contract over the Valle Verde property had been renewed for another year. Despite petitioner's manifestation, the probate court, on December 22, 1993, ordered the release of the funds to Edmond but only "such amount as may be necessary to cover the expenses of administration and allowances for support" of the testator's three granddaughters subject to collation and deductible from their share in the inheritance. The court, however, held in abeyance the release of the titles to respondent Montes and the three 8 granddaughters until the lapse of six months from the date of first publication of the notice to creditors. The court stated thus: xxx xxx xxx

After consideration of the arguments set forth thereon by the parties the court resolves to allow Administrator Edmond M. Ruiz to take possession of the rental payments deposited with the Clerk of Court, Pasig Regional Trial Court, but only such amount as may be necessary to cover the expenses of administration and allowances for support of Maria Cathryn Veronique, Candice Albertine and Maria Angeli, which are subject to collation and deductible from the share in the inheritance of said heirs and insofar as they exceed the fruits or rents pertaining to them. As to the release of the titles bequeathed to petitioner Maria Pilar Ruiz-Montes and the above-named heirs, the same is hereby reconsidered and held in abeyance until the lapse of six (6) months from the date of first publication of Notice to Creditors. WHEREFORE, Administrator Edmond M. Ruiz is hereby ordered to submit an accounting of the expenses necessary for administration including provisions for the support Of Maria Cathryn Veronique Ruiz, Candice Albertine Ruiz and Maria Angeli Ruiz before the amount required can be withdrawn and 9 cause the publication of the notice to creditors with reasonable dispatch.

Petitioner assailed this order before the Court of Appeals. Finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent judge, the appellate court dismissed the petition and sustained the probate court's order in a decision 10 11 dated November 10, 1994 and a resolution dated January 5, 1995. Hence, this petition. Petitioner claims that: THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN AFFIRMING AND CONFIRMING THE ORDER OF RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG, BRANCH 156, DATED DECEMBER 22, 1993, WHICH WHEN GIVEN DUE COURSE AND IS EFFECTED WOULD: (1) DISALLOW THE EXECUTOR/ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF THE LATE HILARIO M. RUIZ TO TAKE POSSESSION OF ALL THE REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTIES OF THE ESTATE; (2) GRANT SUPPORT, DURING THE PENDENCY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF AN ESTATE, TO CERTAIN PERSONS NOT ENTITLED THERETO; AND (3) PREMATURELY PARTITION AND DISTRIBUTE THE ESTATE PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL EVEN BEFORE ITS INTRINSIC VALIDITY HAS BEEN DETERMINED, AND DESPITE THE EXISTENCE OF UNPAID DEBTS 12 AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE ESTATE. The issue for resolution is whether the probate court, after admitting the will to probate but before payment of the estate's debts and obligations, has the authority: (1) to grant an allowance from the funds of the estate for the support of the testator's grandchildren; (2) to order the release of the titles to certain heirs; and (3) to grant possession of all properties of the estate to the executor of the will. On the matter of allowance, Section 3 of Rule 83 of the Revised Rules of Court provides: Sec. 3. Allowance to widow and family. — The widow and minor or incapacitated children of a deceased person, during the settlement of the estate, shall receive therefrom under the direction of the court, such allowance as are provided by law. Petitioner alleges that this provision only gives the widow and the minor or incapacitated children of the deceased the right to receive allowances for support during the settlement of estate proceedings. He contends that the testator's three granddaughters do not qualify for an allowance because they are not incapacitated and are no longer minors but of legal age, married and gainfully employed. In addition, the provision expressly states "children" of the deceased which excludes the latter's grandchildren. It is settled that allowances for support under Section 3 of Rule 83 should not be limited to the "minor or 13 incapacitated" children of the deceased. Article 188 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the substantive law in force at the time of the testator's death, provides that during the liquidation of the conjugal partnership, the deceased's legitimate spouse and children, regardless of their age, civil status or gainful employment, are entitled 14 to provisional support from the funds of the estate. The law is rooted on the fact that the right and duty to 15 support, especially the right to education, subsist even beyond the age of majority. Be that as it may, grandchildren are not entitled to provisional support from the funds of the decedent's estate. The law clearly limits the allowance to "widow and children" and does not extend it to the deceased's 16 grandchildren, regardless of their minority or incapacity. It was error, therefore, for the appellate court to sustain the probate court's order granting an allowance to the grandchildren of the testator pending settlement of his estate. Respondent courts also erred when they ordered the release of the titles of the bequeathed properties to private respondents six months after the date of first publication of notice to creditors. An order releasing titles to properties of the estate amounts to an advance distribution of the estate which is allowed only under the following conditions:

Sec. 2. Advance distribution in special proceedings. — Nothwithstanding a pending controversy or appeal in proceedings to settle the estate of a decedent, the court may, in its discretion and upon such terms as it may deem proper and just, permit that such part of the estate as may not be affected by the controversy or appeal be distributed among the heirs or legatees, upon compliance with the conditions set forth in 17 Rule 90 of these Rules. And Rule 90 provides that: Sec. 1. When order for distribution of residue made. — When the debts, funeral charges, and expenses of administration the allowance to the widow, and inheritance tax if any, chargeable to the estate in accordance with law, have been paid, the court, on the application of the executor or administrator, or of a person interested in the estate, and after hearing upon notice shall assign the residue of the estate to the persons entitled to the same, naming them and the proportions or parts, to which each is entitled, and such persons may demand and recover their respective shares from the executor or administrator, or any other person having the same in his possession. If there is a controversy before the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive shares to which each person is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary cases. No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the obligations above-mentioned has been made or provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them, give a bond, in a sum to be fixed by the court, 18 conditioned for the payment of said obligations within such time as the court directs. In settlement of estate proceedings, the distribution of the estate properties can only be made: (1) after all the debts, funeral charges, expenses of administration, allowance to the widow, and estate tax have been paid; or (2) before payment of said obligations only if the distributees or any of them gives a bond in a sum fixed by the court conditioned upon the payment of said obligations within such time as the court directs, or when provision is made 19 to meet those obligations. In the case at bar, the probate court ordered the release of the titles to the Valle Verde property and the Blue Ridge apartments to the private respondents after the lapse of six months from the date of first publication of the notice to creditors. The questioned order speaks of "notice" to creditors, not payment of debts and obligations. Hilario Ruiz allegedly left no debts when he died but the taxes on his estate had not hitherto been paid, much less ascertained. The estate tax is one of those obligations that must be paid before distribution of the estate. If not yet paid, the rule requires that the distributees post a bond or make such provisions as to meet the said tax obligation 20 in proportion to their respective shares in the inheritance. Notably, at the time the order was issued the properties of the estate had not yet been inventoried and appraised. It was also too early in the day for the probate court to order the release of the titles six months after admitting the 21 will to probate. The probate of a will is conclusive as to its due execution and extrinsic validity and settles only the question of whether the testator, being of sound mind, freely executed it in accordance with the formalities 22 prescribed by law. Questions as to the intrinsic validity and efficacy of the provisions of the will, the legality of 23 any devise or legacy may be raised even after the will has been authenticated. The intrinsic validity of Hilario's holographic will was controverted by petitioner before the probate court in his 24 Reply to Montes' Opposition to his motion for release of funds and his motion for reconsideration of the August 25 26, 1993 order of the said court. Therein, petitioner assailed the distributive shares of the devisees and legatees inasmuch as his father's will included the estate of his mother and allegedly impaired his legitime as an intestate heir of his mother. The Rules provide that if there is a controversy as to who are the lawful heirs of the decedent and their distributive shares in his estate, the probate court shall proceed to hear and decide the same as in 26 ordinary cases. Still and all, petitioner cannot correctly claim that the assailed order deprived him of his right to take possession of all the real and personal properties of the estate. The right of an executor or administrator to the possession and management of the real and personal properties of the deceased is not absolute and can only be exercised "so

not as an executor or administrator of the estate. No. He cannot unilaterally assign to himself and possess all his parents' properties and the fruits thereof without first submitting an inventory and appraisal of all real and personal properties of the deceased. SP No. he is a mere trustee of his father's estate. 10259 are affirmed with the modification that those portions of the order granting an allowance to the testator's grandchildren and ordering the release of the titles to the private respondents upon notice to creditors are annulled and set aside.long as it is necessary for the payment of the debts and expenses of administration. 1998. the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. and payment of the real estate taxes thereon. ALADIN SIMUNDAC and MIGUEL OLIVAN. July 30. Respondent judge is ordered to proceed with dispatch in the proceedings below.” These representations clearly evince that she was not acting on behalf of the estate under probate when she entered into the Contract to Sell. he had been previously granted by the probate court certain amounts for repair and maintenance expenses on the properties of the estate. No. the expenses of administration. the jurisprudence cited by petitioner has no application to the instant case. The funds of the estate in his hands are trust funds and he is held to the duties and responsibilities of a trustee of 31 the highest order.R. and to administer estate not willed. Petitioner must be reminded that his right of ownership over the properties of his father is merely inchoate as long 30 as the estate has not been fully settled and partitioned.* NATALIA CARPENA OPULENCIA. rendering a true account of his administration. IN VIEW WHEREOF. because petitioner entered into the Contract to Sell in her capacity as an heiress. Succession. COURT OF APPEALS. It was relevantly noted by the probate court that petitioner had deposited with it only a portion of the one-year rental income from the Valle Verde property. petitioner." Revised Rules of Court explicitly provides: 27 Section 3 of Rule 84 of the Sec. When petitioner moved for further release of the funds deposited with the clerk of court. Court of Appeals G. Petitioner did not deposit its succeeding rents after renewal of the 29 lease. Neither did he render an accounting of such funds. 3. SO ORDERED. —As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals. — An executor or administrator shall have the right to the possession and management of the real as well as the personal estate of the deceased so long as it is necessary for the payment of the debts and 28 expenses for administration. But petitioner moved again for the release of additional funds for the same reasons he previously cited. Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court is not applicable where a party enters into a Contract to Sell in his capacity as an heir. she represented herself as the “lawful owner” and seller of the subject parcel of land. Probate Proceedings. It was correct for the probate court to require him to submit an accounting of the necessary expenses for administration before releasing any further money in his favor. In the contract. all of which are subject to a determination by the court as to their veracity. As executor. Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court is not applicable. . Branch 156. not as an executrix or administratrix of the estate. Executor or administrator to retain whole estate to pay debts. the amount of the obligations and 32 estate tax. Accordingly. 33045 affirming the order dated December 22. 125835. vs. She also explained the reason for the sal e to be “difficulties in her living” conditions and consequent “need of cash. 1993 of the Regional Trial Court. propriety and justness. Pasig in SP Proc.R. Opulencia vs. respondents. Sales.

—The Contract to Sell stipulates that petitioner’s offer to sell is contingent on the “complete clearance of the court on the Last Will and Testament of her father. it is settled that “the sale made by an heir of his share in an inheritance. Petitioner may not renege on her own acts and representations. in no wise stands in the way of such administration. there is no basis for petitioner’s apprehension that the Contract to Sell may result in a premature partition and distribution of the properties of the estate. because the heir has the substantive right to sell the whole or a part of his share in the estate of the decedent. vs. Thus. became the owner of her hereditary share the moment her father died. 1998 NATALIA CARPENA OPULENCIA.000 as initial payment of the purchase price. from whom she had already received P300. thus. The sale made by an heir of his share in an inheritance. Petitioner.Same. Indeed.” Conseq uently. ALADIN SIMUNDAC and MIGUEL OLIVAN. Same.” Estoppel. the consummation of the sale or the transfer of ownership over the parcel of land to the private respondents is subject to the full payment of the purchase price and to the termination and outcome of the testate proceedings. to the prejudice of the private respondents who have relied on them. respondents. Same. in no wise stands in the way of such administration. Court of Appeals. No. 293 SCRA 385(1998)] Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G. Jurisprudence teaches us that neither the law nor the courts will extricate a party from an unwise or undesirable contract he or she entered into with all the required formalities and with full awareness of its consequences. Therefore. Same.: Is a contract to sell a real property involved in restate proceedings valid and binding without the approval of the probate court? Statement of the Case . PANGANIBAN. the lack of judicial approval does not invalidate the Contract to Sell. —Petitioner is estopped from backing out of her representations in her valid Contract to Sell with private respondents. Same. petitioner.—We emphasize that hereditary rights are vested in the heir or heirs from the moment of the decedent’s death. Same. although the Contract to Sell was perfected between the petitioner and private respondents during the pendency of the probate proceedings. because the petitioner has the substantive right to sell the whole or a part of her share in the estate of her late father. the lack of judicial approval does not invalidate the Contract to Sell. subject to the pending administration. therefore.R. Jurisprudence teaches us that neither the law nor the courts will extricate a party from an unwise or undesirable contract he or she entered into with all the required formalities and with full awareness of its consequences. J. [Opulencia vs. subject to the pending administration. 125835 July 30. An heir becomes owner of his hereditary share the moment the decedent dies. COURT OF APPEALS.

At the pre-trial conference the parties stipulated on [sic] the following facts: 1. Biñan. 1989. Laguna at P150. the order of the lower court dismissing the complaint is SET ASIDE and judgment is hereby rendered declaring the CONTRACT TO SELL executed by appellee in favor of appellants as valid and binding. assailing the Decision of the Court of 2 3 Appeals in CA-GR CV No. That the parties have knowledge that the property subject of the contract to sell is subject of the probate proceedings. that plaintiffs paid a downpayment of P300. that realizing the nullity of the contract [petitioner] had offered to return the downpayment received from [private respondents].000. in respect of which a petition for probate was filed with the Regional Trial Court.This is the main question raised in this petition for review before us. that [petitioner] had chosen to rescind the contract. [petitioner] admitted the execution of the contract in favor of plaintiffs and receipt of P300. SO ORDERED. Rosa Estate. In her traverse. However. are: In a complaint for specific performance filed with the court a quo [herein private respondents] Aladin Simundac and Miguel Oliven alleged that [herein petitioner] Natalia Carpena Opulencia executed in their favor a "CONTRACT TO SELL" Lot 2125 of the Sta. consisting of 23. That the price or consideration of the said sell [sic] is P150. that at the time the contract was executed. 1996. 1996 and its Resolution dated July 19.00 had already been received by [petitioner]. the parties were aware of the pendency of the probate proceeding. Rosa Estate. Laguna. otherwise known as Lot No. despite demands. 4. subject to the result of the administration proceedings of the testate Estate of Demetrio Carpena. [private respondents] and [petitioner] entered into a contract to sell involving a parcel of land situated in Sta. Branch 24. Rosa. Rosa.00 per square meter. The challenged Decision disposed as follows: WHEREFORE. premises considered. she put forward the following affirmative defenses: that the property subject of the contract formed part of the Estate of Demetrio Carpena (petitioner's father).00 as downpayment. 3. That the amount of P300.00 in payment of his tenancy rights on the land. 4 1 Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration was denied in the challenged Resolution. 2.00 but defendant. failed to comply with her obligations under the contract. [Private respondents] therefore prayed that [petitioner] be ordered to perform her contractual obligations and to further pay damages. attorney's fee and litigation expenses. as succinctly narrated by Respondent Court of Appeals. The Facts 5 The antecedent facts.00 per square meters.766 square meters located in Sta. but the latter refused to accept it. 2125 of the Sta.00. . Laguna.000. that [private respondents] further failed to provide funds for the tenant who demanded P150. 41994 promulgated on February 6. that the contract to sell was not approved by the probate court. That on February 3.000.

755) Besides. An Opposition was filed by [private respondents].00 (Exhs C. In the case at bar. A sale of properties of an estate as beneficial to the interested parties must comply with the requisites provided by law. D & E). pp. It justified its action in dismissing the complaint in the following manner: It is noteworthy that when the contract to sell was consummated. (Sec. Soler. 2 Phil. [private respondents] presented the following documentary evidences: (1) Contract to Sell (Exh A). Gabriel.000. Encarnacion. (Estate of Obave. 77 Phil. vs. 109-112. 718. Certainly. the [petitioner. the administrator cannot enter into any transaction involving it without prior approval of the probate Court. there being no approval from the probate Court. This is what precipitated the filing of [petitioner's] demurrer to 6 evidence. to show that the sale is necessary and beneficial. 1954. record). It appears that [petitioner]. the sale itself.. As held by the Supreme Court. In essence. 3. 1992 the court a quo granted the demurrer to evidence and dismissed the complaint. (2) machine copy of the last will and testament of Demetrio Carpena (defendant's father) to show that the property sold by defendant was one of those devised to her in said will (Exh B). 755). The lower court erred in not ruling on the consideration of the contract to sell which is tantamount to plain unjust enrichment of [petitioner] at the expense of [private respondents]. defendant maintained that the contract to sell was null and void for want of approval by the probate court. Rule 89. and. May 4. Bonaga vs.5. and without them. filed a Demurrer to Evidence. That [as] of this time. She further argued that the contract was subject to a suspensive condition. 1992. (p. the administratrix is not estop[ped] from doing so and the action to declare the inexistence of contracts do not prescribe. et al. no petition was filed in the Court with notice to the heirs of the time and place of hearing. (Bona vs. L-6736. and the order approving it. (Arcilla vs. Reyes. would be null and void ab initio.. the probate Court has not yet issued an order either approving or denying the said sale. appealed Order of September 15. [Private respondents] submitted their evidence in support of the material allegations of the complaint. it is axiomatic that where the estate of a deceased person is already the subject of a testate or intestate proceeding. 123 SCRA 767). In addition to testimonies of witnesses. there being no approval of the probate court. Rules of Court) which are mandatory. The lower court erred in concluding that [petitioner] in good faith offers to return the money to [private respondents]. 7.] has interposed the nullity of the contract as her defense. The trial court's order of dismissal was elevated to the Court of Appeals by private respondents who alleged: 1. The lower court erred in concluding that the contract to sell is null and void. in good faith offers to return the money she received from the [private respondents]. which was the probate of the will of defendant's father Demetrio Carpena. and (4) demand letters sent to defendant (Exhs F & G). instead of submitting her evidence. vs. 3. 4. 7 . Soler.] realizing the illegality of the transaction[. 2 Phil. The lower court erred in concluding that [petitioner] is not under estoppel to question the validity of the contract to sell. 2. a decedent's representative (administrator) is not estopped from questioning the validity of his own void deed purporting to convey land. It appears further that in an Order dated December 15. (3) receipts signed by defendant for the downpayment in the total amount of P300. et al. David. the authority to sell.

it was not made for the benefit of the estate but for her own needs. and whatever area [is] left. devisees and legatees. what the lower court had in mind was the sale of the estate or part thereof made by the administrator for the benefit of the estate. the SELLER in order to meet her need of cash. subject to the outcome of the testate proceedings on Demetrio Carpena's estate. its main reason for voiding the contract in question was the absence of the probate court's approval. However. it is apropos to refer to the preambular or preliminary portion of the document. the appellate court set aside the trial court's dismissal of the complaint and correctly ruled as follows: It is apparent from the appealed order that the lower court treated the contract to sell executed by appellee as one made by the administratrix of the Estate of Demetrio Carpena for the benefit of the estate. has offered for sale the said property at ONE HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (150. "which property was only one among the other properties given to her by her late father. of a property that was devised to her under the will sought to be probated. which is more particularly described as follows: xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx WHEREAS. as authorized under Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court. but as an heir and more importantly as owner of said lot which. the requisites stipulated in Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court which refer to a sale made by the administrator for the benefit of the estate do not apply." and more importantly. To emphasize. was devised to her under the will sought to be probated. xxx xxx xxx . which requires the approval of the probate court upon application therefor with notice to the heirs. the SELLER suffers difficulties in her living and has forced to offer the sale of the above-described property. which reads: WHEREAS. 2125 duly confirmed after the survey to be conducted by the BUYER's Licensed Geodetic Engineer. a cursory reading of the entire text of the contract would unerringly show that what she undertook to sell to appellants was one of the "other properties given to her by her late father. the contract to sell in question is not covered by Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court since it was made by appellee in her capacity as an heir. WHEREAS. the latter has accepted to buy and/or purchase the same. it is evident from the foregoing clauses of the contract that appellee sold Lot 2125 not in her capacity as executrix of the will or administratrix of the estate of her father. To illustrate this point. as adverted to by appellants in their brief. along with other properties. the SELLER is the lawful owner of a certain parcel of land. Hence." to anyone who can wait for complete clearance of the court on the Last Will Testament of her father. less the area for the road and other easements indicated at the back of Transfer Certificate of Title No.00) Philippine Currency.Public Respondent's Ruling Declaring the Contract to Sell valid. That being so. Presumably. per square meter unto the BUYERS. and with this offer. while the document inadvertently stated that appellee executed the contract in her capacity as "executrix and administratrix" of the estate. (Emphasis added). Thus.

— The court having jurisdiction of the estate of the deceased may authorize the executor or administrator to sell. Such proceedings will consist. we cannot as yet order appellee to perform her obligations under the contract because the result of the administration proceedings of the testate Estate of Demetrio Carpena has to be awaited. defendant loses the right to adduce his evidence. Hence. among others. B-979 by the Regional Trial Court. Hence. the administrator cannot enter into any transaction involving it without prior approval of 9 the Probate Court. or otherwise encumber real estate. the appellate court will decide the controversy on the basis of plaintiff's evidence. mortgage. 7.It is noteworthy that in a Manifestation filed with this court by appellants. But of course such approval does not terminate the proceeding[s] since the settlement of the estate will ensue. Rule 89 of the Rules of Court: Sec. petitioner contends that "where the estate of the deceased person is already the subject of a testate or intestate proceeding. Laguna. it is mentioned that the last will and testament of Demetrio Carpena was approved in a final judgment rendered in Special Proceeding No. Branch 24 Biñan. as required by Section 7. In such a case. Under the foregoing premises. In effect. Contract to Sell Valid In a nutshell. In the case at bench. hearing of money claims and payment of taxes and estate debts (Rule 88) and distribution of the residue to the heirs or persons entitled thereto (Rule 90). The rule is that when a demurrer to the evidence is granted by the trial court but reversed on appeal. which is not controverted by appellee. Regulations for granting authority to sell. under the following regulations: xxx xxx xxx Insisting that the above rule should apply to this case." She maintains that the Contract to Sell is void because it was not approved by the probate court. mortgage. what the trial court should have done with the complaint was not to dismiss it but to simply put on hold further proceedings until such time that the estate or its residue will be distributed in accordance with the approved will. the estate being the landlord of the said tenants. we shall confine our adjudication to merely declaring the validity of the questioned Contract to Sell. while we find the contract to sell valid and binding between the parties. The Court's Ruling The petition has no merit. this appeal. petitioner argues that the stipulations in the Contract to Sell require her to act in her capacity as an executrix or administratrix. She avers that her obligation to eject tenants 10 pertains to the administratrix or executrix. or otherwise encumber estate. the final execution of the deed of sale itself upon appellants' payment of the balance of the purchase price will have to wait for the settlement or termination of the administration proceedings of the Estate of Demetrio Carpena. in cases provided by these rules and when it appears necessary or beneficial. Likewise demonstrating that she entered into the contract in her capacity as executor is the stipulation that she must effect . 8 The Issue Petitioner raises only one issue: Whether or not the Contract to Sell dated 03 February 1989 executed by the [p]etitioner and [p]rivate [r]espondent[s] without the requisite probate court approval is valid. in the issuance by the court of a notice to creditors (Rule 86).

440 of the Civil Code provides that "the possession of hereditary property is deemed to be transmitted to the heir without interruption from the instant of the death of the decedent. 1997. this Court." Consequently. but that the effect thereof was limited to the share which may be allotted to the vendors upon the partition of the estate. became the owner of her hereditary share the moment her father died. Petitioner . Accordingly. there is no basis for petitioner's apprehension that the Contract to Sell may result in a premature partition and distribution of the properties of the estate. each of his heirs "becomes the undivided owner of the whole estate left with respect to the part or portion which might be adjudicated to him. .the conversion of subject land from irrigated rice land to residential land and secure the necessary clearances from government offices. where some of the heirs. Petitioner alleges that these obligations can be undertaken only by an executor or 11 administrator of an estate. Rafols. in no wise stands in the way of such 20 administration. although the Contract to Sell was perfected between the petitioner and private respondents during the pendency of the probate proceedings. therefore. in Jakosalem vs. In the contract. The Court is not persuaded. Therefore." Estoppel Finally. Administration of the Estate Not Prejudiced by the Contract to Sell Petitioner further contends that "[t]o sanction the sale at this stage would bring about a partial distribution of the 17 decedent's estate pending the final termination of the testate proceedings. the lack of judicial approval does not invalidate the Contract to Sell." . As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals. Thus. We emphasize that hereditary rights are vested in the heir or heirs from the moment of the decedent's 14 death. it is settled that "the sale made by an heir of his share in an inheritance. petitioner is estopped from backing out of her representations in her valid Contract to Sell with private respondents. without the concurrence of the others." These representations clearly evince that she was not acting on behalf of the estate under probate when she entered into the Contract to Sell. The Contract to Sell stipulates that petitioner's offer to sell is contingent 19 on the "complete clearance of the court on the Last Will Testament of her father. ." And Manresa with reason states that upon the death of a person. speaking thru its then Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano. Indeed. said that the sale was valid. because petitioner entered into the Contract to Sell in her capacity as an heiress. every part owner may assign or mortgage his part in the common property. and not by an heir. Thus." This becomes all the more significant in the light of the trial court's finding. Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court is not applicable. she represented herself as the "lawful owner" and seller 12 of the subject parcel of land. not as an executrix or administratrix of the estate." Petitioner's contention is not convincing. because the petitioner has the substantive right to 15 16 sell the whole or a part of her share in the estate of her late father. sold a property left by their deceased father.000 as initial payment of the purchase price. as stated in its Order dated August 20. She also explained the reason for the sale to be "difficulties in her living" 13 conditions and consequent "need of cash. in case the inheritance be accepted. the jurisprudence cited by petitioners has no application to the instant case. a community of ownership being thus formed among the coowners of the estate while it remains undivided. the Court resolved an identical issue under the old Civil Code and held: Art. and the effect of such assignment or mortgage shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted him in the partition upon the dissolution of the community. from whom she had already received P300. And according to article 399 of the Civil Code. subject to the pending administration. Petitioner. that "the legitimate 18 of one of the heirs has been impaired. the consummation of the sale or the transfer of ownership over the parcel of land to the private respondents is subject to the full payment of the purchase price and to the termination and outcome of the testate proceedings. Hence.

JOSEFINA C. Same.—Fraud “is a trick. Furthermore. In any event. VALMONTE. Same. Costs against petitioner. “because the law does not even require that a *notarial+ will x x x be executed and acknowledged on the same occasion.” Same. other than the self-serving allegations of petitioner.—Petitioner failed to substantiate her claim of a “grand conspiracy” in the commission of a fraud. or it may relate to some extrinsic fact. Unfortunately in this case. we agree with the CA that “the variance in the dates of the will as to its suppose d execution and attestation was satisfactorily and persuasively explained by the notary public and the instrumental witnesses.” More important. Their testimony favoring it and . to the prejudice of the private respondents who have relied 21 on them. no evidence of fraud was ever presented. the testator and the witnesses must acknowledge the will before a notary public. the conflict between the dates appearing on the will does not invalidate the document. There was no showing that the witnesses of the proponent stood to receive any benefit from the allowance of the will.may not renege on her own acts and representations. or pretense. The party challenging the will bears the burden of proving the existence of fraud at the time of its execution. who were the ones who had taken “the cudgels of taking care of *the testator+ in his twilight years.” Same. vs. The omission of some relatives does not affect the due execution of a will .—It is a settled doctrine that the omission of some relatives does not affect the due execution of a will. December 16. in consequence of the deception regarding which the testator is led to make a certain will which. The testimonies of the three subscribing witnesses and the notary are credible evidence of its due execution. That the testator was tricked into signing it was not sufficiently established by the fact that he had instituted his wife. but for the fraud. Same. The testimonies of the three subscribing witnesses and the notary are credible evidence of its due execution. Same. No. by which the subject of it is cheated. SO ORDERED. 157451. who was more than fifty years his junior. —As correctly ruled by the appellate court. Wills. the will must be subscribed by the testator. 2005. WHEREFORE. as the sole beneficiary. The burden to show otherwise shifts to the proponent of the will only upon a showing of credible evidence of fraud. The burden to show otherwise shifts to the proponent of the will only upon a showing of credible evidence of fraud. petitioner. and disregarded petitioner and her family.” We stress that the party challenging the will bears the burden of proving the existence of fraud at the time of its execution. Jurisprudence teaches us that neither the law nor the courts will extricate a party from an unwise or undesirable contract he or she entered into with all the required formalities and with full awareness of its 22 consequences. secret device. false statement.* LETICIA VALMONTE ORTEGA. he would not have made. as well as by three or more credible witnesses who must also attest to it in the presence of the testator and of one another.R. G. Civil Law. respondent. the petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals AFFIRMED. The conflict between the dates appearing on the will does not invalidate the document because the law does not even require that a notarial will be executed and acknowledged on the same occasion. It may be of such character that the testator is misled or deceived as to the nature or contents of the document which he executes.

will not render a person incapable of making a will.the finding that it was executed in accordance with the formalities required by law should be affirmed.-. 157451 Petitioner. Respondent. Same. things that the testator must have the ability to know.-.-. we find that the appellate court was correct in holding that Placido had testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of his will. To be considered of sound mind.-. JJ JOSEFINA C.-.versus Sandoval-Gutierrez. —According to Article 799. No. absent any showing of ill motives. there are numberless degrees of mental capacity or incapacity and while on one hand it has been held that mere weakness of mind.-.-.-. the three things that the testator must have the ability to know to be considered of sound mind are as follows: (1) the nature of the estate to be disposed of.-.-. and (3) the character of the testamentary act.-. G.—Between the highest degree of soundness of mind and memory which unquestionably carries with it full testamentary capacity.. Promulgated: December 16.-. VALMONTE.-.-. .-. Testamentary incapacity does not necessarily require that a person shall actually be insane or of unsound mind. [Ortega vs.-.-.-.-. Carpio Morales. Present: Panganiban.-.-. Chairman.-. Corona. provided he has understanding and memory sufficient to enable him to know what he is about to do and how or to whom he is disposing of his property. Same. it is not necessary that the mind be unbroken or unimpaired or unshattered by disease or otherwise.-. (2) the proper obj ects of the testator’s bounty. Same. It has been held that testamentary incapacity does not necessarily require that a person shall actually be insane or of unsound mind. Same. 2005 x -. 478 SCRA 247(2005)] LETICIA VALMONTE ORTEGA. a weak or feebleminded person may make a valid will. or partial imbecility from disease of body.-. or from age.-.R.x . Applying this test to the present case.-. Valmonte. J. and Garcia.-. To constitute a sound and disposing mind. and that degrees of mental aberration generally known as insanity or idiocy.

and the Decision appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. For this reason. In its place judgment is rendered approving and allowing probate to the said last will and testament of Placido Valmonte and ordering the issuance of letters testamentary to the petitioner Josefina Valmonte. 44296. The Case Before the Court is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. petitioner has failed to discharge this burden satisfactorily. Let this case be remanded to the court a [4] quo for further and concomitant proceedings. as follows: . seeking to reverse and set aside the December 12. The assailed Decision disposed as follows: ―WHEREFORE. J. the Court cannot attribute any T reversible error on the part of the appellate tribunal that allowed the probate of the will. the appeal is GRANTED.‖ The assailed Resolution denied petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.DECISION PANGANIBAN.: he law favors the probate of a will. In the present case. 2003 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No. The Facts The facts were summarized in the assailed Decision of the CA. 2002 Decision[2] and the March 7. Upon those who oppose it rests the burden of showing why it should not be allowed.

having share and share alike. Metro Manila. 83 years of age and being of sound and disposing mind and memory. JOSEFINA C. Metro-Manila registered jointly as co-owners with my deceased sister (Ciriaca Valmonte). and a resident of 9200 Catmon Street. and was signed at the end or bottom of that page by the testator and on the left hand margin by the three instrumental witnesses. Makati. It is my will that I be buried in the Catholic Cemetery. in a ceremony solemnized by Judge Perfecto Laguio. 123468 of the Register of Deeds of Pasig. LRC. In 1980. and dated June 15. situated in Makati. . It provides in the body that: ‗LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF PLACIDO VALMONTE IN THE NAME OF THE LORD AMEN: ‗I. described and covered by TCT No. one half (1/2) portion of the follow-described properties. But in a little more than two years of wedded bliss. Placido toiled and lived for a long time in the United States until he finally reached retirement. Metro Manila. Jr.―x x x: Like so many others before him. VALMONTE. 1983 but acknowledged only on August 9. 2. (GLRO). under the auspices of the Catholic Church in accordance with the rites and said Church and that a suitable monument to be erected and provided my by executrix (wife) to perpetuate my memory in the minds of my family and friends. which he owned in common with his sister Ciriaca Valmonte and titled in their names in TCT 123468. married to Josefina Cabansag Valmonte. Placido finally came home to stay in the Philippines. which belongs to me as [co-owner]: a. 1983. Placido died on October 8. of legal age. do hereby declare this to be my last will and testament: 1. ―Placido executed a notarial last will and testament written in English and consisting of two (2) pages. and he lived in the house and lot located at #9200 Catmon St. I give. and was signed by the witnesses at the end of the attestation clause and again on the left hand margin. Block 13 described on plan Psd-28575. devise and bequeath unto my loving wife. 1984 of a cause written down as COR PULMONALE. 1982. Lot 4-A.. PLACIDO VALMONTE. on February 5. The second page contains the continuation of the attestation clause and the acknowledgment. San Antonio Village. Makati. Two years after his arrival from the United States and at the age of 80 he wed Josefina who was then 28 years old. The first page contains the entire testamentary dispositions and a part of the attestation clause.

jointly in the name of my deceased sister. Makati. made of strong and mixed materials used as my residence and my wife and located at No. 2. A-025-00482.b. Ciriaca Valmonte and myself as co-owners. and it is my will that said executrix be exempt from filing a bond. including my savings account bank book in USA which is in the possession of my nephew. 4. 2-storey building standing on the above-described property.‘ th ―The allowance to probate of this will was opposed by Leticia on the grounds that: 1. Petitioner failed to state the names. Metro Manila also covered by Tax Declaration No. I have hereunto set my hand this 15 day of June 1983 in Quezon City. Josefina C. Testator was mentally incapable to make a will at the time of the alleged execution he being in an advance sate of senility. Petitioner failed to allege all assets of the testator. and all others whatsoever and wherever found. Makati. 3. IN WITNESS WHEREOF. Metro-Manila. Josefina C. I give. share and share alike or equal co-owners thereof. residue and remainder of my real and personal properties. Valmonte. Will was not executed and attested as required by law and legal solemnities and formalities were not complied with. . I hereby appoint my wife. All the rest. or to give them proper notice pursuant to law. devise and bequeath to my said wife. 9200 Catmon Street. ages. and residences of the heirs of the testator. 4. Valmonte as sole executrix of my last will and testament. especially those found in the USA. 3. Philippines.

and the instrumental witnesses spouses Eugenio Gomez. Jr. To her estimate.‘ and she also opposed the appointment as Executrix of Josefina alleging her want of understanding and integrity. ―At the hearing. Josefina said she had no knowledge of the existence of the last will and testament of her husband. La Union but they came to Manila every month to get his $366. 6.000. the oppositor Leticia and her daughter Mary Jane Ortega testified. the value of property both real and personal left by the testator is worth more or less P100. ―According to Josefina after her marriage with the testator they lived in her parents house at Salingcob. Josefina declared too that the testator never suffered mental infirmity because despite his old age he went alone to the market which is two to three kilometers from their home cooked and cleaned the kitchen and sometimes if she could not accompany him. It was only then that she learned that the testator bequeathed to her his properties and she was named the executrix in the said will. Will was executed under duress. and Feliza Gomez and Josie Collado. and/or 7. or the influence of fear or threats. the testator would travel alone. and he did not intend that the instrument should be his will at the time of affixing his signature thereto.00. There were times though when to shave off on expenses. Signature of testator was procured by fraud. even traveled to Manila alone to claim his monthly pension.00 monthly pension and stayed at the said Makati residence. ―Notary Public Floro Sarmiento. And it was in one of his travels by his lonesome self when the notarial will was made.5. or trick. Josefina also asserts that her husband was in good health and that he was hospitalized only because of a cold but which eventually resulted in his death. testified that it was in the first week of June 1983 when the testator together with the three . Floro Sarmiento who prepared and notarized the will. the petitioner Josefina testified and called as witnesses the notary public Atty. For the opposition. who were their wedding sponsors. the notary public who notarized the testator‘s will. but just serendipitously found it in his attache case after his death. The will was witnessed by the spouses Eugenio and Feliza Gomez. Bacnotan. Will was procured by undue and improper influence and pressure on the part of the petitioner and/or her agents and/or assistants. and by Josie Collado.

a dialect which the testator spoke and understood. namely: 1. the notary public explained to them each and every term thereof in Ilocano. Josefina was not with them. that they returned on June 15. She attacked the mental capacity of the testator. ―The attesting witnesses to the will corroborate d the testimony of the notary public. He reasoned that he no longer changed the typewritten date of June 15. The notary public also testified that to his observation the testator was physically and mentally capable at the time he affixed his signature on the will. 1983. that the contents of the will was explained by the notary public in the Ilocano and Tagalog dialect and that all of them as witnesses attested and signed the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. declaring that at the time of the execution of the notarial will the testator was already 83 years old and was no longer of sound mind. the testator‘s wife. Floro Sarmiento purposely for his intended will.witnesses of the will went to his house cum law office and requested him to prepare his last will and testament. reduces the opposition to two grounds. Floro Sarmiento. He likewise explained that though it appears that the will was signed by the testator and his witnesses on June 15. the notary public told them to come back on June 15. the court a quo held that [t]he evidence adduced. 1983 because of the absence of the notary public. aberrations and senility. the testator‘s physical and mental condition showed deterioration. and testified that the testator went alone to the house of spouses Eugenio and Feliza Gomez at GSIS Village. the day when it should have been executed had he not gone out of town. Before the testator and his witnesses signed the prepared will. the formal execution was actually on August 9. And that during the execution. Quezon City and requested them to accompany him to the house of Atty. After the testator instructed him on the terms and dispositions he wanted on the will. After he had prepared the will the notary public kept it safely hidden and locked in his drawer. ―Sifting through the evidence. She knew whereof she spoke because in 1983 Placido lived in the Makati residence and asked Leticia‘s family to live with him and they took care of him. and which they did. During that time. Non-compliance with the legal solemnities and formalities in the execution and attestation of the will. 1983 to give him time to prepare it. ―The oppositor Leticia declared that Josef ina should not inherit alone because aside from her there are other children from the siblings of Placido who are just as entitled to inherit from him. that the testator executed the will in question in their presence while he was of sound and disposing mind and that he was strong and in good health. The testator and his witnesses returned on the appointed date but the notary public was out of town so they were instructed by his wife to come back on August 9. they were told to return on June 15. 1983. 1983 because he did not like the document to appear dirty. 1983. This was corroborated by her daughter Mary Jane Ortega for whom Placido took a fancy and wanted to marry. and . that after giving his instructions to Atty. 1983. 1983 for the execution of the will but were asked to come back instead on August 9.

The CA upheld the credibility of the notary public and the subscribing witnesses who had acknowledged the due execution of the will.‖ [5] Ruling of the Court of Appeals Reversing the trial court. It added that his “sexual exhibitionism and unhygienic. it held that the testator had testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of the will.2. the appellate court admitted the will of Placido Valmonte to probate. this Petition. Whether or not the findings of the probate court are entitled to great respect.[7] Issues Petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration: ―I. . Hence. crude and impolite ways”[6] did not make him a person of unsound mind. Mental incapacity of the testator at the time of the execution of the will as he was then in an advanced state of senility ―It then found these grounds extant and proven. Moreover. and accordingly disallowed probate.

Whether or not the signature of Placido Valmonte in the subject will was procured by fraud or trickery.―II. Main Issue: Probate of a Will At the outset. the evidence presented during the trial may be examined and the factual matters .‖ In short. petitioner assails the CA’s allowance of the probate of the will of Placido Valmonte. This Court’s Ruling The Petition has no merit. however. we stress that only questions of law may be raised in a Petition for Review under Section 1 of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. ―III. As an exception. Whether or not Placido Valmonte has testamentary capacity at the time he allegedly executed the [8] subject will. and that Placido Valmonte never intended that the instrument should be his last will and testament.

(2) If the testator was insane. the findings of fact of the appellate court differ from those of the trial court. on the part of the beneficiary or of some other person. The law lays down the procedures and requisites that must be satisfied for the probate of a will. as in the instant case. The will shall be disallowed in any of the following cases: (1) If the formalities required by law have not been complied with. or (4) If it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence. petitioner assails the validity of Placido Valmonte’s will by imputing fraud in its execution and challenging the testator’s state of mind at the time.resolved by this Court when. (5) If the signature of the testator was procured by fraud.‖ In the present case. . (3) threats. If it was executed through force or under duress. as follows: ―Article 839. (6) If the testator acted by mistake or did not intend that the instrument he signed should be his will at the time of affixing his signature thereto. [10] Verily. Article 839 of the Civil Code states the instances when a will may be disallowed. at the time of its execution. or otherwise mentally incapable of making a will.[9] The fact that public policy favors the probate of a will does not necessarily mean that every will presented for probate should be allowed. or the influence of fear.

Petitioner contends that it was “highly dubious for a woman at the prime of her young life [to] almost immediately plunge into marriage with a man who [was] thrice her age x x x and who happened to be [a] Fil-American pensionado. conspired with the notary public and the three attesting witnesses in deceiving Placido to sign it. Particularly. but maintains that the circumstances surrounding it are indicative of the existence of fraud.”[13] . he would not have made.”[11] thus casting doubt on the intention of respondent in seeking the probate of the will. Fraud “is a trick. or it may relate to some extrinsic fact.Existence of Fraud in the Execution of a Will Petitioner does not dispute the due observance of the formalities in the execution of the will. she alleges that respondent. in consequence of the deception regarding which the testator is led to make a certain will which. secret device. false statement. Moreover. but for the fraud. who is the testator’s wife and sole beneficiary. logic and common experience”[12] for an old man with a severe psychological condition to have willingly signed a last will and testament. It may be of such character that the testator is misled or deceived as to the nature or contents of the document which he executes. it supposedly “defies human reason. by which the subject of it is cheated. or pretense. We are not convinced. Deception is allegedly reflected in the varying dates of the execution and the attestation of the will.

It is a settled doctrine that the omission of some relatives does not affect the due execution of a will. 1985. 1986. the conflict between the dates appearing on the will does not invalidate the document. Floro Sarmiento: Q You typed this document exhibit C.[16] That the testator was tricked into signing it was not sufficiently established by the fact that he had instituted his wife. who was more than fifty years his junior. as correctly ruled by the appellate court. “because the law does not even require that a [notarial] will x x x be executed and acknowledged on the same occasion. the testator and the witnesses must acknowledge the will before a notary public.[15] Unfortunately in this case. and October 21.[14] The burden to show otherwise shifts to the proponent of the will only upon a showing of credible evidence of fraud.are reproduced respectively as follows: ―Atty. as well as by three or more credible witnesses who must also attest to it in the presence of the testator and of one another. October 13. specifying the date June 15 when the testator and his witnesses were supposed to be in your office? . as the sole beneficiary.”[18] More important.[20] In any event.”[17] Moreover. we agree with the CA that “the variance in the dates of the will as to its supposed execution and attestation was satisfactorily and persuasively explained by the notary public and the instrumental witnesses.We stress that the party challenging the will bears the burden of proving the existence of fraud at the time of its execution. November 25. who were the ones who had taken “the cudgels of taking care of [the testator] in his twilight years.as quoted by the CA -. no evidence of fraud was ever presented. other than the self-serving allegations of petitioner. 1987 -.”[21] The pertinent transcript of stenographic notes taken on June 11. [19] Furthermore. and disregarded petitioner and her family. 1985. the will must be subscribed by the testator.

A Q A When you did not find Atty. that was th first week of June and Atty. will you look at this document and tell us this discrepancy in the date? We went to Atty. 1983 on the acknowledgement. Sarmiento together with Placido Valmonte and the two witnesses. A Q What about the date when the testator and the three witnesses affixed their respective signature on the first and second pages of exhibit C? On that particular date when it was acknowledged. th . Q A On June 15. whereas in the acknowledgement it is dated August 9.A Yes sir. Atty. 1983. (tsn. A Q Why did you not make the necessary correction on the date appearing on the body of the document as well as the attestation clause? Because I do not like anymore to make some alterations so I put it in my own handwriting August 9. 1983. Sarmiento on June 15. June 11. did you again go back? We returned on the 9 of August and there we signed. 1985. 8-10) A Eugenio Gomez: Q It appears on the first page Mr. Sarmiento was not there. I was out of town. did the testator and his witnesses come to your house? They did as of agreement but unfortunately. Was this the actual date when the document was acknowledged? Yes sir. xxx xxx xxx Q The document has been acknowledged on August 9. Witness that it is dated June 15. Sarmiento told us to return on the 15 of June but when we returned. 1983. 1983 as per acknowledgement appearing therein. pp. 1983. August 9. 1983.

1983 where you said it is there where you signed. Sarmiento? Yes. Q A For what purpose? Our purpose is just to sign the will. Sarmiento was not there so we were not able to sign it. pp. (tsn. 1983. (tsn. Q Were you able to sign the will you mentioned? . October 13. We went there to talk to Atty. Sir. for the third time we went there on August 9 and that was the time we affixed our signature. the first week of June was out first time. Floro Sarmiento.Q This August 9. the will. Sarmiento and Placido Valmonte about the last will and testament. 7-8) A Felisa Gomez on cross-examination: Q Why did you have to go to the office of Atty. what transpired? The wife of Atty. three times? xxx xxx xxx A The reason why we went there three times is that. 1985. 1986. Sarmiento in his house on June 15. Sarmiento told us that we will be back on August 9. 1983 did you go back to the house of Atty. 1983. November 25. Q A And on August 9. 4-6) Josie Collado: Q A When you did not find Atty. what th Atty. Atty. When we returned on June 15. pp. me and Placido Valmonte. After that what they have talked what will be placed in the testament. Sarmiento said was that he will go back on the 15 of June. who were your companions? The two witnesses. That is why.

To be of sound mind. October 21. pp. petitioner failed to substantiate her claim of a “grand conspiracy” in the commission of a fraud. The testimonies of the three subscribing witnesses and the notary are credible evidence of its due execution. ―It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time of making the will to know the nature of the estate to be disposed of. the proper objects of his bounty. ―Article 799. unimpaired.absent any showing of ill motives. 1987. The law presumes that every person is of sound mind. the Civil Code gives the following guidelines: ―Article 798. injury or other cause. (tsn. ―The burden of proof that the testator was not of sound mind at the tim e of making his dispositions is on the person who opposes the probate of the will. one month. In order to make a will it is essential that the testator be of sound mind at the time of its execution.[24] Capacity to Make a Will In determining the capacity of the testator to make a will. 4-5)‖ [22] Notably. . it is not necessary that the testator be in full possession of all his reasoning faculties.[23] Their testimony favoring it and the finding that it was executed in accordance with the formalities required by law should be affirmed. or shattered by disease. ―Article 800. but if the testator. or that his mind be wholly unbroken. in the absence of proof to the contrary. There was no showing that the witnesses of the proponent stood to receive any benefit from the allowance of the will. and the character of the testamentary act.A Yes sir.

a weak or feebleminded person may make a valid will. There being no showing of fraud in its execution. It must be noted that despite his advanced age. or partial imbecility from disease of body. before making his will was publicly known to be insane.or less. we find that the appellate court was correct in holding that Placido had testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of his will. Worth reiterating in determining soundness of mind is Alsua-Betts v. and (3) the character of the testamentary act. he was still able to identify accurately the kinds of property he owned. It has been held that testamentary incapacity does not [26] necessarily require that a person shall actually be insane or of unsound mind. CA. will not render a person incapable of making a will.‖ According to Article 799. Applying this test to the present case. provided he has understanding and memory sufficient to enable him to know what he is about to do and how or to whom he is disposing of his property. it is not necessary that the mind be unbroken or unimpaired or unshattered by disease or otherwise. (2) the proper objects of t he testator’s bounty." . As we have stated earlier. there are numberless degrees of mental capacity or incapacity and while on one hand it has been held that mere weakness of mind.[25] which held thus: "Between the highest degree of soundness of mind and memory which unquestionably carries with it full testamentary capacity. and that degrees of mental aberration generally known as insanity or idiocy. it was sufficient that he identified his wife as sole beneficiary. intent in its disposition becomes irrelevant. the extent of his shares in them and even their locations. the omission of some relatives from the will did not affect its formal validity. or from age. To constitute a sound and disposing mind. the person who maintains the validity of the will must prove that the testator made it during a lucid interval. As regards the proper objects of his bounty. the three things that the testator must have the ability to know to be considered of sound mind are as follows: (1) the nature of the estate to be disposed of.

petitioner. 2005 265 Testate Estate of the Late Alipio Abada vs. 450. January 31. and the instrument appears to have been executed substantially in accordance with the requirements of the law. Attestation Clause. 147145. respondents. should not be rejected where its attestation clause serves the purpose of the law. More than anything else. If the surrounding circumstances point to a regular execution of the will..WHEREFORE. or other non-essential defect. (Thompson on Wills. The later decisions do tell us _______________ * FIRST DIVISION. No. Same. although the document may suffer from some imperfection of language.R. therefore. not possible to lay down a general rule. SO ORDERED. Testate Estate of the Late Alipio Abada vs. JANUARY 31. Requisites. rigid and inflexible. and the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. lean towards its admission to probate. they may still be proved. should not be rejected where its attestation clause serves the purpose of the law. Wills. or other casualty. 265 VOL. BELINDA CAPONONG-NOBLE. Costs against petitioner. in permanent form. the Petition is DENIED. Same.* TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE ALIPIO ABADA. in the absence of any suggestion of bad faith. An attestation clause is made for the purpose of preserving. x x x Same. vs. forgery or fraud. Succession. Evidence aliunde not allowed to fill void in any part of the document or supply missing details. 2d ed. which would be applicable to all cases. so that in case of failure of the memory of the subscribing witnesses. the inclination should. 132. x x x. Same. the facts and circumstances of record are to be considered in the application of any given rule. Abaja . — [T]he so-called liberal rule does not offer any puzzle or difficulty. a record of the facts attending the execution of the will. sec. A will.—x x x It is. Abaja G. of course. nor does it open the door to serious consequences.) A will. 2005. ALIPIO ABAJA and NOEL ABELLAR.

Both died without legitimate children. vs.: The Case Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals of 12 January 2001 in CA3 G. Alipio is the son of Eulogio. 2005 TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE ALIPIO ABADA. Same. However. (2) it was not intended as the last will of the testator. an exploration within its confines. petitioner. They do not allow evidence aliunde to fill a void in any part of the document or supply missing details that should appear in the will itself. Paz. Nicanor Caponong ("Caponong") opposed the petition on the ground that Abada left no will when he died in 1940. if Abada really executed it. J. Precision of language in the drafting of the attestation clause is desirable. 450 SCRA 264(2005)] Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G. Caponong further alleged that the will. but not imperative. Alipio C.R. It is sufficient if from the language employed it can reasonably be deduced that the attestation clause fulfills what the law expects of it.when and where to stop. Citing the same grounds invoked by Caponong. docketed as SP No.R. Same. Abada allegedly named as his testamentary heirs his natural children Eulogio Abaja ("Eulogio") and Rosario Cordova. Joel. — Precision of language in the drafting of an attestation clause is desirable. and (3) it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiaries. The Antecedent Facts Abada died sometime in May 1940. On 13 September 1968. namely. BELINDA CAPONONG-NOBLE. DECISION CARPIO. respondents. Same. for the probate of the last will and testament ("will") of Abada. This clear. They only permit a probe into the will. ALIPIO ABAJA and NOEL ABELLAR. No. the alleged intestate heirs of Abada. 070 (313-8668). Abaja. Same. admitting to probate the last will and testament of Alipio Abada ("Abada"). The Court of Appeals sustained the Resolution of the Regional Trial Court of Kabankalan. should be disallowed for the following reasons: (1) it was not executed and attested as required by law. Julian. Abaja ("Alipio") filed with the then Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental 5 (now RTC-Kabankalan) a petition. 147145 January 31. CV No. Negros Occidental. they draw the dividing line with precision. to ascertain its meaning or to determine the existence or absence of the requisite formalities of law. it is not imperative that a parrot-like copy of the words of the statute be made. [Testate Estate of the Late Alipio Abada vs. sharp limitation eliminates uncertainty and ought to banish any fear of dire results. Branch 61 ("RTC-Kabankalan"). 47644. 4 1 2 . Evangeline. His widow Paula Toray ("Toray") died sometime in September 1943.

during the proceedings. also opposed the petition. or substitution of the said Will. Humberto. Layumas discovered that in an Order dated 16 March 1992. docketed as SP No. the present administratrix of the estate of Alipio Abada shall continue discharging her duties as such until further orders from this Court. SO ORDERED. Leandro. there being no evidence of bad faith and fraud. as follows: There having been sufficient notice to the heirs as required by law. In a Decision promulgated on 12 January 2001. The oppositors are the nephews. Joel Abada.000. et al. Florian. et al. The RTC-Kabankalan denied the motion in an Order dated 20 August 10 1991. opposed the petition on the same grounds they cited in SP No. the present recourse by Caponong-Noble."). praying for the issuance in his name of letters of administration of the intestate estate of Abada and Toray. Mrs. the Last Will and Testament of Alipio Abada dated June 4. for the probate of the last will and testament of Toray. Since the oppositors did not file any motion for reconsideration. former Presiding Judge Edgardo Catilo had already submitted the case for decision. and Levi. 069 (309). Antonio.00) Pesos. the RTC-Kabankalan admitted to probate the will of Toray. Caponong-Noble moved for the dismissal of the petition for probate of the will of Abada..Geronimo. On 20 September 1968. and Levi Tronco. In an Order dated 14 August 1981. Teodora and Elena Abada ("Joel Abada. The RTC-Kabankalan further held that the failure of the oppositors to raise any other matter forecloses all other issues. Presiding Judge Rodolfo S. Hence. Noel Abbellar is appointed administrator of the estate of Paula Toray who shall discharge his duties as such after letters of administration shall have been issued in his favor and after taking his oath and filing a bond in the amount of Ten Thousand (P10. Not satisfied with the Resolution. et al. As prayed for by counsel. The Issues The petition raises the following issues: . the order allowing the probate of Toray‘s will became final 8 and executory. the RTC-Kabankalan designated Belinda Caponong-Noble ("Caponong9 Noble") Special Administratrix of the estate of Abada and Toray. On 13 September 1968. nieces and grandchildren of Abada and Toray. 071 (3128669). docketed as SP No. Caponong. Sometime in 1993. 12 11 7 6 The RTC-Kabankalan ruled on the only issue raised by the oppositors in their motions to dismiss the petition for probate. Belinda C. Alipio filed another petition before the RTC-Kabankalan. that is. whether the will of Abada has an attestation clause as required by law. In an order dated 23 November 1990. The appellate court found that the RTC-Kabankalan properly admitted to probate the will of Abada. 1932 is admitted and allowed probate. et al."). the RTC-Kabankalan rendered a Resolution dated 22 June 1994. Caponong filed a petition before the RTC-Kabankalan. that there is substantial compliance with the formalities of a Will as the law directs and that the petitioner through his testimony and the deposition of Felix Gallinero was able to establish the regularity of the execution of the said Will and further. 070 (313-8668). Thus. Noble. Caponong-Noble filed a notice of appeal. the Court of Appeals affirmed the Resolution of the RTCKabankalan. Hernani and Carmela Tronco ("Levi Tronco.

or by the testator‘s name written by some other person in his presence. in the presence of three witnesses. and by his express direction. Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. on the left margin. Requisites of will. (2) The will must be signed by the testator. as aforesaid. 17 . 190 or the Code of Civil Procedure which governed the execution of wills before the enactment of the New Civil Code. The matter in dispute in the present case is the attestation clause in the will of Abada. 2645. provides: SEC. 2. Whether evidence aliunde may be resorted to in the probate of the will of Abada. and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof.1. each and every page thereof. – No will. Section 618 of the Code 15 of Civil Procedure. Whether Caponong-Noble is precluded from raising the issue of whether the will of Abada is written in a language known to Abada. shall be valid to pass any estate. Whether the will of Abada requires acknowledgment before a notary public. unless it be written in the language or dialect known by the testator and signed by him. nor charge or affect the same. and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will. 4. or by the testator‘s name written by some other person in his presence. governs the form of the attestation clause of Abada‘s 16 will. shall also sign. upon which the will is written. 6. whether the attestation clause complies with the requirements of the applicable laws. as amended. 618. (3) The will must be attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other. and if so. 5. the requisites of a will are the following: (1) The will must be written in the language or dialect known by the testator. under his express direction. or caused some other person to write his name. The laws in force at that time are the Civil Code of 1889 or the Old Civil 14 Code. and Act No. The Applicable Law Abada executed his will on 4 June 1932. except as provided in the preceding section. and said pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each sheet. 13 3. as amended by Act No. Requisites of a Will under the Code of Civil Procedure Under Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. What laws apply to the probate of the last will of Abada. and the latter witnessed and signed the will and all pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other. and by his express direction. The attestation shall state the number of sheets or pages used. Whether the will of Abada has an attestation clause. real or personal. The Ruling of the Court The Court of Appeals did not err in sustaining the RTC-Kabankalan in admitting to probate the will of Abada. Whether the will must expressly state that it is written in a language or dialect known to the testator.

Articles 804 and 806 of the New Civil Code are new provisions. are also required to know the testator. in his testimony. the Court of Appeals held that the matter was not raised in the motion to dismiss. to show that Abada knew or understood the contents of the will and the Spanish language used in the will. has failed. Alipio testified that Abada used to gather Spanish-speaking people in their place. or caused some other person to write his name. Witnesses authenticating a will without the attendance of a notary. while Article 806 of the Old Civil Code defines a legitime. Nevertheless. 685. Further. The notary and two of the witnesses who authenticate the will must be acquainted with the testator. Caponong-Noble‘s contention must still fail. thus: Art. and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page of the will. However. (6) The attestation shall state the number of sheets or pages used. Abada and his 27 companions would talk in the Spanish language. Every will must be in writing and executed in [a] language or dialect known to the testator. (5) The pages of the will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each sheet. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. he shall be identified by two witnesses who are acquainted with him and are known to the notary and to the attesting witnesses. the intervention of a notary is not necessary in the execution of any will. in their judgment. and the witnesses witnessed and signed the will and all pages of the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. or. 22 . the language used in the will is part of the requisites under Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure and the Court deems it proper to pass upon this issue. Article 804 of the New Civil Code is taken from 20 Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. This is a matter that a party may establish by 26 proof aliunde. We agree with Caponong-Noble that the doctrine of estoppel does not apply in probate proceedings. in the presence of three witnesses.nét Caponong-Noble points out that nowhere in the will can one discern that Abada knew the Spanish language. In addition. under his express direction. Caponong-Noble further argues that Alipio. Abada‘s will does not require acknowledgment before a notary public. among others. 804. upon which the will is written. Article 804 of the Old Civil Code is about the rights and obligations of administrators of the property of an absentee. should they not know him. There is no statutory requirement to state in the will 25 itself that the testator knew the language or dialect used in the will. The notary and the witnesses shall also endeavor to assure themselves that the testator has. Under the Code of Civil 23 Procedure. 806. She alleges that such defect is fatal and must result in the disallowance of the will.1awphi1. In these gatherings.(4) The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will must sign each and every page of the will on the left margin. She cites in particular Articles 804 and 805 of the Old Civil Code. Article 806 of the New Civil Code is taken from Article 685 of the 21 Old Civil Code which provides: Art. On this issue. Art. the legal capacity required to make a will. the Code of Civil Procedure repealed Article 685 of the Old Civil Code. in cases falling under Articles 700 and 701. Caponong-Noble asserts that the will of Abada does not indicate that it is written in a language or dialect known to the testator. she maintains that the will is not acknowledged before a notary public. and that it is now too late to raise the issue on 24 appeal. Therefore. However. xxx 19 18 Caponong-Noble actually cited Articles 804 and 806 of the New Civil Code. This sufficiently proves that Abada speaks the Spanish language.

This Court has applied the rule on substantial compliance even before the effectivity of the New Civil Code. the basic case on the liberal construction. Abangan. the Court noted 31 that Abangan v. 32 . the inclination should. contending that the rule on strict construction should apply. the Court recognized that there are two divergent tendencies in the law on wills. arguing for liberal construction of applicable laws. although the document may suffer from some imperfection of language. She then faults the Court of Appeals for applying to the 29 present case the rule on substantial compliance found in Article 809 of the New Civil Code. The first sentence of the attestation clause reads: "Suscrito y declarado por el testador Alipio Abada como su ultima voluntad y testamento en presencia de nosotros." Caponong-Noble further alleges that the attestation clause fails to state expressly that the testator signed the will and its every page in the presence of three witnesses. habiendo tambien el testador firmado en nuestra presencia en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las hojas del mismo . or other non-essential defect. a close inspection of the will shows that three witnesses signed it. forgery or fraud. of course. Caponong-Noble alleges that the attestation clause fails to state the number of pages on which the will is written. The Court. More than anything else." The attestation clause clearly states that Abada signed the will and its every page in the presence of the witnesses. is cited with approval in later decisions of the Court. Y en testimonio de ello. De Leynez v. In Dichoso." The English translation is: "Subscribed and professed by the testator Alipio Abada as his last will and testament in our presence. 30 InDichoso de Ticson v. The attestation clause of Abada‘s will reads: Suscrito y declarado por el testador Alipio Abada como su ultima voluntad y testamento en presencia de nosotros. In Adeva vda. also cited a long series of cases to support his view. Caponong-Noble proceeds to point out several defects in the attestation clause. held: x x x It is. las cuales estan paginadas correlativamente con las letras "UNO" y "DOS‘ en la parte 28 superior de la carrilla. However. While the attestation clause does not state the number of witnesses. enumerated a long line of cases to support her argument while the respondent.The Attestation Clause of Abada’s Will A scrutiny of Abada‘s will shows that it has an attestation clause. habiendo tambien el testador firmado en nuestra presencia en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las hojas del mismo. Caponong-Noble is correct in saying that the attestation clause does not indicate the number of witnesses. The allegation has no merit. cada uno de nosotros lo firmamos en presencia de nosotros y del testador al pie de este documento y en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las dos hojas de que esta compuesto el mismo. Leynez. the petitioner. rigid and inflexible. x x x. the testator having also signed it in our presence on the left margin of each and every one of the pages of the same. not possible to lay down a general rule. one being based on strict construction and the other on liberal construction. De Gorostiza. If the surrounding circumstances point to a regular execution of the will. On this point. the Court agrees with the appellate court in applying the rule on substantial compliance in determining the number of witnesses. which would be applicable to all cases. lean towards its admission to probate. The pages are numbered correlatively with the letters "ONE" and "TWO" as can be gleaned from the phrase "las cuales estan paginadas correlativamente con las letras "UNO" y "DOS. after examining the cases invoked by the parties. The phrase "en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las dos hojas de que esta compuesto el mismo" which means "in the left margin of each and every one of the two pages consisting of the same" shows that the will consists of two pages. and the instrument appears to have been executed substantially in accordance with the requirements of the law. the facts and circumstances of record are to be considered in the application of any given rule. in the absence of any suggestion of bad faith.

R. (Thompson on Wills. However." In English. . The question on the number of the witnesses is answered by an examination of the will itself and without the need for presentation of evidence aliunde. It is reasonable to conclude that there are three witnesses to the will. thus: [T]he so-called liberal rule does not offer any puzzle or difficulty. this means "in its witness. or other casualty. Finally. in permanent form. therefore. every one of us also signed in our presence and of the testator.. to ascertain its meaning or to determine the existence or absence of the requisite formalities of law . Caponong-Noble alleges that the attestation clause does not expressly state the circumstances that the witnesses witnessed and signed the will and all its pages in the presence of the testator and of each other.net They only permit a probe into the will.net We rule to apply the liberal construction in the probate of Abada‘s will. WHEREFORE. so that in case of failure of the memory of the subscribing witnesses. they may still be proved. This Court has ruled: Precision of language in the drafting of an attestation clause is desirable. (Emphasis supplied) The phrase "en presencia de nosotros" or "in our presence" coupled with the signatures appearing on the will itself and after the attestation clause could only mean that: (1) Abada subscribed to and professed before the three witnesses that the document was his last will. It is sufficient if from the language employed it can 35 reasonably be deduced that the attestation clause fulfills what the law expects of it.l^vvphi1.) A will. cada uno de nosotros lo firmamos en presencia de nosotros y del testador. 2d ed. CV No. nor does it open the door to serious consequences. a record of the facts attending the execution of the will. This clear. The Court explained the extent and limits of the rule on liberal construction. sharp limitation eliminates uncertainty and ought to banish any fear of 34 dire results. SO ORDERED.An attestation clause is made for the purpose of preserving. it is not imperative that a parrot-like copy of the words of the statute be made. they draw the dividing line with precision. sec. and (2) Abada signed the will and the left margin of each page of the will in the presence of these three witnesses. x x x 1a\^/phi1. The last part of the attestation clause states "en testimonio de ello. and that each witness signed the will in the presence of one another and of the testator. 47644. should not be rejected where its 33 attestation clause serves the purpose of the law. 132. an exploration within its confines. The later decisions do tell us when and where to stop." This clearly shows that the attesting witnesses witnessed the signing of the will of the testator. we AFFIRM the Decision of the Court of Appeals of 12 January 2001 in CA-G.They do not allow evidence aliunde to fill a void in any part of the document or supply missing details that should appear in the will itself. Abada‘s will c learly shows four signatures: that of Abada and of three other persons.

18 SCRA 47(1966)] G. And Article 951 of the same Code provides that these fruits and income shall be delivered with the thing devised. Since the withdrawal came before she had rested her case. which allegedly included the property involved in the instant case. oppositor and appellant.—Where after realizing her mistake in contesting the will—.—Appellee is not the proper party to contend that the rulings of this Court in two final decisions are to the effect that the properties therein litigated. Same. Probate is conclusive on due execution and authenticity. January 20. [Santos vs. In settlement proceedings there is no delay on the part of the administratrix until after the court orders her to make delivery of the legacy or devise (Ongpin vs. No. even though they may not have been mentioned. New Civil Code). 808). Probate proceedings. 2209. it precluded the defeat of the probate upon the strength of Flora's (appellant's) evidence.—Fraud is a factual issue that must be supported by substantial evidence. belonged to the testatrix only to the extent of 65. fruits or rents being. L-22797. Representing as she does the testatrix. petitioner and appellee.* . its due execution and authenticity are deemed established for purposes of settlement proceedings. the appellee has not incurred in delay and is thus not liable for interest. even when those to whom said interest pertains do not advance it. appellant did not expressly seek recovery of the fruits or rents of the property given to her in devise. appellant withdrew her opposition and joined the appellee in the latter's petition for the probate of the will. 441 and 442. Resolution amending decision: Settlement of estate of deceased persons. 1966. Civil Code). Article 2208 of the New Civil Code. Buenaventura. Assertion or interest adverse to that of the testatrix. September 22. Flora's actuations served rather than violated the testatrix's intention.R.38-2/3%. TESTACY OF MAXIMA SANTOS VDA. She did not therefore violate the "no-contest and forfeiture" clause of the will. 174975. Wills.No. 2009. Through said withdrawal. which provides that the "obligation 16 give a determinate thing includes that of delivering all its accessions and accessories. Said act of withdrawing her opposition before she had rested her case contributed to the speedy probate of the will. where there is yet no delay (Articles 1169. Rivera. Furthermore.—Where a will has already been admitted to probate. she should receive the said fruits or rents. FLORA BLAS DE BUENAVENTURA (Legatee). 44 Phil. Wills. a mistake committed in good faith because grounded on strong doubts—. Factual issue. Article 948 of the New Civil Code provides that a devise of a specific thing includes its fruits and income accruing after the testator's death. Where the court a quo had not issued such an order. taken as a whole. Same. Effect of timely withdrawal of opposition to the probate of a will which contains a "no contest and forfeiture" clause. Legatee may recover fruits and income of property included in a devise of specific thing although not expressly sought in petition." applies. Fraud. DE BLAS. the rest being owned by her husband.—Interest does not run. ROSALINA SANTOS (Executrix). she cannot assert an interest adverse to that of the latter. Order to deliver legacy or devise is necessary before there can be default or before interest on fruits can be collected. Article 1166 of the Code. unless stipulated. accessions (Arts. Attorney's fees. Flora conformed to the testatrix's wish that her dispositions of her properties under the will be carried out. appellant must not now be penalized for rectifying her error.—Although in her petition for delivery of a specific legacy. vs. strictly speaking. It follows that.—Attorney's fees in this case were granted under paragraph 11.

provides that the Shari’a District Courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over the settlement of the estate of deceased Muslims: ARTICLE 143. Part of the confusion may be attributed to the proceeding before the Shari’a District Court. The Shari’a District Court has the authority to hear and receive evidence to determine whether it has jurisdiction.” The same rationale applies to an answer with a motion to dismiss. or a particular fact. FOURTH SHARI’A JUDICIAL DISTRICT. a right. and distribution of the estate of the deceased. Original jurisdiction. The determination of the nature of an action or proceeding is controlled by the averments and character of the relief sought in the complaint or petition — the designation given by parties to their own pleadings does not necessarily bind the courts to treat it according to the said designation. Words and Phrases. that the proceed ing before the Shari’a District Court is an ordinary civil action against a deceased person. vs. A special proceeding as “a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status. distribution and settlement of the estate of deceased Muslims. the applicants seek to establish the fact of death of the decedent and later to be duly recognized as among the decedent’s heirs. 1083. petitioners. Actions. LILING DISANGCOPAN. and distribution of estate. the “defense of lack of jurisdiction which is dependent on a question of fact does not render the court to lose or be deprived of its jurisdiction. is not a Muslim.—(1) The Shari’a District Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over: x x x x (b) All cases involving disposition. which would allow them to exercise their right to participate in the settlement and liquidation of the estate of the . settlement. Settlement of Estates. respondents. AND ALMAHLEEN LILING S. for the settlement of the estate of a deceased Muslim.” courts are “guided by the substantive averments of the pleadings.” This Court has applied the Rules. Otherwise. issuance of letters of administration or appointment of administrators or executors regardless of the nature or the aggregate value of the property. —The underlying assumption in petitioners’ second argument. probate of wills. the Shari’a District Court determines that the deceased was not in fact a Muslim. In the case at bar. The rationale behind the rule that jurisdiction of a court over the nature of the action and its subject matter does not depend upon the defenses set forth in an answer or a motion to dismiss applies to an answer with a motion to dismiss. The designation given by parties to their own pleadings does not necessarily bind the courts to treat it according to the said designation. We reiterate that the proceedings before the court a quo are for the issuance of letters of administration. otherwise known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines. or a particular fact”. where the parties were designated either as plaintiffs or defendants and the case was denominated as a special civil action. particularly the rules on special proceedings. The determination of the nature of an action or proceeding is controlled by the averments and character of the relief sought in the complaint or petition.” Same.LUISA KHO MONTAÑER. Sr. If after hearing. Indeed. jurisdiction would depend almost entirely on the defendant or result in having “a case either thrown out of court or its proceedings unduly delayed by simple stratagem. AND RHODORA ELEANOR MONTAÑER-DALUPAN.. the Shari’a District Cou rt is not deprived of jurisdiction simply because petitioners raised as a defense the allegation that the deceased is not a Muslim. Special Proceedings. ALEJANDRO MONTAÑER. JR. Pleadings and Practice. Rather than rel y on “a falsa descriptio or defective caption. which requires an a priori determination that the deceased is a Muslim. LILLIBETH MONTAÑER-BARRIOS. MONTAÑER. Same. and distribution of estate. —Article 143(b) of Presidential Decree No. Jurisdiction. a right. settlement. In a petition for the issuance of letters of administration. which is a special proceeding. rests on an erroneous understanding of the proceeding before the court a quo. MARAWI CITY. SHARI’A DISTRICT COURT.—We cannot agree with the contention of the petitioners that the district court does not have jurisdiction over the case because of an allegation in their answer with a motion to dismiss that Montañer. the district court should dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. which would allow them to exercise their right to participate in the settlement and liquidation of the estate of the decedent. Section 3(c) of the Rules of Court (Rules) defines a special proceeding as “a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status. the applicants seek to establish the fact of death of the decedent and later to be duly recognized as among the decedent’s heirs. In a petition for the issuance of letters of administration. settlement. Jurisdiction of a court over the nature of the action and its subject matter does not depend upon the defenses set forth in an answer or a motion to dismiss.

who are either the plaintiff or defendant.decedent. In such a case. As “ever y citizen has the right to assume and trust that a public officer charged by law with certain duties knows his duties and performs them in accordance with law. because of a party’s reliance on the clerk of court’s insufficient assessment of the docket fees. that the prohibition against a decedent or his estate from being a party defendant in a civil action applies to a special proceeding such as the settlement of the estate of the deceased. If the party filing the case paid less than the correct amount for the docket fees because that was the amount assessed by the clerk of court. subsequently. Parties. To deny the Shari’a District Court of an opportunity to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a petition for the settlement of the estate of a decedent alleged to be a Muslim would also deny its inherent power as a court to control its process to ensure conformity . —Petitioners’ fourth argument. Montañer to be recognized as among his heirs.” the party filing the case cannot be penalized with the clerk of court’s insufficient assessment. cases should. must fail as the unique circumstances in the present case constitute an exception to this requirement. Same. In the case at bar. The case at bar falls under this exception. As a special proceeding. if such is the case in fact. the Court considers that “no party can even claim a vested right in technicalities. To sanction a situation denying the Shari’a District Cour t of an opportunity to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a petition for the settlement of the estate of a decedent alleged to be a Muslim because of a lapse in fulfilling the notice requirement will result in a miscarriage of justice. the respondents seek to estab lish the fact of Alejandro Montañer.” In these exceptional cases. be decided on the merits rather than on technicalities. The Rules require every written motion to be set for hearing by the applicant and to address the notice of hearing to all parties concerned. A civil action. a special proceeding . it bears emphasis that the estate of the decedent is not being sued for any cause of action. this Court has upheld a liberal construction specifically of the rules of notice of hearing in cases where “a rigid application will result in a manifest failure or miscarriage of justice especially if a party successfully shows that the alleged defect in the questioned final and executory judgment is not apparent on its face or from the recitals contained therein. Sr.” Moreover. The definitions of a civil action and a special proceeding. the party concerned will be required to pay the deficiency. “by which a party seeks to establish a status. the purpose of the settlement of the estate of the decedent is to determine all the assets of the estate. or the prevention or redress of a wrong” necessarily has definite adverse parties. who petitions or applies for a declaration of a status. If the party filing the case paid less than the correct amount for the docket fees because that was the amount assessed by the clerk of court. The Supreme Court has upheld a liberal construction specifically of the rules of notice of hearing in cases where “a rigid application will result in a manifest failure or misca rriage of justice especially if a party successfully shows that the alleged defect in the questioned final and executory judgment is not apparent on its face or from the recitals contained therein”. The Rules also provide that “no written motion set for hearing shall be acted upon by the court without proof of serv ice thereof. Here. Unlike a civil action which has definite adverse parties. the responsibility of making a deficiency assessment lies with the same clerk of court. However. pay its liabilities. the responsibility of making a deficiency assessment lies with the same clerk of court—the lower court concerned will not automatically lose jurisdiction. Notice of Hearing. that private respondents’ motion for reconsideration before the Shari’a District Court is defective for lack of a notice of hearing. or particular fact. respectively.—Filing the appropriate initiatory pleading and the payment of the prescribed docket fees vest a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter. the lower court concerned will not automatically lose jurisdiction. as much as possible. or a particular fact. speedy. a special proceeding has no definite adverse party. in which “a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right. is misplaced. right. Same. in the Rules illustrate this difference. Docket Fees.’s death and. and to distribute the residual to those entitled to the same. right. because of a party’s reliance on the clerk of court’s insufficient assessment of the docket fees.” has one definite party. On the other hand. the Rules allow a liberal construction of its provisions “in order to promote *the+ objective of securing a just.” However. and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. a special proceeding has no definite adverse party.—Petitioners’ argument. Unlike a civil action which has definite adverse parties. but no definite adverse party. for private respondent Almahleen Liling S.” and for this reason.

the determination of the heirs of the decedent depends on an affirmative answer to the question of whether the Shari’a District Court has jurisdiction over the estate of the decedent. Shairi'a District Court. ALFONSO D. ALBERTO D. ALFREDO D. but the absolute absence thereof and lack of opportunity to be heard. can be considered a form of maltreatment of Segundo by his son. [Montaner vs. respondents. In the case at bar. Same. Same. SEANGIO. November 27. petitioners were not denied the opportunity to object to the said motion in a hearing. Article 916 of the Civil Code requires that the same must be effected through a will wherein the legal cause therefor shall be specified. For disinheritance to be valid. for the court to determine whether the adverse party agrees or objects to the motion. and that the matter presents a sufficient cause for the disinheritance of a child or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code. Taken together. in her capacity as Presiding Judge. SEANGIO. Again. the present case calls for a liberal construction of the rules on notice of hearing. SEANGIO. and need not be witnessed. Maltreatment. In effect. has jurisdiction to declare who are the heirs of the decedent. procedural process.R. and .* DY YIENG SEANGIO. as the Rules do not fix any period within which to file a reply or opposition. Probate Proceedings. questions regarding heirship. was duly observed. Wills. SEANGIO-LIM. AMOR A. BARBARA D. In probate proceedings. National Capital Judicial Region. dated. including prescription in relation to recognition and filiation. The purpose for the notice of hearing coincides with procedural due process. 2006. Succession. To sanction such a situation simply because of a lapse in fulfilling the notice requirement will result in a miscarriage of justice Same. In probate proceedings.—Petitioners’ fifth argument is premature. SEANGIO-SANTOS. ELISA D.with the law and justice.”—In addition. Article 916 of the Civil Code requires that the same must be effected through a will wherein the legal cause therefor shall be specified. SEANGIO. as provided under Article 810 of the Civil Code. SEANGIO. Alfredo. and signed by the hand of the testator himself—it is subject to no other form. Where there is a special proceeding for the settlement of the estate of a decedent that is pending. should be raised and settled in the said proceeding.” In the case at bar. Alfredo was disinherited by Segundo.—The document. Petitioners were certainly not denied an opportunity to study the arguments in the said motion as they filed an opposition to the same. “what the law prohibits is not the absence of previous notice. “what the law prohibits is not the absence of previous notice. petitioners’ counsel received a copy of the motion for reconsideration in question. SEANGIO-OBAS and JAMES D. taken as a whole. An exception to the rules on notice of hearing is where it appears that the rights of the adverse party were not affected. Same. because the rights of the petitioners were not affected. Holographic Wills. In the event that a special proceeding for the settlement of the estate of a decedent is pending. in its capacity as a probate court. REYES. Probate Proceedings. With regard to the reasons for the disinheritance that were stated by Segundo in his document. Nos. unmistakably showed Segundo’s intention of excluding his eldest son. 2006. as evident from the Shari’a District Court’s order dated January 17. The court. This Court has held that an exception to the rules on notice of hearing is where it appears that the rights of the adverse party were not affected. vs. the Court believes that the incidents. including prescription in relation to recognition and filiation. 140371–72. VICTOR D. 576 SCRA 746(2009)] G. as an heir to his estate for the reasons that he cited therein. should be raised and settled in the said proceeding. SEANGIO and VIRGINIA D. SHIRLEY D. Regional Trial Court. these circumstances show that the purpose for the rules of notice of hearing. but the absolute absence thereof and lack of opportunity to be heard.—A holographic will. Disinheritance. SEANGIO. and may be made in or out of the Philippines. must be entirely written. Manila. BETTY D. Branch 21. the Shari’a District Court has not yet determined whether it has jurisdiction to settle the estate of the decedent. Since the Shari’a District Court reset the hearing for the motion for reconsideration in the same order. Maltreatment of a parent by a child presents a sufficient cause for the disinheritance of the latter. For disinheritance to be valid. entitled Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana. Alfredo. questions regarding heirship. petitioners. A holographic will must be entirely written. HON. dated.

the right of a person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory. In other words. taking into account the circumstances surrounding the execution of the instrument and the intention of the testator. and while it does not make an affirmative disposition of the latter’s p roperty. All rules of construction are designed to ascertain and give effect to that intention. the Court is convinced that the document. Same. was intended by Segundo to be his last testamentary act and was executed by him in accordance with law in the form of a holographic will. It is subject to no other form. It is written. [Seangio vs. conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law. Article 838 of the Civil Code provides that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. Thus. An intent to dispose mortis causa can be clearly deduced from the terms of the instrument. is an act of disposition in itself. the disinheritance results in the disposition of the property of the testator Segundo in favor of those who would succeed in the absence of Alfredo. and that the law favors testacy over intestacy. being usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law. It is settled that testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. 508 SCRA 177(2006)] . Same. although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance instrument. Holographic wills. Same. therefore. and may be made in or out of the Philippines. Same. as illustrated in the present case. It is only when the intention of the testator is contrary to law. — Considering that the questioned document is Segund o’s holographic will. being usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law. Unless the will is probated. In this regard. therefore. expressed in the form and within the limits prescribed by law. the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with. Same. taking into account the circumstances surrounding the execution of the instrument and the intention of the testator. should have allowed the holographic will to be probated. the trial court. Segundo’s document. the disinheritance cannot be given effect. It is a fundamental principle that the intent or the will of the testator. Holographic wills. must be recognized as the supreme law in succession.—It is a fundamental principle that the intent or the will of the testator. and need not be witnessed. morals. even if captioned as Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana. and testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent take precedence over intestate proceedings.signed by the hand of the testator himself. Same. Reyes. should be construed more liberally than the ones drawn by an expert. nonetheless. the disinheritance of Alfredo. expressed in the form and within the limits prescribed by law. The law favors testacy over intestacy. In view of the foregoing. must be recognized as the supreme law in succession. or public policy that it cannot be given effect. should be construed more liberally than the ones drawn by an expert. dated and signed by the hand of Segundo himself. The probate of a will cannot be dispensed with. Same. unless the will is probated. Same.

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