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Azuela vs.

CA

THIRD DIVISION

FELIX AZUELA, Petitioner,

G.R. No. 122880

Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson, - versus CARPIO, CARPIO MORALES, and TINGA, JJ.

COURT OF APPEALS, GERALDA AIDA CASTILLO substituted by ERNESTO G. CASTILLO, Respondents. x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x April 12, 2006 Promulgated:

DECISION
TINGA, J.:

The core of this petition is a highly defective notarial will, purportedly executed by Eugenia E. Igsolo (decedent), who died on 16 December 1982 at the age of 80. In refusing to give legal recognition to the due execution of this document, the Court is provided the opportunity to assert a few important doctrinal rules in the execution of notarial wills, all self-evident in view of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code.

A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the will is written is fatally defective. A will whose attestation clause is not signed by the instrumental witnesses is fatally defective. And perhaps most importantly, a will which does not contain an acknowledgment, but a mere jurat, is fatally defective. Any one of these defects is sufficient to deny probate. A notarial will with all three defects is just aching for judicial rejection. There is a distinct and consequential reason the Civil Code provides a comprehensive catalog of imperatives for the proper execution of a notarial will. Full and faithful compliance with all the detailed requisites under Article 805 of the Code leave little room for doubt as to the validity in the due execution of the notarial will. Article 806 likewise imposes another safeguard to the validity of notarial wills — that they

be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. A notarial will executed with indifference to these two codal provisions opens itself to nagging questions as to its legitimacy. The case stems from a petition for probate filed on 10 April 1984 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila. The petition filed by petitioner Felix Azuela sought to admit to probate the notarial will of Eugenia E. Igsolo, which was notarized on 10 June 1981. Petitioner is the son of the cousin of the decedent. The will, consisting of two (2) pages and written in the vernacular Pilipino, read in full:
HULING HABILIN NI EUGENIA E. IGSOLO

SA NGALAN NG MAYKAPAL, AMEN:

AKO, si EUGENIA E. IGSOLO, nakatira sa 500 San Diego St., Sampaloc, Manila, pitongput siyam (79) na gulang, nasa hustong pagi-isip, pag-unawa at memoria ay nag-hahayag na ito na ang aking huling habilin at testament o, at binabali wala ko lahat angnaunang ginawang habilin o te stamento:

Una-Hinihiling ko na ako ay mailibing sa Sementerio del Norte, La Loma sangayong sa kaugalian at patakaran ng simbahangkatoliko at a

Manila kay Felix Azuela at ang pagkakaloob kong ito ay walang pasubali’t at kondici ones. ganoon din ibinib igay ko ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay na nakatirik sa ino opahan kong lote. Block 24. na siyangnag-alaga sa akin sa mahabang panahon.ng taga-pag-ingat (Executor) ng habiling ito ay magtatayo n g bantayog upang silbing ala-ala sa akin ng aking pamilya atkaibigan. Block 24 at nakapangalan sa PechatenKorporasyon. Sampaloc. numero 43.Na ninunumbrahan ko si VART PAGUE na siyang nagpapatupad ng huling habiling ito at kagustuha n ko rin na hindina kailanman siyang mag-lagak ng piyansiy a. Pangatlo. Block 24 napagaari ng Pechaten Corporation.. . Lot 42. Ipinagkakaloob kong buong buo ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay at lupa na nasa 500 San Diego St. Pangalawa-Aking ipinagkakaloob at isinasalin ang la hat ng karapatan sa aking pamangkin na si Felix Azuela. yaong mga bahay na nakatirik sa lo te numero 28.

sa harap ng lahat at bawa’t sa amin. Sampaloc. (Sgd. Manila Res.tagapagmana na siya niyang Huling Habilin. 1981. No. na ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia E. 1981. IGSOLO (Tagapagmana) PATUNAY NG MGA SAKSI Ang kasulatang ito.Aking nilagdaan ang Huling Habilin na ito dito sa Ma ynila ika 10 ng Hunyo. Cert. ay nilagdaan ng nasabing tagapagmana sa ilalim ngkasulat ang nabanggit at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawa’t dahon. sa ilalim ng nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwangpanig ng lahat at bawa’t dahon ng kasulatan ito. na binubuo ng ____ dahon pati ang huling dahong ito.) EUGENIA E. EUGENIA E. at kami namang mga saksi aylumagda sa harap ng nasabin g tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawa’t isa sa amin. Igsolo. A-7717-37 Issued at Manila on March 10. IGSOLO address: 500 San Diego St. ngayon i ka-10 ng Hunyo 1981. .

7. Manila Res. 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila. 3. No. Lot 61. City of Manila Res. 1981. A574829 Issued at Manila on March 2. No. Cavite Res. Kahilum Pandacan. San Gabriel. G. Cert.MA. A-768277 issued at Carmona. LEAÑO address: Avenue 2. Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 1 0. Blcok 7. . 1981 JUANITO ESTRERA address: City Court Compound. No.. 1981 LAMBERTO C. Cavite on Feb. A-458365 Issued at Manila on Jan. Cert.QUIRINO AGRAVA address: 1228-Int. 21. Cert.

all centering on petitioner’s right to occupy the properties of the decedent. . 31. 86 Book Manila . the decedent was actually . 43 Series of 1981 The three named witnesses to the will affixed their signatures on the left-hand margin of both pages of the will.[2] Geralda Castillo claimed that the will is a forgery.[3] It also asserted that contrary to the representations of petitioner. but not at the bottom of the attestation clause. The probate petition adverted to only two (2) heirs. and one Irene Lynn Igsolo. namely: petitioner himself.) PETRONIO Y. who was alleged to have resided abroad. The petition was opposed by Geralda Aida Castillo (Geralda Castillo).(Sgd. . NOTARIO PUBLIKO Until Dec. Petitioner prayed that the will be allowed. legatees and devisees of the decedent. BAUTISTA Doc. 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. No. and that letters testamentary be issued to the designated executor. particularly for forcible entry and usurpation of real property. who represented herself as the attorney-infact of “the 12 legitimate heirs” of the decedent. 1232 Page No. Vart Prague. 1981 PTR-152041-1/2/81TAN # 1437-977-8[1] No.

Per records. After a careful examination of the will and consideration of the testimonies of the subscribing and attesting witnesses. namely her grandchildren. rebutted oppositor’s arguments that the will was not properly executed and attested to in accordance with law. in an Order dated 10 August 1992. and Juanito Estrada. it was subsequently alleged that decedent was the widow of Bonifacio Igsolo. who predeceased her mother by three (3) months.survived by 12 legitimate heirs. i. These twin arguments are among the central matters to this petition. 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 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.e. Lamberto Leano.[4] and the mother of a legitimate child.[6] The RTC favorably took into account the testimony of the three (3) witnesses to the will. Quirino Agrava. 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. . Asuncion E..[5] Oppositor Geralda Castillo also argued that the will was not executed and attested to in accordance with law. Igsolo. and having in mind the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will. who died in 1965.”[7] and from this perspective. She pointed out that decedent’s signature did not appear on the second page of the will. the RTC admitted the will to probate. After due trial. and the will was not properly acknowledged. who were then residing abroad.

this Court has noted that at the end of the will after the signature of the testatrix. “Patunay Ng Mga Saksi”: “Ang kasulatang ito. ngayong ika-10 ng Hunyo 1981. sa ilalim ng nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawa’t dahon ng k asulatan ito. the following statement is made under the sub-title. 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. sa harap ng lahat at bawa’tsa amin. at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawa’t isa saamin.” 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. tagapagmana na siya niyang Huling Habili n. Igsolo. na ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia N.On the issue of lack of acknowledgement. ay nilagdaan ng nasabingtagapagmana sa ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawa’t dahon. On the oppositor’s contention that the attestation clause was not signed by the subscribing witnesses at the bottom thereof. . na binubuo ng _____ dahon pati ang huling dahon g ito. instead of at the bottom thereof.

which contains only the last portion of the attestation clause and acknowledgment is not a fatal defect.substantially satisfies the purpose of identification and attestation of the will. In a Decision dated 17 August 1995. it is worthy to note that the will is composed of only two pages. The first page contains the entire text of the testamentary dispositions. the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and ordered the dismissal of the petition for probate. who had substituted his since deceased mother-in-law. Geralda Castillo. As regards the oppositor’s assertion that the signature of the testatrix on the will is a forgery. and the second page contains the last portion of the attestation clause and acknowledgement. For the same reason. 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. thus rendering the will void and undeserving of probate.[9] The Court of Appeals noted that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in the will. the failure of the testatrix to affix her signature on the left margin of the second page. Such being so.[10] .[8] The Order was appealed to the Court of Appeals by Ernesto Castillo. 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 defects are not of a serious nature as to invalidate the will.

which we replicate in full. and thus susceptible to what he termed as “the substantial compliance rule. 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. Every will. and by his express direction. Art. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will. and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. the present petition. as aforesaid. on the left margin. each and every page thereof. shall also sign.Hence. except the last. . 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. 805.”[11] The solution to this case calls for the application of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code. other than a holographic will. and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. rather than mandatory.

Yet the blank was never filled in. Art. the failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages of the will. 806. in the presence of the instrumental witnesses. in its Decision. or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court.[12] There was an incomplete attempt to comply with this requisite. As admitted by petitioner himself. 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. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses. the attestation clause fails to state the number of pages of the will. But an examination of the will itself reveals several more deficiencies. the requisite was left uncomplied with. and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof. . or caused some other person to write his name. and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will. The appellate court. a space having been allotted for the insertion of the number of pages in the attestation clause. under his express direction. considered only one defect. it shall be interpreted to them. hence.

and as the Legislature has seen fit to prescribe this requirement. Navas L.[15] In ruling that the will could not be admitted to probate. 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. citing in the process Uy Coque v. If.”[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. 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.”[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. Florentino[19] and Taboada v. on the other hand. Sioca[13] and In re: Will of Andrada. a matter attended with much greater difficulty.The Court of Appeals pounced on this defect in reversing the trial court. 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.[14] In Uy Coque. 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.[20] wherein the Court . Rosal. it must be considered material. petitioner cites Singson v.”[18] Against these cited cases. Hon. 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.

Avelino Rosal. et al. the Will is void and undeserving of probate. however. Hence. and which we adopt with approval: Even a cursory examination of the Will (Exhibit “D”). 92 Phil. the same was found in the last part of the body of the Will: “x x x .. will readily show that the attestation does not state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. supra. Yet the appellate court itself considered the import of these two cases. This is so because.. the Decisions of the Supreme Court are not applicable in the aforementioned appeal at bench. 118 SCRA 195. et al.allowed probate to the wills concerned therein despite the fact that the attestation clause did not state the number of pages of the will. in the case of “Manuel Singson versus Emilia Florentino. 161 and Apolonio [Taboada] versus Hon. and made the following distinction which petitioner is unable to rebut.” 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.” although the attestation in the subject Will did not state the number of pages used in the will. et al. However. We are not impervious of the Decisions of the Supreme Court in “Manuel Singson versus Emilia Florentino..

30. 611). 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. 66 Phil. But here the situation is different. Gumban vs. While the attestation clause does not state the number of sheets or pages upon which the will is written. it will have the effect of invalidating the will if the deficiency cannot be supplied. 43 Phil. the last part of the body of the will contains a statement that it is composed of eight pages. 54 Phil. The ratio decidendi of these cases seems to be that the attestation clause must contain a statement of the number of sheets or pages composing the will and that if this is missing or is omitted. Navas L. 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. Echevarria vs. 405.” (page 165-165. Morata. 180. Gorcho. 42 Phil. Uy Coque vs.however. supra) (Underscoring supplied) . Quinto vs. 481. Sarmiento.. 50 Phil. 2645. as amended by Act No. Sioca.The law referred to is article 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. not by evidence aliunde. but by a consideration or examination of the will itself. which requires that the attestation clause shall state the number of pages or sheets upon which the will is written.

The other page which is marked as “Pagina dos” comprises the attestation clause and the acknowledgment. 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. in this case. the notarial acknowledgement in the Will states the number of pages used in the: “x x x We have examined the will in question and noticed that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in writing the will.In “Apolonio Tabaoda versus Hon. et al.” supra.The acknowledgment itself states that “this Last Will and Testament consists . As earlier stated. This would have been a fatal defect were it not for the fact that. Avelino Rosal. 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.[21] Both Uy Coque and Andrada were decided prior to the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950. the number of pages used in the will is not stated in any part of the Will.of two pages including this page” (pages 200201. supra) (Underscoring supplied). The will does not even contain any notarial acknowledgment wherein the number of pages of the will should be stated. However. at a time when the statutory provision governing the formal requirement of wills was Section .

”[24] However. This objective is in accord with the [modern tendency] in respect to the formalities in the execution of wills. petitioner conveniently omits the qualification offered by the Code Commission in the very same paragraph he cites from their report. 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. that such liberalization be “but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator.”[25] Caneda v.” In the same vein. or undue and improper pressure and influence. 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.618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. petitioner cites the report of the Civil Code Commission. Court of Appeals[26] features an extensive discussion made by Justice Regalado. forgery.[22] Reliance on these cases remains apropos. or fraud.[23] However. considering that the requirement that the attestation state the number of pages of the will is extant from Section 618. the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950 did put in force a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills. at least insofar as the attestation clause is concerned. speaking for the Court . that may vary from the philosophy that governed these two cases. Article 809 of the Civil Code states: “In the absence of bad faith.

as examples of the application of the rule of strict construction. But the total number of pages. and whether all persons required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the attestation clause. Reyes in its assailed decision. the Code Commission opted to recommend a more liberal construction through the “substantial compliance rule” under Article 809.[28] However. 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.B. whether the signatures appear in each and every page. A cautionary note was struck though by Justice J.[29] (Emphasis supplied.B. and defects or even omissions concerning them in the attestation clause can be safely disregarded.L.[27] Uy Coque and Andrada are cited therein. All these are facts that the will itself can reveal.L. along with several other cases. In Caneda itself. 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.[30] the other . 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.on the conflicting views on the manner of interpretation of the legal formalities required in the execution of the attestation clause in wills. being the only check against perjury in the probate proceedings. whether the subscribing witnesses are three or the will was notarized.) The Court of Appeals did cite these comments by Justice J.

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. those omissions which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately.”[31]Thus. 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. without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence. despite Article 809. would not obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. is that omission which can be supplied by an examination of the will itself.B. as was the situation in Singson and Taboada. Caneda suggested: “[I]t may thus be stated that the rule. Reyes which to his estimation cannot be lightly disregarded. Following Caneda. will not be fatal and.[32] The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will was written remains a fatal flaw. correspondingly.[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. in this case. the execution of which they had ostensibly just witnessed and subscribed to. of the will itself.L.omission cited by Justice J. since that fact can be checked by a visual examination. there could have been no substantial compliance with the requirements under Article 805 since there is no statement in . However. a failure by the attestation clause to state that the testator signed every page can be liberally construed. there is substantial compliance with this requirement if the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it is comprised of. However.

Article 809 should not deviate from the need to comply with the formal requirements as enumerated under Article 805. the fact remains that they saw fit to prescribe substantially the same formal requisites as enumerated in Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. For one. an examination of the will itself reveals a couple of even more critical defects that should necessarily lead to its rejection. The Court could thus end here and affirm the Court of Appeals. However. Whatever the inclinations of the members of the Code Commission in incorporating Article 805. . the attestation clause was not signed by the instrumental witnesses. [35] The transcendent legislative intent. While the signatures of the instrumental witnesses appear on the left-hand margin of the will. convinced that these remained effective safeguards against the forgery or intercalation of notarial wills. and not for the indulgent admission of wills to probate. however picayune in impression. even as expressed in the cited comments of the Code Commission. 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. At the same time. [34] Compliance with these requirements. is for the fruition of the testator’s incontestable desires.the attestation clause or anywhere in the will itself as to the number of pages which comprise the will. they do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause which after all consists of their averments before the notary public.

Cagro v. 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. “the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause. We are of the opinion that the position taken by the appellant is correct. Cagro[36] is material on this point. As in this case. 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. speaking through Chief Justice Paras. because said signatures are in compliance with the legal mandate that the will be signed on the left-hand margin of all its pages. ruled that the attestation clause had not been duly signed. since the omission of their signatures at the bottom thereof negatives their participation. be admitted as sufficient. although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the lefthand margin. This is untenable. . and it must necessarily bear their signatures.”[37] While three (3) Justices[38] considered the signature requirement had been substantially complied with. If an attestation clause not signed by the three witnesses at the bottom thereof. An unsigned attestation clause cannot be considered as an act of the witnesses. although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin. a majority of six (6). 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.

Even if the instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing the unsigned attestation clause. such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses’ undertakings in the clause. but not the left-hand margin of the page containing such clause. the fact must be noted that it is the attestation clause which contains the utterances reduced into writing of the testamentary witnesses themselves. and not the testator.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. The signatures on the left-hand corner of every page signify. from the requisite that the will be “attested and subscribed by [the instrumental witnesses]. Without diminishing the value of the instrumental witnesses’ signatures on each and every page. On the other hand. An unsigned attestation clause results in an unattested will. the attestation clause is separate and apart from the disposition of the will. the fact that the testator had . Article 805 particularly segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the will. among others. since the signatures that do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly different avowal. It is the witnesses. who are required under Article 805 to state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. that the witnesses are aware that the page they are signing forms part of the will.[39] The Court today reiterates the continued efficacy of Cagro. Indeed.” The respective intents behind these two classes of signature are distinct from each other. The Court may be more charitably disposed had the witnesses in this case signed the attestation clause itself. the signatures to the attestation clause establish that the witnesses are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself.

signed the will and every page thereof. and that they witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. the subject will cannot be considered to have been validly attested to by the instrumental witnesses. [40] 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila. wrote “Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong10 ng Hunyo 10 (sic). Petronio Y. 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. . Thus. the notary public. The only proof in the will that the witnesses have stated these elemental facts would be their signatures on the attestation clause. and should be treated as of equivalent import.[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. Bautista. Article 806. there is another fatal defect to the will on which the denial of this petition should also hinge. as they failed to sign the attestation clause.” By no manner of contemplation can those words be construed as an acknowledgment. Yet. The nonobservance of Article 806 in this case is equally as critical as the other cited flaws in compliance with Article 805. In lieu of an acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed. 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.

It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat. while in this case. Possibly though.[43] The acknowledgment coerces the testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that they had executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed. Such declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury. thus allowing for the criminal prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of spurious wills.[42] Ordinarily. Yet even if we consider what was affixed by the notary public as a jurat. Ajurat is that part of an affidavit where the notary certifies that before him/her. the word “ninotario” or “notarized” encompasses the signing of and swearing in of the executors of the document. which in this case would involve the decedent and the instrumental witnesses. the will would nonetheless remain invalid. even though it does not hew to the usual language thereof. much less one under oath. as the express requirement of Article 806 is that the will be “acknowledged”. that the decedent and the instrumental witnesses executed or signed the will as their own free act or deed. and not merely subscribed and sworn to. or those executed without the free consent of the testator. the language of the jurat should avow that the document was subscribed and sworn before the notary public. An acknowledgement is not an empty meaningless act. The will does not present any textual proof. . 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. the notary public averred that he himself “signed and notarized” the document. the document was subscribed and sworn to by the executor. The acknowledgment made in a will provides for another allimportant legal safeguard against spurious wills or those made beyond the free consent of the testator.

We need not discuss them at length. self-evident as it is under Article 806. but we can assert the rule. A notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective. There are two other requirements under Article 805 which were not fully satisfied by the will in question. as they are no longer material to the .It may not have been said before. even if it is subscribed and sworn to before a notary public.

failed to sign both pages of the will on the left margin. by themselves. the decedent. unlike the witnesses. In this case. WHEREFORE. these omissions. All told. and that all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. though indicative as they may be of a general lack of due regard for the requirements under Article 805 by whoever executed the will. but instead numbered with Arabic numerals. except the last. There is a line of thought that has disabused the notion that these two requirements be construed as mandatory. Also. SO ORDERED. the string of mortal defects which the will in question suffers from makes the probate denial inexorable.disposition of this case. they need not be dwelt on. Costs against petitioner. Yet even as these omissions are not decisive to the adjudication of this case. may not be sufficient to deny probate to a will. The provision requires that the testator and the instrumental witnesses sign each and every page of the will on the left margin. the will itself is not numbered correlatively in letters on each page.[45] Taken in isolation. the petition is DENIED. her only signature appearing at the so-called “logical end”[44] of the will on its first page. .

National Capital Judicial Region. Nos.. Petitioners. SEANGIO. in her capacity as Presiding Judge. Chairperson. Regional Trial Court. G. REYES.R.SECOND DIVISION DY YIENG SEANGIO. JJ. BARBARA D. SEANGIO. AZCUNA. ALBERTO D. ALFREDO D. Branch 21. and HON. CORONA. SEANGIO and VIRGINIA D. SEANGIO. . 140371-72 Present: PUNO. Manila. ELISA D. versus SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ. AMOR A. Promulgated: GARCIA. J.

SEANGIO. Dy Yieng Seangio. Barbara D. VICTOR D.” .” and “In the Matter of the Probate of the Will of Segundo C. in the consolidated cases. and entitled. BETTY D. SEANGIO-OBAS and JAMES D. dismissing the petition for probate on the ground of preterition.: This is a petition for certiorari[1] with application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order seeking the nullification of the orders. No. Proc. SEANGIO-LIM. 1999. dated August 10. Proc. Seangio v. 2006 DECISION AZCUNA. et al. SEANGIO. Seangio. J. Respondents. 99-93396. No. 98-90870 and SP. Alfredo D. Seangio v. Seangio and Virginia Seangio.SEANGIO-SANTOS. “In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Segundo C. x x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------November 27. 1999 and October 14. Branch 21 (the RTC). of the Regional Trial Court of Manila. ALFONSO D. docketed as SP. SEANGIO. SHIRLEY D.

Barbara and Virginia. was filed by petitioners before the RTC. dated September 20. In view of the purported holographic will. and. a petition for the probate of the holographic will of Segundo. On April 7. Petitioners Dy Yieng. Proc. 3) Virginia is the most competent and qualified to serve as the administrator of the estate of Segundo because she is a certified public accountant. Proc. and praying for the appointment of private respondent Elisa D. docketed as SP. No. 1988. 1999. No. No. 99–93396. docketed as Sp. all surnamed Seangio. They likewise reiterated that the probate proceedings should take precedence over SP.[2] . for cause. 98–90870 because testate proceedings take precedence and enjoy priority over intestate proceedings. Proc. Seangio–Santos as special administrator and guardian ad litem of petitioner Dy Yieng Seangio. disinheriting one of the private respondents. Alfredo Seangio. They contended that: 1) Dy Yieng is still very healthy and in full command of her faculties. 4) Segundo left a holographic will. 1995. private respondents filed a petition for the settlement of the intestate estate of the late Segundo Seangio. 2) the deceased Segundo executed a general power of attorney in favor of Virginia giving her the power to manage and exercise control and supervision over his business in the Philippines. the intestate proceedings are to be automatically suspended and replaced by the proceedings for the probate of the will. 98–90870 of the RTC. petitioners averred that in the event the decedent is found to have left a will. opposed the petition.The facts of the cases are as follows: On September 21.

Dito ako nagalit din kaya gayon ayoko na bilanin si Alfredo ng anak ko at hayanan kong inaalisan ng lahat at anoman mana na si Alfredo at si Alfredo Seangio ay hindi ko siya anak at hindi siya makoha mana.. Labis kong ikinasama ng loob ko ang gamit ni Alfredo ng akin pagalan para makapagutang na kuarta siya at kanya asawa na si Merna de los Reyes sa China Bangking Corporation na millon pesos at hindi ng babayad at hindi ng babayad ito ay nagdulot sa aking ng malaking kahihiya sa mga may-ari at stockholders ng China Banking. Ermita. [3] (signed) Segundo Seangio . Nila[g]daan ko ngayon ika 20 ng Setyembre 1995 sa longsod ng Manila sa harap ng tatlong saksi. as follows: Kasulatan sa pag-aalis ng mana Tantunin ng sinuman Ako si Segundo Seangio Filipino may asawa naninirahan sa 465A Flores St. Manila at nagtatalay ng maiwanag na pag-iisip at disposisyon ay tahasan at hayagang inaalisan ko ng lahat at anumang mana ang paganay kong anak na si Alfredo Seangio dahil siya ay naging lapastangan sa akin at isan beses siya ng sasalita ng masama harapan ko at mga kapatid niya na si Virginia Seangio labis kong kinasama ng loob ko at sasabe rin ni Alfredo sa akin na ako nasa ibabaw gayon gunit daratin ang araw na ako nasa ilalim siya at siya nasa ibabaw.The document that petitioners refer to as Segundo’s holographic will is quoted. At ikinagalit ko pa rin ang pagkuha ni Alfredo at ng kanyang asawa na mga custome[r] ng Travel Center of the Philippines na pinagasiwaan ko at ng anak ko si Virginia.

No. 1999. No. SP. upon petitioners’ motion. that all other compulsory heirs were not named nor instituted as heir. hence. Alfredo. 99–93396 were consolidated. the will only shows an alleged act of disinheritance by the decedent of his eldest son. there is preterition which would result to intestacy. Proc. private respondents maintained that while procedurally the court is called upon to rule only on the extrinsic validity of the will. private respondents moved for the dismissal of the probate proceedings[5] primarily on the ground that the document purporting to be the holographic will of Segundo does not contain any disposition of the estate of the deceased and thus does not meet the definition of a will under Article 783 of the Civil Code.Nilagdaan sa harap namin (signed) Dy Yieng Seangio Unang Saksi (signed) ikalawang saksi (signed) ikatlong saksi On May 29. and ordering the dismissal of the petition for probate when on the face of the will it is clear that it contains no testamentary disposition of the property of the decedent. the authority of the probate court is .[4] On July 1. According to private respondents. 1999. Proc. 98–90870 and SP. devisee or legatee. Petitioners filed their opposition to the motion to dismiss contending that: 1) generally. it is not barred from delving into the intrinsic validity of the same. Such being the case. and nothing else.

The Supreme Court in the case of Acain v. as the only heirs mentioned thereat are Alfredo and Virginia. The trial court could have denied its probate outright or could have passed upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provisions before the extrinsic validity of the will was resolved (underscoring supplied). expense. the RTC issued its assailed order. the will appears to be intrinsically void … would have been an exercise in futility. 4) the rule on preterition does not apply because Segundo’s will does not constitute a universal heir or heirs to the exclusion of one or more compulsory heirs. plus added futility. the Motion to Suspend Proceedings is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.[6] On August 10. As such. dismissing the petition for probate proceedings: A perusal of the document termed as “will” by oppositors/petitioners Dy Yieng Seangio. insofar as the widow Dy Yieng Seangio is concerned. and. 3) disinheritance constitutes a disposition of the estate of a decedent.. 2) private respondents question the intrinsic and not the extrinsic validity of the will.limited only to a determination of the extrinsic validity of the will. It would have meant a waste of time. [T]he other heirs being omitted. for to do otherwise would amount to an abuse of discretion. et al. SO ORDERED. this Court is bound to dismiss this petition. premises considered. 1999. effort. However. Article 854 of the New Civil Code thus applies. Article 854 does not apply. Special Proceedings No. on its face. she not being a compulsory heir in the direct line. Intermediate Appellate Court [155 SCRA 100 (1987)] has made its position clear: “for … respondents to have tolerated the probate of the will and allowed the case to progress when.[7] . clearly shows that there is preterition. 99–93396 is hereby DISMISSED without pronouncement as to costs. WHEREFORE.

. AND. WHICH GOES INTO THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL.E. DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT IS A SETTLED RULE THAT THE AUTHORITY OF PROBATE COURTS IS LIMITED ONLY TO A DETERMINATION OF THE EXTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL.Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration was denied by the RTC in its order dated October 14. THE DUE EXECUTION THEREOF. III . DATED 10 AUGUST 1999 AND 14 OCTOBER 1999 (ATTACHMENTS “A” AND “B” HEREOF) CONSIDERING THAT: I THE RESPONDENT JUDGE. 1999. Petitioners contend that: THE RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED IN EXCESS OF HER JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION AND DECIDED A QUESTION OF LAW NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE IN ISSUING THE QUESTIONED ORDERS. THE TESTATOR’S TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY AND THE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUISITES OR SOLEMNITIES PRESCRIBED BY LAW. IT IS INDUBITABLE FROM THE FACE OF THE TESTATOR’S WILL THAT NO PRETERITON EXISTS AND THAT THE WILL IS BOTH INTRINSICALLY AND EXTRINSICALLY VALID. I. WITHOUT EVEN COMPLYING WITH SECTIONS 3 AND 4 OF RULE 76 OF THE RULES OF COURT ON THE PROPER PROCEDURE FOR SETTING THE CASE FOR INITIAL HEARING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE JURISDICTIONAL FACTS. II EVEN ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO RULE UPON THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL OF THE TESTATOR. DISMISSED THE TESTATE CASE ON THE ALLEGED GROUND THAT THE TESTATOR’S WILL IS VOID ALLEGEDLY BECAUSE OF THE EXISTENCE OF PRETERITION.

Thus. and. respondent judge did not comply with Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court which respectively mandate the court to: a) fix the time and place for proving the will when all concerned may appear to contest the allowance thereof. the holographic will does not contain any institution of an heir. the testator intended all his compulsory heirs. simply contains a disinheritance of a compulsory heir. Petitioners argue. . Third. legatees and devisees of the testator Segundo. and cause notice of such time and place to be published three weeks successively previous to the appointed time in a newspaper of general circulation. inasmuch as it clearly appears from the face of the holographic will that it is both intrinsically and extrinsically valid. but rather. and. respondent judge was mandated to proceed with the hearing of the testate case. as follows: First. petitioners and private respondents alike. Second. to inherit his estate. None of the compulsory heirs in the direct line of Segundo were preterited in the holographic will since there was no institution of an heir. Fourth. b) cause the mailing of said notice to the heirs. there is no preterition in the decedent’s will and the holographic will on its face is not intrinsically void. Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana. with the sole exception of Alfredo.RESPONDENT JUDGE WAS DUTY BOUND TO SUSPEND THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE INTESTATE CASE CONSIDERING THAT IT IS A SETTLED RULE THAT TESTATE PROCEEDINGS TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER INTESTATE PROCEEDINGS. as its title clearly states.

signed and written by him in his own handwriting. or ascendants. . as an heir to his estate for the reasons that he cited therein. descendants. Alfredo was disinherited by Segundo. Alfredo. entitled Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana. and that the matter presents a sufficient cause for the disinheritance of a child or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code: Article 919. In effect. private respondents did not raise any issue as regards the authenticity of the document. Alfredo. the Court believes that the incidents.Lastly. The purported holographic will of Segundo that was presented by petitioners was dated. the continuation of the proceedings in the intestate case will work injustice to petitioners. With regard to the reasons for the disinheritance that were stated by Segundo in his document. and will render nugatory the disinheritance of Alfredo. unmistakably showed Segundo’s intention of excluding his eldest son. legitimate as well as illegitimate: (1) When a child or descendant has been found guilty of an attempt against the life of the testator. For disinheritance to be valid. Article 916 of the Civil Code requires that the same must be effected through a will wherein the legal cause therefor shall be specified. The document. The following shall be sufficient causes for the disinheritance of children and descendants. taken as a whole. his or her spouse. can be considered a form of maltreatment of Segundo by his son. Except on the ground of preterition.

A refusal without justifiable cause to support the parents or ascendant who disinherit such child or descendant. by the child or descendant. It is written. and while it does not make an affirmative . Conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction. although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance instrument. as provided under Article 810 of the Civil Code. conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law. must be entirely written. It is subject to no other form. A holographic will. violence.[8] When a child or descendant leads a dishonorable or disgraceful life. dated. and may be made in or out of the Philippines. the critical issue to be determined is whether the document executed by Segundo can be considered as a holographic will. and signed by the hand of the testator himself. and need not be witnessed. When a child or descendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with the spouse of the testator.(2) When a child or descendant has accused the testator of a crime for which the law prescribes imprisonment for six years or more. An intent to dispose mortis causa[9] can be clearly deduced from the terms of the instrument. (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) Now. When a child or descendant by fraud. Maltreatment of the testator by word or deed. dated and signed by the hand of Segundo himself. Segundo’s document. or undue influence causes the testator to make a will or to change one already made. if the accusation has been found groundless. intimidation.

[13] the disinheritance cannot be given effect. is an act of disposition in itself. nonetheless.disposition of the latter’s property. 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. should be construed more liberally than the ones drawn by an expert. the disinheritance of Alfredo. being usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law. It is only when the intention of the testator is contrary to law. Unless the will is probated. All rules of construction are designed to ascertain and give effect to that intention. In other words. taking into account the circumstances surrounding the execution of the instrument and the intention of the testator. 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. therefore. [12] In this regard. even if captioned as Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana. morals. the Court is convinced that the document. or public policy that it cannot be given effect. it is a fundamental principle that the intent or the will of the testator.[11] Holographic wills. expressed in the form and within the limits prescribed by law. as illustrated in the present case. must be recognized as the supreme law in succession.[10] Moreover. [14] .

therefore. Segundo’s last expression to bequeath his estate to all his compulsory heirs. are set aside. 1999 and October 14. should have allowed the holographic will to be probated. in the document did not operate to institute her as the universal heir. No. dated August 10. It is settled that testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. the right of a person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory. 1999. Proc. Segundo did not institute an heir [16] to the exclusion of his other compulsory heirs. It was. the petition is GRANTED. Her name was included plainly as a witness to the altercation between Segundo and his son. The intestate case or SP. [17] In view of the foregoing.[18] WHEREFORE. . Branch 21.[15] the Court believes that the compulsory heirs in the direct line were not preterited in the will. Also. unless the will is probated. Virginia. and that the law favors testacy over intestacy. The Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Manila. 99-93396 for the allowance of the holographic will of Segundo Seangio. 98-90870 is hereby suspended until the termination of the aforesaid testate proceedings. 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. in the Court’s opinion. Respondent judge is directed to reinstate and hear SP Proc.With regard to the issue on preterition. the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with. with the sole exception of Alfredo. Alfredo. Thus. the trial court. No. Considering that the questioned document is Segundo’s holographic will. The mere mention of the name of one of the petitioners.