This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
DIZON, BERNARDITA DIZON, JOSEFINA DIZON, ANGELINA DIZON and LILIA DIZON, oppositors-appellants. Appeal from orders of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga approving the Executrix-appellee's project of partition instead of Oppositors-Appellants' proposed counter-project of partition. 1 On January 28, 1961, the testatrix, Agripina J. Valdez, a widow, died in Angeles, Pampanga, and was survived by seven compulsory heirs, to wit, six legitimate children named Estela Dizon, Tomas V. Dizon, Bernardita Dizon, Marina Dizon (herein executrix-appellee), Angelina Dizon and Josefina Dizon, and a legitimate granddaughter named Lilia Dizon, who is the only legitimate child and heir of Ramon Dizon, a pre-deceased legitimate son of the said decedent. Six of these seven compulsory heirs (except Marina Dizon, the executrix-appellee) are the oppositors-appellants. The deceased testatrix left a last will executed on February 2, 1960 and written in the Pampango dialect. Named beneficiaries in her will were the above-named compulsory heirs, together with seven other legitimate grandchildren, namely Pablo Rivera, Jr., Gilbert D. Garcia, Cayetano Dizon, Francisco Rivera, Agripina Ayson, Jolly Jimenez and Laureano Tiambon. In her will, the testatrix divided, distributed and disposed of all her properties appraised at P1,801,960.00 (except two small parcels of land appraised at P5,849.60, household furniture valued at P2,500.00, a bank deposit in the sum of P409.95 and ten shares of Pampanga Sugar Development Company valued at P350.00) among her above-named heirs. Testate proceedings were in due course commenced 2 and by order dated March 13, 1961, the last will and testament of the decedent was duly allowed and admitted to probate, and the appellee Marina Dizon-Rivera was appointed executrix of the testatrix' estate, and upon her filing her bond and oath of office, letters testamentary were duly issued to her. After the executrix filed her inventory of the estate, Dr. Adelaido Bernardo of Angeles, Pampanga was appointed commissioner to appraise the properties of the estate. He filed in due course his report of appraisal and the same was approved in toto by the lower court on December 12, 1963 upon joint petition of the parties. The real and personal properties of the testatrix at the time of her death thus had a total appraised value of P1,811,695.60, and the legitime of each of the seven compulsory heirs amounted to P129,362.11. 3 (¹/7 of the half of the estate reserved for the legitime of legitimate children and descendants). 4 In her will, the testatrix "commanded that her property be divided" in accordance with her testamentary disposition, whereby she devised and bequeathed specific real properties comprising practically the entire bulk of her estate among her six children and eight grandchildren. The appraised values of the real properties thus respectively devised by the testatrix to the beneficiaries named in her will, are as follows: 1. Estela Dizon ....................................... P 98,474.80 2. Angelina Dizon .................................. 106,307.06 3. Bernardita Dizon .................................. 51,968.17 4. Josefina Dizon ...................................... 52,056.39 5. Tomas Dizon ....................................... 131,987.41 6. Lilia Dizon .............................................. 72,182.47 7. Marina Dizon ..................................... 1,148,063.71 8. Pablo Rivera, Jr. ...................................... 69,280.00 9. Lilia Dizon, Gilbert Garcia, Cayetano Dizon, Francisco Rivera, Agripina Ayson, Dioli or Jolly Jimenez, Laureano Tiamzon ................. 72,540.00 Total Value ...................... P1,801,960.01 The executrix filed her project of partition dated February 5, 1964, in substance adjudicating the estate as follows: (1) with the figure of P129,254.96 as legitime for a basis Marina (exacultrix-appellee) and Tomas (appellant) are admittedly considered to have received in the will more than their respective legitime, while the rest of the appellants, namely, Estela, Bernardita, Angelina, Josefina and Lilia received less than their respective legitime; (2) thus, to each of the latter are adjudicated the properties respectively given them in the will, plus cash and/or properties, to complete their respective legitimes to P129,254.96; (3) on the other hand, Marina and Tomas are adjudicated the properties that they received in the will less the cash and/or properties necessary to complete the prejudiced legitime mentioned in number 2 above; (4) the adjudications made in the will in favor of the grandchildren remain untouched. On the other hand oppositors submitted their own counter-project of partition dated February 14, 1964, wherein they proposed the distribution of the estate on the following basis: (a) all the testamentary dispositions were proportionally reduced to the value of one-half (½) of the entire estate, the value of the said one-half (½) amounting to P905,534.78; (b) the shares of the OppositorsAppellants should consist of their legitime, plus the devises in their favor proportionally reduced; (c) in payment of the total shares of the appellants in the entire estate, the properties devised to them plus other properties left by the Testatrix and/or cash are adjudicated to them; and (d) to the grandchildren who are not
compulsory heirs are adjudicated the properties respectively devised to them subject to reimbursement by Gilbert D. Garcia, et al., of the sums by which the devise in their favor should be proportionally reduced. Under the oppositors' counter-project of partition, the testamentary disposition made by the testatrix of practically her whole estate of P1,801,960.01, as above stated, were proposed to be reduced to the amounts set forth after the names of the respective heirs and devisees totalling one-half thereof as follows: 1. Estela Dizon ........................................... P 49,485.56 2. Angelina Dizon ......................................... 53,421.42 3. Bernardita Dizon ....................................... 26,115.04 4. Josefina Dizon .......................................... 26,159.38 5. Tomas V. Dizon ......................................... 65,874.04 6. Lilia Dizon .................................................. 36,273.13 7. Marina Dizon ........................................... 576,938.82 8. Pablo Rivera, Jr. ......................................... 34,814.50 9. Grandchildren Gilbert Garcia et al .......... 36,452.80 T o t a l ................................................... P905,534.78 while the other half of the estate (P905,534.78) would be deemed as constituting the legitime of the executrix-appellee and oppositors-appellants, to be divided among them in seven equal parts of P129,362.11 as their respective legitimes. The lower court, after hearing, sustained and approved the executrix' project of partition, ruling that "(A)rticles 906 and 907 of the New Civil Code specifically provide that when the legitime is impaired or prejudiced, the same shall be completed and satisfied. While it is true that this process has been followed and adhered to in the two projects of partition, it is observed that the executrix and the oppositors differ in respect to the source from which the portion or portions shall be taken in order to fully restore the impaired legitime. The proposition of the oppositors, if upheld, will substantially result in a distribution of intestacy, which is in controversion of Article 791 of the New Civil Code" adding that "the testatrix has chosen to favor certain heirs in her will for reasons of her own, cannot be doubted. This is legally permissible within the limitation of the law, as aforecited." With reference to the payment in cash of some P230,552.38, principally by the executrix as the largest beneficiary of the will to be paid to her five co-heirs, the oppositors (excluding Tomas Dizon), to complete their impaired legitimes, the lower court ruled that "(T)he payment in cash so as to make the proper adjustment to meet with the requirements of the law in respect to legitimes which have been impaired is, in our opinion, a practical and valid solution in order to give effect to the last wishes of the testatrix." From the lower court's orders of approval, oppositors-appellants have filed this appeal, and raise anew the following issues: . 1. Whether or not the testamentary dispositions made in the testatrix' will are in the nature of devises imputable to the free portion of her estate, and therefore subject to reduction; 2. Whether the appellants are entitled to the devise plus their legitime under Article 1063, or merely to demand completion of their legitime under Article 906 of the Civil Code; and 3. Whether the appellants may be compelled to accept payment in cash on account of their legitime, instead of some of the real properties left by the Testatrix; which were adversely decided against them in the proceedings below. The issues raised present a matter of determining the avowed intention of the testatrix which is "the life and soul of a will." 5 In consonance therewith, our Civil Code included the new provisions found in Articles 788 and 791 thereof that "(I)f a testamentary disposition admits of different interpretations, in case of doubt, that interpretation by which the disposition is to be operative shall be preferred" and "(T)he words of a will are to receive an interpretation which will give to every expression some effect, rather than one which will render any of the expressions inoperative; and of two modes of interpreting a will, that is to be preferred which will prevent intestacy." In Villanueva vs. Juico 6 for violation of these rules of interpretation as well as of Rule 123, section 59 of the old Rules of Court, 7 the Court, speaking through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, overturned the lower court's decision and stressed that "the intention and wishes of the testator, when clearly expressed in his will, constitute the fixed law of interpretation, and all questions raised at the trial, relative to its execution and fulfillment, must be settled in accordance therewith, following the plain and literal meaning of the testator's words, unless it clearly appears that his intention was otherwise." 8 The testator's wishes and intention constitute the first and principal law in the matter of testaments, and to paraphrase an early decision of the Supreme Court of Spain, 9 when expressed clearly and precisely in his last will amount to the only law whose mandate must imperatively be faithfully obeyed and complied with by his executors, heirs and devisees and legatees, and neither these interested parties nor the courts may substitute their own criterion for the testator's will. Guided and restricted by these fundamental premises, the Court finds for the appellee. 1. Decisive of the issues at bar is the fact that the testatrix' testamentary disposition was in the nature of a partition of her estate by will. Thus, in the third paragraph of her will, after commanding that upon her death all her obligations as well as the expenses of her last illness and funeral and the expenses for probate of her last will and for the administration of her property in accordance with law, be paid, she expressly provided that "it is my wish and I command that my property be divided" in accordance with the dispositions immediately thereafter following, whereby she specified each real property in her estate and designated the particular heir among her seven compulsory heirs and seven other grandchildren to whom she bequeathed the same. This was a valid partition 10 of her estate, as contemplated and authorized in the first paragraph of Article 1080 of the Civil Code, providing that "(S)hould a person make a partition of his estate by an act inter vivos or by will, such partition shall be respected, insofar as it does not prejudice the legitime of the compulsory heirs." This right of a testator to partition his estate is subject only to the right of compulsory heirs to their legitime. The Civil Code thus provides the safeguard for the right of such compulsory heirs:
Testamentary dispositions that impair or diminish the legitime of the compulsory heirs shall be reduced on petition of the same. and. and the differential to complete their respective legitimes of P129.. which they would consider as mere devises or legacies. Authoritative commentators doubt the efficacy of the amendment 13 but the question does not here concern us.. other codal provisions support the executrix-appellee's project of partition as approved by the lower court rather than the counter-project of partition proposed by oppositors-appellants whereby they would reduce the testamentary disposition or partition made by the testatrix to one-half and limit the same. but the legitime shall in any case remain unimpaired" and invoking of the construction thereof given by some authorities that "'not deemed subject to collation' in this article really means not imputable to or chargeable against the legitime". do not have to be taken only from the free portion of the estate. the dispositions by the testatrix constituted a partition by will.. were adjudicated the properties respectively distributed and assigned to them by the testatrix in her will. became the absolute owner of said lots because 'A partition legally made confers upon each heir the exclusive ownership of the property adjudicated to him' (Article 1091. the second paragraph of Article 912 Civil Code covers precisely the case of the executrix-appellee. 2. that is. The repeated use of the words "I bequeath" in her testamentary dispositions acquire no legal significance. sell the lots in question as part of her share of the proposed partition of the properties. has no application in the present case. the Court ruled that "Concepcion Teves by operation of law. his forced heirs under the law enforced at the time of my death shall inherit the properties I bequeath to said deceased. subject to rights and obligations of the latter. as against adverse claims of other compulsory heirs." 17 Oppositors' conclusions necessarily are in error.362. ART. wherein the five oppositors-appellants namely Estela. New Civil Code)." And even going by oppositors' own theory of bequests. 14 the Court upheld the distribution made in the will of the deceased testator Pedro Teves of two large coconut plantations in favor of his daughter. for it clearly appear from the whole context of the will and the disposition by the testatrix of her whole estate (save for some small properties of little value already noted at the beginning of this opinion) that her clear intention was to partition her whole estate through her will. contrary to Article 791 of the Civil Code. the testatrix' intent that her testamentary dispositions were by way of adjudications to the beneficiaries as heirs and not as mere devisees. he must first make a will with all the formalities provided by law." 18 Fundamentally. either in the nature of institution of heirs or of devises or legacies. 659. for the second paragraph of Article 842 of the Civil Code precisely provides that "(O)ne who has compulsory heirs may dispose of his estate provided he does not contravene the provisions of this Code with regard to the legitime of said heirs. which by mandate of Article 1080 of the Civil Code and of the other cited codal provisions upholding the primacy of the testator's last will and testament. 906. The only amendment in the provision was that Article 1080 "now permits any person (not a testator. for the adjudications and assignments in the testatrix' will of specific properties to specific heirs cannot be considered all devises. Furthermore. of course. Aside from the provisions of Articles 906 and 907 above quoted. Here. and all testamentary dispositions. the remainder of the estate after deducting the legitime of the compulsory heirs ." 4. 907. as she did. the sale has been expressly recognized by herself and her co-heirs . have to be taken from the remainder of the testator's estate constituting the free portion." For "diversity of apportionment is the usual reason for making a testament. we have a case of a distribution and partition of the entire estate by the testatrix. who admittedly were favored by the testatrix and received in the partition by will more than their respective legitimes. provided its value does not exceed that of the disposable portion and of the share pertaining to him as legitime. have to be respected insofar as they do not prejudice the legitime of the other compulsory heirs. which perforce must be given full validity and effect. for this is a clear case of partition by will. as being a partition by will. the decedent might as well die intestate. The testamentary dispositions of the testatrix. which should be respected insofar as it does not prejudice the legitime of the compulsory heirs. Civil Code). as contended. 657.. Imbo. being dispositions in favor of compulsory heirs. Concepcion. Marina. especially when. while it may have some plausibility 19 in an appropriate case. who admittedly was favored by the testatrix with the large bulk of her estate in providing that "(T)he devisee who is entitled to a legitime may retain the entire property." 11 This was intended to repeal the then prevailing doctrine 12 that for a testator to partition his estate by an act inter vivos. she can not be deprived of her rights thereto except by the methods provided for by law (Arts. duly admitted to probate. in accordance with Article 1080 of the Civil Code. insofar as they may be inofficious or excessive." 3." 16 Oppositors err in their premises.11 each were taken from the cash and/or properties of the executrix-appellee. and apply the other half of the estate to payment of the legitimes of the seven compulsory heirs. as in the present case. immediately following her testamentary adjudications in the third paragraph in this wise: "FOURTH: I likewise command that in case any of those I named as my heirs in this testament any of them shall die before I do. This was properly complied with in the executrix-appellee's project of partition. from the death of her ancestors. Oppositors' proposal would amount substantially to a distribution by intestacy and pro tanto nullify the testatrix' will. as under the old law) to partition his estate by act inter vivos. This right of a testator to partition his estate by will was recognized even in Article 1056 of the old Civil Code which has been reproduced now as Article 1080 of the present Civil Code. Tomas. The burden of oppositors' contention is that the testamentary dispositions in their favor are in the nature of devises of real property. From this erroneous premise. Josefina and Lilia. and that said dispositions were therefore on account of the respective legitimes of the compulsory heirs is expressly borne out in the fourth paragraph of her will. Any compulsory heir to whom the testator has left by any title less than the legitime belonging to him may demand that the same be fully satisfied. to one-half of the estate as the disposable free portion.ART. In upholding the sale made by Concepcion to a stranger of the plantations thus partitioned in her favor in the deceased's will which was being questioned by the other compulsory heirs. 15 Concepcion Teves could. citing the testatrix' repeated use of the words "I bequeath" in her assignment or distribution of her real properties to the respective heirs. such as to convert the same into devises to be taken solely from the free one-half disposable portion of the estate. Oppositors' invoking of Article 1063 of the Civil Code that "(P)roperty left by will is not deemed subject to collation. It would further run counter to the provisions of Article 1091 of the Civil Code that "(A) partition legally made confers upon each heir the exclusive ownership of the property adjudicated to him. In Habana vs. they proceed to the equally erroneous conclusion that "the legitime of the compulsory heirs passes to them by operation of law and that the testator can only dispose of the free portion. otherwise. Bernardita. and 661. and their co-oppositor-appellant. Angelina. if the testator has not otherwise provided. without her having made any previous donations during her lifetime which would require collation to determine the legitime of each heir nor having left .
" The payment in cash by way of making the proper adjustments in order to meet the requirements of the law on non-impairment of legitimes as well as to give effect to the last will of the testatrix has invariably been availed of and sanctioned. Civil Code) and accordingly. at the time of approval of the project of partition and when the peso's purchasing value was higher.00 on account of her inheritance. the value thereof must be reckoned as of then. as bequeathed and partitioned by the testatrix principally to the executrix-appellee. is due to their own decision of pursuing the present appeal. the secondary issues are likewise necessarily resolved. principally the executrix-appellee.merely some properties by will which would call for the application of Articles 1061 to 1063 of the Civil Code on collation. 20 "does not in any way affect the adjudication made to her in the projects of partition of either party as the same is a mere advance of the cash that she should receive in both projects of partition. 21 That her co-oppositors would receive their cash differentials only now when the value of the currency has declined further. There is evidence in the record that prior to November 25. which.000. The properties are not available for the purpose. 1964. by implementing her manifest wish of transmitting the real properties intact to her named beneficiaries. 1961 provides no legal basis or justification for overturning the wishes and intent of the testatrix. as far as feasible to comply with and give effect to the intention of the testatrix as solemnized in her will. and they can no longer demand a further share from the remaining portion of the estate. and hence. and the heirs are called upon. 5. whereas they could have received them earlier. ACCORDINGLY. estates would never be settled if there were to be a revaluation with every subsequent fluctuation in the values of the currency and properties of the estate. per the approved project of partition. Neither may the appellants legally insist on their legitime being completed with real properties of the estate instead of being paid in cash. The amount of the legitime of the heirs is here determined and undisputed. one of the oppositors. . The appraisal report of the properties of the estate as filed by the commissioner appointed by the lower court was approved in toto upon joint petition of the parties. The transmission of rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent (Article 777. The plaint of oppositors that the purchasing value of the Philippine peso has greatly declined since the testatrix' death in January. the orders appealed from are hereby affirmed. accepted the sum of P50. per the parties' manifestation. Bernardita. there cannot be said to be any question — and none is presented — as to fairness of the valuation thereof or that the legitime of the heirs in terms of cash has been understated. like Bernardita. Without cost. as otherwise. as the testatrix had specifically partitioned and distributed them to her heirs. Their right was merely to demand completion of their legitime under Article 906 of the Civil Code and this has been complied with in the approved project of partition. With this resolution of the decisive issue raised by oppositors-appellants.
for its refusal to grant their motion to dismiss its Special Proceeding No. 1966 ANGELA RODRIGUEZ. Reconsideration having been denied. that on March 12. petition this Court for a writ of certiorariand prohibition to the Court of First Instance of Bulacan.R. Fr. and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country. vs. and that movants clearly filed the intestate proceedings in Rizal "for no other purpose than to prevent this Court (of Bulacan) from exercising jurisdiction over the probate proceedings". Tan and De Borja. JUAN DE BORJA. Annex 0). G. Quezon City and Bulacan. The records show that Fr. among other things. J. Where estate of deceased persons settled. section 1 of the Rules of Court. REYES.. that on March 4. Proceedings No. through counsel filed a petition for leave of court to allow them to examine the alleged will. that on March 11. 1963 Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan filed a petition in this Court for the probation of the will delivered by them on March 4. on the other hand. Rodriguez. namely. Abelardo and Antonio. MARIA RODRIGUEZ. and his estate settled. Torres and Torres for respondents. The facts and issues are succinctly narrated in the order of the respondent court. that he was buried in Parañaque. dated June 13. since they filed a petition to examine the same. de Borja vs. Apolonia Pangilinan and Adelaida Jacalan delivered to the Clerk of Court of Bulacan a purported last will and testament of Fr. his will shall be proved. Celestino Rodriguez which was filed ahead of the instant case". deposited in the Court of Bulacan. Rodriguez was born in Parañaque. Fr. now petitioners. Celestino Rodriguez died on February 12. Rodriguez alleging. the latter Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition for probate. the Court of First Instance of any province which he had estate. take the stand that the Court of First Instance of Bulacan acquired jurisdiction over the case upon delivery by them of the will to the Clerk of Court on March 4. on the same date. movants were aware of the existence of the purported will of Father Rodriguez. as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. which said Court is alleged to have taken cognizance of without jurisdiction.L. and that on March 12. — If the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death. 1963. The petitioners Pangilinan and Jacalan. citing as authority in support thereof the case of Ongsingco Vda. L-7792. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of . surnamed Rodriguez. aforementioned petitioners filed before the Court of First Instance of Rizal a petition for the settlement of the intestate estate of Fr. as early as March 7. HON.R. in the Court of First Instance in the province in which he resides at the time of his death. Maria Rodriguez and Angela Rodriguez. 1963.M. 1963 (Petition. July 27. Branch III.: Petitioners Angela. No. Rizal.B. L-21993 June 21. The movants contend that since the intestate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Rizal was filed at 8:00 A. 1955. 1331.M. July 27. The Court of First Instance. Rodriguez was a resident of Parañaque. Tan and De Borja. or letters of administration granted. in this wise: It is alleged in the motion to dismiss filed by Angela. ET AL. whether a citizen or an alien. movants. 7792. that on March 8. and died without leaving a will and praying that Maria Rodriguez be appointed as Special Administratrix of the estate. from the year 1930 up to the time of his death in 1963. It was stipulated by the parties that Fr. Lorenzo Somulong for petitioners. that Fr. 1963. and that he left real properties in Rizal. ANATOLIA PANGILINAN and ADELAIDA JACALAN. as previously stated denied the motion to dismiss on the ground that a difference of a few hours did not entitle one proceeding to preference over the other. 1963 in the City of Manila. came to this Court.. that. SECTION 1. 1955. Cavite. Abelardo and Antonio Rodriguez. J. 1963 before the Court could act on the petition. petitioners. Celestino Rodriguez in the Court of First Instance of Rizal. that this Court "has no jurisdiction to try the above-entitled case in view of the pendency of another action for the settlement of the estate of the deceased Rev. relying principally on Rule 73. Rizal. and invoking our ruling in Ongsingco vs. and that the case in this Court therefore has precedence over the case filed in Rizal on March 12. 1963. 3907 entitled 'In the matter of the Intestate Estate of the deceased Rev. Maria. the same was withdrawn. through counsel. 1963. respondents. No. 1963. Bulacan. Sp. on March 12.G. 1963 while the petition for probate was filed in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan at 11:00 A. Maria. that he was Parish priest of the Catholic Church of Hagonoy.
because such legal provision is contained in a law of procedure dealing merely with procedural matters. section 3 of revised Rule 76 (old Rule 77) speaks of a will being delivered to "the Court having jurisdiction. 74 Phil. the petition is deemed to relate back to the time when the will was delivered. Act No. even if no petition for its allowance was filed until later. Reyes vs. We can not disregard Fr. (Sec. No. section 600. 484." and in the case at bar the Bulacan court did not have it because the decedent was domiciled in Rizal province. 676). G.) Motion for reconsideration is denied. of the Revised Rules of Court (Section 3.n. fixes the venue or the place where each case shall be brought. while petitioners initiated intestate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Rizal only on March 12. The use of the disjunctive in the words "when a will is delivered to OR a petition for the allowance of a will is filed" plainly indicates that the court may act upon the mere deposit therein of a decedent's testament. providing that the estate of a deceased person shall be settled in the province where he had last resided. Petition. and shall cause notice of such time and place to be published three (3) weeks successively. and issued the corresponding notices conformably to what is prescribed by section 3. Diaz. as we have said time and again.s. In the Kaw Singco case (ante) this Court ruled that: ". Furthermore.) The law of jurisdiction — Act No. 73 Phil. or that he left personal property in Hagonoy. Bernabe vs. 48). such Court shall fix a time and place for proving the will when all concerned may appear to contest the allowance thereof. Rec. of the old Rules): SEC. Notice thereof to be published. Rizal. except in an appeal from that court. the place of residence of the deceased is not an element of jurisdiction over the subject matter but merely of venue. But no newspaper publication shall be made where the petition for probate has been filed by the testator himself. No. procedure is one thing and jurisdiction over the subject matter is another. previous to the time appointed. could not have been intended as defining the jurisdiction of the probate court over the subject matter. Annex "H". 190. As ruled in previous decisions. That is sufficient in the case before us. And it is upon this ground that in the new Rules of Court the province where the estate of a deceased person shall be settled is properly called "venue" (Rule 75. or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record. the Law of Procedure. 1äwphï1. however. The jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan became vested upon the delivery thereto of the will of the late Father Rodriguez on March 4. section 1. If we consider such question of residence as one affecting the jurisdiction of the trial court over the subject-matter. Manila Railroad Company. p. that court is entitled to assume jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. the power to settle decedents' estates is conferred by law upon all courts of first instance.R. Dy Buncio & Co. Rodriguez is deceased. hearing of June 11. — When a will is delivered to. in a newspaper of general circulation in the province. Section 56. that detail would not imply that the Bulacan court lacked jurisdiction. 3.. (Attorney General vs. Neither party denies that the late Fr. as far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent. province of Bulacan (t.ñët But. and. because upon the will being deposited the court could. December 31. have taken steps to fix the time and place for proving the will. or of the location of his estate. motu proprio. Rodriguez's 33 years of residence as parish priest in Hagonoy. petitioners object. 190. The jurisdiction assumed by a court. 136. Rule 76. Where the petition for probate is made after the deposit of the will. the Court having jurisdiction. section 600 of Act No. Thus. Tanunchuan vs. (Cf. but even if we do so. there are many Courts of First Instance in the Philippines. Vergara. Since the testament of Fr. Bulacan (1930-1963). the precedence and exclusive jurisdiction of the Bulacan court is incontestable. 239. 1963.1 Since.. 5 — confers upon Courts of First Instance jurisdiction over all probate cases independently of the place of residence of the deceased. 73 Phil. in the original case.. p. Rodriguez was submitted and delivered to the Court of Bulacan on March 4. even if it were a case of wrong venue by express provisions of Rule 73 (old Rule 75) of the Rules of Court. Court to appoint time for proving will. 1963.the estate of a decedent. or a petition for the allowance of a will is filed in. That this is of mischievous effect in the prompt administration of justice is too obvious to require comment. even if no petition for its allowance is as yet filed. since the same enjoins that: The Court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. 1) . We find this recourse to be untenable. 20 Phil. and consider that he retained throughout some animus revertendi to the place of his birth in Parañaque. 46. Rule 77. eight days later. the effect shall be that the whole proceedings including all decisions on the different incidents which have arisen in court will have to be annulled and the same case will have to be commenced anew before another court of the same rank in another province.. 48206. 523. shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The estate proceedings having been initiated in the Bulacan Court of First Instance ahead of any other. 1942). and the domicile of the testator only affects the venue but not the jurisdiction of the Court (In re Kaw Singco. shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding.
Says Article 960 of the Civil Code of the Philippines: ART. 296). vs. "only after final decision as to the nullity of testate succession could an intestate succession be instituted in the form of pre-established action". or one which has subsequently lost its validity. J.. Legal or intestate succession takes place: (1) If a person dies without a will. Makalintal. Of them only one could be of proper venue. Dizon. Costs against petitioners Rodriguez.. 307. after they learned of the delivery of the decedent's will to the Court of Bulacan. In such case. JJ. (3) If the suspensive condition attached to the institution of heir does not happen or is not fulfilled. Certainly the order of priority established in Rule 73 (old Rule 75) was not designed to convert the settlement of decedent's estates into a race between applicants. proceedings. Regala. subpar. Concepcion. Martinez. C. Therefore. The institution of intestacy proceedings in Rizal may not thus proceed while the probate of the purported will of Father Rodriguez is pending. Bengzon. Barrera. We rule that the Bulacan Court of First Instance was entitled to priority in the settlement of the estate in question. (2) When the will does not institute an heir to. without taking venue into account. Footnotes 1 Now section 44.J. as ruled in Castro. or if the heir dies before the testator. (e) of the Judiciary Act (R. said court did not commit any abuse of discretion. except in cases provided in this Code.P. the writ of certiorari applied for is denied. 10 Phil. intestate succession is only subsidiary or subordinate to the testate. or with a void will. Zaldivar and Sanchez. in our system of civil law. legal succession shall take place only with respect to the property in which the testator has not disposed. since intestacy only takes place in the absence of a valid operative will. There are two other reasons that militate against the success of petitioners. concur. and that in refusing to dismiss the probate. (4) When the heir instituted is incapable of succeeding. or repudiates the inheritance. patently done with a view to divesting the latter court of the precedence awarded it by the Rules.A. et al. No. or dispose of all the property belonging to the testator. Wherefore. The other reason is that. yet the rule grants precedence to that Court whose jurisdiction is first invoked. It is the proceedings in the Rizal Court that should be discontinued. .. was in bad faith.This disposition presupposes that two or more courts have been asked to take cognizance of the settlement of the estate. One is that their commencing intestate proceedings in Rizal. 960. and no right of accretion takes place. with the administration of the properties as the price for the fleetest. there being no substitution.
and to carry out the intention of the testator which according to the trial court is the controlling factor and may override any defect in form. MONTEMAYOR. Some cousins and nephews who would inherit the estate of the deceased if he left no will. Zosa. On October 2. Father Sancho wrote out in longhand Exhibit "A" in Spanish which the testator spoke and understood. in the municipality of Aloguinsan. that he (testator) signed on he left hand margin of the front page of each of the three folios or sheets of which the document is composed. 1943. Father Sancho Abadia. No. said trial court by order dated January 24.000 in value. 1952. VDA. L-7188 August 9. executed a document purporting to be his Last Will and Testament now marked Exhibit "A". SEVERINA A. It is a fact. vs. filed a petition for its probate in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. During the hearing one of the attesting witnesses. He left properties estimated at P8. J. dated and signed by the testator himself and need not be witnessed. 386) under article 810 thereof provides that a person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written. where he was an evacuee. as the Last Will and Testament of Father Sancho Abadia. The oppositors did not submit any evidence. and the law at the time imposed certain requirements for the execution of wills. parish priest of Talisay. requirements which were not complied with in Exhibit "A" because the back pages of the first two folios of the will were not signed by any one. under a liberal view. Luis B. de la Victoria for appellees. and numbered the same with Arabic numerals. C. Mariano A. DE ENRIQUEZ. and as to the three front pages. one Andres Enriquez. all this. they were signed only by the testator. that it was in the handwriting of the testator and that although at the time it was executed and at the time of the testator's death. 1954 In re: Will and Testament of the deceased REVEREND SANCHO ABADIA. because at the time of the hearing and when the case was to be decided the new Civil Code was already in force. ET AL. . filed opposition. and finally signed his name at the end of his writing at the last page. Zosa and B. MIGUEL ABADIA. Resident of the City of Cebu. testified without contradiction that in his presence and in the presence of his co-witnesses. The oppositors are appealing from that decision.R. which Code permitted the execution of holographic wills. The new Civil Code (Republic Act No. one of the legatees in Exhibit "A". he died on January 14.G. the case was certified to us by the Court of Appeals. holographic wills were not permitted by law still. admitted to probate Exhibit "A". Ladonga. ET AL. Cebu. The learned trial court found and declared Exhibit "A" to be a holographic will. however.: On September 6. petitioners-appellees. holographic wills were not permitted. in the presence of the three attesting witnesses after telling that it was his last will and that the said three witnesses signed their names on the last page after the attestation clause in his presence and in the presence of each other. oppositors-appellants. that at the time that Exhibit "A" was executed in 1923 and at the time that Father Abadia died in 1943.. Advincula for appellants. the other two being dead. not even by the testator and were not numbered. Cebu. 1946. such as numbering correlatively each page (not folio or sheet) in letters and signing on the left hand margin by the testator and by the three attesting witnesses. Manuel A. G. and because only questions of law are involved in the appeal.. 1923.
. However. By parity of reasoning.Interpreting and applying this requirement this Court in the case of In re Estate of Saguinsin. 23. the order appealed from is reversed. the authenticity of all three of them should be guaranteed by the signature of the alleged testatrix and her witnesses. One reason in support of the rule is that although the will operates upon and after the death of the testator." The above provision is but an expression or statement of the weight of authority to the affect that the validity of a will is to be judged not by the law enforce at the time of the testator's death or at the time the supposed will is presented in court for probate or when the petition is decided by the court but at the time the instrument was executed.. 879. 46 Phil. this Court declared: From an examination of the document in question. This ruling has been laid down by this court in the case of In re Will of Riosa. like Exhibit "A" which provisions were invoked by the appellee-petitioner and applied by the lower court? But article 795 of this same new Civil Code expressly provides: "The validity of a will as to its form depends upon the observance of the law in force at the time it is made. . 700. It is a wholesome doctrine and should be followed. the legacy or bequest then becomes a completed act. the wishes of the testator about the disposition of his estate among his heirs and among the legatees is given solemn expression at the time the will is executed. and that when statutes passed after the execution of the will and after the death of the testator lessen the formalities required by law for the execution of wills. and his heirs will then inherit by intestate succession. 41 Phil. Prieto. there is the view that the intention of the testator should be the ruling and controlling factor and that all adequate remedies and interpretations should be resorted to in order to carry out said intention. Of course. 231. It is not enough that the signatures guaranteeing authenticity should appear upon two folios or leaves. and in reality. protected under the due process clause of the constitution against a subsequent change in the statute adding new legal requirements of execution of wills which would invalidate such a will. and Exhibit "A" is denied probate. we should not forget that from the day of the death of the testator. Jur. 192-193). referring to the same requirement. 2645 by the attesting witnesses who omitted to sign with the testator at the left margin of each of the five pages of the document alleged to be the will of Ventura Prieto. This defect is radical and totally vitiates the testament. said subsequent statutes should be applied so as to validate wills defectively executed according to the law in force at the time of execution. "A"? May we apply the provisions of the new Civil Code which not allows holographic wills. it appears that the left margins of the six pages of the document are signed only by Ventura Prieto. 39 Phil. is a fatal defect that constitutes an obstacle to its probate. . With costs. referring to the failure of the testator and his witnesses to sign on the left hand margin of every page. Wills. And in the case of Aspe vs. if he leaves a will. In view of the foregoing. and no subsequent law with more liberal requirements or which dispenses with such requirements as to execution should be allowed to validate a defective will and thereby divest the heirs of their vested rights in the estate by intestate succession. 875. said: .. The noncompliance with section 2 of Act No. when one executes a will which is invalid for failure to observe and follow the legal requirements at the time of its execution then upon his death he should be regarded and declared as having died intestate.. three pages having been written on. What is the law to apply to the probate of Exh. pp. the title of the legatees and devisees under it becomes a vested right.. . Sec. The general rule is that the Legislature can not validate void wills (57 Am.
2391 of the Registry of Deeds of the Province of Cebu. Ebarle. defendant in the instant case. 1947. by the same vendor to the plaintiff's grantors. . he left a parcel of land described under Transfer Certificate of title No. 1946 leaving heir the surviving spouse and some minor children.700. along with the other half. 212-R) sold one-half of the land mentioned above to Esperanza M. 5th. after her appointment as guardian of her children by this court (Special proceeding no. — That the above mentioned property was a conjugal property. This action commenced in the Court of First Instance of Cebu to annul a deed of sale conveying to the defendant. Po. the sale to the defendant having been made by authority of the competent court was undeniably legal and effective. de Winstanley sold the entire parcel to the Canoy spouses. 3rd. alleging among other things. it follows that the first sale was null and void in so far as it included the children's share. this article is incorporated in the new Civil Code as article 777. ESPERANZA M. 1946. 1948 surviving spouse Catalina Navarro Vda. in consideration of P1. judgment was against the plaintiff. one-half of it already belonged to the seller's children. (5 Manresa. plaintiff-appellant. the spouses Maria Canoy and Roberto Canoy sold the same parcel of land to the plaintiff in this case named Bienvenido A. 4th. No. Article 657 of the old Civil Code provides: "The rights to the succession of a person are transmitted from the moment of his death. says: The moment of death is the determining factor when the heirs acquire a definite right to the inheritance. commending on article 657 of the Civil Code of Spain. de Winstanley. This question in turn depends upon the validity of the prior ale to Maria Canoy and Roberto Canoy. the surviving spouse Catalina Navarro Vda. de Winstanley sold the entire parcel of land to the spouses Maria Canoy. — That the two deeds of sale referred to above were not registered and have never been registered up to the date. As stated by the trial Judge. No formal or judicial declaration being needed to confirm the children's title. the former having died on June 6. PO. 317. 1953 BIENVENIDO A. 6th. 7th. whether such right be pure or contingent. Po. 2nd. Winstanley. — That Leonard j." in a slightly different language. It is immaterial whether a short or long period of time lapses between the death of the predecessor and the entry into possession of the property of the inheritance because the right is always deemed to be retroactive from the moment of death. The case was submitted for decision upon an agreed statement of facts. L-5064 February 27. one undivided half of a parcel of land which previously had been sold. which portion belongs to the children of the above named spouses.J. the sole question for determination is the validity of the sale to Esperanza M. the last purchaser. vs. still the non-registration would not avail the plaintiff because it was due to no other cause than his own opposition. Manresa.R.) The above provision and comment make it clear that when Catalina Navarro Vda. — That on April 15. defendant-appellant. — That on May 24. — hat upon the death of L.G. that she needed money for the support of her children. Winstanley and Catalina Navarro were husband and wife. If registration were necessary. IBARLE. The fact that it has not been recorded is of no consequence. the pertinent parts of which are thus summarized in the appealed decision: 1st. — That on January 17. On the other hand.
made in said decision. a Chinaman. were presented to show that she had been legally married to Yap Siong. having been legally joined to him in holy wedlock on the 24th day of June. Philippine Islands. lawfully joined to him in holy wedlock in China on the 14th day of September. 1924 In re estate of JOSE YAP SIONG. MARIA LAO and JOSE LAO.4. G. and that Exhibit A was the ordinary and customary document issued to prove that the ceremony of marriage had taken place. that she and Yap Siong were joined in the holy wedlock on the 14th day of September. DEE TIM. Yap Siong died in the municipality of Angeles. Yap Kim Seng. the petitioner presented Exhibits 2.R. F. Jan Peng. J. I. He further testified that Exhibit A was the usual and ordinary proof. A number of other documents (Exhibits 9 to 13) were presented to show that Yap Siong had admitted that he was a married man. Said exhibits are alleged letters supposed to have been written by an . vs. He described in detail the ceremony of marriage performed in accordance with the customs and practice in China. H. Ty Cong Ting. and 8. born of her marriage with Yap Siong. To support that contention she presented what she contended was a certificate of marriage. and J. the legal attorney of the Chinese Consul General in the City of Manila. or certificate. G. 1893. 1893. petitioners-appellees. Mr. at the time he declared as a witness. and that the said Yap Kim Ting. She contended that Exhibit A was positive proof of her marriage and that it complied with the custom and practice in China with reference to marriage ceremonies. swore that he knew the forms of ceremonies of marriage in China.5. to the estate of Yap Siong. JOHNSON. E. and Yap Hu Cho were her legitimate children. YAP KIM TING. 1922. of the right of the plaintitff and/or the Canoy spouses to bring such action against Catalina Navarro Vda. In support of the contention of the petitioners. He further testified that Exhibit A was the usual proof or certificate issued for the purpose of proving that a marriage ceremony had taken place. The respondent Dee Tim presented a great deal of proof to show that she was the legitimate wife of Yap Siong.3. He testified that he knew and was well acquainted with the customs and practices of Chinamen in China with reference to marriages and the manner and form in which they were celebrated. in the Philippine Islands (Exhibit 1) and that Jose Lao is a legitimate child born of that marriage. a great deal of proof was presented. YAP KIM SENG. During the course of the administration and distribution of the estate there appeared the petitioners and the respondents.The decision will be affirmed subject to the reservation. and YAP HU CHO. in accordance with the laws of China (Exhibits A and A-1). and the form of proof issued for the purpose of proving that a marriage ceremony had been performed. deceased. each claiming to be the legitimate heirs of Yap Siong and entitled to his estate. 32 years of age and a lawyer. deceased. Yap Kim Seng. Ty Cong Ting was. Abaya for appellants. and Yap Hu Cho were her legitimate children born of that wedlock. Upon the other hand Dee Tim claims to be the legitimate widow of Yap Siong. To further sustain her contention she presented Exhibits B. a Chinaman of 52 years of age. Exhibits 1 and 1-A. certificates of marriage. as heirs. Dee Tim also presented a witness. The respondent Dee Tim presented several witnesses who confirmed her contention that she was the legitimate wife of Yap Siong and that her three children Yap Kim Ting. Maria Lao and her son Jose Lao. if it may be called a certificate. C.6. who testified concerning the laws and customs in China with reference to the forms of marriage ceremony. No. documents in which Yap Siong had expressly recognized his marriage to her. An administrator was appointed to administer his estate. leaving a considerable amount of property to be distributed among his heirs. de Winstanley as may be appropriate for such damages as they may have incurred by reason of the voiding of the sale in their favor. issued to show that a marriage ceremony had been performed between the persons mentioned therein. and that they are therefore entitled. D. marked Exhibit A — Exhibit A1. 1903. The petitioner Maria Lao claims to be the legitimate widow of Yap Siong.7. Province of Pampanga. Salvador Barrios and Gabino S. Felix B. Exhibits 14 to 17 were presented for the purpose of proving that Yap Siong had admitted in a public document that Maria Lao was his wife. To support her contention she presented a number of witnesses. Bautista and Jose Gutierrez David for appellees. respondents-appellants.: It appears from the record that on the 5th day of September. L-21017 February 25. To overcome the proof adduced by Dee Tim in support of her marriage to Yap Siong.
urging him to return to China for the purpose of marrying. for the same reason. was born on the first day of January. It is also perhaps true. 1923. we are fully convinced that a preponderance of the evidence shows that both Dee Tim and Maria Lao were legally married to Yap Siong in good faith. and we believe that was the real opinion of the trial court. moreover. without any knowledge or information or suspicion to the contrary. by the testimony of a number of witnesses to the fact that Yap Siong had on numerous occassions asserted that Maria Lao was his querida only. and that they had no reason to believe. a natural son of Maria Lao. which shows that Maria Lao was responsible for the facts which they contain. by presenting Exhibits L and LL. we are now inclined to believe that said letters were fabricated for the very purpose of defeating the contention of Dee Tim. and places in the year 1897. while Exhibit L certifies that the baptism took place on the 5th day of January. Exhibit LL is a certificate of birth issued by the secretary of the municipality of Angeles. and that Jose Lao is the legitimate child born of that marriage of Yap Siong and Maria Lao. a natural son of Maria Lao. We are now persuaded that said letters are pure fabrications. and until a distribution of his large accumulated earnings among his heirs became necessary. a child. 1904. The respondents further attempted to show that Yap Siong and Maria Lao had never been joined legally in holy wedlock. and that he never left that municipality. and Yap Hu Cho were the legitimate children born of that wedlock. and they testified positively as to exact dates. It is perhaps true that Yap Siong did on various occasions. until after the death of Yap Siong. The testimony which they gave was given in the month of January. Evidently he was attempting to keep the information. There is nothing. that he was legally married to the petitioner herein. why the parish priest of the municipality of Angeles stated in his certificate that the father of the child. Upon the contrary there is much proof in the record that Yap Siong returned to China a number of times after his first arrival here. times. state that Maria Lao was his querida and not his wife. however. that Dee Tim and her said children were ignorant of the fact that Yap Siong had legally married Maria Lao. (2) That Maria Lao was legally married to Yap Siong on the 24th day of June. Their testimony contains no facts. They were each married in good faith . living in absolute ignorance of the fact of his double marriage. her son. and that at that time he was living in the municipality of Bacolor. 1893. 1893. of the Province of Pampanga. It is apparent therefore that the facts stated in one or the other of said exhibits are untrue. A careful reading of their testimony. The petitioner further presents two or three witnesses for the purpose of showing that the marriage between Dee Tim and Yap Siong never took place for the reason that Yap Siong was in the Philippine Islands on the 14th day of September. however. in Exhibits L or LL. thus attempting to establish the fact that Yap Siong during that period was not a married man. when we consider the customs of the Filipino people in their relation with the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church. in which it is made to appear that on the 5th day of January. that said exhibits should not be admitted as proof to sustain the fact for which they were presented. Exhibit LL certifies that Jose Martin Lao was born on the first day of January. 1904. then Jose Martin. and considering all of the facts of the record. There is a notable conflict between Exhibits L and LL. depending upon his interest and convenience at the particular time. that he was quite able to do. They were not identified properly by persons who had reason to know that they were genuine in character and were actually prepared in China and sent to Yap Siong in the Philippine Islands. 1904. or peculiar circumstances or conditions which caused them to remember the particular facts concerning which they testified. believing that each was his sole and separate wife. does not convince us that it is altogether reliable. in which it appears that Jose Martin Lao. and that the child was then 34 days old. we are forced to the conclusion that a preponderance of the evidence shows the following: (1) That Dee Tim and Yap Siong were legally married in China in accordance with the laws and customs in China on the 14th day of September. were not the legitimate wife and son of Yap Siong. Exhibit LL contains the statement that the facts therein were not obtained from Maria Lao but from one Isabelo Lao. Yap Kim Seng. and whose father was unknown. and that Jose Lao was born of that wedlock. The respondents further attempted to show that Maria Lao and Jose Lao. 1904. 1903. was unknown. When we first studied the record in this case we were inclined to give said letters great credit. The petitioner further presents some proof to show that Yap Siong had admitted on several occasions that Dee Tim was his querida and not his wife. Exhibit L is the baptismal certificate issued by the parish priest of the municipality of Angeles. or data. in good faith believing that Yap Siong was not then a married man. but upon a further examination of the record and a further argument by the respective parties. that Yap Kim Ting. in view of the alleged fact that Maria Lao and Yap Siong had been joined in holy matrimony under the forms of the Protestant Church. that he stated that Dee Tim was not his wife but his querida. it is easily understood. They gave no reason why they were able to remember the exact whereabouts of Yap Siong during the period to which their testimony referred. he baptized a child named Jose Martin. And. From all of the foregoing conflicting facts.uncle in China of Yap Siong during the years 1900 to 1906. In other words. until he had passed to that bourn from which none returns. We are of the opinion.
]. Clendenning.. Ann. And without any finding as to costs. how must the property of Yap Siong be divided between the two families? Under theLeyes de Partidas (Law 1. Patton vs. 587. for the reason that in each of said cases a preponderance of the evidence showed that no legal marriage had been performed in China. Gaines vs. 503. their children born will be regarded as legitimate children and each family will be entitled to one-half of the estate of the husband upon distribution of his estate. where two women innocently and in good faith are legally united in holy matrimony to the same man. 298. 65 U. 15 La. 2 Cal. 7 Martin [La..S..].) The foregoing conclusions in no way conflict with the decision of this court in the case of Sy Joc Lieng vs. The good faith of all the parties will be presumed until the contrary is positively proved. Estate of Navarro.. That provision of the Leyes de Partidas is a very humane and wise law.) A woman who is deceived by a man who represents himself as single and who marries him. Ex parte Myra Clarke Whitney. The common law allowing none of the incidents of a true marriage to follow another marriage entered into during the continuance of a first. Ann. 563. . 391. Yap Siong up to the time of his death seems to have been successful in keeping each of his two wives ignorant of the fact that he was married to the other. Bennet. 114. 1 La. 137. Cities of Philadelphia and New Orleans. Glass. 65 U. Graham vs. Civil Code. Therefore the conclusion reached in the decision heretofore announced by this court in the present case is hereby set aside and it is hereby ordered and decreed that the judgment of the lower court be revoked and that the estate of Yap Siong be divided equally. she and her children born while the deception lasted. 553. Cheong Seng Gee (43 Phil. 1 Tex. (Glass vs. 98. and specially upon the offspring of such second marriage.S. Dyer vs. 823.S. 38 U. Hennen. 16 Abbot's Practice [N. Clendenning vs. 121]. under the Spanish Law. It justly protects those who innocently have entered into the solemn relation of marriage and their descendants. Dec. Abston.Encarnacion (16 Phil. that is. 24 La.. Spicer. Under the foregoing facts.. was early found to work a great injustice upon the innocent parties to the second marriage. S. Smith vs. 39 La. In re Taylor. Spicer vs. 43)... 621 [46 Am. Ann.. Hennen.. Jose Lao. partida 4). Smith. section 96. 404..Brannock.. both England and many of the states of the United States adopted statutes. 114 Mass. 137) nor with the decision of Adong vs.. one-half going to Maria Lao and her son. Las Leyes de Matrimonio. title 13. it so ordered. are entitled to all the rights of a legitimate wife and children. 553. 66 Mo.. Ann. Gaines vs. that the alleged Chines wife and the deceased in each of those cases had never been legally married. (Article 69. To remedy that hardship under the common law and following the wise jurisprudence of Spain. and the other one-half to Dee Tim and her three children.and in ignorance of the existence of the other marriage. Abston vs.
and Margariat Lopez appealed. and secondly. Lopez. 1924. MARGARITA LOPEZ. no testamentary provision shall be valid when made by a ward in favor of his guardian before the final accounts of the latter have been approved. Luz Lopez de Bueno. first when the two or more persons are called to the same inheritance or the same portion thereof without special designation of shares. Vicente F. Tomas Rodriguez. and the testator. claims said half by the intestate succession as next of kin and nearest heir. In the case before us we have a will calling Vicente F. vs.: This appeal involves a controversy over one-half of the estate of Tomas Rodriguez. and no such accounts had been presented by him at the time of his death.R. We now pass to article 982 of the Civil Code. The facts necessary to an understanding of the case are these: On January 3. and LUZ LOPEZ DE BUENO. therefore. but a special incapacity due to the accidental relation of guardian and ward existing between the parties. The trial court decided the point of controversy in favor of Luz Lopez de Bueno. decedent. 772). Prior to the time of the execution of this will the testator. 48 Phil. in the second clause of which he declared: I institute as the only and universal heirs to all my property. Lopez was not any general incapacity on his part. Margariat Lopez was a cousin and nearest relative of the decedent. Tomas Rodriguez executed his last will and testament. as guardian. Luz Lopez de Bueno. Lopez and his daughter. Our discussion of the legal problem presented should begin with article 753 of the Civil Code which in effect declares that. 1924. The appellant. in effect. and the provision made in the will of Tomas Rodriguez in favor of Vicente F. one of the persons named as heir has predeceased the testator. Luz Lopez de Bueno. and its effect is to give to the survivor. . or only four days after the will above-mentioned was made. Lopez. MANUEL TORRES. 1924. STREET. L-25966 November 1. while the appellee. Lopez died. claims the same by accredition and in the character of universal heir the will of the decedent. special administrator. has been admitted to probate by judicial determination (Torres and Lopez de Buenovs. This article (982) is therefore also of exact application to the case in hand. 1926 In the matter of the estate of Tomas Rodriguez. not only the undivided half which she would have received in conjunction with her father if he had been alive and qualified to take. to the same inheritance without special designation of shares. Lopez and his daughter Luz Lopez de Bueno. Lopez had not presented his final accounts as guardian. On January 7. Marcaida. my cousin Vicente F. In addition to this. defining the right of accretion.Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G. It is there declared. There was no error whatever. when one of the persons so called dies before the testator or renounces the inheritance or is disqualifying to receive it. No. Araneta and Zaragoza for appellee. thereafter. died on February 25. in the order of the trial court declaring Luz Lopez de Bueno entitled to the whole estate.. deceased. Tomas Rodriguez. At the time the will was made Vicente F. The will referred to. This provision is of undoubted application to the situation before us. opponent-appellant. that accretion take place in a testamentary succession. Capili and Ocampo and Camus. had been judicially declared incapable of taking care of himself and had been placed under the care of his cousin Vicente F. and after having been contested. appellee. this person being also disqualified to receive the estate even if he had been alive at the time of the testator's death. Delgado and Recto for appellant. with certain exceptions in favor of near relatives. J. Margarita Lopez. but also the half which pertained to him. heir.
article 986 of the Civil Code affords independent proof that intestate succession to a vacant portion can only occur when accretion is impossible. accretion occurs when one of the persons called to inherit under the will is disqualified to receive the inheritance (incapaz de recibirla). if the condition be not fulfilled. 285-287. 373. partial testacy systems a presumption against it. under paragraph 4 of article 912. among other things. by which the more specific is held to control the general. The judgment appealed from will be affirmed. Upon these provisions an argument is planted conducting to the conclusion that the will of Tomas Rodriguez was valid. as it does. The attorneys for the appellant direct attention to the fact that. In Roman law. VII. Romualdez and Villa-Real. therefore. J. and at any rate the disability to which Vicente F. and in case of conflict between two provisions the more general is to be considered as being limited by the more specific. under the last provision in paragraph 2 of article 982. that a will may be valid even though the person instituted as heir is disqualified to inherit. if he dies before the testator. id. Indeed. 225. the provisions of the former article must be considered limited by the latter. and it is contended that the disability of Vicente F. yet it must be so understood. Avanceña. 186). in subsection 3 of article 912 the provision with respect to intestate succession is expressly subordinated to article 983 by the expression "and (if) there is no right of accretion.. I. In this connection attention is directed to article 764 of the Civil Code wherein it is declared. 13 Mucius Scaevola. In addition to this. amounting to a mild presumption. . without being limited. pp. Johns. A distinction is then drawn between incapacity to succeed and incapacity to take. As between articles 912 and 983." It is true that the same express qualification is not found in subsection 4 of article 912. 4th ed. Lopez was such as to bring the case under article 912 rather than 982. tend to the conclusion that the right of accretion with regard to portions of an inheritance left vacant by the death or disqualification of one of the heirs or his renunciation of the inheritance is governed by article 912. pp. — a presumption which has its basis in the supposed intention of the testator. C. in view of the rule of interpretation above referred to. this interpretation supplies the only possible means of harmonizing the two provisions. 16 Mucius Scaevola. vol. Lopez was subject was not a general disability to succeed but an accidental incapacity to receive the legacy. (Diccionario de Legislacion y Jurisprudencia. vol. a consideration which makes a case for accretion rather than for intestate succession. to the extent supposed in appellant's brief. against partial intestacy. while. defining the particular conditions under which accretion takes place.net In conclusion it may be worth observing that there has always existed both in the civil and in the common law a certain legal intendment. 310. as is well known. and it is so ordered. with costs against the appellant.. or if he becomes otherwise incapacitated. The opinions of the commentators. intestate succession occurs when the heir instituted is disqualified to succeed ( incapaz de suceder). Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.) lawphil. . dealing. 34. that legal succession takes place if the heir dies before the testator and also when the heir instituted is disqualified to succeed. In case of conflict. Villamor. concur. Says Escriche: "It is to be understood that one of the coheirs or colegatees fails if nonexistent at the time of the making of the will... We are the opinion that this contention is untenable and that the appellee clearly has the better right. 1993 . so far as they have expressed themselves on the subject. 74695 September 14. among other things. by provisions of the Code relative to intestate succession (Manresa. it is obvious that the former is the more general of the two. 311. Comentarios al Codigo Civil Español. Our attention is next invited to article 912 wherein it is declared. notwithstanding the fact that one of the individuals named as heirs in the will was disqualified to take. We are of the opinion that the case cannot be made to turn upon so refined an interpretation of the language of the Code. In playing the provisions of the Code it is the duty of the court to harmonize its provisions as far as possible. 372. and that as a consequence Margarita Lopez s entitled to inherit the share of said disqualified heir. Lopez and that this half has descended to the appellant. Besides. . JJ. Ostrand.R. No. as next of kin and sole heir at law of the decedent. giving due effect to all. with the general topic of intestate succession while the latter is more specific. or he renounces the inheritance or legacy. Margarita Lopez.The argument in favor of the appellant supposes that there has supervened a partial intestacy with respect to the half of the estate which was intended for Vicente F. p.
However. LEONOR INES LUCIANO. private respondent. it was private respondent who read it aloud in his presence and in the presence of the three instrumental witnesses (same as those of the notarial will) and the notary public who followed the reading using their own copies. the notary public and by private respondent who were present at the execution. Instead. HON. the 79-year old Brigido Alvarado executed a notarial will entitled "Huling Habilin" wherein he disinherited an illegitimate son (petitioner) and expressly revoked a previously executed holographic will at the time awaiting probate before Branch 4 of the Regional Trial Court of sta. HON. The issues now before us can be stated thus: Was Brigido Alvarado blind for purpose of Art. that the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick. 5Petitioner. BELLOSILLO. or influence of fear and threats. Associate Justices. that the will was executed under duress. now Regional Trial Court. Laguna. A petition for the probate of the notarial will and codicil was filed upon the testator's death on 3 January 1979 by private respondent as executor with the Court of First Instance. As testified to by the three instrumental witnesses. vs. Laguna. CESAR ALVARADO. Intermediate Appellate Court. that assuming his blindness. Vicente R. his vision on both eyes was only of "counting fingers at . The latter four followed the reading with their own respective copies previously furnished them. and BAYANI MA. 808 of the Civil Code was admittedly not complied with. Instead. Laguna. JR. which affirmed the Order dated 27 June 1983 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Sta. 808 was not followed to the letter. and lastly. The appellate court then concluded that although Art. that it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiary who stands to get the lion's share of the testator's estate. MA. filed an Opposition on the following grounds: that the will sought to be probated was not executed and attested as required by law. Redor for petitioner. that the testator was insane or otherwise mentally incapacitated to make a will at the time of its execution due to senility and old age. the testator did not read the final draft of the will himself. On 11 April 1986. On 5 November 1977. a Probate Order was issued on 27 June 1983 from which an appeal was made to respondent court. the reading requirement of Art. J. read the same aloud in the presence of the testator. Brigido's holographic will was subsequently admitted to probate on 9 December 1977. petitioner. But the disinheritance and revocatory clauses were unchanged. probate of the deceased's last will and codicil should have been denied. was the double-reading requirement of said article complied with? Regarding the first issue. As in the case of the notarial will. When the oppositor (petitioner) failed to substantiate the grounds relied upon in the Opposition. The main thrust of the appeal was that the deceased was blind within the meaning of the law at the time his "Huling Habilin" and the codicil attached thereto was executed. the testator did not personally read the final draft of the codicil. there is no dispute on the following facts: Brigido Alvarado was not totally blind at the time the will and codicil were executed. of Siniloan. Cruz. RINO. Cruz. 808 was substantially complied with when both documents were read aloud to the testator with each of the three instrumental witnesses and the notary public following the reading with their respective copies of the instruments. Meanwhile. ROSARIO QUETULIO LOSA and HON. Presiding Justice. First Division (Civil Cases).In the Matter of the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of the Deceased Brigido Alvarado. RAMON G. a codicil entitled "Kasulatan ng Pagbabago sa Ilang Pagpapasiya na Nasasaad sa Huling Habilin na may Petsa Nobiembre 5. Rino for and in his own behalf. GAVIOLA. Bayani Ma. there was substantial compliance since its purpose of making known to the testator the contents of the drafted will was served. that since the reading required by Art. respondents.. 1977 ni Brigido Alvarado" was executed changing some dispositions in the notarial will to generate cash for the testator's eye operation. 808 at the time his "Huling Habilin" and its codicil were executed? If so. as the lawyer who drafted the eight-paged document. the Court of Appeals rendered the decision under review with the following findings: that Brigido Alvarado was not blind at the time his last will and codicil were executed. On the 29th day of the same month. the three instrumental witnesses and the notary public.: Before us is an appeal from the Decision dated 11 April 1986 1 of the First Civil Cases Division of the then Intermediate Appellate Court. in turn. Brigido was then suffering from glaucoma. admitting to probate the last will and testament 3 with codicil 4 of the late Brigido Alvarado. now Court of Appeals.
7 Dr. Regardless of respondent's staunch contention that the testator was still capable of reading at the time his will and codicil were prepared. 808. the reason being that the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills are intended to protect the testator from all kinds of fraud and trickery but are never intended to be so rigid and inflexible as to destroy the testamentary privilege. Director of the Institute of Opthalmology (Philippine Eye Research Institute). held that the testator could still read on the day the will and the codicil were executed but chose not to do so because of "poor eyesight. the Court of Appeals. so that he may be able to object if they are not in accordance with his wishes . Clear from the foregoing is that Art. Petitioner contends that although his father was not totally blind when the will and codicil were executed. once. again. 808 need not be complied with. the will shall be read twice. to consider his will as validly executed and entitled to probate. once. 808 applies not only to blind testators but also to those who. We sustain private respondent's stand and necessarily. Vasquez 13 provides an insight into the scope of the term "blindness" as used in Art. whose expertise was admitted by private respondent. This Court has held in a number of occasions that substantial compliance is acceptable where the purpose of the law has been satisfied. The point of dispute is whether the foregoing circumstances would qualify Brigido as a "blind" testator under Art. is to make the provisions thereof known to him. Instead of the notary public and an instrumental witness. he can be so considered within the scope of the term as it is used in Art. Hence. Article 808 requires that in case of testators like Brigido Alvarado. 808 requires. the fact remains and this was testified to by his witnesses.three (3) feet" by reason of the glaucoma which he had been suffering from for several years and even prior to his first consultation with an eye specialist on 14 December 1977. . there can be no other course for us but to conclude that Brigido Alvarado comes within the scope of the term "blind" as it is used in Art. by one of the subscribing witnesses. Salceda. 6 the contents of which were interpreted in layman's terms by Dr. To support his stand. it was the lawyer (private respondent) who drafted the eight-paged will and the five-paged codicil who read the same aloud to the testator. the will shall be read to him twice." 9 Since the testator was still capable of reading at that time." 10 "defective. the court a quo concluded that Art. it is essential that we ascertain whether Art." Since Brigido Alvarado was incapable of reading the final drafts of his will and codicil on the separate occasions of their execution due to his "poor. . are "incapable of reading the(ir) will(s). The purpose is to make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the document before signing and to give him an opportunity to object if anything is contrary to his instructions. probate of the latter's will and codicil should have been disallowed. 808 was not followed strictly is beyond cavil. to wit: The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading the will himself (as when he is illiterate) . he could no longer read either printed or handwritten matters as of 14 December 1977. Ruperto Roasa. The following pronouncement in Garcia vs. he had no way of ascertaining whether or not the lawyer who drafted the will and codicil did so confortably with his instructions. 8 On the other hand. 808 which reads: Art. contrary to the medical testimony. That Art." 11 or "blurred" 12 vision making it necessary for private respondent to do the actual reading for him." "defective. On the other hand. If the testator is blind. 808. the petition must be denied. the day of his first consultation. Salvador R. petitioner maintains that the only valid compliance or compliance to the letter and since it is admitted that neither the notary public nor an instrumental witness read the contents of the will and codicil to Brigido." or "blurred" vision. Roasa explained that although the testator could visualize fingers at three (3) feet. that Brigido did not do so because of his "poor. 808 had been complied with. by the notary public before whom the will was acknowledged. by the notary public before whom the will is acknowledged. 808. and read them only once. and again. by one of the instrumental witnesses and. for one reason or another. Unless the contents were read to him. We agree with petitioner in this respect. not twice as Art. petitioner presented before the trial court a medical certificate issued by Dr. Private respondent however insists that there was substantial compliance and that the single reading suffices for purposes of the law. 808. 14 .
any other interpretation whatsoever. Brigido Alvarado had expressed his last wishes in clear and unmistakable terms in his "Huling Habilin" and the codicil attached thereto. Only then did the signing and acknowledgement take place. SO ORDERED. L-58509 December 7.. Considering the length of time that this case has remained pending. i. Atty. Griño-Aquino. and Quiason. it can be safely concluded that the testator was reasonably assured that what was read to him (those which he affirmed were in accordance with his instructions). This is especially true when we consider the fact that the three instrumental witnesses were persons known to the testator. petitioner-appellant. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends. concur. were the terms actually appearing on the typewritten documents. upon being asked.. oppositors-appellees. the testator affirmed. There is no evidence. 18 to wit: The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud. AMPARO ARANZA. 15 Moreover. useless and frustrative of the testator's will. JJ. . and the notary public. MARCELA RODELAS. WHEREFORE. No.In the case at bar. Rino who read the documents on 5 November and 29 December 1977. to avoid the substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. and petitioner does not so allege.. Rino is that Brigido Alvarado already acknowledged that the will was drafted in accordance with his expressed wishes even prior to 5 November 1977 when Atty. 16 With four persons following the reading word for word with their own copies. Therefore the laws on the subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G. Although there should be strict compliance with the substantial requirements of the law in order to insure the authenticity of the will. The notary public and the three instrumental witnesses likewise read the will and codicil. this decision is immediately executory. vs. it was not only Atty. that the contents read corresponded with his instructions. LORENZO SUMULONG. To reiterate. one being his physician (Dr. Prior and subsequent thereto.e. also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. The uncontradicted testimony of Atty. Ranieses) being known to him since childhood. intervenor. 1982 IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF RICARDO B. The spirit behind the law was served though the letter was not. ET AL. We are unwilling to cast these aside fro the mere reason that a legal requirement intended for his protection was not followed strictly when such compliance had been rendered unnecessary by the fact that the purpose of the law. Jr. when taken into account. his three instrumental witnesses. to make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the draft of his will. private respondent read the testator's will and codicil aloud in the presence of the testator. 17 As a final word to convince petitioner of the propriety of the trial court's Probate Order and its affirmance by the Court of Appeals. ATTY. Brigido answered in the affirmative. that the contents of the will and codicil were not sufficiently made known and communicated to the testator. Afterwards. Costs against petitioner. Crescente O." the day of the execution was not the first time that Brigido had affirmed the truth and authenticity of the contents of the draft.R. the petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of respondent Court of Appeals dated 11 April 1986 is AFFIRMED. Abangan. On the contrary. Evidente (one of the three instrumental witnesses and the testator's physician) asked the testator whether the contents of the document were of his own free will. substantial compliance suffices where the purpose has been served. Nonia de la Pena (the notary public) and Dr. Davide. Cruz. albeit silently. Rino went to the testator's residence precisely for the purpose of securing his conformity to the draft. with respect to the "Huling Habilin. may only defeat the testator's will. the formal imperfections should be brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and which. But. Evidente) and another (Potenciano C. that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary. must be disregarded (emphasis supplied). BONILLA deceased. we quote the following pronouncement in Abangan v. had already been accomplished. on the other hand.
Luciano A.. a copy thereof cannot stand in lieu of the original. J. to which the appellant in turn filed an opposition. Bonilla and the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor. 1977. The petition. 509. As found by the Court of Appeals: . Joson for petitioner-appellant. On January 11.and not an alleged copy thereof. 1979. It is our considered opinion that once the original copy of the holographic will is lost. Bonilla died on May 13. The court said: . executed and attested as required by law. the fact that the original of the will could not be located shows to our mind that the decedent had discarded before his death his allegedly missing Holographic Will. otherwise it would produce no effect. Bonilla. 1979. holographic or otherwise. Proc. 1978. Cesar Paralejo for oppositor-appellee. Their motion was granted by the court in an order dated April 4. The appellees then filed a motion for reconsideration on the ground that the order was contrary to law and settled pronouncements and rulings of the Supreme Court. In the case of Gam vs. appellant filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal for the probate of the holographic will of Ricardo B. 8275). and (2) Lost or destroyed holographic wills cannot be proved by secondary evidence unlike ordinary wills. . 522. Yap. They argued that: (1) The alleged holographic was not a last will but merely an instruction as to the management and improvement of the schools and colleges founded by decedent Ricardo B. 104 Phil.. MOREOVER. docketed as Sp. No. the Supreme Court held that 'in the matter of holographic wills the law. 1962 while Ricardo B. the motion to dismiss was denied by the court in its order of February 23. Upon opposition of the appellant. Proc. 104 Phil. 1979 and dismissed the petition for the probate of the will of Ricardo B. Rule 50 of the Rules of Court. On November 13. 509. 1976. following the consolidation of the cases. and therefore it was not a will (3) The alleged hollographic will itself. Wilferine Bonilla Treyes Expedita Bonilla Frias and Ephraim Bonilla on the following grounds: (1) Appellant was estopped from claiming that the deceased left a will by failing to produce the will within twenty days of the death of the testator as required by Rule 75. RELOVA. the court set aside its order of February 23. Yap. and (4 ) The deceased did not leave any will. Bonilla. this Court notes that the alleged holographic will was executed on January 25.. section 2 of the Rules of Court. On July 23. No. the appellees moved again to dismiss the petition for the probate of the will. 8432. was opposed by the appellees Amparo Aranza Bonilla.. 1977. (2) The alleged copy of the alleged holographic will did not contain a disposition of property after death and was not intended to take effect after death. In view of the lapse of more than 14 years from the time of the execution of the will to the death of the decedent.: This case was certified to this Tribunal by the Court of Appeals for final determination pursuant to Section 3. The appellees likewise moved for the consolidation of the case with another case Sp. as held in Gam v. must be produced. it is reasonable to suppose. regards the document itself as the material proof of authenticity of said wills.
If uncontested. II.J. Teehankee. experts may be resorted to. If contested. it says that "Perhaps it may be proved by a photographic or photostatic copy. is hereby SET ASIDE. it shall produce no effect. at least one Identifying witness is required and. whereby the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased may be exhibited and tested before the probate court. III. JJ. SO ORDERED. 1980. 104 PHIL. if the holographic will has been lost or destroyed and no other copy is available. 1979. On July 7. C. if no witness is available. concur.. Actg. Hence. WHEREFORE. . if any. The will itself must be presented. the photostatic or xerox copy of the lost or destroyed holographic will may be admitted because then the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased can be determined by the probate court. Pursuant to Article 811 of the Civil Code. the will can not be probated because the best and only evidence is the handwriting of the testator in said will. an appeal to the Court of Appeals in which it is contended that the dismissal of appellant's petition is contrary to law and well-settled jurisprudence. denying appellant's motion for reconsideration dated August 9. appellees moved to forward the case to this Court on the ground that the appeal does not involve question of fact and alleged that the trial court committed the following assigned errors: I. Yap. 509. in Footnote 8 of said decision. a photostatic copy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because comparison can be made with the standard writings of the testator. 1979. the Court ruled that "the execution and the contents of a lost or destroyed holographic will may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have seen and/or read such will. Melencio-Herrera. 1979. or by other similar means. at least three Identifying witnesses are required. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING APPELLANT'S WILL. Vasquez and Gutierrez.. Jr. It is necessary that there be a comparison between sample handwritten statements of the testator and the handwritten will.. Bonilla. Even a mimeographed or carbon copy. the order of the lower court dated October 3. probate of holographic wills is the allowance of the will by the court after its due execution has been proved. In the case of Gam vs." But." Evidently.Appellant's motion for reconsideration was denied. of the Order dated July 23. Plana. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE DECEDENT HAS DISCARDED BEFORE HIS DEATH THE MISSING HOLOGRAPHIC WILL. dismissing her petition to approve the will of the late Ricardo B. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT A LOST HOLOGRAPHIC WILL MAY NOT BE PROVED BY A COPY THEREOF. The only question here is whether a holographic will which was lost or cannot be found can be proved by means of a photostatic copy. otherwise. But. The probate may be uncontested or not. The law regards the document itself as material proof of authenticity. However.