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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No.

L-16749 January 31, 1963

IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN, DECEASED. ADOLFO C. AZNAR, Executor and LUCY CHRISTENSEN, Heir of the deceased, Executor and Heir-appellees, vs. HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA, oppositor-appellant. M. R. Sotelo for executor and heir-appellees. Leopoldo M. Abellera and Jovito Salonga for oppositor-appellant. LABRADOR, J.: This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Hon. Vicente N. Cusi, Jr., presiding, in Special Proceeding No. 622 of said court, dated September 14, 1949, approving among things the final accounts of the executor, directing the executor to reimburse Maria Lucy Christensen the amount of P3,600 paid by her to Helen Christensen Garcia as her legacy, and declaring Maria Lucy Christensen entitled to the residue of the property to be enjoyed during her lifetime, and in case of death without issue, one-half of said residue to be payable to Mrs. Carrie Louise C. Borton, etc., in accordance with the provisions of the will of the testator Edward E. Christensen. The will was executed in Manila on March 5, 1951 and contains the following provisions: 3. I declare ... that I have but ONE (1) child, named MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN (now Mrs. Bernard Daney), who was born in the Philippines about twenty-eight years ago, and who is now residing at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. 4. I further declare that I now have no living ascendants, and no descendants except my above named daughter, MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY. xxx xxx xxx

7. I give, devise and bequeath unto MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, now married to Eduardo Garcia, about eighteen years of age and who, notwithstanding the fact that she was baptized Christensen, is not in any way related to me, nor has she been at any time adopted by me, and who, from all information I have now resides in Egpit, Digos, Davao, Philippines, the sum of THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P3,600.00), Philippine Currency the same to be deposited in trust for the said Maria Helen Christensen with the Davao Branch of the Philippine National Bank, and paid to her at the rate of One Hundred Pesos (P100.00), Philippine Currency per month until the principal thereof as well as any interest which may have accrued thereon, is exhausted.. xxx xxx xxx

12. I hereby give, devise and bequeath, unto my well-beloved daughter, the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY (Mrs. Bernard Daney), now residing as aforesaid at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., all the income from the rest, remainder, and residue of my property and estate, real, personal and/or mixed, of whatsoever kind or character, and wheresoever situated, of which I may be possessed at my death and which may have come to me from any source whatsoever, during her lifetime: .... It is in accordance with the above-quoted provisions that the executor in his final account and project of partition ratified the payment of only P3,600 to Helen Christensen Garcia and proposed that the residue of the estate be transferred to his daughter, Maria Lucy Christensen. Opposition to the approval of the project of partition was filed by Helen Christensen Garcia, insofar as it deprives her (Helen) of her legitime as an acknowledged natural child, she having been declared by Us in G.R. Nos. L-11483-84 an

acknowledged natural child of the deceased Edward E. Christensen. The legal grounds of opposition are (a) that the distribution should be governed by the laws of the Philippines, and (b) that said order of distribution is contrary thereto insofar as it denies to Helen Christensen, one of two acknowledged natural children, one-half of the estate in full ownership. In amplification of the above grounds it was alleged that the law that should govern the estate of the deceased Christensen should not be the internal law of California alone, but the entire law thereof because several foreign elements are involved, that the forum is the Philippines and even if the case were decided in California, Section 946 of the California Civil Code, which requires that the domicile of the decedent should apply, should be applicable. It was also alleged that Maria Helen Christensen having been declared an acknowledged natural child of the decedent, she is deemed for all purposes legitimate from the time of her birth. The court below ruled that as Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United States and of the State of California at the time of his death, the successional rights and intrinsic validity of the provisions in his will are to be governed by the law of California, in accordance with which a testator has the right to dispose of his property in the way he desires, because the right of absolute dominion over his property is sacred and inviolable (In re McDaniel's Estate, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952, and In re Kaufman, 117 Cal. 286, 49 Pac. 192, cited in page 179, Record on Appeal). Oppositor Maria Helen Christensen, through counsel, filed various motions for reconsideration, but these were denied. Hence, this appeal. The most important assignments of error are as follows: I THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN IGNORING THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT THAT HELEN IS THE ACKNOWLEDGED NATURAL CHILD OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN AND, CONSEQUENTLY, IN DEPRIVING HER OF HER JUST SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE. II THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ENTIRELY IGNORING AND/OR FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THE EXISTENCE OF SEVERAL FACTORS, ELEMENTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES CALLING FOR THE APPLICATION OF INTERNAL LAW. III THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW, PARTICULARLY UNDER THE RENVOI DOCTRINE, THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE TESTAMENTARY DISPOSITION OF THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN SHOULD BE GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF THE PHILIPPINES. IV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE SCHEDULE OF DISTRIBUTION SUBMITTED BY THE EXECUTOR IS CONTRARY TO THE PHILIPPINE LAWS. V THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT UNDER THE PHILIPPINE LAWS HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA IS ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF (1/2) OF THE ESTATE IN FULL OWNERSHIP. There is no question that Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United States and of the State of California at the time of his death. But there is also no question that at the time of his death he was domiciled in the Philippines, as witness the following facts admitted by the executor himself in appellee's brief: In the proceedings for admission of the will to probate, the facts of record show that the deceased Edward E. Christensen was born on November 29, 1875 in New York City, N.Y., U.S.A.; his first arrival in the Philippines, as an appointed school teacher, was on July 1, 1901, on board the U.S. Army Transport "Sheridan" with Port of Embarkation as the City of San Francisco, in the State of California, U.S.A. He stayed in the Philippines until 1904. In December, 1904, Mr. Christensen returned to the United States and stayed there for the following nine years until 1913, during which time he resided in, and was teaching school in Sacramento, California.

Mr. Christensen's next arrival in the Philippines was in July of the year 1913. However, in 1928, he again departed the Philippines for the United States and came back here the following year, 1929. Some nine years later, in 1938, he again returned to his own country, and came back to the Philippines the following year, 1939. Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts.
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Being an American citizen, Mr. Christensen was interned by the Japanese Military Forces in the Philippines during World War II. Upon liberation, in April 1945, he left for the United States but returned to the Philippines in December, 1945. Appellees Collective Exhibits "6", CFI Davao, Sp. Proc. 622, as Exhibits "AA", "BB" and "CCDaney"; Exhs. "MM", "MM-l", "MM-2-Daney" and p. 473, t.s.n., July 21, 1953.) In April, 1951, Edward E. Christensen returned once more to California shortly after the making of his last will and testament (now in question herein) which he executed at his lawyers' offices in Manila on March 5, 1951. He died at the St. Luke's Hospital in the City of Manila on April 30, 1953. (pp. 2-3) In arriving at the conclusion that the domicile of the deceased is the Philippines, we are persuaded by the fact that he was born in New York, migrated to California and resided there for nine years, and since he came to the Philippines in 1913 he returned to California very rarely and only for short visits (perhaps to relatives), and considering that he appears never to have owned or acquired a home or properties in that state, which would indicate that he would ultimately abandon the Philippines and make home in the State of California. Sec. 16. Residence is a term used with many shades of meaning from mere temporary presence to the most permanent abode. Generally, however, it is used to denote something more than mere physical presence. (Goodrich on Conflict of Laws, p. 29) As to his citizenship, however, We find that the citizenship that he acquired in California when he resided in Sacramento, California from 1904 to 1913, was never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the United States (not a state) until 1946 and the deceased appears to have considered himself as a citizen of California by the fact that when he executed his will in 1951 he declared that he was a citizen of that State; so that he appears never to have intended to abandon his California citizenship by acquiring another. This conclusion is in accordance with the following principle expounded by Goodrich in his Conflict of Laws. The terms "'residence" and "domicile" might well be taken to mean the same thing, a place of permanent abode. But domicile, as has been shown, has acquired a technical meaning. Thus one may be domiciled in a place where he has never been. And he may reside in a place where he has no domicile. The man with two homes, between which he divides his time, certainly resides in each one, while living in it. But if he went on business which would require his presence for several weeks or months, he might properly be said to have sufficient connection with the place to be called a resident. It is clear, however, that, if he treated his settlement as continuing only for the particular business in hand, not giving up his former "home," he could not be a domiciled New Yorker. Acquisition of a domicile of choice requires the exercise of intention as well as physical presence. "Residence simply requires bodily presence of an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one's domicile." Residence, however, is a term used with many shades of meaning, from the merest temporary presence to the most permanent abode, and it is not safe to insist that any one use et the only proper one. (Goodrich, p. 29) The law that governs the validity of his testamentary dispositions is defined in Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which is as follows: ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country where said property may be found. The application of this article in the case at bar requires the determination of the meaning of the term "national law" is used therein.

There is no single American law governing the validity of testamentary provisions in the United States, each state of the Union having its own private law applicable to its citizens only and in force only within the state. The "national law" indicated in Article 16 of the Civil Code above quoted can not, therefore, possibly mean or apply to any general American law. So it can refer to no other than the private law of the State of California. The next question is: What is the law in California governing the disposition of personal property? The decision of the court below, sustains the contention of the executor-appellee that under the California Probate Code, a testator may dispose of his property by will in the form and manner he desires, citing the case of Estate of McDaniel, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952. But appellant invokes the provisions of Article 946 of the Civil Code of California, which is as follows: If there is no law to the contrary, in the place where personal property is situated, it is deemed to follow the person of its owner, and is governed by the law of his domicile. The existence of this provision is alleged in appellant's opposition and is not denied. We have checked it in the California Civil Code and it is there. Appellee, on the other hand, relies on the case cited in the decision and testified to by a witness. (Only the case of Kaufman is correctly cited.) It is argued on executor's behalf that as the deceased Christensen was a citizen of the State of California, the internal law thereof, which is that given in the abovecited case, should govern the determination of the validity of the testamentary provisions of Christensen's will, such law being in force in the State of California of which Christensen was a citizen. Appellant, on the other hand, insists that Article 946 should be applicable, and in accordance therewith and following the doctrine of the renvoi, the question of the validity of the testamentary provision in question should be referred back to the law of the decedent's domicile, which is the Philippines. The theory of doctrine of renvoi has been defined by various authors, thus: The problem has been stated in this way: "When the Conflict of Laws rule of the forum refers a jural matter to a foreign law for decision, is the reference to the purely internal rules of law of the foreign system; i.e., to the totality of the foreign law minus its Conflict of Laws rules?" On logic, the solution is not an easy one. The Michigan court chose to accept the renvoi, that is, applied the Conflict of Laws rule of Illinois which referred the matter back to Michigan law. But once having determined the the Conflict of Laws principle is the rule looked to, it is difficult to see why the reference back should not have been to Michigan Conflict of Laws. This would have resulted in the "endless chain of references" which has so often been criticized be legal writers. The opponents of the renvoi would have looked merely to the internal law of Illinois, thus rejecting the renvoi or the reference back. Yet there seems no compelling logical reason why the original reference should be the internal law rather than to the Conflict of Laws rule. It is true that such a solution avoids going on a merry-go-round, but those who have accepted the renvoi theory avoid this inextricabilis circulas by getting off at the second reference and at that point applying internal law. Perhaps the opponents of the renvoi are a bit more consistent for they look always to internal law as the rule of reference. Strangely enough, both the advocates for and the objectors to the renvoi plead that greater uniformity will result from adoption of their respective views. And still more strange is the fact that the only way to achieve uniformity in this choice-of-law problem is if in the dispute the two states whose laws form the legal basis of the litigation disagree as to whether the renvoi should be accepted. If both reject, or both accept the doctrine, the result of the litigation will vary with the choice of the forum. In the case stated above, had the Michigan court rejected the renvoi, judgment would have been against the woman; if the suit had been brought in the Illinois courts, and they too rejected the renvoi, judgment would be for the woman. The same result would happen, though the courts would switch with respect to which would hold liability, if both courts accepted the renvoi. The Restatement accepts the renvoi theory in two instances: where the title to land is in question, and where the validity of a decree of divorce is challenged. In these cases the Conflict of Laws rule of the situs of the land, or the domicile of the parties in the divorce case, is applied by the forum, but any further reference goes only to the internal law. Thus, a person's title to land, recognized by the situs, will be recognized by every court; and every divorce, valid by the domicile of the parties, will be valid everywhere. (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, Sec. 7, pp. 1314.) X, a citizen of Massachusetts, dies intestate, domiciled in France, leaving movable property in Massachusetts, England, and France. The question arises as to how this property is to be distributed among X's next of kin. Assume (1) that this question arises in a Massachusetts court. There the rule of the conflict of laws as to intestate succession to movables calls for an application of the law of the deceased's last domicile. Since by hypothesis X's

last domicile was France, the natural thing for the Massachusetts court to do would be to turn to French statute of distributions, or whatever corresponds thereto in French law, and decree a distribution accordingly. An examination of French law, however, would show that if a French court were called upon to determine how this property should be distributed, it would refer the distribution to the national law of the deceased, thus applying the Massachusetts statute of distributions. So on the surface of things the Massachusetts court has open to it alternative course of action: (a) either to apply the French law is to intestate succession, or (b) to resolve itself into a French court and apply the Massachusetts statute of distributions, on the assumption that this is what a French court would do. If it accepts the so-called renvoidoctrine, it will follow the latter course, thus applying its own law. This is one type of renvoi. A jural matter is presented which the conflict-of-laws rule of the forum refers to a foreign law, the conflict-of-laws rule of which, in turn, refers the matter back again to the law of the forum. This is renvoi in the narrower sense. The German term for this judicial process is 'Ruckverweisung.'" (Harvard Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 523-571.) After a decision has been arrived at that a foreign law is to be resorted to as governing a particular case, the further question may arise: Are the rules as to the conflict of laws contained in such foreign law also to be resorted to? This is a question which, while it has been considered by the courts in but a few instances, has been the subject of frequent discussion by textwriters and essayists; and the doctrine involved has been descriptively designated by them as the "Renvoyer" to send back, or the "Ruchversweisung", or the "Weiterverweisung", since an affirmative answer to the question postulated and the operation of the adoption of the foreign law in toto would in many cases result in returning the main controversy to be decided according to the law of the forum. ... (16 C.J.S. 872.) Another theory, known as the "doctrine of renvoi", has been advanced. The theory of the doctrine of renvoiis that the court of the forum, in determining the question before it, must take into account the whole law of the other jurisdiction, but also its rules as to conflict of laws, and then apply the law to the actual question which the rules of the other jurisdiction prescribe. This may be the law of the forum. The doctrine of the renvoi has generally been repudiated by the American authorities. (2 Am. Jur. 296) The scope of the theory of renvoi has also been defined and the reasons for its application in a country explained by Prof. Lorenzen in an article in the Yale Law Journal, Vol. 27, 1917-1918, pp. 529-531. The pertinent parts of the article are quoted herein below: The recognition of the renvoi theory implies that the rules of the conflict of laws are to be understood as incorporating not only the ordinary or internal law of the foreign state or country, but its rules of the conflict of laws as well. According to this theory 'the law of a country' means the whole of its law. xxx xxx xxx

Von Bar presented his views at the meeting of the Institute of International Law, at Neuchatel, in 1900, in the form of the following theses: (1) Every court shall observe the law of its country as regards the application of foreign laws. (2) Provided that no express provision to the contrary exists, the court shall respect: (a) The provisions of a foreign law which disclaims the right to bind its nationals abroad as regards their personal statute, and desires that said personal statute shall be determined by the law of the domicile, or even by the law of the place where the act in question occurred. (b) The decision of two or more foreign systems of law, provided it be certain that one of them is necessarily competent, which agree in attributing the determination of a question to the same system of law. xxx xxx xxx

If, for example, the English law directs its judge to distribute the personal estate of an Englishman who has died domiciled in Belgium in accordance with the law of his domicile, he must first inquire whether the law of Belgium would distribute personal property upon death in accordance with the law of domicile, and if he finds that the

Belgian law would make the distribution in accordance with the law of nationality that is the English law he must accept this reference back to his own law. We note that Article 946 of the California Civil Code is its conflict of laws rule, while the rule applied in In re Kaufman, Supra, its internal law. If the law on succession and the conflict of laws rules of California are to be enforced jointly, each in its own intended and appropriate sphere, the principle cited In re Kaufman should apply to citizens living in the State, but Article 946 should apply to such of its citizens as are not domiciled in California but in other jurisdictions. The rule laid down of resorting to the law of the domicile in the determination of matters with foreign element involved is in accord with the general principle of American law that the domiciliary law should govern in most matters or rights which follow the person of the owner. When a man dies leaving personal property in one or more states, and leaves a will directing the manner of distribution of the property, the law of the state where he was domiciled at the time of his death will be looked to in deciding legal questions about the will, almost as completely as the law of situs is consulted in questions about the devise of land. It is logical that, since the domiciliary rules control devolution of the personal estate in case of intestate succession, the same rules should determine the validity of an attempted testamentary dispostion of the property. Here, also, it is not that the domiciliary has effect beyond the borders of the domiciliary state. The rules of the domicile are recognized as controlling by the Conflict of Laws rules at the situs property, and the reason for the recognition as in the case of intestate succession, is the general convenience of the doctrine. The New York court has said on the point: 'The general principle that a dispostiton of a personal property, valid at the domicile of the owner, is valid anywhere, is one of the universal application. It had its origin in that international comity which was one of the first fruits of civilization, and it this age, when business intercourse and the process of accumulating property take but little notice of boundary lines, the practical wisdom and justice of the rule is more apparent than ever. (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, Sec. 164, pp. 442-443.) Appellees argue that what Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines pointed out as the national law is the internal law of California. But as above explained the laws of California have prescribed two sets of laws for its citizens, one for residents therein and another for those domiciled in other jurisdictions. Reason demands that We should enforce the California internal law prescribed for its citizens residing therein, and enforce the conflict of laws rules for the citizens domiciled abroad. If we must enforce the law of California as in comity we are bound to go, as so declared in Article 16 of our Civil Code, then we must enforce the law of California in accordance with the express mandate thereof and as above explained, i.e., apply the internal law for residents therein, and its conflict-of-laws rule for those domiciled abroad. It is argued on appellees' behalf that the clause "if there is no law to the contrary in the place where the property is situated" in Sec. 946 of the California Civil Code refers to Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines and that the law to the contrary in the Philippines is the provision in said Article 16 that the national law of the deceased should govern. This contention can not be sustained. As explained in the various authorities cited above the national law mentioned in Article 16 of our Civil Code is the law on conflict of laws in the California Civil Code, i.e., Article 946, which authorizes the reference or return of the question to the law of the testator's domicile. The conflict of laws rule in California, Article 946, Civil Code, precisely refers back the case, when a decedent is not domiciled in California, to the law of his domicile, the Philippines in the case at bar. The court of the domicile can not and should not refer the case back to California; such action would leave the issue incapable of determination because the case will then be like a football, tossed back and forth between the two states, between the country of which the decedent was a citizen and the country of his domicile. The Philippine court must apply its own law as directed in the conflict of laws rule of the state of the decedent, if the question has to be decided, especially as the application of the internal law of California provides no legitime for children while the Philippine law, Arts. 887(4) and 894, Civil Code of the Philippines, makes natural children legally acknowledged forced heirs of the parent recognizing them. The Philippine cases (In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156; Riera vs. Palmaroli, 40 Phil. 105; Miciano vs. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867; Babcock Templeton vs. Rider Babcock, 52 Phil. 130; and Gibbs vs. Government, 59 Phil. 293.) cited by appellees to support the decision can not possibly apply in the case at bar, for two important reasons, i.e., the subject in each case does not appear to be a citizen of a state in the United States but with domicile in the Philippines, and it does not appear in each case that there exists in the state of which the subject is a citizen, a law similar to or identical with Art. 946 of the California Civil Code. We therefore find that as the domicile of the deceased Christensen, a citizen of California, is the Philippines, the validity of the provisions of his will depriving his acknowledged natural child, the appellant, should be governed by the Philippine Law, the domicile, pursuant to Art. 946 of the Civil Code of California, not by the internal law of California.. WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby reversed and the case returned to the lower court with instructions that the partition be made as the Philippine law on succession provides. Judgment reversed, with costs against appellees.

Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, Barrera, Paredes, Dizon, Regala and Makalintal, JJ., concur. Bengzon, C.J., took no part.

AZNAR VS. GARCIA 7 S 95 Facts: Edward S. Christensen, though born in New York, migrated to California where he resided and consequently was considered a California Citizen for a period of nine years to 1913. He came to the Philippines where he became a domiciliary until the time of his death. However, during the entire period of his residence in this country, he had always considered himself as a citizen of California. In his will, executed on March 5, 1951, he instituted an acknowledged natural daughter, Maria Lucy Christensen as his only heir but left a legacy of some money in favor of Helen Christensen Garcia who, in a decision rendered by the Supreme Court had been declared as an acknowledged natural daughter of his. Counsel of Helen claims that under Art. 16 (2) of the civil code, California law should be applied, the matter is returned back to the law of domicile, that Philippine law is ultimately applicable, that the share of Helen must be increased in view of successional rights of illegitimate children under Philippine laws. On the other hand, counsel for daughter Maria , in as much that it is clear under Art, 16 (2) of the Mew Civil Code, the national of the deceased must apply, our courts must apply internal law of California on the matter. Under California law, there are no compulsory heirs and consequently a testator should dispose any property possessed by him in absolute dominion. Issue: Whether Philippine Law or California Law should apply.

Held: The Supreme Court deciding to grant more successional rights to Helen Christensen Garcia said in effect that there be two rules in California on the matter. 1. The conflict rule which should apply to Californians outside the California, and

2. The internal Law which should apply to California domiciles in califronia. The California conflict rule, found on Art. 946 of the California Civil code States that if there is no law to the contrary in the place where personal property is situated, it is deemed to follow the decree of its owner and is governed by the law of the domicile. Christensen being domiciled outside california, the law of his domicile, the Philippines is ought to be followed. Wherefore, the decision appealed is reversed and case is remanded to the lower court with instructions that partition be made as that of the Philippine law provides.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-23678 June 6, 1967

TESTATE ESTATE OF AMOS G. BELLIS, deceased. PEOPLE'S BANK and TRUST COMPANY, executor. MARIA CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM PALMA BELLIS, oppositors-appellants, vs. EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-appellees. Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for oppositors appellants. Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for heirs-appellees E. A. Bellis, et al. Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, et al. J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & Trust Company. Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for appellee A. B. Allsman. BENGZON, J.P., J.: This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question purely of law, from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila dated April 30, 1964, approving the project of partition filed by the executor in Civil Case No. 37089 therein.
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The facts of the case are as follows: Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States." By his first wife, Mary E. Mallen, whom he divorced, he had five legitimate children: Edward A. Bellis, George Bellis (who pre-deceased him in infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman; by his second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived him, he had three legitimate children: Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three illegitimate children: Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis. On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the Philippines, in which he directed that after all taxes, obligations, and expenses of administration are paid for, his distributable estate should be divided, in trust, in the following order and manner: (a) $240,000.00 to his first wife, Mary E. Mallen; (b) P120,000.00 to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam Palma Bellis, or P40,000.00 each and (c) after the foregoing two items have been satisfied, the remainder shall go to his seven surviving children by his first and second wives, namely: Edward A. Bellis, Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis, and Dorothy E. Bellis, in equal shares.
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Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G. Bellis died a resident of San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. His will was admitted to probate in the Court of First Instance of Manila on September 15, 1958. The People's Bank and Trust Company, as executor of the will, paid all the bequests therein including the amount of $240,000.00 in the form of shares of stock to Mary E. Mallen and to the three (3) illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis, various amounts totalling P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their respective legacies, or a total of P120,000.00, which it released from time to time according as the lower court approved and allowed the various motions or petitions filed by the latter three requesting partial advances on account of their respective legacies. On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration, the executor submitted and filed its "Executor's Final Account, Report of Administration and Project of Partition" wherein it reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary E. Mallen by the delivery to her of shares of stock amounting to $240,000.00, and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis in the amount of P40,000.00 each or a total of P120,000.00. In the project of partition, the executor pursuant to the "Twelfth" clause of the testator's Last Will and Testament divided the residuary estate into seven equal portions for the benefit of the testator's seven legitimate children by his first and second marriages.

On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective oppositions to the project of partition on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as illegitimate children and, therefore, compulsory heirs of the deceased. Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition despite notice to him, proof of service of which is evidenced by the registry receipt submitted on April 27, 1964 by the executor.1 After the parties filed their respective memoranda and other pertinent pleadings, the lower court, on April 30, 1964, issued an order overruling the oppositions and approving the executor's final account, report and administration and project of partition. Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied the national law of the decedent, which in this case is Texas law, which did not provide for legitimes. Their respective motions for reconsideration having been denied by the lower court on June 11, 1964, oppositorsappellants appealed to this Court to raise the issue of which law must apply Texas law or Philippine law. In this regard, the parties do not submit the case on, nor even discuss, the doctrine of renvoi, applied by this Court in Aznar v. Christensen Garcia, L-16749, January 31, 1963. Said doctrine is usually pertinent where the decedent is a national of one country, and a domicile of another. In the present case, it is not disputed that the decedent was both a national of Texas and a domicile thereof at the time of his death.2 So that even assuming Texas has a conflict of law rule providing that the domiciliary system (law of the domicile) should govern, the same would not result in a reference back (renvoi) to Philippine law, but would still refer to Texas law. Nonetheless, if Texas has a conflicts rule adopting the situs theory (lex rei sitae) calling for the application of the law of the place where the properties are situated, renvoi would arise, since the properties here involved are found in the Philippines. In the absence, however, of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should not be presumed different from ours.3Appellants' position is therefore not rested on the doctrine of renvoi. As stated, they never invoked nor even mentioned it in their arguments. Rather, they argue that their case falls under the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Article 17 in relation to Article 16 of the Civil Code. Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national law of the decedent, in intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the order of succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the capacity to succeed. They provide that ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may he the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found. ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent. Appellants would however counter that Art. 17, paragraph three, of the Civil Code, stating that Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country. prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of the Civil Code afore-quoted. This is not correct. Precisely, Congressdeleted the phrase, "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the next preceding article" when they incorporated Art. 11 of the old Civil Code as Art. 17 of the new Civil Code, while reproducing without substantial change the second paragraph of Art. 10 of the old Civil Code as Art. 16 in the new. It must have been their purpose to make the second paragraph of Art. 16 a specific provision in itself which must be applied in testate and intestate succession. As further indication of this legislative intent, Congress added a new provision, under Art. 1039, which decrees that capacity to succeed is to be governed by the national law of the decedent. It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our System of legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones.

Appellants would also point out that the decedent executed two wills one to govern his Texas estate and the other his Philippine estate arguing from this that he intended Philippine law to govern his Philippine estate. Assuming that such was the decedent's intention in executing a separate Philippine will, it would not alter the law, for as this Court ruled in Miciano v. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867, 870, a provision in a foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be distributed in accordance with Philippine law and not with his national law, is illegal and void, for his national law cannot be ignored in regard to those matters that Article 10 now Article 16 of the Civil Code states said national law should govern. The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and that under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis. Wherefore, the order of the probate court is hereby affirmed in toto, with costs against appellants. So ordered. Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1

He later filed a motion praying that as a legal heir he be included in this case as one of the oppositors-appellants; to file or adopt the opposition of his sisters to the project of partition; to submit his brief after paying his proportionate share in the expenses incurred in the printing of the record on appeal; or to allow him to adopt the briefs filed by his sisters but this Court resolved to deny the motion.
2

San Antonio, Texas was his legal residence. Lim vs. Collector, 36 Phil. 472; In re Testate Estate of Suntay, 95 Phil. 500.

Bellis vs Bellis Case Digest


Bellis vs Bellis FACTS: Amos Bellis was a citizen of the State of Texas, and of the United States. By his first wife whom he divorced he had five legitimate children, by his second wife, who survived him, he had three legitimate children, and three illegitimate children. Before he died, he made two wills, one disposing of his Texas properties and the other disposing his Philippine properties. In both wills, his illegitimate children were not given anything. The illegitimate children opposed the will on the ground that they have been deprived of their legitimes to which they should be entitled, if Philippine law were to be applied. ISSUE: Whether or not the national law of the deceased should determine the successional rights of the illegitimate children. HELD: The Supreme Court held that the said children are not entitled to their legitimes under the Texas Law, being the national law of the deceased, there are no legitimes. The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and that under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis. Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national law of the decedent, in intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the order of succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the capacity to succeed. Intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may he the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-22595 November 1, 1927

Testate Estate of Joseph G. Brimo, JUAN MICIANO, administrator, petitioner-appellee, vs. ANDRE BRIMO, opponent-appellant. Ross, Lawrence and Selph for appellant. Camus and Delgado for appellee.

ROMUALDEZ, J.: The partition of the estate left by the deceased Joseph G. Brimo is in question in this case. The judicial administrator of this estate filed a scheme of partition. Andre Brimo, one of the brothers of the deceased, opposed it. The court, however, approved it. The errors which the oppositor-appellant assigns are: (1) The approval of said scheme of partition; (2) denial of his participation in the inheritance; (3) the denial of the motion for reconsideration of the order approving the partition; (4) the approval of the purchase made by the Pietro Lana of the deceased's business and the deed of transfer of said business; and (5) the declaration that the Turkish laws are impertinent to this cause, and the failure not to postpone the approval of the scheme of partition and the delivery of the deceased's business to Pietro Lanza until the receipt of the depositions requested in reference to the Turkish laws. The appellant's opposition is based on the fact that the partition in question puts into effect the provisions of Joseph G. Brimo's will which are not in accordance with the laws of his Turkish nationality, for which reason they are void as being in violation or article 10 of the Civil Code which, among other things, provides the following: Nevertheless, legal and testamentary successions, in respect to the order of succession as well as to the amount of the successional rights and the intrinsic validity of their provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is in question, whatever may be the nature of the property or the country in which it may be situated. But the fact is that the oppositor did not prove that said testimentary dispositions are not in accordance with the Turkish laws, inasmuch as he did not present any evidence showing what the Turkish laws are on the matter, and in the absence of evidence on such laws, they are presumed to be the same as those of the Philippines. (Lim and Lim vs. Collector of Customs, 36 Phil., 472.) It has not been proved in these proceedings what the Turkish laws are. He, himself, acknowledges it when he desires to be given an opportunity to present evidence on this point; so much so that he assigns as an error of the court in not having deferred the approval of the scheme of partition until the receipt of certain testimony requested regarding the Turkish laws on the matter. The refusal to give the oppositor another opportunity to prove such laws does not constitute an error. It is discretionary with the trial court, and, taking into consideration that the oppositor was granted ample opportunity to introduce competent evidence, we find no abuse of discretion on the part of the court in this particular. There is, therefore, no evidence in the record that the national law of the testator Joseph G. Brimo was violated in the testamentary dispositions in question which, not being contrary to our laws in force, must be complied with and executed.
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Therefore, the approval of the scheme of partition in this respect was not erroneous.

In regard to the first assignment of error which deals with the exclusion of the herein appellant as a legatee, inasmuch as he is one of the persons designated as such in will, it must be taken into consideration that such exclusion is based on the last part of the second clause of the will, which says: Second. I like desire to state that although by law, I am a Turkish citizen, this citizenship having been conferred upon me by conquest and not by free choice, nor by nationality and, on the other hand, having resided for a considerable length of time in the Philippine Islands where I succeeded in acquiring all of the property that I now possess, it is my wish that the distribution of my property and everything in connection with this, my will, be made and disposed of in accordance with the laws in force in the Philippine islands, requesting all of my relatives to respect this wish, otherwise, I annul and cancel beforehand whatever disposition found in this will favorable to the person or persons who fail to comply with this request. The institution of legatees in this will is conditional, and the condition is that the instituted legatees must respect the testator's will to distribute his property, not in accordance with the laws of his nationality, but in accordance with the laws of the Philippines. If this condition as it is expressed were legal and valid, any legatee who fails to comply with it, as the herein oppositor who, by his attitude in these proceedings has not respected the will of the testator, as expressed, is prevented from receiving his legacy. The fact is, however, that the said condition is void, being contrary to law, for article 792 of the civil Code provides the following: Impossible conditions and those contrary to law or good morals shall be considered as not imposed and shall not prejudice the heir or legatee in any manner whatsoever, even should the testator otherwise provide. And said condition is contrary to law because it expressly ignores the testator's national law when, according to article 10 of the civil Code above quoted, such national law of the testator is the one to govern his testamentary dispositions. Said condition then, in the light of the legal provisions above cited, is considered unwritten, and the institution of legatees in said will is unconditional and consequently valid and effective even as to the herein oppositor. It results from all this that the second clause of the will regarding the law which shall govern it, and to the condition imposed upon the legatees, is null and void, being contrary to law. All of the remaining clauses of said will with all their dispositions and requests are perfectly valid and effective it not appearing that said clauses are contrary to the testator's national law. Therefore, the orders appealed from are modified and it is directed that the distribution of this estate be made in such a manner as to include the herein appellant Andre Brimo as one of the legatees, and the scheme of partition submitted by the judicial administrator is approved in all other respects, without any pronouncement as to costs. So ordered. Street, Malcolm, Avancea, Villamor and Ostrand, JJ., concur.

Miciano vs Brimo CITATION: GR No.22595, November 1, 1927| 50 Phil 867 FACTS: Juan Miciano, judicial administrator of the estate in question, filed a scheme of partition. Andre Brimo, one of the brothers of the deceased (Joseph Brimo) opposed Micianos participation in the inheritance. Joseph Brimo is a Turkish citizen. ISSUE: Whether Turkish law or Philippine law will be the basis on the distribution of Joseph Brimos estates. HELD: Though the last part of the second clause of the will expressly said that it be made and disposed of in accordance with the laws in force in the Philippine Island, this condition, described as impossible conditions, shall be considered as not imposed and shall not prejudice the heir or legatee in any manner whatsoever, even should the testator otherwise provide. Impossible conditions are further defined as those contrary to law or good morals. Thus, national law of the testator shall govern in his testamentary dispositions. The court approved the scheme of partition submitted by the judicial administrator, in such manner as to include Andre Brimo, as one of the legatees.