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TodayisTuesday,August09,2016

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
SECONDDIVISION

G.R.No.103554May28,1993
TEODOROCANEDA,LORENZACANEDA,TERESACANEDA,JUANCABALLERO,AUREACABALLERO,
OSCARLAROSA,HELENCABALLERO,SANTOSCABALLERO,PABLOCABALLERO,VICTORRAGA,
MAURICIARAGA,QUIRICARAGA,RUPERTOABAPO,representedhereinbyhisAttorneyinFact,
ARMSTICIA*ABAPOVELANO,andCONSESOCANEDA,representedhereinbyhisheirs,JESUSCANEDA,
NATIVIDADCANEDAandARTUROCANEDA,petitioners,
vs.
HON.COURTOFAPPEALSandWILLIAMCABRERA,asSpecialAdministratoroftheEstateofMateo
Caballero,respondents.
Palma,Palma&Associatesforpetitioners.
EmilioLumontad,Jr.forprivaterespondents.

REGALADO,J.:
PresentedforresolutionbythisCourtinthepresentpetitionforreviewoncertiorariistheissueofwhetherornot
the attestation clause contained in the last will and testament of the late Mateo Caballero complies with the
requirementsofArticle805,inrelationtoArticle809,oftheCivilCode.
TherecordsshowthatonDecember5,1978,MateoCaballero,awidowerwithoutanychildrenandalreadyinthe
twilightyearsofhislife,executedalastwillandtestamentathisresidenceinTalisay,Cebubeforethreeattesting
witnesses, namely, Cipriano Labuca, Gregorio Cabando and Flaviano Toregosa. The said testator was duly
assistedbyhislawyer,Atty.EmilioLumontad,andanotarypublic,Atty.FiloteoManigos,inthepreparationofthat
lastwill.1Itwasdeclaredtherein,amongotherthings,thatthetestatorwasleavingbywayoflegaciesanddeviseshisreal
and personal properties to Presentacion Gaviola, Angel Abatayo, Rogelio Abatayo, Isabelito Abatayo, Benoni G. Cabrera
andMarcosaAlcantara,allofwhomdonotappeartoberelatedtothetestator.2

Fourmonthslater,oronApril4,1979,MateoCaballerohimselffiledapetitiondocketedasSpecialProceeding
No.3899RbeforeBranchIIofthethenCourtofFirstInstanceofCebuseekingtheprobateofhislastwilland
testament. The probate court set the petition for hearing on August 20, 1979 but the same and subsequent
scheduled hearings were postponed for one reason to another. On May 29, 1980, the testator passed away
before his petition could finally be heard by the probate court.3 On February 25, 1981, Benoni Cabrera, on of the
legatees named in the will, sough his appointment as special administrator of the testator's estate, the estimated value of
whichwasP24,000.00,andhewassoappointedbytheprobatecourtinitsorderofMarch6,1981.4

Thereafter, herein petitioners, claiming to be nephews and nieces of the testator, instituted a second petition,
entitled"IntheMatteroftheIntestateEstateofMateoCaballero"anddocketedasSpecialProceedingNo.3965
R,beforeBranchIXoftheaforesaidCourtofFirstInstanceofCebu.OnOctober18,1982,hereinpetitionershad
theirsaidpetitionintestateproceedingconsolidatedwithSpecialProceedingNo.3899RinBranchIIoftheCourt
ofFirstInstanceofCebuandopposedthereattheprobateoftheTestator'swillandtheappointmentofaspecial
administratorforhisestate.5
Benoni Cabrera died on February 8, 1982 hence the probate court, now known as Branch XV of the Regional
TrialCourtofCebu,appointedWilliamCabreraasspecialadministratoronJune21,1983.Thereafter,onJuly20,
1983,itissuedanorderforthereturnoftherecordsofSpecialProceedingNo.3965Rtothearchivessincethe
testateproceedingfortheprobateofthewillhadtobeheardandresolvedfirst.OnMarch26,1984thecasewas
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reraffled and eventually assigned to Branch XII of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu where it remained until the
conclusionoftheprobateproceedings.6
In the course of the hearing in Special Proceeding No. 3899R, herein petitioners appeared as oppositors and
objectedtotheallowanceofthetestator'swillonthegroundthatontheallegeddateofitsexecution,thetestator
was already in the poor state of health such that he could not have possibly executed the same. Petitioners
likewisereiteratedtheissueastothegenuinenessofthesignatureofthetestatortherein.7
Ontheotherhand,oneoftheattestingwitnesses,CiprianoLabuca,andthenotarypublicAtty.FiloteoManigos,
testifiedthatthetestatorexecutedthewillinquestionintheirpresencewhilehewasofsoundanddisposingmind
and that, contrary to the assertions of the oppositors, Mateo Caballero was in good health and was not unduly
influencedinanywayintheexecutionofhiswill.Labucaalsotestifiedthatheandtheotherwitnessesattested
andsignedthewillinthepresenceofthetestatorandofeachother.Theothertwoattestingwitnesseswerenot
presentedintheprobatehearingasthehaddiedbythen.8
OnApril5,1988,theprobatecourtrenderedadecisiondeclaringthewillinquestionasthelastwillandtestament
ofthelateMateoCaballero,ontheratiocinationthat:
...Theselfservingtestimonyofthetwowitnessesoftheoppositorscannotovercomethepositive
testimonies of Atty. Filoteo Manigos and Cipriano Labuca who clearly told the Court that indeed
Mateo Caballero executed the Last Will and Testament now marked Exhibit "C" on December 5,
1978.Moreover,thefactthatitwasMateoCaballerowhoinitiatedtheprobateofhisWillduringhis
lifetimewhenhecausedthefilingoftheoriginalpetitionnowmarkedExhibit"D"clearlyunderscores
thefactthatthiswasindeedhisLastWill.Atthestart,counselfortheoppositorsmanifestedthathe
wouldwantthesignatureofMateoCaballeroinExhibit"C"examinedbyahandwritingexpertofthe
NBIbutitwouldseemthatdespitetheiravowalandintentionfortheexaminationofthissignatureof
MateoCaballeroinExhibit"C",nothingcameoutofitbecausetheyabandonedtheideaandinstead
presentedAureaCaballeroandHelenCaballeroCampoaswitnessesfortheoppositors.
Alltold,itisthefindingofthisCourtthatExhibit"C"istheLastWillandTestamentofMateoCaballero
andthatitwasexecutedinaccordancewithalltherequisitesofthelaw.9
Undauntedbythesaidjudgmentoftheprobatecourt,petitionerselevatedthecaseintheCourtofAppealsinCA
G.R. CV No. 19669. They asserted therein that the will in question is null and void for the reason that its
attestation clause is fatally defective since it fails to specifically state that the instrumental witnesses to the will
witnessedthetestatorsigningthewillintheirpresenceandthattheyalsosignedthewillandallthepagesthereof
inthepresenceofthetestatorandofoneanother.
OnOctober15,1991,respondentcourtpromulgateditsdecision 10affirmingthatofthetrialcourt,andrulingthatthe
attestationclauseinthelastwillofMateoCaballerosubstantiallycomplieswithArticle805oftheCivilCode,thus:

The question therefore is whether the attestation clause in question may be considered as having
substantialy complied with the requirements of Art. 805 of the Civil Code. What appears in the
attestationclausewhichtheoppositorsclaimtobedefectiveis"wedocertifythatthetestamentwas
readbyhimandtheattestator,MateoCaballero,haspublisheduntoustheforegoingwillconsisting
ofTHREEPAGES,includingtheacknowledgment,eachpagenumberedcorrelativelyinlettersofthe
upper part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament, and he has signed the same and every
pagethereof,onthespacesprovidedforhissignatureandonthelefthandmargininthepresenceof
thesaidtestatorandinthepresenceofeachandallofus(emphasissupplied).
To our thinking, this is sufficient compliance and no evidence need be presented to indicate the
meaningthatthesaidwillwassignedbythetestatorandbythem(thewitnesses)inthepresenceof
allofthemandofoneanother.Orasthelanguageofthelawwouldhaveitthatthetestatorsigned
thewill"inthepresenceoftheinstrumentalwitnesses,andthatthelatterwitnessedandsignedthe
willandallthepagesthereofinthepresenceofthetestatorandofoneanother."Ifnotcompletelyor
ideally perfect in accordance with the wordings of Art. 805 but (sic) the phrase as formulated is in
substantialcompliancewiththerequirementofthelaw."11
Petitionersmovedforthereconsiderationofthesaidrulingofrespondentcourt,butthesamewasdeniedinthe
latter'sresolutionofJanuary14,1992, 12hencethisappealnowbeforeus.Petitionersassertthatrespondentcourthas
ruleduponsaidissueinamannernotinaccordwiththelawandsettledjurisprudenceonthematterandarenowquestioning
oncemore,onthesamegroundasthatraisedbeforerespondentcourt,thevalidityoftheattestationclauseinthelastwill
ofMateoCaballero.

We find the present petition to be meritorious, as we shall shortly hereafter, after some prefatory observations
whichwefeelshouldbemadeinaidoftherationaleforourresolutionofthecontroversy.
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1. A will has been defined as a species of conveyance whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities
prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate after his death. 13 Under the Civil
Code, there are two kinds of wills which a testator may execute. 14 the first kind is the ordinary or attested will, the
executionofwhichisgovernedbyArticles804to809oftheCode.Article805requiresthat:

Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the
testatorhimselforbythetestator'snamewrittenbysomeotherpersoninhispresence,andbyhis
expressdirection,andattestedandsubscribedbythreeormorecrediblewitnessesinthepresence
ofthetestatorandofoneanother.
Thetestatororthepersonrequestedbyhimtowritehisnameandtheinstrumentalwitnessesofthe
will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin,
andallthepagesshallbenumberedcorrelativelyinlettersplacedontheupperpartofeachpage.
The attestation should state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact
that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his
name,underhisexpressdirection,inthepresenceoftheinstrumentalwitnesses,andthatthelatter
witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one
another.
Iftheattestationclauseisinalanguagenotknowntothewitness,itshallbeinterpretedtothem.
Inaddition,theordinarywillmustbeacknowledgedbeforeanotarypublicbyatestatorandtheattestingwitness.
15 hence it is likewise known as notarial will. Where the attestator is deaf or deafmute, Article 807 requires that he must

personally read the will, if able to do so. Otherwise, he should designate two persons who would read the will and
communicateitscontentstohiminapracticablemanner.Ontheotherhand,ifthetestatorisblind,thewillshouldberead
to him twice once, by anyone of the witnesses thereto, and then again, by the notary public before whom it is
acknowledged.16

Theotherkindofwillistheholographicwill,whichArticle810definesasonethatisentirelywritten,dated,and
signedbythetestatorhimself.Thiskindofwill,unliketheordinarytype,requiresnoattestationbywitnesses.A
common requirement in both kinds of will is that they should be in writing and must have been executed in a
languageordialectknowntothetestator.17
However, in the case of an ordinary or attested will, its attestation clause need not be written in a language or
dialect known to the testator since it does not form part of the testamentary disposition. Furthermore, the
languageusedintheattestationclauselikewiseneednotevenbeknowntotheattestingwitnesses. 18 The last
paragraphofArticle805merelyrequiresthat,insuchacase,theattestationclauseshallbeinterpretedtosaidwitnesses.

An attestation clause refers to that part of an ordinary will whereby the attesting witnesses certify that the
instrument has been executed before them and to the manner of the execution the same. 19 It is a separate
memorandum or record of the facts surrounding the conduct of execution and once signed by the witnesses, it gives
affirmationtothefactthatcompliancewiththeessentialformalitiesrequiredbylawhasbeenobserved.20Itismadeforthe
purpose of preserving in a permanent form a record of the facts that attended the execution of a particular will, so that in
caseoffailureofthememoryoftheattestingwitnesses,orothercasualty,suchfactsmaystillbeproved.21

UnderthethirdparagraphofArticle805,suchaclause,thecompletelackofwhichwouldresultintheinvalidityof
the will, 22 should state (1) the number of the pages used upon which the will is written (2) that the testator signed, or
expresslycausedanothertosign,thewillandeverypagethereofinthepresenceoftheattestingwitnessesand(3)thatthe
attestingwitnesseswitnessedthesigningbythetestatorofthewillandallitspages,and that said witnesses also signed
thewillandeverypagethereofinthepresenceofthetestatorandofoneanother.

The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is written is to
safeguardagainstpossibleinterpolationoromissionofoneorsomeofitspagesandtopreventanyincreaseor
decreaseinthepages23 whereas the subscription of the signature of the testator and the attesting witnesses is made
forthepurposeofauthenticationandidentification,andthusindicatesthatthewillistheverysameinstrumentexecutedby
thetestatorandattestedtobythewitnesses.24

Further, by attesting and subscribing to the will, the witnesses thereby declare the due execution of the will as
embodied in the attestation clause. 25 The attestation clause, therefore, provide strong legal guaranties for the due
executionofawillandtoinsuretheauthenticitythereof.26Asitappertainsonlytothewitnessesandnottothetestator,it
needbesignedonlybythem.27Whereitisleftunsigned,itwouldresultintheinvalidationofthewillasitwouldbepossible
andeasytoaddtheclauseonasubsequentoccasionintheabsenceofthetestatoranditswitnesses.28

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In its report, the Code Commission commented on the reasons of the law for requiring the formalities to be
followedintheexecutionofwills,inthefollowingmanner:
The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the provisions on the law on wills in this
Projectconsistsintheliberalizationofthemanneroftheirexecutionwiththeendinviewofgivingthe
testatormorefreedominexpressinghislastwishes,butwithsufficientsafeguardsandrestrictionsto
prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence
uponthetestator.
Thisobjectiveisinaccordwiththemoderntendencywithrespecttotheformalitiesintheexecutionof
wills....29
2.AnexaminationofthelastwillandtestamentofMateoCaballeroshowsthatitiscomprisedofthreesheetsall
of which have been numbered correlatively, with the left margin of each page thereof bearing the respective
signatures of the testator and the three attesting witnesses. The part of the will containing the testamentary
dispositions is expressed in the CebuanoVisayan dialect and is signed at the foot thereof by the testator. The
attestationclauseinquestion,ontheotherhand,isrecitedintheEnglishlanguageandislikewisesignedatthe
endthereofbythethreeattestingwitnesseshereto.30 Since it is the proverbial bone of contention, we reproduce it
againforfacilityofreference:

We, the undersigned attesting Witnesses, whose Residences and postal addresses appear on the
Oppositeofourrespectivenames,wedoherebycertifythattheTestamentwasreadbyhimandthe
testator, MATEO CABALLERO has published unto us the foregoing Will consisting of THREE
PAGES,includingtheAcknowledgment,eachpagenumberedcorrelativelyinthelettersontheupper
partofeachpage,ashisLastWillandTestamentandhehasthesameandeverypagethereof,on
the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin, in the presence of the said
testatorandinthepresenceofeachandallofus.
It will be noted that Article 805 requires that the witness should both attest and subscribe to the will in the
presenceofthetestatorandofoneanother."Attestation"and"subscription"differinmeaning.Attestationisthe
actofsenses,whilesubscriptionistheactofthehand.Theformerismental,thelattermechanical,andtoattesta
will is to know that it was published as such, and to certify the facts required to constitute an actual and legal
publication but to subscribe a paper published as a will is only to write on the same paper the names of the
witnesses,forthesolepurposeofidentification.31
InTaboadavs.Rizal,32 we clarified that attestation consists in witnessing the testator's execution of the will in order to
see and take note mentally that those things are done which the statute requires for the execution of a will and that the
signatureofthetestatorexistsasafact.Ontheotherhand,subscriptionisthesigningofthewitnesses'namesuponthe
samepaperforthepurposeofidentificationofsuchpaperasthewillwhichwasexecutedbythetestator.Asitinvolvesa
mentalact,therewouldbenomeans,therefore,ofascertainingbyaphysicalexaminationofthewillwhetherthewitnesses
hadindeedsignedinthepresenceofthetestatorandofeachotherunlessthisissubstantiallyexpressedintheattestation.

It is contended by petitioners that the aforequoted attestation clause, in contravention of the express
requirementsofthethirdparagraphofArticle805oftheCivilCodeforattestationclauses,failstospecificallystate
thefactthattheattestingwitnessesthetestatorsignthewillandallitspagesintheirpresenceandthatthey,the
witnesses,likewisesignedthewillandeverypagethereofinthepresenceofthetestatorandofeachother.We
agree.
What is fairly apparent upon a careful reading of the attestation clause herein assailed is the fact that while it
recitesthatthetestatorindeedsignedthewillandallitspagesinthepresenceofthethreeattestingwitnesses
and states as well the number of pages that were used, the same does not expressly state therein the
circumstancethatsaidwitnessessubscribedtheirrespectivesignaturestothewillinthepresenceofthetestator
andofeachother.
Thephrase"andhehassignedthesameandeverypagethereof,onthespacesprovidedforhissignatureand
onthelefthandmargin,"obviouslyreferstothetestatorandnottheinstrumentalwitnessesasitisimmediately
precededbythewords"ashisLastWillandTestament."Ontheotherhand,althoughthewords"inthepresence
ofthetestatorandinthepresenceofeachandallofus"may,atfirstblush,appeartolikewisesignifyandreferto
the witnesses, it must, however, be interpreted as referring only to the testator signing in the presence of the
witnessessincesaidphraseimmediatelyfollowsthewords"hehassignedthesameandeverypagethereof,on
thespacesprovidedforhissignatureandonthelefthandmargin."Whatisthenclearlylacking,inthefinallogical
analysis , is the statement that the witnesses signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the
testatorandofoneanother.
Itisourconsideredviewthattheabsenceofthatstatementrequiredbylawisafataldefectorimperfectionwhich
mustnecessarilyresultinthedisallowanceofthewillthatisheresoughttobeadmittedtoprobate.Petitionersare
correctinpointingoutthattheaforestateddefectintheattestationclauseobviouslycannotbecharacterizedas
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merely involving the form of the will or the language used therein which would warrant the application of the
substantialcompliancerule,ascontemplatedinthepertinentprovisionthereonintheCivilCode,towit:
Art. 809. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and
influence,defectsandimperfectionsintheformofattestationorinthelanguage used therein shall
not render the will invalid if it is not proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in
substantialcompliancewithalltherequirementsofarticle805"(Emphasissupplied.)
Whileitmaybetruethattheattestationclauseisindeedsubscribedattheendthereofandattheleftmarginof
each page by the three attesting witnesses, it certainly cannot be conclusively inferred therefrom that the said
witnessaffixedtheirrespectivesignaturesinthepresenceofthetestatorandofeachothersince,aspetitioners
correctlyobserved,thepresenceofsaidsignaturesonlyestablishesthefactthatitwasindeedsigned,butitdoes
notprovethattheattestingwitnessesdidsubscribetothewillinthepresenceofthetestatorandofeachother.
The execution of a will is supposed to be one act so that where the testator and the witnesses sign on various
daysoroccasionsandinvariouscombinations,thewillcannotbestampedwiththeimprimaturofeffectivity.33
WebelievethatthefurthercommentofformerJusticeJ.B.L.Reyes34regardingArticle809,whereinheurgedcaution
in the application of the substantial compliance rule therein, is correct and should be applied in the case under
consideration,aswellastofuturecaseswithsimilarquestions:

...Therulemustbelimitedtodisregardingthosedefectsthatcanbesuppliedbyanexaminationof
the will itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered whether the signatures appear in
each and every page whether the subscribing witnesses are three or the will was notarized. All
thesesarefactsthatthewillitselfcanreveal,anddefectsorevenomissionsconcerningtheminthe
attestationclausecanbesafelydisregarded.Butthetotalnumberofpages,andwhetherallpersons
required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the attestation
clause,beingtheonlycheckagainstperjuryintheprobateproceedings.(Emphasisours.)
3.We stress once more that under Article 809, the defects and imperfections must only be with respect to the
formoftheattestationorthelanguageemployedtherein.Suchdefectsorimperfectionswouldnotrenderawill
invalid should it be proved that the will was really executed and attested in compliance with Article 805. In this
regard,however,themannerofprovingthedueexecutionandattestationhasbeenheldtobelimitedtomerely
anexaminationofthewillitselfwithoutresortingtoevidencealiunde,whetheroralorwritten.
The foregoing considerations do not apply where the attestation clause totally omits the fact that the attesting
witnessessignedeachandeverypageofthewillinthepresenceofthetestatorandofeachother.35 In such a
situation,thedefectisnotonlyintheformorlanguageoftheattestationclausebutthetotalabsenceofaspecificelement
requiredbyArticle805tobespecificallystatedintheattestationclauseofawill.Thatispreciselythedefectcomplainedof
inthepresentcasesincethereisnoplausiblewaybywhichwecanreadintothequestionedattestationclausestatement,
oranimplicationthereof,thattheattestingwitnessdidactuallybearwitnesstothesigningbythetestatorofthewillandall
ofitspagesandthatsaidinstrumentalwitnessesalsosignedthewillandeverypagethereofinthepresenceofthetestator
andofoneanother.

Furthermore, the rule on substantial compliance in Article 809 cannot be revoked or relied on by respondents
sinceitpresupposesthatthedefectsintheattestationclausecanbecuredorsuppliedbythetextofthewillora
considerationofmattersapparenttherefromwhichwouldprovidethedatanotexpressedintheattestationclause
or from which it may necessarily be gleaned or clearly inferred that the acts not stated in the omitted textual
requirementswereactuallycompliedwithintheexecutionofthewill.Inotherwords,defectsmustberemediedby
intrinsicevidencesuppliedbythewillitself.
Inthecaseatbar,contrarily,proofoftheactsrequiredtohavebeenperformedbytheattestingwitnessescanbe
suppliedbyonlyextrinsicevidencethereof,sinceanoverallappreciationofthecontentsofthewillyieldsnobasis
whatsoever from with such facts may be plausibly deduced. What private respondent insists on are the
testimonies of his witnesses alleging that they saw the compliance with such requirements by the instrumental
witnesses, oblivious of the fact that he is thereby resorting to extrinsic evidence to prove the same and would
accordinglybedoingbytheindirectionwhatinlawhecannotdodirectly.
4.PriortotheadventoftheCivilCodeonAugust30,1950,therewasadivergenceofviewsastowhichmanner
ofinterpretationshouldbefollowedinresolvingissuescenteringoncompliancewiththelegalformalitiesrequired
intheexecutionofwills.TheformalrequirementswereatthattimeembodiedprimarilyinSection618ofActNo.
190,theCodeofCivilProcedure.SaidsectionwaslateramendedbyActNo.2645,buttheprovisionsrespecting
saidformalitiesfoundinAct.No.190andtheamendmenttheretowerepracticallyreproducedandadoptedinthe
CivilCode.
Oneviewadvancetheliberalorsubstantialcompliancerule.ThiswasfirstlaiddowninthecaseofAbanganvs.
Abangan,36 where it was held that the object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door
against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guarantee their truth and authenticity.
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Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. Nonetheless, it
was also emphasized that one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the
exerciseoftherighttomakeawill,hencewhenaninterpretationalreadygivenassuressuchends,anyotherinterpretation
whatsoever that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's
last will, must be disregarded. The subsequent cases of Avera vs. Garcia,37 Aldaba vs. Roque,38 Unson vs. Abella, 39
Pecsonvs.Coronel,40Fernandezvs.VergeldeDios,etal.,41andNayvevs.Mojal,etal.42alladheredtothisposition.

Theotherviewwhichadvocatedtherulethatstatuteswhichprescribetheformalitiesthatshouldbeobservedin
the execution of wills are mandatory in nature and are to be strictly construed was followed in the subsequent
casesofIntheMatteroftheEstateofSaguinsin,43 In re Will of Andrada,44 Uy Coque vs. Sioca,45 In re Estate of
Neumark,46andSanovs.Quintana.47

Gumbanvs.Gorecho,etal.,48providedtheCourtwiththeoccasiontoclarifytheseeminglyconflictingdecisionsinthe
aforementionedcases.InsaidcaseofGumban,theattestationclausehadfailedtostatethatthewitnessessignedthewill
andeachandeverypagethereofontheleftmargininthepresenceofthetestator.Thewillinquestionwasdisallowed,with
thesereasonstherefor:

Insupportoftheirargumentontheassignmentoferrorabovementioned,appellantsrelyonaseries
of cases of this court beginning with (I)n the Matter of the (E)state of Saguinsin ([1920], 41 Phil.,
875),continuingwithInreWillofAndrada[1921],42Phil.,180),UyCoquevs.NavasL.Sioca[1922],
43 Phil., 405), and In re Estate of Neumark ([1923], 46 Phil., 841), and ending with Sano vs.
Quintana([1925], 48 Phil., 506). Appellee counters with the citation of a series of cases beginning
withAbanganvs.Abangan([1919],40Phil.,476),continuingthroughAldabavs.Roque([1922], 43
Phil., 378), and Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios ([1924], 46 Phil., 922), and culminating in Nayvevs.
MojalandAguilar([1924], 47 Phil., 152). In its last analysis, our task is to contrast and, if possible,
conciliate the last two decisions cited by opposing counsel, namely, those of Sano vs. Quintana,
supra,andNayvevs.MojalandAguilar,supra.
In the case of Sano vs. Quintana,supra, it was decided that an attestation clause which does not
recite that the witnesses signed the will and each and every page thereof on the left margin in the
presence of the testator is defective, and such a defect annuls the will. The case of Uy Coque vs.
Sioca,supra,wascited,butthecaseofNayvevs.MojalandAguilar,supra, was not mentioned. In
contrast,isthedecisioninNayvevs.MojalandAguilar,supra,whereinitwasheldthattheattestation
clausemustestatethefactthatthetestatorandthewitnessesreciprocallysawthesigningofthewill,
forsuchanactcannotbeprovedbythemereexhibitionofthewill,ifitisnotstatedtherein.Itwas
alsoheldthatthefactthatthetestatorandthewitnessessignedeachandeverypageofthewillcan
beprovedalsobythemereexaminationofthesignaturesappearingonthedocumentitself,andthe
omissiontostatesuchevidentfactsdoesnotinvalidatethewill.
Itisahabitofcourtstoreaffirmordistinguishpreviouscasesseldomdotheyadmitinconsistencyin
doctrine.Yethere,unlessaidedimpossibletoreconciletheMojalandQuintanadecisions.Theyare
fundamentallyatvariance.Ifwerelyonone,weaffirm.Ifwerelyontheother,wereverse.
In resolving this puzzling question of authority, three outstanding points may be mentioned. In the
first place, the Mojal, decision was concurred in by only four members of the court, less than a
majority, with two strong dissenting opinions the Quintana decision was concurred in by seven
members of the court, a clear majority, with one formal dissent. In the second place, the Mojal
decision was promulgated in December, 1924, while the Quintana decision was promulgated in
December,1925theQuintanadecisionwasthussubsequentinpointoftime.Andinthethirdplace,
theQuintanadecisionisbelievedmorenearlytoconformtotheapplicableprovisionsofthelaw.
The right to dispose of property by will is governed entirely by statute. The law of the case is here
foundinsection61oftheCodeofCivilProcedureasamendedbyActNo.2645,andinsection634
ofthesameCode,asunamended.Itisinpartprovidedinsection61,asamendedthat"Nowill...
shall be valid . . . unless. . .." It is further provided in the same section that "The attestation shall
statethenumberofsheetsorpagesused,uponwhichthewilliswritten,andthefactthatthetestator
signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his
express direction, in the presence of three witnesses, and the latter witnessed and signed the will
andallpagesthereofinthepresenceofthetestatorandofeachother."Codalsection634provides
that"Thewillshallbedisallowedineitherofthefollowingcase:1.Ifnotexecutedandattestedasin
this Act provided." The law not alone carefully makes use of the imperative, but cautiously goes
furtherandmakesuseofthenegative,toenforcelegislativeintention.Itisnotwithintheprovinceof
thecourtstodisregardthelegislativepurposesoemphaticallyandclearlyexpressed.
We adopt and reaffirm the decision in the case of Sano vs. Quintana, supra, and, to the extent
necessary,modifythedecisioninthecaseofNayvevs.MojalandAguilar,supra.(Emphasesinthe
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originaltext).
ButaftertheGumbanclarificatorypronouncement,thereweredecisionsoftheCourtthatoncemoreappearedto
revive the seeming diversity of views that was earlier threshed out therein. The cases of Quinto vs. Morata, 49
Rodriguez vs. Alcala, 50 Enchevarria vs. Sarmiento, 51 and Testate Estate of Toray 52 went the way of the ruling as
restatedinGumban.ButDeGalavs.Gonzales,etal.,53Reyvs.Cartagena,54DeTicsonvs.DeGorostiza,55 Sebastian
vs.Panganiban,56Rodriguezvs.Yap,57Greyvs.Fabia,58Leynezvs.Leynez,59Martirvs.Martir,60Alcalavs.DeVilla,
61Sabadovs.
Fernandez, 62 Mendoza vs. Pilapil, 63 and Lopez vs. Liboro, 64 veered away from the strict interpretation rule and
establishedatrendtowardanapplicationoftheliberalview.

TheCodeCommission,cognizantofsuchaconflictingwelterofviewsandoftheundeniableinclinationtowardsa
liberalconstruction,recommendedthecodificationofthesubstantialcompliancerule,asitbelievedthisruletobe
inaccordwiththemoderntendencytogivealiberalapproachtotheinterpretationofwills.Saidrulethusbecame
whatisnowArticle809oftheCivilCode,withthisexplanationoftheCodeCommission:
The present law provides for only one form of executing a will, and that is, in accordance with the
formalitiesprescribedbySection618oftheCodeofCivilProcedureasamendedbyActNo.2645.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines had previously upheld the strict compliance with the legal
formalities and had even said that the provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as
amended regarding the contents of the attestation clause were mandatory, and noncompliance
therewith invalidated the will (Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405). These decisions necessarily
restrainedthefreedomofthetestatorindisposingofhisproperty.
However,inrecentyearstheSupremeCourtchangeditsattitudeandhasbecomemoreliberalinthe
interpretationoftheformalitiesintheexecutionofwills.Thisliberalviewisenunciatedinthecasesof
Rodriguezvs.Yap,G.R.No.45924,May18,1939Leynezvs.Leynez,G.R.No.46097,October18,
1939Martirvs.Martir,G.R.No.46995,June21,1940andAlcalavs.Villa,G.R.No.47351,April18,
1941.
IntheabovementioneddecisionsofourSupremeCourt,ithaspracticallygonebacktotheoriginal
provisionsofSection618oftheCodeofCivilProcedurebeforeitsamendmentbyActNo.2645inthe
year 1916. To turn this attitude into a legislative declaration and to attain the main objective of the
proposed Code in the liberalization of the manner of executing wills, article 829 of the Project is
recommended,whichreads:
"Art.829.Intheabsenceofbadfaith,forgery,orfraud,orundueandimproperpressure
and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language
used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact
executedandattestedinsubstantialcompliancewithalltherequirementsofarticle829."
65

Thesocalledliberalrule,theCourtsaidinGilvs.Murciano,66"doesnotofferanypuzzleordifficulty,nordoesitopen
the door to serious consequences. The later decisions do tell us when and where to stop they draw the dividing line with
precision.Theydonotallowevidencealiundetofillavoidinanypartofthedocumentorsupplymissingdetailsthatshould
appearinthewillitself.Theyonlypermitaprobeintothewill,anexplorationintoitsconfines,toascertainitsmeaningorto
determinetheexistenceorabsenceoftherequisiteformalitiesoflaw.Thisclear,sharplimitationeliminatesuncertaintyand
oughttobanishanyfearofdireresults."

Itmaythusbestatedthattherule,asitnowstands,isthatomissionswhichcanbesuppliedbyanexaminationof
thewillitself,withouttheneedofresortingtoextrinsicevidence,willnotbefataland,correspondingly,wouldnot
obstructtheallowancetoprobateofthewillbeingassailed.However,thoseomissionswhichcannotbesupplied
exceptbyevidencealiundewouldresultintheinvalidationoftheattestationclauseandultimately,ofthewillitself.
67

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the impugned decision of respondent court is hereby
REVERSEDandSETASIDE.ThecourtaquoisaccordinglydirectedtoforthwithDISMISSitsSpecialProceeding
No.3899R(PetitionfortheProbateoftheLastWillandTestamentofMateoCaballero)andtoREVIVESpecial
ProceedingNo.3965R(InthematteroftheIntestateEstateofMateoCaballero)asanactivecaseandthereafter
dulyproceedwiththesettlementoftheestateofthesaiddecedent.
SOORDERED.
Narvasa,C.J.,Padilla,Regalado,andNocon,JJ.,concur.

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#Footnotes
*Thefirstnameofthisrepresentativepartypetitionerisalsospelled"Armistica"inthecorresponding
allegationofthepetition.
1OriginalRecord,13.
2ExhibitCFolderofExhibitsinSpecialProceedingNo.3899R,78.
3OriginalRecord,13,7,24,32.
4Ibid.,3234.
5Ibid.,6869,157.
6Ibid.,98,116,143,148,157159.
7TSN,July3,1986,35,1317,2327July18,1986,510.
8TSN,October9,1984,1126January4,1985,2April22,1985,1018.
9OriginalRecord,339340perJudgeJ.Militante.
10JusticeCesarD.Francisco,ponente,withJusticesReynatoS.PunoandJaimeD.Lantin,
concurring.
11Rollo,9.
12Ibid.,33.
13Riveravs.Palmanori,40Phil.116(1919)Art.810,CivilCode.
14ReportoftheCodeofCommission,103105.
15Art.806,CivilCode.
16Art.808,id.
17Art.804,id.
183Tolentino,CivilCodeofthePhilippines,68(1979ed.).
19TestateEstateofPaulaToray,87Phil.139(1950).
20Vda.deRamos,etal.vs.CourtofAppealsetal.,81SCRA393(1978).
21Leynezvs.Leynez,68Phil.745(1939).
22InreEstateofNeumarix,46Phil,841(1923).
23InTheMatteroftheEstateofSanguisin,41Phil.875(1920)InreWillofAndrada,42Phil.180
(1921).
24TestateEstateofPaulaToray,supra.
25Gonzalesvs.GonzalesdeCarungcong,90Phil.444(1951).
26Echevierriavs.Sarmiento,66Phil.611(1938).
27Abanganvs.Abangan,40Phil.476(1919).
28Cagrovs.Cagro,92Phil.1032(1953).
29ReportoftheCodeCommission,103.
30ExhibitsCtoC18FolderofExhibitsinSpecialProceedingNo.3899ROriginalRecord,46.
31Hillvs.Davis,167P.465,466,64Okl.253,L.R.A.1918B687.
32118SCRA195(1982).
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33Andalisvs.Pulgueras,59Phil.643(1934).
34Lawyer'sJournal,November30,1950,556,citedinTolentino,op.cit.,supra,note17at111112.
35UyCoquevs.Sioca,43Phil.405(1922)Gumbanvs.Gorecho,50Phil.30(1927)Quintovs.
Morata,54Phil.481(1930)Rodriguezvs.Alacala,55Phil.150(1930)TestateEstateofPaula
Toray,supraGilvs.Marciano,88Phil.261(1951).
3640Phil,476(1919).
3742Phil.145(1921).
3843Phil.378(1922).
3943Phil.494(1922).
4045Phil.216(1923).
4146Phil.922(1924).
4247Phil.152(1924).
4341Phil.875(1920).
4442Phil.180(1921).
4543Phil.405(1922).
4646Phil.841(1923).
4748Phil.506(1925).
4850Phil.30(1927).
4954Phil.481(1930).
5055Phil.150(1930).
5166Phil.611(1933).
5287Phil.139(1950).
5353Phil.104(1929).
5456Phil.282(1931).
5557Phil.437(1932).
5659Phil.653(1934).
5768Phil.126(1939).
5868Phil.128(1939).
5968Phil.745(1939).
6070Phil.89(1940).
6171Phil.561(1940).
6272Phil.531(1941).
6372Phil.546(1941).
6481Phil.,429(1948).
65ReportoftheCodeCommission,104105.
6688Phil.260,281(1951).
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67Tolentino,op.cit.,supra,note17at111.
TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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