You are on page 1of 6

SUCCESSION: ART.

810

G.R. No. L-38338

January 28, 1985

IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF ANDRES G. DE JESUS


AND BIBIANA ROXAS DE JESUS, SIMEON R. ROXAS & PEDRO ROXAS DE
JESUS, petitioners,
vs.
ANDRES R. DE JESUS, JR., respondent.
Raul S. Sison Law Office for petitioners.
Rafael Dinglasan, Jr. for heir M. Roxas.
Ledesma, Guytingco Velasco and Associates for Ledesa and A. R. de Jesus.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
This is a petition for certiorari to set aside the order of respondent Hon. Jose C.
Colayco, Presiding Judge Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXI
disallowing the probate of the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas
de Jesus.
The antecedent facts which led to the filing of this petition are undisputed.
After the death of spouses Andres G. de Jesus and Bibiana Roxas de Jesus,
Special Proceeding No. 81503 entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of
Andres G. de Jesus and Bibiana Roxas de Jesus" was filed by petitioner
Simeon R. Roxas, the brother of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus.
On March 26, 1973, petitioner Simeon R. Roxas was appointed administrator.
After Letters of Administration had been granted to the petitioner, he delivered to
the lower court a document purporting to be the holographic Will of the
deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. On May 26, 1973, respondent Judge Jose
Colayco set the hearing of the probate of the holographic Win on July 21, 1973.
Petitioner Simeon R. Roxas testified that after his appointment as administrator,
he found a notebook belonging to the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus and that on
pages 21, 22, 23 and 24 thereof, a letter-win addressed to her children and
entirely written and signed in the handwriting of the deceased Bibiana R. de
Jesus was found. The will is dated "FEB./61 " and states: "This is my win which I
want to be respected although it is not written by a lawyer. ...
The testimony of Simeon R. Roxas was corroborated by the testimonies of
Pedro Roxas de Jesus and Manuel Roxas de Jesus who likewise testified that

the letter dated "FEB./61 " is the holographic Will of their deceased mother,
Bibiana R. de Jesus. Both recognized the handwriting of their mother and
positively Identified her signature. They further testified that their deceased
mother understood English, the language in which the holographic Will is
written, and that the date "FEB./61 " was the date when said Will was executed
by their mother.
Respondent Luz R. Henson, another compulsory heir filed an "opposition to
probate" assailing the purported holographic Will of Bibiana R. de Jesus
because a it was not executed in accordance with law, (b) it was executed
through force, intimidation and/or under duress, undue influence and improper
pressure, and (c) the alleged testatrix acted by mistake and/or did not intend,
nor could have intended the said Will to be her last Will and testament at the
time of its execution.
On August 24, 1973, respondent Judge Jose C. Colayco issued an order
allowing the probate of the holographic Will which he found to have been duly
executed in accordance with law.
Respondent Luz Roxas de Jesus filed a motion for reconsideration alleging inter
alia that the alleged holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus was
not dated as required by Article 810 of the Civil Code. She contends that the law
requires that the Will should contain the day, month and year of its execution
and that this should be strictly complied with.
On December 10, 1973, respondent Judge Colayco reconsidered his earlier
order and disallowed the probate of the holographic Will on the ground that the
word "dated" has generally been held to include the month, day, and year. The
dispositive portion of the order reads:
WHEREFORE, the document purporting to be the holographic
Will of Bibiana Roxas de Jesus, is hereby disallowed for not
having been executed as required by the law. The order of
August 24, 1973 is hereby set aside.
The only issue is whether or not the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the
holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is a valid compliance
with the Article 810 of the Civil Code which reads:
ART. 810. A person may execute a holographic will which must
be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator
himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or
out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.

SUCCESSION: ART. 810

The petitioners contend that while Article 685 of the Spanish Civil Code and
Article 688 of the Old Civil Code require the testator to state in his holographic
Win the "year, month, and day of its execution," the present Civil Code omitted
the phrase Ao mes y dia and simply requires that the holographic Will should
be dated. The petitioners submit that the liberal construction of the holographic
Will should prevail.

... The law has a tender regard for the will of the testator
expressed in his last will and testament on the ground that any
disposition made by the testator is better than that which the law
can make. For this reason, intestate succession is nothing more
than a disposition based upon the presumed will of the
decedent.

Respondent Luz Henson on the other hand submits that the purported
holographic Will is void for non-compliance with Article 810 of the New Civil
Code in that the date must contain the year, month, and day of its execution.
The respondent contends that Article 810 of the Civil Code was patterned after
Section 1277 of the California Code and Section 1588 of the Louisiana Code
whose Supreme Courts had consistently ruled that the required date includes
the year, month, and day, and that if any of these is wanting, the holographic
Will is invalid. The respondent further contends that the petitioner cannot plead
liberal construction of Article 810 of the Civil Code because statutes prescribing
the formalities to be observed in the execution of holographic Wills are strictly
construed.

Thus, the prevailing policy is to require satisfaction of the legal requirements in


order to guard against fraud and bad faith but without undue or unnecessary
curtailment of testamentary privilege Icasiano v. Icasiano, 11 SCRA 422). If a
Will has been executed in substantial compliance with the formalities of the law,
and the possibility of bad faith and fraud in the exercise thereof is obviated, said
Win should be admitted to probate (Rey v. Cartagena 56 Phil. 282). Thus,

We agree with the petitioner.


This will not be the first time that this Court departs from a strict and literal
application of the statutory requirements regarding the due execution of Wills.
We should not overlook the liberal trend of the Civil Code in the manner of
execution of Wills, the purpose of which, in case of doubt is to prevent intestacy

The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the


provisions of the law on wigs in this Project consists in the
liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in
view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last
wishes, but with sufficien safeguards and restrictions to prevent
the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and
improper pressure and influence upon the testator.
This objective is in accord with the modem tendency with
respect to the formalities in the execution of wills. (Report of the
Code Commission, p. 103)
In Justice Capistrano's concurring opinion in Heirs of Raymundo Castro v.
Bustos (27 SCRA 327) he emphasized that:
xxx xxx xxx

xxx xxx xxx


... More than anything else, the facts and circumstances of
record are to be considered in the application of any given rule.
If the surrounding circumstances point to a regular execution of
the wilt and the instrument appears to have been executed
substantially in accordance with the requirements of the law, the
inclination should, in the absence of any suggestion of bad faith,
forgery or fraud, lean towards its admission to probate, although
the document may suffer from some imperfection of language,
or other non-essential defect. ... (Leynez v. Leynez 68 Phil.
745).
If the testator, in executing his Will, attempts to comply with all the requisites,
although compliance is not literal, it is sufficient if the objective or purpose
sought to be accomplished by such requisite is actually attained by the form
followed by the testator.
The purpose of the solemnities surrounding the execution of Wills has been
expounded by this Court in Abangan v. Abanga 40 Phil. 476, where we ruled
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 guaranty their truth
and authenticity. ...
In particular, a complete date is required to provide against such contingencies
as that of two competing Wills executed on the same day, or of a testator

SUCCESSION: ART. 810

becoming insane on the day on which a Will was executed (Velasco v. Lopez, 1
Phil. 720). There is no such contingency in this case.
We have carefully reviewed the records of this case and found no evidence of
bad faith and fraud in its execution nor was there any substitution of Wins and
Testaments. There is no question that the holographic Will of the deceased
Bibiana Roxas de Jesus was entirely written, dated, and signed by the testatrix
herself and in a language known to her. There is also no question as to its
genuineness and due execution. All the children of the testatrix agree on the
genuineness of the holographic Will of their mother and that she had the
testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of said Will. The objection
interposed by the oppositor-respondent Luz Henson is that the holographic Will
is fatally defective because the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the holographic
Will is not sufficient compliance with Article 810 of the Civil Code. This objection
is too technical to be entertained.
As a general rule, the "date" in a holographic Will should include the day, month,
and year of its execution. However, when as in the case at bar, there is no
appearance of fraud, bad faith, undue influence and pressure and the
authenticity of the Will is established and the only issue is whether or not the
date "FEB./61" appearing on the holographic Will is a valid compliance with
Article 810 of the Civil Code, probate of the holographic Will should be allowed
under the principle of substantial compliance.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The order appealed from is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the order allowing the probate of the
holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is reinstated.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova and De la Fuente, JJ.,
concur.

SUCCESSION: ART. 810

G.R. Nos. 83843-44

April 5, 1990

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF MELECIO


LABRADOR. SAGRADO LABRADOR (Deceased), substituted by ROSITA
LABRADOR, ENRICA LABRADOR, and CRISTOBAL LABRADOR,
petitioners-appellants,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, 1 GAUDENCIO LABRADOR, and JESUS
LABRADOR, respondents-appellees.
Benjamin C. Santos Law Offices for petitioners.
Rodrigo V. Fontelera for private respondents.
PARAS, J.:
The sole issue in this case is whether or not the alleged holographic will of one
Melecio Labrador is dated, as provided for in Article 8102 of the New Civil Code.
The antecedent and relevant facts are as follows: On June 10, 1972, Melecio
Labrador died in the Municipality of Iba, province of Zambales, where he was
residing, leaving behind a parcel of land designated as Lot No. 1916 under
Original Certificate of Title No. P-1652, and the following heirs, namely:
Sagrado, Enrica, Cristobal, Jesus, Gaudencio, Josefina, Juliana, Hilaria and
Jovita, all surnamed Labrador, and a holographic will.
On July 28, 1975, Sagrado Labrador (now deceased but substituted by his
heirs), Enrica Labrador and Cristobal Labrador, filed in the court a quo a petition
for the probate docketed as Special Proceeding No. 922-I of the alleged
holographic will of the late Melecio Labrador.

devise from their father Melecio Labrador under a holographic will executed on
March 17, 1968, the complaint for annulment docketed as Civil Case No. 934-I,
being premised on the fact that the aforesaid Deed of Absolute Sale is fictitious.
After both parties had rested and submitted their respective evidence, the trial
court rendered a joint decision dated February 28, 1985, allowing the probate of
the holographic will and declaring null and void the Deed of Absolute sale. The
court a quo had also directed the respondents (the defendants in Civil Case No.
934-I) to reimburse to the petitioners the sum of P5,000.00 representing the
redemption price for the property paid by the plaintiff-petitioner Sagrado with
legal interest thereon from December 20, 1976, when it was paid to vendee a
retro.
Respondents appealed the joint decision to the Court of Appeals, which on
March 10, 1988 modified said joint decision of the court a quo by denying the
allowance of the probate of the will for being undated and reversing the order of
reimbursement. Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid decision
was denied by the Court of Appeals, in the resolution of June 13, 1988. Hence,
this petition.
Petitioners now assign the following errors committed by respondent court, to
wit:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT ALLOWING AND
APPROVING THE PROBATE OF THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE
TESTATOR MELECIO LABRADOR; and
II

Subsequently, on September 30, 1975, Jesus Labrador (now deceased but


substituted by his heirs), and Gaudencio Labrador filed an opposition to the
petition on the ground that the will has been extinguished or revoked by
implication of law, alleging therein that on September 30, 1971, that is, before
Melecio's death, for the consideration of Six Thousand (P6,000) Pesos, testator
Melecio executed a Deed of Absolute Sale, selling, transferring and conveying in
favor of oppositors Jesus and Gaudencio Lot No. 1916 and that as a matter of
fact, O.C.T. No. P-1652 had been cancelled by T.C.T. No. T-21178. Earlier
however, in 1973, Jesus Labrador sold said parcel of land to Navat for only Five
Thousand (P5,000) Pesos. (Rollo, p. 37)
Sagrado thereupon filed, on November 28, 1975, against his brothers,
Gaudencio and Jesus, for the annulment of said purported Deed of Absolute
Sale over a parcel of land which Sagrado allegedly had already acquired by

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE ORDER


OF THE LOWER COURT DIRECTING THE REIMBURSEMENT OF
THE FIVE THOUSAND PESOS REPRESENTING THE REDEMPTION
PRICE WAS ERRONEOUS.
The alleged undated holographic will written in Ilocano translated into English, is
quoted as follows:
ENGLISH
INTERPRETATION
OF
THE
WILL
LATE
MELECIO
LABRADOR
WRITTEN
IN
BY ATTY. FIDENCIO L. FERNANDEZ

OF
THE
ILOCANO

SUCCESSION: ART. 810

I First Page
This is also where it appears in writing of the place which is assigned
and shared or the partition in favor of SAGRADO LABRADOR which is
the fishpond located and known place as Tagale.
And this place that is given as the share to him, there is a measurement
of more or less one hectare, and the boundary at the South is the
property and assignment share of ENRICA LABRADOR, also their
sister, and the boundary in the West is the sea, known as the SEA as it
is, and the boundary on the NORTH is assignment belonging to
CRISTOBAL LABRADOR, who likewise is also their brother. That
because it is now the time for me being now ninety three (93) years,
then I feel it is the right time for me to partition the fishponds which were
and had been bought or acquired by us, meaning with their two
mothers, hence there shall be no differences among themselves, those
among brothers and sisters, for it is I myself their father who am making
the apportionment and delivering to each and everyone of them the said
portion and assignment so that there shall not be any cause of troubles
or differences among the brothers and sisters.

And that referring to the other places of property, where the said
property is located, the same being the fruits of our earnings of the two
mothers of my children, there shall be equal portion of each share
among themselves, and or to be benefitted with all those property,
which property we have been able to acquire.
That in order that there shall be basis of the truth of this writing (WILL)
which I am here hereof manifesting of the truth and of the fruits of our
labor which their two mothers, I am signing my signature below hereof,
and that this is what should be complied with, by all the brothers and
sisters, the children of their two mothers JULIANA QUINTERO
PILARISA and CASIANA AQUINO VILLANUEVA Your father who made
this writing (WILL), and he is, MELECIO LABRADOR y RALUTIN (p. 46,
Rollo)
The petition, which principally alleges that the holographic will is really dated,
although the date is not in its usual place, is impressed with merit.
The will has been dated in the hand of the testator himself in perfect compliance
with Article 810.1wphi1 It is worthy of note to quote the first paragraph of the
second page of the holographic will, viz:

II Second Page
And this is the day in which we agreed that we are making the
partitioning and assigning the respective assignment of the said
fishpond, and this being in the month of March, 17th day, in the year
1968, and this decision and or instruction of mine is the matter to be
followed. And the one who made this writing is no other than MELECIO
LABRADOR, their father.
Now, this is the final disposition that I am making in writing and it is this
that should be followed and complied with in order that any differences
or troubles may be forestalled and nothing will happen along these
troubles among my children, and that they will be in good relations
among themselves, brothers and sisters;
And those improvements and fruits of the land; mangoes, bamboos and
all coconut trees and all others like the other kind of bamboo by name of
Bayog, it is their right to get if they so need, in order that there shall be
nothing that anyone of them shall complain against the other, and
against anyone of the brothers and sisters.
III THIRD PAGE

And this is the day in which we agreed that we are making the
partitioning and assigning the respective assignment of the said
fishpond, and this being in the month of March, 17th day, in the year
1968, and this decision and or instruction of mine is the matter to be
followed. And the one who made this writing is no other than MELECIO
LABRADOR, their father. (emphasis supplied) (p. 46, Rollo)
The law does not specify a particular location where the date should be placed
in the will. The only requirements are that the date be in the will itself and
executed in the hand of the testator. These requirements are present in the
subject will.
Respondents claim that the date 17 March 1968 in the will was when the
testator and his beneficiaries entered into an agreement among themselves
about "the partitioning and assigning the respective assignments of the said
fishpond," and was not the date of execution of the holographic will; hence, the
will is more of an "agreement" between the testator and the beneficiaries thereof
to the prejudice of other compulsory heirs like the respondents. This was thus a
failure to comply with Article 783 which defines a will as "an act whereby a
person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain
degree the disposition of his estate, to take effect after his death."

SUCCESSION: ART. 810

Respondents are in error. The intention to show 17 March 1968 as the date of
the execution of the will is plain from the tenor of the succeeding words of the
paragraph. As aptly put by petitioner, the will was not an agreement but a
unilateral act of Melecio Labrador who plainly knew that what he was executing
was a will. The act of partitioning and the declaration that such partitioning as
the testator's instruction or decision to be followed reveal that Melecio Labrador
was fully aware of the nature of the estate property to be disposed of and of the
character of the testamentary act as a means to control the disposition of his
estate.
Anent the second issue of finding the reimbursement of the P5,000 representing
the redemption price as erroneous, respondent court's conclusion is incorrect.
When private respondents sold the property (fishpond) with right to repurchase
to Navat for P5,000, they were actually selling property belonging to another and
which they had no authority to sell, rendering such sale null and void.
Petitioners, thus "redeemed" the property from Navat for P5,000, to immediately
regain possession of the property for its disposition in accordance with the will.
Petitioners therefore deserve to be reimbursed the P5,000.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated March
10, 1988 is hereby REVERSED. The holographic will of Melecio Labrador is
APPROVED and ALLOWED probate. The private respondents are directed to
REIMBURSE the petitioners the sum of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00).
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur.