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ART.

891 RESERVA TRONCAL

G.R. No. 83484

February 12, 1990

CELEDONIA SOLIVIO, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and CONCORDIA JAVELLANA
VILLANUEVA, respondents.
Rex Suiza Castillon for petitioner.

SO ORDERED. (pp. 42-43, Rollo)


This case involves the estate of the late novelist, Esteban Javellana, Jr., author
of the first post-war Filipino novel "Without Seeing the Dawn," who died a
bachelor, without descendants, ascendants, brothers, sisters, nephews or
nieces. His only surviving relatives are: (1) his maternal aunt, petitioner
Celedonia Solivio, the spinster half-sister of his mother, Salustia Solivio; and (2)
the private respondent, Concordia Javellana-Villanueva, sister of his deceased
father, Esteban Javellana, Sr.

Salas & Villareal for private respondent.


MEDIALDEA, J.:

He was a posthumous child. His father died barely ten (10) months after his
marriage in December, 1916 to Salustia Solivio and four months before
Esteban, Jr. was born.

This is a petition for review of the decision dated January 26, 1988 of the Court
of Appeals in CA GR CV No. 09010 (Concordia Villanueva v. Celedonia Solivio)
affirming the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 13207 for partition,
reconveyance of ownership and possession and damages, the dispositive
portion of which reads as follows:

Salustia and her sister, Celedonia (daughter of Engracio Solivio and his second
wife Josefa Fernandez), a teacher in the Iloilo Provincial High School, brought
up Esteban, Jr.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered for the plaintiff


and against defendant:

Salustia brought to her marriage paraphernal properties (various parcels of land


in Calinog, Iloilo covered by 24 titles) which she had inherited from her mother,
Gregoria Celo, Engracio Solivio's first wife (p. 325, Record), but no conjugal
property was acquired during her short-lived marriage to Esteban, Sr.

a) Ordering that the estate of the late Esteban Javellana, Jr. be


divided into two (2) shares: one-half for the plaintiff and onehalf for defendant. From both shares shall be equally deducted
the expenses for the burial, mausoleum and related
expenditures. Against the share of defendants shall be charged
the expenses for scholarship, awards, donations and the
'Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Memorial Foundation;'
b) Directing the defendant to submit an inventory of the entire
estate property, including but not limited to, specific items
already mentioned in this decision and to render an accounting
of the property of the estate, within thirty (30) days from receipt
of this judgment; one-half (1/2) of this produce shall belong to
plaintiff;
c) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff P5,000.00 as expenses of
litigation; P10,000.00 for and as attorney's fees plus costs.

On October 11, 1959, Salustia died, leaving all her properties to her only child,
Esteban, Jr., including a house and lot in La Paz, Iloilo City, where she, her son,
and her sister lived. In due time, the titles of all these properties were
transferred in the name of Esteban, Jr.
During his lifetime, Esteban, Jr. had, more than once, expressed to his aunt
Celedonia and some close friends his plan to place his estate in a foundation to
honor his mother and to help poor but deserving students obtain a college
education. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack on February 26,1977 without
having set up the foundation.
Two weeks after his funeral, Concordia and Celedonia talked about what to do
with Esteban's properties. Celedonia told Concordia about Esteban's desire to
place his estate in a foundation to be named after his mother, from whom his
properties came, for the purpose of helping indigent students in their schooling.
Concordia agreed to carry out the plan of the deceased. This fact was admitted

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

by her in her "Motion to Reopen and/or Reconsider the Order dated April 3,
1978" which she filed on July 27, 1978 in Special Proceeding No. 2540, where
she stated:
4. That petitioner knew all along the narrated facts in the
immediately preceding paragraph [that herein movant is also
the relative of the deceased within the third degree, she being
the younger sister of the late Esteban Javellana, father of the
decedent herein], because prior to the filing of the petition they
(petitioner Celedonia Solivio and movant Concordia Javellana)
have agreed to make the estate of the decedent a foundation,
besides they have closely known each other due to their
filiation to the decedent and they have been visiting each
other's house which are not far away for (sic) each other. (p.
234, Record; Emphasis supplied.)
Pursuant to their agreement that Celedonia would take care of the proceedings
leading to the formation of the foundation, Celedonia in good faith and upon the
advice of her counsel, filed on March 8, 1977 Spl. Proceeding No. 2540 for her
appointment as special administratrix of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr.
(Exh. 2). Later, she filed an amended petition (Exh. 5) praying that letters of
administration be issued to her; that she be declared sole heir of the deceased;
and that after payment of all claims and rendition of inventory and accounting,
the estate be adjudicated to her (p. 115, Rollo).
After due publication and hearing of her petition, as well as her amended
petition, she was declared sole heir of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. She
explained that this was done for three reasons: (1) because the properties of
the estate had come from her sister, Salustia Solivio; (2) that she is the
decedent's nearest relative on his mother's side; and (3) with her as sole heir,
the disposition of the properties of the estate to fund the foundation would be
facilitated.
On April 3, 1978, the court (Branch II, CFI, now Branch 23, RTC) declared her
the sole heir of Esteban, Jr. Thereafter, she sold properties of the estate to pay
the taxes and other obligations of the deceased and proceeded to set up the
"SALUSTIA SOLIVIO VDA. DE JAVELLANA FOUNDATION" which she caused
to be registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 17,1981
under Reg. No. 0100027 (p. 98, Rollo).

Four months later, or on August 7, 1978, Concordia Javellana Villanueva filed a


motion for reconsideration of the court's order declaring Celedonia as "sole
heir" of Esteban, Jr., because she too was an heir of the deceased. On October
27, 1978, her motion was denied by the court for tardiness (pp. 80-81, Record).
Instead of appealing the denial, Concordia filed on January 7, 1980 (or one
year and two months later), Civil Case No. 13207 in the Regional Trial Court of
Iloilo, Branch 26, entitled "Concordia Javellana- Villanueva v. Celedonia Solivio"
for partition, recovery of possession, ownership and damages.
On September 3, 1984, the said trial court rendered judgment in Civil Case No.
13207, in favor of Concordia Javellana-Villanueva.
On Concordia's motion, the trial court ordered the execution of its judgment
pending appeal and required Celedonia to submit an inventory and accounting
of the estate. In her motions for reconsideration of those orders, Celedonia
averred that the properties of the deceased had already been transferred to,
and were in the possession of, the 'Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana
Foundation." The trial court denied her motions for reconsideration.
In the meantime, Celedonia perfected an appeal to the Court of Appeals (CA
GR CV No. 09010). On January 26, 1988, the Court of Appeals, Eleventh
Division, rendered judgment affirming the decision of the trial court in toto.
Hence, this petition for review wherein she raised the following legal issues:
1. whether Branch 26 of the RTC of Iloilo had jurisdiction to
entertain Civil Case No. 13207 for partition and recovery of
Concordia Villanueva's share of the estate of Esteban
Javellana, Jr. even while the probate proceedings (Spl. Proc.
No. 2540) were still pending in Branch 23 of the same court;
2. whether Concordia Villanueva was prevented from
intervening in Spl. Proc. No. 2540 through extrinsic fraud;
3. whether the decedent's properties were subject to reserva
troncal in favor of Celedonia, his relative within the third degree
on his mother's side from whom he had inherited them; and
4. whether Concordia may recover her share of the estate after
she had agreed to place the same in the Salustia Solivio Vda.

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

de Javellana Foundation, and notwithstanding the fact that


conformably with said agreement, the Foundation has been
formed and properties of the estate have already been
transferred to it.

Javellana died single, without any known issue, and without


any surviving parents. His nearest relative is the herein
Administratrix, an elder [sic] sister of his late mother who
reared him and with whom he had always been living with [sic]
during his lifetime.

I. The question of jurisdiction


xxxxxxxxx
After a careful review of the records, we find merit in the petitioner's contention
that the Regional Trial Court, Branch 26, lacked jurisdiction to entertain
Concordia Villanueva's action for partition and recovery of her share of the
estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. while the probate proceedings (Spl, Proc. No.
2540) for the settlement of said estate are still pending in Branch 23 of the
same court, there being as yet no orders for the submission and approval of the
administratix's inventory and accounting, distributing the residue of the estate to
the heir, and terminating the proceedings (p. 31, Record).
It is the order of distribution directing the delivery of the residue of the estate to
the persons entitled thereto that brings to a close the intestate proceedings,
puts an end to the administration and thus far relieves the administrator from
his duties (Santiesteban v. Santiesteban, 68 Phil. 367, Philippine Commercial
and Industrial Bank v. Escolin, et al., L-27860, March 29, 1974, 56 SCRA 266).
The assailed order of Judge Adil in Spl. Proc. No. 2540 declaring Celedonia as
the sole heir of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. did not toll the end of the
proceedings. As a matter of fact, the last paragraph of the order directed the
administratrix to "hurry up the settlement of the estate." The pertinent portions
of the order are quoted below:

2. Miss Celedonia Solivio, Administratrix of this estate, is


hereby declared as the sole and legal heir of the late Esteban
S. Javellana, who died intestate on February 26, 1977 at La
Paz, Iloilo City.
The Administratrix is hereby instructed to hurry up with the
settlement of this estate so that it can be terminated. (pp, 1416, Record)
In view of the pendency of the probate proceedings in Branch 11 of the Court of
First Instance (now RTC, Branch 23), Concordia's motion to set aside the order
declaring Celedonia as sole heir of Esteban, and to have herself (Concordia)
declared as co-heir and recover her share of the properties of the deceased,
was properly filed by her in Spl. Proc. No. 2540. Her remedy when the court
denied her motion, was to elevate the denial to the Court of Appeals for review
on certiorari. However, instead of availing of that remedy, she filed more than
one year later, a separate action for the same purpose in Branch 26 of the
court. We hold that the separate action was improperly filed for it is the probate
court that has exclusive jurisdiction to make a just and legal distribution of the
estate.

2. As regards the second incident [Motion for Declaration of


Miss Celedonia Solivio as Sole Heir, dated March 7, 1978], it
appears from the record that despite the notices posted and
the publication of these proceedings as required by law, no
other heirs came out to interpose any opposition to the instant
proceeding. It further appears that herein Administratrix is the
only claimant-heir to the estate of the late Esteban Javellana
who died on February 26, 1977.

In the interest of orderly procedure and to avoid confusing and conflicting


dispositions of a decedent's estate, a court should not interfere with probate
proceedings pending in a co-equal court. Thus, did we rule in Guilas v. Judge
of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, L-26695, January 31, 1972, 43
SCRA 111, 117, where a daughter filed a separate action to annul a project of
partition executed between her and her father in the proceedings for the
settlement of the estate of her mother:

During the hearing of the motion for declaration as heir on


March 17, 1978, it was established that the late Esteban

The probate court loses jurisdiction of an estate under


administration only after the payment of all the debts and the

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

remaining estate delivered to the heirs entitled to receive the


same. The finality of the approval of the project of The probate
court, in the exercise of its jurisdiction to make distribution, has
power to determine the proportion or parts to which each
distributed is entitled. ... The power to determine the legality or
illegality of the testamentary provision is inherent in the
jurisdiction of the court making a just and legal distribution of
the inheritance. ... To hold that a separate and independent
action is necessary to that effect, would be contrary to the
general tendency of the jurisprudence of avoiding multiplicity of
suits; and is further, expensive, dilatory, and impractical.
(Marcelino v. Antonio, 70 Phil. 388)
A judicial declaration that a certain person is the only heir of the
decedent is exclusively within the range of the administratrix
proceedings and can not properly be made an independent
action. (Litam v. Espiritu, 100 Phil. 364)
A separate action for the declaration of heirs is not proper.
(Pimentel v. Palanca, 5 Phil. 436)
partition by itself alone does not terminate the probate
proceeding (Timbol v. Cano, 1 SCRA 1271, 1276, L-15445,
April 29, 1961; Siguiong v. Tecson, 89 Phil. pp. 28, 30). As long
as the order of the distribution of the estate has not been
complied with, the probate proceedings cannot be deemed
closed and terminated Siguiong v. Tecson, supra); because a
judicial partition is not final and conclusive and does not
prevent the heirs from bringing an action to obtain his share,
provided the prescriptive period therefore has not elapsed
(Mari v. Bonilia, 83 Phil. 137). The better practice, however, for
the heir who has not received his share, is to demand his
share through a proper motion in the same probate or
administration proceedings, or for reopening of the probate or
administrative proceedings if it had already been closed, and
not through an independent action, which would be tried by
another court or Judge which may thus reverse a decision or
order of the probate or intestate court already final and
executed and re-shuffle properties long ago distributed and
disposed of. (Ramos v. Ortuzar, 89 Phil. 730, 741-742; Timbol

v. Cano, supra; Jingco v. Daluz, L-5107, April 24, 1953, 92 Phil.


1082; Roman Catholic v. Agustines, L-14710, March 29, 1960,
107 Phil. 455, 460-461; Emphasis supplied)
In Litam et al., v. Rivera, 100 Phil. 364, where despite the pendency of the
special proceedings for the settlement of the intestate estate of the deceased
Rafael Litam the plaintiffs-appellants filed a civil action in which they claimed
that they were the children by a previous marriage of the deceased to a
Chinese woman, hence, entitled to inherit his one-half share of the conjugal
properties acquired during his marriage to Marcosa Rivera, the trial court in the
civil case declared that the plaintiffs-appellants were not children of the
deceased, that the properties in question were paraphernal properties of his
wife, Marcosa Rivera, and that the latter was his only heir. On appeal to this
Court, we ruled that "such declarations (that Marcosa Rivera was the only heir
of the decedent) is improper, in Civil Case No. 2071, it being within the
exclusive competence of the court in Special Proceedings No. 1537, in which it
is not as yet, in issue, and, will not be, ordinarily, in issue until the presentation
of the project of partition. (p. 378).
However, in the Guilas case, supra, since the estate proceedings had been
closed and terminated for over three years, the action for annulment of the
project of partition was allowed to continue. Considering that in the instant
case, the estate proceedings are still pending, but nonetheless, Concordia had
lost her right to have herself declared as co-heir in said proceedings, We have
opted likewise to proceed to discuss the merits of her claim in the interest of
justice.
The orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 26, in Civil Case No. 13207
setting aside the probate proceedings in Branch 23 (formerly Branch 11) on the
ground of extrinsic fraud, and declaring Concordia Villanueva to be a co-heir of
Celedonia to the estate of Esteban, Jr., ordering the partition of the estate, and
requiring the administratrix, Celedonia, to submit an inventory and accounting
of the estate, were improper and officious, to say the least, for these matters he
within the exclusive competence of the probate court.
II. The question of extrinsic fraud
Was Concordia prevented from intervening in the intestate proceedings by
extrinsic fraud employed by Celedonia? It is noteworthy that extrinsic fraud was

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

not alleged in Concordia's original complaint in Civil Case No. 13207. It was
only in her amended complaint of March 6, 1980, that extrinsic fraud was
alleged for the first time.
Extrinsic fraud, as a ground for annulment of judgment, is any
act or conduct of the prevailing party which prevented a fair
submission of the controversy (Francisco v. David, 38 O.G.
714). A fraud 'which prevents a party from having a trial or
presenting all of his case to the court, or one which operates
upon matters pertaining, not to the judgment itself, but to the
manner by which such judgment was procured so much so that
there was no fair submission of the controversy. For instance, if
through fraudulent machination by one [his adversary], a
litigant was induced to withdraw his defense or was prevented
from presenting an available defense or cause of action in the
case wherein the judgment was obtained, such that the
aggrieved party was deprived of his day in court through no
fault of his own, the equitable relief against such judgment may
be availed of. (Yatco v. Sumagui, 44623-R, July 31, 1971).
(cited in Philippine Law Dictionary, 1972 Ed. by Moreno; Varela
v. Villanueva, et al., 96 Phil. 248)
A judgment may be annulled on the ground of extrinsic or
collateral fraud, as distinguished from intrinsic fraud, which
connotes any fraudulent scheme executed by a prevailing
litigant 'outside the trial of a case against the defeated party, or
his agents, attorneys or witnesses, whereby said defeated
party is prevented from presenting fully and fairly his side of the
case. ... The overriding consideration is that the fraudulent
scheme of the prevailing litigant prevented a party from having
his day in court or from presenting his case. The fraud,
therefore, is one that affects and goes into the jurisdiction of
the court. (Libudan v. Gil, L-21163, May 17, 1972, 45 SCRA 17,
27-29; Sterling Investment Corp. v. Ruiz, L-30694, October 31,
1969, 30 SCRA 318, 323)
The charge of extrinsic fraud is, however, unwarranted for the following
reasons:

1. Concordia was not unaware of the special proceeding


intended to be filed by Celedonia. She admitted in her
complaint that she and Celedonia had agreed that the latter
would "initiate the necessary proceeding" and pay the taxes
and obligations of the estate. Thus paragraph 6 of her
complaint alleged:
6. ... for the purpose of facilitating the settlement of the estate
of the late Esteban Javellana, Jr. at the lowest possible cost
and the least effort, the plaintiff and the defendant agreed that
the defendant shall initiate the necessary proceeding, cause
the payment of taxes and other obligations, and to do
everything else required by law, and thereafter, secure the
partition of the estate between her and the plaintiff, [although
Celedonia denied that they agreed to partition the estate, for
their agreement was to place the estate in a foundation.] (p. 2,
Record; emphasis supplied)
Evidently, Concordia was not prevented from intervening in the proceedings.
She stayed away by choice. Besides, she knew that the estate came
exclusively from Esteban's mother, Salustia Solivio, and she had agreed with
Celedonia to place it in a foundation as the deceased had planned to do.
2. The probate proceedings are proceedings in rem. Notice of
the time and place of hearing of the petition is required to be
published (Sec. 3, Rule 76 in relation to Sec. 3, Rule 79, Rules
of Court). Notice of the hearing of Celedonia's original petition
was published in the "Visayan Tribune" on April 25, May 2 and
9, 1977 (Exh 4, p. 197, Record). Similarly, notice of the hearing
of her amended petition of May 26, 1977 for the settlement of
the estate was, by order of the court, published in "Bagong
Kasanag" (New Light) issues of May 27, June 3 and 10, 1977
(pp. 182-305, Record). The publication of the notice of the
proceedings was constructive notice to the whole world.
Concordia was not deprived of her right to intervene in the
proceedings for she had actual, as well as constructive notice
of the same. As pointed out by the probate court in its order of
October 27, 1978:

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

... . The move of Concordia Javellana, however, was filed about


five months after Celedonia Solivio was declared as the sole
heir. ... .
Considering that this proceeding is one in rem and had been
duly published as required by law, despite which the present
movant only came to court now, then she is guilty of laches for
sleeping on her alleged right. (p. 22, Record)
The court noted that Concordia's motion did not comply with the requisites of a
petition for relief from judgment nor a motion for new trial.
The rule is stated in 49 Corpus Juris Secundum 8030 as follows:
Where petition was sufficient to invoke statutory jurisdiction of
probate court and proceeding was in rem no subsequent errors
or irregularities are available on collateral attack. (Bedwell v.
Dean 132 So. 20)
Celedonia's allegation in her petition that she was the sole heir of Esteban
within the third degree on his mother's side was not false. Moreover, it was
made in good faith and in the honest belief that because the properties of
Esteban had come from his mother, not his father, she, as Esteban's nearest
surviving relative on his mother's side, is the rightful heir to them. It would have
been self-defeating and inconsistent with her claim of sole heirship if she stated
in her petition that Concordia was her co-heir. Her omission to so state did not
constitute extrinsic fraud.
Failure to disclose to the adversary, or to the court, matters
which would defeat one's own claim or defense is not such
extrinsic fraud as will justify or require vacation of the judgment.
(49 C.J.S. 489, citing Young v. Young, 2 SE 2d 622; First
National Bank & Trust Co. of King City v. Bowman, 15 SW 2d
842; Price v. Smith, 109 SW 2d 1144, 1149)
It should be remembered that a petition for administration of a decedent's
estate may be filed by any "interested person" (Sec. 2, Rule 79, Rules of
Court). The filing of Celedonia's petition did not preclude Concordia from filing
her own.

III. On the question of reserva troncal


We find no merit in the petitioner's argument that the estate of the deceased
was subject to reserva troncal and that it pertains to her as his only relative
within the third degree on his mother's side. The reserva troncal provision of the
Civil Code is found in Article 891 which reads as follows:
ART. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any
property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title
from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to
reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of
law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree
and who belong to the line from which said property came.
The persons involved in reserva troncal are:
1. The person obliged to reserve is the reservor (reservista)
the ascendant who inherits by operation of law property from
his descendants.
2. The persons for whom the property is reserved are the
reservees (reservatarios)relatives within the third degree
counted from the descendant (propositus), and belonging to
the line from which the property came.
3. The propositusthe descendant who received by gratuitous
title and died without issue, making his other ascendant inherit
by operation of law. (p. 692, Civil Law by Padilla, Vol. II, 1956
Ed.)
Clearly, the property of the deceased, Esteban Javellana, Jr., is not reservable
property, for Esteban, Jr. was not an ascendant, but the descendant of his
mother, Salustia Solivio, from whom he inherited the properties in question.
Therefore, he did not hold his inheritance subject to a reservation in favor of his
aunt, Celedonia Solivio, who is his relative within the third degree on his
mother's side. The reserva troncal applies to properties inherited by an
ascendant from a descendant who inherited it from another ascendant or 9
brother or sister. It does not apply to property inherited by a descendant from
his ascendant, the reverse of the situation covered by Article 891.

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Since the deceased, Esteban Javellana, Jr., died without descendants,


ascendants, illegitimate children, surviving spouse, brothers, sisters, nephews
or nieces, what should apply in the distribution of his estate are Articles 1003
and 1009 of the Civil Code which provide:
ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants,
illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral
relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in
accordance with the following articles.
ART. 1009. Should there be neither brothers nor sisters, nor
children of brothers or sisters, the other collateral relatives shall
succeed to the estate.
The latter shall succeed without distinction of lines or
preference among them by reason of relationship by the whole
blood.
Therefore, the Court of Appeals correctly held that:
Both plaintiff-appellee and defendant-appellant being relatives
of the decedent within the third degree in the collateral line,
each, therefore, shall succeed to the subject estate 'without
distinction of line or preference among them by reason of
relationship by the whole blood,' and is entitled one-half (1/2)
share and share alike of the estate. (p. 57, Rollo)
IV. The question of Concordia's one-half share
However, inasmuch as Concordia had agreed to deliver the estate of the
deceased to the foundation in honor of his mother, Salustia Solivio Vda. de
Javellana (from whom the estate came), an agreement which she ratified and
confirmed in her "Motion to Reopen and/or Reconsider Order dated April 3,
1978" which she filed in Spl. Proceeding No. 2540:
4. That ... prior to the filing of the petition they (petitioner
Celedonia Solivio and movant Concordia Javellana) have
agreed to make the estate of the decedent a foundation,
besides they have closely known each other due to their

filiation to the decedent and they have been visiting each


other's house which are not far away for (sic) each other. (p.
234, Record; Emphasis supplied)
she is bound by that agreement. It is true that by that agreement, she did not
waive her inheritance in favor of Celedonia, but she did agree to place all of
Esteban's estate in the "Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation" which
Esteban, Jr., during his lifetime, planned to set up to honor his mother and to
finance the education of indigent but deserving students as well.
Her admission may not be taken lightly as the lower court did. Being a judicial
admission, it is conclusive and no evidence need be presented to prove the
agreement (Cunanan v. Amparo, 80 Phil. 227; Granada v. Philippine National
Bank, L-20745, Sept. 2, 1966, 18 SCRA 1; Sta. Ana v. Maliwat, L-23023, Aug.
31, 1968, 24 SCRA 1018; People v. Encipido, G.R.70091, Dec. 29, 1986, 146
SCRA 478; and Rodillas v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. 58652, May 20, 1988, 161
SCRA 347).
The admission was never withdrawn or impugned by Concordia who,
significantly, did not even testify in the case, although she could have done so
by deposition if she were supposedly indisposed to attend the trial. Only her
husband, Narciso, and son-in-law, Juanito Domin, actively participated in the
trial. Her husband confirmed the agreement between his wife and Celedonia,
but he endeavored to dilute it by alleging that his wife did not intend to give all,
but only one-half, of her share to the foundation (p. 323, Record).
The records show that the "Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation" was
established and duly registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission
under Reg. No. 0100027 for the following principal purposes:
1. To provide for the establishment and/or setting up of
scholarships for such deserving students as the Board of
Trustees of the Foundation may decide of at least one scholar
each to study at West Visayas State College, and the
University of the Philippines in the Visayas both located in Iloilo
City.

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

2. To provide a scholarship for at least one scholar for St.


Clements Redemptorist Community for a deserving student
who has the religious vocation to become a priest.
3. To foster, develop, and encourage activities that will promote
the advancement and enrichment of the various fields of
educational endeavors, especially in literary arts. Scholarships
provided for by this foundation may be named after its
benevolent benefactors as a token of gratitude for their
contributions.
4. To direct or undertake surveys and studies in the community
to determine community needs and be able to alleviate partially
or totally said needs.
5. To maintain and provide the necessary activities for the
proper care of the Solivio-Javellana mausoleum at Christ the
King Memorial Park, Jaro, Iloilo City, and the Javellana
Memorial at the West Visayas State College, as a token of
appreciation for the contribution of the estate of the late
Esteban S. Javellana which has made this foundation possible.
Also, in perpetuation of his Roman Catholic beliefs and those
of his mother, Gregorian masses or their equivalents will be
offered every February and October, and Requiem masses
every February 25th and October llth, their death anniversaries,
as part of this provision.
6. To receive gifts, legacies, donations, contributions,
endowments and financial aids or loans from whatever source,
to invest and reinvest the funds, collect the income thereof and
pay or apply only the income or such part thereof as shall be
determined by the Trustees for such endeavors as may be
necessary to carry out the objectives of the Foundation.
7. To acquire, purchase, own, hold, operate, develop, lease,
mortgage, pledge, exchange, sell, transfer, or otherwise, invest,
trade, or deal, in any manner permitted by law, in real and
personal property of every kind and description or any interest
herein.

8. To do and perform all acts and things necessary, suitable or


proper for the accomplishments of any of the purposes herein
enumerated or which shall at any time appear conducive to the
protection or benefit of the corporation, including the exercise
of the powers, authorities and attributes concerned upon the
corporation organized under the laws of the Philippines in
general, and upon domestic corporation of like nature in
particular. (pp. 9-10, Rollo)
As alleged without contradiction in the petition' for review:
The Foundation began to function in June, 1982, and three (3)
of its eight Esteban Javellana scholars graduated in 1986, one
(1) from UPV graduated Cum Laude and two (2) from WVSU
graduated with honors; one was a Cum Laude and the other
was a recipient of Lagos Lopez award for teaching for being
the most outstanding student teacher.
The Foundation has four (4) high school scholars in Guiso
Barangay High School, the site of which was donated by the
Foundation. The School has been selected as the Pilot
Barangay High School for Region VI.
The Foundation has a special scholar, Fr. Elbert Vasquez, who
would be ordained this year. He studied at St. Francis Xavier
Major Regional Seminary at Davao City. The Foundation
likewise is a member of the Redemptorist Association that
gives yearly donations to help poor students who want to
become Redemptorist priests or brothers. It gives yearly
awards for Creative writing known as the Esteban Javellana
Award.
Further, the Foundation had constructed the Esteban S.
Javellana Multi-purpose Center at the West Visayas State
University for teachers' and students' use, and has likewise
contributed to religious civic and cultural fund-raising drives,
amongst other's. (p. 10, Rollo)

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Having agreed to contribute her share of the decedent's estate to the


Foundation, Concordia is obligated to honor her commitment as Celedonia has
honored hers.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is granted. The decision of the trial court
and the Court of Appeals are hereby SET ASIDE. Concordia J. Villanueva is
declared an heir of the late Esteban Javellana, Jr. entitled to one-half of his
estate. However, comformably with the agreement between her and her co-heir,
Celedonia Solivio, the entire estate of the deceased should be conveyed to the
"Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javallana Foundation," of which both the petitioner
and the private respondent shall be trustees, and each shall be entitled to
nominate an equal number of trustees to constitute the Board of Trustees of the
Foundation which shall administer the same for the purposes set forth in its
charter. The petitioner, as administratrix of the estate, shall submit to the
probate court an inventory and accounting of the estate of the deceased
preparatory to terminating the proceedings therein.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, Cruz, Gancayco and Grio-Aquino, JJ., concur.

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

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ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

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ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

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13

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

G.R. No. L-12957

March 24, 1961

14

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

CONSTANCIO SIENES, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants,


vs.
FIDEL ESPARCIA, ET AL., defendants-appellees.
Proceso R. Remollo for plaintiffs-appellants.
Leonardo D. Mancao for defendants-appellees.
DIZON, J.:
Appellants commenced this action below to secure judgment (1) declaring null
and void the sale executed by Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso in favor of
appellees, the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes; (2) ordering the
Esparcia spouses to reconvey to appellants Lot 3368 of the Cadastral Survey
of Ayuquitan (now Amlan), Oriental Negros; and (3) ordering all the appellees to
pay, jointly and severally, to appellants the sum of P500.00 as damages, plus
the costs of suit. In their answer appellees disclaimed any knowledge or
information regarding the sale allegedly made on April 20, 1951 by Andrea
Gutang in favor of appellants and alleged that, if such sale was made, the same
was void on the ground that Andrea Gutang had no right to dispose of the
property subject matter thereof. They further alleged that said property had
never been in possession of appellants, the truth being that appellees, as
owners, had been in continuous possession thereof since the death of
Francisco Yaeso. By way of affirmative defense and counterclaim, they further
alleged that on July 30, 1951, Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso, as the only surviving
heirs of Francisco Yaeso, executed a public instrument of sale in favor of the
spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes, the said sale having been
registered together with an affidavit of adjudication executed by Paulina and
Cipriana on July 18, 1951, as sole surviving heirs of the aforesaid deceased;
that since then the Esparcias had been in possession of the property as
owners.
After trial upon the issues thus joined, the lower court rendered judgment as
follows:
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered
declaring (1) that the sale of Lot No. 3368 made by Andrea Gutang to
the plaintiff spouses Constancio Sienes and Genoveva Silay is void,
and the reconveyance prayed for by them is denied; (2) that the sale
made by Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso in favor of defendants Fidel

Esparcia and Paulina Sienes involving the same lot is also void, and
they have no valid title thereto; and (3) that the reservable property in
question is part of and must be reverted to the estate of Cipriana
Yaeso, the lone surviving relative and heir of Francisco Yaeso at the
death of Andrea Gutang as of December 13, 1951. No pronouncement
as to the costs.
From the above decision the Sienes spouse interposed the present appeal,
their principal contentions being, firstly, that the lower court erred in holding that
Lot 3368 of the Cadastral Survey of Ayuquitan was a reservable property;
secondly, in annulling the sale of said lot executed by Andrea Gutang in their
favor; and lastly, in holding that Cipriana Yaeso, as reservee, was entitled to
inherit said land.
There is no dispute as to the following facts:
Lot 3368 originally belonged to Saturnino Yaeso. With his first wife, Teresa
Ruales, he had four children named Agaton, Fernando, Paulina and Cipriana,
while with his second wife, Andrea Gutang, he had an only son named
Francisco. According to the cadastral records of Ayuquitan, the properties left
by Saturnino upon his death the date of which does not clearly appear of
record were left to his children as follows: Lot 3366 to Cipriana, Lot 3367 to
Fernando, Lot 3375 to Agaton, Lot 3377 (southern portion) to Paulina, and Lot
3368 (western portion) to Francisco. As a result of the cadastral proceedings,
Original Certificate of Title No. 10275 covering Lot 3368 was issued in the
name of Francisco. Because Francisco was a minor at the time, his mother
administered the property for him, declared it in her name for taxation purposes
(Exhs A & A-1), and paid the taxes due thereon (Exhs. B, C, C-1 & C-2). When
Francisco died on May 29, 1932 at the age of 20, single and without any
descendant, his mother, as his sole heir, executed the public instrument Exhibit
F entitled EXTRAJUDICIAL SETTLEMENT AND SALE whereby, among other
things, for and in consideration of the sum of P800.00 she sold the property in
question to appellants. When thereafter said vendees demanded from Paulina
Yaeso and her husband Jose Esparcia, the surrender of Original Certificate of
Title No. 10275 which was in their possession the latter refused, thus
giving rise to the filing of the corresponding motion in the cadastral record No.
507. The same, however, was denied (Exhs. 8 & 9).

15

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Thereafter, or more specifically, on July 30, 1951, Cipriana and Paulina Yaeso,
the surviving half-sisters of Francisco, and who as such had declared the
property in their name, on January 1, 1951 executed a deed of sale in favor of
the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes (Exh. 2) who, in turn, declared
it in their name for tax purposes and thereafter secured the issuance in their
name of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-2141 (Exhs. 5 & 5-A).
As held by the trial court, it is clear upon the facts already stated, that the land
in question was reservable property. Francisco Yaeso inherited it by operation
of law from his father Saturnino, and upon Francisco's death, unmarried and
without descendants, it was inherited, in turn, by his mother, Andrea Gutang.
The latter was, therefore, under obligation to reserve it for the benefit of
relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which said property
came, if any survived her. The record discloses in this connection that Andrea
Gutang died on December 13, 1951, the lone reservee surviving her being
Cipriana Yaeso who died only on January 13, 1952 (Exh. 10).
In connection with reservable property, the weight of opinion is that the reserve
creates two resolutory conditions, namely, (1) the death of the ascendant
obliged to reserve and (2) the survival, at the time of his death, of relatives
within the third degree belonging to the line from which the property came (6
Manresa 268-269; 6 Sanchez Roman 1934). This Court has held in connection
with this matter that the reservista has the legal title and dominion to the
reservable property but subject to a resolutory condition; that he is like a life
usufructuary of the reservable property; that he may alienate the same but
subject to reservation, said alienation transmitting only the revocable and
conditional ownership of the reservists, the rights acquired by the transferee
being revoked or resolved by the survival of reservatarios at the time of the
death of the reservista (Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295; Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46
Phil. 664; Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480; and Director of Lands vs.
Aguas, 65 Phil. 279).
The sale made by Andrea Gutang in favor of appellees was, therefore, subject
to the condition that the vendees would definitely acquire ownership, by virtue
of the alienation, only if the vendor died without being survived by any person
entitled to the reservable property. Inasmuch much as when Andrea Gutang
died, Cipriana Yaeso was still alive, the conclusion becomes inescapable that
the previous sale made by the former in favor of appellants became of no legal
effect and the reservable property subject matter thereof passed in exclusive
ownership to Cipriana.

On the other hand, it is also clear that the sale executed by the sisters Paulina
and Cipriana Yaeso in favor of the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes
was subject to a similar resolutory condition. The reserve instituted by law in
favor of the heirs within the third degree belonging to the line from which the
reservable property came, constitutes a real right which the reservee may
alienate and dispose of, albeit conditionally, the condition being that the
alienation shall transfer ownership to the vendee only if and when the reservee
survives the person obliged to reserve. In the present case, Cipriana Yaeso,
one of the reservees, was still alive when Andrea Gutang, the person obliged to
reserve, died. Thus the former became the absolute owner of the reservable
property upon Andrea's death. While it may be true that the sale made by her
and her sister prior to this event, became effective because of the occurrence of
the resolutory condition, we are not now in a position to reverse the appealed
decision, in so far as it orders the reversion of the property in question to the
Estate of Cipriana Yaeso, because the vendees the Esparcia spouses did
not appeal therefrom.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision as above modified is affirmed, with
costs, and without prejudice to whatever action in equity the Esparcia spouses
may have against the Estate of Cipriana Yaeso for the reconveyance of the
property in question.
Bengzon, Actg. C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes,
J.B.L., Barrera and Paredes, JJ., concur.

16

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Marcelina Edroso. Hence the hereditary title whereupon is based the


application for registration of her ownership.
Two legitimate brothers of Victoriano Sablan that is, two uncles german of
Pedro Sablan appeared in the case to oppose the registration, claiming one
of two things: Either that the registration be denied, "or that if granted to her the
right reserved by law to the opponents be recorded in the registration of each
parcel." (B. of E., 11, 12.)
The Court of Land Registration denied the registration and the application
appealed through a bill of exceptions.
Registration was denied because the trial court held that the parcels of land in
question partake of the nature of property required by law to be reserved and
that in such a case application could only be presented jointly in the names of
the mother and the said two uncles of Pedro Sablan.
G.R. No. 6878

September 13, 1913

MARCELINA EDROSO, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
PABLO and BASILIO SABLAN, opponents-appellees.
Francisco Dominguez for appellant.
Crispin Oben for appellees.
ARELLANO, C.J.:
The subject matter of this appeal is the registration of certain property classified
as required by law to be reserved. Marcelina Edroso applied for registration and
issuance of title to two parcels of land situated in the municipality of Pagsanjan,
Province of Laguna, one of 1 hectare 77 ares and 63 centares, and the other 1
hectare 6 ares and 26 centares. Two applications were filed, one for each
parcel, but both were heard and decided in a single judgment.
Marcelina Edroso was married to Victoriano Sablan until his death on
September 22, 1882. In this marriage they had a son named Pedro, who was
born on August 1, 1881, and who at his father's death inherited the two said
parcels. Pedro also died on July 15, 1902, unmarried and without issue and by
this decease the two parcels of land passed through inheritance to his mother,

The appellant impugns as erroneous the first idea advanced (second


assignment of error), and denies that the land which are the subject matter of
the application are required by law to be reserved a contention we regard as
indefensible.
Facts: (1) The applicant acquired said lands from her descendant Pedro Sablan
by inheritance; (2) Pedro Sablan had acquired them from his ascendant
Victoriano Sablan, likewise by inheritance; (3) Victoriano Sablan had likewise
acquired them by inheritance from his ascendants, Mariano Sablan and Maria
Rita Fernandez, they having been adjudicated to him in the partition of
hereditary property had between him and his brothers. These are admitted
facts.
A very definite conclusions of law is that the hereditary title is one without a
valuable consideration [gratuitous title], and it is so characterized in article 968
of the Civil Code, for he who acquires by inheritance gives nothing in return for
what he receives; and a very definite conclusion of law also is that the uncles
german are within the third degree of blood relationship.
The ascendant who inherits from his descendant property which the
latter acquired without a valuable consideration from another
ascendant, or from a brother or sister, is under obligation to reserve

17

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

what he has acquired by operation of law for the relatives who are
within the third degree and belong to the line whence the property
proceeded. (Civil Code, art. 811.)
Marcelina Edroso, ascendant of Pedro Sablan, inherited from him these two
parcels of land which he had acquired without a valuable consideration that
is, by inheritance from another ascendant, his father Victoriano. Having
acquired them by operation of law, she is obligated to relatives within the third
degree and belong to the line of Mariano Sablan and Maria Rita Fernandez,
whence the lands proceeded. The trial court's ruling that they partake of the
nature property required by law to be reserved is therefore in accordance with
the law.
But the appellant contends that it is not proven that the two parcels of land in
question have been acquired by operation of law, and that only property
acquired without a valuable consideration, which is by operation of law, is
required by law to reserved.
The appellees justly argue that this defense was not alleged or discussed in
first instance, but only herein. Certainly, the allegation in first instance was
merely that "Pedro Sablan acquired the property in question in 1882, before the
enforcement of the Civil Code, which establishes the alleged right required by
law to be reserved, of which the opponents speak; hence, prescription of the
right of action; and finally, opponents' renunciation of their right, admitting that it
existed and that they had it" (p. 49).
However that be, it is not superflous to say, although it may be unnecessary,
that the applicant inherited the two parcels of land from her son Pedro, who
died "unmarried and without issue." The trial court so held as a conclusion of
fact, without any objection on the appellant's part. (B. of E., 17, 20.) When
Pedro Sablan died without issue, his mother became his heir by virtue of her
right to her son's legal portion under article 935 of the Civil Code:
In the absence of legitimate children and descendants of the deceased,
his ascendants shall from him, to the exclusion of collaterals.
The contrary could only have occurred if the heiress had demonstrated that any
of these lands had passed into her possession by free disposal in her son's will;
but the case presents no testamentary provision that demonstrate any transfer

of property from the son to the mother, not by operation of law, but by her son's
wish. The legal presumption is that the transfer of the two parcels of land was
abintestate or by operation of law, and not by will or the wish of the predecessor
in interest. (Act No. 190, sec. 334, No. 26.) All the provision of article 811 of the
Civil Code have therefore been fully complied with.
If Pedro Sablan had instituted his mother in a will as the universal heiress of his
property, all he left at death would not be required by law to be reserved, but
only what he would have perforce left her as the legal portion of a legitimate
ascendant.
The legal portion of the parents or ascendants is constituted by onehalf of the hereditary estate of the children and descendants. The latter
may unrestrictedly dispose of the other half, with the exception of what
is established in article 836. (Civil Code, art. 809.)
In such case only the half constituting the legal portion would be required by
law to be reserved, because it is what by operation of law could full to the
mother from her son's inheritance; the other half at free disposal would not
have to be reserved. This is all that article 811 of the Civil Code says.
No error has been incurred in holding that the two parcels of land which are the
subject matter of the application are required by law to be reserved, because
the interested party has not proved that either of them became her inheritance
through the free disposal of her son.
Proof testate succession devolves upon the heir or heiress who alleges it. It
must be admitted that a half of Pedro Sablan's inheritance was acquired by his
mother by operation of law. The law provides that the other half is also
presumed to be acquired by operation of law that is, by intestate succession.
Otherwise, proof to offset this presumption must be presented by the interested
party, that is, that the other half was acquired by the man's wish and not by
operation of law.
Nor is the third assignments of error admissible that the trial court failed to
sustain the renunciation of the right required by law to be reserved, which the
applicant attributes to the opponents. Such renunciation does not appear in the
case. The appellant deduces it from the fact that the appellees did not
contradict the following statement of hers at the trial:

18

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

The day after my brother-in-law Pablo Sablan dies and was buried, his brother
came to my house and said that those rice lands were mine, because we had
already talked about making delivery of them. (p. 91).
The other brother alluded to is Basilio Sablan, as stated on page 92. From the
fact that Basilio Sablan said that the lands belong to the appellant and must be
delivered to her it cannot be deduced that he renounced the right required by
law to be reserved in such lands by virtue of the provisions of article 811 of the
Civil Code, for they really belong to her and must be delivered to her.
The fourth assignments of error set up the defense of prescription of the right of
action. The appellant alleges prescription of the opponent's right of action for
requiring fulfillment of the obligation they attribute to her recording in the
property registry the right required by law to be reserved, in accordance with
the provisions of the Mortgage Law; and as such obligation is created by law, it
prescribed in the time fixed in No. 2 of section 43 of Act No. 190. She adds:
"Prescription of the right alleged to the reserved by force of law has not been
invoked." (Eight allegation.)
The appellant does not state in her brief what those provisions of the Mortgage
Law are. Nor did she do so in first instance, where she says only the following,
which is quoted from the record: "I do not refer to the prescription of the right
required by law to be reserved in the property; I refer to the prescription of the
right of action of those who are entitled to the guaranty of that right for seeking
that guaranty, for those who are entitled to that right the Mortgage Law grants a
period of time for recording it in the property registry, if I remember correctly,
ninety days, for seeking entry in the registry; but as they have not exercised
that right of action, such right of action for seeking here that it be recorded has
prescribed. The right of action for requiring that the property be reserved has
not prescribed, but the right of action for guaranteeing in the property registry
that this property is required by law to be reserved" (p. 69 of the record).
The appellees reply: It is true that their right of action has prescribed for
requiring the applicant to constitute the mortgage imposed by the Mortgage
Law for guaranteeing the effectiveness of the required by law to be reserved;
but because that right of action has prescribed, that property has not been
divested of its character of property required by law to be reserved; that it has
such character by virtue of article 8112 of the Civil Code, which went into effect
in the Philippine in December, 1889, and not by virtue of the Mortgage Law,

which only went into effect in the country by law of July 14, 1893; that from
December, 1889, to July, 1893, property which under article 811 of the Civil
Code acquired the character of property reserved by operation of law was such
independently of the Mortgage Law, which did not yet form part of the positive
legislation of the country; that although the Mortgage Law has been in effect in
the country since July, 1893, still it has in no way altered the force of article 811
of the Civil Code, but has operated to reinforce the same merely by granting the
right of action to the persons in whose favor the right is reserved by operation of
law to require of the person holding the property a guaranty in the form of a
mortgage to answer for the enforcement, in due time, of the right; that to lose
the right of action to the guaranty is not to lose the right itself; that the right
reserved is the principal obligation and the mortgage the accessory obligation,
and loss of the accessory does not mean loss of the principal. (Fifth and sixth
allegations.)
The existence of the right required by law to be reserved in the two parcels of
land in question being indisputable, even though it be admitted that the right of
action which the Mortgage Law grants as a guaranty of final enforcement of
such right has prescribed, the only thing to be determined by this appeal is the
question raised in the first assignment of error, that is, how said two parcels of
land can and ought to be registered, not in the property registry newly
established by the Mortgage Law, but in the registry newly organized by Act No.
496. But as the have slipped into the allegations quoted some rather inexact
ideas that further obscure such an intricate subject as this of the rights required
to be reserved in Spanish-Philippine law, a brief disgression on the most
essential points may not be out of place here.
The Mortgage Law of July 14, 1893, to which the appellees allude, is the
amended one of the colonies, not the first enforced in the colonies and
consequently in the Philippines. The preamble of said amended Mortgage Law
states:
The Mortgage Law in force in Spain for thirty years went into effect,
with the modifications necessary for its adaptation, in the Antilles on
May 1, 1880, and in the Philippines on December 1, 1889, thus
commencing in those regions the renovation of the law on real property,
and consequently of agrarian credit.

19

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

The Civil Code went into effect in the Philippines in the same year, 1889, but on
the eight day.

because the same principle exists and because of the general nature of the
provisions of the chapter in which they are found."

Two kinds of property required by law to be reserved are distinguished in the


Civil Code, as set forth in article 968 thereof, where it says:

From this principle of jurisprudence it is inferred that if from December, 1889, to


July, 1893, a case had occurred of a right required to be reserved by article
811, the persons entitled to such right would have been able to institute, against
the ascendant who must make the reservation, proceedings for the assurance
and guaranty that article 977 and 978 grant to the children of a first marriage
against their father or mother who has married again. The proceedings for
assurance, under article 977; are: Inventory of the property subject to the right
reserved, annotation in the property registry of such right reserved in the real
property and appraisal of the personal property; and the guaranty, under article
978, is the assurance by mortgage, in the case of realty, of the value of what is
validly alienated.

Besides the reservation imposed by article 811, the widow or widower


contracting a seconds marriage shall be obliged to set apart for the children
and descendants of the first marriage the ownership of all the property he or
she may have required from the deceased spouse by will, by intestate
succession, by gift, or other transfer without a valuable consideration."
The Mortgage Law of Spain and the first law that went into effect in the
Philippines on December 1, 189, do not contain any provision that can be
applied to the right reserved by article 811 of the Civil Code, for such right is a
creation of the Civil Code. In those laws appear merely the provisions intended
to guarantee the effectiveness of the right in favor of the children of the first
marriage when their father or mother contracts a second marriage.
Nevertheless, the holding of the supreme court of Spain, for the first time set
forth in the decision on appeal of November 8, 1894, has been reiterated:
That while the provisions of articles 977 and 978 of the Civil Code that
tend to secure the right required to be reserved in the property refer
especially to the spouses who contract second or later marriages, they
do not thereby cease to be applicable to the right establishes in article
811, because, aside from the legal reason, which is the same in both
cases, such must be the construction from the important and
conclusive circumstance that said provisions are set forth in the chapter
that deals with inheritances in common, either testate or intestate, and
because article 968, which heads the section that deals in general with
property required by law to be reserved, makes reference to the
provisions in article 811; and it would consequently be contradictory to
the principle of the law and of the common nature of said provisions not
to hold them applicable to that right.
Thus it was again stated in a decision on appeal, December 30, 1897, that: "As
the supreme court has already declared, the guaranties that the Code fixes in
article 977 and 978 for the rights required by law to the reserved to which said
articles refer, are applicable to the special right dealt with in article 811,

But since the amended Mortgage Law went into effect by law of July 14, 1893,
in the Philippines this is not only a principle of jurisprudence which may be
invoked for the applicability to the right reserved in article 811 of the remedies
of assurance and guaranty provided for the right reserved in article 968, but
there is a positive provision of said law, which is an advantage over the law of
Spain, to wit, article 199, which read thus:
The special mortgage for guaranteeing the right reserved by article 811
of the Civil Code can only be required by the relatives in whose favor
the property is to be reserved, if they are of age; if minors, it will be
require by the person who should legally represent them. In either case
the right of the persons in whose favor the property must be reserved
will be secured by the same requisites as set forth in the preceding
article (relative to the right reserved by article 968 of the Civil Code),
applying to the person obligated to reserve the right the provisions with
respect to the father.
In article 168 of the same law the new subsection 2 is added in connection with
article 199 quoted, so that said article 168 reads as thus:
Legal mortgage is established:
1. . . .

20

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

2. In favor of the relatives to whom article 811 of the Civil Code refers,
for the property required to be reserved, upon the property of the
person obliged to reserve it.
This being admitted, and admitted also that both the litigating parties agree that
the period of ninety days fixed for the right of action to the guaranty, that is, to
require the mortgage that guarantees the effectiveness of the right required by
law to be reserved, has prescribed, it is necessary to lay down a principle in this
matter. Now it should by noted that such action has not prescribed, because the
period of ninety days fixed by the Mortgage Law is not for the exercise of the
right of action of the persons entitled to the right reserved, but for the fulfillment
of the obligation of the person who must make the reservation.
Article 191 of the reads thus: "If ninety days pass without the father's instituting
in court the proceeding to which the foregoing article refers, the relatives
themselves may demand fulfillment, etc., . . . applying, according to said article
199, to the person obligated to reserve the right the provisions with respect to
the father."
Article 203 of the regulation for the application of the Mortgage Law says: "In
the case of article 199 of the law the proceedings to which article 190 thereof
refers will be instituted within the ninety days succeeding the date of the date of
the acceptation of the inheritance by the person obligated to reserve the
property; after this period has elapsed, the interested parties may require the
institution of such proceedings, if they are of age; and in any other case, their
legal representatives."
Thus it clearly appears that the lapse of the ninety days is not the expiration by
prescription of the period for the right must be reserved, but really the
commencement thereof, enables them to exercise it at any time, since no limits
is set in the law. So, if the annotation of the right required by law to be reserved
in the two parcels of land in question must be made in the property registry of
the Mortgage Law, the persons entitled to it may now institute proceedings to
that end, and an allegation of prescription against the exercise of such right of
action cannot be sustained.
Since the applicant confesses that she does not allege prescription of the right
of action for requiring that the property be reserved, for she explicitly so stated
at the trial, and as the case presents no necessity for the proceedings that

should be instituted in accordance with the provisions of the Mortgage Law, this
prescription of the right of action cannot take place, because such right of
action does not exist with reference to instituting proceedings for annotation in
the registry of Act No. 496 of the right to the property required by law to be
reserved. It is sufficient, as was done in the present case, to intervene in the
registration proceedings with the claim set up by the two opponents for
recording therein the right reserved in either parcel of land.
Now comes the main point in the appeal. The trial court denied the registration
because of this finding set forth in its decision:
Absolute title to the two parcels of land undoubtedly belongs to the
applicant and the two uncles of the deceased Pedro Sablan, and the
application cannot be made except in the name of all of them in
common. (B. of E., p. 20.)
It must be remembered that absolute title consists of the rights to use, enjoy,
dispose of, and recover. The person who has in himself all these rights has the
absolute or complete ownership of the thing; otherwise, the person who has the
right to use and enjoy will have the usufruct, and the person who has the rights
of disposal and recovery the direct title. The person who by law, act, or contract
is granted the right of usufruct has the first two rights or using an enjoying, and
then he is said not to have the fee simple that is, the rights of disposal and
recovery, which pertain to another who, after the usufruct expires, will come into
full ownership.
The question set up in the first assignment of error of the appellant's brief is
this:
What are the rights in the property of the person who holds it subject to
the reservation of article 811 of the Civil Code?
There are not lacking writers who say, only those of a usufructuary, the ultimate
title belonging to the person in whose favor the reservation is made. If that were
so, the person holding the property could not apply for registration of title, but
the person in whose favor it must be reserved, with the former's consent. This
opinion does not seem to be admissible, although it appears to be supported by
decisions of the supreme court of Spain of May 21, 1861, and June 18, 1880,

21

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

prior to the Civil Code, and of June 22, 1895, somewhat subsequent to the
enforcement thereof.
Another writer says: "This opinion only looks at two salient points the
usufruct and the fee simple; the remaining features of the arrangement are not
perceived, but become obscure in the presence of that deceptive emphasis
which only brings out two things: that the person holding the property will enjoy
it and that he must keep what he enjoys for other persons." (Manresa, VII, 189.)
In another place he says: "We do not believe that the third opinion can now be
maintained that is, that the surviving spouse (the person obliged by article
968 to make the reservation) can be regarded as a mere usufructuary and the
descendants immediately as the owner; such theory has no serious foundation
in the Code." (Ibid., 238.)
The ascendants who inherits from a descendants, whether by the latter's wish
or by operation of law, requires the inheritance by virtue of a title perfectly
transferring absolute ownership. All the attributes of the right of ownership
belong to him exclusively use, enjoyment, disposal and recovery. This
absolute ownership, which is inherent in the hereditary title, is not altered in the
least, if there be no relatives within the third degree in the line whence the
property proceeds or they die before the ascendant heir who is the possessor
and absolute owner of the property. If there should be relatives within the third
degree who belong to the line whence the property proceeded, then a limitation
to that absolute ownership would arise. The nature and scope of this limitation
must be determined with exactness in order not to vitiate rights that the law
wishes to be effective. The opinion which makes this limitation consist in
reducing the ascendant heir to the condition in of a mere usufructuary, depriving
him of the right of disposal and recovery, does not seem to have any support in
the law, as it does not have, according to the opinion that he has been
expressed in speaking of the rights of the father or mother who has married
again. There is a marked difference between the case where a man's wish
institutes two persons as his heirs, one as usufructuary and the other as owner
of his property, and the case of the ascendant in article 811 or of the father or
mother in article 968. In the first case, there is not the slightest doubt that the
title to the hereditary property resides in the hereditary owner and he can
dispose of and recover it, while the usufructuary can in no way perform any act
of disposal of the hereditary property (except that he may dispose of the right of
usufruct in accordance with the provisions of article 480 of the Civil Code), or
any act of recovery thereof except the limited one in the form prescribed in

article 486 of the Code itself, because he totally lacks the fee simple. But the
ascendants who holds the property required by article 811 to be reserved, and
the father of mother required by article 986 to reserve the right, can dispose of
the property they might itself, the former from his descendant and the latter
from his of her child in first marriage, and recover it from anyone who may
unjustly detain it, while the persons in whose favor the right is required to be
reserved in either case cannot perform any act whatsoever of disposal or of
recovery.
Article 975 states explicitly that the father or mother required by article 9687 to
reserve the right may dispose of the property itself:
Alienation of the property required by law to be reserved which may be
made by the surviving spouse after contracting a second marriage shall
be valid only if at his or her death no legitimate children or descendants
of the first marriage survive, without prejudice to the provisions of the
Mortgage of Law.
It thus appears that the alienation is valid, although not altogether effective, but
under a condition subsequent, to wit: "If at his or her death no legitimate
children or descendants of the first marriage survive."
If the title did not reside in the person holding the property to be reserved, his
alienation thereof would necessarily be null and void, as executed without a
right to do so and without a right which he could transmit to the acquirer. The
law says that the alienation subsists (to subject is to continue to exist) "without
prejudice to the provisions of the Mortgage Law." Article 109 of this Law says:
The possessor of property subject to conditions subsequent that are
still pending may mortgage or alienate it, provided always that he
preserve the right of the parties interested in said conditions by
expressly reserving that right in the registration.
In such case, the child or legitimate descendants of the first marriage in whose
favor the right is reserved cannot impugn the validity of the alienation so long
as the condition subsequent is pending, that is, so long as the remarried
spouse who must reserve the right is alive, because it might easily happen that
the person who must reserve the right should outlive all the person in whose
favor the right is reserved and then there would be no reason for the condition

22

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

subsequent that they survive him, and, the object of the law having
disappeared, the right required to be reserved would disappear, and the
alienation would not only be valid but also in very way absolutely effective.
Consequently, the alienation is valid when the right required by law to be
reserved to the children is respected; while the effects of the alienation depend
upon a condition, because it will or will not become definite, it will continue to
exist or cease to exist, according to circumstances. This is what the law
establishes with reference to the reservation of article 968, wherein the
legislator expressly directs that the surviving spouse who contracts a second
marriage shall reserve to the children or descendants of the first marriage
ownership. Article 811 says nothing more than that the ascendants must make
the reservation.
Manresa, with his recognized ability, summarizes the subject under the
heading, "Rights and obligations during the existence of the right required by
law to be reserved," in these words:
During the whole period between the constitution in legal form of the right
required by law to be reserved and the extinction thereof, the relatives within
the third degree, after the right that in their turn may pertain to them has been
assured, have only an expectation, and therefore they do not even have the
capacity to transmit that expectation to their heirs.
The ascendant is in the first place a usufructuary who should use and enjoy the
things according to their nature, in the manner and form already set forth in
commenting upon the article of the Code referring to use and usufruct.
But since in addition to being the usufructuary he is, even though conditionally,
the owner in fee simple of the property, he can dispose of it in the manner
provided in article 974 and 976 of the same Code. Doubt arose also on this
point, but the Direccion General of the registries, in an opinion of June 25,
1892, declared that articles 974 and 975, which are applicable by analogy, for
they refer to property reserved by law, reveal in the clearest manner the attitude
of the legislator on this subject, and the relatives with the third degree ought not
to be more privileged in the right reserved in article 811 than the children in the
right reserved by article 975, chiefly for the reason that the right required to be
reserved carries with it a condition subsequent, and the property subject to
those conditions can validly be alienated in accordance with article 109 of the

Mortgage Law, such alienation to continue, pending fulfillment of the condition."


(Civil Code, VI, 270.)
Another commentator corroborates the foregoing in every way. He says:
The ascendants acquires that property with a condition subsequent, to
wit, whether or not there exists at the time of his death relatives within
the third degree of the descendants from whom they inherit in the line
whence the property proceeds. If such relatives exist, they acquire
ownership of the property at the death of the ascendants. If they do not
exist, the ascendants can freely dispose thereof. If this is true, since the
possessor of property subject to conditions subsequent can alienate
and encumber it, the ascendants may alienate the property required by
law to be reserved, but he will alienate what he has and nothing more
because no one can give what does not belong to him, and the acquirer
will therefore receive a limited and revocable title. The relatives within
the third degree will in their turn have an expectation to the property
while the ascendant lives, an expectation that cannot be transmitted to
their heirs, unless these are also within the third degree. After the
person who is required by law to reserve the right has died, the
relatives may rescind the alienation of the realty required by law to be
reserved and they will complete ownership, in fee simple, because the
condition and the usufruct have been terminated by the death of the
usufructuary. (Morell, Estudios sobre bienes reservable, 304, 305.)
The conclusion is that the person required by article 811 to reserve the right
has, beyond any doubt at all, the rights of use and usufruct. He has, moreover,
for the reasons set forth, the legal title and dominion, although under a
condition subsequent. Clearly he has, under an express provision of the law,
the right to dispose of the property reserved, and to dispose of is to alienate,
although under a condition. He has the right to recover it, because he is the one
who possesses or should possess it and have title to it, although a limited and
revocable one. In a word, the legal title and dominion, even though under a
condition, reside in him while he lives. After the right required by law to be
reserved has been assured, he can do anything that a genuine owner can do.
On the other hand, the relatives within the third degree in whose favor of the
right is reserved cannot dispose of the property, first because it is no way, either
actually, constructively or formally, in their possession; and, moreover, because

23

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

they have no title of ownership or of the fee simple which they can transmit to
another, on the hypothesis that only when the person who must reserve the
right should die before them will they acquire it, thus creating a fee simple, and
only then will they take their place in the succession of the descendants of
whom they are relatives within the third degree, that it to say, a second
contingent place in said legitimate succession in the fashion of aspirants to a
possible future legacy. If any of the persons in whose favor the right is reserved
should, after their rights has been assured in the registry, dare to dispose of
even nothing more than the fee simple of the property to be reserved his act
would be null and void, for, as was definitely decided in the decision on appeal
of December 30, 1897, it is impossible to determine the part "that might pertain
therein to the relative at the time he exercised the right, because in view of the
nature and scope of the right required by law to be reserved the extent of his
right cannot be foreseen, for it may disappear by his dying before the person
required to reserve it, just as may even become absolute should that person
die."
Careful consideration of the matter forces the conclusion that no act of disposal
inter vivos of the person required by law to reserve the right can be impugned
by him in whose favor it is reserved, because such person has all, absolutely
all, the rights inherent in ownership, except that the legal title is burdened with a
condition that the third party acquirer may ascertain from the registry in order to
know that he is acquiring a title subject to a condition subsequent. In
conclusion, it seems to us that only an act of disposal mortis causa in favor of
persons other than relatives within the third degree of the descendants from
whom he got the property to be reserved must be prohibited to him, because
this alone has been the object of the law: "To prevent persons outside a family
from securing, by some special accident of life, property that would otherwise
have remained therein." (Decision of December 30, 1897.)
Practically, even in the opinion of those who reduce the person reserving the right to
the condition of a mere usufructuary, the person in whose favor it must be reserved
cannot attack the alienation that may be absolutely made of the property the law
requires to be reserved, in the present case, that which the appellant has made of
the two parcels of land in question to a third party, because the conditional
alienation that is permitted her is equivalent to an alienation of the usufruct, which is
authorized by article 480 of the Civil Code, and, practically, use and enjoyment of
the property required by law to be reserved are all that the person who must
reserve it has during his lifetime, and in alienating the usufruct all the usefulness of
the thing would be transmitted in an incontrovertible manner. The question as to

whether or not she transmits the fee simple is purely academic, sine re, for it is not
real, actual positive, as is the case of the institution of two heirs, one a usufructuary
and the other the owner, by the express wish of the predecessor in interest.
If the person whom article 811 requires to reserve the right has all the rights
inherent in ownership, he can use, enjoy, dispose of and recover it; and if, in
addition to usufructuary, he is in fact and in law the real owner and can alienate it,
although under a condition, the whole question is reduced to the following terms:
Cannot the heir of the property required by law to reserved, merely because a
condition subsequent is annexed to his right of disposal, himself alone register the
ownership of the property he has inherited, when the persons in whose favor the
reservation must be made degree thereto, provided that the right reserved to them
in the two parcels of land be recorded, as the law provides?
It is well known that the vendee under pacto de retracto acquires all the rights of the
vendor:
The vendee substitutes the vendor in all his rights and actions. (Civil Code,
art. 1511.)

If the vendor can register his title, the vendee can also register this same title
after he has once acquired it. This title, however, in its attribute of being
disposable, has a condition subsequent annexed that the alienation the
purchaser may make will be terminated, if the vendor should exercise the right
granted him by article 1507, which says:
Conventional redemption shall take place when the vendor reserves to himself the
right to recover the thing sold, with the obligation to comply with article 1518, and
whatever more may have been agreed upon," that is, if he recovers the thing sold
by repaying the vendee the price of the sale and other expenses. Notwithstanding
this condition subsequent, it is a point not at all doubtful now that the vendee may
register his title in the same way as the owner of a thing mortgaged that is to say,
the latter with the consent of his creditor and the former with the consent of the
vendor. He may alienate the thing bought when the acquirer knows by well from the
title entered in the registry that he acquires a title revocable after a fixed period, a
thing much more certain and to be expected than the purely contingent expectation
of the person in whose favor is reserved a right to inherit some day what another
has inherited. The purpose of the law would be defeated in not applying to the
person who must make the reservation the provision therein relative to the vendee

24

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

under pacto de retracto, since the argument in his favor is the more power and
conclusive; ubi eadem ratio, eadem legis dispositivo.
Therefore, we reverse the judgment appealed from, and in lieu thereof decide and
declare that the applicant is entitled to register in her own name the two parcels of
land which are the subject matter of the applicants, recording in the registration the
right required by article 811 to be reserved to either or both of the opponents, Pablo
Sablan and Basilio Sablan, should they survive her; without special findings as to
costs.
Torres, Mapa, Johnson, Carson and Trent, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-13386

October 27, 1920

SEGUNDA MARIA NIEVA with her husband ANGEL ALCALA, plaintiffsappellants,


vs.
MANUELA ALCALA and JOSE DEOCAMPO, defendants-appellees.
Eduardo Gutierrez Repide for appellants.
Felipe Agoncillo for appellees.
JOHNSON, J.:
This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of the Province
of Tayabas, absolving the defendants from all liability under the plaintiff's
complaint, without any finding as to costs.
Juliana Nieva, the alleged natural mother of the plaintiff Segunda Maria Nieva,
married Francisco Deocampo. Of said marriage Alfeo Deocampo was born.
Julian Nieva died intestate on April 19, 1889, and her said son, Alfeo
Deocampo, inherited from her, ab intestate, the parcels of land described in
Paragraphs V and X of the complaint.
Alfeo Deocampo died intestate and without issue on July 7, 1890. Thereupon
the two parcels of land above-mentioned passed to his father, Francisco
Deocampo, by intestate succession. Thereafter Francisco Deocampo married
the herein defendant Manuela Alcala, of which marriage was born Jose
Deocampo, the other defendant herein.

Francisco Deocampo died on August 15, 1914, whereupon his widow and son,
the defendants herein, took possession of the parcels of land in question, under
the claim that the said son, the defendant Jose Deocampoo (a minor) had
inherited the same, ab intestate, from his deceased father.
On September 30, 1915, the plaintiff herein, claiming to be an acknowledged
natural daughter of the said Juliana Nieva, instituted the present action for the
purposes of recovering from the defendants the parcels of land in question,
particularly described in Paragraphs V and X of the complaint, invoking the
provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code.
The lower court held that, even granting, without deciding, that the plaintiff was
an acknowledged natural daughter of Juliana Nieva, she was not entitled to the
property here in question because, in its opinion, an illegitimate relative has no
right to the reserva troncal under the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code.
The first question presented by this appeal is, whether or not the plaintiff is an
acknowledged natural daughter of the deceased Juliana Nieva. It appears from
the record that the said Juliana Nieva, while unmarried, gave birth to the plaintiff
on March 29, 1882, and that the plaintiff was duly baptized as her natural
daughter, of unknown father (Exhibit C, baptismal certificate); that the said
Juliana Nieva nourished and reared her said child, the plaintiff herein; that the
plaintiff lived with her said mother until the latter was married to Francisco
Deocampo; that the said mother treated the plaintiff, and exhibited her publicly,
as a legitimate daughter. (See testimony of Antero Gala, pp. 5-6; Prudencio de
la Cuesta, pp. 16-17; and Mamerto Palabrica, pp. 26-27, sten. notes.)
The foregoing facts, which are not controverted, are analogous to the facts in
the case of Llorente vs. Rodriguez (3 Phil., 697, 699). Under the decision of this
court in that case we are of the opinion and so decide, without rediscussing
here the law and legal principles involved, that the plaintiff Segunda Maria
Nieva is an acknowledged natural daughter of Juliana Nieva. (See also In re
estate of Enriquez and Reyes, 29 Phil., 167.)
The other and more important question presented by this appeal is, whether or
not an illegitimate relative within the third degree is entitled to the reserva
troncal provided for by article 811 of the Civil Code. That article reads as
follows:

25

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Any ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property acquired
by the latter gratuitously from some other ascendant, or from a brother
or sister, is obliged to reserve such of the property as he may have
acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives within the third
degree belonging to the line from which such property came.
The property here in question was inherited, by operation by law, by Francisco
Deocampo from his son Alfeo Deocampo, who, in turn, had inherited it, in the
same manner, from his mother Juliana Nieva, the natural mother of the plaintiff.
The plaintiff is the natural sister of Alfeo Deocampo, and she belongs to the
same line from which the property in question came. Was Francisco Deocampo
obliged by law to reserve said property for the benefit of the plaintiff, an
illegitimate relative within the third degree of Alfeo Deocampo? If he was, then,
upon his death, the plaintiff, and not his son the defendant Jose Deocampo,
was entitled to the said property; if he was not, the plaintiff's action must
fail.1awph!l.net
There can be no question whatever but that, under said article 811 of the Civil
Code, the plaintiff would be entitled to the property in question if she were a
legitimate daughter of Julian Nieva. (Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil., 295.) But in
said article 811 the legislator uses the generic terms "ascendant,"
"descendant," and "relatives," without specifying whether or not they have to be
legitimate. Does the legislator, then, refer to legitimate as well as to illegitimate
relatives? Counsel for the appellant, in a lengthy and carefully prepared brief,
attempts to maintain the affirmative.
This question, so far as our investigation shows, has not been decided before
by any court or tribunal. However, eminent commentators on the Spanish Civil
Code, who have devoted their lives to the study and solution of the intricate and
difficult problems that may arise under the provisions of that Code, have dealt
with the very question now before us, and are unanimous in the opinion that the
provision of article 811 of the Civil Code apply only to legitimate relative. One of
such commentators, undoubtedly the best known of them all, is Manresa. We
believe we can do no better than to adopt his reasons and conclusions, in
deciding the question before us. In determining the persons who are obliged to
reserve under article 811, he says:
Is every ascendant, whether legitimate or not, obliged to reserve?
Should the natural father or grandfather reserve the properties

proceeding from the mother or other natural ascendant? Article 811


does not distinguish; it speaks of the ascendant, without attaching the
qualification of legitimate, and, on the other hand, the same reason that
exists for applying the provision to the natural family exists for applying
it to the legitimate family. Nevertheless, the article in referring to the
ascendant in an indeterminate manner shows that it imposes the
obligation to reserve only upon the legitimate ascendant.
Let us overlook for the moment the question whether the Code
recognizes or does not recognize the existence of the natural family, or
whether it admits only the bond established by acknowledgement
between the father or mother who acknowledges and the
acknowledged children. However it may be, it may be stated as an
indisputable truth, that in said Code, the legitimate relationship forms
the general rule and the natural relationship the exception; which is the
reason why, as may be easily seen, the law in many articles speaks
only of children or parents, of ascendants or descendants, and in them
reference is of course made of those who are legitimate; and when it
desires to make a provision applicable only to natural relationship, it
does not say father or mother, but natural father or natural mother; it
does not say child, but natural child; it does not speak of ascendants,
brothers or parents in the abstract, but of natural ascendants, natural
brothers or natural parents. (See, for example, articles 294, 302, 809,
810, 846, 935, to 938, 944 and 945 and 946 to 955.)
Articles 809 and 810 themselves speak only of ascendants. Can it in
any way be maintained that they refer to legitimate as well as to natural
ascendants? They evidently establish the legitime of the legitimate
ascendants included as forced heirs in number 2 of article 807. And
article 811, and as we will see also article 812, continues to treat
of this same legitime. The right of the natural parents and children in
the testamentary succession in wholly included in the eighth section
and is limited to the parents, other ascendants of such class being
excluded in articles 807, No. 3, and 846. Therefore, the place which
article 811 occupies in the Code of proof that it refers only to legitimate
ascendants. And if there were any doubt, it disappears upon
considering the text of article 938, which states that the provisions of
article 811 applies to intestate succession, which is just established in
favor of the legitimate direct ascending line, the text of articles 939 to
945, which treat of intestate succession of natural parents, as well as

26

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

that of articles 840 to 847, treating of their testamentary succession,


which do not allude directly or indirectly to that provision.

favor the transmission of the properties of the family of one spouse to


that of the other, which is just what this article intends to prevent.

Lastly, the principle which underlies the exception which article 811
creates in the right to succeed neither admits of any other
interpretation. Whether the provision is due to the desire that the
properties should not pass, by reason of new marriage, out of the
family to which they belonged, or is directly derived from the system of
the so-called "reserva troncal," and whether the idea of reservation or
that of lineal rights (troncalidad) predominate the patrimony which is
intended to be preserved is that of the legitimate family. Only to
legitimate ascendants and descendants do article 968 et seq. of the
Code refer, arising as they do from the danger of second or subsequent
marriage; only to legitimate parents do the special laws of Navarra,
Aragon, Vizcaya and Catalua concede the right to succeed with
respect to lineal properties (bienes troncales); only to the legitimate
ascendants does article 811 impose the duty to reserve.

It also treats of legitimate relationship. The person obliged to reserve it


a legitimate ascendant who inherits from a descendant property which
proceeds from the same legitimate family, and this being true, there can
be no question, because the line from which the properties proceed
must be the line of that family and only in favor of that line is the
reservation established. Furthermore, we have already said, the object
is to protect the patrimony of the legitimate family, following the
precedents of the foral law. And it could not be otherwise. Article 943
denies to legitimate parents the right to succeed the natural child and
viceversa, from which it must be deduced that natural parents neither
have the right to inhering from legitimate ones; the law in the article
cited established a barrier between the two families; properties of the
legitimate family shall never pass by operation of law to the natural
family. (Ibid. pp. 251-252.)

The convenience of amplifying the precept to natural parents and


ascendants may be raised just as the question whether it would be
preferable to suppress it altogether may be raised; but in the realm of
the statute law there is no remedy but to admit that article 811, the
interpretation of which should on the other hand be strict was drafted by
the legislator with respect only to legitimate ascendants. (Manresa,
Codigo Civil, vol. 6, 3d ed., pp. 249-250.)

Scvola, after a very extended discussion of this same subject, arrives


at the same conclusion as Manresa. "La reserva del articulo 811 es
privilegio de la familia legitima. (The reservation in article 811 is a
privilege of the legitimate family.)" (See Scvola, Codigo Civil, Vol. 14,
pp. 211-224, 3401-305.)

The same jurist, in determining the persons in whose favor the reservation is
established, says:
Persons in whose favor the reservation is established. This is one of
the most delicate points in the interpretation of article 811. According to
this article, the reservation is established in favor of the parents who
are within the third degree and belong to the line from which the
properties came.
It treats of blood, relationship, which is applicable to questions on
succession, according to articles 915 to 920. It could not be otherwise,
because relationship by affinity is established between each spouse
and the family of the other, by marriage, and to admit it, would be to

Article 943, above referred to by Manresa, provides as follows:


A natural or legitimated child has no right to succeed ab intestate the
legitimate children and relatives of the father or mother who has
acknowledged it; nor shall such children or relatives so inherit from the
natural or legitimated child.
To hold that the appellant is entitled to the property left by her natural brother,
Alfeo Deocampo, by operation of law, would be a fragrant violate of the express
provision of the foregoing article (943).
For all of the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the lower court is hereby
affirmed, without any finding as to costs. So ordered.
Mapa, C.J., Araullo, Malcolm, Avancea and Villamor, JJ., concur.

27

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

CARMEN LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ, ALEJANDRO LEGARDA Y


HERNANDEZ, RAMON LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ, FILOMENA LEGARDA Y
LOBREGAT, JAIME LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, CELSO LEGARDA Y
LOBREGAT, ALEJANDRO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, MA. TERESA
LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, MA. ANTONIA LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, JOSE
LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, ROSARIO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, BENITO
LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, EDUARDO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, TRINIDAD
F. LEGARDA, and the ESTATE OF DONA FILOMENA ROCES DE
LEGARDA, respondents.
AQUINO, J.:
Beatriz Legarda Gonzales appealed from the decision of the Court of First
Instance of Manila, dismissing her complaint for partition, accounting,
reconveyance and damages and holding, as not subject to reserve troncal, the
properties which her mother Filomena Races inherited in 1943 from Filomena
Legarda (Civil Case No. 73335). The facts are as follows:
Benito Legarda y De la Paz, the son of Benito Legarda y Tuason, died [Manila]
on June 17, 1933. He was survived by his widow, Filomena Races, and their
seven children: four daughters named Beatriz, Rosario, Teresa and Filomena
and three sons named Benito, Alejandro and Jose.
On July 12, 1939, the real properties left by Benito Legarda y Tuason were
partitioned in three equal portions by his daughters, Consuelo and Rita, and the
heirs of his deceased son Benito Legarda y De la Paz who were represented
by Benito F. Legarda.
Filomena Legarda y Races died intestate and without issue on March 19, 1943.
Her sole heiress was her mother, Filomena Races Vda. de Legarda.
G.R. No. L-34395

May 19, 1981

BEATRIZ L. GONZALES, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA (BRANCH V), BENITO F.
LEGARDA, ROSARIO L. VALDEZ, ALEJANDRO LEGARDA, TERESA
LEGARDA, JOSE LEGARDA, BENITO LEGARDA Y FERNANDEZ, CARMEN
LEGARDA Y FERNANDEZ, FILOMENA LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ,

Mrs. Legarda executed on May 12, 1947 an affidavit adjudicating extrajudicially


to herself the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter,
Filomena Legarda. The said properties consist of the following: 1wph1.t
(a) Savings deposit in the National City Bank of New York with
a credit balance of P3,699.63.

28

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

(b) 1,429 shares of the Benguet Consolidated Mining Company


and a 1/7 interest in certain shares of the San Miguel Brewery,
Tuason & Legarda, Ltd., Philippine Guaranty Company, Insular
Life Assurance Company and the Manila Times.

in favor of the children of her sons, Benito, Alejandro and Jose (sixteen
grandchildren in all). The document reads: 1wph1.t

(c) 1/7 of the properties described in TCT Nos. 80226, 80237 to


80243 (7 titles), 80260, 80261 and 57512 of the Manila registry
of deeds.

Dispongo que se reparta a todos mis nietos hijos de Ben,


Mandu y Pepito, los bienes que he heredado de mi difunta hija
Filomena y tambien los acciones de la Destileria La Rosario'
recientemente comprada a los hermanos Values Legarda.

A mis hijos :

1/21st of the properties covered by TCT Nos. 48164, 84714,


48201, 48202, 48205, 48203, 48206, 48160 and 48192 of the
Manila registry of deeds;

De los bienes de mi hija Filomena se deducira un tote de


terreno que yo he 0donada a las Hijas de Jesus, en Guipit

1/21st of the property described in TCT No. 4475 of the registry


of deeds of Rizal, now Quezon City; 1/14th of the property
described in TCT No. 966 of the registry of deeds of Baguio;

La case No. 181 San Rafael, la cede a mi hijo Mandu solo la


casa; proque ella esta construida sobre terreno de los
hermanos Legarda Races. 1wph1.t

1/7th of the lot and improvements at 127 Aviles described in


TCT No. 41862 of the Manila registry of deeds; 1/7th of the lots
and improvements at 181 San Rafael describe in TCT Nos.
50495 and 48161 of the Manila registry of deeds;
1/7th of the property described in TCT No. 48163 of the Manila
registry of deeds (Streets);
l/21st of the properties described in TCT Nos. 48199 and
57551 of the Manila registry of deeds (Streets and Estero):
2/21st of the property described in TCT No. 13458 of tile
registry of deeds of T0ayabas.
These are the properties in litigation in this case. As a result of the affidavit of
adjudication, Filomena Races succeeded her deceased daughter Filomena
Legarda as co-owner of the properties held proindiviso by her other six
children.
Mrs. Legarda on March 6, 1953 executed two handwritten Identical documents
wherein she disposed of the properties, which she inherited from her daughter,

(Sgd.)
FILOMENA
ROCES
LEGARDA
6 Marzo 1953
During the period from July, 1958 to February, 1959 Mrs. Legarda and her six
surviving children partitioned the properties consisting of the one-third share in
the estate of Benito Legarda y Tuason which the children inherited in
representation of their father, Benito Legarda y De la Paz.
Mrs. Legarda died on September 22, 1967. Her will was admitted to probate as
a holographic will in the order dated July 16, 1968 of the Court of First Instance
of Manila in Special Proceeding No. 70878, Testate Estate of Filomena Races
Vda. de Legarda. The decree of probate was affirmed by the Court of Appeals
in Legarda vs. Gonzales, CA-G.R. No. 43480-R, July 30,1976.
In the testate proceeding, Beatriz Legarda Gonzales, a daughter of the testatrix,
filed on May 20, 1968 a motion to exclude from the inventory of her mother's
estate the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter,
Filomena, on the ground that said properties are reservable properties which

29

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

should be inherited by Filomena Legarda's three sisters and three brothers and
not by the children of Benito, Alejandro and Jose, all surnamed Legarda. That
motion was opposed by the administrator, Benito F. Legarda.

The question is whether the disputed properties are reservable properties


under article 891 of the Civil Code, formerly article 811, and whether Filomena
Races Vda. de Legarda could dispose of them in his will in favor of her
grandchildren to the exclusion of her six children.

Without awaiting the resolution on that motion, Mrs. Gonzales filed on June 20,
1968 an ordinary civil action against her brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces
and her mother's estate for the purpose of securing a declaration that the said
properties are reservable properties which Mrs. Legarda could not bequeath in
her holographic will to her grandchildren to the exclusion of her three daughters
and her three sons (See Paz vs. Madrigal, 100 Phil. 1085).

Did Mrs. Legarda have the right to convey mortis causa what she inherited from
her daughter Filomena to the reservees within the third degree and to bypass
the reservees in the second degree or should that inheritance automatically go
to the reservees in the second degree, the six children of Mrs. Legarda?

As already stated, the lower court dismissed the action of Mrs. Gonzales. ln this
appeal under Republic Act No. 5440 she contends in her six assignments of
error that the lower court erred in not regarding the properties in question as
reservable properties under article 891 of the Civil Code.

As will hereinafter be shown that is not a novel issue or a question of first


impression. lt was resolved in Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480. Before
discussing the applicability to this case of the doctrine in the Florentino case
and other pertinent rulings, it may be useful to make a brief discourse on the
nature of reserve troncal, also called lineal, familiar, extraordinaria o semitroncal.

On the other hand, defendants-appellees in their six counter-assignments of


error contend that the lower court erred in not holding that Mrs. Legarda
acquired the estate of her daughter Filomena] Legarda in exchange for her
conjugal and hereditary shares in the estate of her husband Benito Legarda y
De la Paz and in not holding that Mrs. Gonzales waived her right to the
reservable properties and that her claim is barred by estoppel, laches and
prescription.
The preliminary issue raised by the private respondents as to the timeliness of
Mrs. Gonzales' petition for review is a closed matter. This Court in its resolution
of December 16, 1971 denied respondents' motion to dismiss and gave due
course to the petition for review.
In an appeal under Republic Act No. 5440 only legal issues can be raised under
undisputed facts. Since on the basis of the stipulated facts the lower court
resolved only the issue of whether the properties in question are subject to
reserva troncal that is the only legal issue to be resolved in this appeal.
The other issues raised by the defendants-appellees, particularly those
involving factual matters, cannot be resolved in this appeal. As the trial court did
not pass upon those issues, there is no ruling which can be reviewed by this
Court.

Much time, effort and energy were spent by the parties in their five briefs in
descanting on the nature of reserve troncal which together with the reserva
viudal and reversion legal, was abolished by the Code Commission to prevent
the decedent's estate from being entailed, to eliminate the uncertainty in
ownership caused by the reservation (which uncertainty impedes the
improvement of the reservable property) and to discourage the confinement of
property within a certain family for generations which situation allegedly leads
to economic oligarchy, and is incompatible with the socialization of ownership.
The Code Commission regarded the reservas as remnants of feudalism which
fomented agrarian unrest. Moreover, the reserves, insofar as they penalize
legitimate relationship, is considered unjust and inequitable.
However, the lawmaking body, not agreeing entirely with the Code Commission,
restored the reserve troncal, a legal institution which, according to Manresa and
Castan Tobenas has provoked questions and doubts that are difficult to resolve.
Reserva troncal is provided for in article 811 of the Spanish Civil Code, now
article 891, which reads: 1wph1.t
ART. 811. El ascendiente que heredare de su descendiente
bienes que este hubiese adquirido por titulo lucrative de otro

30

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

ascendiente, o de un hermano, se halla obligado a reservas los


que hubiere adquirido por ministerio de la ley en favor de los
parientes que eaten dentro del tercer grade y pertenezcan a la
linea de donde los bienes proceden
ART. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any
property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title
from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to
reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of
law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree
and who belong to the line from which said property came.
In reserve troncal (1) a descendant inherited or acquired by gratuitous title
property from an ascendant or from a brother or sister; (2) the same property is
inherited by another ascendant or is acquired by him by operation of law from
the said descendant, and (3) the said ascendant should reserve the said
property for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree from the
deceased descendant (prepositus) and who belong to the line from which the
said property came.
So, three transmissions are involved: (I) a first transmission by lucrative title
(inheritance or donation) from an ascendant or brother or sister to the deceased
descendant; (2) a posterior transmission, by operation of law (intestate
succession or legitime) from the deceased descendant (causante de la reserve)
in favor of another ascendant, the reservor or reservista, which two
transmissions precede the reservation, and (3) a third transmissions of the
same property (in consequence of the reservation) from the reservor to the
reservees (reservatarios) or the relatives within the third degree from the
deceased descendant belonging to the line of the first ascendant, brother or
sister of the deceased descendant (6 Castan Tobenas Derecho Civil, Part l,
1960, 6th Ed., pp. 198-9).
If there are only two transmissions there is no reserve. Thus, where one
Bonifacia Lacerna died and her properties were inherited by her son, Juan
Marbebe, upon the death of Juan, those lands should be inherited by his halfsister, to the exclusion of his maternal first cousins. The said lands are not
reservable property within the meaning of article 811 (Lacerna vs. Vda. de
Corcino, l l l Phil. 872).

The persons involved in reserve troncal are (1) the ascendant or brother or
sister from whom the property was received by the descendant by lucrative or
gratuitous title, (2) the descendant or prepositus (prepositus) who received the
property, (3) the reservor (reservista) the other ascendant who obtained the
property from the (prepositus) by operation of law and (4) the reserves
(reservatario) who is within the third degree from the prepositus and who
belongs to the (line o tronco) from which the property came and for whom the
property should be reserved by the reservor.
The reservees may be half-brothers and sisters (Rodriguez vs. Rodriguez, 101
Phil. 1098; Chua vs. Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, L-29901,
August 31, 1977, 78 SCRA 412). Fourth degree relatives are not included
(Jardin vs. Villamayor, 72 Phil. 392).
The rationale of reserve troncal is to avoid "el peligro de que bienes poseidos
secularmente por una familia pasen bruscamente a titulo gratuito a manos
extraas por el azar de los enlaces y muertes prematuras or impeder que, por
un azar de la vide personas extranas a una familia puedan adquirir bienes que
sin aquel hubieran quedado en ella (6 Castan Tobenas Derecho Civil, Part l, 6th
Ed., 1980, p. 203; Padura vs. Baldovino, 104 Phil. 1065).
An illustration of reserve troncal is found in Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295. ln
that case, Pedro Sablan inherited two parcels of land from his father Victorians.
Pedro died in 1902, single and without issue. His mother, Marcelina Edroso,
inherited from him the two parcels of land.
It was held that the land was reservable property in the hands of Marcelina. The
reservees were Pablo Sablan and Basilio Sablan, the paternal uncles of Pedro
Sablan, the prepositus. Marcelina could register the land under the Torrens
system in her name but the fact that the land was reservable property in favor
of her two brothers-in-law, should they survive her, should be noted in the title.
In another case, it appears that Maria Aglibot died intestate in 1906. Her onehalf share of a parcel of conjugal land was inherited by her daughter, Juliana
Maalac. When Juliana died intestate in 1920, said one-half share was
inherited by her father, Anacleto Maalac who owned the other one-half portion.
Anacleto died intestate in 1942, survived by his second wife and their six
children. lt was held that the said one-half portion was reservable property in

31

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

the hands of Anacleto Maalac and, upon his death, should be inherited by
Leona Aglibot and Evarista Aglibot, sisters of Maria and materna aunts of
Juliana Maalac, who belonged to the line from which said one-half portion
came (Aglibot vs. Maalac 114 Phil. 964).
Other illustrations of reserva troncal are found in Florentino vs Florentino, 40
Phil. 480; Nieva and Alcala vs. Alcala and Deocampo, 41 Phil. 915; Maghirang
and Gutierrez vs. Balcita 46 Phil. 551; Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Dizon
vs. Galang, 48 Phil. 601; Riosa vs. Rocha, 48 Phil. 737; Centeno vs. Centeno
52 Phil. 322; Velayo Bernardo vs. Siojo, 58 Phil. 89; Director of Lands vs.
Aguas, 63 Phil. 279; Fallorfina vs. Abille, CA 39 O.G. 1784.
The person from whom the degree should be reckoned is the descendant, or
the one at the end of the line from which the property came and upon whom the
property last revolved by descent. He is called the prepositus (Cabardo vs.
Villanueva. 44 Phil. 186, 190).
In the Cabardo case, one Cornelia Abordo inherited property from her mother,
Basilia Cabardo. When Cornelia died, her estate passed to her father, Lorenzo
Abordo. ln his hands, the property was reservable property. Upon the death of
Lorenzo, the person entitled to the property was Rosa Cabardo, a maternal
aunt of Cornelia, who was her nearest relative within the third degree.

The reserva creates two resolutory conditions, namely, (1) the death of the
ascendant obliged to reserve and (2) the survival, at the time of his death, of
relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which the property
came
(Sienes vs. E Esparcia l l l Phil. 349, 353).
The reservor has the legal title and dominion to the reservable property but
subject to the resolutory condition that such title is extinguished if the reservor
predeceased the reservee. The reservor is a usufructuary of the reservable
property. He may alienate it subject to the reservation. The transferee gets the
revocable and conditional ownership of the reservor. The transferee's rights are
revoked upon the survival of the reservees at the time of the death of the
reservor but become indefeasible when the reservees predecease the reservor.
(Sienes vs. Esparcia, 111 Phil. 349, 353; Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295;
Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480: Director
of Lands vs. Aguas, 63 Phil. 279.)
The reservor's title has been compared with that of the vendee a retro in a
pacta de retro sale or to a fideicomiso conditional.

First cousins of the prepositus are in the fourth degree and are not reservees.
They cannot even represent their parents because representation is confined to
relatives within the third degree (Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480).

The reservor's alienation of the reservable property is subject to a resolutory


condition, meaning that if at the time of the reservor's death, there are
reservees, the transferee of the property should deliver it to the reservees. lf
there are no reservees at the time of the reservor's death, the transferee's title
would become absolute. (Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Gueco vs. Lacson,
118 Phil. 944; Mono vs. Nequia 93 Phil. 120).

Within the third degree, the nearest relatives exclude the more remote subject
to the rule of representation. But the representative should be within the third
degree from the prepositus (Padura vs. Baldovino, 104 Phil. 1065).

On the other hand, the reserves has only an inchoate, expectant or contingent
right. His expectant right would disappear if he predeceased the reservor. lt
would become absolute should the reservor predecease the reserves.

Reserva troncal contemplates legitimate relationship. illegitimate relationship


and relationship by affinity are excluded.

The reserves cannot impugn any conveyance made by the reservor but he can
require that the reservable character of the property be recognized by the
purchaser (Riosa vs. Rocha 48 Phil. 737; Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295, 3123; Gueco vs. Lacson, 118 Phil. 944).

Gratuitous title or titulo lucrativo refers to a transmission wherein the recipient


gives nothing in return such as donacion and succession (Cabardo vs.
Villanueva, 44 Phil. 186, 189-190, citing 6 Manresa, Codigo Civil, 7th Ed., 195 l,
p. 360).

There is a holding that the renunciation of the reservee's right to the reservable
property is illegal for being a contract regarding future inheritance (Velayo
Bernardo vs. Siojo, 58 Phil. 89, 96).

32

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

And there is a dictum that the reservee's right is a real right which he may
alienate and dispose of conditionally. The condition is that the alienation shall
transfer ownership to the vendee only if and when the reserves survives the
reservor (Sienes vs. Esparcia, 111 Phil. 349, 353). 1wph1.t
The reservatario receives the property as a conditional heir of
the descendant (prepositus) said property merely reverting to
the line of origin from which it had temporarily and accidentally
stayed during the reservista's lifetime. The authorities are all
agreed that there being reservatarios that survive the
reservists, the latter must be deemed to have enjoyed no more
than a than interest in the reservable property. (J. J. B. L.
Reyes in Cane vs. Director of Lands, 105 Phil. l5.)
Even during the reservista's lifetime, the reservatarios, who are
the ultimate acquirers of the property, can already assert the
right to prevent the reservista from doing anything that might
frustrate their reversionary right, and, for this purpose, they can
compel the annotation of their right in the registry of property
even while the (reservista) is alive (Ley Hipotecaria de
Ultramar, Arts. 168, 199; Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295).
This right is incompatible with the mere expectancy that
corresponds to the natural heirs of the reservista lt is likewise
clear that the reservable property is no part of the estate of the
reservista who may not dispose of them (it) by will, so long as
there are reservatarios existing (Arroyo vs. Gerona, 58 Phil.
226, 237).
The latter, therefore, do not inherit from the reservista but from
the descendant (prepositus) of whom the reservatarios are the
heirs mortis causa, subject to the condition that they must
survive the reservista. (Sanchez Roman, Vol. VI Tomo 2, p.
286; Manresa, Commentaries, Vol. 6, 6th Ed., pp. 274, 310,
cited by J. J.B.L. Reyes in Padura vs. Baldovino, L-11960,
December 27, 1958, 104 Phil. 1065).

Hence, upon the reservista's death, the reservatario nearest to the prepositus
becomes, "automatically and by operation of law, the owner of the reservable
property." (Cane vs. Director of Lands, 105 Phil. l5.)
In the instant case, the properties in question were indubitably reservable
properties in the hands of Mrs. Legarda. Undoubtedly, she was a reservor. The
reservation became a certainty when at the time of her death the reservees or
relatives within the third degree of the prepositus Filomena Legarda were living
or they survived Mrs. Legarda.
So, the ultimate issue in this case is whether Mrs. Legarda, as reservor, could
convey the reservable properties by will or mortis causa to the reservees within
the third degree (her sixteen grandchildren) to the exclusion of the reservees in
the second degree, her three daughters and three sons. As indicated at the
outset, that issue is already res judicata or cosa juzgada.
We hold that Mrs. Legarda could not convey in her holographic will to her
sixteen grandchildren the reservable properties which she had inherited from
her daughter Filomena because the reservable properties did not form part of
her estate (Cabardo vs. Villanueva, 44 Phil. 186, 191). The reservor cannot
make a disposition mortis causa of the reservable properties as long as the
reservees survived the reservor.
As repeatedly held in the Cano and Padura cases, the reservees inherit the
reservable properties from the prepositus, not from the reservor.
Article 891 clearly indicates that the reservable properties should be inherited
by all the nearest relatives within the third degree from the prepositus who in
this case are the six children of Mrs. Legarda. She could not select the
reservees to whom the reservable property should be given and deprive the
other reservees of their share therein.
To allow the reservor in this case to make a testamentary disposition of the
reservable properties in favor of the reservees in the third degree and,
consequently, to ignore the reservees in the second degree would be a glaring
violation of article 891. That testamentary disposition cannot be allowed.
We have stated earlier that this case is governed by the doctrine of Florentino
vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480, a similar case, where it was ruled: 1wph1.t

33

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Reservable property left, through a will or otherwise, by the


death of ascendant (reservista) together with his own property
in favor of another of his descendants as forced heir, forms no
part of the latter's lawful inheritance nor of the legitime, for the
reason that, as said property continued to be reservable, the
heir receiving the same as an inheritance from his ascendant
has the strict obligation of its delivery to the relatives, within the
third degree, of the predecessor in interest (prepositus), without
prejudicing the right of the heir to an aliquot part of the
property, if he has at the same time the right of a reservatario
(reserves).
ln the Florentino case, it appears that Apolonio Florentino II and his second wife
Severina Faz de Leon begot two children, Mercedes and Apolonio III. These
two inherited properties from their father. Upon Apolonio III death in 1891, his
properties were inherited by his mother, Severina, who died in 1908. ln her will,
she instituted her daughter Mercedes as heiress to all her properties, including
those coming from her deceased husband through their son, Apolonio III.
The surviving children, begotten by Apolonio II with his first wife Antonia Faz de
Leon and the descendants of the deceased children of his first marriage, sued
Mercedes Florentino for the recovery of their share in the reservable properties,
which Severina de Leon had inherited from Apolonio III which the latter had
inherited from his father Apolonio II and which Severina willed to her daughter
Mercedes.
Plaintiff's theory was that the said properties, as reservable properties, could
not be disposed of in Severina's will in favor of Mercedes only. That theory was
sustained by this Court.
It was held that the said properties, being reservable properties, did not form
part of Severina's estate and could not be inherited from her by her daughter
Mercedes alone.
As there were seven reservees, Mercedes was entitled, as a reserves, to oneseventh of the properties. The other six sevenths portions were adjudicated to
the other six reservees.

Under the rule of stare decisis et non quieta movere, we are bound to follow in
this case the doctrine of the Florentino case. That doctrine means that as long
as during the reservor's lifetime and upon his death there are relatives within
the third degree of the prepositus regardless of whether those reservees are
common descendants of the reservor and the ascendant from whom the
property came, the property retains its reservable character. The property
should go to the nearest reservees. The reservor cannot, by means of his will,
choose the reserves to whom the reservable property should be awarded.
The alleged opinion of Sanchez Roman that there is no reserva troncal when
the only relatives within the third degree are the common descendants of the
predeceased ascendant and the ascendant who would be obliged to reserve is
irrelevant and sans binding force in the light of the ruling in the Florentino case.
It is contended by the appellees herein that the properties in question are not
reservable properties because only relatives within the third degree from the
paternal line have survived and that when Mrs. Legarda willed the said
properties to her sixteen grandchildren, who are third-degree relatives of
Filomena Legarda and who belong to the paternal line, the reason for the
reserva troncal has been satisfied: "to prevent persons outside a family from
securing, by some special accident of life, property that would otherwise have
remained therein".
That same contention was advanced in the Florentino case where the reservor
willed the reservable properties to her daughter, a full-blood sister of the
prepositus and ignored the other six reservors, the relatives of the half-blood of
the prepositus.
In rejecting that contention, this Court held that the reservable property
bequeathed by the reservor to her daughter does not form part of the reservor's
estate nor of the daughter's estate but should be given to all the seven
reservees or nearest relatives of the prepositus within the third degree.
This Court noted that, while it is true that by giving the reservable property to
only one reserves it did not pass into the hands of strangers, nevertheless, it is
likewise true that the heiress of the reservor was only one of the reservees and
there is no reason founded upon law and justice why the other reservees
should be deprived of their shares in the reservable property (pp. 894-5).

34

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Applying that doctrine to this case, it results that Mrs. Legarda could not
dispose of in her will the properties in question even if the disposition is in favor
of the relatives within the third degree from Filomena Legarda. The said
properties, by operation of Article 891, should go to Mrs. Legarda's six children
as reservees within the second degree from Filomena Legarda.
It should be repeated that the reservees do not inherit from the reservor but
from the reservor but from the prepositus, of whom the reservees are the heirs
mortis causa subject to the condition that they must survive the reservor
(Padura vs. Baldovino, L-11960, December 27, 1958, 104 Phil. 1065).
The trial court said that the disputed properties lost their reservable character
due to the non-existence of third-degree relatives of Filomena Legarda at the
time of the death of the reservor, Mrs. Legarda, belonging to the Legarda family,
"except third-degree relatives who pertain to both" the Legarda and Races
lines.
That holding is erroneous. The reservation could have been extinguished only
by the absence of reservees at the time of Mrs. Legarda's death. Since at the
time of her death, there were (and still are) reservees belonging to the second
and third degrees, the disputed properties did not lose their reservable
character. The disposition of the said properties should be made in accordance
with article 891 or the rule on reserva troncal and not in accordance with the
reservor's holographic will. The said properties did not form part of Mrs.
Legarda's estate. (Cane vs. Director of Lands, 105 Phil. l, 4).
WHEREFORE, the lower court's decision is reversed and set aside. lt is hereby
adjudged that the properties inherited by Filomena Roces Vda. de Legarda
from her daughter Filomena Legarda, with all the fruits and accessions thereof,
are reservable properties which belong to Beatriz, Rosario, Teresa, Benito,
Alejandro and Jose, all surnamed Legarda y Roces, as reservees. The shares
of Rosario L. Valdes and Benito F. Legarda, who died in 1969 and 1973,
respectively, should pertain to their respective heirs. Costs against the private
respondents.
SO ORDERED.
Barredo, Guerrero, Abad Santos and De Castro, JJ., concur.1wph1.t

Justice Concepcion, Jr., is on leave.


Justice Guerrero was designated to sit in the Second Division.

35

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

III of the surname Florentino y de Leon; that Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II died
on February 13, 1890; that he was survived by his second wife Severina Faz de
Leon and the ten children first above mentioned; that his eleventh son, Apolonio
III, was born on the following 4th of March 1890.
That of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo's aforementioned eleven children, Juan,
Maria and Isabel died single, without leaving any ascendants or descendants;
that Ramon, Miguel, Victorino, Antonio, and Rosario are the legitimate children
of the deceased Jose Florentino who was one of the children of the deceased
Apolonio Isabelo; that Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores are the
legitimate children of Espirita Florentino, now deceased, and her husband
Eugenio Singson; that Jose and Asuncion are the children of Pedro Florentino,
another son of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino.
G.R. No. L-14856

November 15, 1919

ENCARNACION FLORENTINO, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants,


vs.
MERCEDES FLORENTINO, ET AL., defendants-appellees.
Ramon Querubin, Simeon Ramos and Orense and Vera for appellants.
Vicente Foz, Jose Singsong Tongson and Angel Encarnacion for appellees.
TORRES, J.:
On January 17, 1918, counsel for Encarnacion (together with her husband
Simeon Serrano), Gabriel, Magdalena, Ramon, Miguel, Victorino, and Antonino
of the surname Florentino; for Miguel Florentino, guardian ad litem of the minor
Rosario Florentino; for Eugenio Singson, the father and guardian ad litem of
Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores of the surname Singson y
Florentino; and for Eugenio Singson, guardian of the minors Jose and Asuncion
Florentino, filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur, against
Mercedes Florentino and her husband, alleging as follows:
That Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II married the first time Antonia Faz de Leon;
that during the marriage he begot nine children called, Jose, Juan, Maria,
Encarnacion, Isabel, Espirita, Gabriel, Pedro, and Magdalena of the surname
Florentino y de Leon; that on becoming a widower he married the second time
Severina Faz de Leon with whom he had two children, Mercedes and Apolonio

That on January 17 and February 13, 1890, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino


executed a will before the notary public of Ilocos Sur, instituting as his universal
heirs his aforementioned ten children, the posthumos Apolonio III and his
widow Severina Faz de Leon; that he declared, in one of the paragraphs of said
will, all his property should be divided among all of his children of both
marriages.
That, in the partition of the said testator's estate, there was given to Apolonio
Florentino III, his posthumos son, the property marked with the letters A, B, C,
D, E, and F in the complaint, a gold rosary, pieces of gold, of silver and of table
service, livestock, palay, some personal property and other objects mentioned
in the complaint.
That Apolonio Florentino III, the posthumos son of the second marriage, died in
1891; that his mother, Severina Faz de Leon, succeeded to all his property
described in the complaint; that the widow, Severina Faz de Leon died on
November 18, 1908, leaving a will instituting as her universal heiress her only
living daughter, Mercedes Florentino; that, as such heir, said daughter took
possession of all the property left at the death of her mother, Severina Faz de
Leon; that among same is included the property, described in the complaint,
which the said Severina Faz de Leon inherited from her deceased son, the
posthumos Apolonio, as reservable property; that, as a reservist, the heir of the
said Mercedes Florentino deceased had been gathering for herself alone the
fruits of lands described in the complaint; that each and every one of the parties
mentioned in said complaint is entitled to one-seventh of the fruits of the

36

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

reservable property described therein, either by direct participation or by


representation, in the manner mentioned in paragraph 9 of the complaint.
That several times the plaintiffs have, in an amicable manner, asked the
defendants to deliver their corresponding part of the reservable property; that
without any justifiable motive the defendants have refused and do refuse to
deliver said property or to pay for its value; that for nine years Mercedes
Florentino has been receiving, as rent for the lands mentioned, 360 bundles of
palay at fifty pesos per bundle and 90 bundles of corn at four pesos per bundle;
that thereby the plaintiffs have suffered damages in the sum of fifteen thousand
four hundred and twenty-eight pesos and fifty-eight centavos, in addition to
three hundred and eight pesos and fifty-eight centavos for the value of the fruits
not gathered, of one thousand pesos (P1,000) for the unjustifiable retention of
the aforementioned reservable property and for the expenses of this suit.
Wherefore they pray it be declared that all the foregoing property is reservable
property; that the plaintiffs had and do have a right to the same, in the quantity
and proportion mentioned in the aforementioned paragraph 9 of the complaint;
that the defendants Mercedes Florentino and her husband be ordered to deliver
to the plaintiffs their share of the property in question, of the palay and of the
corn above mentioned, or their value; and that they be condemned to pay the
plaintiffs the sum of one thousand pesos (P1,000) together with the costs of this
instance.
To the preceding complaint counsel for the defendants demurred, alleging that
the cause of action is based on the obligation of the widow Severina Faz de
Leon to reserve the property she inherited from her deceased son Apolonio
Florentino y de Leon who, in turn, inherited same from his father Apolonio
Isabelo Florentino; that, there being no allegation to the contrary, it is to be
presumed that the widow Severina Faz de Leon did not remarry after the death
of this husband nor have any natural child; that the right claimed by the plaintiffs
is not that mentioned in article 968 and the following articles, but that
established in article 811 of the Civil Code; that the object of the provisions of
the aforementioned articles is to avoid the transfer of said reservable property
to those extraneous to the family of the owner thereof; that if the property
inherited by the widow Severina Faz de Leon from her deceased son Apolonio
Florentino y Faz de Leon (property which originated from his father and her
husband) has all passed into the hands of the defendant, Mercedes Florentino
y Encarnacion, a daughter of the common ancestor's second marriage (said
Apolonio Isabelo Florentino with the deceased Severina Faz de Leon) it is
evident that the property left at the death of the posthumos son Apolonio

Florentino y Faz de Leon did not pass after the death of his mother Severina,
his legitimate heirs as an ascendant, into the hands of strangers; that said
property having been inherited by Mercedes Florentino y Encarnacion from her
mother (Severina), article 811 of the Civil Code is absolutely inapplicable to the
present case because, when the defendant Mercedes, by operation law,
entered into and succeeded to, the possession, of the property lawfully
inherited from her mother Severina Faz de Leon, said property had, while in the
possession of her mother, lost the character of reservable property there
being a legitimate daughter of Severina Faz de Leon with the right to succeed
her in all her rights, property and actions; that the restraints of the law whereby
said property may not passed into the possession of strangers are void,
inasmuch as the said widow had no obligation to reserve same, as Mercedes
Florentino is a forced heiress of her mother Severina Faz de Leon; that, in the
present case, there is no property reserved for the plaintiffs since there is a
forced heiress, entitled to the property left by the death of the widow Severina
Faz de Leon who never remarried; that the obligation to reserve is secondary to
the duty of respecting the legitime; that in the instant case, the widow Severina
Faz de Leon was in duty bound to respect the legitime of her daughter
Mercedes the defendant; that her obligation to reserve the property could not
be fulfilled to the prejudice of the legitime which belongs to her forced heiress,
citing in support of these statements the decision of the supreme court of Spain
of January 4, 1911; that, finally, the application of article 811 of the Civil Code in
favor of the plaintiffs would presuppose the exclusion of the defendant from
here right to succeed exclusively to all the property, rights and actions left by
her legitimate mother, although the said defendant has a better right than the
plaintiffs; and that there would be injustice if the property claimed be
adjudicated to the plaintiffs, as well as violation of section 5 of the Jones Law
which invalidates any law depriving any person of an equal protection.
Wherefore they prayed that the demurrer be sustained, with costs against the
plaintiffs.
After the hearing of the demurrer, on August 22, 1918, the judge absolved the
defendants from the complaint and condemned the plaintiffs to pay the costs.
Counsel for the plaintiffs excepted to this order, moved to vacate it and to grant
them a new trial; said motion was overruled; the plaintiffs expected thereto and
filed the corresponding bill of exceptions which was allowed, certified and
forwarded to the clerk of this court.

37

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

On appeal the trial judge sustained the demurrer of the defendants to the
complaint of the plaintiffs, but, instead of ordering the latter to amend their
complaint within the period prescribed by the rules undoubtedly believing
that the plaintiffs could not alter nor change the facts constituting the cause of
action, and that, as both parties were agreed as to the facts alleged in the
complaint as well as in the demurrer, every question reduced itself to one of the
law, already submitted to the decision of the court the said judge,
disregarding the ordinary procedure established by law, decided the case by
absolving the defendants from the complaint and by condemning the plaintiffs
to pay the costs of the instance.
There certainly was no real trial, inasmuch as the defendants, instead of
answering the complaint of the plaintiffs, confined themselves to filing a
demurrer based on the ground that the facts alleged in the complaint do not
constitute a cause of action. However, the judge preferred to absolve the
defendants, thereby making an end to the cause, instead of dismissing the
same, because undoubtedly he believed, in view of the controversy between
the parties, that the arguments adduced to support the demurrer would be the
same which the defendants would allege in their answer those dealing with a
mere question of law which the courts would have to decide and that, the
demurrer having been sustained, if the plaintiffs should insist they could do
no less upon alleging the same facts as those set out in their complaint and
if another demurrer were afterwards set up, he would be obliged to dismiss said
complaint with costs against the plaintiffs in spite of being undoubtedly
convinced in the instant case that the plaintiffs absolutely lack the right to bring
the action stated in their complaint.
Being of the opinion that the emendation of the indicated defects is not
necessary as in this case what has been done does not prejudice the parties
the appellate court will now proceed to decide the suit according to its
merits, as found in the record and to the legal provisions applicable to the
question of law in controversy so that unnecessary delay and greater expense
may be avoided, inasmuch as, even if all the ordinary proceedings be followed,
the suit would be subsequently decided in the manner and terms that it is now
decided in the opinion thoughtfully and conscientiously formed for its
determination.
In order to decide whether the plaintiffs are or are not entitled to invoke, in their
favor, the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code, and whether the same
article is applicable to the question of law presented in this suit, it is necessary

to determine whether the property enumerated in paragraph 5 of the complaint


is of the nature of reservable property; and if so, whether in accordance with the
provision of the Civil Code in article 811, Severina Faz de Leon (the widow of
the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino) who inherited said property from her
son Apolonio Florentino III (born after the death of his father Apolonio Isabelo)
had the obligation to preserve and reserve same for the relatives, within the
third degree, of her aforementioned deceased son Apolonio III.
The above mentioned article reads:
Any ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property acquired
by the latter gratuitously from some other ascendant, or from a brother
or sister, is obliged to reserve such of the property as he may have
acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives within the third
degree belonging to the line from which such property came.
During the marriage of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II and Severina Faz de Leon
two children were born, namely the defendant Mercedes Florentino and
Apolonio Florentino III (born after the death of his father). At the death of
Apolonio Isabelo Florentino under a will, his eleven children succeeded to the
inheritance he left, one of whom, the posthumos son Apolonio III, was given, as
his share, the aforementioned property enumerated in the complaint. In 1891
the said posthumos son Apolonio Florentino III died and was succeeded by his
legitimate mother Severina Faz de Leon, who inherited the property he left and
who on dying, November 18, 1908, instituted by will as her sole heiress her
surviving daughter, Mercedes Florentino, the defendant herein, who took
possession of all property left by her father, same constituting the inheritance.
Included in said inheritance is the property, specified in by the posthumos son
Apolonio Florentino III from his father Apolonio Isabelo Florentino, and which, at
the death of the said posthumos son, had in turn been inherited by his mother,
Severina Faz de Leon. Even if Severina left in her will said property, together
with her own, to her only daughter and forced heiress, Mercedes Florentino,
nevertheless this property had not lost its reservable nature inasmuch as it
originated from the common ancestor of the litigants, Apolonio Isabelo; was
inherited by his son Apolonio III; was transmitted by same (by operation of law)
to his legitimate mother and ascendant, Severina Faz de Leon.
The posthumos son, Apolonio Florentino III, acquired the property, now claimed
by his brothers, by a lucrative title or by inheritance from his aforementioned

38

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

legitimate father, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. Although said property was
inherited by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon, nevertheless, she was in duty
bound, according to article 811 of the Civil Code, to reserve the property thus
acquired for the benefit of the relatives, within the third degree, of the line from
which such property came.

highest degree personal and for the exclusive benefit of designated persons
who are the relatives, within the third degree, of the person from whom the
reservable property came. Therefore, relatives of the fourth and the succeeding
degrees can never be considered as reservatarios, since the law does not
recognize them as such.

According to the provisions of law, ascendants do not inherit the reservable


property, but its enjoyment, use or trust, merely for the reason that said law
imposes the obligation to reserve and preserve same for certain designated
persons who, on the death of the said ascendants reservists, (taking into
consideration the nature of the line from which such property came) acquire the
ownership of said property in fact and by operation of law in the same manner
as forced heirs (because they are also such) said property reverts to said
line as long as the aforementioned persons who, from the death of the
ascendant-reservists, acquire in fact the right of reservatarios (person for whom
property is reserved), and are relatives, within the third degree, of the
descendant from whom the reservable property came.

In spite of what has been said relative to the right of representation on the part
of one alleging his right as reservatario who is not within the third degree of
relationship, nevertheless there is right of representation on the part of
reservatarios who are within the third degree mentioned by law, as in the case
of nephews of the deceased person from whom the reservable property came.
These reservatarios have the right to represent their ascendants (fathers and
mothers) who are the brothers of the said deceased person and relatives within
the third degree in accordance with article 811 of the Civil Code.

Any ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property, while there are
living, within the third degree, relatives of the latter, is nothing but a life
usufructuary or a fiduciary of the reservable property received. He is, however,
the legitimate owner of his own property which is not reservable property and
which constitutes his legitime, according to article 809 of the Civil Code. But if,
afterwards, all of the relatives, within the third degree, of the descendant (from
whom came the reservable property) die or disappear, the said property
becomes free property, by operation of law, and is thereby converted into the
legitime of the ascendant heir who can transmit it at his death to his legitimate
successors or testamentary heirs. This property has now lost its nature of
reservable property, pertaining thereto at the death of the relatives, called
reservatarios, who belonged within the third degree to the line from which such
property came.lawphil.net
Following the order prescribed by law in legitimate succession, when there are
relatives of the descendant within the third degree, the right of the nearest
relative, called reservatario, over the property which the reservista (person
holding it subject to reservation) should return to him, excludes that of the one
more remote. The right of representation cannot be alleged when the one
claiming same as a reservatario of the reservable property is not among the
relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which such property
came, inasmuch as the right granted by the Civil Code in article 811 is in the

In this case it is conceded without denial by defendants, that the plaintiffs


Encarnacion, Gabriel and Magdalena are the legitimate children of the first
marriage of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II; that Ramon, Miguel,
Ceferino, Antonio, and Rosario are both grandchildren of Apolonio Isabelo
Florentino II, and children of his deceased son, Jose Florentino; that the same
have the right to represent their aforementioned father, Jose Florentino; that
Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores are the legitimate children of the
deceased Espirita Florentino, one of the daughters of the deceased Apolonio
Isabelo Florentino II, and represent the right of their aforementioned mother;
and that the other plaintiffs, Jose and Asuncion, have also the right to represent
their legitimate father Pedro Florentino one of the sons of the aforementioned
Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. It is a fact, admitted by both parties, that the
other children of the first marriage of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino
II died without issue so that this decision does not deal with them.
There are then seven "reservatarios" who are entitled to the reservable property
left at the death of Apolonio III; the posthumos son of the aforementioned
Apolonio Isabelo II, to wit, his three children of his first marriage
Encarnacion, Gabriel, Magdalena; his three children, Jose, Espirita and Pedro
who are represented by their own twelve children respectively; and Mercedes
Florentino, his daughter by a second marriage. All of the plaintiffs are the
relatives of the deceased posthumos son, Apolonio Florentino III, within the
third degree (four of whom being his half-brothers and the remaining twelve
being his nephews as they are the children of his three half-brothers). As the
first four are his relatives within the third degree in their own right and the other

39

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

twelve are such by representation, all of them are indisputably entitled as


reservatarios to the property which came from the common ancestor, Apolonio
Isabelo, to Apolonio Florentino III by inheritance during his life-time, and in turn
by inheritance to his legitimate mother, Severina Faz de Leon, widow of the
aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II.
In spite of the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code already cited, the trial
judge refused to accept the theory of the plaintiffs and, accepting that of the
defendants, absolved the latter from the complaint on the ground that said
article is absolutely inapplicable to the instant case, inasmuch as the defendant
Mercedes Florentino survived her brother, Apolonio III, from whom the
reservable property came and her mother, Severina Faz de Leon, the widow of
her father, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II; that the defendant Mercedes, being
the only daughter of Severina Faz de Leon, is likewise her forced heiress; that
when she inherited the property left at the death of her mother, together with
that which came from her deceased brother Apolonio III, the fundamental object
of article 811 of the Code was thereby complied with, inasmuch as the danger
that the property coming from the same line might fall into the hands of
strangers had been avoided; and that the hope or expectation on the part of the
plaintiffs of the right to acquire the property of the deceased Apolonio III never
did come into existence because there is a forced heiress who is entitled to
such property.
The judgment appealed from is also founded on the theory that article 811 of
the Civil Code does not destroy the system of legitimate succession and that
the pretension of the plaintiffs to apply said article in the instant case would be
permitting the reservable right to reduce and impair the forced legitimate which
exclusively belongs to the defendant Mercedes Florentino, in violation of the
precept of article 813 of the same Code which provides that the testator cannot
deprive his heirs of their legitime, except in the cases expressly determined by
law. Neither can he impose upon it any burden, condition, or substitution of any
kind whatsoever, saving the provisions concerning the usufruct of the surviving
spouse, citing the decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of January 4, 1911.
The principal question submitted to the court for decision consists mainly in
determining whether they property left at the death of Apolonio III, the
posthumos son of Apolonio Isabelo II, was or was not invested with the
character of reservable property when it was received by his mother, Severina
Faz de Leon.

The property enumerated by the plaintiffs in paragraph 5 of their complaint


came, without any doubt whatsoever, from the common ancestor Apolonio
Isabelo II, and when, on the death of Apolonio III without issue the same
passed by operation of law into the hands of his legitimate mother, Severina
Faz de Leon, it became reservable property, in accordance with the provision of
article 811 of the Code, with the object that the same should not fall into the
possession of persons other than those comprehended within the order of
person other than those comprehended within the order of succession traced
by the law from Apolonio Isabelo II, the source of said property. If this property
was in fact clothed with the character and condition of reservable property when
Severina Faz de Leon inherited same from her son Apolonio III, she did not
thereby acquire the dominion or right of ownership but only the right of usufruct
or of fiduciary with the necessary obligation to preserve and to deliver or return
it as such reservable property to her deceased son's relatives within the third
degree, among whom is her daughter, Mercedes Florentino.
Reservable property neither comes, nor falls under, the absolute dominion of
the ascendant who inherits and receives same from his descendant, therefore it
does not form part of his own property nor become the legitimate of his forced
heirs. It becomes his own property only in case that all the relatives of his
descendant shall have died (reservista) in which case said reservable property
losses such character.
With full right Severina Faz de Leon could have disposed in her will of all her
own property in favor of her only living daughter, Mercedes Florentino, as
forced heiress. But whatever provision there is in her will concerning the
reservable property received from her son Apolonio III, or rather, whatever
provision will reduce the rights of the other reservatarios, the half brothers and
nephews of her daughter Mercedes, is unlawful, null and void, inasmuch as
said property is not her own and she has only the right of usufruct or of
fiduciary, with the obligation to preserve and to deliver same to the
reservatarios, one of whom is her own daughter, Mercedes Florentino.
It cannot reasonably be affirmed, founded upon an express provision of law,
that by operation of law all of the reservable property, received during lifetime
by Severina Faz de Leon from her son, Apolonio III, constitutes or forms parts
of the legitime pertaining to Mercedes Florentino. If said property did not come
to be the legitimate and exclusive property of Severina Faz de Leon, her only
legitimate and forced heiress, the defendant Mercedes, could not inherit all by
operation of law and in accordance with the order of legitimate succession,

40

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

because the other relatives of the deceased Apolonio III, within the third
degree, as well as herself are entitled to such reservable property.
For this reason, in no manner can it be claimed that the legitime of Mercedes
Florentino, coming from the inheritance of her mother Severina Faz de Leon,
has been reduced and impaired; and the application of article 811 of the Code
to the instant case in no way prejudices the rights of the defendant Mercedes
Florentino, inasmuch as she is entitled to a part only of the reservable property,
there being no lawful or just reason which serves as real foundation to
disregard the right to Apolonio III's other relatives, within the third degree, to
participate in the reservable property in question. As these relatives are at
present living, claiming for it with an indisputable right, we cannot find any
reasonable and lawful motive why their rights should not be upheld and why
they should not be granted equal participation with the defendant in the litigated
property.
The claim that because of Severina Faz de Leon's forced heiress, her daughter
Mercedes, the property received from the deceased son Apolonio III lost the
character, previously held, of reservable property; and that the mother, the said
Severina, therefore, had no further obligation to reserve same for the relatives
within the third degree of the deceased Apolonio III, is evidently erroneous for
the reason that, as has been already stated, the reservable property, left in a
will by the aforementioned Severina to her only daughter Mercedes, does not
form part of the inheritance left by her death nor of the legitimate of the heiress
Mercedes. Just because she has a forced heiress, with a right to her
inheritance, does not relieve Severina of her obligation to reserve the property
which she received from her deceased son, nor did same lose the character of
reservable property, held before the reservatarios received same.
It is true that when Mercedes Florentino, the heiress of the reservista Severina,
took possession of the property in question, same did not pass into the hands
of strangers. But it is likewise true that the said Mercedes is not the only
reservataria. And there is no reason founded upon law and upon the principle of
justice why the other reservatarios, the other brothers and nephews, relatives
within the third degree in accordance with the precept of article 811 of the Civil
Code, should be deprived of portions of the property which, as reservable
property, pertain to them.

From the foregoing it has been shown that the doctrine announced by the
Supreme Court of Spain on January 4, 1911, for the violation of articles 811,
968 and consequently of the Civil Code is not applicable in the instant case.
Following the provisions of article 813, the Supreme Court of Spain held that
the legitime of the forced heirs cannot be reduced or impaired and said article is
expressly respected in this decision.
However, in spite of the efforts of the appellee to defend their supposed rights,
it has not been shown, upon any legal foundation, that the reservable property
belonged to, and was under the absolute dominion of, the reservista, there
being relatives within the third degree of the person from whom same came;
that said property, upon passing into the hands of the forced heiress of the
deceased reservista, formed part of the legitime of the former; and that the said
forced heiress, in addition to being a reservataria, had an exclusive right to
receive all of said property and to deprive the other reservatarios, her relatives
within the third degree of certain portions thereof.
Concerning the prayer in the complaint relative to the indemnity for damages
and the delivery of the fruits collected, it is not proper to grant the first for there
is no evidence of any damage which can give rise to the obligation of refunding
same. As to the second, the delivery of the fruits produced by the land forming
the principal part of the reservable property, the defendants are undoubtedly in
duty bound to deliver to the plaintiffs six-sevenths of the fruits or rents of the
portions of land claimed in the complaint, in the quantity expressed in
paragraph 11 of the same, from January 17, 1918, the date the complaint was
filed; and the remaining seventh part should go to the defendant Mercedes.
For the foregoing reasons it follows that with the reversal of the order of
decision appealed from we should declare, as we hereby do, that the
aforementioned property, inherited by the deceased Severina Faz de Leon from
her son Apolonio Florentino III, is reservable property; that the plaintiffs, being
relatives of the deceased Apolonio III within the third degree, are entitled to sixsevenths of said reservable property; that the defendant Mercedes is entitled to
the remaining seventh part thereof; that the latter, together with her husband
Angel Encarnacion, shall deliver to the plaintiffs, jointly, six-sevenths of the
fruits or rents, claimed from said portion of the land and of the quantity claimed,
from January 17, 1918, until fully delivered; and that the indemnity for one

41

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

thousand pesos (P1,000) prayed for in the complaint is denied, without special
findings as to the costs of both instances. So ordered.
Arellano, C.J., Johnson, Araullo, Street, Malcolm and Avancea, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-22066

December 2, 1924

FRANCISCA MAGHIRANG and SERGIA GUTIERREZ, plaintiffs-appellants,


vs.
ATILANO BALCITA, ET AL., defendants-appellees.
--------------------------------G.R. No. L-22067

December 2, 1924

42

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

GREGORIO EMPALMADO, petitioner-appellee,


vs.
SERGIA GUTIERREZ, opponent-appellant.
Francisco & Lualhati for appellants.
Ramon Diokno for appellees.
STREET, J.:
By the appeal in civil cause No. 2643 of the Court of First Instance of Laguna,
Sergia Gutierrez seeks to reverse a decision of said court, whereby two parcels
of land were declared to be the exclusive property of Gregorio Empalmado and
of Esteban Reyes, respectively, free from the claim of Sergia Gutierrez that said
lots are held by said defendants subject to a contingent reservable interest in
her favor. Connected with the action above mentioned is the proceeding in the
second appeal, wherein the trial court declared that the first of the two lots in
controversy should be registered in the name of Gregorio Empalmado, free
from the same claim. Because of the intimate relation between the action
instituted in behalf of the appellant, Sergia Gutierrez, as reservee, and the
registration proceeding in which she is opponent, the two causes were heard
together in the trial court and will be here disposed of in a single opinion.
The basis of the claim put forth by the plaintiff Gutierrez is the same as to both
parcels, but the facts constituting the respective defenses of the two defendants
are different. It will therefore be convenient to state first the points pertaining to
the two parcels in common and then such as pertain especially to the
controversy over each.
It appears that the original owner of both parcels was one Bonifacio Gutierrez,
who died about the year 1902, after having been thrice married. The first wife
left no children, but the second wife left a daughter, Zoila Gutierrez, who
intermarried with Atilano Balcita, one of the defendants herein. To this pair was
born a daughter, Gertrudis Balcita. Zoila Gutierrez predeceased her father; and
upon the death of the latter, the two parcels of land with which we are
concerned passed by inheritance directly from Bonifacio to his granddaughter
Gertrudis, then a mere child. Gertrudis Balcita herself died on December 9,
1912, at the age of 16, leaving no heir except her father, Atilano Balcita. The
plaintiff, Sergia Gutierrez, is a daughter of Bonifacio Gutierrez by his third wife,
one Francisca Maghirang. Sergia was therefore the aunt of Gertrudis Balcita,

on her mother's side, and as reservee under article 811 of the Civil Code she
should succeed to the title of the two parcels which Atilano Balcita inherited, or
should have inherited, from Gertrudis, provided all the conditions necessary to
the assertion of the reservation right are fulfilled.
GUTIERREZ VS. EMPALMADO
Parcel A. In the year 1905 Atilano Balcita sold the parcel A to one Vicente
Almario. As the land belonged to Gertrudis, a lawsuit was instituted in her
behalf in 1912 with a view to recovering it. The litigation was compromised by
the reconveyance of the land by Almario to Gertrudis and the payment to him of
P1,200, which was the amount that he had paid for the property. The money
necessary to effect this compromise had to be borrowed by Gertrudis, or those
representing her; and although the point is subject to discussion, the
preponderance of the testimony is to the effect that the money was obtained
from Gregorio Empalmado under an agreement by which Gertrudis Balcita
undertook to convey the land to him for the sum of P2,100. The document,
Exhibit B, constituting the evidence of this agreement is dated November 28,
1912. In addition to the signature of Gertrudis Balcita, which is questioned, it
bears the signature of Atilano Balcita and two subscribing witnesses. Gertrudis
Balcita died of dysentery on December 9, 1912, and on December 12 thereafter
her father, Atilano Balcita, executed the document Exhibit C, whereby he
conveyed, or purported to convey, the same parcel to Gregorio Empalmado, it
being recited that he had inherited the land from his daughter Gertrudis.
Gregorio Empalmado immediately entered into possession, and he has
subsequently maintained possession under claim of ownership.
For the plaintiff, Gutierrez, it is insisted that the document, Exhibit b, is not
authentic and that the name of Gertrudis Balcita subscribed thereto is a forgery.
The trial judge was of the opinion that the due execution of this instrument had
been proved by a preponderance of the evidence; and although the question is
debatable, and the point not altogether free from doubt, we are of the opinion
that the trial court's conclusion on this point should be affirmed. The two
subscribing witnesses both say that they saw the girl sign the document upon
the date stated therein, and this is corroborated not only by the testimony of
Gregorio Empalmado, who was present at the execution of the instrument, but
also by Atilano Balcita himself. The only testimony to the contrary is that of
Sergia Gutierrez, who says that the girl was too sick for some time prior to her
death to admit the possibility of her having signed the instrument. It is true that
the questioned signature appears somewhat suspicious, but we have not

43

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

sufficient data upon which to pronounce it a forgery, considered as a mere


question of penmanship. Certainly, the instrument expresses the agreement
that would naturally have been drawn upon under the proven circumstances
which gave rise to the transaction.
Upon the foregoing state of facts the trial judge found as a matter of law that the
title to parcel A passed out of Gertrudis Balcita and became vested in Gregorio
Empalmado before her death; and although Gertrudis was then a minor, the
conveyance was only voidable and not void. Moreover, as his Honor pointed
out, the contract was evidently advantageous to the minor because she thereby
obtained the money necessary to get the property back from Vicente Almario,
with the consequent saving of P900.
These conclusions of the trial court seem to us well founded, and the result is
that, as to this parcel, the inchoate reservable right asserted by Sergia
Gutierrez never came into existence. In this view the conveyance executed by
Atilano Balcita a few days after the death of his daughter Gertrudis operated as
a mere quit-claim from him, as title had already vested in Empalmado under the
prior agreement with her.
No error was therefore committed by the trial judge in dismissing the complaint
in case No. 2643 in so far as it affects parcel A and the right of the defendant
Empalmado thereto; nor did his Honor err in ordering the registration of the
same parcel in the name of Empalmado and his wife Felipa Brion, regardless of
the opposition of the plaintiff Gutierrez.
GUTIERREZ VS. REYES
Parcel B. As already stated, this parcel comes from the same source as the
parcel A, that is, from the estate of Bonifacio Gutierrez. With respect to this
parcel it appears that on May 28, 1906, Atilano Balcita, being then in
possession and asserting a claim of ownership, sold the same by a contract of
sale with pacto de retro for the sum of P200 to the defendant Esteban Reyes.
In the document constituting the evidence of this sale Atilano Balcita falsely
declared that he was owner by virtud of having inherited the property from his
parents and that he had been in quiet and pacific possession for fifteen years.
Esteban Reyes was a purchaser for value and bought in belief that the land
really belonged to his vendor. The period for repurchase under this contract
was ten years, which passed in 1916 without redemption having been effected.

It is not clear whether the purchaser under this contract entered into possession
during the time stipulated for redemption or not; but it is agreed that, with this
exception, the defendant Reyes had, until the institution of this action on May
10, 1918, exercised actual and adverse possession, to the exclusion of all other
persons.lawphi1.net
Upon the facts above stated the trial judge gave Reyes the benefit of
prescription under the ten years statute (sec. 41, Code of Civ. Proc.) and held
that the right of Sergia Gutierrez, as reservee, had been thereby destroyed.
We are of the opinion that the conclusion thus reached is erroneous. We may
accept the legal proposition that occupancy by Esteban Reyes, pursuant to the
contract of sale with pacto de retro by which he acquired the property, and prior
to the expiration of the period for redemption, may be considered an adverse
possession as against everybody having a prescriptible interest,
notwithstanding the existence of the stipulation for repurchase. As was said by
this court in Santos vs. Heirs of Crisostomo and Tiongson (41 Phil., 342, 352),
the insertion of a stipulation for repurchase by the vendor in a contract of sale
does not necessarily create a right inconsistent with the right of ownership in
the purchaser. Such a stipulation is in the nature of an option, and the possible
exercise of its rests upon contingency. It creates no subsisting right whatever in
the property, and so far from being inconsistent with the idea of full ownership in
the purchaser, it really rests upon the assumption of ownership in him.
But it must be borne in mind that the true owner of this property was Gertrudis
Balcita, a minor, and the period of limitation did not begin to run against her or
any person claiming in her right until the date of her death, which was
December 9, 1912. It must furthermore be remembered that the plaintiff does
not claim in the character of an ordinary successor to the rights of Gertrudis
Balcita; her claim is based upon a positive provision of law, which could no
operate in any wise until the death of Gertrudis Balcita, when the reservable
character first attached to the property in question. From this it is obvious that
the right of the plaintiff which even yet is of a purely contingent nature
could not be affected by anything that had occurred prior to the death of
Gertrudis Balcita; and as this action was begun in May, 1918, the ten-year
period necessary to confer a complete prescriptive title had not then elapsed.
What has been said makes it unnecessary to express any opinion upon he
more recondite question whether Sergia Gutierrez really has a prescriptive

44

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

interest in the parcel B, but we may observe that the position of the reservee
under the Spanish law is very much like that of the ordinary remainderman at
common law, who is entitled to take after the termination of a particular life
estate; and it is generally accepted doctrine in common law jurisdictions that if
the life tenant loses his life estate by adverse possession the interest of the
remainderman is not thereby destroyed. (17 R. C. L., 982; 21 C. J., 972, 975,
1013.) The reason for the rule is said to be that, during the existence of the life
estate, the remainderman has no right to possession and consequently cannot
bring an action to recover it. (21 C. J., 974.) As was said by the Supreme Court
of Ohio in Webster vs. Pittsburg, etc., Railroad Co. (15 L. R. A. [N. S.], 1154),
"No possession can be deemed adverse to a party who has not at the time the
right of entry and possession."
From what has been said it is apparent that the judgment must be affirmed in
so far as concerns the registration of parcel A in expediente No. 409, G. L. R.
O., record No. 14769, and in so far as relates to the dismissal of the complaint
against Gregorio Empalmado in case No. 2643; but the judgment in the same
case must be reversed in so far as relates to parcel B, now in the possession of
Esteban Reyes, and it is hereby declared that said parcel is reservable property
and upon the death of Atilano Balcita will pass to Sergia Gutierrez, if she be
then living. Let a certified copy of this pronouncement be filed with the register
of deeds of the Province of Laguna for record pursuant to the provisions of Act
No. 2837 of the Philippine Legislature. So ordered, without special
pronouncement as to costs.
Johnson, Malcolm, Avancea, Villamor, Ostrand, Johns and Romualdez, JJ.,
concur.

45

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

To the petition the defendant filed a general and special answer. In his general
answer he denied each and all of the material allegations alleged in the
complaint. In his special defense he alleged that the said Tomas G. Del
Rosario, at the time of his death, was the sole and only owner of said lots or
parcels of land.
Upon the issue thus presented and after hearing the evidence adduced during
the trial of the cause, the court a quo rendered a judgment in which he ordered
the defendant to deliver to the plaintiff one-half of one of said parcels of land,
together with the one-half of the rent which it produced or might produce until
the delivery of the same, and to pay to the plaintiff the sum of P8,000 and the
half of the rent which the other piece of property may have produced or may
produce up to the time of the death of the deceased, Tomas G. del Rosario.

G.R. No. L-10580

March 27, 1916

TEODORO DE LOS REYES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MAXIMINO PATERNO, administrator of the estate of Tomas G. del Rosario
deceased, defendant-appellant.
A. Cruz Herrera and Ramon Muyot for appellant.
Ramon Salinas for appellee.
JOHNSON, J.:
This action was commenced in the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila
on the 7th of February, 1914. The purpose of the action on the part of the
plaintiff was to be declared the owner of one-half of two lots or parcels of land
located in the district of Santa Cruz in the city of Manila, to require the
defendant to render an account of the administration of said lots or parcels of
land, and to obtain a judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant
for whatever amount said rendition of accounts shows the plaintiff was entitled
to.

From that conclusion the defendant appealed to this court and made several
assignments of error the most important of which, and the one which is our
judgment shows that the lower court committed an error in its conclusions, is
assignment No. 5. Said assignment is that the lower court "erred in not holding
that the decree of the Court of Land Registration, copied in plaintiff's Exhibit C,
is res judicata against the plaintiff; and that the two certificates of title of the
properties that are the subject matter of the complaint, issued in behalf of
Tomas G. de Rosario by virtue of said decree, are conclusive and decisive
proof against the plaintiff."
If it is true that during the lifetime of Tomas G. del Rosario he obtained a
Torrens title for the lots or parcels of land in question, and if that judgment or
decree of the Court of Land Registration became final, or if more than one year
had elapsed after the decree then his title is unimpeachable and can not be
annulled or set aside, even for fraud.
As was noted above, the present action was commenced on the 7th of
February, 1914. During the trial of the cause the defendant presented as proof
Exhibit C. An examination of Exhibit C shows the following facts:
First. That the said Tomas G. del Rosario presented a petition in the Court of
Land Registration on the 24th of April, 1909, for the registration under the
Torrens system of two parcels of land. There is no dispute that the two parcels
of land described in said petition for registration are exactly the same parcels of
land in litigation in the present action.

46

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Second. Said Exhibit C further shows that on the 21st of September, 1909, the
judge of the Court of Land Registration, after considering the petition, rendered
the following decree, ordering said parcels of land to be registered in the name
of Tomas G. del Rosario, in accordance with the provisions of Act No. 496:
Two properties are described in the application, both urban; the first is a
parcel of land situated on Calle Curtidor, district of Santa Cruz, city of
Manila, and includes the building thereon constructed of strong
materials; and the other is a piece of land on Calle Asuncion, district of
San Nicolas, city of Manila, which includes the building, also of strong
materials, thereon.
The applicant has presented documentary and parol evidence, the
former consisting of the documents, all of which are public, on file in
this case, and the latter, of the testimony of witnesses. From the said
documents and from the certified copy issued by the register of deeds
of Manila on July 17, 1907, of the entry made in the old property
registry, it is deduced that these properties have been the subject of
successive and legal conveyances since the year 1879, until they were
acquired by the applicant in August and September, 1891, by purchase,
during his conjugal partnership, now dissolved, with his wife, Juana
Reyes y Reyes, and that the ownership of both properties was
recorded in the said property registry in the name of the
aforementioned Tomas G. del Rosario, as the representative of the said
partnership.
Upon the death of Juana Reyes y Reyes, who died intestate,
Concepcion Crispina Dorotea Severina del Rosario y Reyes, a
daughter of the marriage of the deceased with the applicant, Tomas G.
del Rosario, was declared to be the sold heir of decedent by the Court
of First Instance of the district of Quiapo in a decree of February 20,
1892.
On June 3, 1900, the said Concepcion del Rosario y Reyes also died,
at the age of nine years, according to the death certificate Exhibit F,
and was succeeded in all her rights and actions, and in respect to onehalf of the property, by the said applicant, Tomas G. del Rosario, who
was already the owner of the other half of the property.

After general notice of default, the adjudication and registration of the


property in question is decreed (10 a. m.) in the name of the applicant,
Tomas G. del Rosario.
Let a translation be made of the stenographic notes taken of the
testimony of the witnesses, and attached to the record of the
proceedings.
In the margin of the entries of registration, which, on folio 34 of volume
4 of the section of Quiapo, and 9 of the register, property No. 131,
registration No. 3, and folio 115 of volume 7 of the section of Binondo,
property No. 314, appears in the names of Tomas G. del Rosario y
Tongco and his daughter, Concepcion Crispina Dorotea Severina del
Rosario y Reyes, let record be made by the register of deeds of the city
of Manila, that the properties to which said entries refer have been
adjudicated to Tomas G. del Rosario, in accordance with Act No. 496.
MANILA, September 21, 1909.
From the 21st of September, 1909, until the 7th of February, 1914, much more
than one year elapsed. The title, therefore, of Tomas G. del Rosario was
absolute and complete. The failure of the plaintiff, if he ever had any interest or
title in said land, to appear and oppose the registration of the same in the name
of Tomas G. del Rosario or to question the registration in his name during a
period of one year after the certificate of title had been issued, operates to
exclude him forever from questioning the title granted under the Torrens
system. (Sec. 38, Act No. 496; Cuyugan and Lim Tuico vs. Sy Quia, 24 Phil.
Rep., 567; Maloles vs. Director of Lands, 25 Phil. Rep., 548.)
The plaintiff having lost his right to claim any interest in the lots or parcels of
land in question, by virtue of his (a) failure to present any opposition to the
registration of the same under the Torrens system in favor of Tomas G. del
Rosario, or (b) to question the validity of such registration within a period of one
year thereafter he has forever lost his right therein, if he ever had any.
Therefore the judgment of the lower court is hereby reversed and the defendant
is absolved from all liability under the complaint, and without any finding as to
costs, it is so ordered.

47

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Torres, Moreland, and Trent, JJ., concur.

vs.
RUPERTA A. VDA. DE RODRIGUEZ, administratix-appellee,

Araullo, J., dissents.


RUPERTA A VDA. DE RODRIGUEZ, administratix-appellant,
vs.
SAMSON RODRIGUEZ, ET AL., movants-appellees.
Gabriel Benedicto for appellant.
Carlos Hilado, Jose V. Coruna and Jose Y. Hilado for appellees.
PADILLA, J.:
In his lifetime the late Fortunate Rodriguez executed a will instituting as heirs
entitled to his estate, the following: Josefina and Nicanora, natural children;
Samson, Juanita, Inicerio and Gregorio, legitimate children by his first wife Julia
Quillos; and Eli Rodriguez, legitimate son by his second wife Ruperta A. Vda.
de Rodriguez. After his death sometime in 1924, proceedings for the
administration and settlement of his estate was instituted in the Court of First
Instance of Occidental Negros (Special Proceedings No. 2758). On 24 March
1924 the heirs executed an agreement of partition and submitted it to the
probate court for approval. After approval, the heirs took possession of their
respective shares.
The real estate awarded to Eli Rodriguez are the following: (1) 1/15 share in
Lots Nos. 846, 848 and 965; (2) Lot No. 847; and (3) Lot No. 951, all of the
Cadastral Survey of La Carlota. These parcels of land are planted to sugar
cane and the produce milled at the Central Azucarera de La Carlota. Upon the
enactment of Act No. 4166, known as the Sugar Limitation Law, on 4 December
1934, a quota of 596.26 piculs of sugar, divided into export, consumer, and
emergency reserve, manufactured from the sugar cane grown therein, was
allocated to the said parcels of land.

G.R. No. L-9234

August 30, 1957

INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE ELI RODRIGUEZ. SAMSON


RODRIGUEZ, ET AL., movants-appellants,

On 19 May 1942 Eli Rodriguez died intestate, single and without issue in
O'Donnel concentration camp, Capas, Tarlac. On 28 December 1945 his
mother Ruperta A. Vda. de Rodriguez commenced proceedings in the Court of
First Instance of Occidental Negros for the administration and settlement of the
deceased and prayed that after hearing she be appointed administratrix of the
estate of the deceased; that she be exempted from filing a bond; and that she
be declared the sole heir of the deceased (Special Proceedings No. 220). On

48

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

23 September 1954 Samson Rodriguez, Juanita Rodriguez, Inicerio Rodriguez,


Gregorio Rodriguez and Josefina Rodriguez, half-brothers and half-sisters of
the deceased, and Jesus Segura, son of Nicanora Rodriguez, another halfsister of the deceased, filed a motion in the probate court praying that the
parcels of land inherited by the administratrix from her late son Eli Rodriguez be
held subject to a reserva troncal in their favor under and pursuant to the
provisions of article 891 of the new Civil Code (811 of the old), and that the
administratrix be directed to register or cause to be recorded on the back of the
transfer certificates of title to be issued in her name by the Registrar of Deeds
in and for the province of Occidental Negros for the said parcels of land, their
right to such reserva troncal. After hearing, on 27 November 1954 the probate
court held that Josefina Rodriguez, a natural sister of the deceased, and Jesus
Segura, the son of the late Nicanora Rodriguez, another natural sister, are not
entitled to a reserva troncal, but that the rest of the movants are entitled to have
their right to a reserva troncal recorded on the transfer certificates of title to be
issued to the administratrix for the parcels of land inherited by her from her late
son Eli Rodriguez; and that the sugar quota of 596.26 piculs allocated to the
parcels of land is not subject to such reserva troncal and ordered the
administratix
. . . to record in the Registry of Deeds of Negros Occidental, the
reservable character of lots Nos. 847, 951, 11, 965 and 7 of the la
Carlota Cadastre (the last three lots correspond previously to 1/15 pro
indiviso of Lots 846, 965 and 848 of the La Carlota Cadastre) in favor of
Samson, Juanita, Inicerio and Gregorio, all surnamed Rodriguez.
Motions for reconsideration filed on 22 December 1954 and 22 February 1955
were denied on 14 February 1955 and 10 March 1955, respectively.
The movants appeal from that part of the order denying their petition to include
in the reservation the sugar quota allotment of 596.26 piculs that may be
manufactured from the sugar cane grown in the parcels of land inherited by the
administratrix from her late son. The movants Josefina Rodriguez and Jesus
Segura did not appeal. The administratrix appeals from that part of the order
directing her to register or cause to be recorded the right of Samson, Juanita,
Inicerio and Gregorio, all surnamed Rodriguez, to a reserva troncal on the
transfer certificates of title to be issued to the administratrix by the Rigistrar of
Deeds of the province of Occidental Negros for the parcels of land inherited by
her from her late son Eli Rodriguez.

Article 891 of the new Civil Code (811 of the old), provides:
The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which
the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant,
or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property is he may
have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are
within the third degree and who belong to the line from which said
property came.
Commenting on this article Manresa says:
Los bienes pasan en primer termino al ascendiente legitimario: este los
reserva, los guarda disfruta durante su vida, y a su muerte van a parar
a la linea a que pertenecieron si hay parientes dentro del tercer grado
en esa linea, y caso de no haberlos en ese moimento, la reserve
desaprece, los bienesquedan libres y se sigue el orden natural de la
sucesion. En cambgio los parientes han de respetar ese usufructo, y
tienen una esperanza a esos bienes,que solo ven realizada los que
vivan en la epoca del fallecimiento del ascendiente.
De aqui se deduce que el ascendiente es algo mas que un simple
usufructuario; su derecho es analogo al del poseedor de bienes sujetos
a una condicion resolutoria. Hay, en efecto, un hecho futuro e incierto
del que depende laadquisicion definitiva o la extincion del derecho por
el ascendiente o porsus herederos, asi como la adquisicion o la
extencion del derecho de losparientes. Quedaran o no parientes
lineales, dentro del tercer grado, a lamuerte del ascendiente obligado a
reserva? Tal es la cuestion. Quedan? Adquieren los bienes, que son
perdidos para los herederos del ascendiente,porque la condicion se ha
cumplido. No quedan? El hecho incierto no se harealizado, y se hace
definitivo y firme el derecho del ascendiente o de susherederos. Y no
se crea que siempre habra que esperar a la muerte del ascendiente:
habra casos en los cuales despues de nacida la reserva,
eseascendiente presenciara la muerte de la misma, por desparecer los
parientesque a ella pudieran tener derecho, y no ser posible que
lleguen a existirotros. (Comentrios al Codigo Civil Espaol, Vol. 6 pp.
252-253, 6th Ed.)

49

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Properties reservable under the aforequoted article are those that the propositus
acquired by gratuitos title from another ascenda, or brother or sister. Although in
1924, at the time the late Eli Rodriguez inherited by will the parcels of land from his
late father Fortunato, the sugar quota allotment was not yet in existence, still such
sugar quota allotment, in the language of the law,1 is "an improvement attaching to
the land. . . ." If there be no land planted to sugar cane there would be no sugar
quota allotment. The fact that "Mill companies and plantation owners may sale,
transfer, or assign their allotments received under the terms of this Act," 2 is another
compelling reason which leads us to regard the sugar quota allotment as part of the
land to be reserved for the reservees, because if the sugar quota allotment be sold
by the reservor, the land subject to reserva troncal would greatly depreciate in value
to the prejudice and detriment of the right of the reservees.
In support of her appeal, counsel for the administratrix quotes in his brief a passage
from Manresa thus
Que en cuanto al hermano, desde luego es aplicable el precepto a los
hermanosde doble vinculo. Pero si los bienes proceden de un medio
hermano, no tendria, luego (lugar) la reserva. (Manresa Vol. 6 page 256)
Pp. 6-7, brief for the administratrix appellant.
This is not correct. The correct passage is
En cuanto al hermano, desde luego es aplicable el precepto a los
hermanos de doble vinculo. Pero si los bienes proceden de un medio
hermano, no tendralugar la reserva? No hay duda alguna: hermanos son
unos y otros, y con esa sola denominacion se comprenden los medio
hermanos en los articulos 143, 144,294, 770, 952, 953 y 954. Legitimos
son tambien todos, y sin una disposicion expresa de la ley no pueden ser
excluidos. El doble vinculo determina cierta preferencia en materia de
tutelas y sucesiones; mas al efecto de buscar la procedencia de log bienes
en el art. 811, basta que se trate de hermanos, seande doble vinculo,
uterinos o consanguineos. Hay sobre todo una razon decisiva,como
veremos despues; en ultimo termino, la reserva se establece en favor
delos parientes que pertenezcan a la linea del hermano de quien los
bienesproceden, y puesto que se trata de lineas, el doble vinculo es
indiferente.(Comentarios al Codigo Civil Espaol, Vol. 6, p. 257, 6th Ed.)
Debe ser el parentesco de doble vinculo? Scaevola afirma que, por ser la
reserva del articulo 811 puramente lineal, no es licito distinguir entre
pariente de vinculo entero o de medio vinculo, y cita en apoto de su

opinion la sentencia de 29 de diciember de 1897, en la que se declaro la


reserva a favor de uno medio hermano. (Manresa, Comentarios al Codigo
Civil Espaol, Vol. 6, pp. 328-329, 7th Ed.)
The provisions of article 891 of the new Civil Code (811 of the old) do not exclude
the half brothers and sisters from the benefit provided for therein, as long as they
are of the line from which the property to be reserved came.
The order appealed from is modified by including the sugar quota allotment of the
parcels of land in the reservation to be recorded on the transfer certificates of the
title to be issued to and in the name of Ruperta A. Vda. de Rodriguez, without
pronouncement as to costs.
Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes,
J.B.L. and Endencia, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-29901

August 31, 1977

IGNACIO FRIAS CHUA, DOMINADOR CHUA and REMEDIOS CHUA,


petitioners,
vs.
THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, BRANCH V
and SUSANA DE LA TORRE, in her capacity as Administratrix of the
Intestate Estate of Consolacion de la Torre, respondents.
Dominador G. Abaria and Primitivo Blanca for private respondent.
Rodrigo O. Delfinado for petitioners.
MARTIN, J.:
Petition for review of the decision of the respondent Court which dismissed the
complaint of petitioners in Civil Case No. 7839-A, entitled "Ignacio Frias Chua,
et al. vs. Susana de la Torre, Administratrix of the Intestate Estate of
Consolacion de la Torre"
It appears that in the first marriage of Jose Frias Chua with Patricia S. Militar
alias Sy Quio he sired three children, namely: Ignacio, Lorenzo and Manuel, all

50

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

surnamed Frias Chua. When Patricia S. Militar died, Jose Frias Chua
contracted a second marriage with Consolacion de la Torre with whom he had a
child by the name of Juanita Frias Chua. Manuel Frias Chua died without
leaving any issue. Then in 1929, Jose Frias Chua died intestate leaving his
widow Consolacion de la Torre and his son Juanito Frias Chua of the second
marriage and sons Ignacio Frias Chua and Lorenzo Frias Chua of his first
marriage. In Intestate Proceeding No. 4816, the lower court issued an order
dated January 15, 1931 1 adjudicating, among others, the one-half (1/2,) portion
of Lot No. 399 and the sum of P8,000.00 in favor of Jose Frias Chua's widow,
Consolacion de la Torre, the other half of Lot No. 399 in favor of Juanito Frias
Chua, his son in the second marriage; P3,000.00 in favor of Lorenze Frias
chua; and P1,550.00 in favor of Ignacio Frias, Chua, his sons of the first
marriage. By virtue of said adjudication, Transfer Certificate of Title No. TR-980
(14483) 2 dated April 28, 1932 was issued by the Register of Deeds in the
names of Consolacion de la Torre and Juanito Frias Chua as owners proindiviso of Lot No. 399.
On February 27, 1952, Juanito Frias Chua of the second marriage died
intestate without any issue. After his death, his mother Consolacion de la Torre
succeeded to his pro-indivisio share of Lot No. 399. In a week's time or on
March 6, 1952, Consolacion de la Torre executed a declaration of heirship
adjudicating in her favor the pro-indiviso share of her son Juanito as a result of
which Transfer Certificate of Title No. 31796 covering the whole Lot No. 399
was issued in her name. Then on March 5, 1966, Consolacion de la Torre died
intestate leaving no direct heir either in the descending or ascending line except
her brother and sisters.
In the "Intestate Estate of Consolacion de la Torre", docketed as Sp. Proc. No.
7839-A, the petitioners herein, Ignacio Frias Chua, of the first marriage and
dominador and Remedios Chua, the supposed legitimate children of the
deceased Lorenzo Frias Chua, also of the first marriage filed the complaint a
quo 3 (subseqently segregated as a distinct suit and docketed as Civil Case No.
7839-A) on May 11, 1966 before the respondent Court of First Instance of
Negros Occidental, Branch V, praying that the one-half (1/2) portion of Lot No.
399 which formerly belonged to Juanito Frias but which passed to Consolacion
de la Torre upon the latter's death, be declaredas a reservable property for the
reason that the lot in questionn was subject to reserval troncal pursuant to
Article 981 of the New Civil Code, Private respondent as administratrix of the
estate of individually the complaint of petitioners 4

On July 29, 1986, the respondent Court rendered a decision dismissing the
complaint of petitioner. Hence this instant.
The pertinent provision of reserva troncal under the New Civil Code provides:
ART. 891. The ascendant who inheritts from his descendant
any property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous
title from another ascendat, or a brother or sister, is obliged to
reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of
law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree
and belong to the line from which said property came.
Persuant to the foregoing provision, in order that a property may be impressed
with a reservable character the following requisites must exist, to wit: (1) that
the property was acquired by a descendant from an asscendant or from a
brother or sister by gratuitous title; (2) that said descendant died without an
issue; (3) that the property is inherited by another ascendant by operation of
law; and (4) that there are relatives within the third degree belonging to the line
from which said property came. 5 In the case before Us, all of the foregoing
requisites are present. Thus, as borne out by the records, Juanoito Frias Chua
of the second marriage died intestate in 1952; he died withour leaving any
issue; his pro-indiviso of 1/2 share of Lot No. 399 was acquired by his mother,
Consolacion de la Torre died, Juannnito Frias Chua who died intestate had
relatives within the third degree. These relatives are Ignacio Frias Chua and
Dominador Chua and Remidios Chua, the suppose legitimate children of the
deceased Lorenzo Frias Chua, who are the petitioners herein.
The crux of the problem in instant petition is focused on the first requisit of
reserva troncal whether the property in question was acquired by Juanito
Frias Chua from his father Jose Frias Chua, gratuitously or not. In resolving this
point, the respondent Court said:
It appears from Exh. "3", which is part of Exh. "D", that the
property in question was not acquired by Consolacion de la
Torre and Juanito Frias Chua gratuitously but for a
consideration, namely, that the legatees were to pay the
interest and cost and other fees resulting from Civil Case No.
5300 of this Court. As such it is undeniable that the lot in
question is not subject tot a reserva troncal, under Art. 891 of

51

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

the New Civil Code, and as such the plaintiff's complaint must
fail.
We are not prepared to sustain the respondent Court's conclusion that the lot in
question is not subject to a reserva troncal under Art. 891 of the New Civil
Code. It is, As explained by Manresa which this Court quoted with approval in
Cabardo v. Villanueva, 44 Phil. 186, "The transmission is gratuitous or by
gratuitous title when the recipient does not give anything in return." It matters
not whether the property transmitted be or be not subject to any prior charges;
what is essential is that the transmission be made gratuitously, or by an act of
mere liberality of the person making it, without imposing any obligation on the
part of the recipient; and that the person receiving the property gives or does
nothing in return; or, as ably put by an eminent Filipino commentator, 6 "the
essential thing is that the person who transmits it does so gratuitously, from
pure generosity, without requiring from the transferee any prestation." It is
evident from the record that the transmission of the property in question to
Juanito Frias Chua of the second marriage upon the death of his father Jose
Frias Chua was by means of a hereditary succession and therefore gratuitous.
It is true that there is the order (Exh. "D") of the probate Court in Intestate
Proceeding No. 4816 which estates in express terms;
2. Se adjudicada pro el presente a favor de Consolacion de
la Torre, viuda, mayor de edad, y de su hiju, Juanito Frias
Chua, menor de edad, todos residente de San Enrique, Negros
Occidental, I.F.,como herederos del finado Jose Frias Chua
Choo, estas propiadades:

personally by the deceased Jose Frias Chua in his last will and testament but
by an order of the court in the Testate Proceeding No.4816 dated January 15,
1931. As long as the transmission of the property to the heirs is free from any
condition imposed by the deceased himself and the property is given out of
pure generosity, itg is gratuitous. it does not matter if later the court orders one
of the heirs, in this case Juanito Frias Chua, to pay the Standare oil co. of New
York the amount of P3,971.20. This does not change the gratuitous nature of
the transmission of the property to him. This being the case the lot in question
is subject to reserva troncal under Art, 891 of the New Civil Code.
It is contented that the distribution of the shares of the estate of Jose Frias
Chua to the respondent heirs or legatees was agreed upon by the heirs in their
project of partition based on the last will and testament of Jose Frias Chua. But
petitioners claim that the supposed Last Will and Testament of Jose Frias Chua
was never probated. The fact that the will was not probated was admitted in
paragraph 6 of the respondents' answer. 7 There is nothing mentioned in the
decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 7839 A which is the subject of the
present appeal nor in the order of January 15, 1931 of the trial court in the
Testate Estate Proceeding No. 4816 nor in the private respondent's brief, that
the Last Will and Testament of Jose Frias Chua has ever been probated. With
the foregoing, it is easy to deduce that if the Last Will and Testament has in fact
been probated there would have been no need for the testamentary heirs to
prepare a project of partition among themselves. The very will itself could be
made the basis for the adjudication of the estate as in fact they did in their
project of partition with Juanito Frias Chua getting one-half of Lot 399 by
inheritance as a sone of the deceased Jose Frias Chua by the latter's second
marriage.

14483
La parcela de terrenno concida por Lote No. 399 del Catsatro
de la Carlota, Negros Occidental, de 191.954 metros
cuadddrados y cubierto por el Certificado de Titulo No. 11759,
en partes equales pro-indiviso; por con la obligscion de pagar
a las Standard Oil Co. of New York la deuda de P3971.20, sus
intereses, costas y demas gastos resultantes del asunto civil
No. 5300de este jusgado
But the obligation of paying the Standard Oil Co. of New York the amount of
P3,971.20 is imposed upon Consolacion de la Torre and Juanito Frias Chua not

According to the record, Juanito Frias Chua died on February 27, 1952 without
any issue. After his death his mother Consolation de la Torre succeeded to his
one-half pro-indiviso share of Lot 399. This was, however, subject to the
condition that the property was reservable in character under Art. 891 of the
Civil Code in favor of relatives within the third degree of Jose Frias Chua from
whom the property came. These relatives are the petitioner herein.
It is claimed that the complaint of petitioners to recover the one-half portion of
Lot 399 which originally belonged to Juanito Frias Chua has already prescribed
when it was filed on May 11, 1966. We do not believe so. It must be
remembered that the petitioners herein are claiming as reservees did not arise
until the time the reservor, Consolacion de la Torre, died in March 1966. When

52

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

the petitioners therefore filed their complaint to recover the one-half (1/2)
portion of Lot 399, they were very much in time to do so.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from is hereby set
aside. The petitioners Ignacio Frias Chua, Dominador Chua and Remedios
Chua are declared owners of 1/2 undivided portion of Lot 399; and the Register
of Deeds of Negros Occidental is hereby ordered to cancel. Transfer Certificate
of Title No. 31796 covering Lot No. 399 issued in the name of Consolacion de
la Torre and to issue a new Certificate of Title in the names of Consolacion de la
Torre, 1/2 undivided portion; Ignacio Frias Chua, 1/4 undivided portion; and
Dominador Chua and Remedios Chua, 1/4 undivided portion, of said lot.
Without pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Mu;oz Palma, Fernandez and Guerrero,
JJ., concur.

53

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

G.R. No. L-10701

January 16, 1959

MARIA CANO, applicant-appellee,


vs.
DIRECTOR OF LANDS, EUSTAQUIA GUERRERO, ET AL., oppositorsappellants.
JOSE FERNANDEZ, ET AL., oppositors-appellants.
Ramon C. Fernandez for appellants.
Jose B. Dealca for appellee.
REYES, J.B.L., J.:
In an amended decision dated October 9, 1951, issued in Land Registration
Case No. 12, G.L.R.O. Rec. No. 2835, the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon
decreed the registration of Lots Nos. 1798 and 1799 of the Juban (Sorsogon)
Cadastre, under the following terms and conditions:
In view of the foregoing, and it appearing that the notices have been
duly published and posted as required by law, and that the title of the
applicant to the above-mentioned two parcels of land is registrable in
law, it is hereby adjudged and decreed, and with reaffirmation of the
order of general default, that the two parcels of land described in plan
SWO-24152, known as Lots Nos. 1798 and 1799 of the Cadastral
Survey of Juban, with their improvements, be registered in the name of
Maria Cano, Filipina, 71 years of age, widow and resident of Juban,
province of Sorsogon, with the understanding that Lot No. 1799 shall
be subject to the right of reservation in favor of Eustaquia Guerrero
pursuant to Article 891 of the Civil code. After this decision shall have
become final for lack of appeal therefrom within the 30-day period from
its promulgation, let the corresponding decree issue.

Guerrero filed a motion with the Cadastral Court, alleging the death of the
original registered owner and reservista, Maria Cano, on September 8, 1955,
and praying that the original Certificate of Title be ordered cancelled and a new
one issued in favor of movant Eustaquia Guerrero; and that the Sheriff be
ordered to place her in possession of the property. The motion was opposed by
Jose and Teotimo Fernandez, sons of the reservista Maria Cano, who
contended that the application and operation of the reserva troncal should be
ventilated in an ordinary contentious proceeding, and that the Registration
Court did not have jurisdiction to grant the motion.
In view of the recorded reserva in favor of the appellee, as expressly noted in
the final decree of registration, the lower court granted the petition for the
issuance of a new certificate, for the reason that the death of the reservista
vested the ownership of the property in the petitioner as the sole reservatorio
troncal.
The oppositors, heirs of the reservista Maria Cano, duly appealed from the
order, insisting that the ownership of the reservatorio can not be decreed in a
mere proceeding under sec. 112 of Act 496, but requires a judicial
administration proceedings, wherein the rights of appellee, as the reservatorio
entitled to the reservable property, are to be declared. In this connection,
appellants argue that the reversion in favor of the reservatorio requires the
declaration of the existence of the following facts:
(1) The property was received by a descendant by gratuitous title from
an ascendant or from a brother or sister;
(2) Said descendant dies without issue;
(3) The property is inherited by another ascendant by operation of law;
and
(4) The existence of relatives within the third degree belonging the line
from which said property came. (Appellants' Brief, p. 8)

So ordered. (Rec. App. pp. 18-19)


The decision having become final, the decree and the Certificate of Title (No. 020) were issued in the name of Maria Cano, subject to reserva troncal in favor
of Eustaquia Guerrero. In October 1955, counsel for the reserve (reservatorio)

We find the appeal untenable. The requisites enumerated by appellants have


already been declared to exist by the decree of registration wherein the rights
of the appellee as reservatario troncal were expressly recognized:

54

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

From the above-quoted agreed stipulation of facts, it is evident that Lot


No. 1799 was acquired by the Appellant Maria Cano by inheritance
from her deceased daughter, Lourdes Guerrero who, in turn, inherited
the same from her father Evaristo Guerrero and, hence, falls squarely
under the provisions of Article 891 of the Civil Code; and that each and
everyone of the private oppositors are within the third degree of
consaguinity of the decedent Evaristo Guerrero, and who belonging to
the same line from which the property came.

already stated, that property is no part of the estate of the reservista, and does
not even answer for the debts of the latter. Hence, its acquisition by the
reservatario may be entered in the property records without necessity of estate
proceedings, since the basic requisites therefor appear of record. It is equally
well settled that the reservable property can not be transmitted by a reservista
to her or his own successors mortis causa,(like appellants herein) so long as a
reservatario within the third degree from the prepositus and belonging to the
line whence the property came, is in existence when the reservista dies.

It appears however, from the agreed stipulation of facts that with the
exception of Eustaquia Guerrero, who is the only living daughter of the
decedent Evaristo Guerrero, by his former marriage, all the other
oppositors are grandchildren of the said Evaristo Guerrero by his
former marriages. Eustaquia Guerrero, being the nearest of kin,
excludes all the other private oppositors, whose decree of relationship
to the decedent is remoter (Article 962, Civil Code; Director of Lands
vs. Aguas, 62 Phil., 279). (Rec. App. pp. 16-17)

Of course, where the registration decree merely specifies the reservable


character of the property, without determining the identity of the reservatario (as
in the case of Director of Lands vs. Aguas, 63 Phil., 279) or where several
reservatarios dispute the property among themselves, further proceedings
would be unavoidable. But this is not the case. The rights of the reservataria
Eustaquia Guerrero have been expressly recognized, and it is nowhere claimed
that there are other reservatarios of equal or nearer degree. It is thus apparent
that the heirs of the reservista are merely endeavoring to prolong their
enjoyment of the reservable property to the detriment of the party lawfully
entitled thereto.

This decree having become final, all persons (appellees included) are bared
thereby from contesting the existence of the constituent elements of the
reserva. The only requisites for the passing of the title from the reservista to the
appellee are: (1) the death of the reservista; and (2) the fact that the
reservatario has survived the reservista. Both facts are admitted, and their
existence is nowhere questioned.
The contention that an intestacy proceeding is still necessary rests upon the
assumption that the reservatario will succeed in, or inherit, the reservable
property from the reservista. This is not true. The reservatario is not the
reservista's successor mortis causa nor is the reservable property part of the
reservista's estate; the reservatario receives the property as a conditional heir
of the descendant ( prepositus), said property merely reverting to the line of
origin from which it had temporarily and accidentally strayed during the
reservista's lifetime. The authorities are all agreed that there being
reservatarios that survive the reservista, the latter must be deemed to have
enjoined no more than a life interest in the reservable property.
It is a consequence of these principles that upon the death of the reservista, the
reservatario nearest to the prepositus (the appellee in this case) becomes,
automatically and by operation of law, the owner of the reservable property. As

We find no error in the order appealed from and therefore, the same is affirmed
with costs against appellants in both instances. So ordered.
Paras, C. J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Bautista Angelo, Labrador,
Concepcion and Endencia JJ., concur.

55

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

(who had a sister by the name of Romana Tioco), father of


plaintiffs and great grandfather of defendant. The family
relationship of the parties is as shown in the chart attached
hereto as Annex 'A' and made an integral part of this
stipulation.
3. They stipulate that Romana Tioco during her lifetime
gratuitously donated four (4) parcels of land to her niece Toribia
Tioco (legitimate sister of plaintiffs), which parcels of land are
presently covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. A64165, 64166 and 64167 of the Registry of Deeds of Manila,
copies of which are attached to this stipulation as Annexes 'B',
'B-l', and 'B-2'.

G.R. No. L-28032

September 24, 1986

FRANCISCA TIOCO DE PAPA, MANUEL TIOCO, NICOLAS TIOCO and


JANUARIO PAPA, plaintiffs-appellees,
vs.
DALISAY TONGKO CAMACHO, PRIMO TONGKO and GODOFREDO
CAMACHO, defendants-appellants.
NARVASA, J.:
This case, which involves the application of Article 891 of the Civil Code on
reserva troncal, was submitted for judgment in the lower court by all the parties
on the following "Stipulation of Facts and Partial Compromise":
1. They stipulate that the defendant Dalisay D. TongkoCamacho and the plaintiffs, Francisco Tioco de Papa, Manuel
Tioco and Nicolas Tioco, are legitimate relatives, plaintiffs being
said defendant's grandaunt and granduncles.
2. They stipulate that plaintiffs and defendant Dalisay D. TongoCamacho have as a common ancestor the late Balbino Tioco

4. They stipulate that Toribia Tioco died intestate in l9l5,


survived by her husband, Eustacio Dizon, and their two
legitimate children, Faustino Dizon and Trinidad Dizon (mother
of defendant Dalisay D, Tongko-Camacho) and leaving the
afore-mentioned four (4) parcels of land as the inheritance of
her said two children in equal pro-indiviso shares.
5. They stipulate that in 1928, Balbino Tioco died intestate,
survived by his legitimate children by his wife Marciana Felix
(among them plaintiffs) and legitimate grandchildren Faustino
Dizon and Trinidad Dizon. In the partition of his estate, three (3)
parcels of land now covered by Transfer Certificates of Title
Nos. 16545 and 16554 of the Registry of Deeds of Manila,
copies of which are attached hereto as Annexes 'C' and 'C-l',
were adjudicated as the inheritance of the late Toribia Tioco,
but as she had predeceased her father, Balbino Tioco, the said
three (3) parcels of land devolved upon her two legitimate
children Faustino Dizon and Trinidad Dizon in equal proindiviso shares.
6. They stipulate that in 1937, Faustino Dizon died intestate,
single and without issue, leaving his one-half (1/2) pro-indiviso
share in the seven (7) parcels of land above-mentioned to his
father, Eustacio Dizon, as his sole intestate heir, who received
the said property subject to a reserva troncal which was

56

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

subsequently annotated on the Transfer Certificates of Title


Annexes 'B', 'B-l', 'B-2', 'C' and 'C-l'.
7. They stipulate that in 1939 Trinidad Dizon-Tongko died
intestate, and her rights and interests in the parcels of land
abovementioned were inherited by her only legitimate child,
defendant Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho, subject to the
usufructuary right of her surviving husband, defendant Primo
Tongko.
8. They stipulate that on June 14, 1965, Eustacio Dizon died
intestate, survived his only legitimate descendant, defendant
Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho.
9. The parties agree that defendant Dalisay D. TongkoCamacho now owns one-half (1/2) of all the seven (7) parcels
of land abovementioned as her inheritance from her mother,
Trinidad Dizon-Tongko.
10. Defendant Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho also claims, upon
legal advice, the other half of the said seven (7) parcels of land
abovementioned by virtue of the reserva troncal imposed
thereon upon the death of Faustino Dizon and under the laws
on intestate succession; but the plaintiffs, also upon legal
advice, oppose her said claim because they claim three-fourths
(3/4) of the one-half pro-indiviso interest in said parcel of land,
which interest was inherited by Eustacio Dizon from Faustino
Dizon, or three-eights (3/8) of the said parcels of land, by virtue
of their being also third degree relatives of Faustino Dizon.
11. The parties hereby agree to submit for judicial
determination in this case the legal issue of whether defendant
Dalisay D. Tongko-Camacho is entitled to the whole of the
seven (7) parcels of land in question, or whether the plaintiffs,
as third degree relatives of Faustino Dizon are reservatarios
(together with said defendant) of the one-half pro-indiviso share
therein which was inherited by Eustacio Dizon from his son
Faustino Dizon, and entitled to three-fourths (3/4) of said onehalf pro-indiviso share, or three eights (3/8) of said seven (7)

parcels of land, and, therefore, to three-eights (3/8) of the


rentals collected and to be collected by defendant Dalisay P.
Tongko Camacho from the tenants of said parcels of land,
minus the expenses and/or real estate taxes corresponding to
plaintiffs' share in the rentals.
12. In view of the fact that the parties are close blood relatives
and have acted upon legal advice in pursuing their respective
claims, and in order to restore and preserve harmony in their
family relations, they hereby waive all their claims against each
other for damages (other than legal interest on plaintiffs' sore in
the rentals which this Honorable Court may deem proper to
award), attorney's fees and expenses of litigation which shall
be borne by the respective parties. 1
On the basis thereof, the lower Court declared the plaintiffs Francisco Tioco,
Manuel Tioco and Nicolas Tioco, as well as the defendant Dalisay TongkoCamacho, entitled, as reservatarios, to one-half of the seven parcels of land in
dispute, in equal proportions, rendering judgment as follows:
... . Resolving, therefore, the legal question submitted by the
parties, the court holds that plaintiffs Francisca Tioco, Manuel
Tioco and Nicolas Tioco are entitled to three-fourths (3/4) of
one-half (1/2) pro-indiviso shares or three-eights (3/8) of the
seven (7) parcels of land involved in this action. Consequently,
they are, likewise, entitled to three-eights (3/8) of the rentals
collected and to be collected by the defendant Dalisay D.
Tioco-Camacho from the tenants of the said parcels of land,
minus the expenses and/or real estate taxes corresponding to
plaintiffs' share in the rentals.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, and inasmuch as the parties
expressly waived all their claims against each other for
damages including attorney's fees and expenses of litigation
other than the legal interests on plaintiffs' share in the rentals,
the court renders judgment adjudging the plaintiffs entitled to
three-eights (3/8) of the seven (7) parcels of land described in
Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. T-64165, T-64166, T-64167, T16546 and T-16554 of the Registry of Deeds of Manila. The

57

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

defendant Dalisay D. Tioco-Camacho is hereby ordered to


make an accounting of all rents received by her on the
properties involved in this action for the purpose of determining
the legal interests which should be paid to the plaintiffs on their
shares in the rentals of the property in question.
SO ORDERED. 2

(reservees) surviving the reservista, and belonging to the fine


of origin, are nephews of the descendant (prepositus), but
some are nephews of the half blood and the others are
nephews of the whole blood, should the reserved properties be
apportioned among them equally, or should the nephews of the
whole blood take a share twice as large as that of the nephews
of the half blood?

Not satisfied, the defendant appealed to this Court.

xxx xxx xxx

The issue raised is whether, as contended by the plaintiffs-appellees and ruled


by the lower Court, all relatives of the praepositus within the third degree in the
appropriate line succeed without distinction to the reservable property upon the
death of the reservista, as seems to be implicit in Art. 891 of the Civil Code,
which reads:

The case is one of first impression and has divided the Spanish
commentators on the subject. After mature reflection, we have
concluded that the position of the appellants is correct. The
reserva troncal is a special rule designed primarily to assure
the return of the reservable property to the third degree
relatives belonging to the line from which the property originally
came, and avoid its being dissipated into and by the relatives of
the inheriting ascendant (reservista).

Art. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any
property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title
from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to
reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of
law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree
and who belong to the line from which said property came.
(811),
or, as asserted by the defendant-appellant, the rights of said relatives are
subject to, and should be determined by, the rules on intestate succession.
That question has already been answered in Padura vs. Baldovino, 3 where the
reservatario was survived by eleven nephews and nieces of the praepositus in
the line of origin, four of whole blood and seven of half blood, and the claim was
also made that all eleven were entitled to the reversionary property in equal
shares. This Court, speaking through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, declared the
principles of intestacy to be controlling, and ruled that the nephews and nieces
of whole blood were each entitled to a share double that of each of the
nephews and nieces of half blood in accordance with Article 1006 of the Civil
Code. Said the Court:
The issue in this appeal may be formulated as follows: In a
case of reserva troncal, where the only reservatarios

xxx xxx xxx


The stated purpose of the reserva is accomplished once the
property has devolved to the specified relatives of the line of
origin. But from this time on, there is no further occasion for its
application. In the relations between one reservatario and
another of the same degree there is no call for applying Art.
891 any longer; wherefore, the respective share of each in the
reversionary property should be governed by the ordinary rules
of intestate succession. In this spirit the jurisprudence of this
Court and that of Spain has resolved that upon the death of the
ascendant reservista, the reservable property should pass, not
to all the reservatarios as a class but only to those nearest in
degree to the descendant (prepositus), excluding those
reservatarios of more remote degree (Florentino vs. Florentino,
40 Phil. 489-490; T.S. 8 Nov. 1894; Dir. Gen. de los Registros,
Resol. 20 March 1905). And within the third degree of
relationship from the descendant (prepositus), the right of
representation operates in favor of nephews (Florentino vs.
Florentino, supra).

58

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Following the order prescribed by law in legitimate succession


when there are relatives of the descendant within the third
degree, the right of the nearest relative, called reservatarios
over the property which the reservista (person holding it subject
to reservation) should return to him, excludes that of the one
more remote. The right of representation cannot be alleged
when the one claiming same as a reservatario of the
reservable property is not among the relatives within the third
degree belonging to the line from which such property came,
inasmuch as the right granted by the Civil Code in Article 811 is
in the highest degree personal and for the exclusive benefit of
designated persons who are within the third degree of the
person from whom the reservable property came. Therefore,
relatives of the fourth and the succeeding degrees can never
be considered as reservatarios, since the law does not
recognize them as such.
In spite of what has been said relative to the right of
representation on the part of one alleging his right as
reservatario who is not within the third degree of relationship,
nevertheless there is right of representation on the part of
reservatarios who are within the third degree mentioned by
law, as in the case of nephews of the deceased person from
whom the reservable property came. ... . (Florentino vs.
Florentino, 40 Phil. 480, 489-490) (Emphasis supplied) See
also Nieva and Alcala vs. Alcala and de Ocampo, 41 Phil. 915)
Proximity of degree and right of representation are basic
principles of ordinary intestate succession; so is the rule that
whole blood brothers and nephews are entitled to a share
double that of brothers and nephews of half blood. If in
determining the rights of the reservatarios inter se, proximity of
degree and the right of representation of nephews are made to
apply, the rule of double share for immediate collaterals of the
whole blood should be likewise operative.
In other words, the reserva troncal merely determines the
group of relatives reservatarios to whom the property should be
returned; but within that group, the individual right to the
property should be decided by the applicable rules of ordinary

intestate succession, since Art. 891 does not specify otherwise.


This conclusion is strengthened by the circumstance that the
reserva being an exceptional case, its application should be
limited to what is strictly needed to accomplish the purpose of
the law. As expressed by Manresa in his Commentaries (Vol. 6,
6th Ed., p. 250):
... creandose un verdadero estado excepcional del derecho, no
debe ampliarse, sino mas bien restringirse, el alcance del
precepto, manteniendo la excepcion mientras fuere necesaria
y estuviese realmente contenida en la disposicion, y aplicando
las reglas generales y fundamentales del Codigo en materia de
sucesi6n, en aquehos extremes no resueltos de un modo
expreso, y que quedan fuera de la propia esfera de accion de
la reserva que se crea.
The restrictive interpretation is the more imperative in view of
the new Civil Code's hostility to successional reservas and
reversions, as exemplified by the suppression of the reserva
viudal and the reversion legal of the Code of 1889 (Art. 812
and 968-980).
Reversion of the reservable property being governed by the rules on intestate
succession, the plaintiffs-appellees must be held without any right thereto
because, as aunt and uncles, respectively, of Faustino Dizon (the praepositus),
they are excluded from the succession by his niece, the defendant-appellant,
although they are related to him within the same degree as the latter. To this
effect is Abellana vs. Ferraris 4 where Arts. 1001, 1004, 1005 and 1009 of the
Civil Code were cited and applied:
Nevertheless, the trial court was correct when it held that, in
case of intestacy nephews and nieces of the de cujus exclude
all other collaterals (aunts and uncles, first cousins, etc.) from
the succession. This is readily apparent from Articles 1001,
1004, 1005 and 1009 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, that
provide as follows:
Art. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive
with the widow or widower, the latter shall be entitle to one-half

59

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children


to the other half.
Art. 1004. Should the only survivors be brothers and sisters of
the full blood, they shall inherit in equal shares.

Philippines merely placed the spouse on a par with the


nephews and nieces and brothers and sisters of the deceased,
but without altering the preferred position of the latter vis a vis
the other collaterals.
xxx xxx xxx

Art. 1005. Should brothers and sisters survive together with


nephews and nieces who are the children of the decedent's
brothers and sisters of the full blood, the former shall inherit per
capita, and the latter per stirpes.
Art. 1009. Should there be neither brothers nor sisters, nor
children of brothers and sisters, the other collateral relatives
shall succeed to the estate.
Under the last article (1009), the absence of brothers, sisters,
nephews and nieces of the decedent is a precondition to the
other collaterals (uncles, cousins, etc.) being called to the
succession. This was also and more clearly the case under the
Spanish Civil Code of 1889, that immediately preceded the
Civil Code now in force (R.A. 386). Thus, Articles 952 and 954
of the Code of 1889 prescribed as follows:
Art. 952. In the absence of brothers or sisters and of nephews
or nieces, children of the former, whether of the whole blood or
not, the surviving spouse, if not separated by a final decree of
divorce shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased.
Art. 954. Should there be neither brothers nor sisters, nor
children of brothers or sisters, nor a surviving spouse, the other
collateral relatives shall succeed to the estate of deceased.
The latter shall succeed without distinction of lines or
preference among them by reason of the whole blood.
It will be seen that under the preceding articles, brothers and
sisters and nephews and nieces inherited ab intestato ahead of
the surviving spouse, while other collaterals succeeded only
after the widower or widow. The present Civil Code of the

We, therefore, hold, and so rule, that under our laws of


succession, a decedent's uncles and aunts may not succeed
ab intestato so long as nephews and nieces of the decedent
survive and are willing and qualified to succeed. ...
This conclusion is fortified by the observation, also made in Padura, supra, that
as to the reservable property, the reservatarios do not inherit from the
reservista, but from the descendant praepositus:
... . It is likewise clear that the reservable property is no part of
the estate of the reservista, who may not dispose of it by will,
as long as there are reservatarios existing (Arroyo vs. Gerona,
58 Phil. 237). The latter, therefore, do not inherit from the
reservista, but from the descendant prepositus, of whom the
reservatarios are the heirs mortis causa, subject to the
condition that they must survive the reservista. (Sanchez
Roman, Vol. VI, Tomo 2, p. 286; Manresa, Commentaries, Vol.
6, 6th Ed., pp. 274, 310) ... .
To the same effect is Cano vs, Director of Lands 5, where it was ruled that
intestacy proceedings to determine the right of a reservatario are not necessary
where the final decree of the land court ordering issuance of title in the name of
the reservista over property subject to reserva troncal Identifies the reservatario
and there are no other claimants to the latter's rights as such:
The contention that an intestacy proceeding is still necessary
rests upon the assumption that the reservatario win succeed in,
or inherit, the reservable property from the reservista. This is
not true. The reservatario is not the reservista's successor
mortis causa nor is the reservable property part of the
reservista's estate; the reservatario receives the property as a
conditional heir of the descendant (prepositus), said property

60

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

merely reverting to the line of origin from which it had


temporarily and accidentally strayed during the reservista's
lifetime. The authorities are all agreed that there being
reservatarios that survive the reservista, the matter must be
deemed to have enjoyed no more than a life interest in the
reservable property.
It is a consequence of these principles that upon the death of
the reservista, the reservatario nearest to the prepositus (the
appellee in this case) becomes, automatically and by operation
of law, the owner of the reservable property. As already stated,
that property is no part of the estate of the reservista, and does
not even answer for the debts of the latter. ... .
Had the reversionary property passed directly from the praepositus, there is no
doubt that the plaintiffs-appellees would have been excluded by the defendantappellant under the rules of intestate succession. There is no reason why a
different result should obtain simply because "the transmission of the property
was delayed by the interregnum of the reserva;" 6 i.e., the property took a
"detour" through an ascendant-thereby giving rise to the reservation before its
transmission to the reservatario.
Upon the stipulated facts, and by virtue of the rulings already cited, the
defendant-appellant Dalisay Tongko-Camacho is entitled to the entirety of the
reversionary property to the exclusion of the plaintiffs-appellees.
WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment of the lower Court is reversed and set
aside and the complaint is dismissed, with costs against the plaintiffsappellants.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, and Feliciano, JJ., concur.
Yap, J., took no part.

G.R. No. 68843-44

September 2, 1991

MARIQUITA O. SUMAYA and LAGUNA AGRO-INDUSTRIAL COCONUT


COOPERATIVE, INC., petitioners,
vs.
THE HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, and AMADEO, SANCHO,
DONATO, LUIS, ERASTO, LUISA, JOSE and DOLORES, all surnamed
BALANTAKBO, respondents.
Ceriaco A. Sumaya for petitioners.
Tomas P. Aonuevo for private respondents.
MEDIALDEA, J.:p

61

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Intermediate


Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) in C.A. G.R. No. CV-01292-93, which
affirmed the decision of the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of
Laguna in the consolidated cases in Civil Case No. SC-956 1 and Civil Case
No. SC-957. 2
The parties entered into a stipulation of facts in the court a quo, which is
summarized as follows:
Raul Balantakbo inherited from two (2) different ascendants the two (2) sets of
properties subject of this case: 1) A one-third (1/3) interest, pro-indiviso in a
parcel of land situated in Dita, Lilio (Liliw) Laguna and described in paragraph 7
of the complaint in Civil Case No. SC-956 from his father Jose, Sr., who died on
January 28, 1945; and 2) A one-seventh (1/7) interest pro-indiviso in ten (10)
parcels of registered lands described in paragraph 6 of the complaint in Civil
Case No. SC-957 from his maternal grandmother, Luisa Bautista, who died on
November 3, 1950.
On June 13, 1952, Raul died intestate, single, without any issue, and leaving
only his mother, Consuelo Joaquin Vda. de Balantakbo, as his sole surviving
heir to the real properties above-mentioned.
On November 3, 1952, Consuelo adjudicated unto herself the above described
properties in an Affidavit entitled "Caudal Herederario del finado Raul
Balantakbo" which provided, among others:
I. Que de mi legitimo matrimonio con mi difunto esposo, Jose
Balantakbo, he tenido varios hijos, entre ellos si difunto hijo,
llamado Raul Balantakbo.
II. Que mi referido hijo Raul Balantakbo, fallencio el 13 de
Junio de 1952, en la Ciudad de Pasay, durante su minolia de
edad sin dejar testamento alguno.
III. Que el finado Raul Balantakbo al morir no ha dejado
descendiente alguno.

IV. Que soy la unica ascendiente superviviento de mi referido


hijo Raul Balantakbo y por lo tanto su unica heredera formosa,
legitima y universal.
V. Que el finado Raul Balantakbo murio sin dejar deuda
alguna.
VI. Que el finado al morir dejo propiedades consistentes en
bienes inmuebles situados en la Provincia de Laguna.
VII. Que dichas propriedades fueron a su vez adquiridas por el
finado Raul Balantakbo per herencia de su difunto padre, Jose
Balantakbo, y de su tia abuela Luisa Bautista.
xxx xxx xxx
(Rollo, p. 29)
On December 21, 1959, Consuelo Joaquin vda. de Balantakbo sold the
property described in Civil Case No. SC-956 to Mariquita H. Sumaya. The sale
was evidenced by a deed attached as Annex "C" to the complaint. The same
property was subsequently sold by Mariquita Sumaya to Villa Honorio
Development Corporation, Inc., on December 30, 1963. On January 23, 1967,
Villa Honorio Development Corporation transferred and assigned its rights over
the property in favor of Agro-Industrial Coconut Cooperative, Inc. The
documents evidencing these transfers were registered in the Registry of Deeds
of Laguna and the corresponding certificates of titles were issued. The
properties are presently in the name of Agro-Industrial Coconut Cooperative,
Inc., 2/3 share and the remaining 1/3 share is in the name of Sancho
Balantakbo.
Also on December 30, 1963, Consuelo Joaquin vda. de Balantakbo sold the
properties described in the complaint in Civil Case No. SC-957 to Villa Honorio
Development Corporation, Inc. The latter in turn transferred and assigned all its
rights to the properties in favor of Laguna Agro-Industrial Coconut Cooperative,
Inc. which properties are presently in its possession.
The parties admit that the certificates of titles covering the above described
properties do not contain any annotation of its reservable character.

62

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

On June 3, 1968, Consuelo Joaquin vda. de Balantakbo died.


On March 4, 1970, Amadeo, Sancho, Donato, Luis, and Erasto, all surnamed
Balantakbo, brothers in full blood of Raul Balantakbo and Luisa, Jose and
Dolores, also all surnamed Balantakbo, surviving children of deceased Jose
Balantakbo, Jr., another brother of the first named Balantakbos, filed the above
mentioned civil cases to recover the properties described in the respective
complaints which they claimed were subject to a reserva troncal in their favor.
The court a quo found that the two (2) cases varied only in the identity of the
subject matter of res involved, the transferees, the dates of the conveyances
but involve the same legal question of reserva troncal. Hence, the consolidation
of the two (2) cases.
After trial, the court a quo rendered a joint decision in favor of the Balantakbos,
the dispositive portion of which reads:

them by the defendants with plaintiffs Luisa,


Jose and Dolores, all surnamed Balantakbo,
receiving one-third (1/3) of the one share
pertaining to the other plaintiffs who are their
uncles:
2. Ordering the Laguna Agro-Industrial Coconut Cooperative,
Inc. to account for and pay to the plaintiffs the value of the
produce from the properties herein ordered to be returned to
the plaintiffs, said accounting and payment of income being for
the period from January 3, 1968 until date of reconveyance of
the properties herein ordered:
3. In each of Civil Cases Nos. SC-956 and SC-957, defendants
are to pay plaintiffs
a. One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos in
litigation expenses.

WHEREFORE, in both Civil Cases Nos. SC-956 and SC-957,


judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and
against the defendants, as follows:
1. Ordering the defendant Laguna Agro-Industrial Coconut
Cooperative, Inc. to convey to the plaintiffs
a) In Civil Case No. SC-956 the one-third
(1/3) interest and ownership, pro-indiviso, in
and over the parcel of land described in
paragraph three (3) sub-paragraph 1, of pages
one (1) and two (2) of this decision;
b) In Civil Case No. SC-957 the oneseventh (1/7) interest and ownership, proindiviso, in and over the ten (10) parcels of
land described in paragraph three (3), subparagraph 2, of pages two (2) and three (3) of
this decision;
c) The plaintiffs are to share equally in the real
properties herein ordered to be conveyed to

b. Two Thousand
attorney's fees.

(P2,000.00) Pesos in

4. Defendants are to pay the costs in each of Civil Cases Nos.


SC-956 and 957.
xxx xxx xxx
(p. 46, Rollo)
This decision was appealed to the appellate court which affirmed the decision
of the court a quo in toto. The motion for reconsideration was denied (p. 65,
Rollo) by the appellate court which found no cogent reason to reverse the
decision.
This petition before Us was filed on November 12, 1984 with the petitioners
assigning the following errors allegedly committed by the appellate court:

63

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

I. The trial court erred in not finding defendants an (sic)


innocent purchaser for value and in good faith of the properties
covered by certificates of title subject of litigation.
II. The trial court erred in finding it unnecessary to annotate the
reservable interest of the reservee in the properties covered by
certificates of title subject of litigation.
III. The trial court erred in finding that the cause of action of the
plaintiffs (private respondents) has not yet prescribed.
IV. The trial court erred in awarding moral and actual damages
in favor of the plaintiffs by virtue of the institution of Civil Cases
Nos. 956 and 957.
Petitioners would want this Court to reverse the findings of the court a quo,
which the appellate court affirmed, that they were not innocent purchasers for
value. According to petitioners, before they agreed to buy the properties from
the reservor (also called reservista), Consuelo Joaquin vda. de Balantakbo,
they first sought the legal advice of their family consultant who found that there
was no encumbrance nor any lien annotated on the certificate of title coveting
the properties.
The court a quo found otherwise. Upon the death of the propositus, Raul
Balantakbo, the reservista, Consuelo vda. de Balantakbo caused the
registration of an affidavit of self-adjudication of the estate of Raul, wherein it
was clearly stated that the properties were inherited by Raul from his father
Jose, Sr., as regards the subject matter of Civil Case No. SC-956 and from his
maternal grandmother, Luisa Bautista, as regards the subject matter of Civil
Case No. SC-957. The court a quo further ruled that said affidavit was, in its
form, declaration and substance, a recording with the Registry of Deeds of the
reservable character of the properties. In Spanish language, the affidavit clearly
stated that the affiant, Consuelo, was a lone-ascendant and heir to Raul
Balantakbo, her son, who died leaving properties previously inherited from
other ascendants and which properties were inventoried in the said affidavit.
It was admitted that the certificates of titles covering the properties in question
show that they were free from any liens and encumbrances at the time of the
sale. The fact remains however, that the affidavit of self-adjudication executed

by Consuelo stating the source of the properties thereby showing the


reservable nature thereof was registered with the Register of Deeds of Laguna,
and this is sufficient notice to the whole world in accordance with Section 52 of
the Property Registration Decree (formerly Sec. 51 of R.A. 496) which provides:
Sec. 52. CONSTRUCTIVE NOTICE UPON REGISTRATION.
Every conveyance, mortgage, lease, lien attachment, order,
judgment, instrument or entry affecting registered land shall, if
registered, filed or entered in the Office of the Register of
Deeds for the province or city where the land to which it relates
lies, be constructive notice to all persons from the time of such
registering, filing or entering.
Thus, in Gatioan v. Gaffud, G.R. No. L-21953, March 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 706,
712-713, cited in People v. Reyes, G.R. Nos. 74226-27, July 27, 1989, 175
SCRA 597; Garcia v. CA and PNB v. CA, et al., G.R. Nos. L-48971 and L40911, both dated January 22, 1980, 95 SCRA 380 and Legarda and Prieto v.
Saleeby, 31 Phil. 590, 600, We held:
When a conveyance has been properly recorded such record is
constructive notice of its contents and all interests, legal and
equitable, included therein . . .
Under the rule of notice, it is presumed that the purchaser has
examined every instrument of record affecting the title. Such
presumption is irrebuttable. He is charged with notice of every
fact shown by the record and is presumed to know every fact
which an examination of the record would have disclosed. This
presumption cannot be overcome by proof of innocence or
good faith. Otherwise, the very purpose and object of the law
requiring a record would be destroyed. Such presumption
cannot be defeated by proof of want of knowledge of what the
record contains any more than one may be permitted to show
that he was ignorant of the provisions of the law. The rule that
all persons must take notice of the facts which the public record
contains is a rule of law. The rule must be absolute, any
variation would lead to endless confusion and useless litigation.
...

64

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

In the case of Bass v. De la Rama, 73 Phil. 682, 685, the rule was laid down
that the mere entry of a document in the day book without noting it on the
certificate of title is not sufficient registration. However, that ruling was
superseded by the holding in the later six cases of Levin v. Bass, 91 Phil. 420.
As explained in Garcia v. CA, et al., G.R. Nos. L-48971 and 49011, January 20,
1980, 95 SCRA 380, 388, which is the prevailing doctrine in this jurisdiction.

Moreover, there is sufficient proof that the petitioners had actual knowledge of
the reservable character of the properties before they bought the same from
Consuelo. This matter appeared in the deed of sale (Exhibit "C") executed by
Consuelo in favor of Mariquita Sumaya, the first vendee of the property litigated
in Civil Case No. SC-956, as follows:
xxx xxx xxx

That ruling was superseded by the holding in the later six


cases of Levin v. Bass, 91 Phil. 420, where a distinction was
made between voluntary and involuntary registration, such as
the registration of an attachment, levy upon execution, notice of
lis pendens, and the like. In cases of involuntary registration,
an entry thereof in the day book is a sufficient notice to all
persons even if the owner's duplicate certificate of title is not
presented to the register of deeds.
On the other hand, according to the said cases of Levin v.
Bass, in case of voluntary registration of documents an
innocent purchaser for value of registered land becomes the
registered owner, and, in contemplation of law the holder of a
certificate of title, the moment he presents and files a duly
notarized and valid deed of sale and the same is entered in the
day book and at the same time he surrenders or presents the
owner's duplicate certificate of title covering the land sold and
pays the registration fees, because what remains to be done
lies not within his power to perform. The register of deeds is
duty bound to perform it. (See Potenciano v. Dineros, 97 Phil.
196).
In this case, the affidavit of self adjudication executed by Consuelo vda. de
Balantakbo which contained a statement that the property was inherited from a
descendant, Raul, which has likewise inherited by the latter from another
ascendant, was registered with the Registry of Property. The failure of the
Register of Deeds to annotate the reservable character of the property in the
certificate of title cannot be attributed to Consuelo.

That, I (Consuelo, vendor) am the absolute and exclusive


owner of the one-third (1/3) portion of the above described
parcel of land by virtue of the Deed of Extra-judicial Partition
executed by the Heirs of the deceased Jose Balantakbo dated
December 10, 1945 and said portion in accordance with the
partition above-mentioned was adjudicated to Raul Balantakbo,
single, to (sic) whom I inherited after his death and this
property is entirely free from any encumbrance of any nature or
kind whatsoever, . . . (p. 42, Rollo)
It was admitted though that as regards the properties litigated in Civil Case SC957, no such admission was made by Consuelo to put Villa Honorio
Development on notice of the reservable character of the properties. The
affidavit of self-adjudication executed by Consuelo and registered with the
Registry would still be sufficient notice to bind them.
Moreover, the Court a quo found that the petitioners and private respondents
were long time acquaintances; that the Villa Honorio Development Corporation
and its successors, the Laguna Agro-Industrial Coconut Cooperative Inc., are
family corporations of the Sumayas and that the petitioners knew all along that
the properties litigated in this case were inherited by Raul Balantakbo from his
father and from his maternal grandmother, and that Consuelo Vda. de
Balantakbo inherited these properties from his son Raul.
The obligation to reserve rests upon the reservor, Consuelo Joaquin vda. de
Balantakbo. Article 891 of the New Civil Code on reserva troncal provides:
Art. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any
property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title
from another ascendant or a brother or sister, is obliged to
reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of

65

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree
and who belong to the line from which said property came.
(Emphasis supplied)

imposed on a widowed spouse to annotate the reservable character of a property


subject of reserva viudal is applicable to reserva troncal. (See also Edrozo v.
Sablan, G.R. No. 6878, September 13, 1913, 25 Phil. 295).

We do not agree, however, with the disposition of the appellate court that there
is no need to register the reservable character of the property, if only for the
protection of the reservees, against innocent third persons. This was suggested
as early as the case of Director of Lands v. Aguas, G.R. No. 42737, August 11,
1936, 63 Phil. 279. The main issue submitted for resolution therein was whether
the reservation established by Article 811 (now Art. 891 of the New Civil Code)
of the Civil Code, for the benefit of the relatives within the third degree
belonging to the line of the descendant from whom the ascendant reservor
received the property, should be understood as made in favor of all the relatives
within said degree and belonging to the line above-mentioned, without
distinction legitimate, natural and illegitimate ones not having the legal status of
natural children. However, in an obiter dictum this Court stated therein:

Since these parcels of land have been legally transferred to third


persons, Vicente Galang has lost ownership thereof and cannot
now register nor record in the Registry of Deeds their reservable
character; neither can he effect the fee simple, which does not
belong to him, to the damage of Juan Medina and Teodoro Jurado,
who acquired the said land in good faith, free of all incumbrances.
An attempt was made to prove that when Juan Medina was
advised not to buy the land he remarked, "Why did he (Vicente
Galang) not inherit it from his son?" Aside from the fact that it is
not clear whether this conservation took place in 1913 or 1914,
that is, before or after the sale, it does not arise that he had any
knowledge of the reservation. This did not arise from the fact alone
that Vicente Galang had inherited the land from his son, but also
from the fact that, by operation of law, the son had inherited it from
his mother Rufina Dizon, which circumstance, so far as the record
shows, Juan Medina had not been aware of. We do not decide,
however, whether or not Juan Medina and Teodoro Jurado are
obliged to acknowledge the reservation and to note the same in
their deeds, for the reason that there was no prayer to this effect in
the complaint and no question raised in regard thereto.

The reservable character of a property is but a resolutory


condition of the ascendant reservor's right of ownership. If the
condition is fulfilled, that is, if upon the ascendant reservor's
death there are relatives having the status provided in Article
811 (Art. 891, New Civil Code), the property passes, in
accordance with this special order of succession, to said
relatives, or to the nearest of kin among them, which question not
being pertinent to this case, need not now be determined. But if
this condition is not fulfilled, the property is released and will be
adjudicated in accordance with the regular order of succession.
The fulfillment or non-fulfillment of the resolutory condition, the
efficacy or cessation of the reservation, the acquisition of rights or
loss of the vested ones, are phenomena which have nothing to do
with whether the reservation has been noted or not in the
certificate of title to the property. The purpose of the notation is
nothing more than to afford to the persons entitled to the
reservation,
if
any,
due protection against any act of the reservor, which may make it
ineffective . . . (p. 292, Ibid)
Likewise, in Dizon and Dizon v. Galang, G.R. No. 21344, January 14, 1926, 48 Phil.
601, 603, this Court ruled that the reservable character of a property may be lost to
innocent purchasers for value. Additionally, it was ruled therein that the obligation

Consistent with the rule in reserva viudal where the person obliged to reserve (the
widowed spouse) had the obligation to annotate in the Registry of Property the
reservable character of the property, in reserva troncal, the reservor (the ascendant
who inherited from a descendant property which the latter inherited from another
descendant) has the duty to reserve and therefore, the duty to annotate also.
The jurisprudential rule requiring annotation in the Registry of Property of the right
reserved in real property subject of reserva viudal insofar as it is applied to reserva
troncal stays despite the abolition of reserva viudal in the New Civil Code. This rule
is consistent with the rule provided in the second paragraph of Section 51 of P.D.
1529, which provides that: "The act of registration shall be the operative act to
convey or affect the land insofar as third persons are concerned . . ." (emphasis
supplied)

66

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

The properties involved in this case are already covered by a Torrens title and
unless the registration of the limitation is effected (either actual or constructive), no
third persons shall be prejudiced thereby.
The respondent appellate court did not err in finding that the cause of action of the
private respondents did not prescribe yet. The cause of action of the reservees did
not commence upon the death of the propositus Raul Balantakbo on June 13, 1952
but upon the death of the reservor Consuelo Vda. de Balantakbo on June 3, 1968.
Relatives within the third degree in whose favor the right (or property) is reserved
have no title of ownership or of fee simple over the reserved property during the
lifetime of the reservor. Only when the reservor should die before the reservees will
the latter acquire the reserved property, thus creating a fee simple, and only then
will they take their place in the succession of the descendant of whom they are
relatives within the third degree (See Velayo Bernardo v. Siojo, G.R. No. 36078,
March 11, 1933, 58 Phil. 89). The reserva is extinguished upon the death of the
reservor, as it then becomes a right of full ownership on the part of the
reservatarios, who can bring a reivindicatory suit therefor. Nonetheless, this right if
not exercised within the time for recovery may prescribe in ten (10) years under the
old Code of Civil Procedure (see Carillo v. De Paz, G.R. No. L-22601, October 28,
1966, 18 SCRA 467, 473) or in thirty years under Article 1141 of the New Civil
Code. The actions for recovery of the reserved property was brought by herein
private respondents on March 4, 1970 or less than two (2) years from the death of
the reservor. Therefore, private respondents' cause of action has not prescribed yet.
Finally, the award of one thousand pesos (P1,000.00) for actual litigation expenses
and two thousand pesos (P2,000.00) for attorney's fees is proper under Article
2208(2) of the New Civil Code. Private respondents were compelled to go to court
to recover what rightfully belongs to them.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is DENIED. The questioned decision of the
Intermediate Appellate Court is AFFIRMED, except for the modification on the
necessity to annotate the reversable character of a property subject of reserva
troncal.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, Cruz and Grio-Aquino, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-23770

February 18, 1926

MAGIN RIOSA, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
PABLO ROCHA, MARCELINA CASAS, MARIA CORRAL and
CONSOLACION R. DE CALLEJA, defendants-appellees.
Domingo Imperial for appellant
Mariano Locsin for appellees.
AVANCEA, C.J.:
Maria Corral was united in marriage with the deceased Mariano Riosa, it being
her first and only marriage and during which time she bore him three children
named Santiago, Jose and Severina. The latter died during infancy and the
other two survived their father, Mariano Riosa. Santiago Riosa, no deceased,
married Francisca Villanueva, who bore him two children named Magin and
Consolacion Riosa. Jose Riosa, also deceased, married Marcelina Casas and
they had one child who died before the father, the latter therefore leaving no
issue. Mariano Riosa left a will dividing his property between his two children,
Santiago and Jose Riosa, giving the latter the eleven parcels of land described
in the complaint. Upon the death of Jose Riosa he left a will in which he named
his wife, Marcelina Casas, as his only heir.
On May 16, 1917, the will of Jose Riosa was filed for probate. Notwithstanding
the fact that Marcelina Casas was the only heir named in the will, on account of
the preterition of Maria Corral who, being the mother of Jose Riosa, was his
legitimate heir, I Marcelina Casas and Maria Corral, on the same date of the
filing of the will for probate, entered into a contract by which they divided
between themselves the property left by Jose Riosa, the eleven parcels of land
described in the complaint being assigned to Maria Corral.
On October 26, 1920, Maria Corral sold parcels Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 11
to Marcelina Casas for the sum of P20,000 in a public instrument which was
recorded in the registry of deeds on November 6, 1920. On November 3, 1920,
Marcelina Casas sold these eight parcels of land to Pablo Rocha for the sum of
P60,000 in a public document which was recorded in the registry of deeds on
November 6, 1920. On September 24, 1921, Pablo Rocha returned parcels No.
1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 to Maria Corral stating in the deed executed for the purpose
that these parcels of land had been erroneously included in the sale made by
Maria Corral to Marcelina Casas.

67

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

The Court of first Instance denied the probate of the will of Jose Riosa, but on
appeal this court reversed the decision of the lower court and allowed the will to
probate. 1 The legal proceedings for the probate of the will and the settlement of
the testate estate of Jose Riosa were followed; and, at the time of the partition,
Maria Corral and Marcelina Casas submitted to the court the contract of
extrajudicial partition which they had entered into on May 16, 1917, and which
was approved by the court, by order of November 12, 1920, as though it had
been made within the said testamentary proceedings.
From the foregoing is appears that the eleven parcels of land described in the
complaint were acquired by Jose Riosa, by lucrative title, from his father
Mariano Riosa and that after the death of Jose Riosa, by operation of law, they
passed to his mother Maria Corral. By virtue of article 811 of the Civil Code
these eleven parcels of land are reservable property. It results, furthermore, that
parcels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 still belong in fee simple to Maria Corral, and
that parcels 10 and 11 were successively sold by Maria Corral to Marcelina
Casas and by the latter to Pablo Rocha. Lastly, it appears that Magin and
Consolacion Riosa are the nearest relatives within the third degree of the line
from which this property came.
This action was brought by Magin Riosa, for whom the property should have
been reserved, against Maria Corral, whose duty it was to reserve it, and
against Marcelina Casas and Pablo Rocha as purchasers of parcels 10 and 11.
Consolacion Riosa de Calleja who was also bound to make the reservation was
included as a defendant as she refused to join as plaintiff.
The complaint prays that the property therein described be declared reservable
property and that the plaintiffs Jose and Consolacion Riosa be declared
reservees; that this reservation be noted in the registry of deeds; that the sale
of parcels 10 and 11 to Marcelina Casas and Pablo Rocha be declared valid
only in so far as it saves the right of reservation in favor of the plaintiff Magin
Riosa and of the defendant Consolacion Riosa, and that this right of reservation
be also noted on the deeds of sale executed in favor of Marcelina Casas and
Pablo Rocha; that Maria Corral, Marcelina Casas and Pablo Rocha give a bond
of P50,000, with good and sufficient sureties, in favor of the reservees as surety
for the conservation and maintenance of the improvements existing on the said
reservable property. The dispositive part of the court's decision reads as
follows:

For the foregoing reasons it is held:


1. That the eleven parcels of land described in paragraph 6 of the
complaint have the character of reservable property; 2. That the
defendant Maria Corral, being compelled to make the reservation, must
reserve them in favor of the plaintiff Magin Riosa and the defendant
Consolacion Riosa de Calleja in case that either of these should
survive her; 3. That Magin Riosa and Consolacion Riosa de Calleja
have the right, in case that Maria Corral should die before them, to
receive the said parcels or their equivalent.
In virtue whereof, the defendant Maria Corral is ordered: 1. To
acknowledge the right of Magin Riosa and Consolacion Riosa de
Calleja to the reservation of the said parcels of lands described in the
complaint, which she shall expressly record in the registration of said
lands in the office of the register of deeds of this province; 2. To insure
the delivery of said parcels of lands, or their equivalent, to Magin Riosa
and Consolacion Riosa de Calleja, should either of them survive her,
either by a mortgage thereon or by a bond in the amount of P30,000,
without express pronouncement as to costs.
The other defendants are absolved from the complaint.
Inasmuch as the reservation from its inception imposes obligations upon the
reservor (reservista) and creates rights in favor of the reservation
(reservatarios) it is of the utmost importance to determine the time when the
land acquired the character of reservable property.
It will be remembered that on May 16, 1917, Maria Corral and Marcelina Casas
entered into a contract of extrajudicial partition of the property left by Jose
Riosa, in which they assigned to Maria Corral, as her legitime, the parcels of
land here in question, and at the same time petitioned for the probate of the will
of Jose Riosa and instituted the testamentary proceeding. In support of the
legality of the extrajudicial partition between Maria Corral and Marcelina Casas
the provision of section 596 of the Code of Civil Procedure is invoked, which
authorizes the heirs of a person dying without a will to make a partition without
the intervention of the courts whenever the heirs are all of age and the
deceased has left no debts. But this legal provisions refers expressly to

68

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

intestate estates and, of course, excludes testate estates like the one now
before us.

their titles. This argument, of course, is useless as to Marcelina Casas for the
reason that she transferred all her rights to Pablo Rocha.

When the deceased has left a will the partition of his property must be made in
accordance therewith. According to section 625 of the same Code no will can
pass property until it is probated. And even after being probated it cannot pass
any property if its provisions impair the legitime fixed by law in favor of certain
heirs. Therefore, the probate of the will and the validity of the testamentary
provisions must be passed upon by the court.

It has been held by jurisprudence that the provisions of the law referred to in
article 868 tending to assure the efficacy of the reservation by the surviving
spouse are applicable to the reservation known as "reserva troncal," referred to
in article 811, which is the reservation now under consideration.

For the reasons stated, and without making any express finding as to the
efficacy of the extrajudicial partition made by Maria Corral and Marcelina
Casas, we hold that for the purposes of the reservation and the rights and
obligations arising thereunder in connection with the favored relatives, the
property cannot be considered as having passed to Maria Corral but from the
date when the said partition was approved by the court, that is, on November
12, 1920. In the case of Pavia vs. De la Rosa (8 Phil., 70), this court laid down
the same doctrine in the following language:
The provisions of Act No. 190 (Code of Civil Procedure) have annulled
the provisions of article 1003 and others of the Civil Code with regard to
the pure or simple acceptance of the inheritance of a deceased person
or that made with benefit of inventory and the consequences thereof.
xxx

xxx

xxx

The heir legally succeeds the deceased from whom he derives his right
and title, but only after the liquidation of the estate, the payment of the
debts of same, and the adjudication of the residue of the estate of the
deceased, and in the meantime the only person in charge by law to
attend to all claims against the estate of the deceased debtor is the
executor or administrator appointed by a competent court.
As has been indicated, parcels 10 and 11 described in the complaint were first
sold by Maria Corral to Marcelina Casas who later sold them to Pablo Rocha. In
this appeal it is urged that Marcelina Casas and Pablo Rocha, who were
absolved by the court below, be ordered to acknowledge the reservation as to
parcels 10 and 11, acquired by them, and to have the said reservation noted on

In accordance with article 977, Maria Corral, reservor, is obliged to have the
reservation noted in the registry of deeds in accordance with the provisions of
the Mortgage Law which fixes the period of ninety days for accomplishing it
(article 199, in relation with article 191, of the Mortgage Law). According to
article 203 of the General Regulation for the application of the Mortgage Law,
this time must be computed from the acceptance of the inheritance. But as this
portion of the Civil Code, regarding the acceptance of the inheritance, has been
repealed, the time, as has been indicated, must be computed from the
adjudication of the property by the court to the heirs, in line with the decision of
this court hereinabove quoted. After the expiration of this period the reservees
may demand compliance with this obligation.
If Maria Corral had not transferred parcels 10 and 11 to another there would be
no doubt that she could be compelled to cause the reservable character of this
property to be noted in the registry of deeds. This land having been sold to
Marcelina Casas who, in turn, sold it to Pablo Rocha the question arises
whether the latter can be compelled to have this reservation noted on his title.
This acquisition by Pablo Rocha took place when it was the duty of Maria
Corral to make the notation of the reservation in the registry and at the time
when the reservees had no right to compel Maria Corral to make such notation,
because this acquisition was made before the expiration of the period of ninety
days from November 12, 1920, the date of the adjudication by the court, after
which the right of the reservees to commence an action for the fulfillment of the
obligation arose. But the land first passed to Marcelina Casas and later to
Pablo Rocha together with the obligation that the law imposes upon Maria
Corral. They could not have acquired a better title than that held by Maria
Corral and if the latter's title was limited by the reservation and the obligation to
note it in the registry of deeds, this same limitation is attached to the right
acquired by Marcelina Casas and Pablo Rocha.

69

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

In the transmission of reservable property the law imposes the reservation as a


resolutory condition for the benefit of the reservees (article 975, Civil Code).
The fact that the resolvable character of the property was not recorded in the
registry of deed at the time that it was acquired by Marcelina Casas and Pablo
Rocha cannot affect the right of the reservees, for the reason that the transfers
were made at the time when it was the obligation of the reservor to note only
such reservation and the reservees did not them have any right to compel her
to fulfill such an obligation.
Marcelina Casas, as well as Pablo Rocha, Knew of the reservable character of
the property when they bought it. They had knowledge of the provisions of the
last will and testament of Mariano Riosa by virtue of which these parcels were
transferred to Jose Riosa. Pablo Rocha was one of the legatees in the will.
Marcelina Casas was the one who entered into the contract of partition with
Maria Corral, whereby these parcels were adjudicated to the latter, as a
legitimate heir of Jose Riosa. Pablo Rocha was the very person who drafted the
contracts of sale of these parcels of land by Maria Corral to Marcelina Casas
and by the latter to himself. These facts, together with the relationship existing
between Maria Corral and Marcelina Casas and Pablo Rocha, the former a
daughter-in-law and the latter a nephew of Maria Corral, amply support the
conclusion that both of them knew that these parcels of land had been inherited
by Maria Corral, as her legitime from her son Jose Riosa who had inherited
them, by will, from his father Mariano Riosa, and were reservable property.
Wherefore, the duty of Maria Corral of recording the reservable character of lots
10 and 11 has been transferred to Pablo Rocha and the reservees have an
action against him to compel him to comply with this obligation.
The appellant also claims that the obligation imposed upon Maria Corral of
insuring the return of these parcels of land, or their value, to the reservees by
means of a mortgage or a bond in the amount of P30,000, also applies to Pablo
Rocha. The law does not require that the reservor give this security, the
recording of the reservation in the registry of deeds being sufficient (art. 977 of
the Civil Code). There is no ground for this requirement inasmuch as, the
notation once is made, the property will answer for the efficacy of the
reservation. This security for the value of the property is required by law (art.
978, paragraph 4, of the Civil Code) in the case of a reservation by the
surviving spouse when the property has been sold before acquiring the
reservable character (art 968 of the Civil Code), but is not applicable to
reservation known as reserva troncal (art 811 of the Civil Code). In the case of
Dizon and Dizon vs. Galang (page 601, ante), this court held that:

* * * As already intimated, the provisions of the law tending to give


efficacy to a reservation by the widowed spouse mentioned in article
968 are applicable to the reserva troncal provided for in article 811. But
as these two reservations vary in some respects, these rules may be
applied to the reserva troncal only in so far as the latter is similar to a
reservation by the widowed spouse. In the reserva troncal the property
goes to the reservor as reservable property and it remains so until the
reservation takes place or is extinguished. In a reservation by the
widowed spouse there are two distinct stages, one when the property
goes to the widower without being reservable, and the other when the
widower contracts a second marriage, whereupon the property, which
theretofore has been in his possession free of any encumbrance,
becomes reservable. These two stages also affect differently the
transfer that may be made of the property. If the property is sold during
the first stage, before becoming reservable, it is absolutely free and is
transferred to the purchaser unencumbered. But if the sale is made
during the second stage, that is, when the duty to reserve has arisen,
the property goes to the purchaser subject to the reservation, without
prejudice to the provisions of the Mortgage Law. This is the reason why
the law provides that should the property be sold before it becomes
reservable, or before the widower contracts another marriage, he will
be compelled to secure the value of the property by a mortgage upon
contracting a new marriage, so that the reservation may not lose its
efficacy and that the rights of those for whom the reservation is made
may be assured. This mortgage is not required by law when the sale is
made after the reservation will follow the property, without prejudice to
the contrary provisions of the Mortgage Law and the rights of innocent
purchasers, there being no need to secure the value of the property
since it is liable for the efficacy of the reservation by a widowed spouse
to secure the value of the property sold by the widower, before
becoming reservable are not applicable to the reserva troncal where
the property goes to the ascendant already reservable in character. A
sale in the case of reserva troncal might be analogous to a sale made
by the widower after contacting a second marriage in the case of a
reservation by the widowed spouse.
Since Maria Corral did not appeal, we cannot modify the appealed judgment in
so far as it is unfavorable to her. As she has been ordered to record in the
registry the reservable character of the other parcels of land, the subject of this
action, the questions raised by the appellant as to her are decided.

70

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

The judgment appealed from is modified and Pablo Rocha is ordered to record
in the registry of deeds the reservable character of parcels 10 11, the subject of
this complaint, without special pronouncement as to costs. So ordered.
Street Malcolm, Villamor, Strand, Johns, Romualdez and Villa-Real, JJ.,
concur.

G.R. No. 176422

March 20, 2013

MARIA MENDOZA, in her own capacity and as Attorney-in-fact of


DEOGRACIAS, MARCELA, DIONISIA, ADORA CION, all surnamed
MENDOZA, REMEDIOS MONTILLA, FELY BAUTISTA, JULIANA GUILALAS
and ELVIRA MENDOZA, Petitioners,
vs.
JULIA POLl CARPIO DELOS SANTOS, substituted by her heirs, CARMEN
P. DELOS SANTOS, ROSA BUENA VENTURA, ZENAIDA P. DELOS
SANTOS VDA. DE MATEO, LEONILA P. DELOS SANTOS, ELVIRA P.
DELOS SANTOS VDA. DE JOSE, TERESITA P. DELOS SANTOS-CABUHAT,
MERCEDITA P. DELOS SANTOS, LYDIA P. DELOS SANTOS VDA. DE

71

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

HILARIO, PERFECTO P. DELOS SANTOS, JR., and CECILIA M. MENDOZA,


Respondents.
REYES, J.:
Reserva troncal is a special rule designed primarily to assure the return of a
reservable property to the third degree relatives belonging to the line from
which the property originally came, and avoid its being dissipated into and by
the relatives of the inheriting ascendant.1

Respondent, however, denies any obligation to reserve the properties as these


did not originate from petitioners familial line and were not originally owned by
Placido and Dominga. According to respondent, the properties were bought by
Exequiel and Antonio from a certain Alfonso Ramos in 1931. It appears,
however, that it was only Exequiel who was in possession of the properties. 6
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 6, found merit in
petitioners claim and granted their action for Recovery of Possession by
Reserva Troncal, Cancellation of TCT and Reconveyance. In its Decision dated
November 4, 2002, the RTC disposed as follows:

The Facts
WHEREFORE, premised from the foregoing judgment is hereby rendered:
The properties subject in the instant case are three parcels of land located in
Sta. Maria, Bulacan: (1) Lot 1681-B, with an area of 7,749 square meters; 2 (2)
Lot 1684, with an area of 5,667 sq m; 3 and (3) Lot No. 1646-B, with an area of
880 sq m.4 Lot Nos. 1681-B and 1684 are presently in the name of respondent
Julia Delos Santos5 (respondent). Lot No. 1646-B, on the other hand, is also in
the name of respondent but co-owned by Victoria Pantaleon, who bought onehalf of the property from petitioner Maria Mendoza and her siblings.
Petitioners are grandchildren of Placido Mendoza (Placido) and Dominga
Mendoza (Dominga). Placido and Dominga had four children: Antonio,
Exequiel, married to Leonor, Apolonio and Valentin. Petitioners Maria,
Deogracias, Dionisia, Adoracion, Marcela and Ricardo are the children of
Antonio. Petitioners Juliana, Fely, Mercedes, Elvira and Fortunato, on the other
hand, are Valentins children. Petitioners alleged that the properties were part of
Placido and Domingas properties that were subject of an oral partition and
subsequently adjudicated to Exequiel. After Exequiels death, it passed on to
his spouse Leonor and only daughter, Gregoria. After Leonors death, her share
went to Gregoria. In 1992, Gregoria died intestate and without issue. They
claimed that after Gregorias death, respondent, who is Leonors sister,
adjudicated unto herself all these properties as the sole surviving heir of Leonor
and Gregoria. Hence, petitioners claim that the properties should have been
reserved by respondent in their behalf and must now revert back to them,
applying Article 891 of the Civil Code on reserva troncal.

1. Ordering respondents (heirs of Julia Policarpio) to reconvey the three


(3) parcels of land subject of this action in the name of the plaintiffs
enumerated in the complaint including intervenor Maria Cecilia M.
Mendoza except one-half of the property described in the old title, TCT
No. T-124852(M) which belongs to Victorina Pantaleon;
2. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Bulacan to cancel the titles in the
name of Julia Policarpio, TCT No. T-149033(M), T-183631(M) and T149035(M) and reconvey the same to the enumerated plaintiffs; and
3. No pronouncement as to claims for attorneys fees and damages and
costs.
SO ORDERED.7
On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) reversed and set aside the RTC decision
and dismissed the complaint filed by petitioners. The dispositive portion of the
CA Decision dated November 16, 2006 provides:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the November 4, 2002 Decision of the
Regional Trial Court, Br. 6, Third Judicial Region, Malolos, Bulacan, is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Third Amended Complaint in Civil Case No.
609-M-92 is hereby DISMISSED. Costs against the Plaintiffs-Appellants.
SO ORDERED.8

72

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but the CA denied the same per
Resolution9 dated January 17, 2007.

the properties in dispute are reservable properties and two, whether petitioners
are entitled to a reservation of these properties.

In dismissing the complaint, the CA ruled that petitioners failed to establish that
Placido and Dominga owned the properties in dispute. 10 The CA also ruled that
even assuming that Placido and Dominga previously owned the properties, it
still cannot be subject to reserva troncal as neither Exequiel predeceased
Placido and Dominga nor did Gregoria predecease Exequiel. 11

Article 891 of the Civil Code on reserva troncal

Now before the Court, petitioners argue that:


A.
THE HONORABLE [CA] GRIEVOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
THE
SUBJECT
PROPERTIES
ARE
NOT
RESERVABLE
PROPERTIES, COMING AS THEY DO FROM THE FAMILY LINE OF
THE PETITIONERS MENDOZAS.
B.
THE HONORABLE [CA] GRIEVOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
THE PETITIONERS MENDOZAS DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO THE
SUBJECT PROPERTIES BY VIRTUE OF THE LAW ON RESERVA
TRONCAL.12
Petitioners take exception to the ruling of the CA, contending that it is sufficient
that the properties came from the paternal line of Gregoria for it to be subject to
reserva troncal. They also claim the properties in representation of their own
predecessors, Antonio and Valentin, who were the brothers of Exequiel. 13
Ruling of the Court
This petition is one for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
The general rule in this regard is that it should raise only questions of law.
There are, however, admitted exceptions to this rule, one of which is when the
CAs findings are contrary to those of the trial court. 14 This being the case in the
petition at hand, the Court must now look into the differing findings and
conclusion of the RTC and the CA on the two issues that arise one, whether

The principle of reserva troncal is provided in Article 891 of the Civil Code:
Art. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which
the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a
brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired
by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree
and belong to the line from which said property came. (Emphasis ours)
There are three (3) lines of transmission in reserva troncal. The first
transmission is by gratuitous title, whether by inheritance or donation, from an
ascendant/brother/sister to a descendant called the prepositus. The second
transmission is by operation of law from the prepositus to the other ascendant
or reservor, also called the reservista. The third and last transmission is from
the reservista to the reservees or reservatarios who must be relatives within the
third degree from which the property came.15
The lineal character of the reservable property is reckoned from the
ascendant from whom the prepositus received the property by
gratuitous title
Based on the circumstances of the present case, Article 891 on reserva troncal
is not applicable.

73

ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

The fallacy in the CAs resolution is that it proceeded from the erroneous
premise that Placido is the ascendant contemplated in Article 891 of the Civil
Code. From thence, it sought to trace the origin of the subject properties back
to Placido and Dominga, determine whether Exequiel predeceased Placido and
whether Gregoria predeceased Exequiel.

by Exequiel (ascendant). After his death, Gregoria (descendant/prepositus)


acquired the properties as inheritance.

The persons involved in reserva troncal are:

Article 891 provides that the person obliged to reserve the property should be
an ascendant (also known as the reservor/reservista) of the
descendant/prepositus. Julia, however, is not Gregorias ascendant; rather, she
is Gregorias collateral relative.

(1) The ascendant or brother or sister from whom the property was
received by the descendant by lucrative or gratuitous title;
(2) The descendant or prepositus (propositus) who received the
property;
(3) The reservor (reservista), the other ascendant who obtained the
property from the prepositus by operation of law; and
(4) The reservee (reservatario) who is within the third degree from the
prepositus and who belongs to the (linea o tronco) from which the
property came and for whom the property should be reserved by the
reservor.16
It should be pointed out that the ownership of the properties should be
reckoned only from Exequiels as he is the ascendant from where the first
transmission occurred, or from whom Gregoria inherited the properties in
dispute. The law does not go farther than such ascendant/brother/sister in
determining the lineal character of the property.17 It was also immaterial for the
CA to determine whether Exequiel predeceased Placido and Dominga or
whether Gregoria predeceased Exequiel. What is pertinent is that Exequiel
owned the properties and he is the ascendant from whom the properties in
dispute originally came. Gregoria, on the other hand, is the descendant who
received the properties from Exequiel by gratuitous title.
Moreover, Article 891 simply requires that the property should have been
acquired by the descendant or prepositus from an ascendant by gratuitous or
lucrative title. A transmission is gratuitous or by gratuitous title when the
recipient does not give anything in return.18 At risk of being repetitious, what
was clearly established in this case is that the properties in dispute were owned

Ascendants, descendants andcollateral relatives under Article


964 of the Civil Code

Article 964 of the Civil Code provides for the series of degrees among
ascendants and descendants, and those who are not ascendants and
descendants but come from a common ancestor, viz:
Art. 964. A series of degrees forms a line, which may be either direct or
collateral.1wphi1 A direct line is that constituted by the series of degrees
among ascendants and descendants.
A collateral line is that constituted by the series of degrees among persons who
are not ascendants and descendants, but who come from a common ancestor.
(Emphasis and italics ours)
Gregorias ascendants are her parents, Exequiel and Leonor, her grandparents,
great-grandparents and so on. On the other hand, Gregorias descendants, if
she had one, would be her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Not
being Gregorias ascendants, both petitioners and Julia, therefore, are her
collateral relatives. In determining the collateral line of relationship, ascent is
made to the common ancestor and then descent to the relative from whom the
computation is made. In the case of Julias collateral relationship with Gregoria,
ascent is to be made from Gregoria to her mother Leonor (one line/degree),
then to the common ancestor, that is, Julia and Leonors parents (second
line/degree), and then descent to Julia, her aunt (third line/degree). Thus, Julia
is Gregorias collateral relative within the third degree and not her ascendant.
First cousins of thedescendant/prepositus are fourth
degree relatives and cannot beconsidered reservees/reservatarios

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ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

Moreover, petitioners cannot be considered reservees/reservatarios as they are


not relatives within the third degree of Gregoria from whom the properties
came. The person from whom the degree should be reckoned is the
descendant/prepositusthe one at the end of the line from which the property
came and upon whom the property last revolved by descent. 19 It is Gregoria in
this case. Petitioners are Gregorias fourth degree relatives, being her first
cousins. First cousins of the prepositus are fourth degree relatives and are not
reservees or reservatarios.20
They cannot even claim representation of their predecessors Antonio and
Valentin as Article 891 grants a personal right of reservation only to the relatives
up to the third degree from whom the reservable properties came. The only
recognized exemption is in the case of nephews and nieces of the prepositus,
who have the right to represent their ascendants (fathers and mothers) who are
the brothers/sisters of the prepositus and relatives within the third degree. 21 In
Florentino v. Florentino,22 the Court stated:
Following the order prescribed by law in legitimate succession, when there are
relatives of the descendant within the third degree, the right of the nearest
relative, called reservatario, over the property which the reservista (person
holding it subject to reservation) should return to him, excludes that of the one
more remote. The right of representation cannot be alleged when the one
claiming same as a reservatario of the reservable property is not among the
relatives within the third degree belong to the line from which such property
came, inasmuch as the right granted by the Civil Code in Article 811 now Article
891 is in the highest degree personal and for the exclusive benefit of the
designated persons who are the relatives, within the third degree, of the person
from whom the reservable property came. Therefore, relatives of the fourth and
the succeeding degrees can never be considered as reservatarios, since the
law does not recognize them as such.
x x x Nevertheless there is right of representation on the part of reservatarios
who are within the third degree mentioned by law, as in the case of nephews of
the deceased person from whom the reservable property came. x x x. 23
(Emphasis and underscoring ours)
The conclusion, therefore, is that while it may appear that the properties are
reservable in character, petitioners cannot benefit from reserva troncal. First,
because Julia, who now holds the properties in dispute, is not the other

ascendant within the purview of Article 891 of the Civil Code and second,
because petitioners are not Gregorias relatives within the third degree. Hence,
the CAs disposition that the complaint filed with the RTC should be dismissed,
only on this point, is correct. If at all, what should apply in the distribution of
Gregorias estate are Articles 1003 and 1009 of the Civil Code, which provide:
Art. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a
surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of
the deceased in accordance with the following articles.
Art. 1009. Should there be neither brothers nor sisters, nor children of brothers
or sisters, the other collateral relatives shall succeed to the estate.
The latter shall succeed without distinction of lines or preference among them
by reason of relationship by the whole blood.
Nevertheless, the Court is not in the proper position to determine the proper
distribution of Gregorias estate at this point as the cause of action relied upon
by petitioners in their complaint filed with the RTC is based solely on reserva
troncal. Further, any determination would necessarily entail reception of
evidence on Gregorias entire estate and the heirs entitled thereto, which is best
accomplished in an action filed specifically for that purpose.

A reservista acquires ownership ofthe reservable property until the


reservation takes place or is extinguished
Before concluding, the Court takes note of a palpable error in the RTCs
disposition of the case. In upholding the right of petitioners over the properties,
the RTC ordered the reconveyance of the properties to petitioners and the
transfer of the titles in their names. What the RTC should have done, assuming
for arguments sake that reserva troncal is applicable, is have the reservable
nature of the property registered on respondents titles. In fact, respondent, as
reservista, has the duty to reserve and to annotate the reservable character of
the property on the title.24 In reserva troncal, the reservista who inherits from a
prepositus, whether by the latters wish or by operation of law, acquires the
inheritance by virtue of a title perfectly transferring absolute ownership. All the
attributes of ownership belong to him exclusively.25

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ART. 891 RESERVA TRONCAL

The reservor has the legal title and dominion to the reservable property but
subject to the resolutory condition that such title is extinguished if the reservor
predeceased the reservee. The reservor is a usufructuary of the reservable
property. He may alienate it subject to the reservation. The transferee gets the
revocable and conditional ownership of the reservor. The transferees rights are
revoked upon the survival of the reservees at the time of the death of the
reservor but become indefeasible when the reservees predecease the
reservor.26 (Citations omitted)

No. 77694 insofar as it dismissed the Third Amended Complaint in Civil Case
No. 609-M-92 are AFFIRMED. This Decision is without prejudice to any civil
action that the heirs of Gregoria

It is when the reservation takes place or is extinguished, 27 that a reservatario


becomes, by operation of law, the owner of the reservable property.28 In any
event, the foregoing discussion does not detract from the fact that petitioners
are not entitled to a reservation of the properties in dispute.

BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated November 16, 2006
and Resolution dated January 17, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV

Mendoza may file for the settlement of her estate or for the determination of
ownership of the properties in question.
SO ORDERED.

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