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THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 113725. June 29, 2000]


JOHNNY S. RABADILLA,[1] petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND MARIA MARLENA[2] COSCOLUELLA
Y BELLEZA VILLACARLOS, respondents.
DECISION
PURISIMA, J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals,[3] dated December 23, 1993, in CA-G.R.
No. CV-35555, which set aside the decision of Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City, and
ordered the defendants-appellees (including herein petitioner), as heirs of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey
title over Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
In a Codicil appended to the Last Will and Testament of testatrix Aleja Belleza, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla,
predecessor-in-interest of the herein petitioner, Johnny S. Rabadilla, was instituted as a devisee of 511, 855
square meters of that parcel of land surveyed as Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre. The said Codicil,
which was duly probated and admitted in Special Proceedings No. 4046 before the then Court of First
Instance of Negros Occidental, contained the following provisions:
"FIRST
I give, leave and bequeath the following property owned by me to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla resident of
141 P. Villanueva, Pasay City:
(a) Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002
(10942), which is registered in my name according to the records of the Register of Deeds of Negros
Occidental.
(b) That should Jorge Rabadilla die ahead of me, the aforementioned property and the rights which
I shall set forth hereinbelow, shall be inherited and acknowledged by the children and spouse of
Jorge Rabadilla.
xxx
FOURTH
(a)....It is also my command, in this my addition (Codicil), that should I die and Jorge Rabadilla shall
have already received the ownership of the said Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002 (10942), and also at the time that the lease of Balbinito G.
Guanzon of the said lot shall expire, Jorge Rabadilla shall have the obligation until he dies, every
year to give to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, Seventy (75) (sic) piculs of Export sugar and
Twenty Five (25) piculs of Domestic sugar, until the said Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza dies.
FIFTH
(a) Should Jorge Rabadilla die, his heir to whom he shall give Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre,
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002 (10492), shall have the obligation to still give
yearly, the sugar as specified in the Fourth paragraph of his testament, to Maria Marlina Coscolluela
y Belleza on the month of December of each year.
SIXTH
I command, in this my addition (Codicil) that the Lot No. 1392, in the event that the one to whom I
have left and bequeathed, and his heir shall later sell, lease, mortgage this said Lot, the buyer,
lessee, mortgagee, shall have also the obligation to respect and deliver yearly ONE HUNDRED (100)
piculs of sugar to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, on each month of December, SEVENTY FIVE
(75) piculs of Export and TWENTY FIVE (25) piculs of Domestic, until Maria Marlina shall die, lastly
should the buyer, lessee or the mortgagee of this lot, not have respected my command in this my
addition (Codicil), Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, shall immediately seize this Lot No. 1392
from my heir and the latter's heirs, and shall turn it over to my near desendants, (sic) and the latter
shall then have the obligation to give the ONE HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar until Maria Marlina
shall die. I further command in this my addition (Codicil) that my heir and his heirs of this Lot No.
1392, that they will obey and follow that should they decide to sell, lease, mortgage, they cannot
negotiate with others than my near descendants and my sister."[4]
Pursuant to the same Codicil, Lot No. 1392 was transferred to the deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, and
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 44498 thereto issued in his name.
Dr. Jorge Rabadilla died in 1983 and was survived by his wife Rufina and children Johnny (petitioner),
Aurora, Ofelia and Zenaida, all surnamed Rabadilla.

On August 21, 1989, Maria Marlena Coscolluela y Belleza Villacarlos brought a complaint, docketed as Civil
Case No. 5588, before Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City, against the above-mentioned
heirs of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, to enforce the provisions of subject Codicil. The Complaint alleged that the
defendant-heirs violated the conditions of the Codicil, in that:

1. Lot No. 1392 was mortgaged to the Philippine National Bank and the Republic Planters Bank in
disregard of the testatrix's specific instruction to sell, lease, or mortgage only to the near
descendants and sister of the testatrix.

2. Defendant-heirs failed to comply with their obligation to deliver one hundred (100) piculs of
sugar (75 piculs export sugar and 25 piculs domestic sugar) to plaintiff Maria Marlena Coscolluela y
Belleza from sugar crop years 1985 up to the filing of the complaint as mandated by the Codicil,
despite repeated demands for compliance.

3. The banks failed to comply with the 6th paragraph of the Codicil which provided that in case of
the sale, lease, or mortgage of the property, the buyer, lessee, or mortgagee shall likewise have the
obligation to deliver 100 piculs of sugar per crop year to herein private respondent.

The plaintiff then prayed that judgment be rendered ordering defendant-heirs to reconvey/return-Lot No.
1392 to the surviving heirs of the late Aleja Belleza, the cancellation of TCT No. 44498 in the name of the
deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, and the issuance of a new certificate of title in the names of the surviving
heirs of the late Aleja Belleza.

On February 26, 1990, the defendant-heirs were declared in default but on March 28, 1990 the Order of
Default was lifted, with respect to defendant Johnny S. Rabadilla, who filed his Answer, accordingly.

During the pre-trial, the parties admitted that:

On November 15, 1998, the plaintiff (private respondent) and a certain Alan Azurin, son-in-law of the herein
petitioner who was lessee of the property and acting as attorney-in-fact of defendant-heirs, arrived at an
amicable settlement and entered into a Memorandum of Agreement on the obligation to deliver one
hundred piculs of sugar, to the following effect:

"That for crop year 1988-89, the annuity mentioned in Entry No. 49074 of TCT No. 44489 will be
delivered not later than January of 1989, more specifically, to wit:

75 piculs of 'A' sugar, and 25 piculs of 'B' sugar, or then existing in any of our names,
Mary Rose Rabadilla y Azurin or Alan Azurin, during December of each sugar crop
year, in Azucar Sugar Central; and, this is considered compliance of the annuity as
mentioned, and in the same manner will compliance of the annuity be in the next
succeeding crop years.

That the annuity above stated for crop year 1985-86, 1986-87, and 1987-88, will be complied in
cash equivalent of the number of piculs as mentioned therein and which is as herein agreed upon,
taking into consideration the composite price of sugar during each sugar crop year, which is in the
total amount of ONE HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P105,000.00).

That the above-mentioned amount will be paid or delivered on a staggered cash installment, payable on or
before the end of December of every sugar crop year, to wit:

For 1985-86, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before
December of crop year 1988-89;
For 1986-87, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before
December of crop year 1989-90;

For 1987-88, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before
December of crop year 1990-91; and

For 1988-89, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before
December of crop year 1991-92."[5]

However, there was no compliance with the aforesaid Memorandum of Agreement except for a partial
delivery of 50.80 piculs of sugar corresponding to sugar crop year 1988 -1989.

On July 22, 1991, the Regional Trial Court came out with a decision, dismissing the complaint and disposing
as follows:

"WHEREFORE, in the light of the aforegoing findings, the Court finds that the action is prematurely
filed as no cause of action against the defendants has as yet arose in favor of plaintiff. While there
maybe the non-performance of the command as mandated exaction from them simply because they
are the children of Jorge Rabadilla, the title holder/owner of the lot in question, does not warrant
the filing of the present complaint. The remedy at bar must fall. Incidentally, being in the category
as creditor of the left estate, it is opined that plaintiff may initiate the intestate proceedings, if only
to establish the heirs of Jorge Rabadilla and in order to give full meaning and semblance to her
claim under the Codicil.

In the light of the aforegoing findings, the Complaint being prematurely filed is DISMISSED without
prejudice.

SO ORDERED."[6]

On appeal by plaintiff, the First Division of the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court;
ratiocinating and ordering thus:

"Therefore, the evidence on record having established plaintiff-appellant's right to receive 100
piculs of sugar annually out of the produce of Lot No. 1392; defendants-appellee's obligation under
Aleja Belleza's codicil, as heirs of the modal heir, Jorge Rabadilla, to deliver such amount of sugar to
plaintiff-appellant; defendants-appellee's admitted non-compliance with said obligation since 1985;
and, the punitive consequences enjoined by both the codicil and the Civil Code, of seizure of Lot No.
1392 and its reversion to the estate of Aleja Belleza in case of such non-compliance, this Court
deems it proper to order the reconveyance of title over Lot No. 1392 from the estates of Jorge
Rabadilla to the estate of Aleja Belleza. However, plaintiff-appellant must institute separate
proceedings to re-open Aleja Belleza's estate, secure the appointment of an administrator, and
distribute Lot No. 1392 to Aleja Belleza's legal heirs in order to enforce her right, reserved to her by
the codicil, to receive her legacy of 100 piculs of sugar per year out of the produce of Lot No. 1392
until she dies.

Accordingly, the decision appealed from is SET ASIDE and another one entered ordering
defendants-appellees, as heirs of Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey title over Lot No. 1392, together with
its fruits and interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza.

SO ORDERED."[7]

Dissatisfied with the aforesaid disposition by the Court of Appeals, petitioner found his way to this
Court via the present petition, contending that the Court of Appeals erred in ordering the reversion of Lot
1392 to the estate of the testatrix Aleja Belleza on the basis of paragraph 6 of the Codicil, and in ruling that
the testamentary institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla is a modal institution within the purview of Article 882
of the New Civil Code.
The petition is not impressed with merit.

Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in resolving the appeal in accordance with Article 882
of the New Civil Code on modal institutions and in deviating from the sole issue raised which is the absence
or prematurity of the cause of action. Petitioner maintains that Article 882 does not find application as
there was no modal institution and the testatrix intended a mere simple substitution - i.e. the instituted
heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, was to be substituted by the testatrix's "near descendants" should the obligation
to deliver the fruits to herein private respondent be not complied with. And since the testatrix died single
and without issue, there can be no valid substitution and such testamentary provision cannot be given any
effect.

The petitioner theorizes further that there can be no valid substitution for the reason that the substituted
heirs are not definite, as the substituted heirs are merely referred to as "near descendants" without a
definite identity or reference as to who are the "near descendants" and therefore, under Articles 843[8] and
845[9] of the New Civil Code, the substitution should be deemed as not written.

The contentions of petitioner are untenable. Contrary to his supposition that the Court of Appeals deviated
from the issue posed before it, which was the propriety of the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of
prematurity of cause of action, there was no such deviation. The Court of Appeals found that the private
respondent had a cause of action against the petitioner. The disquisition made on modal institution was,
precisely, to stress that the private respondent had a legally demandable right against the petitioner
pursuant to subject Codicil; on which issue the Court of Appeals ruled in accordance with law.

It is a general rule under the law on succession that successional rights are transmitted from the moment of
death of the decedent[10] and compulsory heirs are called to succeed by operation of law. The legitimate
children and descendants, in relation to their legitimate parents, and the widow or widower, are
compulsory heirs.[11] Thus, the petitioner, his mother and sisters, as compulsory heirs of the instituted heir,
Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, succeeded the latter by operation of law, without need of further proceedings, and the
successional rights were transmitted to them from the moment of death of the decedent, Dr. Jorge
Rabadilla.

Under Article 776 of the New Civil Code, inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a
person, not extinguished by his death. Conformably, whatever rights Dr. Jorge Rabadilla had by virtue of
subject Codicil were transmitted to his forced heirs, at the time of his death. And since obligations not
extinguished by death also form part of the estate of the decedent; corollarily, the obligations imposed by
the Codicil on the deceased Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, were likewise transmitted to his compulsory heirs upon his
death.

In the said Codicil, testatrix Aleja Belleza devised Lot No. 1392 to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, subject to the
condition that the usufruct thereof would be delivered to the herein private respondent every year. Upon
the death of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, his compulsory heirs succeeded to his rights and title over the said
property, and they also assumed his (decedent's) obligation to deliver the fruits of the lot involved to
herein private respondent. Such obligation of the instituted heir reciprocally corresponds to the right of
private respondent over the usufruct, the fulfillment or performance of which is now being demanded by
the latter through the institution of the case at bar. Therefore, private respondent has a cause of action
against petitioner and the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint below.

Petitioner also theorizes that Article 882 of the New Civil Code on modal institutions is not applicable
because what the testatrix intended was a substitution - Dr. Jorge Rabadilla was to be substituted by the
testatrix's near descendants should there be noncompliance with the obligation to deliver the piculs of
sugar to private respondent.

Again, the contention is without merit.

Substitution is the designation by the testator of a person or persons to take the place of the heir or heirs
first instituted. Under substitutions in general, the testator may either (1) provide for the designation of
another heir to whom the property shall pass in case the original heir should die before him/her, renounce
the inheritance or be incapacitated to inherit, as in a simple substitution,[12] or (2) leave his/her property to
one person with the express charge that it be transmitted subsequently to another or others, as in a
fideicommissary substitution.[13] The Codicil sued upon contemplates neither of the two.

In simple substitutions, the second heir takes the inheritance in default of the first heir by reason of
incapacity, predecease or renunciation.[14] In the case under consideration, the provisions of subject Codicil
do not provide that should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla default due to predecease, incapacity or renunciation, the
testatrix's near descendants would substitute him. What the Codicil provides is that, should Dr. Jorge
Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the conditions imposed in the Codicil, the property referred to shall be
seized and turned over to the testatrix's near descendants.

Neither is there a fideicommissary substitution here and on this point, petitioner is correct. In a
fideicommissary substitution, the first heir is strictly mandated to preserve the property and to
transmit the same later to the second heir.[15] In the case under consideration, the instituted heir is in fact
allowed under the Codicil to alienate the property provided the negotiation is with the near descendants or
the sister of the testatrix. Thus, a very important element of a fideicommissary substitution is lacking; the
obligation clearly imposing upon the first heir the preservation of the property and its transmission to the
second heir. "Without this obligation to preserve clearly imposed by the testator in his will, there is no
fideicommissary substitution."[16] Also, the near descendants' right to inherit from the testatrix is not
definite. The property will only pass to them should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the obligation
to deliver part of the usufruct to private respondent.

Another important element of a fideicommissary substitution is also missing here. Under Article 863, the
second heir or the fideicommissary to whom the property is transmitted must not be beyond one degree
from the first heir or the fiduciary. A fideicommissary substitution is therefore, void if the first heir is not
related by first degree to the second heir.[17] In the case under scrutiny, the near descendants are not at all
related to the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla.

The Court of Appeals erred not in ruling that the institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is in
the nature of a modal institution and therefore, Article 882 of the New Civil Code is the provision of law in
point. Articles 882 and 883 of the New Civil Code provide:

Art. 882. The statement of the object of the institution or the application of the property left by the
testator, or the charge imposed on him, shall not be considered as a condition unless it appears that
such was his intention.

That which has been left in this manner may be claimed at once provided that the instituted heir or
his heirs give security for compliance with the wishes of the testator and for the return of anything
he or they may receive, together with its fruits and interests, if he or they should disregard this
obligation.

Art. 883. When without the fault of the heir, an institution referred to in the preceding article
cannot take effect in the exact manner stated by the testator, it shall be complied with in a manner
most analogous to and in conformity with his wishes.

The institution of an heir in the manner prescribed in Article 882 is what is known in the law of succession
as an institucion sub modo or a modal institution. In a modal institution, the testator states (1) the object of
the institution, (2) the purpose or application of the property left by the testator, or (3) the charge imposed
by the testator upon the heir.[18] A "mode" imposes an obligation upon the heir or legatee but it does not
affect the efficacy of his rights to the succession.[19] On the other hand, in a conditional testamentary
disposition, the condition must happen or be fulfilled in order for the heir to be entitled to succeed the
testator. The condition suspends but does not obligate; and the mode obligates but does not suspend.[20] To
some extent, it is similar to a resolutory condition.[21]
From the provisions of the Codicil litigated upon, it can be gleaned unerringly that the testatrix intended
that subject property be inherited by Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. It is likewise clearly worded that the testatrix
imposed an obligation on the said instituted heir and his successors-in-interest to deliver one hundred
piculs of sugar to the herein private respondent, Marlena Coscolluela Belleza, during the lifetime of the
latter. However, the testatrix did not make Dr. Jorge Rabadilla's inheritance and the effectivity of his
institution as a devisee, dependent on the performance of the said obligation. It is clear, though, that should
the obligation be not complied with, the property shall be turned over to the testatrix's near descendants.
The manner of institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is evidently modal in nature because
it imposes a charge upon the instituted heir without, however, affecting the efficacy of such institution.

Then too, since testamentary dispositions are generally acts of liberality, an obligation imposed upon the
heir should not be considered a condition unless it clearly appears from the Will itself that such was the
intention of the testator. In case of doubt, the institution should be considered as modal and not
conditional.[22]

Neither is there tenability in the other contention of petitioner that the private respondent has only a right
of usufruct but not the right to seize the property itself from the instituted heir because the right to seize
was expressly limited to violations by the buyer, lessee or mortgagee.

In the interpretation of Wills, when an uncertainty arises on the face of the Will, as to the application of any
of its provisions, the testator's intention is to be ascertained from the words of the Will, taking into
consideration the circumstances under which it was made.[23] Such construction as will sustain and uphold
the Will in all its parts must be adopted.[24]

Subject Codicil provides that the instituted heir is under obligation to deliver One Hundred (100) piculs of
sugar yearly to Marlena Belleza Coscuella. Such obligation is imposed on the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge
Rabadilla, his heirs, and their buyer, lessee, or mortgagee should they sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise
negotiate the property involved. The Codicil further provides that in the event that the obligation to deliver
the sugar is not respected, Marlena Belleza Coscuella shall seize the property and turn it over to the
testatrix's near descendants. The non-performance of the said obligation is thus with the sanction of
seizure of the property and reversion thereof to the testatrix's near descendants. Since the said obligation
is clearly imposed by the testatrix, not only on the instituted heir but also on his successors-in-interest, the
sanction imposed by the testatrix in case of non-fulfillment of said obligation should equally apply to the
instituted heir and his successors-in-interest.

Similarly unsustainable is petitioner's submission that by virtue of the amicable settlement, the said
obligation imposed by the Codicil has been assumed by the lessee, and whatever obligation petitioner had
become the obligation of the lessee; that petitioner is deemed to have made a substantial and constructive
compliance of his obligation through the consummated settlement between the lessee and the private
respondent, and having consummated a settlement with the petitioner, the recourse of the private
respondent is the fulfillment of the obligation under the amicable settlement and not the seizure of subject
property.

Suffice it to state that a Will is a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a person disposes of his
property, to take effect after his death.[25] Since the Will expresses the manner in which a person intends
how his properties be disposed, the wishes and desires of the testator must be strictly followed. Thus, a
Will cannot be the subject of a compromise agreement which would thereby defeat the very purpose of
making a Will.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated December
23, 1993, in CA-G.R. No. CV-35555 AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs

SO ORDERED.

Melo, J., (Chairman), concur in the separate opinion of Justice Vitug.


Vitug, J., see separate opinion.

Panganiban, J., join the separate opinion of Justice Vitug.

Gonzaga-Reyes, J., no part.

334 SCRA 522 Civil Law Succession Transmissible Obligations


A certain Aleja Belleza died but he instituted in his will Dr. Jorge Rabadilla as a devisee to a 511, 855 hectare land. A
condition was however imposed to the effect that:
1. the naked ownership shall transfer to Dr. Rabadilla;
2. he shall deliver the fruits of said land to Maria Belleza, sister of Aleja, during the lifetime of said Maria Belleza;
3. that in case Dr. Rabadilla shall die before Maria Belleza, the near descendants, shall continue delivering the
fruits to Maria Belleza;
4. that the said land may only be encumbered, mortgaged, or sold only to a relative of Belleza.
In 1983, Dr. Rabadilla died. He was survived by Johnny Rabadilla.
In 1989, Maria Belleza sued Johnny Rabadilla in order to compel Johnny to reconvey the said land to the estate of
Aleja Belleza because it is alleged that Johnny failed to comply with the terms of the will; that since 1985, Johnny
failed to deliver the fruits; and that the the land was mortgaged to the Philippine National Bank, which is a
violation of the will.
In his defense, Johnny avers that the term near descendants in the will of Aleja pertains to the near descendants
of Aleja and not to the near descendants of Dr. Rabadilla, hence, since Aleja had no near descendants at the time of
his death, no can substitute Dr. Rabadilla on the obligation to deliver the fruits of the devised land.

ISSUE: Whether or not Johnny Rabadilla is not obliged to comply with the terms of the Will left by Aleja Belleza.

HELD: No. The contention of Johnny Rabadilla is bereft of merit. The near descendants being referred to in the
will are the heirs of Dr. Rabadilla. Ownership over the devised property was already transferred to Dr. Rabadilla
when Aleja died. Hence, when Dr. Rabadilla himself died, ownership over the same property was transmitted to
Johnny Rabadilla by virtue of succession.
Under Article 776 of the Civil Code, inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a person, not
extinguished by his death. Conformably, whatever rights Dr. Rabadilla had by virtue of the Will were transmitted to
his forced heirs, at the time of his death. And since obligations not extinguished by death also form part of the
estate of the decedent; corollarily, the obligations imposed by the Will on the deceased Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, were
likewise transmitted to his compulsory heirs upon his death. It is clear therefore, that Johnny should have
continued complying with the terms of the Will. His failure to do so shall give rise to an obligation for him to
reconvey the property to the estate of Aleja.
G.R. No. 89783 February 19, 1992

MARIANO B. LOCSIN, JULIAN J. LOCSIN, JOSE B. LOCSIN, AUREA B. LOCSIN, MATILDE L. CORDERO, SALVADOR
B. LOCSIN and MANUEL V. DEL ROSARIO, petitioners,
vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, JOSE JAUCIAN, FLORENTINO JAUCIAN, MERCEDES JAUCIAN ARBOLEDA,
HEIRS OF JOSEFINA J. BORJA, HEIRS OF EDUARDO JAUCIAN and HEIRS OF VICENTE JAUCIAN, respondents.

NARVASA, C.J.:

Reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV-11186 affirming with modification the
judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Albay in favor of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 7152 entitled "Jose Jaucian,
et al. v. Mariano B. Locsin, et al.," an action for recovery of real property with damages is sought. in these
proceedings initiated by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

The petition was initially denied due course and dismissed by this Court. It was however reinstated upon a second
motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners, and the respondents were required to comment thereon. The
petition was thereafter given due course and the parties were directed to submit their memorandums. These,
together with the evidence, having been carefully considered, the Court now decides the case.

First, the facts as the Court sees them in light of the evidence on record:

The late Getulio Locsin had three children named Mariano, Julian and Magdalena, all surnamed Locsin. He owned
extensive residential and agricultural properties in the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon. After his death, his estate
was divided among his three (3) children as follows:

(a) the coconut lands of some 700 hectares in Bual, Pilar, Sorsogon, were adjudicated to his daughter, Magdalena
Locsin;

(b) 106 hectares of coconut lands were given to Julian Locsin, father of the petitioners Julian, Mariano, Jose,
Salvador, Matilde, and Aurea, all surnamed Locsin;

(c) more than forty (40) hectares of coconut lands in Bogtong, eighteen (18) hectares of riceland in Daraga, and the
residential lots in Daraga, Albay and in Legazpi City went to his son Mariano, which Mariano brought into his
marriage to Catalina Jaucian in 1908. Catalina, for her part, brought into the marriage untitled properties which she
had inherited from her parents, Balbino Jaucian and Simona Anson. These were augmented by other properties
acquired by the spouses in the course of their union, 1 which however was not blessed with children.

Eventually, the properties of Mariano and Catalina were brought under the Torrens System. Those that Mariano
inherited from his father, Getulio Locsin, were surveyed cadastrally and registered in the name of "Mariano Locsin,
married to Catalina Jaucian.'' 2

Mariano Locsin executed a Last Will and Testament instituting his wife, Catalina, as the sole and universal heir of
all his properties. 3 The will was drawn up by his wife's nephew and trusted legal adviser, Attorney Salvador
Lorayes. Attorney Lorayes disclosed that the spouses being childless, they had agreed that their properties, after
both of them shall have died should revert to their respective sides of the family, i.e., Mariano's properties would go
to his "Locsin relatives" (i.e., brothers and sisters or nephews and nieces), and those of Catalina to her "Jaucian
relatives." 4

Don Mariano Locsin died of cancer on September 14, 1948 after a lingering illness. In due time, his will was
probated in Special Proceedings No. 138, CFI of Albay without any opposition from both sides of the family. As
directed in his will, Doa Catalina was appointed executrix of his estate. Her lawyer in the probate proceeding was
Attorney Lorayes. In the inventory of her husband's estate 5 which she submitted to the probate court for
approval, 6Catalina declared that "all items mentioned from Nos. 1 to 33 are the private properties of the deceased
and form part of his capital at the time of the marriage with the surviving spouse, while items Nos. 34 to 42 are
conjugal." 7
Among her own and Don Mariano's relatives, Doa Catalina was closest to her nephew, Attorney Salvador Lorayes,
her nieces, Elena Jaucian, Maria Lorayes-Cornelio and Maria Olbes-Velasco, and the husbands of the last two:
Hostilio Cornelio and Fernando Velasco. 8 Her trust in Hostilio Cornelio was such that she made him custodian of
all the titles of her properties; and before she disposed of any of them, she unfailingly consulted her lawyer-
nephew, Attorney Salvador Lorayes. It was Atty. Lorayes who prepared the legal documents and, more often than
not, the witnesses to the transactions were her niece Elena Jaucian, Maria Lorayes-Cornelio, Maria Olbes-Velasco,
or their husbands. Her niece, Elena Jaucian, was her life-long companion in her house.

Don Mariano relied on Doa Catalina to carry out the terms of their compact, hence, nine (9) years after his death,
as if in obedience to his voice from the grave, and fully cognizant that she was also advancing in years, Doa
Catalina began transferring, by sale, donation or assignment, Don Mariano's as well as her own, properties to their
respective nephews and nieces. She made the following sales and donation of properties which she had received
from her husband's estate, to his Locsin nephews and nieces:

EXHIBIT DATE PARTICULARS AREA/SQ.M. PRICE WITNESSES

23 Jan. 26, 1957 Deed of Absolute Sale in 962 P 481


favor of Mariano Locsin

1-JRL Apr. 7, 1966 Deed of Sale in favor of 430,203 P 20,000


Jose R. Locsin

1-JJL Mar. 22, 1967 Deed of Sale in favor of 5,000 P 1,000 Hostilio Cornello
Julian Locsin (Lot 2020) Helen M. Jaucian

1 Nov. 29, 1974 Deed of Donation in 26,509


favor Aurea Locsin,
Matilde L. Cordero
and Salvador Locsin

2 Feb. 4, 1975 Deed of Donation in 34,045


favor Aurea Locsin,
Matilde L. Cordero
and Salvador Locsin

3 Sept. 9, 1975 Deed of Donation in (Lot 2059)


favor Aurea Locsin,
Matilde L. Cordero
and Salvador Locsin

4 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,424 Hostilio Cornelio


favor of Aurea B. Locsin Fernando Velasco

5 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,456 P 5,750 Hostilio Cornelio
favor of Aurea B. Locsin Elena Jaucian

6 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,237 P 5,720 - ditto -


favor of Aurea B. Locsin

7 July 15, 1974 Deed of Absolute Sale in 1,404 P 4,050 - ditto -


favor of Aurea B. Locsin

15 Nov. 26, 1975 Deed of Sale in favor of 261 P 4,930 - ditto -


Aurea Locsin
16 Oct. 17, 1975 Deed of Sale in favor of 533 P 2,000 Delfina Anson
Aurea Locsin M. Acabado

17 Nov. 26, 1975 Deed of Sale in favor of 373 P 1,000 Leonor Satuito
Aurea Locsin Mariano B. Locsin

19 Sept. 1, 1975 Conditional Donation in 1,130 P 3,000 - ditto -


favor of Mariano Locsin

1-MVRJ Dec. 29, 1972 Deed of Reconveyance 1,5110.66 P 1,000 Delfina Anson
in favor of Manuel V. del (Lot 2155) Antonio Illegible
Rosario whose maternal
grandfather was Getulio
Locsin

2-MVRJ June 30, 1973 Deed of Reconveyance 319.34 P 500 Antonio Illegible
in favor of Manuel V. del (Lot 2155) Salvador Nical
Rosario but the rentals
from bigger portion of
Lot 2155 leased to Filoil
Refinery were assigned to
Maria Jaucian Lorayes
Cornelio

Of her own properties, Doa Catalina conveyed the following to her own nephews and nieces and others:

EXHIBIT DATE PARTICULARS AREA/SQ.M. PRICE

2-JJL July 16, 1964 Deed of Sale in favor 5,000 P 1,000


Vicente Jaucian (lot 2020)
(6,825 sqm. when
resurveyed)

24 Feb. 12, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale 100 P 1,000


in favor of Francisco M.
Maquiniana

26 July 15, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 130 P 1,300


favor of Francisco
Maquiniana

27 May 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 100 P 1,000


favor of Ireneo Mamia

28 May 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 75 P 750


favor of Zenaida Buiza

29 May 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 150 P 1,500


favor of Felisa Morjella

30 Apr. 3, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 31 P 1,000


favor of Inocentes Motocinos

31 Feb. 12, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 150 P 1,500


favor of Casimiro Mondevil
32 Mar. 1, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 112 P 1,200
favor of Juan Saballa

25 Dec. 28, 1973 Deed of Absolute Sale in 250 P 2,500


of Rogelio Marticio

Doa Catalina died on July 6, 1977.

Four years before her death, she had made a will on October 22, 1973 affirming and ratifying the transfers she had
made during her lifetime in favor of her husband's, and her own, relatives. After the reading of her will, all the
relatives agreed that there was no need to submit it to the court for probate because the properties devised to
them under the will had already been conveyed to them by the deceased when she was still alive, except some
legacies which the executor of her will or estate, Attorney Salvador Lorayes, proceeded to distribute.

In 1989, or six (6) years after Doa Catalina's demise, some of her Jaucian nephews and nieces who had already
received their legacies and hereditary shares from her estate, filed action in the Regional Trial Court of Legaspi City
(Branch VIII, Civil Case No. 7152) to recover the properties which she had conveyed to the Locsins during her
lifetime, alleging that the conveyances were inofficious, without consideration, and intended solely to circumvent
the laws on succession. Those who were closest to Doa Catalina did not join the action.

After the trial, judgment was rendered on July 8, l985 in favor of the plaintiffs (Jaucian), and against the Locsin
defendants, the dispositive part of which reads:

WHEREFORE, this Court renders judgment for the plaintiffs and against the defendants:

(1) declaring the, plaintiffs, except the heirs of Josefina J. Borja and Eduardo Jaucian, who withdrew, the rightful
heirs and entitled to the entire estate, in equal portions, of Catalina Jaucian Vda. de Locsin, being the nearest
collateral heirs by right of representation of Juan and Gregorio, both surnamed Jaucian, and full-blood brothers of
Catalina;

(2) declaring the deeds of sale, donations, reconveyance and exchange and all other instruments conveying any
part of the estate of Catalina J. Vda. de Locsin including, but not limited to those in the inventory of known
properties (Annex B of the complaint) as null and void ab-initio;

(3) ordering the Register of Deeds of Albay and/or Legazpi City to cancel all certificates of title and other transfers
of the real properties, subject of this case, in the name of defendants, and derivatives therefrom, and issue new
ones to the plaintiffs;

(4) ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to reconvey ownership and possession of all such properties to
the plaintiffs, together with all muniments of title properly endorsed and delivered, and all the fruits and incomes
received by the defendants from the estate of Catalina, with legal interest from the filing of this action; and where
reconveyance and delivery cannot be effected for reasons that might have intervened and prevent the same,
defendants shall pay for the value of such properties, fruits and incomes received by them, also with legal interest
from the filing, of this case

(5) ordering each of the defendants to pay the plaintiffs the amount of P30,000.00 as exemplary damages; and the
further sum of P20,000.00 each as moral damages; and

(6) ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiffs attorney's fees and litigation expenses, in the amount of
P30,000.00 without prejudice to any contract between plaintiffs and counsel.

Costs against the defendants. 9

The Locsins appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. CV-11186) which rendered its now appealed judgment
on March 14, 1989, affirming the trial court's decision.
The petition has merit and should be granted.

The trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in declaring the private respondents, nephews and nieces of Doa
Catalina J. Vda. de Locsin, entitled to inherit the properties which she had already disposed of more than ten (10)
years before her death. For those properties did not form part of her hereditary estate, i.e., "the property and
transmissible rights and obligations existing at the time of (the decedent's) death and those which have accrued
thereto since the opening of the succession." 10 The rights to a person's succession are transmitted from the
moment of his death, and do not vest in his heirs until such time. 11 Property which Doa Catalina had transferred
or conveyed to other persons during her lifetime no longer formed part of her estate at the time of her death to
which her heirs may lay claim. Had she died intestate, only the property that remained in her estate at the time of
her death devolved to her legal heirs; and even if those transfers were, one and all, treated as donations, the right
arising under certain circumstances to impugn and compel the reduction or revocation of a decedent's gifts inter
vivos does not inure to the respondents since neither they nor the donees are compulsory (or forced) heirs. 12

There is thus no basis for assuming an intention on the part of Doa Catalina, in transferring the properties she had
received from her late husband to his nephews and nieces, an intent to circumvent the law in violation of the
private respondents' rights to her succession. Said respondents are not her compulsory heirs, and it is not
pretended that she had any such, hence there were no legitimes that could conceivably be impaired by any transfer
of her property during her lifetime. All that the respondents had was an expectancy that in nowise restricted her
freedom to dispose of even her entire estate subject only to the limitation set forth in Art. 750, Civil Code which,
even if it were breached, the respondents may not invoke:

Art. 750. The donation may comprehend all the present property of the donor or part thereof, provided he
reserves, in full ownership or in usufruct, sufficient means for the support of himself, and of all relatives who, at the
time of the acceptance of the donation, are by law entitled to be supported by the donor. Without such reservation,
the donation shall be reduced on petition of any person affected. (634a)

The lower court capitalized on the fact that Doa Catalina was already 90 years old when she died on July 6, 1977.
It insinuated that because of her advanced years she may have been imposed upon, or unduly influenced and
morally pressured by her husband's nephews and nieces (the petitioners) to transfer to them the properties which
she had inherited from Don Mariano's estate. The records do not support that conjecture.

For as early as 1957, or twenty-eight (28) years before her death, Doa Catalina had already begun transferring to
her Locsin nephews and nieces the properties which she received from Don Mariano. She sold a 962-sq.m. lot on
January 26, 1957 to his nephew and namesake Mariano Locsin II. 13 On April 7, 1966, or 19 years before she passed
away, she also sold a 43 hectare land to another Locsin nephew, Jose R. Locsin. 14 The next year, or on March 22,
1967, she sold a 5,000-sq.m. portion of Lot 2020 to Julian Locsin. 15

On March 27, 1967, Lot 2020 16 was partitioned by and among Doa Catalina, Julian Locsin, Vicente Jaucian and
Agapito Lorete. 17 At least Vicente Jaucian, among the other respondents in this case, is estopped from assailing the
genuineness and due execution of the sale of portions of Lot 2020 to himself, Julian Locsin, and Agapito Lorete, and
the partition agreement that he (Vicente) concluded with the other co-owners of Lot 2020.

Among Doa, Catalina's last transactions before she died in 1977 were the sales of property which she made in
favor of Aurea Locsin and Mariano Locsin in 1975. 18

There is not the slightest suggestion in the record that Doa Catalina was mentally incompetent when she made
those dispositions. Indeed, how can any such suggestion be made in light of the fact that even as she was
transferring properties to the Locsins, she was also contemporaneously disposing of her other properties in favor
of the Jaucians? She sold to her nephew, Vicente Jaucian, on July 16, 1964 (21 years before her death) one-half (or
5,000 sq.m.) of Lot 2020. Three years later, or on March 22, 1967, she sold another 5000 sq.m. of the same lot to
Julian Locsin. 19

From 1972 to 1973 she made several other transfers of her properties to her relatives and other persons, namely:
Francisco Maquiniana, Ireneo Mamia, Zenaida Buiza, Feliza Morjella, Inocentes Motocinos, Casimiro Mondevil, Juan
Saballa and Rogelio Marticio. 20 None of those transactions was impugned by the private respondents.
In 1975, or two years before her death, Doa Catalina sold some lots not only to Don Mariano's niece, Aurea Locsin,
and his nephew, Mariano Locsin
II, 21 but also to her niece, Mercedes Jaucian Arboleda. 22 If she was competent to make that conveyance to
Mercedes, how can there be any doubt that she was equally competent to transfer her other pieces of property to
Aurea and Mariano II?

The trial court's belief that Don Mariano Locsin bequeathed his entire estate to his wife, from a "consciousness of
its real origin" which carries the implication that said estate consisted of properties which his wife had inherited
from her parents, flies in the teeth of Doa Catalina's admission in her inventory of that estate, that "items 1 to 33
are the private properties of the deceased (Don Mariano) and forms (sic) part of his capital at the time of the
marriage with the surviving spouse, while items 34 to 42 are conjugal properties, acquired during the marriage."
She would have known better than anyone else whether the listing included any of her paraphernal property so it
is safe to assume that none was in fact included. The inventory was signed by her under oath, and was approved by
the probate court in Special Proceeding No. 138 of the Court of First Instance of Albay. It was prepared with the
assistance of her own nephew and counsel, Atty. Salvador Lorayes, who surely would not have prepared a false
inventory that would have been prejudicial to his aunt's interest and to his own, since he stood to inherit from her
eventually.

This Court finds no reason to disbelieve Attorney Lorayes' testimony that before Don Mariano died, he and his wife
(Doa Catalina), being childless, had agreed that their respective properties should eventually revert to their
respective lineal relatives. As the trusted legal adviser of the spouses and a full-blood nephew of Doa Catalina, he
would not have spun a tale out of thin air that would also prejudice his own interest.

Little significance, it seems, has been attached to the fact that among Doa Catalina's nephews and nieces, those
closest to her: (a) her lawyer-nephew Attorney Salvador Lorayes; (b) her niece and companion Elena Jaucian: (c)
her nieces Maria Olbes-Velasco and Maria Lorayes-Cornelio and their respective husbands, Fernando Velasco and
Hostilio Cornelio, did not join the suit to annul and undo the dispositions of property which she made in favor of the
Locsins, although it would have been to their advantage to do so. Their desistance persuasively demonstrates that
Doa Catalina acted as a completely free agent when she made the conveyances in favor of the petitioners. In fact,
considering their closeness to Doa Catalina it would have been well-nigh impossible for the petitioners to employ
"fraud, undue pressure, and subtle manipulations" on her to make her sell or donate her properties to them. Doa
Catalina's niece, Elena Jaucian, daughter of her brother, Eduardo Jaucian, lived with her in her house. Her nephew-
in-law, Hostilio Cornelio, was the custodian of the titles of her properties. The sales and donations which she
signed in favor of the petitioners were prepared by her trusted legal adviser and nephew, Attorney Salvador
Lorayes. The (1) deed of donation dated November 19,
1974 23 in favor of Aurea Locsin, (2) another deed of donation dated February 4, 1975 24 in favor of Matilde
Cordero, and (3) still another deed dated September 9, 1975 25 in favor of Salvador Lorayes, were all witnessed by
Hostilio Cornelio (who is married to Doa Catalina's niece, Maria Lorayes) and Fernando Velasco who is married to
another niece, Maria Olbes. 26The sales which she made in favor of Aurea Locsin on July 15, 1974 27 were witnessed
by Hostilio Cornelio and Elena Jaucian. Given those circumstances, said transactions could not have been anything
but free and voluntary acts on her part.

Apart from the foregoing considerations, the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in not dismissing this action
for annulment and reconveyance on the ground of prescription. Commenced decades after the transactions had
been consummated, and six (6) years after Doa Catalina's death, it prescribed four (4) years after the subject
transactions were recorded in the Registry of Property, 28 whether considered an action based on fraud, or one to
redress an injury to the rights of the plaintiffs. The private respondents may not feign ignorance of said
transactions because the registration of the deeds was constructive notice thereof to them and the whole world. 29

WHEREFORE, the petition for review is granted. The decision dated March 14, 1989 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 11186 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The private respondents' complaint for annulment of contracts
and reconveyance of properties in Civil Case No. 7152 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch VIII of Legazpi City, is
DISMISSED, with costs against the private respondents, plaintiffs therein. SO ORDERED.

Cruz, Grio-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.


MARIANO B. LOCSIN, JULIAN J. LOCSIN,et al.,petitioners, vs.The CA,JOSE JAUCIAN, et al., respondents.
Facts:
Don Mariano Locsin executed a Last Will and Testament instituting his wife, Catalina Jaucian Locsin,as
the sole and universal heir of all his properties.
Thes p o u s e s b e i n g c h i l d l e s s , h a d a g r e e d t h a t t h e i r p r o p e r t i e s , a f t e r b o
th of them shall have died shouldr e v e r t t o t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e s i d e s o f t h e f a m i
l y , i . e . , Mariano's properties would go to his "Locsin relatives"(i.e., brothers and sisters or
nephews and nieces), and those of Catalina to her "Jaucian relatives."Don Mariano died of cancer on
September 14,1948 after a lingering illness. In due time, his will was probated in Special Proceedings
No. 138, CFI of Albay without any opposition from both sides of the family. Don Mariano relied on Doa Catalina to
carry out the terms of their compact, hence, nine (9) years after his death, as
if i n o b e d i e n c e t o h i s v o i c e f r o m t h e g r a v e , a n d f u l l y cognizant that she was
also advancing in years,
DoaC a t a l i n a b e g a n t r a n s f e r r i n g , b y s a l e , d o n a t i o n o r a s s i g n m e n t , D o n
M a r i a n o ' s a s w e l l a s h e r o w n , properties to their respective nephews and nieces. She
m a d e t h e f o l l o w i n g s a l e s a n d d o n a t i o n o f p r o p e r t i e s which she had received from her
husband's estate, to hisLocsin nephews and nieces: Four years before her death, she had made a will on
October 22, 1973 she had made a will affirming a n d r a t i f y i n g t h e t r a n s f e r s s h e h a d m a d e d u r i n g
h e r lifetime in favor of her husband's, and her own, relatives. After the reading of her will, all the relatives agreed
that there was no need to submit it to the court for probate because the properties devised to
them under the will had already been conveyed to them by the deceased when she was still alive,
except some legacies which the executor of her will or estate, Attorney Salvador Lorayes, proceeded to
distribute.I n 1 9 8 9 , s o m e o f h e r J a u c i a n n e p h e w s a n d n i e c e s w h o h a d a l r e a d y r e c
e i v e d t h e i r l e g a c i e s a n d h e r e d i t a r y s h a r e s f r o m h e r e s t a t e , f i l e d a c t i o n i n t h e RTC-
Legaspi to recover the properties which she had conveyed to the Locsins during her lifetime, alleging
thatthe conveyances were inofficious, without
consideration,a n d i n t e n d e d s o l e l y t o c i r c u m v e n t t h e l a w s o n success
ion. Those who were closest to Doa Catalina did not join the action.After the trial, judgment was rendered
in favor of Jaucian, and against the Locsin. The CA affirmed the said decision, hence this petition.
Issue:
Whether or not the nephews and nieces of DoaC a t a l i n a J . V d a . d e L o c s i n , a r e e n t i t l e d t o
i n h e r i t t h e properties which she had already disposed of more thanten (10) years before her death.
Held: NO
They are not entitled since those properties did not form part of her hereditary estate, i.e., "the property
and transmissible rights and obligations existing at the t i m e o f ( t h e d e c e d e n t ' s ) d e a t h a n d
t h o s e w h i c h h a v e accrued thereto since the opening of the
succession."T h e r i g h t s t o a p e r s o n ' s s u c c e s s i o n a r e transmitted from
the moment of his death, and do not vest in his heirs until such time. Property which Doa Catalina had
transferred or conveyed to other persons during her lifetime no longer f o r m e d p a r t o f h e r e s t a t e a t t h e
t i m e o f h e r d e a t h t o which her heirs may lay claim. Had she died intestate, only the property
that remained in her estate at the time of her death devolved to her legal heirs. Even if those transfers were,
one and all,
treateda s d o n a t i o n s , t h e r i g h t a r i s i n g u n d e r c e r t a i n circums
tances to impugn and compel the reduction or revocation of a decedent's gifts inter vivos does not inure
to the respondents since neither they nor the donees are compulsory (or forced) heirs.
Said respondents are not her compulsory heirs, and it is not pretended that she had any
such,hence t h e r e w e r e n o l e g i t i m e s t h a t c o u l d c o n c e i v a b l y b e i m p a i r e d b y a n y
t r a n s f e r o f h e r p r o p e r t y d u r i n g h e r lifetime
. All that the respondents had was an expectancy that in nowise restricted her freedom to dispose of even her
entire estate subject only to the limitation set forth inArt. 750, Civil Code which, even if it were breached, the
respondents may not invoke: Art. 750. The donation may comprehend all the present property of the
donor or part thereof, provided he reserves, in full ownership or in usufruct, sufficient means for the support of
himself, and of all relatives who, at the time of the acceptance of the d o n a t i o n , a r e b y l a w
e n t i t l e d t o b e s u p p o r t e d b y t h e donor. Without such reservation, the donation shall be
reduced on petition of any person affected. Petition for review is granted
G.R. No. 103554 May 28, 1993

TEODORO CANEDA, LORENZA CANEDA, TERESA CANEDA, JUAN CABALLERO, AUREA CABALLERO, OSCAR
LAROSA, HELEN CABALLERO, SANTOS CABALLERO, PABLO CABALLERO, VICTOR RAGA, MAURICIA RAGA,
QUIRICA RAGA, RUPERTO ABAPO, represented herein by his Attorney-in-Fact, ARMSTICIA * ABAPO
VELANO, and CONSESO CANEDA, represented herein by his heirs, JESUS CANEDA, NATIVIDAD CANEDA and
ARTURO CANEDA, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and WILLIAM CABRERA, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Mateo
Caballero, respondents.

Palma, Palma & Associates for petitioners.

Emilio Lumontad, Jr. for private respondents.

REGALADO, J.:

Presented for resolution by this Court in the present petition for review on certiorari is the issue of whether or not
the attestation clause contained in the last will and testament of the late Mateo Caballero complies with the
requirements of Article 805, in relation to Article 809, of the Civil Code.

The records show that on December 5, 1978, Mateo Caballero, a widower without any children and already in the
twilight years of his life, executed a last will and testament at his residence in Talisay, Cebu before three attesting
witnesses, namely, Cipriano Labuca, Gregorio Cabando and Flaviano Toregosa. The said testator was duly assisted
by his lawyer, Atty. Emilio Lumontad, and a notary public, Atty. Filoteo Manigos, in the preparation of that last
will. 1 It was declared therein, among other things, that the testator was leaving by way of legacies and devises his
real and personal properties to Presentacion Gaviola, Angel Abatayo, Rogelio Abatayo, Isabelito Abatayo, Benoni G.
Cabrera and Marcosa Alcantara, all of whom do not appear to be related to the testator. 2

Four months later, or on April 4, 1979, Mateo Caballero himself filed a petition docketed as Special Proceeding No.
3899-R before Branch II of the then Court of First Instance of Cebu seeking the probate of his last will and
testament. The probate court set the petition for hearing on August 20, 1979 but the same and subsequent
scheduled hearings were postponed for one reason to another. On May 29, 1980, the testator passed away before
his petition could finally be heard by the probate court. 3 On February 25, 1981, Benoni Cabrera, on of the legatees
named in the will, sough his appointment as special administrator of the testator's estate, the estimated value of
which was P24,000.00, and he was so appointed by the probate court in its order of March 6, 1981. 4

Thereafter, herein petitioners, claiming to be nephews and nieces of the testator, instituted a second petition,
entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Mateo Caballero" and docketed as Special Proceeding No. 3965-R,
before Branch IX of the aforesaid Court of First Instance of Cebu. On October 18, 1982, herein petitioners had their
said petition intestate proceeding consolidated with Special Proceeding No. 3899-R in Branch II of the Court of
First Instance of Cebu and opposed thereat the probate of the Testator's will and the appointment of a special
administrator for his estate. 5

Benoni Cabrera died on February 8, 1982 hence the probate court, now known as Branch XV of the Regional Trial
Court of Cebu, appointed William Cabrera as special administrator on June 21, 1983. Thereafter, on July 20, 1983, it
issued an order for the return of the records of Special Proceeding No. 3965-R to the archives since the testate
proceeding for the probate of the will had to be heard and resolved first. On March 26, 1984 the case was reraffled
and eventually assigned to Branch XII of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu where it remained until the conclusion of
the probate proceedings. 6

In the course of the hearing in Special Proceeding No. 3899-R, herein petitioners appeared as oppositors and
objected to the allowance of the testator's will on the ground that on the alleged date of its execution, the testator
was already in the poor state of health such that he could not have possibly executed the same. Petitioners likewise
reiterated the issue as to the genuineness of the signature of the testator therein. 7

On the other hand, one of the attesting witnesses, Cipriano Labuca, and the notary public Atty. Filoteo Manigos,
testified that the testator executed the will in question in their presence while he was of sound and disposing mind
and that, contrary to the assertions of the oppositors, Mateo Caballero was in good health and was not unduly
influenced in any way in the execution of his will. Labuca also testified that he and the other witnesses attested and
signed the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. The other two attesting witnesses were not
presented in the probate hearing as the had died by then. 8

On April 5, 1988, the probate court rendered a decision declaring the will in question as the last will and testament
of the late Mateo Caballero, on the ratiocination that:

. . . The self-serving testimony of the two witnesses of the oppositors cannot overcome the positive testimonies of
Atty. Filoteo Manigos and Cipriano Labuca who clearly told the Court that indeed Mateo Caballero executed the
Last Will and Testament now marked Exhibit "C" on December 5, 1978. Moreover, the fact that it was Mateo
Caballero who initiated the probate of his Will during his lifetime when he caused the filing of the original petition
now marked Exhibit "D" clearly underscores the fact that this was indeed his Last Will. At the start, counsel for the
oppositors manifested that he would want the signature of Mateo Caballero in Exhibit "C" examined by a
handwriting expert of the NBI but it would seem that despite their avowal and intention for the examination of this
signature of Mateo Caballero in Exhibit "C", nothing came out of it because they abandoned the idea and instead
presented Aurea Caballero and Helen Caballero Campo as witnesses for the oppositors.

All told, it is the finding of this Court that Exhibit "C" is the Last Will and Testament of Mateo Caballero and that it
was executed in accordance with all the requisites of the law. 9

Undaunted by the said judgment of the probate court, petitioners elevated the case in the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 19669. They asserted therein that the will in question is null and void for the reason that its attestation
clause is fatally defective since it fails to specifically state that the instrumental witnesses to the will witnessed the
testator signing the will in their presence and that they also signed the will and all the pages thereof in the
presence of the testator and of one another.

On October 15, 1991, respondent court promulgated its decision 10 affirming that of the trial court, and ruling that
the attestation clause in the last will of Mateo Caballero substantially complies with Article 805 of the Civil Code,
thus:

The question therefore is whether the attestation clause in question may be considered as having substantialy
complied with the requirements of Art. 805 of the Civil Code. What appears in the attestation clause which the
oppositors claim to be defective is "we do certify that the testament was read by him and the attestator, Mateo
Caballero, has published unto us the foregoing will consisting of THREE PAGES, including the acknowledgment,
each page numbered correlatively in letters of the upper part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament, and he
has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin in
the presence of the said testator and in the presence of each and all of us (emphasis supplied).

To our thinking, this is sufficient compliance and no evidence need be presented to indicate the meaning that the
said will was signed by the testator and by them (the witnesses) in the presence of all of them and of one another.
Or as the language of the law would have it that the testator signed the will "in the presence of the instrumental
witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator
and of one another." If not completely or ideally perfect in accordance with the wordings of Art. 805 but (sic) the
phrase as formulated is in substantial compliance with the requirement of the law." 11

Petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the said ruling of respondent court, but the same was denied in the
latter's resolution of January 14, 1992, 12 hence this appeal now before us. Petitioners assert that respondent court
has ruled upon said issue in a manner not in accord with the law and settled jurisprudence on the matter and are
now questioning once more, on the same ground as that raised before respondent court, the validity of the
attestation clause in the last will of Mateo Caballero.
We find the present petition to be meritorious, as we shall shortly hereafter, after some prefatory observations
which we feel should be made in aid of the rationale for our resolution of the controversy.

1. A will has been defined as a species of conveyance whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities
prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate after his death. 13 Under the Civil Code,
there are two kinds of wills which a testator may execute. 14 the first kind is the ordinary or attested will, the
execution of which is governed by Articles 804 to 809 of the Code. Article 805 requires that:

Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or
by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and
subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also
sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be
numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.

The attestation should state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator
signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction,
in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages
thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witness, it shall be interpreted to them.

In addition, the ordinary will must be acknowledged before a notary public by a testator and the attesting
witness. 15hence it is likewise known as notarial will. Where the attestator is deaf or deaf-mute, Article 807
requires that he must personally read the will, if able to do so. Otherwise, he should designate two persons who
would read the will and communicate its contents to him in a practicable manner. On the other hand, if the testator
is blind, the will should be read to him twice; once, by anyone of the witnesses thereto, and then again, by the
notary public before whom it is acknowledged. 16

The other kind of will is the holographic will, which Article 810 defines as one that is entirely written, dated, and
signed by the testator himself. This kind of will, unlike the ordinary type, requires no attestation by witnesses. A
common requirement in both kinds of will is that they should be in writing and must have been executed in a
language or dialect known to the testator. 17

However, in the case of an ordinary or attested will, its attestation clause need not be written in a language or
dialect known to the testator since it does not form part of the testamentary disposition. Furthermore, the
language used in the attestation clause likewise need not even be known to the attesting witnesses. 18 The last
paragraph of Article 805 merely requires that, in such a case, the attestation clause shall be interpreted to said
witnesses.

An attestation clause refers to that part of an ordinary will whereby the attesting witnesses certify that the
instrument has been executed before them and to the manner of the execution the same. 19 It is a separate
memorandum or record of the facts surrounding the conduct of execution and once signed by the witnesses, it
gives affirmation to the fact that compliance with the essential formalities required by law has been observed. 20 It
is made for the purpose of preserving in a permanent form a record of the facts that attended the execution of a
particular will, so that in case of failure of the memory of the attesting witnesses, or other casualty, such facts may
still be proved. 21

Under the third paragraph of Article 805, such a clause, the complete lack of which would result in the invalidity of
the will, 22 should state (1) the number of the pages used upon which the will is written; (2) that the testator signed,
or expressly caused another to sign, the will and every page thereof in the presence of the attesting witnesses; and
(3) that the attesting witnesses witnessed the signing by the testator of the will and all its
pages, and that said witnesses also signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one
another.
The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is written is to
safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and to prevent any increase or
decrease in the pages; 23 whereas the subscription of the signature of the testator and the attesting witnesses is
made for the purpose of authentication and identification, and thus indicates that the will is the very same
instrument executed by the testator and attested to by the witnesses. 24

Further, by attesting and subscribing to the will, the witnesses thereby declare the due execution of the will as
embodied in the attestation clause. 25 The attestation clause, therefore, provide strong legal guaranties for the due
execution of a will and to insure the authenticity thereof. 26 As it appertains only to the witnesses and not to the
testator, it need be signed only by them. 27 Where it is left unsigned, it would result in the invalidation of the will as
it would be possible and easy to add the clause on a subsequent occasion in the absence of the testator and its
witnesses. 28

In its report, the Code Commission commented on the reasons of the law for requiring the formalities to be
followed in the execution of wills, in the following manner:

The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the provisions on the law on wills in this Project consists in
the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in
expressing his last wishes, but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and
the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator.

This objective is in accord with the modern tendency with respect to the formalities in the execution of wills. . . . 29

2. An examination of the last will and testament of Mateo Caballero shows that it is comprised of three sheets all of
which have been numbered correlatively, with the left margin of each page thereof bearing the respective
signatures of the testator and the three attesting witnesses. The part of the will containing the testamentary
dispositions is expressed in the Cebuano-Visayan dialect and is signed at the foot thereof by the testator. The
attestation clause in question, on the other hand, is recited in the English language and is likewise signed at the end
thereof by the three attesting witnesses hereto. 30 Since it is the proverbial bone of contention, we reproduce it
again for facility of reference:

We, the undersigned attesting Witnesses, whose Residences and postal addresses appear on the Opposite of our
respective names, we do hereby certify that the Testament was read by him and the testator, MATEO CABALLERO;
has published unto us the foregoing Will consisting of THREE PAGES, including the Acknowledgment, each page
numbered correlatively in the letters on the upper part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament and he has the
same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin, in the presence
of the said testator and in the presence of each and all of us.

It will be noted that Article 805 requires that the witness should both attest and subscribe to the will in the
presence of the testator and of one another. "Attestation" and "subscription" differ in meaning. Attestation is the
act of senses, while subscription is the act of the hand. The former is mental, the latter mechanical, and to attest a
will is to know that it was published as such, and to certify the facts required to constitute an actual and legal
publication; but to subscribe a paper published as a will is only to write on the same paper the names of the
witnesses, for the sole purpose of identification. 31

In Taboada vs. Rizal, 32 we clarified that attestation consists in witnessing the testator's execution of the will in
order to see and take note mentally that those things are done which the statute requires for the execution of a will
and that the signature of the testator exists as a fact. On the other hand, subscription is the signing of the witnesses'
names upon the same paper for the purpose of identification of such paper as the will which was executed by the
testator. As it involves a mental act, there would be no means, therefore, of ascertaining by a physical examination
of the will whether the witnesses had indeed signed in the presence of the testator and of each other unless this is
substantially expressed in the attestation.

It is contended by petitioners that the aforequoted attestation clause, in contravention of the express requirements
of the third paragraph of Article 805 of the Civil Code for attestation clauses, fails to specifically state the fact that
the attesting witnesses the testator sign the will and all its pages in their presence and that they, the witnesses,
likewise signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other. We agree.

What is fairly apparent upon a careful reading of the attestation clause herein assailed is the fact that while it
recites that the testator indeed signed the will and all its pages in the presence of the three attesting witnesses and
states as well the number of pages that were used, the same does not expressly state therein the circumstance that
said witnesses subscribed their respective signatures to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other.

The phrase "and he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on
the left hand margin," obviously refers to the testator and not the instrumental witnesses as it is immediately
preceded by the words "as his Last Will and Testament." On the other hand, although the words "in the presence of
the testator and in the presence of each and all of us" may, at first blush, appear to likewise signify and refer to the
witnesses, it must, however, be interpreted as referring only to the testator signing in the presence of the
witnesses since said phrase immediately follows the words "he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the
spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin." What is then clearly lacking, in the final logical
analysis , is the statement that the witnesses signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and
of one another.

It is our considered view that the absence of that statement required by law is a fatal defect or imperfection which
must necessarily result in the disallowance of the will that is here sought to be admitted to probate. Petitioners are
correct in pointing out that the aforestated defect in the attestation clause obviously cannot be characterized as
merely involving the form of the will or the language used therein which would warrant the application of the
substantial compliance rule, as contemplated in the pertinent provision thereon in the Civil Code, to wit:

Art. 809. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and
imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is not
proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article
805" (Emphasis supplied.)

While it may be true that the attestation clause is indeed subscribed at the end thereof and at the left margin of
each page by the three attesting witnesses, it certainly cannot be conclusively inferred therefrom that the said
witness affixed their respective signatures in the presence of the testator and of each other since, as petitioners
correctly observed, the presence of said signatures only establishes the fact that it was indeed signed, but it does
not prove that the attesting witnesses did subscribe to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other.
The execution of a will is supposed to be one act so that where the testator and the witnesses sign on various days
or occasions and in various combinations, the will cannot be stamped with the imprimatur of effectivity. 33

We believe that the further comment of former Justice J.B.L. Reyes 34 regarding Article 809, wherein he urged
caution in the application of the substantial compliance rule therein, is correct and should be applied in the case
under consideration, as well as to future cases with similar questions:

. . . The rule must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an examination of the will itself:
whether all the pages are consecutively numbered; whether the signatures appear in each and every page; whether
the subscribing witnesses are three or the will was notarized. All theses are facts that the will itself can reveal, and
defects or even omissions concerning them in the attestation clause can be safely disregarded. But the total
number of pages, and whether all persons required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially
appear in the attestation clause, being the only check against perjury in the probate proceedings. (Emphasis ours.)

3. We stress once more that under Article 809, the defects and imperfections must only be with respect to the form
of the attestation or the language employed therein. Such defects or imperfections would not render a will invalid
should it be proved that the will was really executed and attested in compliance with Article 805. In this regard,
however, the manner of proving the due execution and attestation has been held to be limited to merely an
examination of the will itself without resorting to evidence aliunde, whether oral or written.

The foregoing considerations do not apply where the attestation clause totally omits the fact that the attesting
witnesses signed each and every page of the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. 35 In such a
situation, the defect is not only in the form or language of the attestation clause but the total absence of a specific
element required by Article 805 to be specifically stated in the attestation clause of a will. That is precisely the
defect complained of in the present case since there is no plausible way by which we can read into the questioned
attestation clause statement, or an implication thereof, that the attesting witness did actually bear witness to the
signing by the testator of the will and all of its pages and that said instrumental witnesses also signed the will and
every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

Furthermore, the rule on substantial compliance in Article 809 cannot be revoked or relied on by respondents
since it presupposes that the defects in the attestation clause can be cured or supplied by the text of the will or a
consideration of matters apparent therefrom which would provide the data not expressed in the attestation clause
or from which it may necessarily be gleaned or clearly inferred that the acts not stated in the omitted textual
requirements were actually complied within the execution of the will. In other words, defects must be remedied by
intrinsic evidence supplied by the will itself.

In the case at bar, contrarily, proof of the acts required to have been performed by the attesting witnesses can be
supplied by only extrinsic evidence thereof, since an overall appreciation of the contents of the will yields no basis
whatsoever from with such facts may be plausibly deduced. What private respondent insists on are the testimonies
of his witnesses alleging that they saw the compliance with such requirements by the instrumental witnesses,
oblivious of the fact that he is thereby resorting to extrinsic evidence to prove the same and would accordingly be
doing by the indirection what in law he cannot do directly.

4. Prior to the advent of the Civil Code on August 30, 1950, there was a divergence of views as to which manner of
interpretation should be followed in resolving issues centering on compliance with the legal formalities required in
the execution of wills. The formal requirements were at that time embodied primarily in Section 618 of Act No.
190, the Code of Civil Procedure. Said section was later amended by Act No. 2645, but the provisions respecting
said formalities found in Act. No. 190 and the amendment thereto were practically reproduced and adopted in the
Civil Code.

One view advance the liberal or substantial compliance rule. This was first laid down in the case of Abangan vs.
Abangan, 36 where it was held that the object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the
door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guarantee their truth and
authenticity. Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial
ends. Nonetheless, it was also emphasized that one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law
to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will, hence when an interpretation already given assures
such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely
unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's last will, must be disregarded. The subsequent cases of Avera
vs. Garcia, 37 Aldaba vs. Roque, 38 Unson vs. Abella, 39 Pecson vs. Coronel, 40 Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios, et
al., 41 and Nayve vs. Mojal, et al. 42 all adhered to this position.

The other view which advocated the rule that statutes which prescribe the formalities that should be observed in
the execution of wills are mandatory in nature and are to be strictly construed was followed in the subsequent
cases of In the Matter of the Estate of Saguinsin, 43 In re Will of Andrada, 44 Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 45 In re Estate of
Neumark, 46and Sano vs. Quintana. 47

Gumban vs. Gorecho, et al., 48 provided the Court with the occasion to clarify the seemingly conflicting decisions in
the aforementioned cases. In said case of Gumban, the attestation clause had failed to state that the witnesses
signed the will and each and every page thereof on the left margin in the presence of the testator. The will in
question was disallowed, with these reasons therefor:

In support of their argument on the assignment of error above-mentioned, appellants rely on a series of cases of
this court beginning with (I)n the Matter of the (E)state of Saguinsin ([1920], 41 Phil., 875), continuing with In
re Will of Andrada [1921], 42 Phil., 180), Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca [1922], 43 Phil., 405), and In re Estate of
Neumark ([1923], 46 Phil., 841), and ending with Sano vs. Quintana ([1925], 48 Phil., 506). Appellee counters with
the citation of a series of cases beginning with Abangan vs. Abangan ([1919], 40 Phil., 476), continuing
through Aldaba vs. Roque ([1922], 43 Phil., 378), and Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios ([1924], 46 Phil., 922), and
culminating in Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar ([1924], 47 Phil., 152). In its last analysis, our task is to contrast and, if
possible, conciliate the last two decisions cited by opposing counsel, namely, those of Sano vs. Quintana, supra,
and Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra.

In the case of Sano vs. Quintana, supra, it was decided that an attestation clause which does not recite that the
witnesses signed the will and each and every page thereof on the left margin in the presence of the testator is
defective, and such a defect annuls the will. The case of Uy Coque vs. Sioca, supra, was cited, but the case of Nayve vs.
Mojal and Aguilar, supra, was not mentioned. In contrast, is the decision in Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra,
wherein it was held that the attestation clause must estate the fact that the testator and the witnesses reciprocally
saw the signing of the will, for such an act cannot be proved by the mere exhibition of the will, if it is not stated
therein. It was also held that the fact that the testator and the witnesses signed each and every page of the will can
be proved also by the mere examination of the signatures appearing on the document itself, and the omission to
state such evident facts does not invalidate the will.

It is a habit of courts to reaffirm or distinguish previous cases; seldom do they admit inconsistency in doctrine. Yet
here, unless aided impossible to reconcile the Mojal and Quintana decisions. They are fundamentally at variance. If
we rely on one, we affirm. If we rely on the other, we reverse.

In resolving this puzzling question of authority, three outstanding points may be mentioned. In the first place, the
Mojal, decision was concurred in by only four members of the court, less than a majority, with two strong
dissenting opinions; the Quintana decision was concurred in by seven members of the court, a clear majority, with
one formal dissent. In the second place, the Mojal decision was promulgated in December, 1924, while the
Quintana decision was promulgated in December, 1925; the Quintana decision was thus subsequent in point of
time. And in the third place, the Quintana decision is believed more nearly to conform to the applicable provisions
of the law.

The right to dispose of property by will is governed entirely by statute. The law of the case is here found in section
61 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act No. 2645, and in section 634 of the same Code, as unamended.
It is in part provided in section 61, as amended that "No will . . . shall be valid . . . unless . . .." It is further provided in
the same section that "The attestation shall state the number of sheets or pages used, upon which the will is
written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write
his name, under his express direction, in the presence of three witnesses, and the latter witnessed and signed the
will and all pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other." Codal section 634 provides that "The
will shall be disallowed in either of the following case: 1. If not executed and attested as in this Act provided." The
law not alone carefully makes use of the imperative, but cautiously goes further and makes use of the negative, to
enforce legislative intention. It is not within the province of the courts to disregard the legislative purpose so
emphatically and clearly expressed.

We adopt and reaffirm the decision in the case of Sano vs. Quintana, supra, and, to the extent necessary, modify the
decision in the case of Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra. (Emphases in the original text).

But after the Gumban clarificatory pronouncement, there were decisions of the Court that once more appeared to
revive the seeming diversity of views that was earlier threshed out therein. The cases of Quinto vs.
Morata, 49Rodriguez vs. Alcala, 50 Enchevarria vs. Sarmiento, 51 and Testate Estate of Toray 52 went the way of the
ruling as restated in Gumban. But De Gala vs. Gonzales, et al., 53 Rey vs. Cartagena, 54 De Ticson vs. De
Gorostiza, 55 Sebastian vs. Panganiban, 56 Rodriguez vs. Yap, 57 Grey vs. Fabia, 58 Leynez vs. Leynez, 59 Martir vs.
Martir, 60 Alcala vs. De Villa, 61Sabado vs.
Fernandez, 62 Mendoza vs. Pilapil, 63 and Lopez vs. Liboro, 64 veered away from the strict interpretation rule and
established a trend toward an application of the liberal view.

The Code Commission, cognizant of such a conflicting welter of views and of the undeniable inclination towards a
liberal construction, recommended the codification of the substantial compliance rule, as it believed this rule to be
in accord with the modern tendency to give a liberal approach to the interpretation of wills. Said rule thus became
what is now Article 809 of the Civil Code, with this explanation of the Code Commission:

The present law provides for only one form of executing a will, and that is, in accordance with the formalities
prescribed by Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act No. 2645. The Supreme Court of the
Philippines had previously upheld the strict compliance with the legal formalities and had even said that the
provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended regarding the contents of the attestation
clause were mandatory, and non-compliance therewith invalidated the will (Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405).
These decisions necessarily restrained the freedom of the testator in disposing of his property.

However, in recent years the Supreme Court changed its attitude and has become more liberal in the interpretation
of the formalities in the execution of wills. This liberal view is enunciated in the cases of Rodriguez vs. Yap, G.R. No.
45924, May 18, 1939; Leynez vs. Leynez, G.R. No. 46097, October 18, 1939; Martir vs. Martir, G.R. No. 46995, June
21, 1940; and Alcala vs. Villa, G.R. No. 47351, April 18, 1941.

In the above mentioned decisions of our Supreme Court, it has practically gone back to the original provisions of
Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure before its amendment by Act No. 2645 in the year 1916. To turn this
attitude into a legislative declaration and to attain the main objective of the proposed Code in the liberalization of
the manner of executing wills, article 829 of the Project is recommended, which reads:

"Art. 829. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and
imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is
proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article
829." 65

The so-called liberal rule, the Court said in Gil vs. Murciano, 66 "does not offer any puzzle or difficulty, nor does it
open the door to serious consequences. The later decisions do tell us when and where to stop; they draw the
dividing line with precision. They do not allow evidence aliunde to fill a void in any part of the document or supply
missing details that should appear in the will itself. They only permit a probe into the will, an exploration into its
confines, to ascertain its meaning or to determine the existence or absence of the requisite formalities of law. This
clear, sharp limitation eliminates uncertainty and ought to banish any fear of dire results."

It may thus be stated that the rule, as it now stands, is that omissions which can be supplied by an examination of
the will itself, without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal and, correspondingly, would not
obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. However, those omissions which cannot be supplied
except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately, of the will
itself. 67

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the impugned decision of respondent court is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The court a quo is accordingly directed to forthwith DISMISS its Special Proceeding No.
3899-R (Petition for the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of Mateo Caballero) and to REVIVE Special
Proceeding No. 3965-R (In the matter of the Intestate Estate of Mateo Caballero) as an active case and thereafter
duly proceed with the settlement of the estate of the said decedent.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, and Nocon, JJ., concur.

CAEDA VS. CA G.R. NO. 103554 MAY 28, 1993

FACTS: Mateo Caballero executed a last will and testament on December 5, 1978 leaving by way of legacies and
devises his real and personal properties to persons not appearing to be related to him. In the course of the probate
proceedings, herein petitioners, who claim to be nephews and nieces of the deceased, appeared as oppositors
raising the issue of genuineness of the signature of the testator. The probate court found the last will and testament
to be in order.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals (CA), petitioners assert that the will in question is null and void for the reason
that its attestation clause is fatally defective since it fails to specifically state that the instrumental witnesses to the
will witnessed the testator signing the will in their presence and that they also signed the will and all the pages
thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. What appears in the attestation clause is as follows: "we
do certify that the testament was read by him and the attestator, Mateo Caballero, has published unto us the foregoing
will consisting of THREE PAGES, including the acknowledgment, each page numbered correlatively in letters of the
upper part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament, and he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the
spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin in the presence of the said testator and in the presence
of each and all of us. The CA found the quoted clause in order and affirmed the decision of the RTC.

ISSUE: Whether or not the above attestation clause is in substantial compliance with the requirements of the Civil
Code and merits the allowance of the wills.

RULING:NO.

Among the requirements of the contents of the attestation under Article 805 of the Civil Code is the it must state
that the attesting witnesses witnessed the signing by the testator of the will and all its pages, and that said
witnesses also signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

The subscription of the signature of the testator and the attesting witnesses is made for the purpose of
authentication and identification, and thus indicates that the will is the very same instrument executed by the
testator and attested to by the witnesses. The attestation clause, therefore, provide strong legal guaranties for the
due execution of a will and to insure the authenticity thereof. Where it is left unsigned, it would result in the
invalidation of the will as it would be possible and easy to add the clause on a subsequent occasion in the absence
of the testator and its witnesses.

Careful reading of the attestation clause shows that the same does not expressly state therein the circumstance
that said witnesses subscribed their respective signatures to the will in the presence of the testator and of each
other.

Petitioners are correct in pointing out that the aforestated defect in the attestation clause obviously cannot be
characterized as merely involving the form of the will or the language used therein which would warrant the
application of the substantial compliance rule.

The rule on substantial compliance in Article 809 cannot be invoked or relied on by respondents since it
presupposes that the defects in the attestation clause can be cured or supplied by the text of the will or a
consideration of matters apparent therefrom which would provide the data not expressed in the attestation clause
or from which it may necessarily be gleaned or clearly inferred that the acts not stated in the omitted textual
requirements were actually complied within the execution of the will. In other words, defects must be remedied by
intrinsic evidence supplied by the will itself.

In the case at bar, contrarily, proof of the acts required to have been performed by the attesting witnesses can be
supplied by only extrinsic evidence thereof, since an overall appreciation of the contents of the will yields no basis
whatsoever from with such facts may be plausibly deduced.
G.R. No. L-4067 November 29, 1951
In the Matter of the will of ANTERO MERCADO, deceased. ROSARIO GARCIA, petitioner,
vs.
JULIANA LACUESTA, ET AL., respondents.
Elviro L. Peralta and Hermenegildo A. Prieto for petitioner.
Faustino B. Tobia, Juan I. Ines and Federico Tacason for respondents.

PARAS, C.J.:

This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals disallowing the will of Antero Mercado dated January 3,
1943. The will is written in the Ilocano dialect and contains the following attestation clause:

We, the undersigned, by these presents to declare that the foregoing testament of Antero Mercado was signed by
himself and also by us below his name and of this attestation clause and that of the left margin of the three pages
thereof. Page three the continuation of this attestation clause; this will is written in Ilocano dialect which is spoken
and understood by the testator, and it bears the corresponding number in letter which compose of three pages and
all them were signed in the presence of the testator and witnesses, and the witnesses in the presence of the
testator and all and each and every one of us witnesses.

In testimony, whereof, we sign this statement, this the third day of January, one thousand nine hundred forty three,
(1943) A.D.
(Sgd.) NUMERIANO EVANGELISTA (Sgd.) "ROSENDA CORTES

(Sgd.) BIBIANA ILLEGIBLE


The will appears to have been signed by Atty. Florentino Javier who wrote the name of Antero Mercado, followed
below by "A reugo del testator" and the name of Florentino Javier. Antero Mercado is alleged to have written a
cross immediately after his name. The Court of Appeals, reversing the judgement of the Court of First Instance of
Ilocos Norte, ruled that the attestation clause failed (1) to certify that the will was signed on all the left margins of
the three pages and at the end of the will by Atty. Florentino Javier at the express request of the testator in the
presence of the testator and each and every one of the witnesses; (2) to certify that after the signing of the name of
the testator by Atty. Javier at the former's request said testator has written a cross at the end of his name and on
the left margin of the three pages of which the will consists and at the end thereof; (3) to certify that the three
witnesses signed the will in all the pages thereon in the presence of the testator and of each other.

In our opinion, the attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Antero Mercado caused Atty.
Florentino Javier to write the testator's name under his express direction, as required by section 618 of the Code of
Civil Procedure. The herein petitioner (who is appealing by way of certiorari from the decision of the Court of
Appeals) argues, however, that there is no need for such recital because the cross written by the testator after his
name is a sufficient signature and the signature of Atty. Florentino Javier is a surplusage. Petitioner's theory is that
the cross is as much a signature as a thumbmark, the latter having been held sufficient by this Court in the cases of
De Gala vs. Gonzales and Ona, 53 Phil., 104; Dolar vs. Diancin, 55 Phil., 479; Payad vs. Tolentino, 62 Phil., 848;
Neyra vs. Neyra, 76 Phil., 296 and Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil., 429.

It is not here pretended that the cross appearing on the will is the usual signature of Antero Mercado or even one of
the ways by which he signed his name. After mature reflection, we are not prepared to liken the mere sign of the
cross to a thumbmark, and the reason is obvious. The cross cannot and does not have the trustworthiness of a
thumbmark.

What has been said makes it unnecessary for us to determine there is a sufficient recital in the attestation clause as
to the signing of the will by the testator in the presence of the witnesses, and by the latter in the presence of the
testator and of each other. Wherefore, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed, with against the petitioner.

So ordered.

Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.
G.R. No. L-36033 November 5, 1982
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE PROBATE OF THE WILL OF DOROTEA PEREZ, (deceased):
APOLONIO TABOADA, petitioner,
vs.
HON. AVELINO S. ROSAL, as Judge of Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte, (Branch III,
Maasin), respondent.

Erasmo M. Diola counsel for petition.

Hon. Avelino S. Rosal in his own behalf.

GUTIERREZ, JR. J.:

This is a petition for review of the orders issued by the Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte, Branch III, in
Special Proceedings No. R-1713, entitled "In the Matter of the Petition for Probate of the Will of Dorotea Perez,
Deceased; Apolonio Taboada, Petitioner", which denied the probate of the will, the motion for reconsideration and
the motion for appointment of a special administrator.

In the petition for probate filed with the respondent court, the petitioner attached the alleged last will and
testament of the late Dorotea Perez. Written in the Cebuano-Visayan dialect, the will consists of two pages. The
first page contains the entire testamentary dispositions and is signed at the end or bottom of the page by the
testatrix alone and at the left hand margin by the three (3) instrumental witnesses. The second page which
contains the attestation clause and the acknowledgment is signed at the end of the attestation clause by the three
(3) attesting witnesses and at the left hand margin by the testatrix.

Since no opposition was filed after the petitioner's compliance with the requirement of publication, the trial court
commissioned the branch clerk of court to receive the petitioner's evidence. Accordingly, the petitioner submitted
his evidence and presented Vicente Timkang, one of the subscribing witnesses to the will, who testified on its
genuineness and due execution.

The trial court, thru then Presiding Judge Ramon C. Pamatian issued the questioned order denying the probate of
the will of Dorotea Perez for want of a formality in its execution. In the same order, the petitioner was also
required to submit the names of the intestate heirs with their corresponding addresses so that they could be
properly notified and could intervene in the summary settlement of the estate.

Instead of complying with the order of the trial court, the petitioner filed a manifestation and/or motion, ex
partepraying for a thirty-day period within which to deliberate on any step to be taken as a result of the
disallowance of the will. He also asked that the ten-day period required by the court to submit the names of
intestate heirs with their addresses be held in abeyance.

The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the order denying the probate of the will. However, the motion
together with the previous manifestation and/or motion could not be acted upon by the Honorable Ramon C.
Pamatian due to his transfer to his new station at Pasig, Rizal. The said motions or incidents were still pending
resolution when respondent Judge Avelino S. Rosal assumed the position of presiding judge of the respondent
court.

Meanwhile, the petitioner filed a motion for the appointment of special administrator.

Subsequently, the new Judge denied the motion for reconsideration as well as the manifestation and/or motion
filed ex parte. In the same order of denial, the motion for the appointment of special administrator was likewise
denied because of the petitioner's failure to comply with the order requiring him to submit the names of' the
intestate heirs and their addresses.

The petitioner decided to file the present petition.


For the validity of a formal notarial will, does Article 805 of the Civil Code require that the testatrix and all the
three instrumental and attesting witnesses sign at the end of the will and in the presence of the testatrix and of one
another?

Article 805 of the Civil Code provides:

Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the
testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and
subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also
sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be
numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.

The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator
signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction,
in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the lacier witnesses and signed the will and the pages
thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to the witnesses, it shall
be interpreted to them.

The respondent Judge interprets the above-quoted provision of law to require that, for a notarial will to be valid, it
is not enough that only the testatrix signs at the "end" but an the three subscribing witnesses must also sign at the
same place or at the end, in the presence of the testatrix and of one another because the attesting witnesses to a
will attest not merely the will itself but also the signature of the testator. It is not sufficient compliance to sign the
page, where the end of the will is found, at the left hand margin of that page.

On the other hand, the petitioner maintains that Article 805 of the Civil Code does not make it a condition
precedent or a matter of absolute necessity for the extrinsic validity of the wig that the signatures of the
subscribing witnesses should be specifically located at the end of the wig after the signature of the testatrix. He
contends that it would be absurd that the legislature intended to place so heavy an import on the space or
particular location where the signatures are to be found as long as this space or particular location wherein the
signatures are found is consistent with good faith and the honest frailties of human nature.

We find the petition meritorious.

Undoubtedly, under Article 805 of the Civil Code, the will must be subscribed or signed at its end by the testator
himself or by the testator's name written by another person in his presence, and by his express direction, and
attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

It must be noted that the law uses the terms attested and subscribed Attestation consists in witnessing the
testator's execution of the will in order to see and take note mentally that those things are, done which the statute
requires for the execution of a will and that the signature of the testator exists as a fact. On the other hand,
subscription is the signing of the witnesses' names upon the same paper for the purpose of Identification of such
paper as the will which was executed by the testator. (Ragsdale v. Hill, 269 SW 2d 911).

Insofar as the requirement of subscription is concerned, it is our considered view that the will in this case was
subscribed in a manner which fully satisfies the purpose of Identification.

The signatures of the instrumental witnesses on the left margin of the first page of the will attested not only to the
genuineness of the signature of the testatrix but also the due execution of the will as embodied in the attestation
clause.

While perfection in the drafting of a will may be desirable, unsubstantial departure from the usual forms should be
ignored, especially where the authenticity of the will is not assailed. (Gonzales v. Gonzales, 90 Phil. 444, 449).
The law is to be liberally construed, "the underlying and fundamental objective permeating the provisions on the
law on wills in this project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of
giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to
prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator.
This objective is in accord with the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will" (Report
of the Code commission, p. 103).

Parenthetically, Judge Ramon C. Pamatian stated in his questioned order that were not for the defect in the place of
signatures of the witnesses, he would have found the testimony sufficient to establish the validity of the will.

The objects of attestation and of subscription were fully met and satisfied in the present case when the
instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin of the sole page which contains all the testamentary dispositions,
especially so when the will was properly Identified by subscribing witness Vicente Timkang to be the same will
executed by the testatrix. There was no question of fraud or substitution behind the questioned order.

We have examined the will in question and noticed that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages
used in writing the will. This would have been a fatal defect were it not for the fact that, in this case, it is discernible
from the entire wig that it is really and actually composed of only two pages duly signed by the testatrix and her
instrumental witnesses. As earlier stated, the first page which contains the entirety of the testamentary
dispositions is signed by the testatrix at the end or at the bottom while the instrumental witnesses signed at the
left margin. The other page which is marked as "Pagina dos" comprises the attestation clause and the
acknowledgment. The acknowledgment itself states that "This Last Will and Testament consists of two pages
including this page".

In Singson v. Florentino, et al. (92 Phil. 161, 164), this Court made the following observations with respect to the
purpose of the requirement that the attestation clause must state the number of pages used:

The law referred to is article 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645, which requires that
the attestation clause shall state the number of pages or sheets upon which the win is written, which requirement
has been held to be mandatory as an effective safeguard against the possibility of interpolation or omission of some
of the pages of the will to the prejudice of the heirs to whom the property is intended to be bequeathed (In re will
of Andrada, 42 Phil., 180; Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405; Gumban vs. Gorecho, 50 Phil. 30; Quinto vs.
Morata, 54 Phil. 481; Echevarria vs. Sarmiento, 66 Phil. 611). The ratio decidendi of these cases seems to be that the
attestation clause must contain a statement of the number of sheets or pages composing the will and that if this is
missing or is omitted, it will have the effect of invalidating the will if the deficiency cannot be supplied, not by
evidence aliunde, but by a consideration or examination of the will itself. But here the situation is different. While
the attestation clause does not state the number of sheets or pages upon which the will is written, however, the last
part of the body of the will contains a statement that it is composed of eight pages, which circumstance in our
opinion takes this case out of the rigid rule of construction and places it within the realm of similar cases where a
broad and more liberal view has been adopted to prevent the will of the testator from being defeated by purely
technical considerations.

Icasiano v. Icasiano (11 SCRA 422, 429) has the following ruling which applies a similar liberal approach:

... Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only (sic) the fact that the testatrix and two other
witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the seal of the notary public
before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses. The law should not be so strictly and
literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of the inadvertence of a single witness over whose
conduct she had no control where the purpose of the law to guarantee the Identity of the testament and its
component pages is sufficiently attained, no intentional or deliberate deviation existed, and the evidence on record
attests to the fun observance of the statutory requisites. Otherwise, as stated in Vda. de Gil. Vs. Murciano, 49 Off.
Gaz. 1459, at 1479 (decision on reconsideration) 'witnesses may sabotage the will by muddling or bungling it or
the attestation clause.

WHEREFORE, the present petition is hereby granted. The orders of the respondent court which denied the probate
of tile will, the motion for reconsideration of the denial of probate, and the motion for appointment of a special
administrator are set aside. The respondent court is ordered to allow the probate of the wig and to conduct further
proceedings in accordance with this decision. No pronouncement on costs.

SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera (Acting Chairperson), Plana, Vasquez and Relova, JJ., concur.

Teehankee, J, is on leave.

Taboada vs. Rosal GR L-36033. November 5, 1982

FACTS Petitioner Apolonio Taboada filed a petition for probate of the will of the late Dorotea perez. The will
consisted of two pages, the first page containing all the testamentary dispositions of the testator and was signed at the
end or bottom of the page by the testatrix alone and at the left hand margin by the three instrumental witnesses. The
second page consisted of the attestation clause and the acknowledgment was signed at the end of the attestation
clause by the three witnesses and at the left hand margin by the testatrix. The trial court disallowed the will for want
of formality in its execution because the will was signed at the bottom of the page solely by the testatrix, while the
three witnesses only signed at the left hand margin of the page. The judge opined that compliance with the formalities
of the law required that the witnesses also sign at the end of the will because the witnesses attest not only the will
itself but the signature of the testatrix. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE Was the object of attestation and subscription fully when the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin
of the sole page which contains all the testamentary dispositions?

HELD (SHORT RULING)

On certiorari, the Supreme Court held a) that the objects of attestation and subscription were fully met and satisfied in
the present case when the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin of the sole page which contains all the
testamentary dispositions, especially so when the will was properly identified by a subscribing witness to be the same
will executed by the testatrix; and b) that the failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages used in
writing the will would have been a fatal defect were it not for the fact that it is really and actually composed of only
two pages duly signed by the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses.

(LONG RULING [VERBATIM])

Undoubtedly, under Article 805 of the Civil Code, the will must be subscribed or signed at its end by the testator himself
or by the testator's name written by another person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and
subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

It must be noted that the law uses the terms attested and subscribed. Attestation consists in witnessing the testator's
execution of the will in order to see and take note mentally that those things are done which the statute requires for
the execution of a will and that the signature of the testator exists as a fact. On the other hand, subscription is the
signing of the witnesses' names upon the same paper for the purpose of identification of such paper as the will which
was executed by the testator. (Ragsdale v. Hill, 269 SW 2d 911).

The signatures of the instrumental witnesses on the left margin of the first page of the will attested not only to the
genuineness of the signature of the testatrix but also the due execution of the will as embodied in the attestation
clause.

While perfection in the drafting of a will may be desirable, unsubstantial departure from the usual forms should be
ignored, especially where the authenticity of the will is not assailed. (Gonzales v. Gonzales, 90 Phil. 444, 449).

The law is to be liberally construed, "the underlying and fundamental objective permeating the provisions on the law
on wills in this project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the
testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the
commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. This objective is
in accord with the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will" (Report of the Code
Commission, p. 103).

The objects of attestation and of subscription were fully met and satisfied in the present case when the instrumental
witnesses signed at the left margin of the sole page which contains all the testamentary dispositions, especially so
when the will was properly identified by subscribing witness Vicente Timkang to be the same will executed by the
testatrix. There was no question of fraud or substitution behind the questioned order.
G.R. No. L-13431 November 12, 1919

In re will of Ana Abangan.


GERTRUDIS ABANGAN, executrix-appellee, vs.
ANASTACIA ABANGAN, ET AL., opponents-appellants.

Filemon Sotto for appellants.


M. Jesus Cuenco for appellee.

AVANCEA, J.:

On September 19, 1917, the Court of First Instance of Cebu admitted to probate Ana Abangan's will executed July,
1916. From this decision the opponent's appealed.

Said document, duly probated as Ana Abangan's will, consists of two sheets, the first of which contains all of the
disposition of the testatrix, duly signed at the bottom by Martin Montalban (in the name and under the direction of
the testatrix) and by three witnesses. The following sheet contains only the attestation clause duly signed at the
bottom by the three instrumental witnesses. Neither of these sheets is signed on the left margin by the testatrix
and the three witnesses, nor numbered by letters; and these omissions, according to appellants' contention, are
defects whereby the probate of the will should have been denied. We are of the opinion that the will was duly
admitted to probate.

In requiring that each and every sheet of the will should also be signed on the left margin by the testator and three
witnesses in the presence of each other, Act No. 2645 (which is the one applicable in the case) evidently has for its
object (referring to the body of the will itself) to avoid the substitution of any of said sheets, thereby changing the
testator's dispositions. But when these dispositions are wholly written on only one sheet signed at the bottom by
the testator and three witnesses (as the instant case), their signatures on the left margin of said sheet would be
completely purposeless. In requiring this signature on the margin, the statute took into consideration,
undoubtedly, the case of a will written on several sheets and must have referred to the sheets which the testator
and the witnesses do not have to sign at the bottom. A different interpretation would assume that the statute
requires that this sheet, already signed at the bottom, be signed twice. We cannot attribute to the statute such an
intention. As these signatures must be written by the testator and the witnesses in the presence of each other, it
appears that, if the signatures at the bottom of the sheet guaranties its authenticity, another signature on its left
margin would be unneccessary; and if they do not guaranty, same signatures, affixed on another part of same sheet,
would add nothing. We cannot assume that the statute regards of such importance the place where the testator and
the witnesses must sign on the sheet that it would consider that their signatures written on the bottom do not
guaranty the authenticity of the sheet but, if repeated on the margin, give sufficient security.

In requiring that each and every page of a will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part
of the sheet, it is likewise clear that the object of Act No. 2645 is to know whether any sheet of the will has been
removed. But, when all the dispositive parts of a will are written on one sheet only, the object of the statute
disappears because the removal of this single sheet, although unnumbered, cannot be hidden.

What has been said is also applicable to the attestation clause. Wherefore, without considering whether or not this
clause is an essential part of the will, we hold that in the one accompanying the will in question, the signatures of
the testatrix and of the three witnesses on the margin and the numbering of the pages of the sheet are formalities
not required by the statute. Moreover, referring specially to the signature of the testatrix, we can add that same is
not necessary in the attestation clause because this, as its name implies, appertains only to the witnesses and not to
the testator since the latter does not attest, but executes, the will.

Synthesizing our opinion, we hold that in a will consisting of two sheets the first of which contains all the
testamentary dispositions and is signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses and the second contains
only the attestation clause and is signed also at the bottom by the three witnesses, it is not necessary that both
sheets be further signed on their margins by the testator and the witnesses, or be paged.
The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to
avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on this
subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordal ends. But, on the other hand, also one must
not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a
will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds
nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustative of the testator's last will, must
be disregarded. lawphil.net

As another ground for this appeal, it is alleged the records do not show that the testarix knew the dialect in which
the will is written. But the circumstance appearing in the will itself that same was executed in the city of Cebu and
in the dialect of this locality where the testatrix was a neighbor is enough, in the absence of any proof to the
contrary, to presume that she knew this dialect in which this will is written.

For the foregoing considerations, the judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed with costs against the appellants.
So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, Araullo, Street and Malcolm, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-13431 Abangan v. Abangan, 40 Phil 476, AVANCENA

On September 19, 1917, CFI of Cebu admitted to probate Ana Abangans will executed July, 1916. From this
decision the opponents appealed.

The will consists of 2 sheets. The first contains all the disposition of the testatrix, duly signed at the bottom by
Martin Montalban (in the name and under the direction of the testatrix) and by three witnesses. The following
sheet contains only the attestation clause duly signed at the bottom by the three instrumental witnesses. Neither of
these sheets is signed on the left margin by the testatrix and the three witnesses, nor numbered by letters. These
omissions, according to appellants contention, are defects whereby the probate of the will should have been
denied.

Whether or not the will was duly admitted to probate.

YES. In requiring that each and every sheet of the will be signed on the left margin by the testator and three
witnesses in the presence of each other, Act No. 2645 evidently has for its object the avoidance of substitution of
any of said sheets which may change the disposition of the testatrix. But when these dispositions are wholly
written on only one sheet (as in the instant case) signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses, their
signatures on the left margin of said sheet are not anymore necessary as such will be purposeless.

In requiring that each and every page of a will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part
of the sheet, it is likewise clear that the object of Act No. 2645 is to know whether any sheet of the will has been
removed. But, when all the dispositive parts of a will are written on one sheet only, the object of the statute
disappears because the removal of this single sheet, although unnumbered, cannot be hidden.

In a will consisting of two sheets the first of which contains all the testamentary dispositions and is signed at the
bottom by the testator and three witnesses and the second contains only the attestation clause and is signed also at
the bottom by the three witnesses, it is not necessary that both sheets be further signed on their margins by the
testator and the witnesses, or be paged.

The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to
avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on this
subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordal ends. But, on the other hand, also one must
not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a
will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds
nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustative of the testators last will, must
be disregarded.
Icasiano v. Icasiano Digest
G.R. No. L-18979 June 30, 1964

Facts:
1. Celso Icasiano, filed a petition for the probate of the will of Josefa Villacorte and for his appointment as executor
thereof. It appears from the evidence that the testatrix died on September 12, 1958. She executed a will in Tagalog,
and through the help of her lawyer, it was prepared in duplicates, an original and a carbon copy.

2. On the day that it was subscribed and attested, the lawyer only brought the original copy of the will while the
carbon duplicate (unsigned) was left in Bulacan. One of the witnesses failed to sign one of the pages in the original
copy but admitted he may have lifted 2 pages simultaneously instead when he signed the will. Nevertheless, he
affirmed that the will was signed by the testator and other witnesses in his presence.

Issue: Whether or not the failure of one of the subscribing witnesses to affix his signature to a page is
sufficient to deny probate of the will

RULING: No, the failure to sign was entirely through pure oversight or mere inadvertence. Since the duplicated
bore the required signatures, this proves that the omission was not intentional. Even if the original is in existence, a
duplicate may still be admitted to probate since the original is deemed to be defective, then in law, there is no other
will bu the duly signed carbon duplicate and the same can be probated.

The law should not be strictly and literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of the inadvertence of
a single witness over whose conduct she has no control of. Where the purpose of the law is to guarantee the
identity of the testament and its component pages, and there is no intentional or deliberate deviation existed.

Note that this ruling should not be taken as a departure from the rules that the will should be signed by the
witnesses on every page. The carbon copy duplicate was regular in all respects
THIRD DIVISION

LETICIA VALMONTE ORTEGA, G.R. No. 157451


Petitioner,
Present:
Panganiban, J.,
Chairman,
- versus - Sandoval-Gutierrez,
Corona,
Carpio Morales, and Garcia, JJ
JOSEFINA C. VALMONTE, Promulgated:
Respondent.
December 16, 2005
x -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- x

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

T he law favors the probate of a will. Upon those who oppose it rests the burden of showing why it should not be
allowed. In the present case, petitioner has failed to discharge this burden satisfactorily. For this reason, the Court
cannot attribute any reversible error on the part of the appellate tribunal that allowed the probate of the will.

The Case

Before the Court is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to reverse and set aside the
December 12, 2002 Decision[2] and the March 7, 2003 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No.
44296. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED, and the Decision appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. In its place
judgment is rendered approving and allowing probate to the said last will and testament of Placido Valmonte and
ordering the issuance of letters testamentary to the petitioner Josefina Valmonte. Let this case be remanded to the
court a quo for further and concomitant proceedings.[4]

The assailed Resolution denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.

The Facts

The facts were summarized in the assailed Decision of the CA, as follows:

x x x: Like so many others before him, Placido toiled and lived for a long time in the United States until he finally
reached retirement. In 1980, Placido finally came home to stay in the Philippines, and he lived in the house and lot
located at #9200 Catmon St., San Antonio Village, Makati, which he owned in common with his sister Ciriaca
Valmonte and titled in their names in TCT 123468. Two years after his arrival from the United States and at the age
of 80 he wed Josefina who was then 28 years old, in a ceremony solemnized by Judge Perfecto Laguio, Jr. on
February 5, 1982. But in a little more than two years of wedded bliss, Placido died on October 8, 1984 of a cause
written down as COR PULMONALE.
Placido executed a notarial last will and testament written in English and consisting of two (2) pages, and dated
June 15, 1983 but acknowledged only on August 9, 1983. The first page contains the entire testamentary
dispositions and a part of the attestation clause, and was signed at the end or bottom of that page by the testator
and on the left hand margin by the three instrumental witnesses. The second page contains the continuation of the
attestation clause and the acknowledgment, and was signed by the witnesses at the end of the attestation clause
and again on the left hand margin. It provides in the body that:

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF PLACIDO VALMONTE IN THE NAME OF THE LORD AMEN:

I, PLACIDO VALMONTE, of legal age, married to Josefina Cabansag Valmonte, and a resident of 9200 Catmon Street,
Makati, Metro Manila, 83 years of age and being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do hereby declare this
to be my last will and testament:

1. It is my will that I be buried in the Catholic Cemetery, under the auspices of the Catholic Church in accordance
with the rites and said Church and that a suitable monument to be erected and provided my by executrix (wife) to
perpetuate my memory in the minds of my family and friends;

2. I give, devise and bequeath unto my loving wife, JOSEFINA C. VALMONTE, one half (1/2) portion of the follow-
described properties, which belongs to me as [co-owner]:

a. Lot 4-A, Block 13 described on plan Psd-28575, LRC, (GLRO), situated in Makati, Metro Manila, described and
covered by TCT No. 123468 of the Register of Deeds of Pasig, Metro-Manila registered jointly as co-owners with my
deceased sister (Ciriaca Valmonte), having share and share alike;

b. 2-storey building standing on the above-described property, made of strong and mixed materials used as my
residence and my wife and located at No. 9200 Catmon Street, Makati, Metro Manila also covered by Tax
Declaration No. A-025-00482, Makati, Metro-Manila, jointly in the name of my deceased sister, Ciriaca Valmonte
and myself as co-owners, share and share alike or equal co-owners thereof;

3. All the rest, residue and remainder of my real and personal properties, including my savings account bank
book in USA which is in the possession of my nephew, and all others whatsoever and wherever found, I give, devise
and bequeath to my said wife, Josefina C. Valmonte;

4. I hereby appoint my wife, Josefina C. Valmonte as sole executrix of my last will and testament, and it is my will
that said executrix be exempt from filing a bond;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 15th day of June 1983 in Quezon City, Philippines.

The allowance to probate of this will was opposed by Leticia on the grounds that:

1. Petitioner failed to allege all assets of the testator, especially those found in the USA;

2. Petitioner failed to state the names, ages, and residences of the heirs of the testator; or to give them proper
notice pursuant to law;

3. Will was not executed and attested as required by law and legal solemnities and formalities were not
complied with;

4. Testator was mentally incapable to make a will at the time of the alleged execution he being in an advance sate
of senility;

5. Will was executed under duress, or the influence of fear or threats;


6. Will was procured by undue and improper influence and pressure on the part of the petitioner and/or her
agents and/or assistants; and/or

7. Signature of testator was procured by fraud, or trick, and he did not intend that the instrument should be his
will at the time of affixing his signature thereto;

and she also opposed the appointment as Executrix of Josefina alleging her want of understanding and integrity.

At the hearing, the petitioner Josefina testified and called as witnesses the notary public Atty. Floro Sarmiento who
prepared and notarized the will, and the instrumental witnesses spouses Eugenio Gomez, Jr. and Feliza Gomez and
Josie Collado. For the opposition, the oppositor Leticia and her daughter Mary Jane Ortega testified.

According to Josefina after her marriage with the testator they lived in her parents house at Salingcob, Bacnotan, La
Union but they came to Manila every month to get his $366.00 monthly pension and stayed at the said Makati
residence. There were times though when to shave off on expenses, the testator would travel alone. And it was in
one of his travels by his lonesome self when the notarial will was made. The will was witnessed by the spouses
Eugenio and Feliza Gomez, who were their wedding sponsors, and by Josie Collado. Josefina said she had no
knowledge of the existence of the last will and testament of her husband, but just serendipitously found it in his
attache case after his death. It was only then that she learned that the testator bequeathed to her his properties and
she was named the executrix in the said will. To her estimate, the value of property both real and personal left by
the testator is worth more or less P100,000.00. Josefina declared too that the testator never suffered mental
infirmity because despite his old age he went alone to the market which is two to three kilometers from their home
cooked and cleaned the kitchen and sometimes if she could not accompany him, even traveled to Manila alone to
claim his monthly pension. Josefina also asserts that her husband was in good health and that he was hospitalized
only because of a cold but which eventually resulted in his death.

Notary Public Floro Sarmiento, the notary public who notarized the testators will, testified that it was in the first
week of June 1983 when the testator together with the three witnesses of the will went to his house cum law office
and requested him to prepare his last will and testament. After the testator instructed him on the terms and
dispositions he wanted on the will, the notary public told them to come back on June 15, 1983 to give him time to
prepare it. After he had prepared the will the notary public kept it safely hidden and locked in his drawer. The
testator and his witnesses returned on the appointed date but the notary public was out of town so they were
instructed by his wife to come back on August 9, 1983, and which they did. Before the testator and his witnesses
signed the prepared will, the notary public explained to them each and every term thereof in Ilocano, a dialect
which the testator spoke and understood. He likewise explained that though it appears that the will was signed by
the testator and his witnesses on June 15, 1983, the day when it should have been executed had he not gone out of
town, the formal execution was actually on August 9, 1983. He reasoned that he no longer changed the typewritten
date of June 15, 1983 because he did not like the document to appear dirty. The notary public also testified that to
his observation the testator was physically and mentally capable at the time he affixed his signature on the will.

The attesting witnesses to the will corroborated the testimony of the notary public, and testified that the testator
went alone to the house of spouses Eugenio and Feliza Gomez at GSIS Village, Quezon City and requested them to
accompany him to the house of Atty. Floro Sarmiento purposely for his intended will; that after giving his
instructions to Atty. Floro Sarmiento, they were told to return on June 15, 1983; that they returned on June 15,
1983 for the execution of the will but were asked to come back instead on August 9, 1983 because of the absence of
the notary public; that the testator executed the will in question in their presence while he was of sound and
disposing mind and that he was strong and in good health; that the contents of the will was explained by the notary
public in the Ilocano and Tagalog dialect and that all of them as witnesses attested and signed the will in the
presence of the testator and of each other. And that during the execution, the testators wife, Josefina was not with
them.

The oppositor Leticia declared that Josefina should not inherit alone because aside from her there are other
children from the siblings of Placido who are just as entitled to inherit from him. She attacked the mental capacity
of the testator, declaring that at the time of the execution of the notarial will the testator was already 83 years old
and was no longer of sound mind. She knew whereof she spoke because in 1983 Placido lived in the Makati
residence and asked Leticias family to live with him and they took care of him. During that time, the testators
physical and mental condition showed deterioration, aberrations and senility. This was corroborated by her
daughter Mary Jane Ortega for whom Placido took a fancy and wanted to marry.

Sifting through the evidence, the court a quo held that [t]he evidence adduced, reduces the opposition to two
grounds, namely:

1. Non-compliance with the legal solemnities and formalities in the execution and attestation of the will; and

2. Mental incapacity of the testator at the time of the execution of the will as he was then in an advanced state of
senility

It then found these grounds extant and proven, and accordingly disallowed probate.[5]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Reversing the trial court, the appellate court admitted the will of Placido Valmonte to probate. The CA upheld the
credibility of the notary public and the subscribing witnesses who had acknowledged the due execution of the will.
Moreover, it held that the testator had testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of the will. It added that
his sexual exhibitionism and unhygienic, crude and impolite ways[6] did not make him a person of unsound mind.

Hence, this Petition.[7]

Issues Petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration:

I. Whether or not the findings of the probate court are entitled to great respect.

II. Whether or not the signature of Placido Valmonte in the subject will was procured by fraud or trickery, and that
Placido Valmonte never intended that the instrument should be his last will and testament.

III. Whether or not Placido Valmonte has testamentary capacity at the time he allegedly executed the subject will.[8]

In short, petitioner assails the CAs allowance of the probate of the will of Placido Valmonte.

This Courts Ruling The Petition has no merit.

Main Issue: Probate of a Will

At the outset, we stress that only questions of law may be raised in a Petition for Review under Section 1 of Rule 45
of the Rules of Court. As an exception, however, the evidence presented during the trial may be examined and the
factual matters resolved by this Court when, as in the instant case, the findings of fact of the appellate court differ
from those of the trial court.[9]
The fact that public policy favors the probate of a will does not necessarily mean that every will presented for
probate should be allowed. The law lays down the procedures and requisites that must be satisfied for the probate
of a will.[10] Verily, Article 839 of the Civil Code states the instances when a will may be disallowed, as follows:

Article 839. The will shall be disallowed in any of the following cases:

(1) If the formalities required by law have not been complied with;

(2) If the testator was insane, or otherwise mentally incapable of making a will, at the time of its execution;

(3) If it was executed through force or under duress, or the influence of fear, or threats;
(4) If it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence, on the part of the beneficiary or of some
other person;

(5) If the signature of the testator was procured by fraud;

(6) If the testator acted by mistake or did not intend that the instrument he signed should be his will at the time
of affixing his signature thereto.
In the present case, petitioner assails the validity of Placido Valmontes will by imputing fraud in its execution and
challenging the testators state of mind at the time.
Existence of Fraud in the Execution of a Will
Petitioner does not dispute the due observance of the formalities in the execution of the will, but maintains that the
circumstances surrounding it are indicative of the existence of fraud. Particularly, she alleges that respondent, who
is the testators wife and sole beneficiary, conspired with the notary public and the three attesting witnesses
in deceiving Placido to sign it. Deception is allegedly reflected in the varying dates of the execution and the
attestation of the will.
Petitioner contends that it was highly dubious for a woman at the prime of her young life [to] almost immediately
plunge into marriage with a man who [was] thrice her age x x x and who happened to be [a] Fil-American
pensionado,[11] thus casting doubt on the intention of respondent in seeking the probate of the will. Moreover, it
supposedly defies human reason, logic and common experience[12] for an old man with a severe psychological
condition to have willingly signed a last will and testament.
We are not convinced. Fraud is a trick, secret device, false statement, or pretense, by which the subject of it is
cheated. It may be of such character that the testator is misled or deceived as to the nature or contents of the
document which he executes, or it may relate to some extrinsic fact, in consequence of the deception regarding
which the testator is led to make a certain will which, but for the fraud, he would not have made.[13]
We stress that the party challenging the will bears the burden of proving the existence of fraud at the time of its
execution.[14] The burden to show otherwise shifts to the proponent of the will only upon a showing of credible
evidence of fraud.[15] Unfortunately in this case, other than the self-serving allegations of petitioner, no evidence of
fraud was ever presented.
It is a settled doctrine that the omission of some relatives does not affect the due execution of a will.[16] That the
testator was tricked into signing it was not sufficiently established by the fact that he had instituted his wife, who
was more than fifty years his junior, as the sole beneficiary; and disregarded petitioner and her family, who
werethe ones who had taken the cudgels of taking care of [the testator] in his twilight years.[17]
Moreover, as correctly ruled by the appellate court, the conflict between the dates appearing on the will does not
invalidate the document, because the law does not even require that a [notarial] will x x x be executed and
acknowledged on the same occasion.[18] More important, the will must be subscribed by the testator, as well as by
three or more credible witnesses who must also attest to it in the presence of the testator and of one
another.[19] Furthermore, the testator and the witnesses must acknowledge the will before a notary public.[20] In
any event, we agree with the CA that the variance in the dates of the will as to its supposed execution and
attestation was satisfactorily and persuasively explained by the notary public and the instrumental witnesses.[21]

The pertinent transcript of stenographic notes taken on June 11, 1985, November 25, 1985, October 13, 1986, and
October 21, 1987 -- as quoted by the CA -- are reproduced respectively as follows:

Atty. Floro Sarmiento:

Q You typed this document exhibit C, specifying the date June 15 when the testator and his witnesses were
supposed to be in your office?
A Yes sir.

Q On June 15, 1983, did the testator and his witnesses come to your house?
A They did as of agreement but unfortunately, I was out of town.

xxxxxxxxx
Q The document has been acknowledged on August 9, 1983 as per acknowledgement appearing therein. Was this
the actual date when the document was acknowledged?
A Yes sir.

Q What about the date when the testator and the three witnesses affixed their respective signature on the first and
second pages of exhibit C?
A On that particular date when it was acknowledged, August 9, 1983.

Q Why did you not make the necessary correction on the date appearing on the body of the document as well as the
attestation clause?
A Because I do not like anymore to make some alterations so I put it in my own handwriting August 9, 1983 on the
acknowledgement. (tsn, June 11, 1985, pp. 8-10)

Eugenio Gomez:

Q It appears on the first page Mr. Witness that it is dated June 15, 1983, whereas in the acknowledgement it is
dated August 9, 1983, will you look at this document and tell us this discrepancy in the date?
A We went to Atty. Sarmiento together with Placido Valmonte and the two witnesses; that was first week of June
and Atty. Sarmiento told us to return on the 15th of June but when we returned, Atty. Sarmiento was not there.

Q When you did not find Atty. Sarmiento on June 15, 1983, did you again go back?
A We returned on the 9th of August and there we signed.

Q This August 9, 1983 where you said it is there where you signed, who were your companions?
A The two witnesses, me and Placido Valmonte. (tsn, November 25, 1985, pp. 7-8)

Felisa Gomez on cross-examination:

Q Why did you have to go to the office of Atty. Floro Sarmiento, three times?

xxxxxxxxx

A The reason why we went there three times is that, the first week of June was out first time. We went there to talk
to Atty. Sarmiento and Placido Valmonte about the last will and testament. After that what they have talked what
will be placed in the testament, what Atty. Sarmiento said was that he will go back on the 15th of June. When we
returned on June 15, Atty. Sarmiento was not there so we were not able to sign it, the will. That is why, for the third
time we went there on August 9 and that was the time we affixed our signature. (tsn, October 13, 1986, pp. 4-6)

Josie Collado:

Q When you did not find Atty. Sarmiento in his house on June 15, 1983, what transpired?
A The wife of Atty. Sarmiento told us that we will be back on August 9, 1983.

Q And on August 9, 1983 did you go back to the house of Atty. Sarmiento?
A Yes, Sir.

Q For what purpose?

A Our purpose is just to sign the will.

Q Were you able to sign the will you mentioned?

A Yes sir. (tsn, October 21, 1987, pp. 4-5)[22]

Notably, petitioner failed to substantiate her claim of a grand conspiracy in the commission of a fraud. There was
no showing that the witnesses of the proponent stood to receive any benefit from the allowance of the will. The
testimonies of the three subscribing witnesses and the notary are credible evidence of its due execution.[23] Their
testimony favoring it and the finding that it was executed in accordance with the formalities required by law
should be affirmed, absent any showing of ill motives.[24]

Capacity to Make a Will

In determining the capacity of the testator to make a will, the Civil Code gives the following guidelines:

Article 798. In order to make a will it is essential that the testator be of sound mind at the time of its execution.

Article 799. To be of sound mind, it is not necessary that the testator be in full possession of all his reasoning
faculties, or that his mind be wholly unbroken, unimpaired, or shattered by disease, injury or other cause.

It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time of making the will to know the nature of the estate to be
disposed of, the proper objects of his bounty, and the character of the testamentary act.

Article 800. The law presumes that every person is of sound mind, in the absence of proof to the contrary.

The burden of proof that the testator was not of sound mind at the time of making his dispositions is on the person
who opposes the probate of the will; but if the testator, one month, or less, before making his will was publicly
known to be insane, the person who maintains the validity of the will must prove that the testator made it during a
lucid interval.

According to Article 799, the three things that the testator must have the ability to know to be considered of sound
mind are as follows: (1) the nature of the estate to be disposed of, (2) the proper objects of the testators bounty,
and (3) the character of the testamentary act. Applying this test to the present case, we find that the appellate court
was correct in holding that Placido had testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of his will.

It must be noted that despite his advanced age, he was still able to identify accurately the kinds of property he
owned, the extent of his shares in them and even their locations. As regards the proper objects of his bounty, it was
sufficient that he identified his wife as sole beneficiary. As we have stated earlier, the omission of some relatives
from the will did not affect its formal validity. There being no showing of fraud in its execution, intent in its
disposition becomes irrelevant.

Worth reiterating in determining soundness of mind is Alsua-Betts v. CA,[25] which held thus:

"Between the highest degree of soundness of mind and memory which unquestionably carries with it full
testamentary capacity, and that degrees of mental aberration generally known as insanity or idiocy, there are
numberless degrees of mental capacity or incapacity and while on one hand it has been held that mere weakness of
mind, or partial imbecility from disease of body, or from age, will not render a person incapable of making a will; a
weak or feebleminded person may make a valid will, provided he has understanding and memory sufficient to
enable him to know what he is about to do and how or to whom he is disposing of his property. To constitute a
sound and disposing mind, it is not necessary that the mind be unbroken or unimpaired or unshattered by disease
or otherwise. It has been held that testamentary incapacity does not necessarily require that a person shall actually
be insane or of unsound mind."[26]

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED, and the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals
are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 157451 Testamentary Capacity December 16, 2005

Page 1 of 2
LETICIA VALMONTE ORTEGA, petitioner vs JOSEFINA C. VALMONTE, respondent

G.R. No. 157451, December 16, 2005

FACTS:

Two years after the arrival of Placido from the United States and at the age of 80

he wed Josefina Valmonte who was then 28 years old. But in a little more than two

years of wedded bliss, Placido died on October 8, 1984. Before death however, Placido

executed a notarial last will and testament, granting unto said Josefina certain

properties, written in English and consisting of two (2) pages, and dated June 15, 1983

but acknowledged only on August 9, 1983. The oppositor Leticia attacked the mental

capacity of the testator, declaring that at the time of the execution of the notarial will

the testator was already 83 years old and was no longer of sound mind. She knew

whereof she spoke because in 1983 Placido lived in the Makati residence and asked

Leticias family to live with him and they took care of him. During that time, the

testators physical and mental condition showed deterioration, aberrations and senility.

This was corroborated by her daughter Mary Jane Ortega for whom Placido took a fancy

and wanted to marry.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Placido Valmonte has testamentary capacity at the time he

allegedly executed the subject will.

HELD:

The court ruled that in determining the capacity of the testator to make a will,

the Civil Code gives the following guidelines:

Article 798. In order to make a will it is essential that the testator be of sound mind at

the time of its execution.

Article 799. To be of sound mind, it is not necessary that the testator be in full

possession of all his reasoning faculties, or that his mind be wholly unbroken,
unimpaired, or shattered by disease, injury or other cause.

It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time of making the will to

know the nature of the estate to be disposed of, the proper objects of his bounty, and

the character of the testamentary act.

Article 800. The law presumes that every person is of sound mind, in the absence of

proof to the contrary.

The burden of proof that the testator was not of sound mind at the time of

making his dispositions is on the person who opposes the probate of the will; but if the

testator, one month, or less, before making his will was publicly known to be insane, the

person who maintains the validity of the will must prove that the testator made it

during a lucid interval.

According to Article 799, the three things that the testator must have the ability

to know to be considered of sound mind are as follows: (1) the nature of the estate to

be disposed of, (2) the proper objects of the testators bounty, and (3) the character of

the testamentary act. Applying this test to the present case, we find that the appellate

court was correct in holding that Placido had testamentary capacity at the time of the

execution of his will.

G.R. No. 157451 Testamentary Capacity December 16, 2005

Page 2 of 2

It must be noted that despite his advanced age, he was still able to identify

accurately the kinds of property he owned, the extent of his shares in them and even

their locations. As regards the proper objects of his bounty, it was sufficient that he

identified his wife as sole beneficiary. As we have stated earlier, the omission of some

relatives from the will did not affect its formal validity. There being no showing of fraud

in its execution, intent in its disposition becomes irrelevant.

G.R. No. L-6801 Testamentary Capacity March 14, 1912

JULIANA BAGTAS, plaintiffs-appellee,

v.
ISIDRO PAGUIO, ET AL., defendants-appellants.

TRENT, J.:

Facts:

Testators body was paralyzed on the left side, his hearing was impaired, he had

lost his power of speech, his head fell to one side, and saliva ran from his mouth.

However, he retained the use of his right hand and was able to write fairly well. Through

the medium of signs he was able to indicate his wishes to his wife and to other members

of his family.

At the time of the execution of the will there were present the four testamentary

witnesses, Agustin Paguio, Anacleto Paguio, and Pedro Paguio, and attorney, Seor

Marco, and one Florentino Ramos. Anacleto Paguio and the attorney have since died,

and consequently their testimony was not available upon the trial of the case in the

lower court. The other three testamentary witnesses and the witness Florentino Ramos

testified as to the manner in which the will was executed. According to the

uncontroverted testimony of these witnesses the will was executed in the following

manner:

Pioquinto Paguio, the testator, wrote out on pieces of paper notes and

items relating to the disposition of his property, and these notes were in turn

delivered to Seor Marco, who transcribed them and put them in form. The

witnesses testify that the pieces of paper upon which the notes were written are

delivered to attorney by the testator; that the attorney read them to the testator

asking if they were his testamentary dispositions; that the testator assented each

time with an affirmative movement of his head; that after the will as a whole had

been thus written by the attorney, it was read in a loud voice in the presence of

the testator and the witnesses; that Seor Marco gave the document to the

testator; that the latter, after looking over it, signed it in the presence of the four

subscribing witnesses; and that they in turn signed it in the presence of the

testator and each other.


Issue:

Whether or not the testator was of sound mind.

Held:

Supreme Court held that the presumption of a sound mind was not rebutted.

Witnesses testified that the testator wrote the disposition in pieces of paper; he

was asked whether they were indeed dispositions to which he nodded his head in

affirmation; and the will was read to him out loud.

The rule of law relating to the presumption of mental soundness is well

established, and the testator in the case at bar never having been adjudged insane by a

court of competent jurisdiction, this presumption continues, and it is therefore

incumbent upon the opponents to overcome this legal presumption by proper evidence.

They have failed to do. There are many cases and authorities which we might cite to

show that the courts have repeatedly held that mere weakness of mind and body,

induced by age and disease do not render a person incapable of making a will. The law

does not require that a person shall continue in the full enjoyment and use of his

pristine physical and mental powers in order to execute a valid will. If such were the

G.R. No. L-6801 Testamentary Capacity March 14, 1912

legal standard, few indeed would be the number of wills that could meet such exacting

requirements. The authorities, both medical and legal, are universal in statement that

the question of mental capacity is one of degree, and that there are many gradations

from the highest degree of mental soundness to the lowest conditions of diseased

mentality which are denominated as insanity and idiocy.

At the time of the execution of the will it does not appear that his conduct was

irrational in any particular. He seems to have comprehended clearly what the nature of

the business was in which he was engaged. The evidence show that the writing and

execution of the will occupied a period several hours and that the testator was present

during all this time, taking an active part in all the proceedings. Again, the will in the

case at bar is perfectly reasonable and its dispositions are those of a rational person.
G.R. No. L-24665 Testamentary Capacity October 13, 1926

Page 1 of 1

Estate of the deceased Isidra Abquilan. ATANASIO ABQUILAN, Petitioner-Appellant,

v. FELICIANA ABQUILAN, opponent-appellee.

Simeon Bitanga and Vicente Sotto for appellant.

R. Nolan and Feria and La O for appellee.

STREET, J.:

Facts:

On November 6, 1924, the date when the will purports to have been executed,

the supposed testatrix, Isidra Abquilan, was not in a condition such as to enable her to

have participated in the act, she being in fact at that time suffering from paralysis to

cerebral haemorrhage in such degree as completely to discapacitate

her for intelligent

participation in the act of making a will. It appears that the deceased left no forced

heirs, and her only heirs, in case of intestacy, are her brother, Atanasio Abquilan, the

proponent of the will, and Feliciana Abquilan, a sister, who is the opponent.

Issue:

Whether or not the testator possesses testamentary capacity to make the will

valid.

Ruling:

No. On November 6, 1924, the date when the will purports to have been

executed, the supposed testatrix was not in a condition such as to enable her to have

participated in the act, she being in fact at that time suffering from paralysis to cerebral

haemorrhage in such degree as completely to discapacitate

her for intelligent

participation in the act of making a will. A careful comparison of the name of the
testatrix as signed in two places to the Exhibit A, with many of her authentic signatures

leads to the conclusion that the signatures to the supposed will were made by some

other person. Furthermore, the combined testimony of Juan Serato and Alejandro

Genito completely demonstrate in our opinion that no will at all was made on

November 6, the date attributed to the questioned document, and that, instead an

attempt was made on the night of that day to fabricate another will, which failed of

completion because of the refusal of Alejandro Genito to be party to the making of a will

in which the testatrix took no part. The instrument before us was undoubtedly

fabricated later, probably on November 7, at a time when the condition of the deceased

was such as to make rational participation on her part in the act of making a will

impossible.

The case was decided in 1926, discapacitate is an archaic form of incapacitate.

Ibid.

G.R. No. 4445 Testamentary Capacity September 18, 1909

CATALINA BUGNAO v. FRANCISCO UBAG, ET AL

CARSON, J.:

FACTS:

The instrument was propounded by his widow, Catalina Bugnao, the sole

beneficiary thereunder, and probate was contested by the appellants, who are brothers

and sisters of the deceased, and who would be entitled to share in the distribution of his

estate, if probate were denied, as it appears that the deceased left no heirs in the direct

ascending or descending line.

Appellants contend that the evidence of record is not sufficient to establish the
execution of the alleged will in the manner and form prescribed in section 618 of the

Code of Civil Procedure; and that at the time when it is alleged that the will was

executed, Ubag was not of sound mind and memory, and was physically and mentally

incapable of making a will.

ISSUE:

WHETHER OR NOT THE WILL IS VALID.

RULING:

It is valid. While a number of a contradictions in the testimony of alleged

subscribing witnesses to will as to the circumstances under which it was executed, or a

single contradiction as to a particular incident to which the attention of such witnesses

must have been directed, may in certain cases justify the conclusion that the alleged

witnesses were not present, together, at the time when the alleged will was executed, a

mere lapse of memory on the part of these witnesses as to the precise details of an

unimportant incident ,to which his attention was not directed, does not necessarily put

in doubt the truth and veracity of the testimony in support of the execution of the will.

Testamentary capacity defined; proof of the existence of all the elements in the

following definition of testamentary capacity, which was frequently been adopted in the

U.S , held sufficient to establish the existence of such capacity in the absence of proof of

very exceptional circumstances: Testamentary capacity is the capacity to comprehend

the nature of the transaction in which the testator is engaged at that time, to recollect

the property to be disposed of and the persons who would naturally be supposed to have

claims upon the testator, and to comprehend the manner in which the instrument will

distribute his property among the objects of his bounty.

G.R. No. L-25966 Testamentary Capacity November 1, 1926

Page 1 of 2

In the matter of the estate of Tomas Rodriguez, deceased. MANUEL TORRES, special

administrator, and LUZ LOPEZ DE BUENO, heir, appellee,

v.
MARGARITA LOPEZ, opponent-appellant.

FACTS:

Tomas Rodriguez, had been judicially declared incapable of taking care of himself

and had been placed under the care of his cousin Vicente F. Lopez, as guardian. On

January 7, 1924, or only four days after the will above-mentioned was made, Vicente F.

Lopez died; and the testator, Tomas Rodriguez, died on February 25, 1924, thereafter.

At the time the will was made Vicente F. Lopez had not presented his final accounts as

guardian, and no such accounts had been presented by him at the time of his death.

Margariat Lopez was a cousin and nearest relative of the decedent.

Margarita Lopez, claims said half by the intestate succession as next of kin and

nearest heir; while the appellee, Luz Lopez de Bueno, claims the same by accredition

and in the character of universal heir the will of the decedent.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Vicente F. Lopez guardian of the decedent has capacity to inherit

from the will.

RULING:

The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative.

Article 753 of the Civil Code which in effect declares that, with certain exceptions

in favor of near relatives, no testamentary provision shall be valid when made by a ward

in favor of his guardian before the final accounts of the latter have been approved. The

provision made in the will of Tomas Rodriguez in favor of Vicente F. Lopez was not any

general incapacity on his part, but a special incapacity due to the accidental relation of

guardian and ward existing between the parties.

In addition, Article 982 of the Civil Code provides that accretion takes place in a

testamentary succession, first when the two or more persons are called to the same

inheritance or the same portion thereof without special designation of shares; and

secondly, when one of the persons so called dies before the testator or renounces the

inheritance or is disqualifying to receive it. The will executed calls Vicente F. Lopez and

his daughter, Luz Lopez de Bueno, to the same inheritance without special designation
of shares. One of the persons named as heir has predeceased the testator, this person

being also disqualified to receive the estate even if he had been alive at the time of the

testator's death. Therefore, its effect is to give to the survivor, Luz Lopez de Bueno, not

G.R. No. L-25966 Testamentary Capacity November 1, 1926

Page 2 of 2

only the undivided half which she would have received in conjunction with her father if

he had been alive and qualified to take, but also the half which pertained to him. Luz

Lopez de Bueno entitled to the whole estate.

The Supreme Court made emphasis that between articles 912 and 983, the

former is the more general dealing with the general topic of intestate succession while

the latter is more specific, defining the particular conditions under which accretion takes

place. In case of conflict, the provisions of the former article must be considered limited

by the latter. Under paragraph 4 of article 912, intestate succession occurs when the

heir instituted is disqualified to succeed (incapaz de suceder), while, under the last

provision in paragraph 2 of article 982, accretion occurs when one of the persons called

to inherit under the will is disqualified to receive the inheritance (incapaz de recibirla). A

distinction is then drawn between incapacity to succeed and incapacity to take, and it is

contended that the disability of Vicente F. Lopez was such as to bring the case under

article 912 rather than 982. However, the disability to which Vicente F. Lopez was

subject was not a general disability to succeed but an accidental incapacity to receive

the legacy, a consideration which makes a case for accretion rather than for intestate

succession.

G.R. No. 39033 Testamentary Capacity November 13, 1933

Page 1 of 1

Sancho vs Abella
FACTS:

The testatrix, Matea Abella, consulted Dr. Antonio Querol of San Fernando La

Union who diagnosed her to be suffering from dyspepsia and cancer of the stomach.

Thus, on or about April 26, 1932, Matea Abella ordered a sexton of the convent where

she stayed to call Attorney Teodoro R. Reinoso to whom she expressed her desire to

make a will. After the will had been drafted in Ilocano, the dialect of the testatrix,

Macario Calug read it to her and she approved it. When the will had been copied clean,

it was again read to the testatrix and she expressed her approval thereof. The opponent

claims that, inasmuch as the testatrix was 88 years of age when she made her will, she

was already suffering from senile debility and therefore her mental faculties were not

functioning normally anymore and that she was not fully aware of her acts. As an

indication of her senile debility, she attempted to prove that the testatrix had very poor

memory in connection with her properties and interest; that she could not go

downstairs without assistance, and that she could not recall her recent acts.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Matea Abella has testamentary capacity at the time she

allegedly executed the subject will.

HELD:

As to the mental sanity of the testatrix at the time of the execution of her will,

the court ruled that it is an undisputed fact the she left her home in Sinait, Ilocos Sur, on

April 13, 1932, in order to go to San Fernando, La Union, to consult Dr. Antonio

Querol of whose ability she had heard so much regarding her headaches and

stomach trouble, stopping at the convent of the parish church; the fact of her having

walked twice to the aforesaid doctor's clinic, accompanied by her niece, Filomena Inay;

the fact that she had personally furnished the aforesaid doctor with all the necessary

data regarding the history of her illness the fact of her having brought with her in her

trunk the deeds to her properties; the fact of her having called for Attorney Teodoro R.
Reinoso; the fact of her having personally furnished said attorney all the data she

wished to embody in her relative to her properties and the persons in whose favor she

wished to bequeath them; the fact of her not wishing to sign her will on the night of

April 28, 1932, but the following day, in order to be able to see it better, and the fact of

her having affixed her signature, in her own handwriting, to the original as well as to the

copies of her will which consisted of nine pages. All these data show that the testatrix

was not so physically weak, nor so blind, nor so deaf, nor so lacking in intelligence that

she could not, with full understanding thereof, dispose of her properties and make a

will. Neither senile debility, nor blindness, nor deafness, nor poor memory, is by itself

sufficient to incapacitate a person for making his will. Neither senile ability, nor

deafness, nor blindness, nor poor memory, is by itself sufficient to establish the

presumption that the person suffering therefrom is not in the full enjoyment of his

mental faculties, when there is sufficient evidence of his mental sanity at the time of the

execution of the will

G.R. Nos. L-46430-31 Testamentary Capacity July 30, 1979

Page 1 of 3

FRANCISCA ALSUA-BETTS, JOSEPH O. BETTS, JOSE MADARETA, ESTEBAN P. RAMIREZ, and THE

REGISTER OF DEEDS FOR ALBAY PROVINCE, petitioners,

v.

COURT OF APPEALS, AMPARO ALSUA BUENVIAJE, FERNANDO BUENVIAJE, FERNANDO ALSUA,

represented by his guardian, CLOTILDE S. ALSUA and PABLO ALSUA, respondents.

GUERRERO, J.:

Facts:

On November 25, 1949, Don Jesus Alsua and his wife, Doa Florentina Rella,

both of Ligao, Albay, together with all their living children, Francisca Alsua-Betts, Pablo

Alsua, Fernando Alsua thru this judicial guardian Clotilde Samson, and Amparo Alsua de

Buenviaje, entered into a duly notarised agreement, Escritura de Particin Extrajudicial


over the then present and existing properties of the spouses Don Jesus and Doa

Florentina enumerated in a prepared inventory, the essential features of which are

stated in private respondents brief. The four children were allotted properties in

accordance to the said extra-judicial partition.

On January 5, 1955, Don Jesus and Doa Florentina, also known as Doa Tinay

separately executed their respective holographic wills, the provisions of which were in

conformity and in implementation of the extra-judicial partition of November 25, 1949.

On August 14, 1956, the spouses Don Jesus and Doa Tinay executed their

mutual and reciprocal codicils amending and supplementing their respective

holographic wins. The codicils similarly acknowledged and provided that one-half of all

the properties of the spouses, conjugal and paraphernal had been disposed of,

conveyed to and partitioned among their legitimate heirs in the "Escritura de Particin"

of November 25, 1949. Also on the same day of August 14, 1956, the spouses Don Jesus

and Doa Tinay both filed their respective supplemental petitions for the probate of

their respective codicils in the probate proceedings earlier filed. On February 19, 1957,

their respective holographic wins and the codicils thereto were duly admitted to

probate.

Upon the death of Doa Tinay on October 2, 1959, Don Jesus was named

executor to serve without bond in an order issued by the probate court on October 13,

1959. Letters testamentary having been issued in favour of Don Jesus, he took his oath

of office and performed his duties as such until July 1, 1960.

Thereafter in the early part of November, 1959, Don Jesus cancelled his

holographic will in the presence of his bookkeeper and secretary, whom he instructed to

make a list of all his remaining properties with their corresponding descriptions. His

lawyer was then instructed to draft a new will which was duly signed by Don Jesus and

his attesting witnesses on November 14, 1959 at his home in Ligao, Albay. This notarial

will and testament of Don Jesus executed on November 14, 1959 had three essential

features:

(a) It expressly cancelled, revoked and annulled all the provisions of Don Jesus' holographic will
of January 5, 1955 and his codicil of August 14, 1956;

G.R. Nos. L-46430-31 Testamentary Capacity July 30, 1979

Page 2 of 3

(b) It provided for the collation of all his properties donated to his four living children by virtue of

the "Escritura de Particin Extra-judicial" of 1949, and that such properties be taken into

account in the partition of his estate among the children; and

(c) It instituted his children as legatees/devisees of certain specific properties, and as to the rest

of the properties and whatever may be subsequently acquired in the future, before his death,

were to be given to Francisca and Pablo, naming Francesca as executrix to serve without a

bond.

After all debts, funeral charges and other expenses of the estate of Doa Tinay

had been paid, all her heirs including Don Jesus, submitted to the probate court for

approval a deed of partition executed on December 19, 1959 and which essentially

confirmed the provisions of the partition of 1949, the holographic will and codicil of

Doa Tinay. On July 6, 1960, the court approved the partition of 1959 and on January 6,

1961 declared the termination of the proceedings on the estate of Doa Tinay.

On May 6, 1964, Don Jesus Alsua died.

On May 20, 1964, petitioner herein Francisca Alsua-Betts, as the executrix

named in the will of November 14, 1959, filed a petition for the probate of said new will

of Don Jesus Alsua before the Court of First Instance of Albay and was docketed as

Special Proceedings No. 699. Oppositions thereto were filed by Pablo, Amparo and

Fernando, thru his judicial guardian Clotilde Samson, on the following grounds:

(a) that Don Jesus was not of sound and disposing mind at the time of the execution of the

alleged will;

(b) that the will was executed under duress or influence of fear or threats; or it was procured by

undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the main beneficiaries and of

person or persons in collusion with them, or the signature of the testator was secured by or

thru fraud;
(c) that the will was not executed according to the formal requirements of the law; and

(d) that the alleged will subject of probate contravened the Extrajudicial Partition of 1949

agreed upon by him, his deceased spouse, Doa Tinay, and all his children, Francisco, Pablo,

Amparo and Fernando thru his judicial guardian Clotilde Samson, and also contravened Don

Jesus' own probated holographic will and codicil of 1955 and 1956, respectively, essentially

confirming and implementing the said partition of 1949 which had already been partially

executed by all the signatories thereto in the partition of the estate of Doa Tinay in

December, 1959.

The Court of First Instance of Albay promulgated a decision on January 15, 1973,

where it approved the November 14, 1959 will of Don Jesus Alsua and orders that the

same be made the basis for division and distribution of the estate of said testator.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court.

Issue:

Whether or not the Court of First Instance was correct in approving and allowing

the last will and testament of Don Jesus Alsua.

Held:

The Supreme Court held that the will fully complied with the formal requisites of

law wherein the testator signed the will in the proper place, three witnesses signed, and

G.R. Nos. L-46430-31 Testamentary Capacity July 30, 1979

Page 3 of 3

the will was notarisedsigned and sealed. Also the will was nine pages long and in each

page, the testator and witnesses signed in every page.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Extra-judicial Partition is null and void Article

1056 and in relation to Article 1271 of the old Civil Code

. As such Don Jesus was not

bound by it. Also as provided in Article 828 of the New Civil Code

2
, a will may be

revoked anytime before the testators death, and can therefore make a new one.

The Civil Code itself provides that in order to make a will, it is essential that the

testator be of sound mind at the time of its execution

, and the law presumes that every

person is of sound mind in the absence of proof to the contrary

. In the case at bar, the

acceptance by the respondent court of the findings of fact of the trial court on the due

execution of the last win and testament of Don Jesus has foreclosed any and all claim to

the contrary that the will was not executed in accordance with the requirements of the

law. More than that, gleaned from the quoted portions of the appealed decision, the

described behaviour of Don Jesus is neither that of a mentally incapacitated person nor

one suffering from "senile dementia" as claimed by private respondents. From these

accepted facts, We find that: (a) it was Don Jesus himself who gave detailed instructions

to his lawyer as to how he wanted to divide his properties among his children by means

of a list of his properties should pertain; (b) the semi-final draft of the contested will

prepared by his lawyer was even corrected by Don Jesus; (c) on the day of the signing of

the will at his house in Ligao, "Don Jesus was in bright and lively spirits ..., leading in the

conversation which ran from problems of farming and the merits of French-made

wines"; (d) the signing of the will by Don Jesus and his attesting witnesses was made

after a statement from Don Jesus of the purpose of their meeting or gathering.

Clearly then, Don Jesus knew exactly what his actions were and the fun

implications thereof.

Art. 1056. If the testator should make a partition of his property by an act inter vivos, or by will, such partition
shall stand in so far as it does not
prejudice the legitime of the forced heirs. ...

Art. 1271. All things, even future ones, which are not excluded from the commerce of man, may be the subject-
matter of contracts.

Nevertheless, no contract may be entered into with respect to future inheritances, except those the object of which
is to make a division inter vivos of

an estate, in accordance with Article 1056.

All services not contrary to law or to good morals may also be the subject- matter of contract.

A will may be revoked by the testator at any time before his death. Any waiver or restriction of this right is void.

Article 798

Article 800

G.R. No. L-19910 Testamentary Capacity May 31, 1971

Page 1 of 2

IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF MARIE GARNIER GARREAU. LIRIO

PFANNENSCHMIDT RAMIREZ, petitioner-appellant,

v.

JOSE MA. RAMIREZ, oppositor-appellee.

Jose W. Diokno for petitioner-appellant. Sycip, Salazar, Luna & Associates for oppositor-

appellee.

Makalintal, J.:

Facts:

Maria Gamier Garreau, widow of Ramon Ramirez, was a native of Asnier Paris,

France, but a Filipino citizen residing in Madrid, Spain, where she died childless at the

age of 84 on January 11, 1959. The will in question was an "open" one, executed before

a notary public in Madrid on May 24, 1958, and instituting her niece Lirio (Lily)

Pfannenschmidt now appellant, as sole and universal heir. Lirio is one of the four

children of Jose Ramirez, brother of the testatrix husband Ramon, the other three being
Elsa, Esperanza and Horacio. Ramon had a half-brother, Jorge P. Ramirez, whose son,

Jose Maria Ramirez, now appellee, opposed the petition for probate filed by Urio on

February 20, 1959, alleging in his opposition, inter alia, that there was a prior will

executed by the testatrix in Manila in 1949. The photostat copy of that will, marked in

the record as Exhibit D and Exhibit 2-J, shows that the testatrix instituted her husband as

her universal 'heir, and in the event that he should predecease her (which he did),

named her niece Lily Ramirez and her nephews Horacio Ramirez and Jose Ma. Ramirez

as substitute heirs to all her properties in equal shares. This previous will, however, is

not involved in this case, and has been referred to by the parties only in relation to the

background circumstances concerning the execution of the "open" will in 1958.

Issue:

Whether or not the testator possesses testamentary capacity to make the will

valid.

Ruling:

No. The order of the trial court denying probate is based in no small part on a

number of letters written by the petitioner herself, in which she used quite strong terms

to describe the mental infirmity of the testatrix. Those letters were written by her in

1956 and 1957 to her uncle, Jose Eugenio Ramirez de la Cavada, another brother of the

testatrix husband, Ramon Ramirez. He arrived in Madrid in 1954 and his niece Lily who

was then residing there, came to him and said that she could not accept the fact that

Jose Maria Ramirez (herein oppositor-appellee) had been named as heir in the will of

her aunt, not being a member of the same family group. When he arrived in Madrid he

found his sister-in-law "ya una mujer muy incapacitada." But from his own observations,

Jose Eugenio Ramirez declared that his sister-in-law was even then mentally

G.R. No. L-19910 Testamentary Capacity May 31, 1971

Page 2 of 2
incapacitated, citing by way of example her attitude and personal reaction when her

husband died in 1956. She was present at his death and saw his body just before he was

buried; but when she went to her room after the funeral and saw that his bed was no

longer there she came out crying asking where her husband was and saying that she was

going to look for him. She had totally forgotten that he had passed away. Apart from

that, she was easily susceptible to any suggestion from others, particularly those close

to her and after doing what she was told would promptly forget all about it. Another

deponent, Julio Escribano Langa, a resident of Madrid who had known the spouses

Ramon Ramirez and Maria Gamier Garreau for about nine years, testified to the same

mental condition of the testatrix: her susceptibility to another person's influence; her

lack of memory for recent events, her lack of understanding of, or volition for deciding,

certain matters such as the making of a last will.

G.R. No. 76648 Testamentary Capacity February 26, 1988

THE HEIRS OF THE LATE MATILDE MONTINOLA-SANSON v. COURT OF APPEALS and


EDUARDO F. HERNANDEZ
GANCAYCO, J.:
FACTS:
This case arose from a petition filed by private respondent Atty. Eduardo F. Hernandez on April 22, 1981
with the Court of First Instance of Manila (now Regional Trial Court) seeking the probate of the holographic
will of the late Herminia Montinola executed on January 28, 1980. The testatrix, who died single, parentless and
childless on March 29, 1981 at the age of 70 years, devised in this will several of her real properties to specified
persons. On April 29, 1981, private respondent who was named executor in the will filed an urgent motion for
appointment of special administrator. With the conformity of all the relatives and heirs of the testatrix except
oppositor, the court in its order of May 5, 1981 appointed private respondent as Special Administrator of the
testate estate of deceased.
On June 29,1981, Matilde Montinola Sanson (petitioner), the only surviving sister of the deceased but who was not
named in the said win, filed her Opposition to Probate of Will, alleging inter alia: that the subject will was not
entirely written, dated and signed by the testatrix herself and the same was falsely dated or antedated;
that the testatrix was not in full possession of her mental faculties to make testamentary dispositions; that
undue influence was exerted upon the person and mind of the testatrix by the beneficiaries named in the
win; and that the will failed to institute a residual heir to the remainder of the estate.

ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL IN QUESTION WAS WHOLLY WRITTEN, DATED AND
SIGNED BY THE LATE HERMINIA MONTINOLA.

RULING: In the alleged antedating of the will, petitioner failed to present competent proof that the will was
actually executed sometime in June 1980 when the testatrix was already seriously ill and dying of terminal lung
cancer. She relied only on the supposed inconsistencies in the testimony of Asuncion Gemperle, niece and
constant companion of testatrix, which upon careful examination did not prove such claim of antedating.
The factual findings of the probate court and the Court of Appeals that the will in question was executed
according to the formalities required by law are conclusive on the Supreme Court when supported by
evidence.
We have examined the records of this case and find no error in the conclusion arrived at by the
respondent court that the contested will was duly executed in accordance with law.
Article 842 of the Civil Code provides that one who has no compulsory heirs may dispose by will of all his estate or
any part of it in favour of any person having capacity to succeed.

It is within the right of the testatrix not to include her only sister who is not a compulsory heir in her will.
Petitioner still insists that the fact that in her holographic will the testatrix failed to dispose of all of her estate is an
indication of the unsoundness of her mind. We cannot subscribe to this contention. Art. 841 of the Civil Code
provides A will shall be valid even though it should not contain an institution of an heir, or such institution
should not comprise the entire estate, and even though the person so instituted should not accept the
inheritance or should be incapacitated to succeed.

In such cases, the testamentary dispositions made in accordance with law shall be complied with and the
remainder of the estate shall pass to the legal heirs. Thus, the fact that in her holographic will, testatrix
disposed of only eleven (11) of her real properties does not invalidate the will, or is it an indication that the
testatrix was of unsound mind. The portion of the estate undisposed of shall pass on to the heirs of the deceased in
intestate succession.
Neither is undue influence present just because blood relatives, other than compulsory heirs have been
omitted, for while blood ties are strong in the Philippines, it is the testator's right to disregard non-compulsory
heirs.
THIRD DIVISION
FELIX AZUELA, G.R. No. 122880
Petitioner,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES, and
TINGA, JJ.
COURT OF APPEALS,
GERALDA AIDA CASTILLO Promulgated:
substituted by ERNESTO G.
CASTILLO, April 12, 2006
Respondents.
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

TINGA, J.:

The core of this petition is a highly defective notarial will, purportedly executed by Eugenia E. Igsolo (decedent),
who died on 16 December 1982 at the age of 80. In refusing to give legal recognition to the due execution of this
document, the Court is provided the opportunity to assert a few important doctrinal rules in the execution of
notarial wills, all self-evident in view of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code.

A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the will is written is fatally
defective. A will whose attestation clause is not signed by the instrumental witnesses is fatally defective.
And perhaps most importantly, a will which does not contain an acknowledgment, but a mere jurat, is
fatally defective. Any one of these defects is sufficient to deny probate. A notarial will with all three defects
is just aching for judicial rejection.

There is a distinct and consequential reason the Civil Code provides a comprehensive catalog of imperatives for the
proper execution of a notarial will. Full and faithful compliance with all the detailed requisites under Article 805 of
the Code leave little room for doubt as to the validity in the due execution of the notarial will. Article 806 likewise
imposes another safeguard to the validity of notarial wills that they be acknowledged before a notary public by the
testator and the witnesses. A notarial will executed with indifference to these two codal provisions opens itself to
nagging questions as to its legitimacy.

The case stems from a petition for probate filed on 10 April 1984 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila.
The petition filed by petitioner Felix Azuela sought to admit to probate the notarial will of Eugenia E. Igsolo, which
was notarized on 10 June 1981. Petitioner is the son of the cousin of the decedent.

The will, consisting of two (2) pages and written in the vernacular Pilipino, read in full:
HULING HABILIN NI EUGENIA E. IGSOLO

SA NGALAN NG MAYKAPAL, AMEN:

AKO, si EUGENIA E. IGSOLO, nakatira sa 500 San Diego St., Sampaloc, Manila, pitongput siyam (79) na gulang, nasa
hustong pagi-isip, pag-unawa at memoria ay nag-hahayag na ito na ang aking huling habilin at testamento,
at binabali wala ko lahat ang naunang ginawang habilin o testamento:
Una-Hinihiling ko na ako ay mailibing sa Sementerio del Norte, La Loma sang-
ayong sa kaugalian at patakaran ng simbahang katoliko at ang taga-pag-
ingat (Executor) ng habiling ito ay magtatayo ng bantayog upang silbing ala-ala sa
akin ng aking pamilya at kaibigan;

Pangalawa-Aking ipinagkakaloob at isinasalin ang lahat ng karapatan sa aking pamangkin na si Felix Azuela,
na siyang nag-alaga sa akin sa mahabang panahon, yaong mga bahay na nakatirik sa lote numero 28, Block 24
at nakapangalan sa Pechaten Korporasyon, ganoon din ibinibigay ko ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay na nakatirik s
a inoopahan kong lote, numero 43, Block 24 na pag-
aari ng Pechaten Corporation. Ipinagkakaloob kong buong buo ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay at lupa na nasa 500
San Diego St., Lot 42, Block 24, Sampaloc, Manila kayFelix Azuela
at ang pagkakaloob kong ito ay walang pasubalit at kondiciones;

Pangatlo- Na ninunumbrahan ko si VART PAGUE


na siyang nagpapatupad ng huling habiling ito at kagustuhan ko rin na hindi na kailanman siyang mag-
lagak ng piyansiya.

Aking nilagdaan ang Huling Habilin na ito dito sa Maynila ika 10 ng Hunyo, 1981.

(Sgd.)
EUGENIA E. IGSOLO
(Tagapagmana)

PATUNAY NG MGA SAKSI

Ang kasulatang ito, na binubuo ng ____ dahon pati ang huling dahong ito, na ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia E.
Igsolo, tagapagmana na siya niyang Huling Habilin, ngayon ika-10 ng Hunyo1981,
ay nilagdaan ng nasabing tagapagmana sa ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at
sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon, sa harap ng lahat at bawat sa amin,
at kami namang mga saksiay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin,
sa ilalim ng nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon ng kasulatan ito.

EUGENIA E. IGSOLO
address: 500 San Diego St.
Sampaloc, Manila Res. Cert. No. A-7717-37
Issued at Manila on March 10, 1981.

QUIRINO AGRAVA
address: 1228-Int. 3, Kahilum
Pandacan, Manila Res. Cert. No. A-458365
Issued at Manila on Jan. 21, 1981

LAMBERTO C. LEAO
address: Avenue 2, Blcok 7,
Lot 61, San Gabriel, G.MA., Cavite Res.
Cert. No. A-768277 issued at Carmona, Cavite
on Feb. 7, 1981

JUANITO ESTRERA
address: City Court Compound,
City of Manila Res. Cert. No. A574829
Issued at Manila on March 2, 1981.

Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10, 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila.


(Sgd.)
PETRONIO Y. BAUTISTA
Doc. No. 1232 ; NOTARIO PUBLIKO
Page No. 86 ; Until Dec. 31, 1981
Book No. 43 ; PTR-152041-1/2/81-Manila
Series of 1981 TAN # 1437-977-8[1]

The three named witnesses to the will affixed their signatures on the left-hand margin of both pages of the will, but
not at the bottom of the attestation clause.

The probate petition adverted to only two (2) heirs, legatees and devisees of the decedent, namely: petitioner
himself, and one Irene Lynn Igsolo, who was alleged to have resided abroad. Petitioner prayed that the will be
allowed, and that letters testamentary be issued to the designated executor, Vart Prague.

The petition was opposed by Geralda Aida Castillo (Geralda Castillo), who represented herself as the attorney-in-
fact of the 12 legitimate heirs of the decedent.[2] Geralda Castillo claimed that the will is a forgery, and that the true
purpose of its emergence was so it could be utilized as a defense in several court cases filed by oppositor against
petitioner, particularly for forcible entry and usurpation of real property, all centering on petitioners right to
occupy the properties of the decedent.[3] It also asserted that contrary to the representations of petitioner, the
decedent was actually survived by 12 legitimate heirs, namely her grandchildren, who were then residing abroad.
Per records, it was subsequently alleged that decedent was the widow of Bonifacio Igsolo, who died in 1965,[4] and
the mother of a legitimate child, Asuncion E. Igsolo, who predeceased her mother by three (3) months.[5]

Oppositor Geralda Castillo also argued that the will was not executed and attested to in accordance with law. She
pointed out that decedents signature did not appear on the second page of the will, and the will was not properly
acknowledged. These twin arguments are among the central matters to this petition.

After due trial, the RTC admitted the will to probate, in an Order dated 10 August 1992.[6] The RTC favorably took
into account the testimony of the three (3) witnesses to the will, Quirino Agrava, Lamberto Leano, and Juanito
Estrada. The RTC also called to fore the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will x x
x with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes;[7] and from this
perspective, rebutted oppositors arguments that the will was not properly executed and attested to in accordance
with law.
After a careful examination of the will and consideration of the testimonies of the subscribing and attesting
witnesses, and having in mind the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will, i.e., the
liberalization of the interpretation of the law on the formal requirements of a will with the end in view of giving the
testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, this Court is persuaded to rule that the will in question is
authentic and had been executed by the testatrix in accordance with law.

On the issue of lack of acknowledgement, this Court has noted that at the end of the will after the signature of the
testatrix, the following statement is made under the sub-title, Patunay Ng Mga Saksi:

Ang kasulatang ito, na binubuo ng _____ dahon pati ang huling dahong ito, na ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia N.
Igsolo, tagapagmana na siya niyang Huling Habilin, ngayong ika-10 ng Hunyo 1981,
ay nilagdaan ng nasabing tagapagmana sa ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at
sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon, sa harap ng lahat at bawat sa amin,
at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin,
sa ilalim ng nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon ng kasulatan ito.

The aforequoted declaration comprises the attestation clause and the acknowledgement and is considered by this
Court as a substantial compliance with the requirements of the law.
On the oppositors contention that the attestation clause was not signed by the subscribing witnesses at the bottom
thereof, this Court is of the view that the signing by the subscribing witnesses on the left margin of the second page
of the will containing the attestation clause and acknowledgment, instead of at the bottom thereof, substantially
satisfies the purpose of identification and attestation of the will.

With regard to the oppositors argument that the will was not numbered correlatively in letters placed on upper
part of each page and that the attestation did not state the number of pages thereof, it is worthy to note that the
will is composed of only two pages. The first page contains the entire text of the testamentary dispositions, and the
second page contains the last portion of the attestation clause and acknowledgement. Such being so, the defects are
not of a serious nature as to invalidate the will. For the same reason, the failure of the testatrix to affix her
signature on the left margin of the second page, which contains only the last portion of the attestation clause and
acknowledgment is not a fatal defect.

As regards the oppositors assertion that the signature of the testatrix on the will is a forgery, the testimonies of the
three subscribing witnesses to the will are convincing enough to establish the genuineness of the signature of the
testatrix and the due execution of the will.[8]

The Order was appealed to the Court of Appeals by Ernesto Castillo, who had substituted his since deceased
mother-in-law, Geralda Castillo. In a Decision dated 17 August 1995, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court
and ordered the dismissal of the petition for probate.[9] The Court of Appeals noted that the attestation clause failed
to state the number of pages used in the will, thus rendering the will void and undeserving of probate.[10]

Hence, the present petition.

Petitioner argues that the requirement under Article 805 of the Civil Code that the number of pages used in a
notarial will be stated in the attestation clause is merely directory, rather than mandatory, and thus susceptible to
what he termed as the substantial compliance rule.[11]

The solution to this case calls for the application of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code, which we replicate in
full.

Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or
by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and
subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also
sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be
numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.

The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator
signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction,
in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages
thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.

If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to them.

Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary
public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court.

The appellate court, in its Decision, considered only one defect, the failure of the attestation clause to state the
number of pages of the will. But an examination of the will itself reveals several more deficiencies.

As admitted by petitioner himself, the attestation clause fails to state the number of pages of the will.[12] There was
an incomplete attempt to comply with this requisite, a space having been allotted for the insertion of the number of
pages in the attestation clause. Yet the blank was never filled in; hence, the requisite was left uncomplied with.
The Court of Appeals pounced on this defect in reversing the trial court, citing in the process Uy Coque v. Navas L.
Sioca[13] and In re: Will of Andrada.[14] In Uy Coque, the Court noted that among the defects of the will in question
was the failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages contained in the will.[15] In ruling that the will
could not be admitted to probate, the Court made the following consideration which remains highly relevant to this
day: The purpose of requiring the number of sheets to be stated in the attestation clause is obvious; the document
might easily be so prepared that the removal of a sheet would completely change the testamentary
dispositions of the will and in the absence of a statement of the total number of sheets such removal might
be effected by taking out the sheet and changing the numbers at the top of the following sheets or pages. If,
on the other hand, the total number of sheets is stated in the attestation clause the falsification of the document
will involve the inserting of new pages and the forging of the signatures of the testator and witnesses in the margin,
a matter attended with much greater difficulty.[16]

The case of In re Will of Andrada concerned a will the attestation clause of which failed to state the number of
sheets or pages used. This consideration alone was sufficient for the Court to declare unanim[ity] upon the point
that the defect pointed out in the attesting clause is fatal.[17] It was further observed that it cannot be denied that
the x x x requirement affords additional security against the danger that the will may be tampered with; and as the
Legislature has seen fit to prescribe this requirement, it must be considered material.[18]

Against these cited cases, petitioner cites Singson v. Florentino[19] and Taboada v. Hon. Rosal,[20] wherein the Court
allowed probate to the wills concerned therein despite the fact that the attestation clause did not state the number
of pages of the will. Yet the appellate court itself considered the import of these two cases, and made the following
distinction which petitioner is unable to rebut, and which we adopt with approval:

Even a cursory examination of the Will (Exhibit D), will readily show that the attestation does not state the number
of pages used upon which the will is written. Hence, the Will is void and undeserving of probate.

We are not impervious of the Decisions of the Supreme Court in Manuel Singson versus Emilia Florentino, et al., 92
Phil. 161 and Apolonio [Taboada] versus Hon. Avelino Rosal, et al., 118 SCRA 195, to the effect that a will may still
be valid even if the attestation does not contain the number of pages used upon which the Will is written. However,
the Decisions of the Supreme Court are not applicable in the aforementioned appeal at bench. This is so because, in
the case of Manuel Singson versus Emilia Florentino, et al., supra, although the attestation in the subject Will did
not state the number of pages used in the will, however, the same was found in the last part of the body of the Will:

xxx
The law referred to is article 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645, which requires that
the attestation clause shall state the number of pages or sheets upon which the will is written, which requirement
has been held to be mandatory as an effective safeguard against the possibility of interpolation or omission of some
of the pages of the will to the prejudice of the heirs to whom the property is intended to be bequeathed (In re Will
of Andrada, 42 Phil. 180; Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca, 43 Phil., 405; Gumban vs. Gorcho, 50 Phil. 30; Quinto vs.
Morata, 54 Phil. 481; Echevarria vs. Sarmiento, 66 Phil. 611). The ratio decidendi of these cases seems to be that
the attestation clause must contain a statement of the number of sheets or pages composing the will and that if this
is missing or is omitted, it will have the effect of invalidating the will if the deficiency cannot be supplied, not by
evidence aliunde, but by a consideration or examination of the will itself. But here the situation is different. While
the attestation clause does not state the number of sheets or pages upon which the will is written, however, the last
part of the body of the will contains a statement that it is composed of eight pages, which circumstance in our
opinion takes this case out of the rigid rule of construction and places it within the realm of similar cases where a
broad and more liberal view has been adopted to prevent the will of the testator from being defeated by purely
technical considerations. (page 165-165, supra) (Underscoring supplied)

In Apolonio Tabaoda versus Hon. Avelino Rosal, et al. supra, the notarial acknowledgement in the Will states the
number of pages used in the:

We have examined the will in question and noticed that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages
used in writing the will. This would have been a fatal defect were it not for the fact that, in this case, it is discernible
from the entire will that it is really and actually composed of only two pages duly signed by the testatrix and her
instrumental witnesses. As earlier stated, the first page which contains the entirety of the testamentary
dispositions is signed by the testatrix at the end or at the bottom while the instrumental witnesses signed at the
left margin. The other page which is marked as Pagina dos comprises the attestation clause and the
acknowledgment. The acknowledgment itself states that this Last Will and Testament consists of two pages
including this page (pages 200-201, supra) (Underscoring supplied).

However, in the appeal at bench, the number of pages used in the will is not stated in any part of the Will. The will
does not even contain any notarial acknowledgment wherein the number of pages of the will should be stated.[21]

Both Uy Coque and Andrada were decided prior to the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950, at a time when the
statutory provision governing the formal requirement of wills was Section 618 of the Code of Civil
Procedure.[22] Reliance on these cases remains apropos, considering that the requirement that the attestation state
the number of pages of the will is extant from Section 618.[23] However, the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950 did
put in force a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills, at least insofar as the attestation clause is
concerned, that may vary from the philosophy that governed these two cases. Article 809 of the Civil Code states:
In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and
imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is
proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article
805.

In the same vein, petitioner cites the report of the Civil Code Commission, which stated that the underlying and
fundamental objective permeating the provisions on the [law] on [wills] in this project consists in the
[liberalization] of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more [freedom] in
[expressing] his last wishes. This objective is in accord with the [modern tendency] in respect to the formalities in
the execution of wills.[24] However, petitioner conveniently omits the qualification offered by the Code Commission
in the very same paragraph he cites from their report, that such liberalization be but with sufficient safeguards and
restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence
upon the testator.[25]

Caneda v. Court of Appeals[26] features an extensive discussion made by Justice Regalado, speaking for the Court on
the conflicting views on the manner of interpretation of the legal formalities required in the execution of the
attestation clause in wills.[27] Uy Coque and Andrada are cited therein, along with several other cases, as examples
of the application of the rule of strict construction.[28] However, the Code Commission opted to recommend a more
liberal construction through the substantial compliance rule under Article 809. A cautionary note was struck
though by Justice J.B.L. Reyes as to how Article 809 should be applied:

x x x The rule must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an examination of the will
itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered; whether the signatures appear in each and every page;
whether the subscribing witnesses are three or the will was notarized. All these are facts that the will itself can
reveal, and defects or even omissions concerning them in the attestation clause can be safely disregarded. But the
total number of pages, and whether all persons required to sign did so in the presence of each other must
substantially appear in the attestation clause, being the only check against perjury in the probate
proceedings.[29] (Emphasis supplied.)

The Court of Appeals did cite these comments by Justice J.B.L. Reyes in its assailed decision, considering that the
failure to state the number of pages of the will in the attestation clause is one of the defects which cannot be simply
disregarded. In Caneda itself, the Court refused to allow the probate of a will whose attestation clause failed to
state that the witnesses subscribed their respective signatures to the will in the presence of the testator and of
each other,[30] the other omission cited by Justice J.B.L. Reyes which to his estimation cannot be lightly disregarded.

Caneda suggested: [I]t may thus be stated that the rule, as it now stands, is that omission which can be supplied by
an examination of the will itself, without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal and,
correspondingly, would not obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. However, those omissions
which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and
ultimately, of the will itself.[31] Thus, a failure by the attestation clause to state that the testator signed every page
can be liberally construed, since that fact can be checked by a visual examination; while a failure by the attestation
clause to state that the witnesses signed in one anothers presence should be considered a fatal flaw since the
attestation is the only textual guarantee of compliance.[32]

The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will was written remains a fatal flaw,
despite Article 809. The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is
written is to safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and to prevent any
increase or decrease in the pages.[33] The failure to state the number of pages equates with the absence of an
averment on the part of the instrumental witnesses as to how many pages consisted the will, the execution of
which they had ostensibly just witnessed and subscribed to. Following Caneda, there is substantial compliance
with this requirement if the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it is comprised of, as was the situation
in Singson and Taboada. However, in this case, there could have been no substantial compliance with the
requirements under Article 805 since there is no statement in the attestation clause or anywhere in the will itself
as to the number of pages which comprise the will.

At the same time, Article 809 should not deviate from the need to comply with the formal requirements as
enumerated under Article 805. Whatever the inclinations of the members of the Code Commission in incorporating
Article 805, the fact remains that they saw fit to prescribe substantially the same formal requisites as enumerated
in Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, convinced that these remained effective safeguards against the
forgery or intercalation of notarial wills.[34] Compliance with these requirements, however picayune in impression,
affords the public a high degree of comfort that the testator himself or herself had decided to convey property post
mortem in the manner established in the will.[35] The transcendent legislative intent, even as expressed in the
cited comments of the Code Commission, is for the fruition of the testators incontestable desires, and not
for the indulgent admission of wills to probate.

The Court could thus end here and affirm the Court of Appeals. However, an examination of the will itself reveals a
couple of even more critical defects that should necessarily lead to its rejection.

For one, the attestation clause was not signed by the instrumental witnesses. While the signatures of the
instrumental witnesses appear on the left-hand margin of the will, they do not appear at the bottom of the
attestation clause which after all consists of their averments before the notary public.

Cagro v. Cagro[36] is material on this point. As in this case, the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not
appear at the bottom of the attestation clause, although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on
the left-hand margin.[37] While three (3) Justices[38] considered the signature requirement had been substantially
complied with, a majority of six (6), speaking through Chief Justice Paras, ruled that the attestation clause had not
been duly signed, rendering the will fatally defective.

There is no question that the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the
attestation clause, although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin.

We are of the opinion that the position taken by the appellant is correct. The attestation clause is "a memorandum
of the facts attending the execution of the will" required by law to be made by the attesting witnesses, and it must
necessarily bear their signatures. An unsigned attestation clause cannot be considered as an act of the witnesses,
since the omission of their signatures at the bottom thereof negatives their participation.

The petitioner and appellee contends that signatures of the three witnesses on the left-hand margin conform
substantially to the law and may be deemed as their signatures to the attestation clause. This is untenable, because
said signatures are in compliance with the legal mandate that the will be signed on the left-hand margin of all its
pages. If an attestation clause not signed by the three witnesses at the bottom thereof, be admitted as sufficient, it
would be easy to add such clause to a will on a subsequent occasion and in the absence of the testator and any or
all of the witnesses.[39]
The Court today reiterates the continued efficacy of Cagro. Article 805 particularly segregates the requirement that
the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the will, from the requisite that the will be attested and subscribed by
[the instrumental witnesses]. The respective intents behind these two classes of signature are distinct from each
other. The signatures on the left-hand corner of every page signify, among others, that the witnesses are aware that
the page they are signing forms part of the will. On the other hand, the signatures to the attestation clause establish
that the witnesses are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself. Indeed, the attestation
clause is separate and apart from the disposition of the will. An unsigned attestation clause results in an unattested
will. Even if the instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing the unsigned attestation
clause, such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses undertakings in the clause, since the signatures that
do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly different avowal.

The Court may be more charitably disposed had the witnesses in this case signed the attestation clause itself, but
not the left-hand margin of the page containing such clause. Without diminishing the value of the instrumental
witnesses signatures on each and every page, the fact must be noted that it is the attestation clause which contains
the utterances reduced into writing of the testamentary witnesses themselves. It is the witnesses, and not the
testator, who are required under Article 805 to state the number of pages used upon which the will is written; the
fact that the testator had signed the will and every page thereof; and that they witnessed and signed the will and all
the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. The only proof in the will that the witnesses
have stated these elemental facts would be their signatures on the attestation clause.

Thus, the subject will cannot be considered to have been validly attested to by the instrumental witnesses, as they
failed to sign the attestation clause.

Yet, there is another fatal defect to the will on which the denial of this petition should also hinge. The requirement
under Article 806 that every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses
has also not been complied with. The importance of this requirement is highlighted by the fact that it had been
segregated from the other requirements under Article 805 and entrusted into a separate provision, Article 806.
The non-observance of Article 806 in this case is equally as critical as the other cited flaws in compliance with
Article 805, and should be treated as of equivalent import.

In lieu of an acknowledgment, the notary public, Petronio Y. Bautista,


wrote Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10 (sic), 1981 dito sa Lungsod ngMaynila.[40] By no manner
of contemplation can those words be construed as an acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the act of one who
has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed.[41] It
involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signor actually declares to the notary that the executor of a
document has attested to the notary that the same is his/her own free act and deed.

It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat, even though it does not hew to the usual language thereof.
A jurat is that part of an affidavit where the notary certifies that before him/her, the document was subscribed and
sworn to by the executor.[42] Ordinarily, the language of the jurat should avow that the document was subscribed
and sworn before the notary public, while in this case, the notary public averred that he himself signed and
notarized the document. Possibly though, the word ninotario or notarized encompasses the signing of and
swearing in of the executors of the document, which in this case would involve the decedent and the instrumental
witnesses.

Yet even if we consider what was affixed by the notary public as a jurat, the will would nonetheless remain invalid,
as the express requirement of Article 806 is that the will be acknowledged, and not merely subscribed and sworn
to. The will does not present any textual proof, much less one under oath, that the decedent and the instrumental
witnesses executed or signed the will as their own free act or deed. The acknowledgment made in a will provides
for another all-important legal safeguard against spurious wills or those made beyond the free consent of the
testator. An acknowledgement is not an empty meaningless act.[43] The acknowledgment coerces the testator and
the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that they had executed and subscribed to the will
as their own free act or deed. Such declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury, thus allowing for the
criminal prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of spurious wills, or those executed without the
free consent of the testator. It also provides a further degree of assurance that the testator is of certain mindset in
making the testamentary dispositions to those persons he/she had designated in the will.

It may not have been said before, but we can assert the rule, self-evident as it is under Article 806. A notarial will
that is not acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective, even
if it is subscribed and sworn to before a notary public.

There are two other requirements under Article 805 which were not fully satisfied by the will in question. We need
not discuss them at length, as they are no longer material to the disposition of this case. The provision requires that
the testator and the instrumental witnesses sign each and every page of the will on the left margin, except the last;
and that all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. In this case,
the decedent, unlike the witnesses, failed to sign both pages of the will on the left margin, her only signature
appearing at the so-called logical end[44] of the will on its first page. Also, the will itself is not numbered
correlatively in letters on each page, but instead numbered with Arabic numerals. There is a line of thought that
has disabused the notion that these two requirements be construed as mandatory.[45] Taken in isolation, these
omissions, by themselves, may not be sufficient to deny probate to a will. Yet even as these omissions are not
decisive to the adjudication of this case, they need not be dwelt on, though indicative as they may be of a general
lack of due regard for the requirements under Article 805 by whoever executed the will.

All told, the string of mortal defects which the will in question suffers from makes the probate denial inexorable.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner.


SO ORDERED.

AZUELA v. COURT OF APPEALS

A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the will is written is fatally defective. A
will whose attestation clause is not signed by the instrumental witnesses is fatally defective. And perhaps most
importantly, a will which does not contain an acknowledgment, but a mere jurat, is fatally defective. Any one of these
defects is sufficient to deny probate. A notarial will with all three defects is just aching for judicial rejection.

FACTS:
Felix Azuela filed a petition with the trial court for the probate of a notarial will purportedly executed by Eugenia E.
Igsolo on June 10, 1981 and notarized on the same day. The will consisted of two (2) pages and was written in
Filipino. The attestation clause did not state the number of pages and it was not signed by the attesting witnesses
at the bottom thereof. The said witnesses affixed their signatures on the left-hand margin of both pages of the will
though. Geralda Castillo opposed the petition, claiming that the will was a forgery. She also argued that the will was
not executed and attested to in accordance with law. She pointed out that the decedents signature did not appear
on the second page of the will, and the will was not properly acknowledged.

The trial court held the will to be authentic and to have been executed in accordance with law and, thus, admitted it
to probate, calling to fore the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a willwith the
end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes. According to the trial court, the
declaration at the end of the will under the sub-title, Patunay Ng Mga Saksi, comprised the attestation clause and
the acknowledgement, and was a substantial compliance with the requirements of the law. It also held that the
signing by the subscribing witnesses on the left margin of the second page of the will containing the attestation
clause and acknowledgment, instead of at the bottom thereof, substantially satisfied the purpose of identification
and attestation of the will. The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the trial courts decision and ordered the
dismissal of the petition for probate. It noted that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in
the will, thus rendering the will void and undeserving of probate.

Azuela argues that the requirement under Article 805 of the Civil Code that the number of pages used in a notarial
will be stated in the attestation clause is merely directory, rather than mandatory, and thus susceptible to what he
termed as the substantial compliance rule.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the subject will complied with the requirements of the law and, hence, should be admitted to
probate.

HELD:
The petition is DENIED.
A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the will is written is fatally
defective. A will whose attestation clause is not signed by the instrumental witnesses is fatally defective. And
perhaps most importantly, a will which does not contain an acknowledgment, but a mere jurat, is fatally defective.
Any one of these defects is sufficient to deny probate. A notarial will with all three defects is just aching for judicial
rejection.

Prior to the New Civil Code, the statutory provision governing the formal requirements of wills was Section 618 of
the Code of Civil Procedure. Extant therefrom is the requirement that the attestation state the number of pages of
the will. The enactment of the New Civil Code put in force a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills, at
least insofar as the attestation clause is concerned, that may vary from the philosophy that governed the said
Section 618. Article 809 of the Civil Code, the Code Commission opted to recommend a more liberal construction
through the substantial compliance rule. However, Justice J.B.L. Reyes cautioned that the rule must be limited to
disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an examination of the will itself: whether all the pages are
consecutively numbered; whether the signatures appear in each and every page; whether the subscribing
witnesses are three or the will was notarizedBut the total number of pages, and whether all persons required to
sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the attestation clause, being the only check
against perjury in the probate proceedings. The Court suggested in Caneda v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 103554,
May 28, 1993, 222 SCRA 781): the rule, as it now stands, is that omission which can be supplied by an examination
of the will itself, without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal and, correspondingly, would
not obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed.

However, those omissions which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of
the attestation clause and ultimately, of the will itself.

The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will was written remains a fatal flaw,
despite Art. 809. This requirement aims at safeguarding the will against possible interpolation or omission of one
or some of its pages and thus preventing any increase or decrease in the pages. Following Caneda, there is
substantial compliance with this requirement if the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it is comprised of,
as was the situation in Singson and Taboada. In this case, however, there could have been no substantial
compliance with the requirements under Art. 805 of the Civil Code since there is no statement in the attestation
clause or anywhere in the will itself as to the number of pages which comprise the will. There was an incomplete
attempt to comply with this requisite, a space having been allotted for the insertion of the number of pages in the
attestation clause. Yet the blank was never filled in.
The subject will cannot be considered to have been validly attested to by the instrumental witnesses. While the
signatures of the instrumental witnesses appear on the left-hand margin of the will, they do not appear at the
bottom of the attestation clause. Art. 805 particularly segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses
sign each page of the will, from the requisite that the will be attested and subscribed by them. The signatures on
the left-hand corner of every page signify, among others, that the witnesses are aware that the page they are
signing forms part of the will. On the other hand, the signatures to the attestation clause establish that the
witnesses are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself. An unsigned attestation clause
results in an unattested will. Even if the instrumental witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing
the unsigned attestation clause, such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses undertakings in the clause,
since the signatures that do appear on the page were directed towards a wholly different avowal.

The notary public who notarized the subject will wrote, Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10
(sic), 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng Maynila. By no manner of contemplation can these words be construed as an
acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent
officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed. It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat, even
though it does not follow to the usual language thereof. A jurat is that part of an affidavit where the notary certifies
that before him/her, the document was subscribed and sworn to by the executor.
It may not have been said before, but a notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary public by the testator
and the witnesses is fatally defective, even if it is subscribed and sworn to before a notary public. The importance
of the requirement of acknowledgment is highlighted by the fact that it had been segregated from the other
requirements under Art. 805 and entrusted into a separate provision, Art. 806. The express requirement of Art.
806 is that the will be acknowledged, and not merely subscribed and sworn to. The acknowledgment coerces the
testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that they had executed and
subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed. Such declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury, thus
allowing for the criminal prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of spurious wills, or those
executed without the free consent of the testator. It also provides a further degree of assurance that the testator is
of certain mindset in making the testamentary dispositions to those persons he/she had designated in the will.

DEFECTS:
(1) AC did not state number of pages
(2) Witnesses did not sign the AC
(3) No acknowledgment by a notary
(4) No signature of the testator in each and every page
(5) Pages were not numbered consecutively
G.R. No. 74695 September 14, 1993

In the Matter of the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of the Deceased Brigido Alvarado, CESAR
ALVARADO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. RAMON G. GAVIOLA, JR., Presiding Justice, HON. MA. ROSARIO QUETULIO LOSA and HON. LEONOR
INES LUCIANO, Associate Justices, Intermediate Appellate Court, First Division (Civil Cases), and BAYANI
MA. RINO, respondents.

Vicente R. Redor for petitioner.

Bayani Ma. Rino for and in his own behalf.

BELLOSILLO, J.:
Before us is an appeal from the Decision dated 11 April 1986[1] of the First Civil Cases Division of the then
Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, which affirmed the Order dated 27 June 1983[2] of the
Regional Trial Court of Sta. Cruz, Laguna, admitting to probate the last will and testament[3] with codicil[4] of the
late Brigido Alvarado.

On 5 November 1977, the 79-year old Brigido Alvarado executed a notarial will entitled "Huling Habilin" wherein
he disinherited an illegitimate son (petitioner) and expressly revoked a previously executed holographic will at the
time awaiting probate before Branch of the Regional Trial Court of Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

As testified to by the three instrumental witnesses, the notary public and by private respondent who were present
at the execution, the testator did not read the final draft of the will himself. Instead, private respondent, as the
lawyer who drafted the eight-paged document, read the same aloud in the presence of the testator, the three
instrumental witnesses and the notary public. The latter four followed the reading with their own
respective copies previously furnished them.

Meanwhile, Brigido's holographic will was subsequently admitted to probate on 9 December 1977. On the 29th day
of the same month, a codicil entitled "Kasulatan ng Pagbabago sa Ilang Pagpapasiya na Nasasaad sa Huling Habilin
na May Petsa Nobiembre 5, 1977 ni Brigido Alvarado" was executed changing some dispositions in the notarial will
to generate cash for the testator's eye operation. Brigido was then suffering from glaucoma. But the disinheritance
and revocatory clauses were unchanged. As in the case of the notarial will, the testator did not personally read the
final draft of the codicil. Instead, it was private respondent who read it aloud in his presence and in the presence of
the three instrumental witnesses (same as those of the notarial will) and the notary public who followed the
reading using their own copies.

A petition for the probate of the notarial will and codicil was filed upon the testator's death on 3 January 1979 by
private respondent as executor with the Court of First Instance, now Regional Trial Court, of Siniloan,
Laguna.[5] Petitioner, in turn, filed an Opposition on thefollowing grounds: that the will sought to be
probated was not executed and attested as required by law; that the testator was insane or otherwise mentally
incapacitated to make a will at the time of its execution due to senility and old age; that the will was executed
under duress, or influence of fear or threats; that it was procured by undue and improper pressure
and influence on the part of the beneficiary who stands to get the lion's share of the testator's estate; and lastly,
that the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick.

When the oppositor (petitioner) failed to substantiate the grounds relied upon in the Opposition, a Probate
Order was issued on 27 June 1983 from which an appeal was made to respondent court. The main thrust of the
appeal was that the deceased was blind within the meaning of the law at the time his "Huling Habilin" and the
codicil attached thereto were executed; that since the reading required by Art. 808 of the Civil Code was admittedly
not complied with, probate of the deceased's last will and codicil should have been denied.

On 11 April 1986, the Court of Appeals rendered the decision under review with the following findings: that
Brigido Alvarado was not blind at the time his last will and codicil were executed; that assuming his blindness, the
reading requirement of Art. 808 was substantially complied with when both documents were read aloud to the
testator with each of the three instrumental witnesses and the notary public following the reading with their
respective copies of the instruments. The appellate court then concluded that although Art. 808 was not followed
to the letter, there was substantial compliance since its purpose of making known to the testator the contents of
the drafted will was served.

The issues now before us can be stated thus: Was Brigido Alvarado blind for purposes of Art. 808 at the time his
"Huling Habilin" and its codicil were executed? If so, was the double-reading requirement of said article complied
with?

Regarding the first issue, there is no dispute on the following facts: Brigido Alvarado was not totally blind at the
time the will and codicil were executed. However, his vision on both eyes was only of "counting fingers at three (3)
feet" by reason of the glaucoma which he had been suffering from for several years and even prior to his first
consultation with an eye specialist on 14 December 1977.

The point of dispute is whether the foregoing circumstances would qualify Brigido as a "blind" testator under Art.
808 which reads:

"Art. 808. If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him twice; once, by one of the subscribing witnesses, and
again, by the notary public before whom the will is acknowledged."

Petitioner contends that although his father was not totally blind when the will and codicil were executed, he can
be so considered within the scope of the term as it is used in Art. 808. To support his stand, petitioner presented
before the trial court a medical certificate issued by Dr. Salvador R. Salceda, Director of the Institute of
Opthalmology (Philippine Eye Research institute),[6] the contents of which were interpreted in layman's terms by
Dr. Ruperto Roasa, whose expertise was admitted by private respondent.[7] Dr. Roasa explained that although the
testator could visualize fingers at three (3) feet, he could no longer read either printed or handwritten matters as
of 14 December 1977, the day of his first consultation.[8]

On the other hand, the Court of Appeals, contrary to the medical testimony, held that the testator could still read on
the day the will and the codicil were executed but chose not to do so because of "poor eyesight."[9] Since the
testator was still capable of reading at that time, the court a quo concluded that Art. 808 need not be complied
with.

We agree with petitioner in this respect.

Regardless of respondent's staunch contention that the testator was still capable of reading at the time his will and
codicil were prepared, the fact remains and this was testified to by his witnesses, that Brigido did not do so
because of his "poor,"[10] "defective,"[11] or "blurred"[12] vision making it necessary for private respondent to do the
actual reading for him.

The following pronouncement in Garcia vs. Vasquez[13] provides an insight into the scope of the term "blindness" as
used in Art. 808, to wit:

"The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading the
will himself (aswhen he is illiterate), is to make the provisions thereof known to him, so that he may be able to
object if they are not in accordance with his wishes x x x x"

Clear from the foregoing is that Art. 808 applies not only to blind testators but also to those who, for one reason or
another, are "incapable of reading the(ir) will(s)." Since Brigido Alvarado was incapable of reading the final drafts
of his will and codicil on the separate occasions of their execution due to his "poor," "defective," or "blurred" vision,
there can be no other course for us but to conclude that Brigido Alvarado comes within the scope of the term
"blind" as it is used in Art. 808. Unless the contents were read to him, he had no way of ascertaining whether or not
the lawyer who drafted the will and codicil did so conformably with his instructions. Hence, to consider his will as
validly executed and entitled to probate, it is essential that we ascertain whether Art. 808 had been complied with.

Article 808 requires that in case of testators like Brigido Alvarado, the will shall be read twice; once, by one of the
instrumental witnesses and, again, by the notary public before whom the will was acknowledged. The purpose is to
make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the document before signing and to give him an
opportunity to object if anything is contrary to his instructions.

That Art. 808 was not followed strictly is beyond cavil. Instead of the notary public and an instrumental witness,
it was the lawyer (privaterespondent) who drafted the eight-paged will and the five-paged codicil who read
the same aloud to the testator, and read them only once, not twice as Art. 808 requires.

Private respondent however insists that there was substantial compliance and that the single reading suffices for
purposes of the law. On the other hand, petitioner maintains that the only valid compliance is a strict compliance or
compliance to the letter and since it isadmitted that neither the notary public nor an instrumental witness read the
contents of the will and codicil to Brigido, probate of the latter's will and codicil should have been disallowed.

We sustain private respondent's stand and necessarily, the petition must be denied.

This Court has held in a number of occasions that substantial compliance is acceptable where the purpose of the
law has been satisfied, the reason being that the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills are intended to
protect the testator from all kinds of fraud and trickery but are never intended to be so rigid and inflexible as to
destroy the testamentary privilege.[14]

In the case at bar, private respondent read the testator's will and codicil aloud in the presence of the testator, his
three instrumental witnesses, and the notary public. Prior and subsequent thereto, the testator affirmed, upon
being asked, that the contents read corresponded with his instructions. Only then did the signing and
acknowledgement take place. There is no evidence, and petitioner does not so allege, that the contents of the will
and codicil were not sufficiently made known and communicated to the testator. On the contrary, with respect to
the "Huling Habilin," the day of the execution was not the first time that Brigido had affirmed the truth and
authenticity of the contents of the draft. The uncontradicted testimony of Atty. Rino is that Brigido Alvarado
already acknowledged that the will was drafted in accordance with his expressed wishes even prior to 5 November
1977 when Atty. Rino went to the testator's residence precisely for the purpose of securing his conformity to the
draft.[15]

Moreover, it was not only Atty. Rino who read the documents on 5 November and 29 December 1977. The notary
public and the three instrumental witnesses likewise read the will and codicil, albeit silently. Afterwards, Atty.
Nonia de la Pena (the notary public) and Dr. Crescente O. Evidente (one of the three instrumental witnesses and
the testator's physician) asked the testator whether the contents of the documents were of his own free will.
Brigido answered in the affirmative.[16] With four persons following the reading word for word with their own
copies, it can be safely concluded that the testator was reasonably assured that what was read to him (those which
he affirmed were in accordance with his instructions), were the terms actually appearing on the typewritten
documents. This is especially true when we consider the fact that the three instrumental witnesses were persons
known to the testator, one being his physician (Dr. Evidente) and another (Potenciano C. Ranieses) being known to
him since childhood.

The spirit behind the law was served though the letter was not. Although there should be strict compliance with
the substantial requirements of the law in order to insure the authenticity of the will, the formal
imperfections should be brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and which, when taken into account,
may only defeat the testator's will.[17]

As a final word to convince petitioner of the propriety of the trial court's Probate Order and its affirmance by the
Court of Appeals, we quote the following pronouncement in Abangan v. Abangan,[18] to wit:

"The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to
avoid the substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on
the subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. But, on the other hand, also one
must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to
make a will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that
adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's will, must
be disregarded" (underscoring supplied).
Brigido Alvarado had expressed his last wishes in clear and unmistakable terms in his "Huling Habilin" and the
codicil attached thereto. We are unwilling to cast these aside for the mere reason that a legal requirement intended
for his protection was not followed strictly when such compliance had been rendered unnecessary by the fact that
the purpose of the law, i.e., to make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the draft of his will, had
already been accomplished. To reiterate, substantial compliance suffices where the purpose has been served.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of respondent Court of Appeals dated 11 April
1986 is AFFIRMED.Considering the length of time that this case has remained pending, this decision is immediately
executory. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Cruz, (Chairman), Grio-Aquino, Davide, Jr., and Quiason, JJ., concur.

MANUEL L. LEE, A.C. No. 5281


Complainant,
Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
- v e r s u s - CORONA,
AZCUNA and
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, JJ.

ATTY. REGINO B. TAMBAGO,


Respondent. Promulgated:
February 12, 2008
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:

In a letter-complaint dated April 10, 2000, complainant Manuel L. Lee charged respondent Atty. Regino B. Tambago
with violation of the Notarial Law and the ethics of the legal profession for notarizing a spurious last will and
testament.

In his complaint, complainant averred that his father, the decedent Vicente Lee, Sr., never executed the contested
will. Furthermore, the spurious will contained the forged signatures of Cayetano Noynay and Loreto Grajo, the
purported witnesses to its execution.

In the said will, the decedent supposedly bequeathed his entire estate to his wife Lim Hock Lee, save for a parcel of
land which he devised to Vicente Lee, Jr. and Elena Lee, half-siblings of complainant.

The will was purportedly executed and acknowledged before respondent on June 30, 1965.[1] Complainant,
however, pointed out that the residence certificate[2] of the testator noted in the acknowledgment of the will was
dated January 5, 1962.[3] Furthermore, the signature of the testator was not the same as his signature as donor in a
deed of donation[4] (containing his purported genuine signature). Complainant averred that the signatures of his
deceased father in the will and in the deed of donation were in any way (sic) entirely and diametrically opposed
from (sic) one another in all angle[s].[5]

Complainant also questioned the absence of notation of the residence certificates of the purported witnesses
Noynay and Grajo. He alleged that their signatures had likewise been forged and merely copied from their
respective voters affidavits.
Complainant further asserted that no copy of such purported will was on file in the archives division of the Records
Management and Archives Office of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). In this connection,
the certification of the chief of the archives division dated September 19, 1999 stated:

Doc. 14, Page No. 4, Book No. 1, Series of 1965 refers to an AFFIDAVIT executed by BARTOLOME RAMIREZ on June
30, 1965 and is available in this Office[s] files.[6]

Respondent in his comment dated July 6, 2001 claimed that the complaint against him contained false allegations:
(1) that complainant was a son of the decedent Vicente Lee, Sr. and (2) that the will in question was fake and
spurious. He alleged that complainant was not a legitimate son of Vicente Lee, Sr. and the last will and testament
was validly executed and actually notarized by respondent per affidavit[7] of Gloria Nebato, common-law wife of
Vicente Lee, Sr. and corroborated by the joint affidavit[8] of the children of Vicente Lee, Sr., namely Elena N. Lee and
Vicente N. Lee, Jr. xxx.[9]

Respondent further stated that the complaint was filed simply to harass him because the criminal case filed by
complainant against him in the Office of the Ombudsman did not prosper.

Respondent did not dispute complainants contention that no copy of the will was on file in the archives division of
the NCCA. He claimed that no copy of the contested will could be found there because none was filed.

Lastly, respondent pointed out that complainant had no valid cause of action against him as he (complainant) did
not first file an action for the declaration of nullity of the will and demand his share in the inheritance.

In a resolution dated October 17, 2001, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report and recommendation.[10]

In his report, the investigating commissioner found respondent guilty of violation of pertinent provisions of the old
Notarial Law as found in the Revised Administrative Code. The violation constituted an infringement of legal ethics,
particularly Canon 1[11] and Rule 1.01[12] of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).[13] Thus, the investigating
commissioner of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline recommended the suspension of respondent for a period of
three months.

The IBP Board of Governors, in its Resolution No. XVII-2006-285 dated May 26, 2006, resolved:

[T]o ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution
as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws
and rules, and considering Respondents failure to comply with the laws in the discharge of his function as a notary
public, Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby suspended from the practice of law for one year and Respondents
notarial commission is Revoked and Disqualified from reappointment as Notary Public for two (2) years.[14]

We affirm with modification.

A will is an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree
the disposition of his estate, to take effect after his death.[15] A will may either be notarial or holographic.

The law provides for certain formalities that must be followed in the execution of wills. The object of solemnities
surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door on bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and
testaments and to guarantee their truth and authenticity.[16]

A notarial will, as the contested will in this case, is required by law to be subscribed at the end thereof by the
testator himself. In addition, it should be attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the
presence of the testator and of one another.[17]
The will in question was attested by only two witnesses, Noynay and Grajo. On this circumstance alone, the will
must be considered void.[18] This is in consonance with the rule that acts executed against the provisions of
mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity.

The Civil Code likewise requires that a will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the
witnesses.[19] The importance of this requirement is highlighted by the fact that it was segregated from the other
requirements under Article 805 and embodied in a distinct and separate provision.[20]

An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and
declaring it to be his act or deed. It involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signatory actually declares to
the notary public that the same is his or her own free act and deed.[21] The acknowledgment in a notarial will has a
two-fold purpose: (1) to safeguard the testators wishes long after his demise and (2) to assure that his estate is
administered in the manner that he intends it to be done.

A cursory examination of the acknowledgment of the will in question shows that this particular requirement was
neither strictly nor substantially complied with. For one, there was the conspicuous absence of a notation of the
residence certificates of the notarial witnesses Noynay and Grajo in the acknowledgment. Similarly, the notation of
the testators old residence certificate in the same acknowledgment was a clear breach of the law. These omissions
by respondent invalidated the will.

As the acknowledging officer of the contested will, respondent was required to faithfully observe the formalities of
a will and those of notarization. As we held in Santiago v. Rafanan:[22]

The Notarial Law is explicit on the obligations and duties of notaries public. They are required to certify that the
party to every document acknowledged before him had presented the proper residence certificate (or exemption
from the residence tax); and to enter its number, place of issue and date as part of such certification.

These formalities are mandatory and cannot be disregarded, considering the degree of importance and evidentiary
weight attached to notarized documents.[23] A notary public, especially a lawyer,[24] is bound to strictly observe
these elementary requirements.

The Notarial Law then in force required the exhibition of the residence certificate upon notarization of a document
or instrument:

Section 251. Requirement as to notation of payment of [cedula] residence tax. Every contract, deed, or other
document acknowledged before a notary public shall have certified thereon that the parties thereto have presented
their proper [cedula] residence certificate or are exempt from the [cedula] residence tax, and there shall be entered
by the notary public as a part of such certificate the number, place of issue, and date of each [cedula] residence
certificate as aforesaid.[25]

The importance of such act was further reiterated by Section 6 of the Residence Tax Act[26] which stated:

When a person liable to the taxes prescribed in this Act acknowledges any document before a notary public xxx it
shall be the duty of such person xxx with whom such transaction is had or business done, to require the exhibition
of the residence certificate showing payment of the residence taxes by such person xxx.

In the issuance of a residence certificate, the law seeks to establish the true and correct identity of the person to
whom it is issued, as well as the payment of residence taxes for the current year. By having allowed decedent to
exhibit an expired residence certificate, respondent failed to comply with the requirements of both the old Notarial
Law and the Residence Tax Act. As much could be said of his failure to demand the exhibition of the residence
certificates of Noynay and Grajo.
On the issue of whether respondent was under the legal obligation to furnish a copy of the notarized will to the
archives division, Article 806 provides:

Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witness. The notary
public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of
Court. (emphasis supplied)

Respondents failure, inadvertent or not, to file in the archives division a copy of the notarized will was therefore
not a cause for disciplinary action.

Nevertheless, respondent should be faulted for having failed to make the necessary entries pertaining to the will in
his notarial register. The old Notarial Law required the entry of the following matters in the notarial register, in
chronological order:

1. nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him;


2. person executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument;
3. witnesses, if any, to the signature;
4. date of execution, oath, or acknowledgment of the instrument;
5. fees collected by him for his services as notary;
6. give each entry a consecutive number; and
7. if the instrument is a contract, a brief description of the substance of the instrument.[27]

In an effort to prove that he had complied with the abovementioned rule, respondent contended that he had
crossed out a prior entry and entered instead the will of the decedent. As proof, he presented a photocopy of his
notarial register. To reinforce his claim, he presented a photocopy of a certification[28] stating that the archives
division had no copy of the affidavit of Bartolome Ramirez.

A photocopy is a mere secondary evidence. It is not admissible unless it is shown that the original is unavailable.
The proponent must first prove the existence and cause of the unavailability of the original,[29] otherwise, the
evidence presented will not be admitted. Thus, the photocopy of respondents notarial register was not admissible
as evidence of the entry of the execution of the will because it failed to comply with the requirements for the
admissibility of secondary evidence.

In the same vein, respondents attempt to controvert the certification dated September 21, 1999[30] must fail. Not
only did he present a mere photocopy of the certification dated March 15, 2000;[31] its contents did not squarely
prove the fact of entry of the contested will in his notarial register.

Notaries public must observe with utmost care[32] and utmost fidelity the basic requirements in the performance of
their duties, otherwise, the confidence of the public in the integrity of notarized deeds will be undermined.[33]

Defects in the observance of the solemnities prescribed by law render the entire will invalid. This carelessness
cannot be taken lightly in view of the importance and delicate nature of a will, considering that the testator and the
witnesses, as in this case, are no longer alive to identify the instrument and to confirm its contents. [34] Accordingly,
respondent must be held accountable for his acts. The validity of the will was seriously compromised as a
consequence of his breach of duty.[35]

In this connection, Section 249 of the old Notarial Law provided:

Grounds for revocation of commission. The following derelictions of duty on the part of a notary public shall, in the
discretion of the proper judge of first instance, be sufficient ground for the revocation of his commission:

xxx xxx xxx


(b) The failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his notarial register touching his notarial acts in
the manner required by law.

xxx xxx xxx

(f) The failure of the notary to make the proper notation regarding cedula certificates.[36]

These gross violations of the law also made respondent liable for violation of his oath as a lawyer and constituted
transgressions of Section 20 (a), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court[37]and Canon 1[38] and Rule 1.01[39] of the CPR.

The first and foremost duty of a lawyer is to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, uphold the
Constitution and obey the laws of the land.[40] For a lawyer is the servant of the law and belongs to a profession to
which society has entrusted the administration of law and the dispensation of justice.[41]

While the duty to uphold the Constitution and obey the law is an obligation imposed on every citizen, a lawyer
assumes responsibilities well beyond the basic requirements of good citizenship. As a servant of the law, a lawyer
should moreover make himself an example for others to emulate.[42] Being a lawyer, he is supposed to be a model
in the community in so far as respect for the law is concerned.[43]

The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.[44] A breach of these conditions justifies disciplinary
action against the erring lawyer. A disciplinary sanction is imposed on a lawyer upon a finding or acknowledgment
that he has engaged in professional misconduct.[45] These sanctions meted out to errant lawyers include
disbarment, suspension and reprimand.

Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction.[46] We have held in a number of cases that the power
to disbar must be exercised with great caution[47] and should not be decreed if any punishment less severe such as
reprimand, suspension, or fine will accomplish the end desired.[48] The rule then is that disbarment is meted out
only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the
court.[49]

Respondent, as notary public, evidently failed in the performance of the elementary duties of his office. Contrary to
his claims that he exercised his duties as Notary Public with due care and with due regard to the provision of
existing law and had complied with the elementary formalities in the performance of his duties xxx, we find that he
acted very irresponsibly in notarizing the will in question. Such recklessness warrants the less severe punishment
of suspension from the practice of law. It is, as well, a sufficient basis for the revocation of his commission[50] and
his perpetual disqualification to be commissioned as a notary public.[51]

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby found guilty of professional misconduct. He violated
(1) the Lawyers Oath; (2) Rule 138 of the Rules of Court; (3) Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility; (4) Art. 806 of the Civil Code and (5) the provisions of the old Notarial Law.

Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one year and his notarial
commission REVOKED. Because he has not lived up to the trustworthiness expected of him as a notary public and
as an officer of the court, he is PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED from reappointment as a notary public.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to all the courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the
Office of the Bar Confidant, as well as made part of the personal records of respondent.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION

[ G.R. NO. 174144, April 17, 2007 ]

BELLA A. GUERRERO, PETITIONER, VS. RESURRECCION A. BIHIS, RESPONDENT.

DECISION

CORONA, J.:

The Scriptures tell the story of the brothers Jacob and Esau[1], siblings who fought bitterly over the inheritance of
their father Isaac's estate. Jurisprudence is also replete with cases involving acrimonious conflicts between
brothers and sisters over successional rights. This case is no exception.

On February 19, 1994, Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura, mother of petitioner Bella A. Guerrero and respondent
Resurreccion A. Bihis, died at the Metropolitan Hospital in Tondo, Manila.

On May 24, 1994, petitioner filed a petition for the probate of the last will and testament of the decedent in Branch
95[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City where the case was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. Q-94-20661.

The petition alleged the following: petitioner was named as executrix in the decedent's will and she was legally
qualified to act as such; the decedent was a citizen of the Philippines at the time of her death; at the time of the
execution of the will, the testatrix was 79 years old, of sound and disposing mind, not acting under duress, fraud
or undue influence and was capacitated to dispose of her estate by will.

Respondent opposed her elder sister's petition on the following grounds: the will was not executed and attested as
required by law; its attestation clause and acknowledgment did not comply with the requirements of the law; the
signature of the testatrix was procured by fraud and petitioner and her children procured the will through undue
and improper pressure and influence.

In an order dated November 9, 1994, the trial court appointed petitioner as special administratrix of the decedent's
estate. Respondent opposed petitioner's appointment but subsequently withdrew her opposition. Petitioner took
her oath as temporary special administratrix and letters of special administration were issued to her.

On January 17, 2000, after petitioner presented her evidence, respondent filed a demurrer thereto alleging that
petitioner's evidence failed to establish that the decedent's will complied with Articles 804 and 805 of the Civil
Code.

In a resolution dated July 6, 2001, the trial court denied the probate of the will ruling that Article 806 of the Civil
Code was not complied with because the will was "acknowledged" by the testatrix and the witnesses at the
testatrix's, residence at No. 40 Kanlaon Street, Quezon City before Atty. Macario O. Directo who was a
commissioned notary public for and in Caloocan City. The dispositive portion of the resolution read:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds, and so declares that it cannot admit the last will and
testament of the late Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura to probate for the reasons hereinabove discussed and also in
accordance with Article 839 [of the Civil Code] which provides that if the formalities required by law have not been
complied with, the will shall be disallowed. In view thereof, the Court shall henceforth proceed with intestate
succession in regard to the estate of the deceased Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura in accordance with Article 960 of
the [Civil Code], to wit: "Art. 960. Legal or intestate succession takes place: (1) If a person dies without a will, or
with a void will, or one which has subsequently lost its validity, xxx."

SO ORDERED.[3]

Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals but the appellate court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the
resolution of the trial court.[4]
Thus, this petition.[5]

Petitioner admits that the will was acknowledged by the testatrix and the witnesses at the testatrix's residence in
Quezon City before Atty. Directo and that, at that time, Atty. Directo was a commissioned notary public for and in
Caloocan City. She, however, asserts that the fact that the notary public was acting outside his territorial
jurisdiction did not affect the validity of the notarial will.

Did the will "acknowledged" by the testatrix and the instrumental witnesses before a notary public acting outside
the place of his commission satisfy the requirement under Article 806 of the Civil Code? It did not.

Article 806 of the Civil Code provides:

ART. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary
public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court.

One of the formalities required by law in connection with the execution of a notarial will is that it must be
acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses.[6] This formal requirement is one of the
indispensable requisites for the validity of a will.[7] In other words, a notarial will that is not acknowledged before a
notary public by the testator and the instrumental witnesses is void and cannot be accepted for probate.

An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer and
declaring it to be his act or deed.[8] In the case of a notarial will, that competent officer is the notary public.

The acknowledgment of a notarial will coerces the testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an
officer of the law, the notary public, that they executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or
deed.[9] Such declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury, thus paving the way for the criminal prosecution
of persons who participate in the execution of spurious wills, or those executed without the free consent of the
testator.[10] It also provides a further degree of assurance that the testator is of a certain mindset in making the
testamentary dispositions to the persons instituted as heirs or designated as devisees or legatees in the will.[11]

Acknowledgment can only be made before a competent officer, that is, a lawyer duly commissioned as a notary
public.

In this connection, the relevant provisions of the Notarial Law provide:

SECTION 237. Form of commission for notary public. -The appointment of a notary public shall be in writing,
signed by the judge, and substantially in the following form:

GOVERNMENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
PROVINCE OF ___________

This is to certify that ____________, of the municipality of ________ in said province, was on the ___ day of __________, anno
Domini nineteen hundred and _______, appointed by me a notary public, within and for the said province, for the
term ending on the first day of January, anno Domini nineteen hundred and _____.

_________________
Judge of the Court of
irst Instance[12] of said
Province
xxx xxx xxx

SECTION 240. Territorial jurisdiction. - The jurisdiction of a notary public in a province shall be co-extensive with
the province. The jurisdiction of a notary public in the City of Manila shall be co-extensive with said city. No notary
shall possess authority to do any notarial act beyond the limits of his jurisdiction. (emphases supplied)

A notary public's commission is the grant of authority in his favor to perform notarial acts.[13] It is issued "within
and for" a particular territorial jurisdiction and the notary public's authority is co-extensive with it. In other words,
a notary public is authorized to perform notarial acts, including the taking of acknowledgments, within that
territorial jurisdiction only. Outside the place of his commission, he is bereft of power to perform any notarial act;
he is not a notary public. Any notarial act outside the limits of his jurisdiction has no force and effect. As this Court
categorically pronounced in Tecson v. Tecson:[14]

An acknowledgment taken outside the territorial limits of the officer's jurisdiction is void as if the person taking it
ware wholly without official character. (emphasis supplied)

Since Atty. Directo was not a commissioned notary public for and in Quezon City, he lacked the authority to take
the acknowledgment of the testatrix and the instrumental witnesses. In the same vein, the testatrix and her
witnesses could not have validly acknowledged the will before him. Thus, Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura's last will
and testament was, in effect, not acknowledged as required by law.

Moreover, Article 5 of the Civil Code provides:

ART. 5. Acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law
itself authorizes their validity.

The violation of a mandatory or a prohibitory statute renders the act illegal and void unless the law itself declares
its continuing validity. Here, mandatory and prohibitory statutes were transgressed in the execution of the alleged
"acknowledgment." The compulsory language of Article 806 of the Civil Code was not complied with and the
interdiction of Article 240 of the Notarial Law was breached. Ineluctably, the acts of the testatrix, her witnesses and
Atty. Directo were all completely void.

The Court cannot turn a blind eye to Atty. Directo's participation in the preparation, execution and unlawful
"acknowledgment" of Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura's will. Had he exercised his notarial commission properly, the
intent of the law to effectuate the decedent's final statements[15] as expressed in her will would not have come to
naught.[16] Hence, Atty. Directo should show cause why he should not be administratively sanctioned as a member
of the bar and as an officer of the court.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.

Costs against petitioner.

Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
for investigation, report and recommendation on the possible misconduct of Atty. Macario O. Directo.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, C.J., (Chairperson), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Azcuna and Garcia, JJ., concur.