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LEONILA BATULANON, G.R. No.

139857 intent and fraudulent design to defraud


Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF PCCI said accused did then and there
THE PHILIPPINES,Respondent. release to herself the same and
received the loan of P4,160 and
This petition assails the October 30, 1998 thereafter misappropriate and convert to
Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 15221, her own use and benefit the said
affirming with modification the April 15, 1993 Decision [2] of amount, and despite demands, refused
the Regional Trial Court of General Santos City, Branch 22 in and still refuses to restitute the same, to
Criminal Case Nos. 3453, 3625, 3626 and 3627, convicting the damage and prejudice of PCCI, in
Leonila Batulanon of estafa through falsification of the aforementioned amount of P4,160,
commercial documents, and the July 29, 1999 Philippine Currency.[5]
Resolution[3] denying the motion for reconsideration.

Complainant Polomolok Credit Cooperative Criminal Case No. 3626


Incorporated (PCCI) employed Batulanon as its
Cashier/Manager from May 1980 up to December 22, That on or about the 24 th day
1982. She was in charge of receiving deposits from and of September, 1982 at Poblacion,
releasing loans to the member of the cooperative. Municipality of Polomolok, Province of
South Cotabato, Philippines, and within
During an audit conducted in December 1982, the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court,
certain irregularities concerning the release of loans were said accused being then the manager-
discovered.[4] cashier of Polomolok Credit
Cooperative, Inc. (PCCI), entrusted with
Thereafter, four informations for estafa thru the duty of managing the affairs of the
falsification of commercial documents were filed against cooperative, receiving payments to, and
Batulanon, to wit: collections of, the same, and paying out
loans to members taking advantage of
Criminal Case No. 3625 her position and with intent to prejudice
and defraud the cooperative, did then
That on or about the 2nd day of and there willfully, unlawfully and
June, 1982 at Poblacion Municipality of feloniously falsify a commercial
Polomolok, Province of South Cotabato, document, namely: Cash/Check
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of Voucher No. 237 A of PCCI in the name
the Honorable Court said accused being of Gonafreda Oracion by then and there
then the manager-cashier of Polomolok making an entry therein that the said
Credit Cooperative, Inc., (PCCI), Gonafreda Oracion was granted a loan
entrusted with the duty of managing the of P4,000.00 and by signals on the
aff[a]irs of the cooperative, receiving appropriate line thereon the signature of
payments to, and collections of, the Gonafreda Oracion showing that she
same, and paying out loans to received the loan, thus making it appear
members, taking advantage of her that the said Gonafreda Oracion was
position and with intent to prejudice and granted a loan, received the loan of
defraud the cooperative, did then and P4,000.00 when in truth and in fact said
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously person was never granted a loan, never
falsify a commercial document, namely: received the same, and never signed
Cash/Check Voucher No. 30-A of PCCI the Cash/Check voucher issued in her
in the name of Erlinda Omadlao by then name, and in furtherance of her criminal
and there making an entry therein that intent and fraudulent design to defraud
the said Erlinda Omadlao was granted a PCCI said accused did then and there
loan of P4,160, Philippine Currency, and release to herself the same and
by signing on the appropriate line received the amount of P4,000.00 and
thereon the signature of Erlinda thereafter misappropriate and convert to
Omadlao showing that she received the her own use and benefit the said
loan, thus making it appear that the said amount, and despite demands, refused
Erlinda Omadlao was granted a loan and still refuses to restitute the same, to
and received the amount of P4,160 the damage and prejudice of PCCI, in
when in truth and in fact the said person the aforementioned amount of P4,000,
was never granted a loan, never Philippine Currency.
received the same, and never signed
the cash/check voucher issued in her CONTRARY TO LAW.[6]
name, and in furtherance of her criminal
Criminal Case No. 3453 Criminal Case No. 3627

That on or about the 10 th day That on or about the 7th day of


of October 1982 at Poblacion, December, 1982 at Poblacion,
Municipality of Polomolok, Province of Municipality of Polomolok, Province of
South Cotabato, Philippines, and within South Cotabato, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court,
the said accused being then the the said accused being then the
manager-cashier of Polomolok Credit manager-cashier of Polomolok Credit
Cooperative, Inc., (PCCI), entrusted with Cooperative, Inc., (PCCI) entrusted with
the duty of managing the affairs of the the duty of managing the affairs of the
cooperative, receiving payments to, and cooperative, receiving payments to, and
collection of the same and paying out collection of, the same and paying out
loans to members, taking advantage of loans to members, taking advantage of
her position and with intent to prejudice her position and with intent to prejudice
and defraud the cooperative, did then and defraud the cooperative, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously falsify a commercial feloniously falsify a commercial
document, namely: an Individual document, namely: an Individual
Deposits and Loan Ledger of one Ferlyn Deposits and Loan Ledger of one
Arroyo with the PCCI by then and there Dennis Batulanon with the PCCI by then
entering on the appropriate column of and there entering on the appropriate
the ledger the entry that the said Ferlyn column of the ledger the entry that the
Arroyo had a fixed deposit of P1,000.00 said Dennis Batulanon had a fixed
with the PCCI and was granted a loan in deposit of P2,000.00 with the PCCI and
the amount of P3,500.00, thus making it was granted a loan in the amount of
appear that the said person made a P5,000.00 thus making it appear that
fixed deposit on the aforesaid date with, the said person made fixed deposit on
and was granted a loan by the PCCI the aforesaid date with, and was
when in truth and in fact Ferlyn Arroyo granted a loan by the PCCI when in
never made such a deposit and was truth and in fact Dennis Batulanon never
never granted loan and after the made such a deposit and was never
document was so falsified in the manner granted loan and offer the document
set forth, said accused did then and was so falsified in the manner set forth,
there again falsify the Cash/Check said accused did then and there again
Voucher of the PCCI in the name of falsify the Cash/Check Voucher No. 374
Ferlyn Arroyo by signing therein the A of PCCI in the name of Dennis
signature of Ferlyn Arroyo, thus making Batulanon by signing therein the
it appear that the said Ferlyn Arroyo signature of Dennis Batulanon, thus
received the loan of P3,500, Philippine making it appear that the said Dennis
Currency, when in truth and in fact said Batulanon received the loan of
Ferlyn Arroyo never received the loan, P5,000.00 when in truth and in fact said
and in furtherance of her criminal intent Dennis Batulanon never received the
and fraudulent design to defraud PCCI loan and in furtherance of her criminal
said accused did then and there release intent and fraudulent design to defraud
to herself the same, and received the PCCI said accused did then and there
amount of P3,500, and thereafter, did release to herself the same and receive
then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and the loan of P5,000, and thereafter, did
feloniously misappropriate and convert then and there willfully, unlawfully and
to her own personal use and benefit the feloniously misappropriate and convert
said amount, and despite demands, to her own personal use and benefit the
refused and still refuses to restitute the said amount, and [despite] demands,
same, to the damage and prejudice of refused and still refuses to restitute the
the PCCI in the aforementioned amount same to the damage and prejudice of
of P3,500, Philippine Currency. the PCCI in the aforementioned amount
of P5,000, Philippine Currency.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[7]
CONTRARY TO LAW.[8]
The cases were raffled to Branch 22 of
the Regional Trial Court of General Santos City and The defense presented two witnesses, namely,
docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 3453, 3625, 3626 and Maria Theresa Medallo who was presented as a hostile
3627. witness and Batulanon.

Batulanon pleaded not guilty to the charges, Medallo was subpoenaed by the trial court on
afterwhich a joint trial on the merits ensued. behalf of the defense and was asked to bring with her the
PCCI General Journal for the year 1982. After certifying that
The prosecution presented Maria Theresa the said document reflected all the financial transactions of
Medallo, Benedicto Gopio, Jr., and Bonifacio Jayoma as the cooperative for that year, she was asked to identify the
witnesses. entries in the Journal with respect to the vouchers in
question. Medallo was able to identify only Cash Voucher
Medallo, the posting clerk whose job was to assist No. 237A in the name of Gonafreda Oracion. She failed to
Batulanon in the preparation of cash vouchers [9] testified that identify the other vouchers because the Journal had missing
on certain dates in 1982, Batulanon released four Cash pages and she was not the one who prepared the entries.[23]
Vouchers representing varying amounts to four different
individuals as follows: On June 2, 1982, Cash Voucher No. Batulanon denied all the charges against her. She
30A[10] for P4,160.00 was released to Erlinda Omadlao; on claimed that she did not sign the vouchers in the names of
September 24, 1982, Cash Voucher No. 237A[11] for Omadlao, Oracion and Arroyo; that the same were signed by
P4,000.00 was released to Gonafreda[12] Oracion; P3, 500.00 the loan applicants in her presence at the PCCI office after
thru Cash Voucher No. 276A[13] was released to Ferlyn she personally released the money to them; [24] that the three
Arroyo on October 16, 1982 and on December 7, 1982, were members of the cooperative as shown by their
P5,000.00 was released to Dennis Batulanon thru Cash individual deposits and the ledger; that the board of directors
Voucher No. 374A.[14] passed a resolution in August 1982 authorizing her to certify
to the correctness of the entries in the vouchers; that it has
Medallo testified that Omadlao, Oracion, and become an accepted practice in the cooperative for her to
Dennis Batulanon were not eligible to apply for loan because release loans and dispense with the approval of Gopio Jr., in
they were not bona fide members of the cooperative. case of his absence;[25] that she signed the loan application
[15]
Ferlyn Arroyo on the other hand, was a member of the and voucher of her son Dennis Batulanon because he was a
cooperative but there was no proof that she applied for a minor but she clarified that she asked Gopio, Jr., to add his
loan with PCCI in 1982. She subsequently withdrew her signature on the documents to avoid suspicion of irregularity;
membership in 1983.[16] Medallo stated that pursuant to the [26]
that contrary to the testimony of Gopio, Jr., minors are
cooperatives by-laws, only bona fide members who must eligible for membership in the cooperative provided they are
have a fixed deposit are eligible for loans.[17] children of regular members.

Medallo categorically stated that she saw Batulanon admitted that she took out a loan in her
Batulanon sign the names of Oracion and Arroyo in their sons name because she is no longer qualified for another
respective cash vouchers and made it appear in the records loan as she still has to pay off an existing loan; that she had
that they were payees and recipients of the amount stated started paying off her sons loan but the cooperative refused
therein.[18] As to the signature of Omadlao in Cash Voucher to accept her payments after the cases were filed in court.
[27]
No. 30A, she declared that the same was actually the She also declared that one automatically becomes a
handwriting of appellant.[19] member when he deposits money with the cooperative.
[28]
When she was Cashier/Manager of PCCI from 1980 to
Gopio, Jr. was a member of PCCI since 1975 and 1982, the cooperative did not have by-laws yet.[29]
a member of its board of directors since 1979. He
corroborated Medallos testimony that Omadlao, Arroyo, On rebuttal, Jayoma belied that PCCI had no by-
Oracion and Dennis Batulanon are not members of PCCI. laws from 1980-1982, because the cooperative had been
He stated that Oracion is Batulanons sister-in-law while registered since 1967.[30]
Dennis Batulanon is her son who was only 3 years old in
1982. He averred that membership in the cooperative is not On April 15, 1993, the trial court rendered a
open to minors.[20] Decision convicting Batulanon as follows:

Jayoma was the Vice-Chairman of the PCCI Board WHEREFORE, premises


of Directors in 1980 before becoming its Chairman in 1982 considered, finding the accused Leonila
until 1983. He testified that the loans made to Oracion, Batulanon guilty beyond reasonable
Omadlao, Arroyo and Dennis Batulanon did not pass through doubt in all the above-entitled case, she
the cooperatives Credit Committee and PCCIs Board of is sentenced in each of the four cases to
Directors for screening purposes. He claimed that Oracions 4 months of ARRESTO MAYOR to 1
signature on Cash Voucher No. 237A is Batulanons year and 2 months of PRISION
handwriting.[21] Jayoma also testified that among the four CORRECTIONAL, to indemnify the
loans taken, only that in Arroyos name was settled.[22] PCCI in the total sum of P16,660.00
with legal interest from the institution of which his attention should be directed,
the complaints until fully paid, plus and in which he, above all things else,
costs. should be most interested, are the facts
alleged. The real question is not did he
SO ORDERED.[31] commit a crime given in the law some
technical and specific name, but did he
The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the decision perform the acts alleged in the body of
of the trial court, thus: the information in the manner therein set
forth. x x x The real and important
WHEREFORE, the decision question to him is, Did you perform the
appealed from is MODIFIED. Appellant acts alleged in the manner alleged? not,
LEONILA BATULANON is found guilty Did you commit a crime named murder?
beyond reasonable doubt of Falsification If he performed the acts alleged, in the
of Private Documents under Par. 2, manner stated, the law determines what
Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code; the name of the crime is and fixes the
and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty therefor. x x x If the accused
indeterminate penalty of six (6) months performed the acts alleged in the
of arresto mayor maximum, AS manner alleged, then he ought to be
MINIMUM, to four (4) years and two (2) punished and punished adequately,
months of prision correccional medium, whatever may be the name of the crime
AS MAXIMUM; to pay a fine of five which those acts constitute.
thousand (P5,000.00) pesos; and to
indemnify the Polomolok Cooperative The elements of falsification of private document
Credit , Inc. the sum of thirteen under Article 172, paragraph 2[36] of the Revised Penal Code
thousand one hundred sixty are: (1) that the offender committed any of the acts of
(P13,160.00), plus legal interests from falsification, except those in paragraph 7, Article 171; (2) that
the filing of the complaints until fully the falsification was committed in any private document; and
paid, plus costs. (3) that the falsification caused damage to a third party or at
least the falsification was committed with intent to cause
SO ORDERED.[32] such damage.[37]

The motion for reconsideration was denied, hence this In Criminal Case Nos. 3625, 3626, and 3453, Batulanons
petition. act[38] of falsification falls under paragraph 2 of Article
171, i.e., causing it to appear that persons have participated
Batulanon argues that in any falsification case, the best in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so
witness is the person whose signature was allegedly forged, participate. This is because by signing the name of
thus the prosecution should have presented Erlinda Omadlao, Oracion, and Arroyo in Cash Voucher Nos. 30A,
Omadlao, Gonafreda Oracion and Ferlyn Arroyo instead of 237A, and 267A, respectively, as payee of the amounts
relying on the testimony of an unreliable and biased witness appearing in the corresponding cash vouchers, Batulanon
such as Medallo.[33] She avers that the crime of falsification made it appear that they obtained a loan and received its
of private document requires as an element prejudice to a proceeds when they did not in fact secure said loan nor
third person. She insists that PCCI has not been prejudiced receive the amounts reflected in the cash vouchers.
by these loan transactions because these loans are
accounts receivable by the cooperative.[34] The prosecution established that Batulanon
caused the preparation of the Cash Vouchers in the name of
The petition lacks merit. Omadlao and Oracion knowing that they are not PCCI
members and not qualified for a loan from the
Although the offense charged in the information is cooperative. In the case of Arroyo, Batulanon was aware that
estafa through falsification of commercial document, while the former is a member, she did not apply for a loan
appellant could be convicted of falsification of private with the cooperative.
document under the well-settled rule that it is the allegations
in the information that determines the nature of the offense Medallo categorically declared that she saw
and not the technical name given in the preamble of the Batulanon forge the signatures of Oracion and Arroyo in the
information. In Andaya v. People,[35] we held: vouchers and made it appear that the amounts stated
therein were actually received by these persons. As to the
From a legal point of view, signature of Arroyo, Medallos credible testimony and her
and in a very real sense, it is of no familiarity with the handwriting of Batulanon proved that it
concern to the accused what is the was indeed the latter who signed the name of
technical name of the crime of which he Arroyo. Contrary to Batulanons contention, the prosecution
stands charged. It in no way aids him in is not duty-bound to present the persons whose signatures
a defense on the merits. x x x That to were forged as Medallos eyewitness account of the incident
was sufficient. Moreover, under Section 22, Rule 132 of the time book of the Calamba Sugar Estate that a laborer,
Rules of Court, the handwriting of a person may be proved Ciriaco Sario, worked 21 days during the month of July,
by any witness who believes it to be the handwriting of such 1929, when in reality he had worked only 11 days, and then
person because he has seen the person write, or has seen charged the offended party, the Calamba Sugar Estate, the
writing purporting to be his upon which the witness has acted wages of the laborer for 21 days. The accused
or been charged, and has thus acquired knowledge of the misappropriated the wages during which the laborer did not
handwriting of such person. work for which he was convicted of falsification of private
document.
Her insistence that Medallo is a biased witness is
without basis. There is no evidence showing that Medallo In U.S. v. Infante,[47] the accused changed the
was prompted by any ill motive. description of the pawned article on the face of the pawn
ticket and made it appear that the article is of greatly
The claim that Batulanons letter to the cooperative superior value, and thereafter pawned the falsified ticket in
asking for a compromise was not an admission of guilt is another pawnshop for an amount largely in excess of the
untenable. Section 27, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court true value of the article pawned. He was found guilty of
provides that in criminal cases, except those involving quasi- falsification of a private document. In U.S. v. Chan Tiao,
[48]
offenses or criminal negligence or those allowed by law to be the accused presented a document of guaranty
compromised, an offer of compromise by the accused may purportedly signed by Ortigas Hermanos for the payment of
be received in evidence as an implied admission of guilt. P2,055.00 as the value of 150 sacks of sugar, and by means
of said falsified documents, succeeded in obtaining the
There is no merit in Batulanons assertion that sacks of sugar, was held guilty of falsification of a private
PCCI has not been prejudiced because the loan transactions document.
are reflected in its books as accounts receivable. It has been
established that PCCI only grants loans to its bona fide In view of the foregoing, we find that the Court of
members with no subsisting loan. These alleged borrowers Appeals correctly held Batulanon guilty beyond reasonable
are not members of PCCI and neither are they eligible for a doubt of Falsification of Private Documents in Criminal Case
loan. Of the four accounts, only that in Ferlyn Arroyos name Nos. 3625, 3626 and 3453.
was settled because her mother, Erlinda, agreed to settle the
loan to avoid legal prosecution with the understanding Article 172 punishes the crime of Falsification of a
however, that she will be reimbursed once the money is Private Document with the penalty of prision correccional in
collected from Batulanon.[39] its medium and maximum periods with a duration of two (2)
years, four (4) months and one (1) day to six (6)
The Court of Appeals[40] correctly ruled that the years. There being no aggravating or mitigating
subject vouchers are private documents and not commercial circumstances, the penalty should be imposed in its medium
documents because they are not documents used by period, which is three (3) years, six (6) months and twenty-
merchants or businessmen to promote or facilitate trade or one (21) days to four (4) years, nine (9) months and ten (10)
credit transactions[41] nor are they defined and regulated by days. Taking into consideration the Indeterminate Sentence
the Code of Commerce or other commercial law. [42]Rather, Law, Batulanon is entitled to an indeterminate penalty the
they are private documents, which have been defined as minimum of which must be within the range of arresto
deeds or instruments executed by a private person without mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its
the intervention of a public notary or of other person legally minimum period, or four (4) months and one (1) day to two
authorized, by which some disposition or agreement is (2) years and four (4) months.[49] Thus, in Criminal Case Nos.
proved, evidenced or set forth. [43] 3625, 3626 and 3453, the Court of Appeals correctly
imposed the penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor, as
In all criminal prosecutions, the burden of proof is minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
on the prosecution to establish the guilt of the accused correccional, as maximum, which is within the range of the
beyond reasonable doubt. It has the duty to prove each and allowed imposable penalty.
every element of the crime charged in the information to
warrant a finding of guilt for the said crime or for any other Since Batulanons conviction was for 3 counts of
crime necessarily included therein.[44] The prosecution in this falsification of private documents, she shall suffer the
case was able to discharge its burden completely. aforementioned penalties for each count of the offense
charged. She is also ordered to indemnify PCCI the amount
As there is no complex crime of estafa through of P11,660.00 representing the aggregate amount of the 3
falsification of private document, [45] it is important to ascertain loans without deducting the amount of P3,500.00 paid by
whether the offender is to be charged with falsification of a Ferlyn Arroyos mother as the same was settled with the
private document or with estafa. If the falsification of a understanding that PCCI will reimburse the former once the
private document is committed as a means to commit estafa, money is recovered. The amount shall earn interest at the
the proper crime to be charged is falsification. If the estafa rate of 6% per annum from the filing of the complaints
can be committed without the necessity of falsifying a on November 28, 1994 until the finality of this
document, the proper crime to be charged is estafa. Thus, judgment. From the time the decision becomes final and
in People v. Reyes,[46] the accused made it appear in the
executory, the interest rate shall be 12% per annum until its Criminal Case No. 3627 involving the cash voucher of
satisfaction. Dennis.[50]

However, in Criminal Case No. 3627, the crime committed The elements of estafa through conversion or
by Batulanon is estafa and not falsification. Under Article 171 misappropriation under Art. 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal
of the Revised Penal Code, the acts that may constitute Code are:
falsification are the following:
(1) that money, goods or other
1. Counterfeiting or imitating personal property is received by the
any handwriting, signature, or rubric; offender in trust, or on commission, or
for administration, or under any other
2. Causing it to appear that obligation involving the duty to make
persons have participated in any act or delivery of, or to return, the same;
proceeding when they did not in fact so
participate; (2) that there be
misappropriation or conversion of such
3. Attributing to persons who money or property by the offender or
have participated in an act or denial on his part of such receipt;
proceeding statements other than those
in fact made by them; (3) that such misappropriation
or conversion or denial is to the
4. Making untruthful prejudice of another;
statements in a narration of facts;
(4) that there is a demand
5. Altering true dates; made by the offended party on the
offender. (Note: The 4th element is not
6. Making any alteration or necessary when there is evidence of
intercalation in a genuine document misappropriation of the goods by the
which changes its meaning; defendant)[51]

7. Issuing in an authenticated
form a document purporting to be a Thus in the case of U.S. v. Sevilla,[52] the Court convicted the
copy of an original document when no appellant of estafa by misappropriation. The latter, a
such original exists, or including in such treasurer of the Manila Rail Road Company, took the sum of
copy a statement contrary to, or different P8,330.00 out of the funds of the company and used it for
from, that of the genuine original; or; personal purposes. He replaced said cash with his personal
check of the same amount drawn on the Philippine National
8. Intercalating any instrument Bank (PNB), with instruction to his cashier not to deposit the
or note relative to the issuance thereof same in the current account of the Manila Rail Road
in a protocol, registry, or official book. Company until the end of the month. When an audit was
conducted, the check of appellant was discovered to have
In Criminal Case No. 3627, the trial court convicted petitioner been carried in the accounts as part of the cash on hand. An
Batulanon for falsifying Dennis Batulanons signature in the inquiry with the PNB disclosed that he had only P125.66 in
cash voucher based on the Information charging her of his account, although in the afternoon of the same day, he
signing the name of her 3 year old son, Dennis. The records, deposited in his account with the PNB sufficient sum to cover
however, reveal that in Cash Voucher No. 374A, petitioner the check. In handing down a judgment of conviction, the
Batulanon did not falsify the signature of Dennis. What she Court explained that:
did was to sign: by: lbatulanon to indicate that she received
the proceeds of the loan in behalf of Dennis. Said act does Fraudulent intent in
not fall under any of the modes of falsification under Article committing the conversion or diversion
171 because there in nothing untruthful about the fact that is very evidently not a necessary
she used the name of Dennis and that as representative of element of the form of estafa here
the latter, obtained the proceeds of the loan from PCCI. The discussed; the breach of confidence
essence of falsification is the act of making untruthful or false involved in the conversion or diversion
statements, which is not attendant in this case. As to of trust funds takes the place of
whether, such representation involves fraud which caused fraudulent intent and is in itself sufficient.
damage to PCCI is a different matter which will make her The reason for this is obvious: Grave as
liable for estafa, but not for falsification. Hence, it was an the offense is, comparatively few men
error for the courts below to hold that petitioner Batulanon is misappropriate trust funds with the
also guilty of falsification of private document with respect to intention of defrauding the owner; in
most cases the offender hopes to be
able to restore the funds before the corporation is of a quasi-public
defalcation is discovered. x x x character. The statute is clear and
makes no distinction between
Applying the legal principles permanent misappropriations and
here stated to the facts of the case, we temporary ones. We can see no reason
find all of the necessary elements of in the present case why it should not be
estafa x x x. That the money for which applied in its literal sense.
the appellant's checks were substituted
was received by him for safe-keeping or The third element of the crime
administration, or both, can hardly be with which the appellant is charged is
disputed. He was the responsible injury to another. The appellant's
financial officer of the corporation and as counsel argues that the only injury in
such had immediate control of the this case is the loss of interest suffered
current funds for the purposes of safe- by the Railroad Company during the
keeping and was charged with the period the funds were withheld by the
custody of the same. That he, in the appellant. It is, however, well settled by
exercise of such control and custody, former adjudications of this court that
was aided by subordinates cannot alter the disturbance in property rights
the case nor can the fact that one of the caused by the misappropriation, though
subordinates, the cashier, was a bonded only temporary, is in itself sufficient to
employee who, if he had acted on his constitute injury within the meaning of
own responsibility, might also have paragraph 5, supra. (U.S. vs.
misappropriated the same funds and Goyenechea, 8 Phil., 117 U.S. vs.
thus have become guilty of estafa. Malong, 36 Phil., 821.)[53]

Neither can there be any In the instant case, there is no doubt that as
doubt that, in taking money for his Cashier/Manager, Batulanon holds the money for
personal use, from the funds entrusted administration and in trust for PCCI. Knowing that she is no
to him for safekeeping and substituting longer qualified to obtain a loan, she fraudulently used the
his personal checks therefor with name of her son who is likewise disqualified to secure a loan
instructions that the checks were to be from PCCI. Her misappropriation of the amount she obtained
retained by the cashier for a certain from the loan is also not disputed as she even admitted
period, the appellant misappropriated receiving the same for personal use. Although the amount
and diverted the funds for that period. received by Batulanon is reflected in the records as part of
The checks did not constitute cash and the receivables of PCCI, damage was still caused to the
as long as they were retained by the latter because the sum misappropriated by her could have
appellant or remained under his been loaned by PCCI to qualified members, or used in other
personal control they were of no value productive undertakings. At any rate, the disturbance in
to the corporation; he might as well have property rights caused by Batulaonos misappropriation is in
kept them in his pocket as to deliver itself sufficient to constitute injury within the meaning of
them to his subordinate with instructions Article 315.
to retain them.
Considering that the amount misappropriated by Batulanon
xxxx was P5,000.00, the applicable provision is paragraph (3) of
Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, which imposes the
But it is argued in the present penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision
case that it was not the intention of the correccional in its minimum period, where the amount
accused to permanently misappropriate defrauded is over P200.00 but does not exceed
the funds to himself. As we have already P6,000.00.There being no modifying circumstances, the
stated, such intention rarely exists in penalty shall be imposed in its medium period. With the
cases of this nature and, as we have application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, Batulaon is
seen, it is not a necessary element of entitled to an indeterminate penalty of three (3) months
the crime. Though authorities have been of arresto mayor, as minimum, to one (1) year and eight (8)
cited who, at first sight, appear to hold months of prision correccional, as maximum.
that misappropriation of trust funds for
short periods does not always amount to WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from
estafa, we are not disposed to extend is AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:
this interpretation of the law to cases
where officers of corporations convert (1) In Criminal Case Nos. 3625, 3626 and 3453,
corporate funds to their own use, Leonila Batulanon is found GUILTY of three counts of
especially where, as in this case, the falsification of private documents and is sentenced to suffer
the penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum,
to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, After due trial, the court rendered the appealed decision
as maximum, for each count, and to indemnify complainant finding the document Exhibit "C" to be the authentic last will
Polomolok Credit Cooperative Incorporated the amount of of the deceased but disallowing it for failure to comply with
P11,660.00 with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the mandatory requirement of Article 806 of the New Civil
November 28, 1994 until finality of this judgment. The Code that the will must be acknowledged before a notary
interest rate of 12% per annum shall be imposed from finality public by the testator and the witnesses.
of this judgment until its satisfaction; and
(2) In Criminal Case No. 3627, Leonila Batulanon An examination of the document (Exhibit "C") shows that the
is found GUILTY of estafa and is sentenced to suffer the same was acknowledged before a notary public by the
penalty of three (3) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to testator but not by the instrumental witnesses.
one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional, as
maximum. She is likewise ordered to indemnify Polomolok Article 806 of the New Civil Code reads as
Credit Cooperative Incorporated the sum of P5,000.00 with follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
interest at the rate of 6% per annum from November 28,
1994 until finality of this judgment. The interest rate of 12% "Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by
per annum shall be imposed from finality of this judgment the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be
until its satisfaction. required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the
office of the Clerk of Court."cralaw virtua1aw library
SO ORDERED.
------------------------------------------------------------------------ We have held heretofore that compliance with the
requirement contained in the above legal provision to the
GREGORIO GATCHALIAN, deceased. PEDRO REYES effect that a will must be acknowledged before a notary
GARCIA, Petitioner-Appellant, v. FELIPE GATCHALIAN, public by the testator and also by the witnesses is
AURORA G. CAMINS, ANGELES G. COSCA, FEDERICO indispensable for its validity (In re: Testate Estate of Alberto,
G. TUBOG, VIRGINIA G. TALANAY and ANGELES G. G.R. No. L-11948, April 29, 1959). As the document under
TALANAY, Oppositors-Appellees. consideration does not comply with this requirement, it is
obvious that the same may not be probated.
1. CIVIL LAW; PROBATE OF WILLS; ACKNOWLEDGMENT
BY TESTATOR AND WITNESSES BEFORE A NOTARY WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is affirmed, with
PUBLIC, REQUISITE OF; FAILURE TO OBSERVE; costs.
EFFECT ON ALLOWANCE OF WILL. A will to be valid,
must be acknowledged before a notary public not only by the ------------------------------------------------------------------------
testator but also by attesting witnesses (In re: Testate Estate
of Alberto, G.R. No. L-11948, April 29, 1959). As the AGAPITA N. CRUZ, Petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE
document under consideration does not comply with this GUILLERMO P. VILLASOR, Presiding Judge of Branch I,
requirement, the same may not be probated. Court of First Instance of Cebu, and MANUEL B.
LUGAY, Respondents.

Paul G. Gorrez for petitioner.


DECISION
Mario D. Ortiz for respondent Manuel B. Lugay.
This is an appeal taken by Pedro Reyes Garcia from the
decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal in Special
ESGUERRA, J.:
Proceedings No. 2623 denying the allowance of the will of
the late Gregorio Gatchalian, on the ground that the attesting Petition to review on certiorari the judgment of the Court First
witnesses did not acknowledge it before a notary public as Instance of Cebu allowing the probate of the last will a
required by law. testament of the late Valente Z. Cruz. Petitioner-appellant
Agapita N. Cruz, the surviving spouse of the said decease
On March 15, 1967, Gregorio Gatchalian, a widower of 71 opposed the allowance of the will (Exhibit "E"), alleging the
years of age, died in the municipality of Pasig, Province of will was executed through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation
Rizal, leaving no forced heirs. On April 2 of the same year, and undue influence; that the said instrument was execute
appellant filed a petition with the above-named court for the without the testator having been fully informed of the content
probate of said alleged will (Exhibit "C") wherein he was thereof, particularly as to what properties he was disposing
instituted as sole heir. Felipe Gatchalian, Aurora G. Camins, and that the supposed last will and testament was not
Angeles G. Cosca, Federico G. Tubog, Virginia G. Talanay executed in accordance with law. Notwithstanding her
and Angeles C. Talanay, appellees herein, opposed the objection, the Court allowed the probate of the said last will
petition on the ground, among others, that the will was and testament Hence this appeal by certiorari which was
procured by fraud; that the deceased did not intend the given due course.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
instrument signed by him to be as his will; and that the virtual law library
deceased was physically and mentally incapable of making a
will at the time of the alleged execution of said will.
The only question presented for determination, on which the Furthermore, the function of a notary public is, among
decision of the case hinges, is whether the supposed last will others, to guard against any illegal or immoral arrangement
and testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit "E") was executed Balinon v. De Leon, 50 0. G. 583.) That function would
in accordance with law, particularly Articles 805 and 806 of defeated if the notary public were one of the attesting
the new Civil Code, the first requiring at least three credible instrumental witnesses. For them he would be interested
witnesses to attest and subscribe to the will, and the second sustaining the validity of the will as it directly involves him
requiring the testator and the witnesses to acknowledge the and the validity of his own act. It would place him in
will before a notary inconsistent position and the very purpose of
public.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law acknowledgment, which is to minimize fraud (Report of Code
library Commission p. 106-107), would be
thwarted.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law
Of the three instrumental witnesses thereto, namely library
Deogracias T. Jamaloas Jr., Dr. Francisco Paares and Atty.
Angel H. Teves, Jr., one of them, the last named, is at the Admittedly, there are American precedents holding that
same time the Notary Public before whom the will was notary public may, in addition, act as a witness to the
supposed to have been acknowledged. Reduced to simpler executive of the document he has notarized. (Mahilum v.
terms, the question was attested and subscribed by at least Court Appeals, 64 0. G. 4017; 17 SCRA 482; Sawyer v. Cox,
three credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and 43 Ill. 130). There are others holding that his signing merely
of each other, considering that the three attesting witnesses as notary in a will nonetheless makes him a witness thereon
must appear before the notary public to acknowledge the (Ferguson v. Ferguson, 47 S. E. 2d. 346; In Re Douglas Will,
same. As the third witness is the notary public himself, N. Y. S. 2d. 641; Ragsdal v. Hill, 269 S. W. 2d. 911, Tyson
petitioner argues that the result is that only two witnesses Utterback, 122 So. 496; In Re Baybee's Estate 160 N. 900;
appeared before the notary public to acknowledge the will. W. Merill v. Boal, 132 A. 721; See also Trenwith v.
On the other hand, private respondent-appellee, Manuel B. Smallwood, 15 So. 1030). But these authorities do not serve
Lugay, who is the supposed executor of the will, following the purpose of the law in this jurisdiction or are not decisive
the reasoning of the trial court, maintains that there is of the issue herein because the notaries public and
substantial compliance with the legal requirement of having witnesses referred to aforecited cases merely acted as
at least three attesting witnesses even if the notary public instrumental, subscribing attesting witnesses, and not
acted as one of them, bolstering up his stand with 57 as acknowledging witnesses. He the notary public acted not
American Jurisprudence, p. 227 which, insofar as pertinent, only as attesting witness but also acknowledging witness, a
reads as follows: situation not envisaged by Article 805 of the Civil Code which
reads:
It is said that there are, practical reasons for upholding a will
as against the purely technical reason that one of the ART. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary
witnesses required by law signed as certifying to an public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public
acknowledgment of the testator's signature under oath rather shall not be required to retain a copy of the will or file
than as attesting the execution of the instrument. another with the office of the Clerk of Court. [Emphasis
supplied]
After weighing the merits of the conflicting claims of the
parties, We are inclined to sustain that of the appellant that To allow the notary public to act as third witness, or one the
the last will and testament in question was not executed in attesting and acknowledging witnesses, would have the
accordance with law. The notary public before whom the will effect of having only two attesting witnesses to the will which
was acknowledged cannot be considered as the third would be in contravention of the provisions of Article 80 be
instrumental witness since he cannot acknowledge before requiring at least three credible witnesses to act as such and
himself his having signed the will. To acknowledge before of Article 806 which requires that the testator and the
means to avow (Javellana v. Ledesma, 97 Phil. 258, 262; required number of witnesses must appear before the notary
Castro v. Castro, 100 Phil. 239, 247); to own as genuine, to public to acknowledge the will. The result would be, as has
assent, to admit; and "before" means in front or preceding in been said, that only two witnesses appeared before the
space or ahead of. (The New Webster Encyclopedic notary public for or that purpose. In the circumstances, the
Dictionary of the English Language, p. 72; Funk & Wagnalls law would not be duly in
New Standard Dictionary of the English Language, p. 252; observed.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law
Webster's New International Dictionary 2d. p. 245.) library
Consequently, if the third witness were the notary public
himself, he would have to avow assent, or admit his having FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is
signed the will in front of himself. This cannot be done hereby reversed and the probate of the last will and
because he cannot split his personality into two so that one testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit "E") is declared not
will appear before the other to acknowledge his participation valid and hereby set
in the making of the will. To permit such a situation to obtain aside.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
would be sanctioning a sheer
absurdity.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law Cost against the appellee.
library
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 21, 1980 the petition for mandamus was treated in the
interest of substantial and speedy justice as an appeal under
JOSE ANTONIO GABUCAN, petitioner-appellant, vs. HON. Republic Act No. 5440 as well as a special civil action of
JUDGE LUIS D. MANTA JOSEFA G. VDA. DE YSALINA certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of
and NELDA G. ENCLONAR, Respondents-Appellees. Court.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
library
Ignacio A. Calingin for appellant.
We hold that the lower court manifestly erred in declaring
AQUINO, J.: that, because no documentary stamp was affixed to the will,
there was "no will and testament to probate" and,
This case is about the dismissal of a petition for the probate consequently, the alleged "action must of necessity be
of a notarial will on the ground that it does not bear a thirty- dismissed".chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
centavo documentary library
stamp.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
library What the probate court should have done was to require the
petitioner or proponent to affix the requisite thirty-centavo
The Court of First Instance of Camiguin in its "decision" of documentary stamp to the notarial acknowledgment of the
December 28, 1977 in Special Proceeding No. 41 for the will which is the taxable portion of that
probate of the will of the late Rogaciano Gabucan, dismissed document.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
the proceeding (erroneously characterizes as an library
"action")chanrobles virtual law library
That procedure may be implied from the provision of section
The proceeding was dismissed because the requisite 238 that the non-admissibility of the document, which does
documentary stamp was not affixed to the notarial not bear the requisite documentary stamp, subsists only
acknowledgment in the will and, hence, according to "until the requisite stamp or stamps shall have been affixed
respondent Judge, it was not admissible in evidence, citing thereto and cancelled." chanrobles virtual law library
section 238 of the Tax Code, now section 250 of the 1977
Tax Code, which reads: chanrobles virtual law library Thus, it was held that the documentary stamp may be affixed
at the time the taxable document is presented in evidence
SEC. 238. Effect of failure to stamp taxable document. - An (Del Castillo vs. Madrilena 49 Phil. 749). If the promissory
instrument, document, or paper which is required by law to note does not bear a documentary stamp, the court should
be stamped and which has been signed, issued, accepted, have allowed plaintiff's tender of a stamp to supply the
or transferred without being duly stamped, shall not be deficiency. (Rodriguez vs. Martinez, 5 Phil. 67, 71. Note the
recorded, nor shall it or any copy thereof or any record of holding in Azarraga vs. Rodriguez, 9 Phil. 637, that the lack
transfer of the same be admitted or used in evidence in of the documentary stamp on a document does not
any court until the requisite stamp or stamps shall have been invalidate such document. See Cia. General de Tabacos vs.
affixed thereto and Jeanjaquet 12 Phil. 195, 201-2 and Delgado and Figueroa
cancelled.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law vs. Amenabar 16 Phil. 403, 405-6.) chanrobles virtual law
library library

No notary public or other officer authorized to administer WHEREFORE, the lower court's dismissal of the petition for
oaths shall add his jurat or acknowledgment to any probate is reversed and set aside. It is directed to decide the
document subject to documentary stamp tax unless the case on the merits in the light of the parties' evidence. No
proper documentary stamps are affixed thereto and costs.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
cancelled. library

The probate court assumed that the notarial SO ORDERED.


acknowledgment of the said will is subject to the thirty-
centavo documentary stamp tax fixed in section 225 of the ------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tax Code, now section 237 of the 1977 Tax
Code.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law REV. FATHER LUCIO V. GARCIA, ANTONIO JESUS DE
library PRAGA, MARIA NATIVIDAD DE JESUS AND DR. JAIME
ROSARIO, Petitioners, v. HON. CONRADO M. VASQUEZ,
Respondent Judge refused to reconsider the dismissal in as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch
spite of petitioner's manifestation that he had already and CONSUELO GONZALES VDA. DE
attached the documentary stamp to the original of the will. PRECILLA, Respondents.
(See Mahilum vs. Court of Appeals, 64 O. G. 4017, 17 SCRA
482, 486.) chanrobles virtual law library 1. CIVIL LAW; SUCCESSION, WILLS; PROBATE OF
WILLS; GROUND FOR DISALLOWANCE; TESTATRIXS
The case was brought to this Court by means of a petition DEFECTIVE EYESIGHT AS UNABLING HER TO READ
for mandamus to compel the lower court to allow petitioner's THE PROVISIONS OF LATER WILL. The declarations in
court of the opthalmologist as to the condition of the
appeal from its decision. In this Court's resolution of January
testatrixs eyesight fully establish the fact that her vision
remained mainly for viewing distant objects and not for 7. ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT APPLICABLE TO INSTANT CASE.
reading print; that she was, at the time of the execution of The issue in controversy here is simply the fitness or
the second will on December 29, 1960, incapable of reading unfitness of said special administratrix to continue holding
and could not have read the provisions of the will supposedly the trust, it does not involve or affect at all the title to, or
signed by her. possession of, the properties covered by TCT Nos. 81735,
81736 and 81737. Clearly, the pendency of such case (L-
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; IRREGULARITIES IN THE 26615) is not an action that can properly be annotated in the
EXECUTION OF THE WILL; CASE AT BAR. Upon its record of the titles to the properties.
face, the testamentary provisions, the attestation clause and
acknowledgment were crammed together into a single sheet
of paper, apparently to save on space. Plainly, the testament
DECISION
was not prepared with any regard for the defective vision of
Da. Gliceria, the typographical errors remained uncorrected
thereby indicating that the execution thereof must have been G.R. No. L-27200 is an appeal from the order of the Court of
characterized by haste. It is difficult to understand that so First Instance of Manila (in Sp. Proc. No. 62618) admitting to
important a document containing the final disposition of probate the alleged last will an, testament of the late Gliceria
ones worldly possessions should be embodied in an Avelino del Rosario dated 29 December 1960. G.R. Nos. L-
informal and untidy written instrument; or that the glaring 26615 and L-2684 are separate petitions for mandamus filed
spelling errors should have escaped her notice if she had by certain alleged heirs of said decedent seeking (1) to
actually retained the ability to read the purported will and had compel the probate court to remove Consuelo S. Gonzales-
done so. Precilla as special administratrix of the estate, for conflict of
interest, to appoint a new one in her stead; and (2) to order
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; EXECUTION OF WILLS; REQUISITES FOR the Register of Deeds of Manila to annotate notice of lis
VALIDITY; ART. 808, NEW CIVIL CODE READING OF pendens in TCT Nos. 81735, 81736 ,and 81737, registered
THE WILL TWICE TO A BLIND TESTATOR; PURPOSE. in the name of Alfonso Precilla, married to Consuelo
The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to Gonzales y Narciso, and said to be properly belonging to the
the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading the will estate of the deceased Gliceria A. del Rosario.
himself is to make the provisions thereof known to him, so
that he may be able to object if they are not in accordance Insofar as pertinent to the issues involved herein, the facts of
with his wishes. these cases may be stated as follows:chanrob1es virtual
1aw library
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT COMPLIED WITH IN
INSTANT CASE. Where as in the 1960 will there is Gliceria Avelino del Rosario died unmarried in the City of
nothing in the record to show that the requisites of Art. 808 of Manila on 2 September 1965, leaving no descendents,
the Civil Code of the Philippines that "if the testator is blind, ascendants, brother or sister. At the time of her death, she
the will shall be read to him twice," have not been complied was said to be 90 years old more or less, and possessed of
with, the said 1960 will suffer from infirmity that affects its an estate consisting mostly of real properties.
due execution.
On 17 September 1965, Consuelo S. Gonzales Vda. de
5. REMEDIAL LAW; SETTLEMENT OF ESTATE OF Precilla, a niece of the deceased, petitioned the Court of
DECEASED PERSONS; ADMINISTRATORS; GROUNDS First Instance of Manila for probate of the alleged last will
FOR REMOVAL; ACQUISITION OF INTEREST ADVERSE and testament of Gliceria A. del Rosario, executed on 29
TO THAT OF THE ESTATE MAKES THE ADMINISTRATOR December 1960, and for her appointment as special
UNSUITABLE TO DISCHARGE THE TRUST; CASE AT administratrix of the latters estate, said to be valued at about
BAR. Considering that the alleged deed of sale was P100,000.00, pending the appointment of a regular
executed when Gliceria del Rosario was already practically administrator thereof.
blind and that the consideration given seems unconscionably
small for the properties, there was likelihood that a case for The petition was opposed separately by several groups of
annulment might be filed against the estate or heirs of alleged heirs: (1) Rev. Fr. Lucio V. Garcia, a legatee named
Alfonso Precilla. And the administratrix being the widow and in an earlier will executed by Gliceria A. del Rosario on 9
heir of the alleged transferee, cannot be expected to sue June 1956; (2) Jaime Rosario and children, relatives and
herself in an action to recover property that may turn out to legatees in both the 1956 and 1960 wills; Antonio Jesus de
belong to the estate. This, plus her conduct in securing new Praga and Marta Natividad de Jesus, wards of the deceased
copies of the owners duplicate of titles without the courts and legatees in the 1956 and 1960 wills; (3) Remedios,
knowledge and authority and having the contract bind the Encarnacion, and Eduardo, all surnamed Narciso; (4)
land through issuance of new titles in her husbands name, Natividad del Rosario-Sarmiento; (5) Maria Narciso; (6)
cannot but expose her to the charge of unfitness or Pascuala Narciso de Manahan; (7) Severina, Rosa and
unsuitability to discharge the trust, justifying her removal Josefa, surnamed Narciso, and Vicente and Delfin,
from the administration of the estate. surnamed Mauricio, the latter five groups of persons all
claiming to be relatives of Doa Gliceria within the fifth civil
6. REMEDIAL LAW; NOTICE OF LIS PENDENS; ACTION degree. The oppositions invariably charged that the
MUST AFFECT "THE TITLE OR THE RIGHT OF instrument executed in 1960 was not intended by the
POSSESSION OF REAL PROPERTY." On the matter of deceased to be her true will; that the signatures of the
lis pendens, the provisions of the Rules of Court are clear: deceased appearing in the will was procured through undue
notice of the pendency of an action may be recorded in the and improper pressure and influence the part of the
office of the register of deeds of the province in which the beneficiaries and/or other persons; that the testatrix did not
property is situated, if the action affects "the title or the right know the object of her bounty; that the instrument itself
of possession of (such) real property."cralaw virtua1aw reveals irregularities in its execution, and that the formalities
library required by law for such execution have not been complied
with. S. Gonzales y Narciso.

Oppositor Lucio V. Garcia, who also presented for probate On 25 August 1966, the Court issued an order admitting to
the 1956 will of the deceased, joined the group of Dr. Jaime probate the 1960 will of Gliceria A. del Rosario (Exhibit "D").
Rosario in registering opposition to the appointment of In declaring the due execution of the will, the probate court
petitioner Consuelo S. Gonzales Vda. de Precilla as special took note that no evidence had been presented to establish
administratrix, on the ground that the latter possesses that the testatrix was not of sound mind when the will was
interest adverse to the estate. After the parties were duly executed; that the fact that she had prepared an earlier will
heard, the probate court, in its order of 2 October 1965, did not, prevent her from executing another one thereafter;
granted petitioners prayer and appointed her special that the fact that the 1956 will consisted of 12 pages
administratrix of the estate upon a bond for P30,000.00. The whereas the 1960 testament was contained in one page
order was premised on the fact the petitioner was managing does not render the latter invalid; that, the erasures and
the properties belonging to the estate even during the alterations in the instrument were insignificant to warrant
lifetime of the deceased, and to appoint another person as rejection; that the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the
administrator or co administrator at that stage of the instrumental witnesses which were noted by the oppositors
proceeding would only result in further confusion and are even indicative of their truthfulness. The probate court,
difficulties. also considering that petitioner had already shown capacity
to administer the properties of the estate and that from the
On 30 September 1965, oppositors Jaime Rosario, Et. Al. provisions of the will she stands as the person most
filed with the probate court an urgent motion to require the concerned and interested therein, appointed said petitioner
Hongkong & Shanghai Bank to report all withdrawals made regular administratrix with a bond for P50,000.00. From this
against the funds of the deceased after 2 September 1965. order all the oppositors appealed, the case being docketed
The court denied this motion on 22 October 1965 for being in this Court as G.R. No. L-27200.
premature, it being unaware that such deposit in the name of
the deceased existed. 1 Then, on 13 September 1966, the probate court resolved the
oppositors motion of 14 December 1965 for the removal of
On 14 December 1965, the same sets of oppositors, Dr. the then special administratrix, as
Jaime Rosario and children, Antonio Jesus de Praga, follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
Natividad de Jesus and Fr. Lucio V. Garcia, petitioned the
court for the immediate removal of the special administratrix. "It would seem that the main purpose of the motion to
It was their claim that the special administratrix and her remove the special administratrix and to appoint another one
deceased husband, Alfonso Precilla, 2 had caused Gliceria in her stead, is in order that an action may be filed against
A. del Rosario to execute a simulated and fraudulent deed of the special administratrix for the annulment of the deed of
absolute sale dated 10 January 1961 allegedly conveying sale executed by the decedent on January 10, 1961. Under
unto said spouses for the paltry sum of P30,000.00 existing documents, the properties sold pursuant to the said
ownership of 3 parcels of land and the improvements deed of absolute sale no longer forms part of the estate. The
thereon located on Quiapo and San Nicolas, Manila, with a alleged conflict of interest is accordingly not between
total assessed value of P334,050.00. Oppositors contended different claimants of the same estate. If it is desired by the
that since it is the duty of the administrator to protect and movants that an action be filed by them to annul the
conserve the properties of the estate, and it may become aforesaid deed absolute sale, it is not necessary that the
necessary that, an action for the annulment of the deed of special administratrix be removed and that another one be
sale land for recovery of the aforementioned parcels of land appointed to file such action. Such a course of action would
be filed against the special administratrix, as wife and heir of only produce confusion and difficulties in the settlement of
Alfonso Precilla, the removal of the said administratrix was the estate. The movants may file the aforesaid proceedings,
imperative. preferably in an independent action, to secure the nullity of
the deed of absolute even without leave of this court:"
On 17 December 1965, the same oppositors prayed the
court for an order directing the Special Administratrix to As regard the motion of 17 December 1965 asking for the
deposit with the Clerk of Court all certificates of title deposit in court of the titles in the name of the decedent, the
belonging to the estate. It was alleged that on 22 October same was also denied, for the reason that if the movants
1965, or after her appointment, petitioner Consuelo were referring to the old titles, they could no longer be
Gonzales Vda. de Precilla, in her capacity as special produced, and if they meant the new duplicate copies
administratrix of the estate of the deceased Gliceria A. del thereof that were issued at the instance of the special
Rosario, filed with Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of administratrix, there would be no necessity therefor, because
Manila a motion for the issuance of new copies of the they were already cancelled and other certificates were
owners duplicates of certain certificates of title in the name issued in the name of Alfonso Precilla. This order
of Gliceria del Rosario, supposedly needed by her "in the precipitated the oppositors filing in this Court of a petition for
preparation of the inventory" of the properties constituting mandamus (G.R. No. L-26615, Rev. Fr. Lucio V. Garcia, Et.
the estate. The motion having been granted, new copies of Al. v. Hon. Judge Conrado M. Vasquez, Et. Al.), which was
the owners duplicates of certificates appearing the name of given due course on 6 October 1966.
Gliceria del Rosario (among which were TCT Nos. 66201,
66202 and 66204) were issued on 15 November 1965. On 8 On 15 December 1965, with that motion for removal pending
December 1965, according to the oppositors, the same in the court, the oppositors requested the Register of Deeds
special administratrix presented to the Register of Deeds the of Manila to annotate a notice of lis pendens in the records
deed of sale involving properties covered by TCT Nos. of TCT Nos. 81735, 81736, and 81737 in the name of
66201, 66202 and 66204 supposedly executed by Gliceria Alfonso Precilla. And when said official refused to do so, they
del Rosario on 10 January 1961 in favor of Alfonso Precilla, applied to the probate court (in Sp. Proc. No. 62618) for an
and, in consequence, said certificates of title were cancelled order to compel the Register of Deeds to annotate a lis
and new certificates (Nos. 81735, 81736 and 81737) were pendens notice in the aforementioned titles contending that
issued in the name of Alfonso Precilla, married to Consuelo the matter of removal and appointment of the administratrix,
involving TCT Nos. 81735, 81736, and 81737, was already challenging the correctness of the probate courts ruling,
before the Supreme Court. Upon denial of this motion on 12 maintain that on 29 December 1960 the eyesight of Gliceria
November 1966, oppositors filed another mandamus action, del Rosario was so poor and defective that she could not
this time against the probate court and the Register of have read the provisions of the will, contrary to the
Deeds. The case was docketed and given due course in this testimonies of witnesses Decena, Lopez and Rosales.
Court as G.R. No. L-26864.
On this point, we find the declarations in court of Dr. Jesus V.
Foremost of the questions to be determined here concerns Tamesis very material and illuminating. Said
the correctness of the order allowing the probate of the 1960 ophthalmologist, whose expertise was admitted by both
will. parties, testified, among other things, that when Doa
Gliceria del Rosario saw him for consultation on 11 March
The records of the probate proceeding fully establish the fact 1960 he found her left eye to have cataract (opaque lens),
that the testatrix, Gliceria A. del Rosario, during her lifetime, 15 and that it was "above normal in pressure", denoting a
executed two wills: one on 9 June 1956 consisting of 12 possible glaucoma, a disease that leads to blindness 16 As
pages and written in Spanish, a language that she knew and to the conditions of her right eye, Dr. Tamesis
spoke, witnessed by Messrs. Antonio Cabrera, Jesus Y. declared:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
Ayala and Valentin Marquez, and acknowledged before
notary public Jose Ayala; and another dated 29 December "Q But is there anything here in the entry appearing in the
1960, consisting of 1 page and written in Tagalog, witnessed other documents Exhibits 3-B, 3-C and 3-D from which you
by Messrs. Vicente Rosales, Francisco Decena, and could inform the court as to the condition of the vision of the
Francisco Lopez and acknowledged before notary public patient as to the right eve?
Remigio M. Tividad.
"A Under date of August 30, 1960, is the record of refraction.
Called to testify on the due execution of the 1960 will, that is setting of glass by myself which showed that the right
instrumental witnesses Decena, Lopez and Rosales eye with my prescription of glasses had a vision of 2 over 60
uniformly declared that they were individually requested by (20/60) and for the left eye with her correction 20 over 300
Alfonso Precilla (the late husband of petitioner special (20/300).
administratrix) to witness the execution of the last will of
Doa Gliceria A. del Rosario; that they arrived at the house "Q In laymans language, Doctor, what is the significance of
of the old lady at No. 2074 Azcarraga, Manila, one after the that notation that the right had a degree of 20 over 60
other, in the afternoon of 29 December 1960; that the (20/60)?
testatrix at the time was apparently of clear and sound mind,
although she was being aided by Precilla when she walked; "A It meant that eye at least would be able to recognize
3 that the will, which was already prepared, was first read objects or persons at a minimum distance of twenty feet.
"silently" by the testatrix herself before she signed it; 4 that
he three witnesses thereafter signed the will in the presence "Q But would that grade enable the patient to read print?
of the testatrix and the notary public and of one another.
There is also testimony that after the testatrix and the "A Apparently that is only a record for distance vision, for
witnesses to the will acknowledged the instrument to be their distance sight, not for near."cralaw virtua1aw library
voluntary act and deed, the notary public asked for their
respective residence certificates which were handed to him (pages 20-21, t.s.n., hearing of 23 March 1966)
by Alfonso Precilla, clipped together; 5 that after comparing
them with the numbers already written on the will, the notary The records also show that although Dr. Tamesis operated of
public filled in the blanks in the instrument with the date, 29 the left eye of the decedent at the Lourdes Hospital on 8
January 1960, before he affixed his signature and seal August 1960; as of 23 August 1960, inspite of the glasses
thereto. 6 They also testified that on that occasion no her vision was only "counting fingers," 17 at five feet. The
pressure or influence has been exerted by any person upon cross-examination of the doctor further elicited the following
the testatrix to execute the will. responses:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

Of course, the interest and active participation of Alfonso "Q After she was discharged from the hospital you
Precilla in the signing of this 1960 will are evident from the prescribed lenses for her, or glasses?
records. The will appeared to have been prepared by one
who is not conversant with the spelling of Tagalog words, "A After her discharge from the hospital, she was coming to
and it has been shown that Alfonso Precilla is a Cebuano my clinic for further examination and then sometime later
who speaks Tagalog with a Visayan accent. 7 The witnesses glasses were prescribed.
to the will, two of whom are fellow Visayans, 8 admitted their
relationship or closeness to Precilla. 9 It was Precilla who x x x
instructed them to go to the house of Gliceria del Rosario on
29 December 1960 to witness an important document, 10
and who took their residence certificates from them a few "Q And the glasses prescribed by you enabled her to read,
days before the will was signed. 11 Precilla had met the Doctor?
notary public and witnesses Rosales and Lopez at the door
of the residence of the old woman; he ushered them to the "A As far as my record is concerned, with the glasses for the
room at the second floor where the signing of the document left eye which I prescribed the eye which I operated
took place; 12 then he fetched witness Decena from the she could see only forms but not read. That is on the left
latters haberdashery shop a few doors away and brought eye.
him to, the house the testatrix. 13 And when the will was
actually executed Precilla was present. 14 "Q How about the right eye?
The oppositors-appellants in the present case, however, "A The same, although the vision on the right eye is even
better than the left eye." (pages 34. 85. t.s.n., hearing of 23 informal and untidily written instrument; or that the glaring
March 1966). spelling errors should have escaped her notice if she had
actually retained the ability to read the purported will and had
Then, confronted with a medical certificate (Exhibit H) issued done so. The record is thus convincing that the supposed
by him on 29 November 1965 certifying that Gliceria del testatrix could not have physically read or understood the
Rosario was provided with aphakic lenses and "had been alleged testament, Exhibit "D", and that its admission to
under medical supervision up to 1963 with apparently good probate was erroneous and should be reversed.
vision", the doctor had this to say:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
That Doa Gliceria should be able to greet her guests on her
"Q When yon said that she had apparently good vision you birthday, arrange flowers and attend to kitchen tasks shortly
mean that she was able to read? prior to the alleged execution of the testament Exhibit "D", as
appears from the photographs, Exhibits "E" to "E-1", in no
"A No, not necessarily, only able to go around, take care of way proves; that she was able to read a closely typed page,
herself and see. This I can tell you, this report was made on since the acts shown do not require vision at close range. It
pure recollections and I recall she was using her glasses must be remembered that with the natural lenses removed,
although I recall also that we have to give her medicines to her eyes had lost the power of adjustment to near vision, the
improve her vision, some medicines to improve her substituted glass lenses being rigid and uncontrollable by
identification some more. her. Neither is the signing of checks (Exhibits "G" to "G-3")
by her indicative of ability to see at normal reading
x x x distances. Writing or signing of ones name, when sufficiently
practiced, becomes automatic, so that one need only to have
a rough indication of the place where the signature is to be
"Q What about the vision in the right eve, was that corrected affixed in order to be able to write it. Indeed, a close
by the glasses? examination of the checks, amplified in the photograph,
Exhibit "O", et seq., reinforces the contention of oppositors
"A Yes, with the new prescription which I issued on 80 that the alleged testatrix could not see at normal reading
August 1960. It is in the clinical record. distance: the signatures in the checks are written far above
the printed base, lines, and the names of the payees as well
"Q The vision in the right eye was corrected? as the amounts written do not appear to be in the
handwriting of the alleged testatrix, being in a much firmer
"A Yes That is the vision for distant objects."cralaw virtua1aw and more fluid hand than hers.
library
Thus, for all intents and purpose of the rules on probate, the
(pages 38, 39, 40. t.s.n., hearing of 23 March 1966). deceased Gliceria del Rosario was, as appellant oppositors
contend, not unlike a blind testator, and the due execution of
The foregoing testimony of the ophthalmologist who treated her will would have required observance of the provisions of
the deceased and, therefore, has first hand knowledge of the Article 808 of the Civil Code.
actual condition of her eyesight from August, 1960 up to
1963, fully establish the fact that notwithstanding the "ART. 808. If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him
operation and removal of the cataract in her left eye and her twice; once, by one of the subscribing witnesses, and again,
being fitted with aphakic lens (used by cataract patients), her by the notary public before whom the will is
vision remained mainly for viewing distant objects and not for acknowledged."cralaw virtua1aw library
reading print. Thus, the conclusion is inescapable that with
the condition of her eyesight in August, 1960, and there is no The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to
evidence that it had improved by 29 December 1960, the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading the will
Gliceria del Rosario was incapable f reading, and could not himself (as when he is illiterate), 18 is to make the provisions
have read the provisions of the will supposedly signed by her thereof known to him, so that he may be able to object if they
on 29 December 1960. It is worth noting that the are not in accordance with his wishes. That the aim of the
instrumental witnesses stated that she read the instrument law is to insure that the dispositions of the will are properly
"silently" (t.s.n., pages 164-165). which is a conclusion and communicated to and understood by the handicapped
not a fact. testator, thus making them truly reflective of his desire, is
evidenced by the requirement that the will should be read to
Against the background of defective eyesight of the alleged the latter, not only once but twice, by two different persons,
testatrix, the appearance of the will, Exhibit "D", acquires and that the witnesses have to act within the range of his
striking significance. Upon its face, the testamentary (the testators) other senses. 19
provisions, the attestation clause and acknowledgment were
crammed together into a single sheet of paper, to much so In connection with the will here in question, there is nothing
that the words had to be written very close on the top, in the records to show that the above requisites have been
bottom and two sides of the paper, leaving no margin complied with. Clearly, as already stated, the 1960 will
whatsoever; the word "and" had to be written by the symbol" sought to be probated suffers from infirmity that affects its
&", apparently to save on space. Plainly, the testament was due execution.
not prepared with any regard for the defective vision of Doa
Gliceria. Further, typographical errors like "HULINH" for We also find merit in the complaint of oppositors Lucio V.
"HULING" (last), "Alfonsa" ;or "Alfonso", "MERCRDRS" for Garcia, Et Al., against the denial by the probate court of their
MERCEDES", "instrumental" for "Instrumental", and petition for the removal of Consuelo Gonzales Vda. de
"acknowledged" for "acknowledge, remained uncorrected, Precilla as special administratrix of the estate of the
thereby indicating that execution thereof must have been deceased Doa Gliceria (Petition, G.R. No. L-26615, Annex
characterized by haste. It is difficult to understand that so "B").
important a document containing the final disposition of
ones worldly possessions should be embodied in an The oppositors petition was based allegedly on the
existence in the special administratrix of an interest adverse her pleading of 30 October 1965, the withdrawals referred to
to that of the estate. It was their contention that through by the oppositors could be those covered by checks issued
fraud her husband had caused the deceased Gliceria del in the name of Gliceria del Rosario during her lifetime but
Rosario to execute a deed of sale, dated 10 January 1961, cleared only after her death. That explanation, which not
by virtue of which the latter purportedly conveyed unto said only appears plausible but has not been rebutted by the
Alfonso D. Precilla, married to Consuelo Gonzales y Narciso, petitioners-oppositors, negates any charge of grave abuse in
the ownership of 3 parcels of land and the improvements connection with the issuance of the order here in question.
thereon, assessed at P334,050.00, for the sum of
P30,000.00. On the matter of lis pendens (G.R. No. L-26864), the
provisions of the Rules of Court are clear: notice of the
In denying the petition, the probate court, in its order of 13 pendency of an action may be recorded in the office of the
September 1966 (Annex "P", Petition) reasoned out that register of deeds of the province in which the property is
since the properties were already sold no longer form part of situated, if the action affects "the title or the right of
the estate. The conflict of interest would not be between the possession of (such) real property." 23 In the case at bar, the
estate and third parties, but among the different claimants of pending action which oppositors seek to annotate in the
said properties, in which case, according to the court, the records of TCT Nos. 81735, 81736, and 81737 is the
participation of the special administratrix in the action for mandamus proceeding filed in this Court (G.R. No. L-26615).
annulment that may be brought would not be necessary. As previously discussed in this opinion, however, that case is
concerned merely with the correctness of the denial by the
The error in this line of reasoning lies in the fact that what probate court of the motion for the removal of Consuelo
was being questioned was precisely the validity of the Gonzales Vda. de Precilla as special administratrix of the
conveyance or sale of the properties. In short, if proper, the estate of the late Gliceria del Rosario. In short, the issue in
action for annulment would have to be undertaken on behalf controversy there is simply the fitness or unfitness of said
of the estate by the special administratrix, affecting as it special administratrix to continue holding the trust; it does
does the property or rights of the deceased. 20 For the rule not involve or affect at all the title to, or possession of, the
is that only where there is no special proceeding for the properties covered by said TCT Nos. 81735, 81736 and
settlement of the estate of the deceased may the legal heirs 81737. Clearly, the pendency of such case (L-26615) is not
commence an action arising out of a right belonging to their an action that can properly be annotated in the record of the
ancestor. 21 titles to the properties.

There is no doubt that to settle the question of the due FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, the order of the court
execution and validity of the deed of sale, an ordinary and below allowing to probate the alleged 1960 will of Gliceria A.
separate action would have to be instituted, the matter not del Rosario is hereby reversed and set aside. The petition in
falling within the competence of the probate court. 22 G.R. No. L-26615 being meritorious, the appealed order is
Considering the facts then before it, i.e., the alleged deed of set aside and the court below is ordered to remove the
sale having been executed by Gliceria del Rosario on 10 administratrix, Consuelo Gonzales Vda. de Precilla, and
January 1961, when she was already practically blind; and appoint one of the heirs intestate of the deceased Doa
that the consideration of P30,000.00 seems to be Gliceria Avelino del Rosario as special administrator for the
unconscionably small for properties with a total assessed purpose of instituting action on behalf of her estate to
value of P334,050.00, there was likelihood that a case for recover the properties allegedly sold by her to the late
annulment might indeed be filed against the estate or heirs Alfonso D. Precilla. And in Case G.R. No. L-26864, petition
of Alfonso Precilla. And the administratrix, being the widow is dismissed. No costs.
and heir of the alleged transferee, cannot be expected to sue
herself in an action to recover property that may turn out to
belong to the estate. 22 Not only this, but the conduct of the In the Matter of the Probate of the Last Will and
special administratrix in securing new copies of the owners
duplicates of TCT Nos. 66201, 66202, and 66204, without Testament of the Deceased Brigido Alvarado, CESAR
the courts knowledge or authority, and on the pretext that ALVARADO, Petitioner, v. HON. RAMON G. GAVIOLA,
she needed them in the preparation of the inventory of the JR., Presiding Justice, HON. MA. ROSARIO QUETULIO
estate, when she must have already known by then that the LOSA and HON. LEONOR INES LUCIANO, Associate
properties covered therein were already "conveyed" to her Justices, Intermediate Appellate Court, First Division
husband by the deceased, being the latters successor, and (Civil Cases), and BAYANI MA. RINO, Respondents.
having the contract bind the land through issuance of new
titles in her husbands name cannot but expose her to the
1. CIVIL LAW; PROBATE OF WILL; ART. 808, NEW CIVIL
charge of unfitness or unsuitableness to discharge the trust,
justifying her removal from the administration of the estate. CODE; SCOPE OF THE TERM "BLINDNESS." The
following pronouncement in Garcia v. Vasquez provides an
With respect to the orders of the court a quo denying (1) the insight into the scope of the term "blindness" as used in Art.
oppositors motion to require the Hongkong and Shanghai 808, to wit: "The rationale behind the requirement of reading
Bank to report all withdrawals made against the funds of the the will to the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading
deceased after 2 September 1965 and (2) the motion for the will himself (as when he is illiterate), is to make the
annotation of a lis pendens notice on TCT Nos. 81735,
provisions thereof known to him, so that he may be able to
81736 and 81737, the same are to be affirmed.
object if they are not in accordance with his wishes . . ."
The probate court pointed out in its order of 22 October 1965 Clear from the foregoing is that Art. 808 applies not only to
(Annex "H") that it could not have taken action on the blind testators but also to those who, for one reason or
complaint against the alleged withdrawals from the bank another, are "incapable of reading the(ir) will(s)." Since
deposits of the deceased, because as of that time the court Brigido Alvarado was incapable of reading the final drafts of
had not yet been apprised that such deposits exist.
his will and codicil on the separate occasions of their
Furthermore, as explained by the special administratrix in
execution due to his "poor," "defective," or "blurred" vision, On 5 November 1977, the 79-year old Brigido Alvarado
there can be no other course for us but to conclude that executed a notarial will entitled "Huling Habilin" wherein he
Brigido Alvarado comes within the scope of the term "blind" disinherited an illegitimate son (petitioner) and expressly
as it is used in Art. 808. Unless the contents were read to revoked a previously executed holographic will at the time
him, he had no way of ascertaining whether or not the lawyer awaiting probate before Branch 4 of the Regional Trial Court
who drafted the will and codicil did so conformably with his of Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
instructions.
As testified to by the three instrumental witnesses, the notary
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; WILL MUST BE READ TWICE; PURPOSE. public and by private respondent who were present at the
Article 808 requires that in case of testators like Brigido execution, the testator did not read the final draft of the will
Alvarado, the will shall be read twice; once, by one of the himself. Instead, private respondent, as the lawyer who
instrumental witnesses and, again, by the notary public drafted the eight-paged document, read the same aloud in
before whom the will was acknowledged. The purpose is to the presence of the testator, the three instrumental
make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the witnesses and the notary public. The latter four followed the
document before signing and to give him an opportunity to reading with their own respective copies previously furnished
object if anything is contrary to his instructions. them.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE THEREWITH, Meanwhile, Brigidos holographic will was subsequently
ACCEPTABLE; REASON. This Court has held in a admitted to probate on 9 December 1977. On the 29th day
number of occasions that substantial compliance is of the same month, a codicil entitled "Kasulatan ng
acceptable where the purpose of the law has been satisfied, Pagbabago sa Ilang Pagpapasiya na Nasasaad sa Huling
the reason being that the solemnities surrounding the Habilin na May Petsa Nobiembre 5, 1977 ni Brigido
execution of wills are intended to protect the testator from all Alvarado" was executed changing some dispositions in the
kinds of fraud and trickery but are never intended to be so notarial will to generate cash for the testators eye operation.
rigid and inflexible as to destroy the testamentary privilege. Brigido was then suffering from glaucoma. But the
The spirit behind the law was served though the letter was disinheritance and revocatory clauses were unchanged. As
not. Although there should be strict compliance with the in the case of the notarial will, the testator did not personally
substantial requirements of the law in order to insure the read the final draft of the codicil. Instead, it was private
authenticity of the will, the formal imperfections should be respondent who read it aloud in his presence and in the
brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and presence of the three instrumental witnesses (same as those
which, when taken into account, may only defeat the of the notarial will) and the notary public who followed the
testators will. reading using their own copies.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. In the case at bar, A petition for the probate of the notarial will and codicil was
private respondent read the testators will and codicil aloud filed upon the testators death on 3 January 1979 by private
in the presence of the testator, his three instrumental respondent as executor with the Court of First Instance, now
witnesses, and the notary public. Prior and subsequent Regional Trial Court, of Siniloan, Laguna. 5 Petitioner, in
thereto, the testator affirmed, upon being asked, that the turn, filed an Opposition on the following grounds: that the
contents read corresponded with his instructions. Only then will sought to be probated was not executed and attested as
did the signing and acknowledgement take place. There is required by law; that the testator was insane or otherwise
no evidence, and petitioner does not so allege, that the mentally incapacitated to make a will at the time of its
contents of the will and codicil were not sufficiently made execution due to senility and old age; that the will was
known and communicated to the testator. On the contrary, executed under duress, or influence of fear or threats; that it
with respect to the "Huling Habilin," the day of the execution was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence
was not the first time that Brigido had affirmed the truth and on the part of the beneficiary who stands to get the lions
authenticity of the contents of the draft. The uncontradicted share of the testators estate; and lastly, that the signature of
testimony of Atty. Rino is that Brigido Alvarado already the testator was procured by fraud or trick.
acknowledged that the will was drafted in accordance with
his expressed wishes even prior to 5 November 1977 when When the oppositor (petitioner) failed to substantiate the
Atty. Rino went to the testators residence precisely for the grounds relied upon in the Opposition, a Probate Order was
purpose of securing his conformity to the draft. issued on 27 June 1983 from which an appeal was made to
respondent court. The main thrust of the appeal was that the
DECISION deceased was blind within the meaning of the law at the time
his "Huling Habilin" and the codicil attached thereto were
Before us is an appeal from the Decision dated 11 April 1986 executed; that since the reading required by Art. 808 of the
1 of the First Civil Cases Division of the then Intermediate Civil Code was admittedly not complied with, probate of the
Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, which affirmed the deceaseds last will and codicil should have been denied.
Order dated 27 June 1983 2 of the Regional Trial Court of
Sta. Cruz, Laguna, admitting to probate the last will and On 11 April 1986, the Court of Appeals rendered the decision
testament 3 with codicil 4 of the late Brigido Alvarado. 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 him.
requirement of Art. 808 was substantially complied with
when both documents were read aloud to the testator with The following pronouncement in Garcia v. Vasquez 13
each of the three instrumental witnesses and the notary provides an insight into the scope of the term "blindness" as
public following the reading with their respective copies of used in Art. 808, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
the instruments. The appellate court then concluded that
although Art. 808 was not followed to the letter, there was "The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to
substantial compliance since its purpose of making known to the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading the will
the testator the contents of the drafted will was served. himself (as when he is illiterate), is to make the provisions
thereof known to him, so that he may be able to object if they
The issues now before us can be stated thus: Was Brigido are not in accordance with his wishes . . ."cralaw virtua1aw
Alvarado blind for purposes of Art. 808 at the time his "Huling library
Habilin" and its codicil were executed? If so, was the double-
reading requirement of said article complied with? Clear from the foregoing is that Art. 808 applies not only to
blind testators but also to those who, for one reason or
Regarding the first issue, there is no dispute on the following another, are "incapable of reading the(ir) will(s)." Since
facts: Brigido Alvarado was not totally blind at the time the Brigido Alvarado was incapable of reading the final drafts of
will and codicil were executed. However, his vision on both his will and codicil on the separate occasions of their
eyes was only of "counting fingers at three (3) feet" by execution due to his "poor," "defective," or "blurred" vision,
reason of the glaucoma which he had been suffering from for there can be no other course for us but to conclude that
several years and even prior to his first consultation with an Brigido Alvarado comes within the scope of the term "blind"
eye specialist on 14 December 1977. 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
The point of dispute is whether the foregoing circumstances who drafted the will and codicil did so conformably with his
would qualify Brigido as a "blind" testator under Art. 808 instructions. Hence, to consider his will as validly executed
which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph and entitled to probate, it is essential that we ascertain
whether Art. 808 had been complied with.
"Art. 808. If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him
twice; once, by one of the subscribing, witnesses, and again, Article 808 requires that in case of testators like Brigido
by the notary public before whom the will is Alvarado, the will shall be read twice; once, by one of the
acknowledged."cralaw virtua1aw library instrumental witnesses and, again, by the notary public
before whom the will was acknowledged. The purpose is to
Petitioner contends that although his father was not totally make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the
blind when the will and codicil were executed, he can be so document before signing and to give him an opportunity to
considered within the scope of the term as it is used in Art. object if anything is contrary to his instructions.
808. To support his stand, petitioner presented before the
trial court a medical certificate issued by Dr. Salvador R. That Art. 808 was not followed strictly is beyond cavil.
Salceda, Director of the Institute of Opthalmology (Philippine Instead of the notary public and an instrumental witness, it
Eye Research Institute), 6 the contents of which were was the lawyer (private respondent) who drafted the eight-
interpreted in laymans terms by Dr. Ruperto Roasa, whose paged will and the five-paged codicil who read the same
expertise was admitted by private Respondent. 7 Dr. Roasa aloud to the testator, and read them only once, not twice as
explained that although the testator could visualize fingers at Art. 808 requires.
three (3) feet, he could no longer read either printed or
handwritten matters as of 14 December 1977, the day of his Private respondent however insists that there was
first consultation. 8 substantial compliance and that the single reading suffices
for purposes of the law. On the other hand, petitioner
On the other hand, the Court of Appeals, contrary to the maintains that the only valid compliance is a strict
medical testimony, held that the testator could still read on compliance or compliance to the letter and since it is
the day the will and the codicil were executed but chose not admitted that neither the notary public nor an instrumental
to do so because of "poor eyesight." 9 Since the testator was witness read the contents of the will and codicil to Brigido,
still capable of reading at that time, the court a quo probate of the latters will and codicil should have been
concluded that Art. 808 need not be complied with. disallowed.

We agree with petitioner in this respect. We sustain private respondents stand and necessarily, the
petition must be denied.
Regardless of respondents staunch contention that the
testator was still capable of reading at the time his will and This Court has held in a number of occasions that
codicil were prepared, the fact remains and this was testified substantial compliance is acceptable where the purpose of
to by his witnesses, that Brigido did not do so because of his the law has been satisfied, the reason being that the
"poor," 10 "defective," 11 or "blurred" 12 vision making it solemnities surrounding the execution of wills are intended
necessary for private respondent to do the actual reading for to protect the testator from all kinds of fraud and trickery but
are never intended to be so rigid and inflexible as to destroy restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will.
the testamentary privilege. 14 So when an interpretation already given assures such ends,
any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but
In the case at bar, private respondent read the testators will demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and
and codicil aloud in the presence of the testator, his three frustrative of the testators will, must be disregarded"
instrumental witnesses, and the notary public. Prior and (Emphasis supplied).
subsequent thereto, the testator affirmed, upon being asked,
that the contents read corresponded with his instructions. Brigido Alvarado had expressed his last wishes in clear and
Only then did the signing and acknowledgement take place. unmistakable terms in his "Huling Habilin" and the codicil
There is no evidence, and petitioner does not so allege, that attached thereto. We are unwilling to cast these aside for the
the contents of the will and codicil were not sufficiently made mere reason that a legal requirement intended for his
known and communicated to the testator. On the contrary, protection was not followed strictly when such compliance
with respect to the "Huling Habilin," the day of the execution had been rendered unnecessary by the fact that the purpose
was not the first time that Brigido had affirmed the truth and of the law, i.e., to make known to the incapacitated testator
authenticity of the contents of the draft. The uncontradicted the contents of the draft of his will, had already been
testimony of Atty. Rino is that Brigido Alvarado already accomplished. To reiterate, substantial compliance suffices
acknowledged that the will was drafted in accordance with where the purpose has been served.
his expressed wishes even prior to 5 November 1977 when
Atty. Rino went to the testators residence precisely for the WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed
purpose of securing his conformity to the draft. 15 Decision of respondent Court of Appeals dated 11 April 1986
is AFFIRMED. Considering the length of time that this case
Moreover, it was not only Atty. Rino who read the documents has remained pending, this decision is immediately
on 5 November and 29 December 1977. The notary public executory. Costs against petitioner.
and the three instrumental witnesses likewise read the will
and codicil, albeit silently. Afterwards, Atty. Nonia de la Pena SO ORDERED.
(the notary public) and Dr. Crescente O. Evidente (one of the
three instrumental witnesses and the testators 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
testators will. 17

As a final word to convince petitioner of the propriety of the


trial courts Probate Order and its affirmance by the Court of
Appeals, we quote the following pronouncement in Abangan
v. Abangan, 18 to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"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