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EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-8437. November 28, 1956.]


ESTATE OF K. H. HEMADY, deceased, vs. LUZON SURETY CO., INC., claimant-
Appellant.

DECISION
REYES, J. B. L., J.:
Appeal by Luzon Surety Co., Inc., from an order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, presided
by Judge Hermogenes Caluag, dismissing its claim against the Estate of K. H. Hemady (Special
Proceeding No. Q-293) for failure to state a cause of action.
The Luzon Surety Co. had filed a claim against the Estate based on twenty different indemnity
agreements, or counter bonds, each subscribed by a distinct principal and by the deceased K. H.
Hemady, a surety solidary guarantor) in all of them, in consideration of the Luzon Surety Co.’s of
having guaranteed, the various principals in favor of different creditors. The twenty counterbonds,
or indemnity agreements, all contained the following stipulations: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

“Premiums. — As consideration for this suretyship, the undersigned jointly and severally, agree
to pay the COMPANY the sum of ________________ (P______) pesos, Philippines Currency, in
advance as premium there of for every __________ months or fractions thereof, this ________ or
any renewal or substitution thereof is in effect.
Indemnity. — The undersigned, jointly and severally, agree at all times to indemnify the
COMPANY and keep it indemnified and hold and save it harmless from and against any and all
damages, losses, costs, stamps, taxes, penalties, charges, and expenses of whatsoever kind and
nature which the COMPANY shall or may, at any time sustain or incur in consequence of having
become surety upon this bond or any extension, renewal, substitution or alteration thereof made at
the instance of the undersigned or any of them or any order executed on behalf of the undersigned
or any of them; and to pay, reimburse and make good to the COMPANY, its successors and
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assigns, all sums and amount of money which it or its representatives shall pay or cause to be paid,
or become liable to pay, on account of the undersigned or any of them, of whatsoever kind and
nature, including 15% of the amount involved in the litigation or other matters growing out of or
connected therewith for counsel or attorney’s fees, but in no case less than P25. It is hereby further
agreed that in case of extension or renewal of this ________ we equally bind ourselves for the
payment thereof under the same terms and conditions as above mentioned without the necessity of
executing another indemnity agreement for the purpose and that we hereby equally waive our right
to be notified of any renewal or extension of this ________ which may be granted under this
indemnity agreement.
Interest on amount paid by the Company. — Any and all sums of money so paid by the company
shall bear interest at the rate of 12% per annum which interest, if not paid, will be accummulated
and added to the capital quarterly order to earn the same interests as the capital and the total sum
thereof, the capital and interest, shall be paid to the COMPANY as soon as the COMPANY shall
have become liable therefore, whether it shall have paid out such sums of money or any part thereof
or not.
xxx xxx xxx
Waiver. — It is hereby agreed upon by and between the undersigned that any question which may
arise between them by reason of this document and which has to be submitted for decision to
Courts of Justice shall be brought before the Court of competent jurisdiction in the City of Manila,
waiving for this purpose any other venue. Our right to be notified of the acceptance and approval
of this indemnity agreement is hereby likewise waived.
xxx xxx xxx
Our Liability Hereunder. — It shall not be necessary for the COMPANY to bring suit against the
principal upon his default, or to exhaust the property of the principal, but the liability hereunder of
the undersigned indemnitor shall be jointly and severally, a primary one, the same as that of the
principal, and shall be exigible immediately upon the occurrence of such default.” (Rec. App. pp.
98- 102.)
The Luzon Surety Co., prayed for allowance, as a contingent claim, of the value of the twenty
bonds it had executed in consideration of the counterbonds, and further asked for judgment for the
unpaid premiums and documentary stamps affixed to the bonds, with 12 per cent interest thereon.
Before answer was filed, and upon motion of the administratrix of Hemady’s estate, the lower
court, by order of September 23, 1953, dismissed the claims of Luzon Surety Co., on two
grounds: (1) that the premiums due and cost of documentary stamps were not contemplated
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under the indemnity agreements to be a part of the undertaking of the guarantor (Hemady), since
they were not liabilities incurred after the execution of the counterbonds; and (2) that “whatever chan roblesvirtualawlibrary

losses may occur after Hemady’s death, are not chargeable to his estate, because upon his death
he ceased to be guarantor.”
Taking up the latter point first, since it is the one more far reaching in effects, the reasoning of the
court below ran as follows: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

“The administratrix further contends that upon the death of Hemady, his liability as a guarantor
terminated, and therefore, in the absence of a showing that a loss or damage was suffered, the
claim cannot be considered contingent. This Court believes that there is merit in this contention
and finds support in Article 2046 of the new Civil Code. It should be noted that a new requirement
has been added for a person to qualify as a guarantor, that is: integrity. As correctly pointed out
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by the Administratrix, integrity is something purely personal and is not transmissible. Upon the
death of Hemady, his integrity was not transmitted to his estate or successors. Whatever loss
therefore, may occur after Hemady’s death, are not chargeable to his estate because upon his death
he ceased to be a guarantor.
Another clear and strong indication that the surety company has exclusively relied on the
personality, character, honesty and integrity of the now deceased K. H. Hemady, was the fact that
in the printed form of the indemnity agreement there is a paragraph entitled ‘Security by way of
first mortgage, which was expressly waived and renounced by the security company. The security
company has not demanded from K. H. Hemady to comply with this requirement of giving security
by way of first mortgage. In the supporting papers of the claim presented by Luzon Surety
Company, no real property was mentioned in the list of properties mortgaged which appears at the
back of the indemnity agreement.” (Rec. App., pp. 407-408).
We find this reasoning untenable. Under the present Civil Code (Article 1311), as well as under
the Civil Code of 1889 (Article 1257), the rule is that —
“Contracts take effect only as between the parties, their assigns and heirs, except in the case where
the rights and obligations arising from the contract are not transmissible by their nature, or by
stipulation or by provision of law.”
While in our successional system the responsibility of the heirs for the debts of their decedent
cannot exceed the value of the inheritance they receive from him, the principle remains intact that
these heirs succeed not only to the rights of the deceased but also to his obligations. Articles 774
and 776 of the New Civil Code (and Articles 659 and 661 of the preceding one) expressly so
provide, thereby confirming Article 1311 already quoted.
“ART. 774. — Succession is a mode of acquisition by virtue of which the property, rights and
obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance, of a person are transmitted through his
death to another or others either by his will or by operation of law.”
“ART. 776. — The inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a person which
are not extinguished by his death.”
In Mojica vs. Fernandez, 9 Phil. 403, this Supreme Court ruled: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

“Under the Civil Code the heirs, by virtue of the rights of succession are subrogated to all the rights
and obligations of the deceased (Article 661) and cannot be regarded as third parties with respect
to a contract to which the deceased was a party, touching the estate of the deceased (Barrios vs.
Dolor, 2 Phil. 44).
xxx xxx xxx
“The principle on which these decisions rest is not affected by the provisions of the new Code of
Civil Procedure, and, in accordance with that principle, the heirs of a deceased person cannot be
held to be “third persons” in relation to any contracts touching the real estate of their decedent
which comes in to their hands by right of inheritance; they take such property subject to all the
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obligations resting thereon in the hands of him from whom they derive their rights.”
(See also Galasinao vs. Austria, 51 Off. Gaz. (No. 6) p. 2874 and de Guzman vs. Salak, 91 Phil.,
265).
The binding effect of contracts upon the heirs of the deceased party is not altered by the provision
in our Rules of Court that money debts of a deceased must be liquidated and paid from his estate
before the residue is distributed among said heirs (Rule 89). The reason is that whatever payment
is thus made from the estate is ultimately a payment by the heirs and distributees, since the amount
of the paid claim in fact diminishes or reduces the shares that the heirs would have been entitled
to receive.
Under our law, therefore, the general rule is that a party’s contractual rights and obligations are
transmissible to the successors. The rule is a consequence of the progressive “depersonalization”
of patrimonial rights and duties that, as observed by Victorio Polacco, has characterized the history
of these institutions. From the Roman concept of a relation from person to person, the obligation
has evolved into a relation from patrimony to patrimony, with the persons occupying only a
representative position, barring those rare cases where the obligation is strictly personal, i.e., is
contracted intuitu personae, in consideration of its performance by a specific person and by no
other. The transition is marked by the disappearance of the imprisonment for debt.
Of the three exceptions fixed by Article 1311, the nature of the obligation of the surety or guarantor
does not warrant the conclusion that his peculiar individual qualities are contemplated as a
principal inducement for the contract. What did the creditor Luzon Surety Co. expect of K. H.
Hemady when it accepted the latter as surety in the counterbonds? Nothing but the reimbursement
of the moneys that the Luzon Surety Co. might have to disburse on account of the obligations of
the principal debtors. This reimbursement is a payment of a sum of money, resulting from an
obligation to give; and to the Luzon Surety Co., it was indifferent that the reimbursement should
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be made by Hemady himself or by some one else in his behalf, so long as the money was paid to
it.
The second exception of Article 1311, p. 1, is intransmissibility by stipulation of the parties. Being
exceptional and contrary to the general rule, this intransmissibility should not be easily implied,
but must be expressly established, or at the very least, clearly inferable from the provisions of the
contract itself, and the text of the agreements sued upon nowhere indicate that they are non-
transferable.
“(b) Intransmisibilidad por pacto. — Lo general es la transmisibilidad de darechos y obligaciones;
le excepcion, la intransmisibilidad. Mientras nada se diga en contrario impera el principio de la
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transmision, como elemento natural a toda relacion juridica, salvo las personalisimas. Asi, para la
no transmision, es menester el pacto expreso, porque si no, lo convenido entre partes trasciende a
sus herederos.
Siendo estos los continuadores de la personalidad del causante, sobre ellos recaen los efectos de
los vinculos juridicos creados por sus antecesores, y para evitarlo, si asi se quiere, es indespensable
convension terminante en tal sentido.
Por su esencia, el derecho y la obligacion tienden a ir más allá de las personas que les dieron vida,
y a ejercer presion sobre los sucesores de esa persona; cuando no se quiera esto, se impone una
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estipulacion limitativa expresamente de la transmisibilidad o de cuyos tirminos claramente se


deduzca la concresion del concreto a las mismas personas que lo otorgon.” (Scaevola, Codigo Civil,
Tomo XX, p. 541-542) (Emphasis supplied.)
Because under the law (Article 1311), a person who enters into a contract is deemed to have
contracted for himself and his heirs and assigns, it is unnecessary for him to expressly stipulate to
that effect; hence, his failure to do so is no sign that he intended his bargain to terminate upon
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his death. Similarly, that the Luzon Surety Co., did not require bondsman Hemady to execute a
mortgage indicates nothing more than the company’s faith and confidence in the financial stability
of the surety, but not that his obligation was strictly personal.
The third exception to the transmissibility of obligations under Article 1311 exists when they are
“not transmissible by operation of law”. The provision makes reference to those cases where the
law expresses that the rights or obligations are extinguished by death, as is the case in legal support
(Article 300), parental authority (Article 327), usufruct (Article 603), contracts for a piece of work
(Article 1726), partnership (Article 1830 and agency (Article 1919). By contract, the articles of
the Civil Code that regulate guaranty or suretyship (Articles 2047 to 2084) contain no provision
that the guaranty is extinguished upon the death of the guarantor or the surety.
The lower court sought to infer such a limitation from Art. 2056, to the effect that “one who is
obliged to furnish a guarantor must present a person who possesses integrity, capacity to bind
himself, and sufficient property to answer for the obligation which he guarantees”. It will be noted,
however, that the law requires these qualities to be present only at the time of the perfection of the
contract of guaranty. It is self-evident that once the contract has become perfected and binding, the
supervening incapacity of the guarantor would not operate to exonerate him of the eventual
liability he has contracted; and if that be true of his capacity to bind himself, it should also be
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true of his integrity, which is a quality mentioned in the article alongside the capacity.
The foregoing concept is confirmed by the next Article 2057, that runs as follows: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

“ART. 2057. — If the guarantor should be convicted in first instance of a crime involving
dishonesty or should become insolvent, the creditor may demand another who has all the
qualifications required in the preceding article. The case is excepted where the creditor has
required and stipulated that a specified person should be guarantor.”
From this article it should be immediately apparent that the supervening dishonesty of the
guarantor (that is to say, the disappearance of his integrity after he has become bound) does not
terminate the contract but merely entitles the creditor to demand a replacement of the guarantor.
But the step remains optional in the creditor: it is his right, not his duty; he may waive it if he
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chooses, and hold the guarantor to his bargain. Hence Article 2057 of the present Civil Code is
incompatible with the trial court’s stand that the requirement of integrity in the guarantor or surety
makes the latter’s undertaking strictly personal, so linked to his individuality that the guaranty
automatically terminates upon his death.
The contracts of suretyship entered into by K. H. Hemady in favor of Luzon Surety Co. not being
rendered intransmissible due to the nature of the undertaking, nor by the stipulations of the
contracts themselves, nor by provision of law, his eventual liability thereunder necessarily passed
upon his death to his heirs. The contracts, therefore, give rise to contingent claims provable against
his estate under section 5, Rule 87 (2 Moran, 1952 ed., p. 437; Gaskell & Co. vs. Tan Sit, 43 chan roblesvirtualawlibrary

Phil. 810, 814).


“The most common example of the contigent claim is that which arises when a person is bound as
surety or guarantor for a principal who is insolvent or dead. Under the ordinary contract of
suretyship the surety has no claim whatever against his principal until he himself pays something
by way of satisfaction upon the obligation which is secured. When he does this, there instantly
arises in favor of the surety the right to compel the principal to exonerate the surety. But until the
surety has contributed something to the payment of the debt, or has performed the secured
obligation in whole or in part, he has no right of action against anybody — no claim that could be
reduced to judgment. (May vs. Vann, 15 Pla., 553; Gibson vs. Mithell, 16 Pla., 519; Maxey
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vs. Carter, 10 Yarg. [Tenn.], 521 Reeves vs. Pulliam, 7 Baxt. [Tenn.], 119; Ernst vs. Nou, 63 chan roblesvirtualawlibrary

Wis., 134.)”
For Defendant administratrix it is averred that the above doctrine refers to a case where the surety
files claims against the estate of the principal debtor; and it is urged that the rule does not applychan roblesvirtualawlibrary

to the case before us, where the late Hemady was a surety, not a principal debtor. The argument
evinces a superficial view of the relations between parties. If under the Gaskell ruling, the Luzon
Surety Co., as guarantor, could file a contingent claim against the estate of the principal debtors if
the latter should die, there is absolutely no reason why it could not file such a claim against the
estate of Hemady, since Hemady is a solidary co-debtor of his principals. What the Luzon Surety
Co. may claim from the estate of a principal debtor it may equally claim from the estate of Hemady,
since, in view of the existing solidarity, the latter does not even enjoy the benefit of exhaustion of
the assets of the principal debtor.
The foregoing ruling is of course without prejudice to the remedies of the administratrix against
the principal debtors under Articles 2071 and 2067 of the New Civil Code.
Our conclusion is that the solidary guarantor’s liability is not extinguished by his death, and that
in such event, the Luzon Surety Co., had the right to file against the estate a contingent claim for
reimbursement. It becomes unnecessary now to discuss the estate’s liability for premiums and
stamp taxes, because irrespective of the solution to this question, the Luzon Surety’s claim did
state a cause of action, and its dismissal was erroneous.
Wherefore, the order appealed from is reversed, and the records are ordered remanded to the court
of origin, with instructions to proceed in accordance with law. Costs against the Administratrix-
Appellee. SO ORDERED.
Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Endencia and Felix,
JJ., concur.
VOL. 183, MARCH 22, 1990

565

Baritua vs. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 82233. March 22, 1990.*

JOSE BARITUA and EDGAR BITANCOR, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, NICOLAS
NACARIO and VICTORIA RONDA NACARIO, respondents.

Civil Law; Succession; Surviving Spouse; Mere estrangement is not a legal ground for the disqualification
of a surviving spouse as an heir of the deceased spouse.—It is patently clear that the parents of the
deceased succeed only when the latter dies without a legitimate descendant. On the other hand, the
surviving spouse concurs with all classes of heirs. As it has been established that Bienvenido was married
to Alicia and that they begot a child, the private respondents are not successors-in-interest of
Bienvenido; they are not compulsory heirs. The petitioners therefore acted correctly in settling their
obligation with Alicia as the widow of Bienvenido and as the natural guardian of their lone child. This is
so even if Alicia had been estranged from Bienvenido. Mere estrangement is not a legal ground for the
disqualification of a surviving spouse as an heir of the deceased spouse.

Same; Same; Same; The purchase price of the damaged tricycle loaned to Bienvenido (private
respondents’ deceased son) and the latter’s funeral expenses shouldered by private respondents are not
liabilities of petitioners. They are but money claims against the estate of private respondents’ deceased
son.—Neither could the private respondents, as alleged creditors of Bienvenido, seek relief and
compensation from the petitioners. While it may be true that the private respondents loaned to
Bienvenido the purchase price of the damaged tricycle and shouldered the expenses for his funeral, the
said purchase price and expenses are but money claims against the estate of their deceased son. These
money claims are not the liabilities of the petitioners who, as we have said, had been released by the
agreement of the extra-judicial settlement they concluded with Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario, the
victim’s widow and heir, as well as the natural guardian of their child, her co-heir. As a matter of fact,
she executed a “Release Of Claim” in favor of the petitioners.

PETITION for certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals, Chua, J.
________________

* SECOND DIVISION.

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Baritua vs. Court of Appeals

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Domingo Lucenario for petitioners.

Ernesto A. Atienza for private respondents.

SARMIENTO, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari assails as erroneous and contrary to existing relevant laws and
applicable jurisprudence the decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated December 11, 1987 which reversed
and set aside that of the Regional Trial Court, Branch XXXII, at Pili, Camarines Sur.2 The challenged
decision adjudged the petitioners liable to the private respondents in the total amount of P20,505.00
and for costs.

The facts are as follows:


In the evening of November 7, 1979, the tricycle then being driven by Bienvenido Nacario along the
national highway at Barangay San Cayetano, in Baao, Camarines Sur, figured in an accident with JB Bus
No. 80 driven by petitioner Edgar Bitancor and owned and operated by petitioner Jose Baritua.3 As a
result of that accident Bienvenido and his passenger died,4 and the tricycle was damaged.5 No criminal
case arising from the incident was ever instituted.6

Subsequently, on March 27, 1980, as a consequence of the extra-judicial settlement of the matter
negotiated by the petitioners and the bus’ insurer—Philippine First Insurance Company, Incorporated
(PFICI for brevity)—Bienvenido Nacario’s widow, Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario, received P18,500.00.
In consideration of the amount she received, Alicia executed on March 27, 1980 a “Release of Claim” in
favor of the petitioners and PFICI, releasing and forever discharging them from all actions, claims, and
demands arising from the accident which resulted in her husband’s death and the damage to the tricycle

________________

1 Chua, Segundino G., J., ponente, Ejercito, Bienvenido C., and Lapeña, Nicolas P., Jr., JJ., concurring.

2 Judge Conchita Carpio-Rosales, presiding.

3 Rollo, 46.

4 Id.

5 Id., 42.

6 Id., 46.

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Baritua vs. Court of Appeals

which the deceased was then driving. Alicia likewise executed an affidavit of desistance in which she
formally manifested her lack of interest in instituting any case, either civil or criminal, against the
petitioners.7

On September 2, 1981, or about one year and ten months from the date of the accident on November 7,
1979, the private respondents, who are the parents of Bienvenido Nacario, filed a complaint for
damages against the petitioners with the then Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur.8 In their
complaint, the private respondents alleged that during the vigil for their deceased son, the petitioners
through their representatives promised them (the private respondents) that as extra-judicial settlement,
they shall be indemnified for the death of their son, for the funeral expenses incurred by reason thereof,
and for the damage to the tricycle the purchase price of which they (the private respondents) only
loaned to the victim. The petitioners, however, reneged on their promise and instead negotiated and
settled their obligations with the long-estranged wife of their late son. The Nacario spouses prayed that
the defendants, petitioners herein, be ordered to indemnify them in the amount of P25,000.00 for the
death of their son Bienvenido, P10,000.00 for the damaged tricycle, P25,000.00 for compensatory and
exemplary damages, P5,000.00 for attorney’s fees, and for moral damages.9

After trial, the court a quo dismissed the complaint, holding that the payment by the defendants (herein
petitioners) to the widow and her child, who are the preferred heirs and successors-in-interest of the
deceased Bienvenido to the exclusion of his parents, the plaintiffs (herein private respondents),
extinguished any claim against the defendants (petitioners).10

The parents appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed the judgment of the trial court. The
appellate court ruled that the release executed by Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario did not discharge the
liability of the petitioners because the case was instituted by the private respondents in their own
capacity and

________________

7 Id., 42.
8 Id., 24.

9 Id., 62-65.

10 Id., 42-44.

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Baritua vs. Court of Appeals

not as “heirs, representatives, successors, and assigns” of Alicia; and Alicia could not have validly waived
the damages being prayed for (by the private respondents) since she was not the one who suffered
these damages arising from the death of their son. Furthermore, the appellate court said that the
petitioners “failed to rebut the testimony of the appellants (private respondents) that they were the
ones who bought the tricycle that was damaged in the incident. Appellants had the burden of proof of
such fact, and they did establish such fact in their testimony x x x.”11 Anent the funeral expenses,” (T)he
expenses for the funeral were likewise shouldered by the appellants (the private respondents). This was
never contradicted by the appellees (petitioners). x x x. Payment (for these) were made by the
appellants, therefore, the reimbursement must accrue in their favor.”12

Consequently, the respondent appellate court ordered the petitioners to pay the private respondents
P10,000.00 for the damage of the tricycle, P5,000.00 for “complete” funeral services, P450.00 for
cemetery lot, P55.00 for oracion adulto, and P5,000.00 for attorney’s fees.13 The petitioners moved for
a reconsideration of the appellate court’s decision14 but their motion was denied.15 Hence, this
petition.

The issue here is whether or not the respondent appellate court erred in holding that the petitioners are
still liable to pay the private respondents the aggregate amount of P20,505.00 despite the agreement of
extrajudicial settlement between the petitioners and the victim’s compulsory heirs.
The petition is meritorious.

Obligations are extinguished by various modes among them being by payment. Article 1231 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines provides:

Art. 1231. Obligations are extinguished:

(1) By payment or performance;

________________

11 Id., 50.

12 Id.

13 Id., 45-51.

14 Id., 52-58.

15 Id., 61.

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Baritua vs. Court of Appeals

(2) By the loss of the thing due;

(3) By the condonation or remission of the debt;

(4) By the confusion or merger of the rights of creditor and debtor;

(5) By compensation;

(6) By novation.

(Emphasis ours.)

There is no denying that the petitioners had paid their obligation arising from the accident that occurred
on November 7, 1979. The only question now is whether or not Alicia, the surviving spouse and the one
who received the petitioners’ payment, is entitled to it.

Article 1240 of the Civil Code of the Philippines enumerates the persons to whom payment to extinguish
an obligation should be made.

Art. 1240. Payment shall be made to the person in whose favor the obligation has been constituted, or
his successor in interest, or any person authorized to receive it.

Certainly there can be no question that Alicia and her son with the deceased are the successors in
interest referred to in law as the persons authorized to receive payment. The Civil Code states:

Article 887. The following are compulsory heirs:

1. Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants;

2. In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate
children and descendants;

3. The widow or widower;

4. Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction;

5. Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287.


Compulsory heirs mentioned in Nos. 3, 4 and 5 are not excluded by those in Nos. 1 and 2. Neither do
they exclude one another. (Emphasis ours.)

Article 985. In default of legitimate children and descendants of the deceased, his parents and
ascendants shall inherit from him, to the exclusion of collateral relatives. (Emphasis ours.)

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Baritua vs. Court of Appeals

It is patently clear that the parents of the deceased succeed only when the latter dies without a
legitimate descendant. On the other hand, the surviving spouse concurs with all classes of heirs. As it
has been established that Bienvenido was married to Alicia and that they begot a child, the private
respondents are not successors-in-interest of Bienvenido; they are not compulsory heirs. The petitioners
therefore acted correctly in settling their obligation with Alicia as the widow of Bienvenido and as the
natural guardian of their lone child. This is so even if Alicia had been estranged from Bienvenido. Mere
estrangement is not a legal ground for the disqualification of a surviving spouse as an heir of the
deceased spouse.

Neither could the private respondents, as alleged creditors of Bienvenido, seek relief and compensation
from the petitioners. While it may be true that the private respondents loaned to Bienvenido the
purchase price of the damaged tricycle and shouldered the expenses for his funeral, the said purchase
price and expenses are but money claims against the estate of their deceased son.16 These money
claims are not the liabilities of the petitioners who, as we have said, had been released by the
agreement of the extra-judicial settlement they concluded with Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario, the
victim’s widow and heir, as well as the natural guardian of their child, her co-heir. As a matter of fact,
she executed a “Release Of Claim” in favor of the petitioners.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED; the decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE
and the decision of the Regional Trial Court is hereby REINSTATED. Costs against the private
respondents.

SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera (Chairman), Paras, Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Petition granted; decision reversed and set aside.

________________

16 Rule 87, Section 1, Rules of Court; see also, MORAN, 3 Comments on the Rules of Court, 479-480
(1980).

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571

Rubio, Jr. vs. Sto. Tomas

Note.—The rights to the succession of a deceased person are transmitted to his heirs from the moment
of his death, and the right of succession includes all property rights and obligations that survive the
decedent. (Butte vs. Manuel Uy & Sons, Inc., L-15499, February 28, 1962, 4 SCRA 526.)

———o0o———

Baritua vs. Court of Appeals, 183 SCRA 565, G.R. No. 82233 March 22, 1990
VOL. 14, JUNE 30, 1965

563

Santillon vs. Miranda

No. L-19281. June 30, 1965.

IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF PEDRO SANTILLON, CLARO SANTILLON, petitioner-
appellant, vs. PERFECTA MIRANDA, BENITO U. MIRANDA and ROSARIO CORRALES, oppositors-appellees.

Appeals in special proceedings; Order of court determining distributive share of heirs appealable.—An
order of the Court of First Instance which determines the distributive shares of the heirs of a deceased
person is appealable.

Succession; Surviving spouse concurring with a legitimate child entitled to one-half of the intestate
estate.—When intestacy occurs, a surviving spouse concurring with only one legitimate child of the
deceased is entitled to one-half of the estate of the deceased spouse under Article 996 of the Civil Code.

APPEAL from an order of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan. Pabalan, J.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Clodualdo P. Surio and Claro Santillon (in his own behalf) for petitioner-appellant.

Patricio M. Patajo for oppositors-appellees.

BENGZON, C.J.:

This is an appeal from the order of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, specifying the respective
shares
564

564

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Santillon vs. Miranda

of the principal parties herein in the intestate estate of Pedro Santillon.

On November 21, 1953, Santillon died without testament in Tayug, Pangasinan, his residence, leaving
one son, Claro, and his wife, Perfecta Miranda. During his marriage, Pedro acquired several parcels of
land located in that province.

About four years after his death, Claro Santillon filed a petition for letters of administration. Opposition
to said petition was entered by the widow Perfecta Miranda and the spouses Benito U. Miranda and
Rosario Corrales on the following grounds: (a) that the properties enumerated in the petition were all
conjugal, except three parcels which Perfecta Miranda claimed to be her exclusive properties; (b) that
Perfecta Miranda by virtue of two documents had conveyed 3/4 of her undivided share in most of the
properties enumerated in the petition to said spouses Benito and Rosario; (c) that administration of the
estate was not necessary, there being a case for partition pending; and (d) that if administration was
necessary at all, the oppositor Perfecta Miranda and not the petitioner ‘was better qualified for the
post. It appears that subsequently, oppositor Perfecta Miranda was appointed administratrix of the
estate.

On March 22, 1961, the court appointed commissioners to draft within sixty days, a project of partition
and distribution of all the properties of the deceased Pedro Santillon.

On April 25, 1961, Claro filed a “Motion to Declare Share of Heirs” and to resolve the conflicting claims
of the parties with respect to their respective rights in the estate. Invoking Art. 892 of the New Civil
Code, he insisted that after deducting 1/2 from the conjugal properties as the conjugal share of
Perfecta, the remaining 1/2 must be divided as follows: 1/4 for her and 3/4 for him. Oppositor Perfecta,
on the other hand, claimed that besides her conjugal half, she was entitled under Art. 996 of the New
Civil Code to another 1/2 of the remaining half. In other words, Claro claimed 3/4 of Pedro’s inheritance,
while Perfecta claimed 1/2.

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VOL. 14, JUNE 30, 1965

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Santillon vs. Miranda

After due notice and hearing, the court, on June 28, 1961, issued an order, the dispositive portion of
which reads:

“IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS it is hereby ruled and ordered that in the intestate
succession of the deceased Pedro Santillon, the surviving spouse Perfecta Miranda shall inherit ONE-
HALF (1/2) share and the remaining ONE-HALF (1/2) share for the only son, Atty. Claro Santillon. This is
after deducting the share of the widow as co-owner of the conjugal properties, x x x.”

From this order, petitioner Claro Santillon has appealed to this Court. Two questions of law are involved.
The first, raised in Perfecta’s Motion to Dismiss Appeal, is whether the order of the lower court is
appealable. And the second, raised in appellant’s lone assignment of error, is: How shall the estate of a
person who dies intestate be divided when the only survivors are the spouse and one legitimate child?

The First Issue:—It is clear that the order of the lower court is final and, therefore, appealable to this
Court.

Under Rule 109, see 1, a person may appeal in special proceedings from an order of the Court of First
Instance where such order “determines xxx the distributive share of the estate to which such person is
entitled.”
The Second Issue:—Petitioner rests his claim to 3/4 of his father’s estate on Art. 892 of the New Civil
Code which provides that:

“If only the legitimate child or descendant of the deceased survives, the widow or widower shall be
entitled to one-fourth of the hereditary estate. xxx.”

As she gets one-fourth, therefore, I get 3/4, says Claro. Perfecta, on the other hand, cites Art. 996 which
provides:

“If a widow or widower and legitimate children or descendants are left, the surviving spouse has in the
succession the same share as that of each of the children.”

Replying to Perfecta’s claim, Claro says the article is unjust and unequitable to the extent that it grants
the widow the same share as that of the children in intestate

566

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Santillon vs. Miranda

succession, whereas in testate, she is given 1/4 and the only child 1/2.

Oppositor Perfecta Miranda, on the other hand, contends that Art. 996 should control, regardless of its
alleged inequity, being as it is, a provision on intestate succession involving a surviving spouse and a
legitimate child, inasmuch as in statutory construction, the plural word “children” includes the singular
“child.”
Art. 892 of the New Civil Code falls under the chapter on Testamentary Succession; whereas Art. 996
comes under the chapter on Legal or Intestate Succession. Such being the case, it is obvious that Claro
cannot rely on Art. 892 to support his claim to 3/4 of his father’s estate. Art. 892 merely fixes the
legitime of the surviving spouse and Art. 888 thereof, the legitime of children in testate succession.
While it may indicate the intent of the law with respect to the ideal shares that a child and a spouse
should get when they concur with each other, it does not fix the amount of shares that such child and
spouse are entitled to when intestacy occurs. Because if the latter happens, the pertinent provision on
intestate succession shall apply, i.e., Art. 996.

Some commentators of our New Civil Code seem to support Claro’s contention; at least, his objection to
fifty-fifty sharing. But others confirm the half and half idea of the Pangasinan court.

This is, remember, intestate proceedings. In the New Civil Code’s chapter on legal or intestate
succession, the only article applicable is Art. 996. Our colleague, Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, professor of
Civil Law, is quoted as having expressed the opinion that under this article, when the widow survives
with only one legitimate child, they share the estate in equal parts.1 Senator Tolentino in his
commentaries writes as follows:

“One child Surviving.—If there is only one legitimate child surviving with the spouse, since they share
equally, onehalf of the estate goes to the child and the other half goes to the surviving spouse. Although
the law refers to ‘children or

_______________

1 V. Francisco, Civil Code Annotated, Vol. III, p. 931.

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VOL. 14, JUNE 30, 1965

567

Santillon vs. Miranda


descendants,’ the rule in statutory construction that the plural can be understood to include the singular
is applicable in this case.” (Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. III, p. 436.)

The theory of those holding otherwise seems to be premised on these propositions: (a) Art. 996 speaks
of “children,” therefore, it does not apply when there is only one “child”; consequently Art. 892 (and
Art. 888) should be applied, thru a process of judicial construction and analogy; (b) Art. 996 is unjust or
unfair because, whereas in testate succession, the widow is assigned one-fourth only (Art. 892), she
would get 1/2 in intestate.

A. Children.—It is a maxim of statutory construction that words in plural include the singular.2 So Art.
996 could or should be read (and so applied): “If the widow or widower and a legitimate child are left,
the surviving spouse has the same share as that of the child.” Indeed, if we refuse to apply the article to
this case on the ground that “child” is not included in “children,” the consequences would be
tremendous, because “children” will not include “child” in the following articles:

ART. 887.—The following are compulsory heirs: (1) legitimate children and descendants xxx.

ART. 888.—The legitime of legitimate children and descendants consists of one-half of the hereditary
estate xxx.

ART. 896.—Illegitimate children who may survive xxx are entitled to one-fourth of the hereditary estate
xxx. (See also Art. 901).

In fact, those who say “children” in Art. 996 does not include “child” seem to be inconsistent when they
argue from the premise that “in testate succession the only legitimate child gets one-half and the
widow, one-fourth.” The inconsistency is clear, because the only legitimate child gets one-half under
Art. 888, which speaks of “children,” not “child.” So if “children” in Art. 888 includes “child,” the same
meaning should be given to Art. 996.

B. Unfairness of Art. 996.—Such position, more clearly stated, is this: In testate succession, where there
is only

_______________
2 82 C.J.S. 675, 676.

568

568

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

See Ho Kiat vs. Republic

one child of the marriage, the child gets one-half, and the widow or widower one-fourth. But in
intestate, if Art. 996 is applied now, the child gets one-half, and the widow or widower one-half. Unfair
or inequitable, they insist.

On this point, it is not correct to assume that in testate succession the widow or widower “gets only
one-fourth.” She or he may get one-half—if the testator so wishes. So, the law virtually leaves it to each
of the spouses to decide (by testament, whether his or her only child shall get more than his or her
survivor).

Our conclusion (equal shares) seems a logical inference from the circumstance that whereas Article 834
of the Spanish Civil Code, from which Art. 996 was taken, contained two paragraphs governing two
contingencies, the first, where the widow or widower survives with legitimate children (general rule),
and the second, where the widow or widower survives with only one child (exception), Art. 996 omitted
to provide for the second situation, thereby indicating the legislator’s desire to promulgate just one
general rule applicable to both situations.

The resultant division may be unfair as some writers explain—and this we are not called upon to
discuss—but it is the clear mandate of the statute, which we are bound to enforce.

The appealed decision is affirmed. No costs in this instance.


Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Paredes, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.

Bautista Angelo, J., took no part.

Barrera, J., is on leave.

Decision affirmed.

———o0o——— Santillon vs. Miranda, 14 SCRA 563, No. L-19281 June 30, 1965
358

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Bellis vs. Bellis

No. L-23678. June 6, 1967.

TESTATE ESTATE OF AMOS G. BELLIS, deceased. PEOPLE'S BANK & TRUST COMPANY, executor. MARIA
CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM PALMA BELLIS, oppositors-appellants, vs. EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-
appellees.

Wills; Succession; Conflict of laws; Renvoi doctrine.—The doctrine of renvoi is usually pertinent where
the decedent is a national of one country and is domiciled in another. It does not apply to a case where
the decedent was a citizen of Texas and was domiciled therein at the time of his death. So that, even
assuming that Texas has a conflicts rule providing that the domiciliary law should govern successional
rights, the same would not result in a reference back (renvoi) to Philippine law, but it would still refer to
Texas law. Nonetheless, if Texas has a conflicts rule, adopting the rule of lex rei sitae, which calls for the
application of the law of the place where the properties are situated, renvoi would arise, where the
properties involved are found in the Philippines.

Same; Foreign laws.—In the absence of proof as to the conflicts rule of Texas, it would be presumed to
be the same as our local conflicts rule.

Same; Applicability of national law to succession; Capacity to succeed—The decedent's national law
governs the order of succession, the amount of successional rights, the intrinsic validity of the provisions
of the will and capacity to succeed.

Same; Third paragraph of article 17 of New Civil Code does not modify article 16.—The third paragraph
of article 17 of the New Civil Code is not an exception to the second paragraph of article 16. Precisely,
Congress deleted the phrase, "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the next preceding article,"
when it incorporated article 11 of the old Civil Code as article 17, while reproducing without substantial
change the second paragraph of article 10 of the old Civil Code, as article 16. The legislative intent must
have been to make the second paragraph of article 176 a specific provision in itself which must be
applied in testate and intestate succession. As a further indication of this legislative intent, Congress
added a new provision, under article 1039, which decrees that capacity to succeed is governed by the
decedent's national law,

Same; Legitimes; Statutes; Special and general provisions.—Whatever public policy and good customs
may be involved in our system of legitimes, Congres has not intended to extend the same to the
succession of foreign nationals. It has specifically chosen the decedent's national law to govern, inter
alia,

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VOL. 20, JUNE 6, 1967

359

Bellis vs. Bellis

the amount of successional rights. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones.

Same; Testamentary provision that successional right to decedent's estate would be governed by law
other than his national law is void.—A provision in a foreigner's will that his properties should be
distributed in accordance with Philippine law and not in accordance with his national law is void, being
contrary to article 16 of the New Civil Code.

Same; System of legitimes does not apply to estate of a citizen of Texas.—Where the decedent was a
citizen of Texas and under Texas laws there are no forced heirs, the system of legitimes in Philippine law
cannot be applied to the succession to the decedent's testate because the intrinsic validity of the
provisions of the decedent's will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under
Texas law.

APPEAL from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.


Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for oppositorsappellants.

Paredes, Poblador, Cruz & Nazareno for heirs-appellees E. A. Bellis, et al.

Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, et al.

J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & Trust Company.

Ozaeta, Gibbs & Ozaeta for appellee A. B. Allsman.

BENGZON. J.P., J,:

This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question purely of law, from an order of the Court of First Instance
of Manila dated April 30, 1964. approving the project of partition f iled by the executor in 'Civil Case No.
37089 therein.

The. facts of the case are as follows:

Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States." By his first
wife, Mary E. Mallen, whom he divorced, he had five legitimate children: Edward A. Bellis, George Bellis
(who pre-deceased him in infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman; by his
second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived him, he had three legitimate children: Edwin G. Bellis. Walter
S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three illegitimate children: Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina
Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis.

360

360
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Bellis vs. Bellis

On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the Philippines, in which he directed that after all
taxes, obligations, and expenses of administration are paid f or, his distributable estate should be
divided, in trust, in the following order and manner: (a) $240,000.00 to his first wife, Mary E. Mallen; (b)
P120,000.00 to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma
Bellis, or P40,000.00 each and (c) after the foregoing two items have been satisfied, the remainder shall
go to his seven surviving children by his first and second wives, namely: Edward A. Bellis, Henry A. Bellis,
Alexander Bellis, and Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis, and Dorothy E. Bellis, in equal
shares.

Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G. Bellis died, a resident of San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. His will
was admitted to probate in the Court of First Instance of Manila on September 15, 1958.

The People's Bank and Trust Company, as executor of the will, paid all the bequests therein including the
amount of $240,000.00 in the form of shares of stock to Mary E. Mallen and to the three (3) illegitimate
children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis, various amounts totalling
P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their respective legacies, or a total of P120,000.00, which it released
from time to time accordingly as the lower court approved and allowed the various motions or petitions
filed by the latter three requesting partial advances on account of their respective legacies.

On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration, the executor submitted and filed its
"Executor's Final Account, Report of Administration and Project of Partition" wherein it reported, inter
alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary E. Mallen by the delivery to her of shares of stock amounting
to $240,000.00, and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis in the
amount of P40,000.00 each or a total of ?120,000.00. In the project of partition, the executor—pursuant
to the "Twelfth" clause of the testator's Last Will and Testament—divided the residuary estate into
seven equal portions for the benefit of the testator's seven legitimate children by his first and second
marriages.

361

VOL. 20, JUNE 6, 1967


361

Bellis vs. Bellis

On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective oppositions to
the project of partition on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as illegitimate children
and, therefore, compulsory heirs of the deceased.

Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition despite notice to him, proof of service of which is evidenced by
the registry receipt submitted on April 27, 1964 by the executor.1 After the parties filed their respective
memoranda and other pertinent pleadings, the lower court, on April 30, 1964, issued an order
overruling the oppositions and approving the executor's final account, report and administration and
project of partition. Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied the national law of the decedent,
which in this case is Texas law, which did not provide for legitimes.

Their respective motions for reconsideration having been denied by the lower court on June 11, 1964,
oppositorsappellants appealed to this Court to raise the issue of which law must apply—Texas law or
Philippine law.

In this regard, the parties do not submit the case on, nor even discuss, the doctrine of renvoi, applied by
this Court in Aznar v. Christensen Garcia, L-16749, January 31, 1963. Said doctrine is usually pertinent
where the decedent is a national of one country, and a domicile of another. In the present case, it is not
disputed that the decedent was both a national of Texas and a domicile thereof at the time of his
death.2 So that even assuming Texas has a conflict of law rule providing that the domiciliary system (law
of the domicile) should govern, the same would not result in a reference back (renvoi) to Philippine law,
but would still refer to Texas law. Nonetheless, if Texas has a conflicts rule adopting the situs theory (lex

________________

1 He later filed a motion praying that as a legal heir he be included in this case as one of the oppositors-
appellants; to file or adopt the opposition of his sisters to the project of partition; to submit his brief
after paying his proportionate share in the expenses incurred in the printing of the record on appeal; or
to allow him to adopt the briefs filed by his sisters—but this Court resolved to deny the motion.
2 San Antonio, Texas was his legal residence.

362

362

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Bellis vs. Bellis

where the properties are situated, renvoi would arise, since the properties here involved are found in
the Philippines. In the absence, however, of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should not be
presumed different from ours.3 Appellants' position is therefore not rested on the doctrine of renvoi. As
stated, they never invoked nor even mentioned it in their arguments. Rather, they argue that their case
falls under the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Article 17 in relation to Article 16 of
the Civil Code.

Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national law of the decedent, in
intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the order of succession; (b) the
amount of successional rights; (c) the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the capacity
to succeed. They provide that—

"ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is
situated. "However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of
succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary
provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration,
whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may
be found."

"ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent."

Appellants would however counter that Art. 17. paragraph three, of the Civil Code, stating that—
"Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their object public
order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments
promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country."

prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of the Civil Code afore-quoted. This is not correct. Precisely,
Congress deleted the phrase, "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the next preceding article"
when they incorporated Art. 11 of the old Civil Code as Art. 17 of the new Civil Code,

_______________

3 Lim vs. Collector, 36 Phil. 472; In re Testate Estate of Suntay, 95 Phil. 500.

363

VOL. 20, JUNE 6, 1967

363

Bellis vs. Bellis

while reproducing without substantial change the second paragraph of Art. 10 of the old Civil Code as
Art. 16 in the new. It must have been their purpose to make the second paragraph of Art. 16 a specific
provision in itself which must be applied in testate and intestate succes-sions. As further indication of
this legislative intent. Congress added a new provision, under Art. 1039, which decrees that capacity to
succeed is to be governed by the national law of the decedent.

It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our system of
legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it
has specifically chosen to leave, inter. alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's national
law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones,
Appellants would also point out that the decedent executed two wills—one to govern his Texas estate
and the other his Philippine estate—arguing from this that he intended Philippine law to govern his
Philippine estate. Assuming that such was the decedent's intention in executing a separate Philippine
will, it would not alter the law, for as this Court ruled in Miciano v. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867, 870, a provision
in a foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be distributed in accordance with Philippine law
and not with his national law, is illegal and void. for his national law cannot be ignored in regard to those
matters that Article 10—now Article 16—of the Civil Code states said national law should govern.

The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and that
under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of
the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law,
the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis.

Wherefore, the order of the probate court is hereby affirmed in toto, with costs against appellants. So
ordered.

364

364

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Allied Workers' Association of the Philippines vs. Court of Industrial Relations

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur.

Judgment affirmed.

Notes.—In Philippine Trust Company vs. Bohanan, 60 O.G. 4615, it was held that the validity of the
provisions of the will of a citizen of Nevada should be governed by his national law, the law of Nevada.
Since the Nevada law allows a citizen of Nevada to dispose of all his property according to his will, the
testamentary provisions therein, depriving his wife and children of what should be their legitimes under
Philippine law should be respected and the project of partition made in accordance with. his will should
be approved,

In Aznar vs. Christensen Garcia, 61 O.G. 7302, it was held that, where the deceased citizen of California
was domiciled in the Philippines, the validity of the provisions of his will should be governed by
Philippine law, pursuant to article 946 of the California Civil Code, and not by the internal law of
California.

____________ Bellis vs. Bellis, 20 SCRA 358, No. L-23678 June 6, 1967
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Baguio

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 174489 April 11, 2012

ANTONIO B. BALTAZAR, SEBASTIAN M. BALTAZAR, ANTONIO L.


MANGALINDAN, ROSIE M. MATEO, NENITA A. PACHECO, VIRGILIO REGALA,
JR., and RAFAEL TITCO, Petitioners,
vs.
LORENZO LAXA, Respondent.

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

It is incumbent upon those who oppose the probate of a will to clearly establish that the decedent
was not of sound and disposing mind at the time of the execution of said will. Otherwise, the
state is duty-bound to give full effect to the wishes of the testator to distribute his estate in the
manner provided in his will so long as it is legally tenable.1

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari2 of the June 15, 2006 Decision3 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 80979 which reversed the September 30, 2003 Decision4 of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 52, Guagua, Pampanga in Special Proceedings No. G-
1186. The assailed CA Decision granted the petition for probate of the notarial will of Paciencia
Regala (Paciencia), to wit:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, finding the appeal to be impressed with merit, the decision
in SP. PROC. NO. G-1186 dated 30 September 2003, is hereby SET ASIDE and a new one
entered GRANTING the petition for the probate of the will of PACIENCIA REGALA.

SO ORDERED.5

Also assailed herein is the August 31, 2006 CA Resolution6 which denied the Motion for
Reconsideration thereto.

Petitioners call us to reverse the CA’s assailed Decision and instead affirm the Decision of the
RTC which disallowed the notarial will of Paciencia.

Factual Antecedents

Paciencia was a 78 year old spinster when she made her last will and testament entitled "Tauli
Nang Bilin o Testamento Miss Paciencia Regala"7 (Will) in the Pampango dialect on September
13, 1981. The Will, executed in the house of retired Judge Ernestino G. Limpin (Judge Limpin),
was read to Paciencia twice. After which, Paciencia expressed in the presence of the instrumental
witnesses that the document is her last will and testament. She thereafter affixed her signature at
the end of the said document on page 38 and then on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 thereof.9

The witnesses to the Will were Dra. Maria Lioba A. Limpin (Dra. Limpin), Francisco Garcia
(Francisco) and Faustino R. Mercado (Faustino). The three attested to the Will’s due execution
by affixing their signatures below its attestation clause10 and on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and
4 thereof,11 in the presence of Paciencia and of one another and of Judge Limpin who acted as
notary public.

Childless and without any brothers or sisters, Paciencia bequeathed all her properties to
respondent Lorenzo R. Laxa (Lorenzo) and his wife Corazon F. Laxa and their children Luna
Lorella Laxa and Katherine Ross Laxa, thus:

xxxx

Fourth - In consideration of their valuable services to me since then up to the present by the
spouses LORENZO LAXA and CORAZON F. LAXA, I hereby BEQUEATH, CONVEY and
GIVE all my properties enumerated in parcels 1 to 5 unto the spouses LORENZO R. LAXA and
CORAZON F. LAXA and their children, LUNA LORELLA LAXA and KATHERINE LAXA,
and the spouses Lorenzo R. Laxa and Corazon F. Laxa both of legal age, Filipinos, presently
residing at Barrio Sta. Monica, [Sasmuan], Pampanga and their children, LUNA LORELLA and
KATHERINE ROSS LAXA, who are still not of legal age and living with their parents who
would decide to bequeath since they are the children of the spouses;

xxxx

[Sixth] - Should other properties of mine may be discovered aside from the properties mentioned
in this last will and testament, I am also bequeathing and giving the same to the spouses Lorenzo
R. Laxa and Corazon F. Laxa and their two children and I also command them to offer masses
yearly for the repose of my soul and that of D[ñ]a Nicomeda Regala, Epifania Regala and their
spouses and with respect to the fishpond situated at San Antonio, I likewise command to fulfill
the wishes of D[ñ]a Nicomeda Regala in accordance with her testament as stated in my
testament. x x x12

The filial relationship of Lorenzo with Paciencia remains undisputed. Lorenzo is Paciencia’s
nephew whom she treated as her own son. Conversely, Lorenzo came to know and treated
Paciencia as his own mother.13 Paciencia lived with Lorenzo’s family in Sasmuan, Pampanga
and it was she who raised and cared for Lorenzo since his birth. Six days after the execution of
the Will or on September 19, 1981, Paciencia left for the United States of America (USA).
There, she resided with Lorenzo and his family until her death on January 4, 1996.

In the interim, the Will remained in the custody of Judge Limpin.


More than four years after the death of Paciencia or on April 27, 2000, Lorenzo filed a petition14
with the RTC of Guagua, Pampanga for the probate of the Will of Paciencia and for the issuance
of Letters of Administration in his favor, docketed as Special Proceedings No. G-1186.

There being no opposition to the petition after its due publication, the RTC issued an Order on
June 13, 200015 allowing Lorenzo to present evidence on June 22, 2000. On said date, Dra.
Limpin testified that she was one of the instrumental witnesses in the execution of the last will
and testament of Paciencia on September 13, 1981.16 The Will was executed in her father’s
(Judge Limpin) home office, in her presence and of two other witnesses, Francisco and
Faustino.17 Dra. Limpin positively identified the Will and her signatures on all its four pages.18
She likewise positively identified the signature of her father appearing thereon.19 Questioned by
the prosecutor regarding Judge Limpin’s present mental fitness, Dra. Limpin testified that her
father had a stroke in 1991 and had to undergo brain surgery.20 The judge can walk but can no
longer talk and remember her name. Because of this, Dra. Limpin stated that her father can no
longer testify in court.21

The following day or on June 23, 2000, petitioner Antonio Baltazar (Antonio) filed an
opposition22 to Lorenzo’s petition. Antonio averred that the properties subject of Paciencia’s
Will belong to Nicomeda Regala Mangalindan, his predecessor-in-interest; hence, Paciencia had
no right to bequeath them to Lorenzo.23

Barely a month after or on July 20, 2000, Antonio, now joined by petitioners Sebastian M.
Baltazar, Virgilio Regala, Jr., Nenita A. Pacheco, Felix B. Flores, Rafael Titco, Rosie M. Mateo
(Rosie) and Antonio L. Mangalindan filed a Supplemental Opposition24 contending that
Paciencia’s Will was null and void because ownership of the properties had not been transferred
and/or titled to Paciencia before her death pursuant to Article 1049, paragraph 3 of the Civil
Code.25 Petitioners also opposed the issuance of Letters of Administration in Lorenzo’s favor
arguing that Lorenzo was disqualified to be appointed as such, he being a citizen and resident of
the USA.26 Petitioners prayed that Letters of Administration be instead issued in favor of
Antonio.27

Later still on September 26, 2000, petitioners filed an Amended Opposition28 asking the RTC to
deny the probate of Paciencia’s Will on the following grounds: the Will was not executed and
attested to in accordance with the requirements of the law; that Paciencia was mentally incapable
to make a Will at the time of its execution; that she was forced to execute the Will under duress
or influence of fear or threats; that the execution of the Will had been procured by undue and
improper pressure and influence by Lorenzo or by some other persons for his benefit; that the
signature of Paciencia on the Will was forged; that assuming the signature to be genuine, it was
obtained through fraud or trickery; and, that Paciencia did not intend the document to be her
Will. Simultaneously, petitioners filed an Opposition and Recommendation29 reiterating their
opposition to the appointment of Lorenzo as administrator of the properties and requesting for
the appointment of Antonio in his stead.

On January 29, 2001, the RTC issued an Order30 denying the requests of both Lorenzo and
Antonio to be appointed administrator since the former is a citizen and resident of the USA while
the latter’s claim as a co-owner of the properties subject of the Will has not yet been established.
Meanwhile, proceedings on the petition for the probate of the Will continued. Dra. Limpin was
recalled for cross-examination by the petitioners. She testified as to the age of her father at the
time the latter notarized the Will of Paciencia; the living arrangements of Paciencia at the time of
the execution of the Will; and the lack of photographs when the event took place. 31

Aside from Dra. Limpin, Lorenzo and Monico Mercado (Monico) also took the witness stand.
Monico, son of Faustino, testified on his father’s condition. According to him his father can no
longer talk and express himself due to brain damage. A medical certificate was presented to the
court to support this allegation. 32

For his part, Lorenzo testified that: from 1944 until his departure for the USA in April 1980, he
lived in Sasmuan, Pampanga with his family and his aunt, Paciencia; in 1981 Paciencia went to
the USA and lived with him and his family until her death in January 1996; the relationship
between him and Paciencia was like that of a mother and child since Paciencia took care of him
since birth and took him in as an adopted son; Paciencia was a spinster without children, and
without brothers and sisters; at the time of Paciencia’s death, she did not suffer from any mental
disorder and was of sound mind, was not blind, deaf or mute; the Will was in the custody of
Judge Limpin and was only given to him after Paciencia’s death through Faustino; and he was
already residing in the USA when the Will was executed.33 Lorenzo positively identified the
signature of Paciencia in three different documents and in the Will itself and stated that he was
familiar with Paciencia’s signature because he accompanied her in her transactions.34 Further,
Lorenzo belied and denied having used force, intimidation, violence, coercion or trickery upon
Paciencia to execute the Will as he was not in the Philippines when the same was executed.35
On cross-examination, Lorenzo clarified that Paciencia informed him about the Will shortly after
her arrival in the USA but that he saw a copy of the Will only after her death.36

As to Francisco, he could no longer be presented in court as he already died on May 21, 2000.

For petitioners, Rosie testified that her mother and Paciencia were first cousins.37 She claimed to
have helped in the household chores in the house of Paciencia thereby allowing her to stay
therein from morning until evening and that during the period of her service in the said
household, Lorenzo’s wife and his children were staying in the same house.38 She served in the
said household from 1980 until Paciencia’s departure for the USA on September 19, 1981.39

On September 13, 1981, Rosie claimed that she saw Faustino bring "something" for Paciencia to
sign at the latter’s house.40 Rosie admitted, though, that she did not see what that "something"
was as same was placed inside an envelope.41 However, she remembered Paciencia instructing
Faustino to first look for money before she signs them.42 A few days after or on September 16,
1981, Paciencia went to the house of Antonio’s mother and brought with her the said
envelope.43 Upon going home, however, the envelope was no longer with Paciencia.44 Rosie
further testified that Paciencia was referred to as "magulyan" or "forgetful" because she would
sometimes leave her wallet in the kitchen then start looking for it moments later.45 On cross
examination, it was established that Rosie was neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist, that her
conclusion that Paciencia was "magulyan" was based on her personal assessment,46 and that it
was Antonio who requested her to testify in court.47
In his direct examination, Antonio stated that Paciencia was his aunt.48 He identified the Will
and testified that he had seen the said document before because Paciencia brought the same to his
mother’s house and showed it to him along with another document on September 16, 1981.49
Antonio alleged that when the documents were shown to him, the same were still unsigned.50
According to him, Paciencia thought that the documents pertained to a lease of one of her rice
lands,51 and it was he who explained that the documents were actually a special power of
attorney to lease and sell her fishpond and other properties upon her departure for the USA, and a
Will which would transfer her properties to Lorenzo and his family upon her death.52 Upon
hearing this, Paciencia allegedly uttered the following words: "Why will I never [return], why
will I sell all my properties?" Who is Lorenzo? Is he the only [son] of God? I have other relatives
[who should] benefit from my properties. Why should I die already?"53 Thereafter, Antonio
advised Paciencia not to sign the documents if she does not want to, to which the latter
purportedly replied, "I know nothing about those, throw them away or it is up to you. The more I
will not sign them."54 After which, Paciencia left the documents with Antonio. Antonio kept the
unsigned documents

and eventually turned them over to Faustino on September 18, 1981.55

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On September 30, 2003, the RTC rendered its Decision56 denying the petition thus:

WHEREFORE, this court hereby (a) denies the petition dated April 24, 2000; and (b) disallows
the notarized will dated September 13, 1981 of Paciencia Regala.

SO ORDERED.57

The trial court gave considerable weight to the testimony of Rosie and concluded that at the time
Paciencia signed the Will, she was no longer possessed of sufficient reason or strength of mind
to have testamentary capacity.58

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On appeal, the CA reversed the RTC Decision and granted the probate of the Will of Paciencia.
The appellate court did not agree with the RTC’s conclusion that Paciencia was of unsound mind
when she executed the Will. It ratiocinated that "the state of being ‘magulyan’ does not make a
person mentally unsound so [as] to render [Paciencia] unfit for executing a Will."59 Moreover,
the oppositors in the probate proceedings were not able to overcome the presumption that every
person is of sound mind. Further, no concrete circumstances or events were given to prove the
allegation that Paciencia was tricked or forced into signing the Will.60

Petitioners moved for reconsideration61 but the motion was denied by the CA in its
Resolution62 dated August 31, 2006.

Hence, this petition.


Issues

Petitioners come before this Court by way of Petition for Review on Certiorari ascribing upon
the CA the following errors:

I.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT


ALLOWED THE PROBATE OF PACIENCIA’S WILL DESPITE RESPONDENT’S
UTTER FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH SECTION 11, RULE 76 OF THE RULES OF
COURT;

II.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN MAKING


CONCLUSIONS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD;

III.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT


PETITIONERS FAILED TO PROVE THAT PACIENCIA WAS NOT OF SOUND
MIND AT THE TIME THE WILL WAS ALLEGEDLY EXECUTED63

The pivotal issue is whether the authenticity and due execution of the notarial Will was
sufficiently established to warrant its allowance for probate.

Our Ruling

We deny the petition.

Faithful compliance with the formalities laid down by law is apparent from the face of the Will.

Courts are tasked to determine nothing more than the extrinsic validity of a Will in probate
proceedings.64 This is expressly provided for in Rule 75, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, which
states:

Rule 75

Production of Will. Allowance of Will Necessary.

Section 1. Allowance necessary. Conclusive as to execution. – No will shall pass either real or
personal estate unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court. Subject to the right of appeal,
such allowance of the will shall be conclusive as to its due execution.
Due execution of the will or its extrinsic validity pertains to whether the testator, being of sound
mind, freely executed the will in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law.65 These
formalities are enshrined in Articles 805 and 806 of the New Civil Code, to wit:

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

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

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

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

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

Here, a careful examination of the face of the Will shows faithful compliance with the
formalities laid down by law. The signatures of the testatrix, Paciencia, her instrumental
witnesses and the notary public, are all present and evident on the Will. Further, the attestation
clause explicitly states the critical requirement that the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses
signed the Will in the presence of one another and that the witnesses attested and subscribed to
the Will in the presence of the testator and of one another. In fact, even the petitioners acceded
that the signature of Paciencia in the Will may be authentic although they question her state of
mind when she signed the same as well as the voluntary nature of said act.

The burden to prove that Paciencia was of unsound mind at the time of the execution of the will
lies on the shoulders of the petitioners.

Petitioners, through their witness Rosie, claim that Paciencia was "magulyan" or forgetful so
much so that it effectively stripped her of testamentary capacity. They likewise claimed in their
Motion for Reconsideration66 filed with the CA that Paciencia was not only "magulyan" but was
actually suffering from paranoia.67

We are not convinced.


We agree with the position of the CA that the state of being forgetful does not necessarily make a
person mentally unsound so as to render him unfit to execute a Will.68 Forgetfulness is not
equivalent to being of unsound mind. Besides, Article 799 of the New Civil Code states:

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

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

In this case, apart from the testimony of Rosie pertaining to Paciencia’s forgetfulness, there is no
substantial evidence, medical or otherwise, that would show that Paciencia was of unsound mind
at the time of the execution of the Will. On the other hand, we find more worthy of credence Dra.
Limpin’s testimony as to the soundness of mind of Paciencia when the latter went to Judge
Limpin’s house and voluntarily executed the Will. "The testimony of subscribing witnesses to a
Will concerning the testator’s mental condition is entitled to great weight where they are truthful
and intelligent."69 More importantly, a testator is presumed to be of sound mind at the time of
the execution of the Will and the burden to prove otherwise lies on the oppositor. Article 800 of
the New Civil Code states:

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

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

Here, there was no showing that Paciencia was publicly known to be insane one month or less
before the making of the Will. Clearly, thus, the burden to prove that Paciencia was of unsound
mind lies upon the shoulders of petitioners. However and as earlier mentioned, no substantial
evidence was presented by them to prove the same, thereby warranting the CA’s finding that
petitioners failed to discharge such burden.

Furthermore, we are convinced that Paciencia was aware of the nature of her estate to be
disposed of, the proper objects of her bounty and the character of the testamentary act. As aptly
pointed out by the CA:

A scrutiny of the Will discloses that [Paciencia] was aware of the nature of the document she
executed. She specially requested that the customs of her faith be observed upon her death. She
was well aware of how she acquired the properties from her parents and the properties she is
bequeathing to LORENZO, to his wife CORAZON and to his two (2) children. A third child was
born after the execution of the will and was not included therein as devisee.70
Bare allegations of duress or influence of fear or threats, undue and improper influence and
pressure, fraud and trickery cannot be used as basis to deny the probate of a will.

An essential element of the validity of the Will is the willingness of the testator or testatrix to
execute the document that will distribute his/her earthly possessions upon his/her death.
Petitioners claim that Paciencia was forced to execute the Will under duress or influence of fear
or threats; that the execution of the Will had been procured by undue and improper pressure and
influence by Lorenzo or by some other persons for his benefit; and that assuming Paciencia’s
signature to be genuine, it was obtained through fraud or trickery. These are grounded on the
alleged conversation between Paciencia and Antonio on September 16, 1981 wherein the former
purportedly repudiated the Will and left it unsigned.

We are not persuaded.

We take into consideration the unrebutted fact that Paciencia loved and treated Lorenzo as her
own son and that love even extended to Lorenzo’s wife and children. This kind of relationship is
not unusual. It is in fact not unheard of in our culture for old maids or spinsters to care for and
raise their nephews and nieces and treat them as their own children. Such is a prevalent and
accepted cultural practice that has resulted in many family discords between those favored by the
testamentary disposition of a testator and those who stand to benefit in case of intestacy.

In this case, evidence shows the acknowledged fact that Paciencia’s relationship with Lorenzo
and his family is different from her relationship with petitioners. The very fact that she cared for
and raised Lorenzo and lived with him both here and abroad, even if the latter was already
married and already has children, highlights the special bond between them. This unquestioned
relationship between Paciencia and the devisees tends to support the authenticity of the said
document as against petitioners’ allegations of duress, influence of fear or threats, undue and
improper influence, pressure, fraud, and trickery which, aside from being factual in nature, are
not supported by concrete, substantial and credible evidence on record. It is worth stressing that
bare arguments, no matter how forceful, if not based on concrete and substantial evidence cannot
suffice to move the Court to uphold said allegations.71 Furthermore, "a purported will is not [to
be] denied legalization on dubious grounds. Otherwise, the very institution of testamentary
succession will be shaken to its foundation, for even if a will has been duly executed in fact,
whether x x x it will be probated would have to depend largely on the attitude of those interested
in [the estate of the deceased]."72

Court should be convinced by the evidence presented before it that the Will was duly executed.

Petitioners dispute the authenticity of Paciencia’s Will on the ground that Section 11 of Rule 76
of the Rules of Court was not complied with. It provides:

RULE 76

Allowance or Disallowance of Will


Section 11. Subscribing witnesses produced or accounted for where will contested. – If the will
is contested, all the subscribing witnesses, and the notary in the case of wills executed under the
Civil Code of the Philippines, if present in the Philippines and not insane, must be produced and
examined, and the death, absence, or insanity of any of them must be satisfactorily shown to the
court. If all or some of such witnesses are present in the Philippines but outside the province
where the will has been filed, their deposition must be taken. If any or all of them testify against
the due execution of the will, or do not remember having attested to it, or are otherwise of
doubtful credibility, the will may nevertheless, be allowed if the court is satisfied from the
testimony of other witnesses and from all the evidence presented that the will was executed and
attested in the manner required by law.

If a holographic will is contested, the same shall be allowed if at least three (3) witnesses who
know the handwriting of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the
handwriting of the testator; in the absence of any competent witnesses, and if the court deem it
necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to. (Emphasis supplied.)

They insist that all subscribing witnesses and the notary public should have been presented in
court since all but one witness, Francisco, are still living.

We cannot agree with petitioners.

We note that the inability of Faustino and Judge Limpin to appear and testify before the court
was satisfactorily explained during the probate proceedings. As testified to by his son, Faustino
had a heart attack, was already bedridden and could no longer talk and express himself due to
brain damage. To prove this, said witness presented the corresponding medical certificate. For
her part, Dra. Limpin testified that her father, Judge Limpin, suffered a stroke in 1991 and had to
undergo brain surgery. At that time, Judge Limpin could no longer talk and could not even
remember his daughter’s name so that Dra. Limpin stated that given such condition, her father
could no longer testify. It is well to note that at that point, despite ample opportunity, petitioners
neither interposed any objections to the testimonies of said witnesses nor challenged the same on
cross examination. We thus hold that for all intents and purposes, Lorenzo was able to
satisfactorily account for the incapacity and failure of the said subscribing witness and of the
notary public to testify in court. Because of this the probate of Paciencia’s Will may be allowed
on the basis of Dra. Limpin’s testimony proving her sanity and the due execution of the Will, as
well as on the proof of her handwriting. It is an established rule that "[a] testament may not be
disallowed just because the attesting witnesses declare against its due execution; neither does it
have to be necessarily allowed just because all the attesting witnesses declare in favor of its
legalization; what is decisive is that the court is convinced by evidence before it, not necessarily
from the attesting witnesses, although they must testify, that the will was or was not duly
executed in the manner required by law."73 1âwphi1

Moreover, it bears stressing that "[i]rrespective x x x of the posture of any of the parties as
regards the authenticity and due execution of the will x x x in question, it is the mandate of the
law that it is the evidence before the court and/or [evidence that] ought to be before it that is
controlling."74 "The very existence of [the Will] is in itself prima facie proof that the supposed
[testatrix] has willed that [her] estate be distributed in the manner therein provided, and it is
incumbent upon the state that, if legally tenable, such desire be given full effect independent of
the attitude of the parties affected thereby."75 This, coupled with Lorenzo’s established
relationship with Paciencia, the evidence and the testimonies of disinterested witnesses, as
opposed to the total lack of evidence presented by petitioners apart from their self-serving
testimonies, constrain us to tilt the balance in favor of the authenticity of the Will and its
allowance for probate.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated June 15, 2006 and the Resolution
dated August 31, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 80979 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
[No. 22595. November 1, 1924]

Testate Estate of Joseph G. Brimo. JUAN MICIANO, administrator, petitioner and appellee, vs. ANDRE
BRIMO, opponent and appellant.

1. FOREIGN LAWS; PRESUMPTION.—In the absence of evidence to the contrary foreign laws on a
particular subject are presumed to be the same as those of the Philippines. (Lim and Lim vs. Collector of
Customs, 36 Phil., 472.)

2. POSTPONEMENT OF PROCEEDING; DISCRETION.—It is discretionary on the part of the court to


postpone or not to postpone a particular proceeding in a case, and when the person applying for it has
already been given ample opportunity to present the evidence that he wishes to introduce, the court
commits no abuse of discretion in denying it.

3. SUCCESSIONS; CONDITIONAL LEGACY; CONDITION CONTRARY TO LAW; NULLITY OF.—If the


condition imposed upon the legatee is that he respect the testator's order that his property be
distributed in accordance with the laws of the Philippines and not in accordance with the laws of his
nation, said condition is illegal, because, according to article 10 of the Civil Code, said laws govern his
testamentary disposition, and, being illegal, shall be considered unwritten, thus making the institution
unconditional.

868

868

PHILIPPINE REPORTS ANNOTATED

Miciano vs. Brimo

APPEAL from various orders of the Court of First Instance of Manila. Diaz and Harvey, JJ.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.


Ross, Lawrence & Selph for appellant.

Camus & Delgado for appellee.

ROMUALDEZ, J.:

The partition of the estate left by the deceased Joseph G. Brimo is in question in this case.

The judicial administrator of this estate filed a scheme of partition. Andre Brimo, one of the brothers of
the deceased, opposed it. The court, however, approved it.

The errors which the oppositor-appellant assigns are: (1) The approval of said scheme of partition; (2)
the denial of his participation in the inheritance; (3) the denial of the motion for reconsideration of the
order approving the partition; (4) the approval of the purchase made by Pietro Lanza of the deceased's
business and the deed of transfer of said business; and (5) the declaration that the Turkish laws are
impertinent to this cause, and the failure not to postpone the approval of the scheme of partition and
the delivery of the deceased's business to Pietro Lanza until the receipt of the depositions requested in
reference to the Turkish laws.

The appellant's opposition is based on the fact that the partition in question puts into effect the
provisions of Joseph G. Brimo's will which are not in accordance with the laws of his Turkish nationality,
for which reason they are void as being in violation of article 10 of the Civil Code which, among other
things, provides the following:

"Nevertheless, legal and testamentary successions, in respect to the order of succession as well as to the
amount of the successional rights and the intrinsic validity of their provisions, shall be regulated by the
national law of the person whose succession is in question, whatever may be the nature of the property
or the country in which it may be situated."

869

VOL. 50, NOVEMBER 1, 1924


869

Miciano vs. Brimo

But the fact is that the oppositor did not prove that said testamentary dispositions are not in accordance
with the Turkish laws, inasmuch as he did not present any evidence showing what the Turkish laws are
on the matter, and in the absence of evidence on such laws, they are presumed to be the same as those
of the Philippines. (Lim and Lim vs. Collector of Customs, 36 Phil., 472.)

It has not been proved in these proceedings what the Turkish laws are. He, himself, acknowledges it
when he desires to be given an opportunity to present evidence on this point; so much so that he
assigns as an error of the court in not having deferred the approval of the scheme of partition until the
receipt of certain testimony requested regarding the Turkish laws on the matter.

The refusal to give the oppositor another opportunity to prove such laws does not constitute an error, It
is discretionary with the trial court. and, taking into consideration that the oppositor was granted ample
opportunity to introduce competent evidence, we find no abuse of discretion on the part of the court in
this particular.

There is, therefore, no evidence in the record that the national law of the testator Joseph G. Brimo was
violated in the testamentary dispositions in question which, not being contrary to our laws in force,
must be complied with

Therefore, the approval of the scheme of partition in respect was not erroneous.

In regard to the first assignment of error which deals with the exclusion of the herein appellant as a
legatee, inasmuch as he is one of the persons designated as such in the will, it must be taken into
consideration that such exclusion is based on the last part of the second clause of the will, which says:

"Second. I likewise desire to state that although, by law, I am a Turkish citizen, this citizenship having
been conferred upon me by conquest and not by free choice, nor

870
870

PHILIPPINE REPORTS ANNOTATED

Miciano vs. Brimo

by nationality and, on the other hand, having resided for a considerable length of time in. the Philippine
Islands where I succeeded in acquiring all of the property that I now possess, it is my wish that the
distribution of my property and everything in connection with this, my will, be made and disposed of in
accordance with the laws in force in the Philippine Islands, requesting all of my relatives to respect this
wish, otherwise, I annul and cancel beforehand whatever disposition found in this will favorable to the
person or persons who fail to comply with this request."

The institution of legatees in this will is conditional, and the condition is that the instituted legatees
must respect the testator's will to distribute his property, not in accordance with the laws of his
nationality, but in accordance with the laws of the Philippines.

If this condition as it is expressed were legal and valid, any legatee who fails to comply with it, as the
herein oppositor who, by his attitude in these proceedings has not respected the will of the testator, as
expressed, is prevented from receiving his legacy.

The fact is, however, that the said condition is void, being contrary to law, for article 792 of the Civil
Code provides the following:

"Impossible conditions and those contrary to law or good morals shall be considered as not imposed and
shall not prejudice the heir or legatee in any manner whatsoever, even should the testator otherwise
provide."

And said condition is contrary to law because it expressly ignores the testator's national law when,
according to article 10 of the Civil Code above quoted, such national law of the testator is the one to
govern his testamentary dispositions.
Said condition then, in the light of the legal provisions above cited, is considered unwritten, and the
institution of legatees in said will is unconditional and consequently valid and effective even as to the
herein oppositor.

871

VOL. 50, NOVEMBER 4, 1924

871

Gomez vs. North Negros Sugar Co.

It results from all this that the second clause of the will regarding the law which shall govern it, and to
the condition imposed upon the legatees, is null and void, being contrary to law.

All of the remaining clauses of said will with all their dispositions and requests are perfectly valid and
effective it not appearing that said clauses are contrary to the testator's national laws.

Therefore, the orders appealed from are modified and it is directed that the distribution of this estate
be made in such a manner as to include the herein appellant Andre Brimo as one of the legatees, and
the scheme of partition submitted by the judicial administrator is approved in all other respects, without
any pronouncement as to costs. So ordered.

Street, Malcolm, Avanceña, Villamor, and Ostrand, JJ., concur.

Johnson, J., dissents.

Orders modified.

_______________ Miciano vs. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867, No. 22595 November 1, 1924
No. L-16749. January 31, 1963.

IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN, DECEASED. ADOLFO C. AZNAR,
Executor and LUCY CHRISTENSEN, Heir of the deceased, Executor and Heir-appellees, vs. HELEN
CHRISTENSEN GARCIA, oppositor-appellant.

Private International Law; Determination of citizenship; U.S. citizenship not lost by stay in Philippines
before indepen-dence.—The citizenship that the deceased acquired in Califor-nia when he resided there
from 1904 to 1913 was never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the
United States until 1946, and the deceased appears to have considered himself as a citizen of California
by the fact that when he executed his will in 1951 he declared that he was a citizen of that State; so that
he appears never to have intended to abandon his California citizenship by acquiring another.

Same; Validity of testamentary provisions; Meaning of “national law” in Article 16, Civil Code; Conflict of
law rules in California to be applied in case at bar.—The “national law” indicated in Article 16 of the Civil
Code cannot possibly apply to any general American Law, because there is no such law governing the
validity of testamentary provisions in the United States, each state of the union having its own private
law applicable to its citizens only and in force only within the state. It can therefore refer to no other
than the private law of the state of which the decedent was a citizen. In the case at bar, the State of
California prescribes two sets of laws for its citizens, an internal law for its citizens residing therein and a
conflict of law rules for its citizens domiciled in other jurisdictions. Hence, reason demands that the
California con-flict of law rules should be applied in this jurisdiction in the case at bar.96

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Same; Same; Domicile; Factors considered in determining aliens’ domicile in the Philippines.—An
American citizen who was born in New York, migrated to California, resided there for nine years, came
to the Philippines in 1913, and very rarely re-turned to California and only for short visits, and who
appears to have never owned or acquired a home or properties in that state, shall be considered to have
his domicile in the Philip-pines.
Same; Same; Same; Rule of resorting to the law of the domicile in determining matters with foreign
element involved.—The rule laid down of resorting to the law of the domicile in the determination of
matters with foreign element involved is in accord with the general principle of American law that the
domiciliary law should govern in most matters or rights which follow the person of the owner.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Court of domicile bound to ap-ply its own law as directed in the conflict of
law rule of dece-dents state; Application of the renvoi doctrine.—The conflict of law rule in California,
Article 946 Civil Code, refers back the case, when a decedent is not domiciled in California, to the law of
his domicile, the Philippines in the case at bar. The court of domicile can not and should not refer the
case back to California, as such action would leave the issue incapable of determination, because the
case will then be tossed back and forth between the two states. If the question has to be decided, the
Philippine court must apply its own law as the Philippines was the domicile of the decedent, as directed
in the conflict of law rule of the state of the decedent, California, and especially because the internal law
of California provides no legitime for natural children, while the Philippine law (Articles 887(4) and 894,
Civil Code of the Philippines makes natural children legally acknowledged forced heirs of the parent
recog-nizing them).

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Philippine law to be applied in case at bar.—As the domicile of
the deceased, who was a citizen of California, was the Philippines, the validity of the provisions of his
will depriving his acknowledged natural child of the latter’s legacy, should be governed by the Philippine
law, pursuant to Article 946 of the Civil Code of California, not by the internal law of California.

APPEAL from a decision of the Court of First Intsance of Davao, Cusi, Jr., J.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

M. R. Sotelo for executor and heir-appellees.

Leopoldo M. Abellera and Jovito Salonga for oppositor-appellant.

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LABRADOR, J.:

This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Hon. Vicente N. Cusi, Jr.,
presiding, in Special Proceeding No. 622 of said court, dated September 14, 1949, approving among
things the final accounts of the executor, directing the executor to reimburse Maria Lucy Christensen
the amount of P3,600 paid by her to Helen Christensen Garcia as her legacy, and declaring Maria Lucy
Christensen entitled to the residue of the property to be enjoyed during her lifetime, and in case of
death without issue, one-half of said residue to be payable to Mrs. Carrie Louise C. Borton, etc., in
accordance with the provisions of the will of the testator Edward E. Christensen. The will was executed
in Manila on March 5, 1951 and contains the following provisions:

“3. I declare x x x that I have but ONE (1) child, named MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN (now Mrs. Bernard
Daney), who was born in the Philippines about twenty-eight years ago, and who is now residing at No.
665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

“4. I further declare that I now have no living ascendants, and no descendants except my above named
daughter, MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY.

x x x x x

“7. I give, devise and bequeath unto MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, now married to Eduardo Garcia,
about eighteen years of age and who, notwithstanding the fact that she was baptized Christensen, is not
in any way related to me, nor has she been at any time adopted by me, and who, from all information I
have now resides in Egpit, Digos, Davao, Philippines, the sum of THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS
(P3,600.00), Philippine Currency the same to be deposited in trust for the said Maria Helen Christensen
with the Davao Branch of the Philippine National Bank, and paid to her at the rate of One Hundred
Pesos (P100.00), Philippine Currency per month until the principal thereof as well as any interest which
may have accrued thereon, is exhausted..
x x x x x

“12. I hereby give, devise and bequeath, unto my well-beloved daughter, the said MARIA LUCY
CHRISTENSEN DANEY (Mrs. Bernard Daney), now residing as aforesaid at No. 665 Rodger Young Village,
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., all the income from the rest, remainder, and residue of my property and
estate, real, personal and/or mixed, of whatsoever

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kind or character, and wheresoever situated, of which I may be possessed at my death and which may
have come to me from any source whatsoever, during her lifetime: x x x”

It is in accordance with the above-quoted provisions that the executor in his final account and project of
partition ratified the payment of only P3,600 to Helen Christensen Garcia and proposed that the residue
of the estate be transferred to his daughter, Maria Lucy Christensen.

Opposition to the approval of the project of partition was filed by Helen Christensen Garcia, insofar as it
deprives her (Helen) of her legitime as an acknowledged natural child, she having been declared by Us in
G.R. Nos. L-11483-84 an acknowledged natural child of the deceased Edward E. Christensen. The legal
grounds of opposition are (a) that the distribution should be governed by the laws of the Philippines,
and (b) that said order of distribution is contrary thereto insofar as it denies to Helen Christensen, one of
two acknowledged natural children, one-half of the estate in full ownership. In amplification of the
above grounds it was alleged that the law that should govern the estate of the deceased Christensen
should not be the internal law of California alone, but the entire law thereof because several foreign
elements are involved, that the forum is the Philippines and even if the case were decided in California,
Section 946 of the California Civil Code, which requires that the domicile of the decedent should apply,
should be applicable. It was also alleged that Maria Helen Christensen having been declared an
acknowledged natural child of the decedent, she is deemed for all purposes legitimate from the time of
her birth.

The court below ruled that as Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United States and of the State
of California at the time of his death, the successional rights and intrinsic validity of the provisions in his
will are to be governed by the law of California, in accordance with which a testator has the right to
dispose of his property in the way he desires, because the right of absolute dominion over his property
is sacred and inviolable (In re McDaniel’s Estate, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952,

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and In re Kaufman, 117 Cal. 286, 49 Pac. 192, cited in page 179, Record on Appeal). Oppositor Maria
Helen Christensen, through counsel, filed various motions for reconsideration, but these were denied.
Hence, this appeal.

The most important assignments of error are as follows:

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN IGNORING THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT THAT
HELEN IS THE ACKNOWLEDGED NATURAL CHILD OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN AND, CONSEQUENTLY, IN
DEPRIVING HER OF HER JUST SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE.

II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ENTIRELY IGNORING AND/OR FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THE EXISTENCE OF
SEVERAL FACTORS, ELEMENTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES CALLING FOR THE APPLICATION OF INTERNAL
LAW.

III

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW,
PARTICULARLY UNDER THE RENVOI DOCTRINE, THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE TESTAMENTARY
DISPOSITION OF THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN
SHOULD BE GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF THE PHILIPPINES.

IV

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE SCHEDULE OF DISTRIBUTION SUBMITTED BY
THE EXECUTOR IS CONTRARY TO THE PHILIPPINE LAWS.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT UNDER THE PHILIPPINE LAWS HELEN CHRISTENSEN
GARCIA IS ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF (1/2) OF THE ESTATE IN FULL OWNERSHIP.

There is no question that Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United States and of the State of
California at the time of his death. But there is also no question that at the time of his death he was
domiciled in the Philippines, as witness the following facts admitted by the executor himself in
appellee’s brief:100

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“In the proceedings for admission of the will to probate, the facts of record show that the deceased
Edward E. Christensen was born on November 29, 1875 in New York City, N.Y., U.S.A.; his first arrival in
the Philippines, as an appointed school teacher, was on July 1, 1901, on board the U.S. Army Transport
“Sheridan” with Port of Embarkation as the City of San Francisco, in the State of California, U.S.A. He
stayed in the Philippines until 1904.

“In December, 1904, Mr. Christensen returned to the United States and stayed there for the following
nine years until 1913, during which time he resided in, and was teaching school in Sacramento,
California.

“Mr. Christensen’s next arrival in the Philippines was in July of the year 1913. However, in 1928, he again
departed the Philippines for the United States and came back here the following year, 1929. Some nine
years later, in 1938, he again returned to his own country, and came back to the Philippines the
following year, 1939.

“Being an American citizen, Mr. Christensen was interned by the Japanese Military Forces in the
Philippines during World War II. Upon liberation, in April 1945, he left for the United States but returned
to the Philippines in December, 1945. Appellees Collective Exhibits “6”, CFI Davao, Sp. Proc. 622, as
Exhibits “AA”, “BB” and “CC-Daney”; Exhs. “MM”, “MM-l”, “MM-2-Daney” and p. 473, t.s.n., July 21,
1953.)

“In April, 1951, Edward E. Christensen returned once more to California shortly after the making of his
last will and testament (now in question herein) which he executed at his lawyers’ offices in Manila on
March 5, 1951. He died at the St. Luke’s Hospital in the City of Manila on April 30, 1953.” (pp. 2-3)

In arriving at the conclusion that the domicile of the deceased is the Philippines, we are persuaded by
the fact that he was born in New York, migrated to California and resided there for nine years, and since
he came to the Philippines in 1913 he returned to California very rarely and only for short visits (perhaps
to relatives), and considering that he appears never to have owned or acquired a home or properties in
that state, which would indicate that he would ultimately abandon the Philippines and make home in
the State of California.

“Sec. 16. Residence is a term used with many shades of meaning from mere temporary presence to
the most permanent abode. Generally, however, it is used to denote something more than mere
physical presence.” (Goodrich on Conflict of Laws, p. 29).

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As to his citizenship, however, We find that the citizenship that he acquired in California when he
resided in Sacramento, California from 1904 to 1913, was never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the
latter was a territory of the United States (not a state) until 1946 and the deceased appears to have
considered himself as a citizen of California by the fact that when he executed his will in 1951 he
declared that he was a citizen of that State; so that he appears never to have intended to abandon his
California citizenship by acquiring another. This conclusion is in accordance with the following principle
expounded by Goodrich in his Conflict of Laws.

“The terms ‘residence’ and ‘domicile’ might well be taken to mean the same thing, a place of permanent
abode. But domicile, as has been shown, has acquired a technical meaning. Thus one may be domiciled
in a place where he has never been. And he may reside in a place where he has no domicile. The man
with two homes, between which he divides his time, certainly resides in each one, while living in it. But if
he went on business which would require his presence for several weeks or months, he might properly
be said to have sufficient connection with the place to be called a resident. It is clear, however, that, if
he treated his settlement as continuing only for the particular business in hand, not giving up his former
‘home,’ he could not be a domiciled New Yorker. Acquisition of a domicile of choice requires the
exercise of intention as well as physical presence. ‘Residence simply requires bodily presence of an
inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to
make it one’s domicile.’ Residence, however, is a term used with many shades of meaning, from the
merest temporary presence to the most permanent abode, and it is not safe to insist that any one use et
the only proper one.” (Goodrich, p. 29)

The law that governs the validity of his testamentary dispositions is defined in Article 16 of the Civil Code
of the Philippines, which is as follows:

“ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is
situated.

“However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to
the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be
regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be
the nature of the property and regardless of the country where said property may be found.”

102

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The application of this article in the case at bar requires the determination of the meaning of the term
“national law” is used therein.

There is no single American law governing the validity of testamentary provisions in the United States,
each state of the Union having its own private law applicable to its citizens only and in force only within
the state. The “national law” indicated in Article 16 of the Civil Code above quoted can not, therefore,
possibly mean or apply to any general American law. So it can refer to no other than the private law of
the State of California.
The next question is: What is the law in California governing the disposition of personal property? The
decision of the court below, sustains the contention of the executor-appellee that under the California
Probate Code, a testator may dispose of his property by will in the form and manner he desires, citing
the case of Estate of McDaniel, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952. But appellant invokes the provisions
of Article 946 of the Civil Code of California, which is as follows:

“If there is no law to the contrary, in the place where personal property is situated, it is deemed to
follow the person of its owner, and is governed by the law of his domicile.”

The existence of this provision is alleged in appellant’s opposition and is not denied. We have checked it
in the California Civil Code and it is there. Appellee, on the other hand, relies on the case cited in the
decision and testified to by a witness. (Only the case of Kaufman is correctly cited.) It is argued on
executor’s behalf that as the deceased Christensen was a citizen of the State of California, the internal
law thereof, which is that given in the abovecited case, should govern the determination of the validity
of the testamentary provisions of Christensen’s will, such law being in force in the State of California of
which Christensen was a citizen. Appellant, on the other hand, insists that Article 946 should be
applicable, and in accordance therewith and following the doc-

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trine of the renvoi, the question of the validity of the testamentary provision in question should be
referred back to the law of the decedent’s domicile, which is the Philippines.

The theory of doctrine of renvoi has been defined by various authors, thus:
“The problem has been stated in this way: ‘When the Conflict of Laws rule of the forum refers a jural
matter to a foreign law for decision, is the reference to the purely internal rules of law of the foreign
system; i.e., to the totality of the foreign law minus its Conflict of Laws rules?’

“On logic, the solution is not an easy one. The Michigan court chose to accept the renvoi, that is, applied
the Conflict of Laws rule of Illinois which referred the matter back to Michigan law. But once having
determined the the Conflict of Laws principle is the rule looked to, it is difficult to see why the reference
back should not have been to Michigan Conflict of Laws. This would have resulted in the ‘endless chain
of references’ which has so often been criticized be legal writers. The opponents of the renvoi would
have looked merely to the internal law of Illinois, thus rejecting the renvoi or the reference back. Yet
there seems no compelling logical reason why the original reference should be the internal law rather
than to the Conflict of Laws rule. It is true that such a solution avoids going on a merry-go-round, but
those who have accepted the renvoi theory avoid this inextricabilis circulas by getting off at the second
reference and at that point applying internal law. Perhaps the opponents of the renvoi are a bit more
consistent for they look always to internal law as the rule of reference.

“Strangely enough, both the advocates for and the objectors to the renvoi plead that greater uniformity
will result from adoption of their respective views. And still more strange is the fact that the only way to
achieve uniformity in this choice-of-law problem is if in the dispute the two states whose laws form the
legal basis of the litigation disagree as to whether the renvoi should be accepted. If both reject, or both
accept the doctrine, the result of the litigation will vary with the choice of the forum. In the case stated
above, had the Michigan court rejected the renvoi, judgment would have been against the woman; if
the suit had been brought in the Illinois courts, and they too rejected the renvoi, judgment would be for
the woman. The same result would happen, though the courts would switch with respect to which
would hold liability, if both courts accepted the renvoi.104

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“The Restatement accepts the renvoi theory in two instances: where the title to land is in question, and
where the validity of a decree of divorce is challenged. In these cases the Conflict of Laws rule of the
situs of the land, or the domicile of the parties in the divorce case, is applied by the forum, but any
further reference goes only to the internal law. Thus, a person’s title to land, recognized by the situs, will
be recognized by every court; and every divorce, valid by the domicile of the parties, will be valid
everywhere.” (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, Sec. 7, pp. 13-14.)

“X, a citizen of Massachusetts, dies intestate, domiciled in France, leaving movable property in
Massachusetts, England, and France. The question arises as to how this property is to be distributed
among X’s next of kin.

“Assume (1) that this question arises in a Massachusetts court. There the rule of the conflict of laws as
to intestate succession to movables calls for an application of the law of the deceased’s last domicile.
Since by hypothesis X’s last domicile was France, the natural thing for the Massachusetts court to do
would be to turn to French statute of distributions, or whatever corresponds thereto in French law, and
decree a distribution accordingly. An examination of French law, however, would show that if a French
court were called upon to determine how this property should be distributed, it would refer the
distribution to the national law of the deceased, thus applying the Massachusetts statute of
distributions. So on the surface of things the Massachusetts court has open to it alternative course of
action: (a) either to apply the French law is to intestate succession, or (b) to resolve itself into a French
court and apply the Massachusetts statute of distributions, on the assumption that this is what a French
court would do. If it accepts the so-called renvoi doctrine, it will follow the latter course, thus applying
its own law.

“This is one type of renvoi. A jural matter is presented which the conflict-of-laws rule of the forum refers
to a foreign law, the conflict-of-laws rule of which, in turn, refers the matter back again to the law of the
forum. This is renvoi in the narrower sense. The German term for this judicial process is
‘Ruckverweisung.’” (Harvard Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 523-571.)

“After a decision has been arrived at that a foreign law is to be resorted to as governing a particular
case, the further question may arise: Are the rules as to the conflict of laws contained in such foreign
law also to be resorted to? This is a question which, while it has been considered by the courts in but a
few instances, has been the subject of frequent discussion by textwriters and essayists; and the doctrine
involved has been descriptively designated by them as the ‘Renvoyer’

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to send back, or the ‘Ruchversweisung’, or the ‘Weiterverweisung’, since an affirmative answer to the
question postulated and the operation of the adoption of the foreign law in toto would in many cases
result in returning the main controversy to be decided according to the law of the forum. x x x (16 C.J.S.
872.)

“Another theory, known as the “doctrine of renvoi”, has been advanced. The theory of the doctrine of
renvoi is that the court of the forum, in determining the question before it, must take into account the
whole law of the other jurisdiction, but also its rules as to conflict of laws, and then apply the law to the
actual question which the rules of the other jurisdiction prescribe. This may be the law of the forum. The
doctrine of the renvoi has generally been repudiated by the American authorities.” (2 Am. Jur. 296)

The scope of the theory of renvoi has also been defined and the reasons for its application in a country
explained by Prof. Lorenzen in an article in the Yale Law Journal, Vol. 27, 1917-1918, pp. 529-531. The
pertinent parts of the article are quoted herein below:

“The recognition of the renvoi theory implies that the rules of the conflict of laws are to be understood
as incorporating not only the ordinary or internal law of the foreign state or country, but its rules of the
conflict of laws as well. According to this theory ‘the law of a country’ means the whole of its law.

x x x x x x x

“Von Bar presented his views at the meeting of the Institute of International Law, at Neuchatel, in 1900,
in the form of the following theses:

“(1) Every court shall observe the law of its country as regards the application of foreign laws.

“(2) Provided that no express provision to the contrary exists, the court shall respect:
“(a) The provisions of a foreign law which disclaims the right to bind its nationals abroad as regards
their personal statute, and desires that said personal statute shall be determined by the law of the
domicile, or even by the law of the place where the act in question occurred.

“(b) The decision of two or more foreign systems of law, provided it be certain that one of them is
necessarily competent, which agree in attributing the determination of a question to the same system of
law.

x x x x x x x

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“If, for example, the English law directs its judge to distribute the personal estate of an Englishman who
has died domiciled in Belgium in accordance with the law of his domicile, he must first inquire whether
the law of Belgium would distribute personal property upon death in accordance with the law of
domicile, and if he finds that the Belgian law would make the distribution in accordance with the law of
nationality — that is the English law — he must accept this reference back to his own law.”

We note that Article 946 of the California Civil Code is its conflict of laws rule, while the rule applied in In
re Kaufman, Supra, its internal law. If the law on succession and the conflict of laws rules of California
are to be enforced jointly, each in its own intended and appropriate sphere, the principle cited In re
Kaufman should apply to citizens living in the State, but Article 946 should apply to such of its citizens as
are not domiciled in California but in other jurisdictions. The rule laid down of resorting to the law of the
domicile in the determination of matters with foreign element involved is in accord with the general
principle of American law that the domiciliary law should govern in most matters or rights which follow
the person of the owner.
“When a man dies leaving personal property in one or more states, and leaves a will directing the
manner of distribution of the property, the law of the state where he was domiciled at the time of his
death will be looked to in deciding legal questions about the will, almost as completely as the law of
situs is consulted in questions about the devise of land. It is logical that, since the domiciliary rules
control devolution of the personal estate in case of intestate succession, the same rules should
determine the validity of an attempted testamentary dispostion of the property. Here, also, it is not that
the domiciliary has effect beyond the borders of the domiciliary state. The rules of the domicile are
recognized as controlling by the Conflict of Laws rules at the situs property, and the reason for the
recognition as in the case of intestate succession, is the general convenience of the doctrine. The New
York court has said on the point: ‘The general principle that a dispostiton of a personal property, valid at
the domicile of the owner, is valid anywhere, is one of the universal application. It had its origin in that
international comity which was one of the first fruits of civilization, and it this age, when business
intercourse and the process of accumulating property take but little notice

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of boundary lines, the practical wisdom and justice of the rule is more apparent than ever.’” (Goodrich,
Conflict of Laws, Sec. 164, pp. 442-443.)

Appellees argue that what Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines pointed out as the national law
is the internal law of California. But as above explained the laws of California have prescribed two sets of
laws for its citizens, one for residents therein and another for those domiciled in other jurisdictions.
Reason demands that We should enforce the California internal law prescribed for its citizens residing
therein, and enforce the conflict of laws rules for the citizens domiciled abroad. If we must enforce the
law of California as in comity we are bound to go, as so declared in Article 16 of our Civil Code, then we
must enforce the law of California in accordance with the express mandate thereof and as above
explained, i.e., apply the internal law for residents therein, and its conflict-of-laws rule for those
domiciled abroad.
It is argued on appellees’ behalf that the clause “if there is no law to the contrary in the place where the
property is situated” in Sec. 946 of the California Civil Code refers to Article 16 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines and that the law to the contrary in the Philippines is the provision in said Article 16 that the
national law of the deceased should govern. This contention can not be sustained. As explained in the
various authorities cited above the national law mentioned in Article 16 of our Civil Code is the law on
conflict of laws in the California Civil Code, i.e., Article 946, which authorizes the reference or return of
the question to the law of the testator’s domicile. The conflict of laws rule in California, Article 946, Civil
Code, precisely refers back the case, when a decedent is not domiciled in California, to the law of his
domicile, the Philippines in the case at bar. The court of the domicile can not and should not refer the
case back to California; such action would leave the issue incapable of determination because the case
will then be like a football, tossed back and forth between the two states, between the country of which
the decedent was a citizen and the country of his domicile. The Philippine court must apply its own law
as

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directed in the conflict of laws rule of the state of the decedent, if the question has to be decided,
especially as the application of the internal law of California provides no legitime for children while the
Philippine law, Arts. 887(4) and 894, Civil Code of the Philippines, makes natural children legally
acknowledged forced heirs of the parent recognizing them.

The Philippine cases (In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156; Riera vs. Palmaroli, 40 Phil. 105; Miciano vs.
Brimo, 50 Phil. 867; Babcock Templeton vs. Rider Babcock, 52 Phil. 130; and Gibbs vs. Government, 59
Phil. 293.) cited by appellees to support the decision can not possibly apply in the case at bar, for two
important reasons, i.e., the subject in each case does not appear to be a citizen of a state in the United
States but with domicile in the Philippines, and it does not appear in each case that there exists in the
state of which the subject is a citizen, a law similar to or identical with Art. 946 of the California Civil
Code.
We therefore find that as the domicile of the deceased Christensen, a citizen of California, is the
Philippines, the validity of the provisions of his will depriving his acknowledged natural child, the
appellant, should be governed by the Philippine Law, the domicile, pursuant to Art. 946 of the Civil Code
of California, not by the internal law of California.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby reversed and the case returned to the lower court
with instructions that the partition be made as the Philippine law on succession provides. Judgment
reversed, with costs against appellees.

Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, Barrera, Paredes, Dizon, Regala and Makalintal, JJ., concur.

Bengzon, C.J., took no part.

Decision reversed and case returned to lower court with instructions that partition be made as the
Philippine law on succession applies.

Notes.—The words “amount of successional rights” used in Article 16 of the Civil Code refer to the
extent or amount

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Aznar vs. Garcia

of property that each heir is legally entitled to inherit from the estate available for distribution (Collector
v. Fisher, et al., L-11622 and L-11668, Jan, 23, 1960).
The doctrine of renvoi is usually pertinent where the decedent is a national of one country and is
domiciled in another. It does not apply to a case where the decedent was a citizen of Texas and was
domiciled therein at the time of his death. (Bellis vs. Bellis, et al., L-23678, June 6, 1967, 20 SCRA 358).

_______________ Aznar vs. Garcia, 7 SCRA 95, No. L-16749 January 31, 1963
G.R. No. 189984. November 12, 2012.*

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE PROBATE OF THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ENRIQUE S.
LOPEZ,

RICHARD B. LOPEZ, petitioner, vs. DIANA JEANNE LOPEZ, MARYBETH DE LEON and VICTORIA L. TUAZON,
respondents.

Civil Law; Wills; Testamentary Succession; Attestation Clause; The law is clear that the attestation must
state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. The purpose of the law is to safeguard
against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and prevent any increase or
decrease in the pages.—The law is clear that the attestation must state the number of pages used upon
which the will is written. The purpose of the law is to safeguard against possible interpolation or
omission of one or some of its pages and prevent any increase or decrease in the pages. While Article
809 allows substantial compliance for defects in the form of the attestation clause, Richard likewise
failed in this respect. The statement in the Acknowledgment portion of the subject last will and
testament that it “consists of 7 pages including the page on which the ratification and acknowledgment
are written” cannot be deemed substantial compliance. The will actually consists of 8 pages including its
acknowledgment which discrepancy cannot be explained by mere examination of the will itself but
through the presentation of evidence aliunde.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals.

The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.

P.C. Nolasco & Associates for petitioner.

Poblador, Bautista & Reyes for respondent Marybeth De Leon.

_______________

* SECOND DIVISION.
210

210

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Lopez vs. Lopez

Jose Bernas for respondent Diana Jeanne Lopez.

Ma. Luwalhati C. Cruz for respondent Victoria L. Tuazon.

RESOLUTION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

This Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the March 30, 2009 Decision1 and October 22, 2009
Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 87064 which affirmed the August 26, 2005
Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 42 (RTC), in SP. Proc. No. 99-95225 disallowing
the probate of the Last Will and Testament of Enrique S. Lopez.

The Factual Antecedents

On June 21, 1999, Enrique S. Lopez (Enrique) died leaving his wife, Wendy B. Lopez, and their four
legitimate children, namely, petitioner Richard B. Lopez (Richard) and the respondents Diana Jeanne
Lopez (Diana), Marybeth de Leon (Marybeth) and Victoria L. Tuazon (Victoria) as compulsory heirs.
Before Enrique’s death, he executed a Last Will and Testament4 on August 10, 1996 and constituted
Richard as his executor and administrator.

On September 27, 1999, Richard filed a petition for the probate of his father’s Last Will and Testament
before the RTC of Manila with prayer for the issuance of letters testamentary in
_______________

1 Rollo, pp. 38-53. Penned by Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam, with Presiding Justice Conrado M.
Vasquez, Jr., and Associate Justice Sesinando E. Villon, concurring.

2 Id., at pp. 55-58.

3 Records, Vol. III, pp. 378-383.

4 Exhibit “H,” id., at pp. 17-24.

211

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211

Lopez vs. Lopez

his favor. Marybeth opposed the petition contending that the purported last will and testament was not
executed and attested as required by law, and that it was procured by undue and improper pressure
and influence on the part of Richard. The said opposition was also adopted by Victoria.

After submitting proofs of compliance with jurisdictional requirements, Richard presented the attesting
witnesses, namely: Reynaldo Maneja; Romulo Monteiro; Ana Maria Lourdes Manalo (Manalo); and the
notary public who notarized the will, Atty. Perfecto Nolasco (Atty. Nolasco). The instrumental witnesses
testified that after the late Enrique read and signed the will on each and every page, they also read and
signed the same in the latter’s presence and of one another. Photographs of the incident were taken
and presented during trial. Manalo further testified that she was the one who prepared the drafts and
revisions from Enrique before the final copy of the will was made.
Likewise, Atty. Nolasco claimed that Enrique had been his client for more than 20 years. Prior to August
10, 1996, the latter consulted him in the preparation of the subject will and furnished him the list of his
properties for distribution among his children. He prepared the will in accordance with Enrique’s
instruction and that before the latter and the attesting witnesses signed it in the presence of one
another, he translated the will which was written in English to Filipino and added that Enrique was in
good health and of sound mind at that time.

On the other hand, the oppositors presented its lone witness, Gregorio B. Paraon (Paraon), Officer-in-
Charge of the Notarial Section, Office of the Clerk of Court, RTC, Manila. His testimony centered mainly
on their findings that Atty. Nolasco was not a notary public for the City of Manila in 1996, which on cross
examination was clarified after Paraon discovered that Atty. Nolasco was commissioned as such for the
years 1994 to 1997.212

212

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Lopez vs. Lopez

Ruling of the RTC

In the Decision dated August 26, 2005,5 the RTC disallowed the probate of the will for failure to comply
with Article 805 of the Civil Code which requires a statement in the attestation clause of the number of
pages used upon which the will is written. It held that while Article 809 of the same Code requires mere
substantial compliance of the form laid down in Article 805 thereof, the rule only applies if the number
of pages is reflected somewhere else in the will with no evidence aliunde or extrinsic evidence required.
While the acknowledgment portion stated that the will consists of 7 pages including the page on which
the ratification and acknowledgment are written, the RTC observed that it has 8 pages including the
acknowledgment portion. As such, it disallowed the will for not having been executed and attested in
accordance with law.

Aggrieved, Richard filed a Notice of Appeal which the RTC granted in the Order dated October 26,
2005.6
Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On March 30, 2009,7 the CA issued the assailed decision dismissing the appeal. It held that the RTC
erroneously granted Richard’s appeal as the Rules of Court is explicit that appeals in special proceedings,
as in this case, must be made through a record on appeal. Nevertheless, even on the merits, the CA
found no valid reason to deviate from the findings of the RTC that the failure to state the number of
pages of the will in the attestation clause was fatal. It noted that while Article 809 of the Civil Code
sanctions mere substantial compliance with the formal requirements set forth in Article 805 thereof,
there was a total omission of such fact in the attesta-

_______________

5 Supra note 3.

6 Id., at p. 388.

7 Supra note 1.

213

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213

Lopez vs. Lopez

tion clause. Moreover, while the acknowledgment of the will made mention of “7 pages including the
page on which the ratification and acknowledgment are written,” the will had actually 8 pages including
the acknowledgment portion thus, necessitating the presentation of evidence aliunde to explain the
discrepancy. Richard’s motion for reconsideration from the decision was likewise denied in the second
assailed Resolution8 dated October 22, 2009.

Hence, the instant petition assailing the propriety of the CA’s decision.

Ruling of the Court

The petition lacks merit.

The provisions of the Civil Code on Forms of Wills, particularly, Articles 805 and 809 of the Civil Code
provide:

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

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

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

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

_______________

8 Supra note 2.
214

214

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Lopez vs. Lopez

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

The law is clear that the attestation must state the number of pages used upon which the will is written.
The purpose of the law is to safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its
pages and prevent any increase or decrease in the pages.9

While Article 809 allows substantial compliance for defects in the form of the attestation clause, Richard
likewise failed in this respect. The statement in the Acknowledgment portion of the subject last will and
testament that it “consists of 7 pages including the page on which the ratification and acknowledgment
are written”10 cannot be deemed substantial compliance. The will actually consists of 8 pages including
its acknowledgment which discrepancy cannot be explained by mere examination of the will itself but
through the presentation of evidence aliunde.11 On this score is the comment of Justice J.B.L. Reyes
regarding the application of Article 809, to wit:

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

_______________
9 Caneda v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 103554, May 28, 1993, 222 SCRA 781, 790.

10 CA Decision, Rollo, p. 51.

11 Testate Estate of the late Alipio Abada v. Abaja, G.R. No. 147145, January 31, 2005, 450 SCRA 264,
276.

215

VOL. 685, NOVEMBER 12, 2012

215

Lopez vs. Lopez

of each other must substantially appear in the attestation clause, being the only check against perjury in
the probate proceedings.12 (Emphasis supplied)

Hence, the CA properly sustained the disallowance of the will. Moreover, it correctly ruled that Richard
pursued the wrong mode of appeal as Section 2(a), Rule 41 of the Rules of Court explicitly provides that
in special proceedings, as in this case, the appeal shall be made by record on appeal.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio (Chairperson), Brion, Del Castillo and Perez, JJ., concur.


Petition denied.

Notes.—That the requirements of attestation and acknowledgement are embodied in two separate
provisions of the Civil Code (Articles 805 and 806, respectively) indicates that the law contemplates two
distinct acts that serve different purposes. (Echavez vs. Dozen Construction and Development
Corporation, 632 SCRA 594 [2010])

The very existence of the Will is in itself prima facie proof that the supposed testatrix has willed that her
estate be distributed in the manner therein provided, and it is incumbent upon the state that, if legally
tenable, such desire be given full effect independent of the attitude of the parties affected thereby.
(Baltazar vs. Laxa, 669 SCRA 249 [2012])

——o0o—— Lopez vs. Lopez, 685 SCRA 209, G.R. No. 189984 November 12, 2012
VOL. 132, SEPTEMBER 28, 1984

237

Kalaw vs. Relova

No. L-40207. September 28, 1984.*

ROSA K. KALAW, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE BENJAMIN RELOVA, Presiding Judge of the CFI of Batangas,
Branch VI, Lipa City, and GREGORIO K. KALAW, respondents.

Settlement of Estate; Ordinarily erasures or alterations in a holographic will does not invalidate the will
itself—Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and interlineations made by the testator in a
holographic Will have not been noted under his signature, x x x the Will is not thereby invalidated as a
whole, but at most only as respects the particular words erased, corrected or interlined. Manresa gave
an identical commentary when he said “la omision de la salvedad no anula el testamento, segun la regla
de jurisprudencia establecida en la sentencia de 4 de Abril de 1895.”

Same; Where a holographic will has designate only one heir to the entire estate and the designation was
cancelled and another sole heir designated, without the cancellation being authenticated by full
signature of testator, entire will is void.—However, when as in this case, the holographic Will in dispute
had only one substantial provision, which was altered by substituting the original heir with

_______________

* FIRST DIVISION.

238

238
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Kalaw vs. Relova

another, but which alteration did not carry the requisite of full authentication by the full signature of the
testator, the effect must be that the entire Will is voided or revoked for the simple reason that nothing
remains in the Will after that which could remain valid. To state that the Will as first written should be
given efficacy is to disregard the seeming change of mind of the testatrix. But that change of mind can
neither be given effect because she failed to authenticate it in the manner required by law by affixing
her full signature.

Same; Same.—The ruling in Velasco, supra, must be held confined to such insertions, cancellations,
erasures or alterations in a holographic Will, which affect only the efficacy of the altered words
themselves but not the essence and validity of the Will itself. As it is, with the erasures, cancellations
and alterations made by the testatrix herein, her real intention cannot be determined with certitude.

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:

Settlement of Estate; Certiorari; Petitioner Rosa is bound by the factual finding of the trial court that
testator herself crossed-out Rosa’s name as sole heir. Hence, the substitution of Gregorio as sole heir
even if void for not being authenticated as prescribed by law will not result in Rosa being declared
heir.—I concur. Rosa, having appealed to this Court on a sole question of law, is bound by the trial
court’s factual finding that the peculiar alterations in the holographic will crossing out Rosa’s name and
instead inserting her brother Gregorio’s name as sole heir and “sole executrix” were made by the
testatrix in her own handwriting. (I find it peculiar that the testatrix who was obviously an educated
person would unthinkingly make such crude alterations instead of consulting her lawyer and writing an
entirely new holographic will in order to avoid any doubts as to her change of heir. It should be noted
that the first alteration crossing out “sister Rosa K. Kalaw” and inserting “brother Gregorio Kalaw” as
sole heir is not even initialed by the testatrix. Only the second alteration crossing out “sister Rosa K.
Kalaw” and inserting “brother Gregorio Kalaw” as “sole executrix” is initialed.) Probate of the radically
altered will replacing Gregorio for Rosa as sole heir is properly denied, since the same was not duly
authenticated by the full signature of the executrix as mandatorily required by Article 814 of the Civil
Code. The original unaltered will naming Rosa as sole heir cannot, however, be given effect in view of
the trial court’s factual

239
VOL. 132, SEPTEMBER 28, 1984

239

Kalaw vs. Relova

finding that the testatrix had by her own handwriting substituted Gregorio for Rosa, so that there is no
longer any will naming Rosa as sole heir. The net result is that the testatrix left no valid will and both
Rosa and Gregorio as her next of kin succeed to her intestate estate.

PETITION for certiorari to review the decision of the Court of First Instance of Batangas, Br. VI. Relova, J.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Leandro H. Fernandez for petitioner.

Antonio Quintos and Jose M. Yacat for respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

On September 1, 1971, private respondent GREGORIO K. KALAW, claiming to be the sole heir of his
deceased sister, Natividad K. Kalaw, filed a petition before the Court of First Instance of Batangas,
Branch VI, Lipa City, for the probate of her holographic Will executed on December 24, 1968.

The holographic Will reads in full as follows:

240
240

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Kalaw vs. Relova

The holographic Will, as first written, named ROSA K. Kalaw, a sister of the testatrix as her sole heir.
Hence, on November 10, 1971, petitioner ROSA K. Kalaw opposed probate alleging, in substance, that
the holographic Will contained alterations, corrections, and insertions without the proper
authentication by the full signature of the testatrix as required by Article 814 of the Civil Code reading:

“Art. 814. In case of any insertion, cancellation, erasure or alteration in a holographic will, the testator
must authenticate the same by his full signature.”

ROSA’s position was that the holographic Will, as first written, should be given effect and probated so
that she could be the sole heir thereunder.

241

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Kalaw vs. Relova


After trial, respondent Judge denied probate in an Order, dated September 3, 1973, reading in part:

“The document Exhibit ‘C’ was submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation for examination. The
NBI reported that the handwriting, the signature, the insertions and/or additions and the initial were
made by one and the same person. Consequently, Exhibit ‘C’ was the handwriting of the decedent,
Natividad K. Kalaw. The only question is whether the will, Exhibit ‘C’, should be admitted to probate
although the alterations and/or insertions or additions above-mentioned were not authenticated by the
full signature of the testatrix pursuant to Art. 814 of the Civil Code. The petitioner contends that the
oppositors are estopped to assert the provision of Art. 814 on the ground that they themselves agreed
thru their counsel to submit the Document to the NBI FOR EXAMINATIONS. This is untenable. The
parties did not agree, nor was it impliedly understood, that the oppositors would be in estoppel.

“The Court finds, therefore, that the provision of Article 814 of the Civil Code is applicable to Exhibit ‘C’.
Finding the insertions, alterations and/or additions in Exhibit ‘C’ not to be authenticated by the full
signature of the testatrix Natividad K. Kalaw, the Court will deny the admission to probate of Exhibit ‘C’.

“WHEREFORE, the petition to probate Exhibit ‘C’ as the holographic will of Natividad K. Kalaw is hereby
denied.”

“SO ORDERED.”

From that Order, GREGORIO moved for reconsideration arguing that since the alterations and/or
insertions were made by the testatrix, the denial to probate of her holographic Will would be contrary
to her right of testamentary disposition. Reconsideration was denied in an Order, dated November 2,
1973, on the ground that “Article 814 of the Civil Code being clear and explicit, (it) requires no necessity
for interpretation.”

From that Order, dated September 3, 1973, denying probate, and the Order dated November 2, 1973
denying reconsideration, ROSA filed this Petition for Review on Certiorari on the sole legal question of
whether or not the original unaltered text after subsequent alterations and insertions were voided by
the Trial Court for lack of authentication by the full signature of the testatrix, should be probated or not,
with her as sole heir.

242
242

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Kalaw vs. Relova

Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and interlineations made by the testator in a
holographic Will have not been noted under his signature, x x x the Will is not thereby invalidated as a
whole, but at most only as respects the particular words erased, corrected or interlined.1 Manresa gave
an identical commentary when he said “la omision de la salvedad no anula el testamento, segun la regla
de jurisprudencia establecida en la sentencia de 4 de Abril de 1895.”2

However, when as in this case, the holographic Will in dispute had only one substantial provision, which
was altered by substituting the original heir with another, but which alteration did not carry the
requisite of full authentication by the full signature of the testator, the effect must be that the entire
Will is voided or revoked for the simple reason that nothing remains in the Will after that which could
remain valid. To state that the Will as first written should be given efficacy is to disregard the seeming
change of mind of the testatrix. But that change of mind can neither be given effect because she failed
to authenticate it in the manner required by law by affixing her full signature.

The ruling in Velasco, supra, must be held confined to such insertions, cancellations, erasures or
alterations in a holographic Will, which affect only the efficacy of the altered words themselves but not
the essence and validity of the Will itself. As it is, with the erasures, cancellations and alterations made
by the testatrix herein, her real intention cannot be determined with certitude. As Manresa had stated
in his commentary on Article 688 of the Spanish Civil Code, whence Article 814 of the new Civil Code was
derived:

“x x x No infringe lo dispuesto en este articulo del Codigo (el 688) la sentencia que no declara la nulidad
de un testamento olografo que contenga palabras tachadas, enmendadas o entre renglones, no salvadas
por el testador bajo su firma, segun previene el parrafo tercero del mismo, porque, en realidad, tal
omision solo puede afectar

_______________
1 Velasco vs. Lopez, 1 Phil. 720, 725 (1903), citing a Decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of April 4,
1895.

2 Comentarios al Codigo Civil Español, Quinta edicion, Tomo 5, Lib. III—Tit. III—Cap. I-Art. 688; pag. 483.

243

VOL. 132, SEPTEMBER 28, 1984

243

Kalaw vs. Relova

a la validez o eficacia de tales palabras, y nunca al testamento mismo, ya por estar esa disposition en
parrafo aparte de aquel que determina las condiciones necesarias para la validez del testamento
olografo, ya porque, de admitir lo contrario, se llegaria al absurdo de que pequeñas enmiendas no
salvadas, que en nada afectasen a la parte esencial y respectiva del testamento, vinieran a anular este, y
ya porque el precepto contenido en dicho parrafo ha de entenderse en perfecta armonia y congruencia
con el art. 26 de la ley del Notariado, que declara nulas las adiciones, apostillas, entrerrenglonados,
raspaduras y tachados en las escrituras matrices, siempre que no se salven en la forma prevenida, pero
no el documento que las contenga, y con mayor motivo cuando las palabras enmendadas, tachadas, o
entrerrenglonadas no tengan importancia ni susciten duda alguna acerca del pensamiento del testador,
o constituyan meros accidentes de ortografia o de purez escrituraria, sin trascendencia alguna(l).

“Mas para que sea aplicable la doctrina de excepcion contenida en este ultimo fallo, es preciso que las
tachaduras, enmiendas o entrerrenglonados sin salvar, sean de palabras que no afecten, alteren ni
varien de modo substancial la expresa voluntad del testador manifiesta en el documento. Asi lo advierte
la sentencia de 29 de Noviembre de 1916, que declara nulo un testamento olografo por no estar salvada
por el testador la enmienda del guarismo ultimo del año en que fue extendido”3 (Italics ours).

WHEREFORE, this Petition is hereby dismissed and the Decision of respondent Judge, dated September
3, 1973, is hereby affirmed in toto. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Plana, Gutierrez, Jr. and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.

Teehankee, (Chairman), J., concurs in a separate opinion.

Relova, J., took no part.

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:

I concur. Rosa, having appealed to this Court on a sole question of law, is bound by the trial court’s
factual finding that the peculiar alterations in the holographic will crossing out Rosa’s name and instead
inserting her brother Gregorio’s

_______________

3 Ibid.

244

244

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Kalaw vs. Relova

name as sole heir and “sole executrix” were made by the testatrix in her own handwriting. (I find it
peculiar that the testatrix who was obviously an educated person would unthinkingly make such crude
alterations instead of consulting her lawyer and writing an entirely new holographic will in, order to
avoid any doubts as to her change of heir. It should be noted that the first alteration crossing out “sister
Rosa K. Kalaw” and inserting “brother Gregorio Kalaw” as sole heir is not even initialed by the testatrix.
Only the second alteration crossing out “sister Rosa K. Kalaw” and inserting “brother Gregorio Kalaw” as
“sole executrix” is initialed.) Probate of the radically altered will replacing Gregorio for Rosa as sole heir
is properly denied, since the same was not duly authenticated by the full signature of the executrix as
mandatorily required by Article 814 of the Civil Code. The original unaltered will naming Rosa as sole
heir cannot, however, be given effect in view of the trial court’s factual finding that the testatrix had by
her own handwriting substituted Gregorio for Rosa, so that there is no longer any will naming Rosa as
sole heir. The net result is that the testatrix left no valid will and both Rosa and Gregorio as her next of
kin succeed to her intestate estate.

Decision affirmed.

Notes.—The will of the testator clearly and explicitly must be respected and complied with as an
inviolable law among the parties in interest. (Rodriguez vs. Court of Appeals, 27 SCRA 546.)

Where a will has already been admitted to probate, its due execution and authenticity are deemed
established for purposes of settlement proceedings. (Santos vs. Buenaventura, 18 SCRA 47.)

——o0o—— Kalaw vs. Relova, 132 SCRA 237, No. L-40207 September 28, 1984
488

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ajero vs. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 106720. September 15, 1994.*

SPOUSES ROBERTO AND THELMA AJERO, petitioners, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS AND CLEMENTE SAND,
respondents.

Succession; Wills; Holographic Wills; Probate Proceedings; The grounds enumerated in the Civil Code
and Rules of Court for the disallowance of wills are exclusive; Issues in a petition to admit a holographic
will to probate.—Section 9, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court provides the cases in which wills shall be
disallowed. In the same vein, Article 839 of the New Civil Code enumerates the grounds for disallowance
of wills. These lists are exclusive; no other grounds can serve to disallow a will. Thus, in a petition to
admit a holographic will to probate, the only issues to be resolved are: (1) whether the instrument
submitted is, indeed, the decedent’s last will and testament; (2) whether said will was executed in
accordance with the formalities prescribed by

_________________

* SECOND DIVISION.

489

VOL. 236, SEPTEMBER 15, 1994

489

Ajero vs. Court of Appeals


law; (3) whether the decedent had the necessary testamentary capacity at the time the will was
executed; and, (4) whether the execution of the will and its signing were the voluntary acts of the
decedent.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; The object of the solemnities surrounding the
execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, accordingly, laws on this subject
should be interpreted to attain these primordial ends.—We reiterate what we held in Abangan vs.
Abangan, 40 Phil. 476, 479 (1919), that: “The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of
wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to
guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a
way as to attain these primordial ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact
that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when
an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds
nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator’s last
will, must be disregarded.” For purposes of probating non-holographic wills, these formal solemnities
include the subscription, attestation, and acknowledgment requirements under Articles 805 and 806 of
the New Civil Code.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Failure to strictly observe other formalities will not result in the disallowance
of a holographic will that is unquestionably handwritten by the testator.—In the case of holographic
wills, on the other hand, what assures authenticity is the requirement that they be totally autographic or
handwritten by the testator himself, as provided under Article 810 of the New Civil Code. Failure to
strictly observe other formalities will not result in the disallowance of a holographic will that is
unquestionably handwritten by the testator.

Same; Same; Same; Same; The requirement of Article 813 of the New Civil Code affects the validity of
the dispositions contained in the holographic will, but not its probate.—A reading of Article 813 of the
New Civil Code shows that its requirement affects the validity of the dispositions contained in the
holographic will, but not its probate. If the testator fails to sign and date some of the dispositions, the
result is that these dispositions cannot be effectuated. Such failure, however, does not render the whole
testament void.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Unauthenticated alterations, cancellations or insertions do not invalidate a
holographic will, unless they were made on the date or on testator’s signature.—Likewise, a holographic
will can still be admitted to probate, notwithstanding non-

490
490

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ajero vs. Court of Appeals

compliance with the provisions of Article 814. Thus, unless the unauthenticated alterations,
cancellations or insertions were made on the date of the holographic will or on testator’s signature,
their presence does not invalidate the will itself. The lack of authentication will only result in
disallowance of such changes.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Only the requirements of Article 810 of the New Civil Code—and not those
found in Articles 813 and 814—are essential to the probate of a holographic will.—It is also proper to
note that the requirements of authentication of changes and signing and dating of dispositions appear in
provisions (Articles 813 and 814) separate from that which provides for the necessary conditions for the
validity of the holographic will (Article 810). The distinction can be traced to Articles 678 and 688 of the
Spanish Civil Code, from which the present provisions covering holographic wills are taken. This
separation and distinction adds support to the interpretation that only the requirements of Article 810
of the New Civil Code—and not those found in Article 813 and 814 of the same Code—are essential to
the probate of a holographic will.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Probate Courts; While courts in probate proceedings are generally limited to
pass only upon the extrinsic validity of the will sought to be probated, in exceptional cases, courts are
not powerless to do what the situation constrains them to do, and pass upon certain provisions of the
will.—As a general rule, courts in probate proceedings are limited to pass only upon the extrinsic validity
of the will sought to be probated. However, in exceptional instances, courts are not powerless to do
what the situation constrains them to do, and pass upon certain provisions of the will. In the case at
bench, decedent herself indubitably stated in her holographic will that the Cabadbaran property is in the
name of her late father, John H. Sand (which led oppositor Dr. Jose Ajero to question her conveyance of
the same in its entirety). Thus, as correctly held by respondent court, she cannot validly dispose of the
whole property, which she shares with her father’s other heirs.

PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals.


The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Miguel D. Larida for petitioners.

Montilla Law Office for private respondent.

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PUNO, J.:

This is an appeal by certiorari from the Decision of the Court of Appeals1 in CA-G.R. CV No. 22840, dated
March 30, 1992, the dispositive portion of which reads:

“PREMISES CONSIDERED, the questioned decision of November 19, 1988 of the trial court is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the petition for probate is hereby DISMISSED. No costs.”

The earlier Decision was rendered by the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 94,2 in Sp. Proc. No. Q-37171, and
the instrument submitted for probate is the holographic will of the late Annie Sand, who died on
November 25, 1982.

In the will, decedent named as devisees, the following: petitioners Roberto and Thelma Ajero, private
respondent Clemente Sand, Meriam S. Arong, Leah Sand, Lilia Sand, Edgar Sand, Fe Sand, Lisa S. Sand,
and Dr. Jose Ajero, Sr., and their children.
On January 20, 1983, petitioners instituted Sp. Proc. No. Q-37171, for allowance of decedent’s
holographic will. They alleged that at the time of its execution, she was of sound and disposing mind,
not acting under duress, fraud or undue influence, and was in every respect capacitated to dispose of
her estate by will.

Private respondent opposed the petition on the grounds that: neither the testament’s body nor the
signature therein was in decedent’s handwriting; it contained alterations and corrections which were
not duly signed by decedent; and, the will was procured by petitioners through improper pressure and
undue influence. The petition was likewise opposed by Dr. Jose Ajero. He contested the disposition in
the will of a house and lot located in Cabadbaran, Agusan Del Norte. He claimed that said property could
not be conveyed by decedent in its entirety, as she was not its sole owner.

Notwithstanding the oppositions, the trial court admitted the decedent’s holographic will to probate. It
found, inter alia:

__________________

1 Sixteenth Division, composed of Associate Justices Luis L. Victor (ponente), Ricardo J. Francisco
(chairman), and Pacita Cañizares-Nye.

2 Presided by Judge Filemon H. Mendoza.

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Ajero vs. Court of Appeals

“Considering then that the probate proceedings herein must decide only the question of identity of the
will, its due execution and the testamentary capacity of the testatrix, this probate court finds no reason
at all for the disallowance of the will for its failure to comply with the formalities prescribed by law nor
for lack of testamentary capacity of the testatrix.

“For one, no evidence was presented to show that the will in question is different from the will actually
executed by the testatrix. The only objections raised by the oppositors x x x are that the will was not
written in the handwriting of the testatrix which properly refers to the question of its due execution,
and not to the question of identity of will. No other will was alleged to have been executed by the
testatrix other than the will herein presented. Hence, in the light of the evidence adduced, the identity
of the will presented for probate must be accepted, i.e., the will submitted in Court must be deemed to
be the will actually executed by the testatrix.

“x x x xxx xxx

“While the fact that it was entirely written, dated and signed in the handwriting of the testatrix has been
disputed, the petitioners, however, have satisfactorily shown in Court that the holographic will in
question was indeed written entirely, dated and signed in the handwriting of the testatrix. Three (3)
witnesses who have convincingly shown knowledge of the handwriting of the testatrix have been
presented and have explicitly and categorically identified the handwriting with which the holographic
will in question was written to be the genuine handwriting and signature of the testatrix. Given then the
aforesaid evidence, the requirement of the law that the holographic will be entirely written, dated and
signed in the handwriting of the testatrix has been complied with.

“x x x xxx xxx

“As to the question of the testamentary capacity of the testatrix, (private respondent) Clemente Sand
himself has testified in Court that the testatrix was completely in her sound mind when he visited her
during her birthday celebration in 1981, at or around which time the holographic will in question was
executed by the testatrix. To be of sound mind, it is sufficient that the testatrix, at the time of making
the will, knew the value of the estate to be disposed of, the proper object of her bounty, and the
character of the testamentary act x x x. The will itself shows that the testatrix even had detailed
knowledge of the nature of her estate. She even identified the lot number and square meters of the lots
she had conveyed by will. The objects of her bounty were likewise identified explicitly. And considering
that she had even written a nursing book which contained the law and jurisprudence on will and
succession, there is more than sufficient showing that she knows the character of the testamentary act.

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“In this wise, the question of identity of the will, its due execution and the testamentary capacity of the
testatrix has to be resolved in favor of the allowance of probate of the will submitted herein.

“Likewise, no evidence was presented to show sufficient reason for the disallowance of herein
holographic will. While it was alleged that the said will was procured by undue and improper pressure
and influence on the part of the beneficiary or of some other person, the evidence adduced have not
shown any instance where improper pressure or influence was exerted on the testatrix. (Private
respondent) Clemente Sand has testified that the testatrix was still alert at the time of the execution of
the will, i.e., at or around the time of her birth anniversary celebration in 1981. It was also established
that she is a very intelligent person and has a mind of her own. Her independence of character and to
some extent, her sense of superiority, which has been testified to in Court, all show the unlikelihood of
her being unduly influenced or improperly pressured to make the aforesaid will. It must be noted that
the undue influence or improper pressure in question herein only refer to the making of a will and not
as to the specific testamentary provisions therein which is the proper subject of another proceeding.
Hence, under the circumstances, this Court cannot find convincing reason for the disallowance of the
will herein.

“Considering then that it is a well-established doctrine in the law on succession that in case of doubt,
testate succession should be preferred over intestate succession, and the fact that no convincing
grounds were presented and proven for the disallowance of the holographic will of the late Annie Sand,
the aforesaid will submitted herein must be admitted to probate.”3 (Citations omitted.)

On appeal, said Decision was reversed, and the petition for probate of decedent’s will was dismissed.
The Court of Appeals found that, “the holographic will fails to meet the requirements for its validity.”4 It
held that the decedent did not comply with Articles 813 and 814 of the New Civil Code, which read, as
follows:
“Article 813: When a number of dispositions appearing in a holographic will are signed without being
dated, and the last disposition has a signature and date, such date validates the dispositions preceding
it, whatever be the time of prior dispositions.”

__________________

3 Rollo, pp. 37-39.

4 Impugned Decision, p. 5; Rollo, p. 46.

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ajero vs. Court of Appeals

“Article 814: In case of insertion, cancellation, erasure or alteration in a holographic will, the testator
must authenticate the same by his full signature.”

It alluded to certain dispositions in the will which were either unsigned and undated, or signed but not
dated. It also found that the erasures, alterations and cancellations made thereon had not been
authenticated by decedent.

Thus, this appeal is impressed with merit.

Section 9, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court provides that wills shall be disallowed in any of the following
cases:
“(a) If not executed and attested as required by law;

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

(c) If it was executed under duress, or the influence of fear, or threats;

(d) If it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence, on the part of the beneficiary, or
of some other person for his benefit;

(e) If the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick, and he did not intend that the
instrument should be his will at the time of fixing his signature thereto.”

In the same vein, Article 839 of the New Civil Code reads:

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

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

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

(3) If it was executed through force or under duress, or the influence of fear, or threats;

(4) If it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence, on the part of the beneficiary or
of some other person;

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

(6) If the testator acted by mistake or did not intend that the instrument he signed should be his will
at the time of affixing his signature thereto.”

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These lists are exclusive; no other grounds can serve to disallow a will.5 Thus, in a petition to admit a
holographic will to probate, the only issues to be resolved are: (1) whether the instrument submitted is,
indeed, the decedent’s last will and testament; (2) whether said will was executed in accordance with
the formalities prescribed by law; (3) whether the decedent had the necessary testamentary capacity at
the time the will was executed; and, (4) whether the execution of the will and its signing were the
voluntary acts of the decedent.6

In the case at bench, respondent court held that the holographic will of Anne Sand was not executed in
accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. It held that Articles 813 and 814 of the New Civil
Code, ante, were not complied with, hence, it disallowed the probate of said will. This is erroneous.

We reiterate what we held in Abangan vs. Abangan, 40 Phil. 476, 479 (1919), that:

“The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith
and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity.
Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial
ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law
to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already given
assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but demands more requisites
entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator’s last will, must be disregarded.”

For purposes of probating non-holographic wills, these formal solemnities include the subscription,
attestation, and acknowledgment requirements under Articles 805 and 806 of the New Civil Code.

In the case of holographic wills, on the other hand, what assures authenticity is the requirement that
they be totally autographic or handwritten by the testator himself,7 as provided

_________________

5 Pecson vs. Coronel, 45 Phil. 216 (1923); See 3 EDGARDO L. PARAS, Civil Code of the Philippines
Annotated (1989), pp. 145-146.

6 See Montañano vs. Suesa, 14 Phil. 676 (1909).


7 See Fernando vs. Villalon, 3 Phil. 386 (1904).

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ajero vs. Court of Appeals

under Article 810 of the New Civil Code, thus:

“A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand
of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and
need not be witnessed.” (Italics supplied.)

Failure to strictly observe other formalities will not result in the disallowance of a holographic will that is
unquestionably handwritten by the testator.

A reading of Article 813 of the New Civil Code shows that its requirement affects the validity of the
dispositions contained in the holographic will, but not its probate. If the testator fails to sign and date
some of the dispositions, the result is that these dispositions cannot be effectuated. Such failure,
however, does not render the whole testament void.

Likewise, a holographic will can still be admitted to probate, notwithstanding non-compliance with the
provisions of Article 814. In the case of Kalaw vs. Relova, 132 SCRA 237, 242 (1984), this Court held:

“Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and interlineations made by the testator in a
holographic Will have not been noted under his signature, x x x the Will is not thereby invalidated as a
whole, but at most only as respects the particular words erased, corrected or interlined. Manresa gave
an identical commentary when he said ‘la omision de la salvedad no anula el testamento, segun la regla
de jurisprudencia establecida en la sentencia de 4 de Abril de 1895.’ ”8 (Citations omitted.)

Thus, unless the unauthenticated alterations, cancellations or insertions were made on the date of the
holographic will or on

_________________

8 See Velasco vs. Lopez, 1 Phil. 720, 725 (1903), citing a Decision of the Supreme Court of Spain, dated
April 4, 1895; See also, 3 MANRESA, Commentarios al Codigo Español (Quinta ed.), p. 483; See further, 3
ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, Commentaries & Jurisprudence on the Civil Code (1973), p. 107, citing Castan
341, 5 Valverde 82; 3 AMBROSIO PADILLA, Civil Code Annotated (1987), pp. 157-158; 2 RAMON C.
AQUINO and CAROLINA C. GRIÑO-AQUINO (1990), p. 42.

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testator’s signature,9 their presence does not invalidate the will itself.10 The lack of authentication will
only result in disallowance of such changes.

It is also proper to note that the requirements of authentication of changes and signing and dating of
dispositions appear in provisions (Articles 813 and 814) separate from that which provides for the
necessary conditions for the validity of the holographic will (Article 810). The distinction can be traced to
Articles 678 and 688 of the Spanish Civil Code, from which the present provisions covering holographic
wills are taken. They read as follows:
“Article 678: A will is called holographic when the testator writes it himself in the form and with the
requisites required in Article 688.”

“Article 688: Holographic wills may be executed only by persons of full age.

“In order that the will be valid it must be drawn on stamped paper corresponding to the year of its
execution, written in its entirety by the testator and signed by him, and must contain a statement of the
year, month and day of its execution.

“If it should contain any erased, corrected, or interlined words, the testator must identify them over his
signature. “Foreigners may execute holographic wills in their own language.”

This separation and distinction adds support to the interpretation that only the requirements of Article
810 of the New Civil Code—and not those found in Articles 813 and 814 of the

__________________

9 3 PARAS, op. cit..

10 It must be noted, however, that in Kalaw, this Court laid down an exception to the general rule, when
it invalidated the entire will because of an unauthenticated erasure made by the testator. In that case,
the will had only one substantial provision. This was altered by substituting the original heir with
another, with such alteration being unauthenticated. This Court held that the whole will was void “for
the simple reason that nothing remains in the Will after (the provision is invalidated) which could remain
valid. To state that the Will as first written should be given efficacy is to disregard the seeming change of
mind of the testatrix. But, that change of mind can neither be given effect because she failed to
authenticate it in the manner required by law by affixing her full signature.”

498

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Ajero vs. Court of Appeals

same Code—are essential to the probate of a holographic will.

The Court of Appeals further held that decedent Annie Sand could not validly dispose of the house and
lot located in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, in its entirety. This is correct and must be affirmed.

As a general rule, courts in probate proceedings are limited to pass only upon the extrinsic validity of the
will sought to be probated. However, in exceptional instances, courts are not powerless to do what the
situation constrains them to do, and pass upon certain provisions of the will.11 In the case at bench,
decedent herself indubitably stated in her holographic will that the Cabadbaran property is in the name
of her late father, John H. Sand (which led oppositor Dr. Jose Ajero to question her conveyance of the
same in its entirety). Thus, as correctly held by respondent court, she cannot validly dispose of the
whole property, which she shares with her father’s other heirs.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the instant petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 22840, dated March 30, 1992, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, except with respect to the invalidity of
the disposition of the entire house and lot in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte. The Decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 94 in Sp. Proc. No. Q-37171, dated November 19, 1988,
admitting to probate the holographic will of decedent Annie Sand, is hereby REINSTATED, with the
above qualification as regards the Cabadbaran property.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa (C.J., Chairman) Padilla, Regalado and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Petition granted. Judgment reversed and set aside.


Note.—Attestation clause is valid even if in a language not known to testator. (Caneda vs. Court of
Appeals, 222 SCRA 781 [1993])

——o0o—— Ajero vs. Court of Appeals, 236 SCRA 488, G.R. No. 106720 September 15, 1994