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G.R. No.

76648 February 26, 1988

THE HEIRS OF THE LATE MATILDE MONTINOLA-SANSON, petitioners,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and EDUARDO F. HERNANDEZ, respondents.

GANCAYCO, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals 1 promulgated August 29,1986 affirming in toto the decision of
the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XXII 2 dated March 21, 1985, the dispositive part of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court renders judgment declaring the holographic will marked in
evidence as Exhibit "H" as one wholly written, dated, and signed freely by the late
Herminia Montinola in accordance with law while in possession of full testamentary
capacity, and allowing and admitting the same to probate.

Upon the finality of the decision, let letters testamentary issue to the executor,
Eduardo F. Hernandez, as well as the certificate of probate prescribed under Section
13 of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court.

SO ORDERED. 3

This case arose from a petition filed by private respondent Atty. Eduardo F. Hernandez on April 22,
1981 with the Court of First Instance of Manila (now Regional Trial Court) seeking the probate of the
holographic will of the late Herminia Montinola executed on January 28, 1980. 4 The testatrix, who
died single, parentless and childless on March 29,1981 at the age of 70 years, devised in this will
several of her real properties to specified persons.

On April 29,1981, private respondent who was named executor in the will filed an urgent motion for
appointment of special administrator. 5 With the conformity of all the relatives and heirs of the
testatrix except oppositor, the court in its order of May 5, 1981 6 appointed private respondent as
Special Administrator of the testate estate of deceased.

On June 29,1981, Matilde Montinola Sanson (petitioner), the only surviving sister of the deceased
but who was not named in the said win, filed her Opposition to Probate of Will, 7 alleging inter alia:
that the subject will was not entirely written, dated and signed by the testatrix herself and the same
was falsely dated or antedated; that the testatrix was not in full possession of her mental faculties to
make testamentary dispositions; that undue influence was exerted upon the person and mind of the
testatrix by the beneficiaries named in the win; and that the will failed to institute a residual heir to
the remainder of the estate.

After a hearing on the merits, the probate court, finding the evidence presented in support of the
petition to be conclusive and overwhelming, rendered its decision allowing the probate of the
disputed will.

Petitioner thus appealed the decision of the probate court to the Court of Appeals which affirmed
in toto the decision. 8

On September 24,1986, petitioner filed with the respondent court a motion for new trial. 9 Attached to
her motion was the Affidavit of Merit of Gregorio Montinola Sanson, petitioner's son, alleging that
witnesses have been located whose testimonies could shed light as to the ill health of the testatrix as
well as undue influence exerted on the latter.

The appellate court in its resolution of October 13, 1986, 10 denied the motion for new trial of
petitioner on the following grounds: (1) the Affidavit of merit attached to the motion alleged that
efforts were exerted to locate unnamed witnesses only after the court's decision was handed down,
and (2) the unnamed witnesses would allegedly shed light on the fact of grave illness of the testatrix
as well as the undue influence exerted on her which are merely corroborative or cumulative since
these facts were brought to light during the trial.

The motion for reconsideration of petitioner dated October 27, 1986 11 was likewise denied by the
appellate court in its resolution of November 20, 1986 12 on the ground that the affidavit of one
Patricia Delgado submitted with the motion constitutes cumulative evidence and the motion being in
reality a second motion for reconsideration which is prescribed by law.

In the petition now before Us, petitioner assigned the following errors:

THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DENYING PETITIONERS'


MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL ON THE GROUND THAT THE EVIDENCE SOUGHT TO
BE PRESENTED IS MERELY CUMULATIVE.

II

THE SAID COURT ERRED IN DENYING PETITIONERS' MOTION FOR


RECONSIDERATION OF THE RESOLUTION DENYING THE AFORESAID
MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL.

III

AT ANY RATE, THE SAID COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE


HOLOGRAPHIC WILL IN QUESTION WAS WHOLLY WRITTEN, DATED AND
SIGNED BY THE LATE HERMINIA MONTINOLA.

IV

THE SAID COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE ALLEGED WILL WAS
FRAUDULENTLY ANTEDATED TO CONCEAL ITS ACTUAL DATE OF
EXECUTION AND TO SHIELD IT FROM PROBABLE DISPUTES AS TO THE
TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY ON THE PART OF THE ALLEGED TESTATRIX AT
THE TIME OF ITS ACTUAL EXECUTION.

THE SAID COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE LATE HERMINIA MONTINOLA
WAS NOT SUBJECTED TO UNDUE PRESSURE AND
IMPROPERIMPORTUNINGS ON THE PART OF THOSE STANDING TO BENEFIT
FROM THE ALLEGED WILL.

VI
THE SAID COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL IN
QUESTION TO PROBATE.

In the meantime, petitioner who passed away on November 3, 1986, was substituted by her heirs.

In the first and second assigned errors, petitioners maintain that the appellate court erred in denying
the motion for new trial insisting that the new evidence sought to be presented is not merely
corroborative or cumulative.

On the other hand, the contention of private respondent is that the motion for new trial was a pro-
forma motion because it was not in accordance with Sec. 1, Rule 53 of the Rules of Court. We find
merit in this contention.

Section 1, Rule 53 provides —

Before a final order or judgment rendered by the Court of appeals becomes


executory, a motion for new trial may be filed on the ground of newly discovered
evidence which could not have been discovered prior to the trial in the court below by
the exercise of the diligence and which is of such a character as would probably
change the result. The motion shall be accompanied by affidavits showing the facts
constituting the grounds therefor and the newly discovered evidence.

The affidavit of merit executed by Gregorio Montinola Sanson alleged the following:

xxx xxx xxx

3. That in her plea for new trial in the said case, I have exerted efforts to locate
witnesses whose whereabouts were not known to us during the trial in the lower
court, but I have finally succeeded in tracking them down;

4. That despite their initial reluctance to testify in this case,I am convinced that they
would testify under proper subpoena for purposes of shedding light on the fact that
the testatrix was gravely ill at or but the time that the questioned will was allegedly
executed;

5. That they had the clear opportunity to know the circumstances under which the
purported will was executed; and that they know for a fact that there was 'undue
influence' exerted by petitioner and other relatives to procure improper favors from
the testatrix;

xxx xxx xxx 13

Said motion for new trial is not in substantial compliance with the requirements of Rule 53. The lone
affidavit of a witness who was already presented said the hearing is hardly sufficient to justify the
holding of new trial. The alleged new witnesses were unnamed without any certainty as, to their
appearance before the court to testify. Affiant attests only on his belief that they would testify if and
when they are subpoenaed by the court. Furthermore, the allegations in the affidavit as to the undue
influence exerted on the testatrix are mere conclusions and not statement of facts. The requisite
affidavits must state facts and not mere conclusions or opinions, otherwise they are not valid. 14 The
affidavits are required to avoid waste of the court's time if the newly discovered evidence turns out to
be immaterial or of any evidentiary weight.
Moreover, it could not be said that the evidence sought to be presented is new having been
discovered only after the trial. It is apparent from the allegations of affiant that efforts to locate the
witnesses were exerted only after the decision of the appellate court was handed down. The trial
lasted for about four years so that petitioner had ample time to find said alleged witnesses who were
admittedly known to her. The evidence which the petitioner now propose to present could have been
discovered and presented during the hearing of the case, and there is no sufficient reason for
concluding that had the petitioner exercised proper diligence she would not have been able to
discover said evidence. 15

In addition, We agree with the appellate court that since the alleged illness of the testatrix as well as
the charges of undue influence exerted upon her had been brought to light during the trial, and new
evidence on this point is merely corroborative and cumulative which is generally not a ground for
new trial. 16 Accordingly, such evidence even if presented win not carry much probative weight which
can alter the judgment. 17

It is very patent that the motion for new trial was filed by petitioner only for the purpose of delaying
the proceedings. In fact, petitioners son in his manifestation admitted that he had to request a new
law firm to do everything legally possible to meet the deadline for the filing of a motion for
reconsideration and/or for new trial. 18 This would explain the haphazard preparation of the motion,
thus failing to comply with the requirements of rule 53, which was filed on the last day of the
reglementary period of appeal so that the veracity of the ground relied upon is questionable. The
appellate court correctly denied the motion for new trial.

The motion for new trial being pro-forma, it does not interrupt the running of the period for
appeal. 19 Since petitioner's motion was filed on September 24,1986, the fifteenth or last day of the
period to appeal, the decision of the respondent court became final on the following day, September
25. And when the motion for reconsideration of petitioner was filed on October 30,1986, it was
obviously filed out of time.

Since the questioned decision has already become final and executory, it is no longer within the
province of this Court to review it. This being so, the findings of the probate court as to the due
execution of the will and the testamentary capacity of testatrix are now conclusive. 20

At any rate, even assuming that We can still review this case on its merits, the petition will also have
to fail.

During the hearing before the probate court, not only were three (3) close relatives of the testatrix
presented but also two (2) expert witnesses who declared that the contested will and signature are in
the handwriting of the testatrix. These testimonies more than satisfy the requirements of Art. 811 of
the Civil Code 21 in conjunction with Section 11 of Rule 76, Revised Rules of Court, 22 or the probate
of holographic wills.

As regards the alleged antedating of the will, petitioner failed to present competent proof that the will
was actually executed sometime in June 1980 when the testatrix was already seriously ill and dying
of terminal lung cancer. She relied only on the supposed inconsistencies in the testimony of
Asuncion Gemperle, niece and constant companion of testatrix, which upon careful examination did
not prove such claim of antedating.

The factual findings of the probate court and the Court of Appeals that the will in question was
executed according to the formalities required by law are conclusive on the Supreme Court when
supported by evidence. 23 We have examined the records of this case and find no error in the
conclusion arrived at by the respondent court that the contested will was duly executed in
accordance with law.

Petitioner alleges that her exclusion from the alleged holographic will was without rhyme or reason,
being the only surviving sister of the testatrix with whom she shares an intimate relationship, thus
demonstrating the lack of testamentary capacity of testatrix.

In the case of Pecson v. Coronel, 24 it was held —

The appellants emphasize the fact that family ties in this country are very strongly
knit and that the exclusion of a relative from one's estate is an exceptional case. It is
true that the ties of relationship in the Philippines are very strong, but we understand
that cases of preterition of relatives from the inheritance are not rare. The liberty to
dispose of one's estate by will when there are no forced heirs is rendered sacred by
the Civil Code in force in the Philippines since 1889...

Article 842 of the Civil Code provides that one who has no compulsory heirs may dispose by will of
all his estate or any part of it in favor of any person having capacity to succeed.

It is within the right of the testatrix not to include her only sister who is not a compulsory heir in her
will. Nevertheless, per testimony of Asuncion Gemperle, the latter had reserved two boxes of jewelry
worth P850,000.00 for petitioner. Furthermore, petitioner's son Francis was instituted as an heir in
the contested will.

Petitioner still insists that the fact that in her holographic will the testatrix failed to dispose of all of her
estate is an indication of the unsoundness of her mind.

We cannot subscribe to this contention. Art. 841 of the Civil Code provides —

A will shall be valid even though it should not contain an institution of an heir, or such
institution should not comprise the entire estate, and even though the person so
instituted should not accept the inheritance or should be incapacitated to succeed.

In such cases, the testamentary dispositions made in accordance with law shall be
complied with and the remainder of the estate shall pass to the legal heirs.

Thus, the fact that in her holographic will, testatrix disposed of only eleven (11) of her real properties
does not invalidate the will, or is it an indication that the testatrix was of unsound mind. The portion
of the estate undisposed of shall pass on to the heirs of the deceased in intestate succession.

Neither is undue influence present just because blood relatives, other than compulsory heirs have
been omitted, for while blood ties are strong in the Philippines, it is the testator's right to disregard
non-compulsory heirs. 25 The fact that some heirs are more favored than others is proof of neither
fraud or undue influence. 26 Diversity of apportionment is the usual reason for making a testament,
otherwise, the decedent might as well die intestate. 27

The contention of the petitioner that the will was obtained by undue influence or improper pressure
exerted by the beneficiaries of the will cannot be sustained on mere conjecture or suspicion; as it is
not enough that there was opportunity to exercise undue influence or a possibility that it may have
been exercised. 28 The exercise of improper pressure and undue influence must be supported by
substantial evidence that it was actually exercised. 29
Finally, We quote with approval the observation of the respondent court —

There is likewise no question as to the due execution of the subject Will. To Our
minds, the most authentic proof that decreased had testamentary capacity at the
time of the execution of the Will, is the Will itself which according to a report of one of
the two expert witnesses (Exhibits X to X-3) reveals the existence of significant
handwriting characteristics such as:

1. Spontaneity, freedom, and speed of writing

xxx xxx xxx

3. good line quality.

4. presence of natural variation... (Exhibit X).

The characteristics of spontaneity, freedom and good line quality could not be
achieved by the testatrix if it was true that she was indeed of unsound mind and/or
under undue influence or improper pressure when she the Will.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit with
costs against petitioner. The decision of respondent court dated August 29, 1986 in toto the decision
of the Regional Trial Court of Manila dated March 21, 1985 is hereby declared to be immediately
executory.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee, C.J., Narvasa, Cruz and Grino-Aquino, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-31703 February 13, 1930

CARMEN G. DE PEREZ, trustee of the estate of Ana Maria Alcantara, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MARIANO GARCHITORENA, and JOSE CASIMIRO, Sheriff of the Court of First Instance of
Manila,defendants-appellants.

L. D. Lockwood and Jose M. Casal for appellants.


Eduardo Gutierrez Repide and Leoncio B. Monzon for appellee.

ROMUALDEZ, J.:

The amount of P21,428.58 is on deposit in the plaintiff's name with the association known as La
Urbana in Manila, as the final payment of the liquidated credit of Ana Maria Alcantara, deceased,
whose heiress is said plaintiff, against Andres Garchitorena, also deceased, represented by his son,
the defendant Mariano Garchitorena.
And as said Mariano Garchitorena held a judgment for P7,872.23 against Joaquin Perez Alcantara,
husband of the plaintiff, Carmen G. de Perez, the sheriff pursuant to the writ of execution issued in
said judgment, levied an attachment on said amount deposited with La Urbana.

The plaintiff, alleging that said deposit belongs to the fideicommissary heirs of the decedent Ana
Maria Alcantara, secured a preliminary injunction restraining the execution of said judgment on the
sum so attached. The defendants contend that the plaintiff is the decedent's universal heiress, and
pray for the dissolution of the injunction.

The court below held that said La Urbana deposit belongs to the plaintiff's children as
fideicommissary heirs of Ana Maria Alcantara, and granted a final writ of injunction.

The defendants insist in their contentions, and, in their appeal from the decision of the trial court,
assign the following errors:

1. The lower court erred in holding that a trust was created by the will of Doña Ana Maria
Alcantara.

2. The lower court erred in concluding and declaring that the amount of P21,428.58
deposited with La Urbana is the property of the children of the plaintiff as "herederos fidei-
comisarios."

3. The lower court erred in making the injunction permanent and condemning defendant to
pay the costs.

The question here raised is confined to the scope and meaning of the institution of heirs made in the
will of the late Ana Maria Alcantara already admitted to probate, and whose legal force and effect is
not in dispute.

The clauses of said will relevant to the points in dispute, between the parties are the ninth, tenth, and
eleventh, quoted below:

Ninth. Being single and without any forced heir, to show my gratitude to my niece-in-law,
Carmen Garchitorena, of age, married to my nephew, Joaquin Perez Alcantara, and living in
this same house with me, I institute her as my sole and universal heiress to the remainder of
my estate after the payment of my debts and legacies, so that upon my death and after
probate of this will, and after the report of the committee on claims and appraisal has been
rendered and approved, she will receive from my executrix and properties composing my
hereditary estate, that she may enjoy them with God's blessing and my own.

Tenth. Should my heiress Carmen Garchitorena die, I order that my whole estate shall pass
unimpaired to her surviving children; and should any of these die, his share shall serve to
increase the portions of his surviving brothers (and sisters) by accretion, in such wise that my
estate shall never pass out of the hands of my heiress or her children in so far as it is legally
possible.

Eleventh. Should my aforesaid heiress, Carmen Garchitorena, die after me while her children
are still in their minority, I order that my estate be administered by my executrix, Mrs. Josefa
Laplana, and in her default, by Attorney Ramon Salinas and in his default, by his son Ramon
Salinas; but the direction herein given must not be considered as an indication of lack of
confidence in my nephew Joaquin Perez Alcantara, whom I relieve from the duties of
administering my estate, because I recognize that his character is not adapted to
management and administration.

The appellants contend that in these clauses the testatrix has ordered a simple substitution, while
the appellee contends that it is a fideicommissary substitution.

This will certainly provides for a substitution of heirs, and of the three cases that might give rise to a
simple substitution (art. 774, Civil Code), only the death of the instituted heiress before the testatrix
would in the instant case give place to such substitution, inasmuch as nothing is said of the waiver of
inheritance, or incapacity to accept it. As a matter of fact, however, clause XI provides for the
administration of the estate in case the heiress instituted should die after the testatrix and while the
substitute heirs are still under age. And it is evident that, considering the nature of simple
substitution by the heir's death before the testator, and the fact that by clause XI in connection with
clause X, the substitution is ordered where the heiress instituted dies after the testatrix, this cannot
be a case of simple substitution.

The existence of a substitution in the will is not and cannot be denied, and since it cannot be a
simple substitution in the light of the considerations above stated, let us now see whether the
instants case is a fideicommissary substitution.

In clause IX, the testatrix institutes the plaintiff herein her sole and universal heiress, and provides
that upon her death (the testatrix's) and after probate of the will and approval of the report of the
committee on claims and appraisal, said heiress shall receive and enjoy the whole hereditary estate.
Although this clause provides nothing explicit about substitution, it does not contain anything in
conflict with the idea of fideicommissary substitution. The fact that the plaintiff was instituted the sole
and universal heiress does not prevent her children from receiving, upon her death and in conformity
with the express desire of the testatrix, the latter's hereditary estate, as provided in the following
(above quoted) clauses which cannot be disregarded if we are to give a correct interpretation of the
will. The word sole does not necessarily exclude the idea of substitute heirs; and taking these three
clauses together, such word means that the plaintiff is the sole heiress instituted in the first instance.

The disposition contained in clause IX, that said heiress shall receive and enjoy the estate, is not
incompatible with a fideicommissary substitution (it certainly is incompatible with the idea of simple
substitution, where the heiress instituted does not receive the inheritance). In fact the enjoyment of
the inheritance is in conformity with the idea of fideicommissary substitution, by virtue of which the
heir instituted receives the inheritance and enjoys it, although at the same time he preserves it in
order to pass it on the second heir. On this point the illustrious Manresa, in his Civil Code (Vol. 6, pp.
142 and 143, 5th ed.), says:

Or, what amounts to the same thing, the fideicommissary substitution, as held in the
Resolution of June 25, 1895, February 10, 1899, and July 19, 1909, requires three things:

1. A first heir called primarily to the enjoyment of the estate.

2. An obligation clearly imposed upon him to preserve and transmit to a third person the
whole or a part of the estate.

3. A second heir.

To these requisites, the decision of November 18, 1918 adds another, namely that the
fideicommissarius be entitled to the estate from the time the testator dies, since he is to
inherit from the latter and not from the fiduciary. (Emphasis ours.)
It appears from this quotation that the heir instituted or the fiduciary, as referred to in articles 783 of
the Civil Code, is entitled to enjoy the inheritance. And it might here be observed, as a timely remark,
that the fideicommissum arising from a fideicommissary substitution, which is of Roman origin, is not
exactly equivalent to, nor may it be confused with, the English "trust."

It should also be noted that said clause IX vests in the heiress only the right to enjoy but not the right
to dispose of the estate. It says, she may enjoy it, but does not say she may dispose of it. This is an
indication of the usufruct inherent in fideicommissary substitution.

Clause X expressly provides for the substitution. It is true that it does not say whether the death of
the heiress herein referred to is before or after that of the testatrix; but from the whole context it
appears that in making the provisions contained in this clause X, the testatrix had in mind a
fideicommissary substitution, since she limits the transmission of her estate to the children of the
heiress by this provision, "in such wise that my estate shall never pass out of the hands of my
heiress or her children in so far as it is legally possible." Here it clearly appears that the testatrix tried
to avoid the possibility that the substitution might later be legally declared null for transcending the
limits fixed by article 781 of the Civil Code which prescribed that fideicommissary substitutions shall
be valid "provided they do not go beyond the second degree."

Another clear and outstanding indication of fideicommissary substitution in clause X is the provision
that the whole estate shall pass unimpaired to the heiress's children, that is to say the heiress is
required to preserve the whole estate, without diminution, in order to pass it on in due time to the
fideicommissary heirs. This provision complies with another of the requisites of fideicommissary
substitution according to our quotation from Manresa inserted above.

Lastly, clause XI more clearly indicates the idea of fideicommissary substitution, when a provision is
therein made in the event the heiress should die after the testatrix. That is, said clause anticipates
the case where the instituted heiress should die after the testatrix and after receiving and enjoying
the inheritance.

The foregoing leads us to the conclusion that all the requisites of a fideicommissary substitution,
according to the quotation from Manresa above inserted, are present in the case of substitution now
under consideration, to wit:

1. At first heir primarily called to the enjoyment of the estate. In this case the plaintiff was
instituted an heiress, called to the enjoyment of the estate, according to clause IX of the will.

2. An obligation clearly imposed upon the heir to preserve and transmit to a third person the
whole or a part of the estate. Such an obligation is imposed in clause X which provides that
the "whole estate shall pass unimpaired to her (heiress's) surviving children;" thus, instead of
leaving the heiress at liberty to dispose of the estate by will, or of leaving the law to take its
course in case she dies intestate, said clause not only disposes of the estate in favor of the
heiress instituted, but also provides for the disposition thereof in case she should die after
the testatrix.

3. A second heir. Such are the children of the heiress instituted, who are referred to as such
second heirs both in clause X and in clause XI.

Finally, the requisite added by the decision of November 18, 1918, to wit, that the fideicommissarius
or second heir should be entitled to the estate from the time of the testator's death, which in the
instant case, is, rather than a requisite, a necessary consequence derived from the nature of the
fideicommissary substitution, in which the second heir does not inherit from the heir first instituted,
but from the testator.

By virtue of this consequence, the inheritance in question does not belong to the heiress instituted,
the plaintiff herein, as her absolute property, but to her children, from the moment of the death of the
testatrix, Ana Maria Alcantara.

Therefore, said inheritance, of which the amount referred to at the beginning, which is on deposit
with the association known as La Urbana in the plaintiff's name, is a part, does not belong to her nor
can it be subject to the execution of the judgment against Joaquin Perez, who is not one of the
fideicommissary heirs.

The judgment appealed from is affirmed, with costs against the appellant, Mariano Garchitorena. So
ordered.

Johnson, Malcolm, Villamor, Ostrand, Johns and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.


Street, J., reserves his vote.