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G.R. No.

L-54919 May 30, 1984 able to verify the veracity thereof (of the will) and now confirms the same to be truly the
probated will of his daughter Adoracion." Hence, an ex-parte presentation of evidence for the
POLLY CAYETANO, petitioner, reprobate of the questioned will was made.
HON. TOMAS T. LEONIDAS, in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of Branch XXXVIII, Court of On January 10, 1979, the respondent judge issued an order, to wit:
First Instance of Manila and NENITA CAMPOS PAGUIA, respondents.
At the hearing, it has been satisfactorily established that Adoracion C.
This is a petition for review on certiorari, seeking to annul the order of the respondent judge of Campos, in her lifetime, was a citizen of the United States of America with a
the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXXVIII, which admitted to and allowed the permanent residence at 4633 Ditman Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124,
probate of the last will and testament of Adoracion C. Campos, after an ex-parte presentation (Exhibit D) that when alive, Adoracion C. Campos executed a Last Will and
of evidence by herein private respondent. Testament in the county of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., according to
the laws thereat (Exhibits E-3 to E-3-b) that while in temporary sojourn in
On January 31, 1977, Adoracion C. Campos died, leaving her father, petitioner Hermogenes the Philippines, Adoracion C. Campos died in the City of Manila (Exhibit C)
Campos and her sisters, private respondent Nenita C. Paguia, Remedios C. Lopez and Marieta leaving property both in the Philippines and in the United States of America;
C. Medina as the surviving heirs. As Hermogenes Campos was the only compulsory heir, he that the Last Will and Testament of the late Adoracion C. Campos was
executed an Affidavit of Adjudication under Rule 74, Section I of the Rules of Court whereby he admitted and granted probate by the Orphan's Court Division of the Court
adjudicated unto himself the ownership of the entire estate of the deceased Adoracion of Common Pleas, the probate court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Campos. County of Philadelphia, U.S.A., and letters of administration were issued in
favor of Clement J. McLaughlin all in accordance with the laws of the said
foreign country on procedure and allowance of wills (Exhibits E to E-10); and
Eleven months after, on November 25, 1977, Nenita C. Paguia filed a petition for the reprobate
that the petitioner is not suffering from any disqualification which would
of a will of the deceased, Adoracion Campos, which was allegedly executed in the United
render her unfit as administratrix of the estate in the Philippines of the late
States and for her appointment as administratrix of the estate of the deceased testatrix.
Adoracion C. Campos.
In her petition, Nenita alleged that the testatrix was an American citizen at the time of her
WHEREFORE, the Last Will and Testament of the late Adoracion C. Campos
death and was a permanent resident of 4633 Ditman Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.;
is hereby admitted to and allowed probate in the Philippines, and Nenita
that the testatrix died in Manila on January 31, 1977 while temporarily residing with her sister
Campos Paguia is hereby appointed Administratrix of the estate of said
at 2167 Leveriza, Malate, Manila; that during her lifetime, the testatrix made her last wig and
decedent; let Letters of Administration with the Will annexed issue in favor
testament on July 10, 1975, according to the laws of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., nominating Wilfredo
of said Administratrix upon her filing of a bond in the amount of P5,000.00
Barzaga of New Jersey as executor; that after the testatrix death, her last will and testament
conditioned under the provisions of Section I, Rule 81 of the Rules of Court.
was presented, probated, allowed, and registered with the Registry of Wins at the County of
Philadelphia, U.S.A., that Clement L. McLaughlin, the administrator who was appointed after
Dr. Barzaga had declined and waived his appointment as executor in favor of the former, is Another manifestation was filed by the petitioner on April 14, 1979, confirming the withdrawal
also a resident of Philadelphia, U.S.A., and that therefore, there is an urgent need for the of his opposition, acknowledging the same to be his voluntary act and deed.
appointment of an administratrix to administer and eventually distribute the properties of the
estate located in the Philippines. On May 25, 1979, Hermogenes Campos filed a petition for relief, praying that the order
allowing the will be set aside on the ground that the withdrawal of his opposition to the same
On January 11, 1978, an opposition to the reprobate of the will was filed by herein petitioner was secured through fraudulent means. According to him, the "Motion to Dismiss Opposition"
alleging among other things, that he has every reason to believe that the will in question is a was inserted among the papers which he signed in connection with two Deeds of Conditional
forgery; that the intrinsic provisions of the will are null and void; and that even if pertinent Sales which he executed with the Construction and Development Corporation of the
American laws on intrinsic provisions are invoked, the same could not apply inasmuch as they Philippines (CDCP). He also alleged that the lawyer who filed the withdrawal of the opposition
would work injustice and injury to him. was not his counsel-of-record in the special proceedings case.

On December 1, 1978, however, the petitioner through his counsel, Atty. Franco Loyola, filed a The petition for relief was set for hearing but the petitioner failed to appear. He made several
Motion to Dismiss Opposition (With Waiver of Rights or Interests) stating that he "has been motions for postponement until the hearing was set on May 29, 1980.
On May 18, 1980, petitioner filed another motion entitled "Motion to Vacate and/or Set Aside 3) He ruled that the right of a forced heir to his legitime can be divested by a
the Order of January 10, 1979, and/or dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. In this motion, decree admitting a will to probate in which no provision is made for the
the notice of hearing provided: forced heir in complete disregard of Law of Succession

Please include this motion in your calendar for hearing on May 29, 1980 at 4) He denied petitioner's petition for Relief on the ground that no evidence
8:30 in the morning for submission for reconsideration and resolution of the was adduced to support the Petition for Relief when no Notice nor hearing
Honorable Court. Until this Motion is resolved, may I also request for the was set to afford petitioner to prove the merit of his petition — a denial of
future setting of the case for hearing on the Oppositor's motion to set aside the due process and a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
previously filed. jurisdiction.

The hearing of May 29, 1980 was re-set by the court for June 19, 1980. When the case was 5) He acquired no jurisdiction over the testate case, the fact that the
called for hearing on this date, the counsel for petitioner tried to argue his motion to vacate Testator at the time of death was a usual resident of Dasmariñas, Cavite,
instead of adducing evidence in support of the petition for relief. Thus, the respondent judge consequently Cavite Court of First Instance has exclusive jurisdiction over
issued an order dismissing the petition for relief for failure to present evidence in support the case (De Borja vs. Tan, G.R. No. L-7792, July 1955).
thereof. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied. In the same
order, respondent judge also denied the motion to vacate for lack of merit. Hence, this The first two issues raised by the petitioner are anchored on the allegation that the respondent
petition. judge acted with grave abuse of discretion when he allowed the withdrawal of the petitioner's
opposition to the reprobate of the will.
Meanwhile, on June 6,1982, petitioner Hermogenes Campos died and left a will, which,
incidentally has been questioned by the respondent, his children and forced heirs as, on its We find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent judge. No proof was
face, patently null and void, and a fabrication, appointing Polly Cayetano as the executrix of his adduced to support petitioner's contention that the motion to withdraw was secured through
last will and testament. Cayetano, therefore, filed a motion to substitute herself as petitioner fraudulent means and that Atty. Franco Loyola was not his counsel of record. The records show
in the instant case which was granted by the court on September 13, 1982. that after the firing of the contested motion, the petitioner at a later date, filed a
manifestation wherein he confirmed that the Motion to Dismiss Opposition was his voluntary
A motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that the rights of the petitioner Hermogenes act and deed. Moreover, at the time the motion was filed, the petitioner's former counsel,
Campos merged upon his death with the rights of the respondent and her sisters, only Atty. Jose P. Lagrosa had long withdrawn from the case and had been substituted by Atty.
remaining children and forced heirs was denied on September 12, 1983. Franco Loyola who in turn filed the motion. The present petitioner cannot, therefore, maintain
that the old man's attorney of record was Atty. Lagrosa at the time of filing the motion. Since
Petitioner Cayetano persists with the allegations that the respondent judge acted without or in the withdrawal was in order, the respondent judge acted correctly in hearing the probate of
excess of his jurisdiction when: the will ex-parte, there being no other opposition to the same.

1) He ruled the petitioner lost his standing in court deprived the Right to The third issue raised deals with the validity of the provisions of the will. As a general rule, the
Notice (sic) upon the filing of the Motion to Dismiss opposition with waiver probate court's authority is limited only to the extrinsic validity of the will, the due execution
of rights or interests against the estate of deceased Adoracion C. Campos, thereof, the testatrix's testamentary capacity and the compliance with the requisites or
thus, paving the way for the hearing ex-parte of the petition for the probate solemnities prescribed by law. The intrinsic validity of the will normally comes only after the
of decedent will. court has declared that the will has been duly authenticated. However, where practical
considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is
probated, the court should meet the issue. (Maninang vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478).
2) He ruled that petitioner can waive, renounce or repudiate (not made in a
public or authenticated instrument), or by way of a petition presented to
the court but by way of a motion presented prior to an order for the In the case at bar, the petitioner maintains that since the respondent judge allowed the
distribution of the estate-the law especially providing that repudiation of an reprobate of Adoracion's will, Hermogenes C. Campos was divested of his legitime which was
inheritance must be presented, within 30 days after it has issued an order reserved by the law for him.
for the distribution of the estate in accordance with the rules of Court.
This contention is without merit.
Although on its face, the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner and thus, the law, the Philippine Law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of
respondent judge should have denied its reprobate outright, the private respondents have Amos G. Bellis.
sufficiently established that Adoracion was, at the time of her death, an American citizen and a
permanent resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Therefore, under Article 16 par. (2) As regards the alleged absence of notice of hearing for the petition for relief, the records wig
and 1039 of the Civil Code which respectively provide: bear the fact that what was repeatedly scheduled for hearing on separate dates until June 19,
1980 was the petitioner's petition for relief and not his motion to vacate the order of January
Art. 16 par. (2). 10, 1979. There is no reason why the petitioner should have been led to believe otherwise. The
court even admonished the petitioner's failing to adduce evidence when his petition for relief
xxx xxx xxx was repeatedly set for hearing. There was no denial of due process. The fact that he requested
"for the future setting of the case for hearing . . ." did not mean that at the next hearing, the
motion to vacate would be heard and given preference in lieu of the petition for relief.
However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the
Furthermore, such request should be embodied in a motion and not in a mere notice of
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 Finally, we find the contention of the petition as to the issue of jurisdiction utterly devoid of
wherein said property may be found. merit. Under Rule 73, Section 1, of the Rules of Court, it is provided that:

Art. 1039. SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. — If the decedent is
an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or
an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his
Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent.
estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the province in which he
resided at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign
the law which governs Adoracion Campo's will is the law of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., which is the country, the Court of First Instance of any province in which he had estate.
national law of the decedent. Although the parties admit that the Pennsylvania law does not The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a
provide for legitimes and that all the estate may be given away by the testatrix to a complete decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The
stranger, the petitioner argues that such law should not apply because it would be contrary to jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of
the sound and established public policy and would run counter to the specific provisions of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be
Philippine Law. contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the
original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.
It is a settled rule that as regards the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will, as provided
for by Article 16(2) and 1039 of the Civil Code, the national law of the decedent must apply. Therefore, the settlement of the estate of Adoracion Campos was correctly filed with the Court
This was squarely applied in the case of Bellis v. Bellis (20 SCRA 358) wherein we ruled: of First Instance of Manila where she had an estate since it was alleged and proven that
Adoracion at the time of her death was a citizen and permanent resident of Pennsylvania,
It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be United States of America and not a "usual resident of Cavite" as alleged by the petitioner.
involved in our system of legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the Moreover, petitioner is now estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the probate court in
same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to the petition for relief. It is a settled rule that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to
leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's secure affirmative relief, against his opponent and after failing to obtain such relief, repudiate
national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones. or question that same jurisdiction. (See Saulog Transit, Inc. vs. Hon. Manuel Lazaro, et al., G. R.
No. 63 284, April 4, 1984). WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is hereby
xxx xxx xxx dismissed for lack of merit.

The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the SO ORDERED.
State of Texas, U.S.A., and under the law 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
G.R. No. L-22036 April 30, 1979 carrera eclesiatica hasta ordenarse de Presbiterado o sea Sacerdote; las
condiciones de estate legado son;
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF VICTORIA, TARLAC, petitioner-appellant, (1.a) Prohibe en absoluto la venta de estos terrenos arriba situados objectos
vs. de este legado;
FAUSTO, respondents-appellees. (2.a) Que el legatario pariente mio mas cercano tendra derecho de empezar
a gozar y administrar de este legado al principiar a curzar la Sagrada
D. Tañedo, Jr. for appellants. Teologio, y ordenado de Sacerdote, hasta su muerte; pero que pierde el
legatario este derecho de administrar y gozar de este legado al dejar de
J. Palanca, Sr. for appellee. continuar sus estudios para ordenarse de Presbiterado (Sacerdote).

Que el legatario una vez Sacerdote ya estara obligado a celebrar cada año
VEINTE (20) Misas rezadas en sufragio de mi alma y de mis padres difuntos,
y si el actual legatario, quedase excomulgado, IPSO FACTO se le despoja este
legado, y la administracion de esto pasara a cargo del actual Parroco y sus
sucesores de la Iglecia Catolica de Victoria, Tarlac.
This case is about the efficaciousness or enforceability of a devise of ricelands located at
Guimba, Nueva Ecija, with a total area of around forty- four hectares That devise was made in
Y en intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario acondicionado segun lo
the will of the late Father Pascual Rigor, a native of Victoria Tarlac, in favor of his nearest male
arriba queda expresado, pasara la administracion de este legado a cargo del
relative who would study for the priesthood.
actual Parroco Catolico y sus sucesores, de Victoria, Tarlac.
The parish priest of Victoria, who claimed to be a trustee of the said lands, appealed to this
El Parroco administrador de estate legado, acumulara, anualmente todos los
Court from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the order of the probate court
productos que puede tener estate legado, ganando o sacando de los
declaring that the said devise was inoperative (Rigor vs. Parish Priest of the Roman Catholic
productos anuales el CINCO (5) por ciento para su administracion, y los
Church of Victoria, Tarlac, CA-G.R. No. 24319-R, August 1, 1963).
derechos correspondientes de las VEINTE (20) Misas rezadas que debiera el
Parroco celebrar cada año, depositando todo lo restante de los productos
The record discloses that Father Rigor, the parish priest of Pulilan, Bulacan, died on August 9, de estate legado, en un banco, a nombre de estate legado.
1935, leaving a will executed on October 29, 1933 which was probated by the Court of First
Instance of Tarlac in its order of December 5, 1935. Named as devisees in the will were the
To implement the foregoing bequest, the administratix in 1940 submitted a project containing
testators nearest relatives, namely, his three sisters: Florencia Rigor-Escobar, Belina Rigor-
the following item:
Manaloto and Nestora Rigor-Quiambao. The testator gave a devise to his cousin, Fortunato
In addition, the will contained the following controversial bequest (paragraphing supplied to
facilitate comprehension of the testamentary provisions): That it be adjudicated in favor of the legacy purported to be given to the
nearest male relative who shall take the priesthood, and in the interim to be
administered by the actual Catholic Priest of the Roman Catholic Church of
Doy y dejo como legado CUATRO (4) PARCELAS de terreno palayeros
Victoria, Tarlac, Philippines, or his successors, the real properties
situados en el municipiooo de Guimba de la provinciaaa de NUEVA ECIJA,
hereinbelow indicated, to wit:
Num. 6530, mide 16,249 m. cuadrados de superficie Titulo Num. 6548, mide
242,998 m. cuadrados de superficie y annual 6525, mide 62,665 m. Title Lot Area in Tax
cuadrados de superficie; y Titulo Num. 6521, mide 119,251 m. cuadrados de No. No. Has. Dec.
superficie; a cualquier pariente mio varon mas cercano que estudie la
Judge De Aquino granted the respond motion for reconsideration in his order of December 10,
T- 3663 1.6249 18740 1957 onP 340.00
the ground that the testator had a grandnephew named Edgardo G. Cunanan (the
6530 grandson of his first cousin) who was a seminarian in the San Jose Seminary of the Jesuit
Fathers in Quezon City. The administrator was directed to deliver the ricelands to the parish
T- 3445- 24.2998 18730 priest 7,290.00
of Victoria as trustee.
6548 C
The legal heirs appealed to the Court of Appeals. It reversed that order. It held that Father
T- 3670 6.2665 18736 1,880.00
Rigor had created a testamentary trust for his nearest male relative who would take the holy
6525 orders but that such trust could exist only for twenty years because to enforce it beyond that
period would violate "the rule against perpetuities. It ruled that since no legatee claimed the
T- 3666 11.9251 18733 ricelands within twenty years after the testator's death, the same should pass to his legal heirs,
6521 citing articles 888 and 912(2) of the old Civil Code and article 870 of the new Civil Code.

The parish priest in this appeal contends that the Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the
Total amount and value — 44.1163 P13,090.00 testator created a public charitable trust and in not liberally construing the testamentary
provisions so as to render the trust operative and to prevent intestacy.
Judge Roman A. Cruz in his order of August 15, 1940, approving the project of partition,
directed that after payment of the obligations of the estate (including the sum of P3,132.26 As refutation, the legal heirs argue that the Court of Appeals d the bequest inoperative
due to the church of the Victoria parish) the administratrix should deliver to the devisees their because no one among the testator's nearest male relatives had studied for the priesthood
respective shares. and not because the trust was a private charitable trust. According to the legal heirs, that
factual finding is binding on this Court. They point out that appellant priest's change of theory
It may be noted that the administratrix and Judge Cruz did not bother to analyze the meaning cannot be countenanced in this appeal .
and implications of Father Rigor's bequest to his nearest male relative who would study for the
priesthood. Inasmuch as no nephew of the testator claimed the devise and as the In this case, as in cases involving the law of contracts and statutory construction, where the
administratrix and the legal heirs believed that the parish priest of Victoria had no right to intention of the contracting parties or of the lawmaking body is to be ascertained, the primary
administer the ricelands, the same were not delivered to that ecclesiastic. The testate issue is the determination of the testator's intention which is the law of the case (dicat testor
proceeding remained pending. et erit lex. Santos vs. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209, 215; Rodriguez vs. Court of Appeals, L-28734,
March 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 546).
About thirteen years after the approval of the project of partition, or on February 19, 1954, the
parish priest of Victoria filed in the pending testate proceeding a petition praying for the The will of the testator is the first and principal law in the matter of testaments. When his
appointment of a new administrator (succeeding the deceased administration Florencia Rigor), intention is clearly and precisely expressed, any interpretation must be in accord with the plain
who should deliver to the church the said ricelands, and further praying that the possessors and literal meaning of his words, except when it may certainly appear that his intention was
thereof be ordered to render an accounting of the fruits. The probate court granted the different from that literally expressed (In re Estate of Calderon, 26 Phil. 333).
petition. A new administrator was appointed. On January 31, 1957 the parish priest filed
another petition for the delivery of the ricelands to the church as trustee.
The intent of the testator is the cardinal rule in the construction of wills." It is "the life and soul
of a will It is "the first greatest rule, the sovereign guide, the polestar, in giving effect to a will".
The intestate heirs of Father Rigor countered with a petition dated March 25, 1957 praying (See Dissent of Justice Moreland in Santos vs. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209, 223, 237-8.)
that the bequest be d inoperative and that they be adjudged as the persons entitled to the said
ricelands since, as admitted by the parish priest of Victoria, "no nearest male relative of" the
One canon in the interpretation of the testamentary provisions is that "the testator's intention
testator "has ever studied for the priesthood" (pp. 25 and 35, Record on Appeal). That petition
is to be ascertained from the words of the wilt taking into consideration the circumstances
was opposed by the parish priest of Victoria.
under which it was made", but excluding the testator's oral declarations as to his intention
(Art. 789, Civil Code of the Philippines).
Finding that petition to be meritorious, the lower court, through Judge Bernabe de Aquino,
declared the bequest inoperative and adjudicated the ricelands to the testator's legal heirs in
his order of June 28, 1957. The parish priest filed two motions for reconsideration.
To ascertain Father Rigor's intention, it may be useful to make the following re-statement of nephew who would pursue an ecclesiastical vocation. It is that patent ambiguity that has
the provisions of his will. brought about the controversy between the parish priest of Victoria and the testator's legal
1. that he bequeathed the ricelands to anyone of his nearest male relatives who would pursue
an ecclesiastical career until his ordination as a priest. Interwoven with that equivocal provision is the time when the nearest male relative who would
study for the priesthood should be determined. Did the testator contemplate only his nearest
2. That the devisee could not sell the ricelands. male relative at the time of his death? Or did he have in mind any of his nearest male relatives
at anytime after his death?
3. That the devisee at the inception of his studies in sacred theology could enjoy and
administer the ricelands, and once ordained as a priest, he could continue enjoying and We hold that the said bequest refers to the testator's nearest male relative living at the time of
administering the same up to the time of his death but the devisee would cease to enjoy and his death and not to any indefinite time thereafter. "In order to be capacitated to inherit, the
administer the ricelands if he discontinued his studies for the priesthood. heir, devisee or legatee must be living at the moment the succession opens, except in case of
representation, when it is proper" (Art. 1025, Civil Code).
4. That if the devisee became a priest, he would be obligated to celebrate every year twenty
masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of Father Rigor and his parents. The said testamentary provisions should be sensibly or reasonably construed. To construe
them as referring to the testator's nearest male relative at anytime after his death would
render the provisions difficult to apply and create uncertainty as to the disposition of his
5. That if the devisee is excommunicated, he would be divested of the legacy and the
estate. That could not have been his intention.
administration of the riceland would pass to the incumbent parish priest of Victoria and his
In 1935, when the testator died, his nearest leagal heirs were his three sisters or second-
degree relatives, Mrs. Escobar, Mrs. Manaloto and Mrs. Quiambao. Obviously, when the
6. That during the interval of time that there is no qualified devisee as contemplated above,
testator specified his nearest male relative, he must have had in mind his nephew or a son of
the administration of the ricelands would be under the responsibility of the incumbent parish
his sister, who would be his third-degree relative, or possibly a grandnephew. But since he
priest of Victoria and his successors, and
could not prognosticate the exact date of his death or state with certitude what category of
nearest male relative would be living at the time of his death, he could not specify that his
7. That the parish priest-administrator of the ricelands would accumulate annually the nearest male relative would be his nephew or grandnephews (the son of his nephew or niece)
products thereof, obtaining or getting from the annual produce five percent thereof for his and so he had to use the term "nearest male relative".
administration and the fees corresponding to the twenty masses with prayers that the parish
priest would celebrate for each year, depositing the balance of the income of the devise in the
It is contended by the legal heirs that the said devise was in reality intended for Ramon
bank in the name of his bequest.
Quiambao, the testator's nephew and godchild, who was the son of his sister, Mrs. Quiambao.
To prove that contention, the legal heirs presented in the lower court the affidavit of Beatriz
From the foregoing testamentary provisions, it may be deduced that the testator intended to Gamalinda, the maternal grandmother of Edgardo Cunanan, who deposed that after Father
devise the ricelands to his nearest male relative who would become a priest, who was Rigor's death her own son, Valentin Gamalinda, Jr., did not claim the devise, although he was
forbidden to sell the ricelands, who would lose the devise if he discontinued his studies for the studying for the priesthood at the San Carlos Seminary, because she (Beatriz) knew that Father
priesthood, or having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated, and who would be Rigor had intended that devise for his nearest male relative beloning to the Rigor family (pp.
obligated to say annually twenty masses with prayers for the repose of the souls of the 105-114, Record on Appeal).
testator and his parents.
Mrs. Gamalinda further deposed that her own grandchild, Edgardo G. Cunanan, was not the
On the other hand, it is clear that the parish priest of Victoria would administer the ricelands one contemplated in Father Rigor's will and that Edgardo's father told her that he was not
only in two situations: one, during the interval of time that no nearest male relative of the consulted by the parish priest of Victoria before the latter filed his second motion for
testator was studying for the priesthood and two, in case the testator's nephew became a reconsideration which was based on the ground that the testator's grandnephew, Edgardo,
priest and he was excommunicated. was studying for the priesthood at the San Jose Seminary.

What is not clear is the duration of "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario
acondicionado", or how long after the testator's death would it be determined that he had a
Parenthetically, it should be stated at this juncture that Edgardo ceased to be a seminarian in It should be understood that the parish priest of Victoria could become a trustee only when
1961. For that reason, the legal heirs apprised the Court of Appeals that the probate court's the testator's nephew living at the time of his death, who desired to become a priest, had not
order adjudicating the ricelands to the parish priest of Victoria had no more leg to stand on (p. yet entered the seminary or, having been ordained a priest, he was excommunicated. Those
84, Appellant's brief). two contingencies did not arise, and could not have arisen in this case because no nephew of
the testator manifested any intention to enter the seminary or ever became a priest.
Of course, Mrs. Gamalinda's affidavit, which is tantamount to evidence aliunde as to the
testator's intention and which is hearsay, has no probative value. Our opinion that the said The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that this case is covered by article 888 of the old Civil
bequest refers to the testator's nephew who was living at the time of his death, when his Code, now article 956, which provides that if "the bequest for any reason should be
succession was opened and the successional rights to his estate became vested, rests on a inoperative, it shall be merged into the estate, except in cases of substitution and those in
judicious and unbiased reading of the terms of the will. which the right of accretion exists" ("el legado ... por qualquier causa, no tenga efecto se
refundira en la masa de la herencia, fuera de los casos de sustitucion y derecho de acrecer").
Had the testator intended that the "cualquier pariente mio varon mas cercano que estudie la
camera eclesiatica" would include indefinitely anyone of his nearest male relatives born after This case is also covered by article 912(2) of the old Civil Code, now article 960 (2), which
his death, he could have so specified in his will He must have known that such a broad provides that legal succession takes place when the will "does not dispose of all that belongs to
provision would suspend for an unlimited period of time the efficaciousness of his bequest. the testator." There being no substitution nor accretion as to the said ricelands the same
should be distributed among the testator's legal heirs. The effect is as if the testator had made
What then did the testator mean by "el intervalo de tiempo que no haya legatario no disposition as to the said ricelands.
acondicionado"? The reasonable view is that he was referring to a situation whereby his
nephew living at the time of his death, who would like to become a priest, was still in grade The Civil Code recognizes that a person may die partly testate and partly intestate, or that
school or in high school or was not yet in the seminary. In that case, the parish priest of there may be mixed succession. The old rule as to the indivisibility of the testator's win is no
Victoria would administer the ricelands before the nephew entered the seminary. But the longer valid. Thus, if a conditional legacy does not take effect, there will be intestate
moment the testator's nephew entered the seminary, then he would be entitled to enjoy and succession as to the property recovered by the said legacy (Macrohon Ong Ham vs. Saavedra,
administer the ricelands and receive the fruits thereof. In that event, the trusteeship would be 51 Phil. 267).
We find no merit in the appeal The Appellate Court's decision is affirmed. Costs against the
Following that interpretation of the will the inquiry would be whether at the time Father Rigor petitioner.
died in 1935 he had a nephew who was studying for the priesthood or who had manifested his
desire to follow the ecclesiastical career. That query is categorically answered in paragraph 4 of SO ORDERED
appellant priest's petitions of February 19, 1954 and January 31, 1957. He unequivocally
alleged therein that "not male relative of the late (Father) Pascual Rigor has ever studied for
the priesthood" (pp. 25 and 35, Record on Appeal).

Inasmuch as the testator was not survived by any nephew who became a priest, the
unavoidable conclusion is that the bequest in question was ineffectual or inoperative.
Therefore, the administration of the ricelands by the parish priest of Victoria, as envisaged in
the wilt was likewise inoperative.

The appellant in contending that a public charitable trust was constituted by the testator in is
favor assumes that he was a trustee or a substitute devisee That contention is untenable. A
reading of the testamentary provisions regarding the disputed bequest not support the view
that the parish priest of Victoria was a trustee or a substitute devisee in the event that the
testator was not survived by a nephew who became a priest.
PAZ SAMANIEGO-CELADA, G.R. No. 145545 Before her death, Margarita executed a Last Will and Testament[3] on February 2,
1987 where she bequeathed one-half of her undivided share of a real property located at
Singalong Manila, consisting of 209.8 square meters, and covered by Transfer Certificate of
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson, Title (TCT) No. 1343 to respondent, Norma A. Pahingalo, and Florentino M. Abena in equal
- versus - CARPIO MORALES,
shares or one-third portion each. She likewise bequeathed one-half of her undivided share of a
VELASCO, JR., and real property located at San Antonio Village, Makati, consisting of 225 square meters, and
BRION, JJ. covered by TCT No. 68920 to respondent, Isabelo M. Abena, and Amanda M. Abena in equal
shares or one-third portion each.Margarita also left all her personal properties to respondent
LUCIA D. ABENA, Promulgated:
Respondent. whom she likewise designated as sole executor of her will.
June 30, 2008
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
On August 11, 1987, petitioner filed a petition for letters of administration of the
DECISION estate of Margarita before the RTC of Makati. The case was docketed as SP Proc. No. M-1531.

On October 27, 1987, respondent filed a petition for probate of the will of Margarita
QUISUMBING, J.: before the RTC of Makati. The case was docketed as SP Proc. No. M-1607 and consolidated
with SP Proc. No. M-1531.
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure seeking
to reverse the Decision[1] dated October 13, 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
On March 2, 1993, the RTC rendered a decision declaring the last will and testament
41756, which affirmed the Decision[2] dated March 2, 1993 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
of Margarita probated and respondent as the executor of the will. The dispositive portion of
Branch 66, Makati City. The RTC had declared the last will and testament of Margarita S.
the decision states:
Mayores probated and designated respondent Lucia D. Abena as the executor of her will. It
also ordered the issuance of letters testamentary in favor of respondent. In view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:

1) declaring the will as probated;

The facts are as follows:
2) declaring Lucia Abena as the executor of the will who will
serve as such without a bond as stated in paragraph VI of the
Petitioner Paz Samaniego-Celada was the first cousin of decedent Margarita probated will;
S. Mayores(Margarita) while respondent was the decedents lifelong companion since 1929.
3) ordering the issuance of letters testamentary in favor of
Lucia Abena.
On April 27, 1987, Margarita died single and without any ascending nor descending
heirs as her parents, grandparents and siblings predeceased her. She was survived by her first So ordered.[4]
cousins Catalina Samaniego-Bombay, Manuelita Samaniego Sajonia, Feliza Samaniego, and
Petitioner appealed the RTC decision to the Court of Appeals. But the Court of
Appeals, in a decision dated October 13, 2000, affirmed in toto the RTC ruling. The dispositive
portion of the Court of Appeals decision states:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the appeal having no of execution of the will, Margarita was weak, sickly, jobless and entirely dependent upon
merit in fact and in law, is hereby ORDERED DISMISSED and the appealed
respondent and her nephews for support, and these alleged handicaps allegedly affected her
Decision of the trial court AFFIRMED INTOTO, with cost to oppositors-
appellants. freedom and willpower to decide on her own.Petitioner thus concludes that Margaritas total

SO ORDERED.[5] dependence on respondent and her nephews compelled her to sign the will. Petitioner
likewise argues that the Court of Appeals should have declared her and her siblings as the legal
heirs of Margarita since they are her only living collateral relatives in accordance with Articles
Hence, the instant petition citing the following issues: 1009[9] and 1010[10] of the Civil Code.

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE Respondent, for her part, argues in her Memorandum[11] that the petition for review
ERROR IN NOT INVALIDATING THE WILL SINCE IT DID NOT CONFORM TO THE raises questions of fact, not of law and as a rule, findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are
FORMALITIES REQUIRED BY LAW; final and conclusive and cannot be reviewed on appeal to the Supreme Court. She also points
out that although the Court of Appeals at the outset opined there was no compelling reason to
review the petition, the Court of Appeals proceeded to tackle the assigned errors and rule that
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED ERROR IN NOT the will was validly executed, sustaining the findings of the trial court that the formalities
INVALIDATING THE WILL BECAUSE IT WAS PROCURED THROUGH UNDUE required by law were duly complied with. The Court of Appeals also concurred with the
findings of the trial court that the testator, Margarita, was of sound mind when she executed
III. the will.


DECLARING PETITIONER, HER SIBLINGS AND COUSIN AS THE LEGAL HEIRS OF After careful consideration of the parties contentions, we rule in favor of respondent.
We find that the issues raised by petitioner concern pure questions of fact, which
may not be the subject of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil
Briefly stated, the issues are (1) whether the Court of Appeals erred in not declaring Procedure.
the will invalid for failure to comply with the formalities required by law, (2) whether said court
erred in not declaring the will invalid because it was procured through undue influence and The issues that petitioner is raising now i.e., whether or not the will was signed by the
pressure, and (3) whether it erred in not declaring petitioner and her siblings as the legal heirs testator in the presence of the witnesses and of one another, whether or not the signatures of
of Margarita, and in not issuing letters of administration to petitioner. the witnesses on the pages of the will were signed on the same day, and whether or not undue
influence was exerted upon the testator which compelled her to sign the will, are all questions
Petitioner, in her Memorandum,[7] argues that Margaritas will failed to comply with of fact.
the formalities required under Article 805[8] of the Civil Code because the will was not signed
by the testator in the presence of the instrumental witnesses and in the presence of one This Court does not resolve questions of fact in a petition for review under Rule 45 of
another. She also argues that the signatures of the testator on pages A, B, and C of the will are the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Section 1[12] of Rule 45 limits this Courts review to questions
not the same or similar, indicating that they were not signed on the same day. She further of law only.
argues that the will was procured through undue influence and pressure because at the time
Well-settled is the rule that the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. When oppositors, Dr. Ramon Lamberte, who, in some occasions, attended to the
testator months before her death, testified that Margarita Mayores could
supported by substantial evidence, the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are conclusive
engage in a normal conversation and he even stated that the illness of the
and binding on the parties and are not reviewable by this Court, unless the case falls under any testator does not warrant hospitalization. Not one of the oppositors
of the following recognized exceptions: witnesses has mentioned any instance that they observed act/s of the
testator during her lifetime that could be construed as a manifestation of
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, mental incapacity. The testator may be admitted to be physically weak but it
surmises and conjectures; does not necessarily follow that she was not of sound mind. [The]
testimonies of contestant witnesses are pure aforethought.
(2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;
Anent the contestants submission that the will is fatally defective
(3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion; for the reason that its attestation clause states that the will is composed of
three (3) pages while in truth and in fact, the will consists of two (2) pages
(4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; only because the attestation is not a part of the notarial will, the same is not
accurate. While it is true that the attestation clause is not a part of the will,
(5) When the findings of fact are conflicting; the court, after examining the totality of the will, is of the considered
opinion that error in the number of pages of the will as stated in the
(6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the attestation clause is not material to invalidate the subject will. It must be
issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both noted that the subject instrument is consecutively lettered with pages A, B,
appellant and appellee; and C which is a sufficient safeguard from the possibility of an omission of
some of the pages. The error must have been brought about by the honest
(7) When the findings are contrary to those of the trial court; belief that the will is the whole instrument consisting of three (3) pages
inclusive of the attestation clause and the acknowledgement. The position
(8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific of the court is in consonance with the doctrine of liberal interpretation
evidence on which they are based; enunciated in Article 809 of the Civil Code which reads:

(9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main In the absence of bad faith, forgery or fraud, or undue
and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents; and [and] improper pressure and influence, defects and
imperfections in the form of attestation or in the
(10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if
supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on it is proved that the will was in fact executed and
record.[13] attested in substantial compliance with all the
requirements of Article 805.

We find that this case does not involve any of the abovementioned exceptions. The court also rejects the contention of the oppositors that the
signatures of the testator were affixed on different occasions based on their
observation that the signature on the first page is allegedly different in size,
Nonetheless, a review of the findings of the RTC as upheld by the Court of Appeals, texture and appearance as compared with the signatures in the succeeding
reveal that petitioners arguments lack basis. The RTC correctly held: pages. After examination of the signatures, the court does not share the
same observation as the oppositors. The picture (Exhibit H-3) shows that the
With [regard] to the contention of the oppositors [Paz Samaniego-
testator was affixing her signature in the presence of the instrumental
Celada, et al.] that the testator [Margarita Mayores] was not mentally
witnesses and the notary. There is no evidence to show that the first
capable of making a will at the time of the execution thereof, the same is
signature was procured earlier than February 2, 1987.
without merit. The oppositors failed to establish, by preponderance of
evidence, said allegation and contradict the presumption that the testator
Finally, the court finds that no pressure nor undue influence was
was of sound mind (See Article 800 of the Civil Code).In fact, witness for the
exerted on the testator to execute the subject will. In fact, the picture
reveals that the testator was in a good mood and smiling with the other
witnesses while executing the subject will (See Exhibit H).

In fine, the court finds that the testator was mentally capable of
making the will at the time of its execution, that the notarial will presented
to the court is the same notarial will that was executed and that all the
formal requirements (See Article 805 of the Civil Code) in the execution of a
will have been substantially complied with in the subject notarial
will.[14] (Emphasis supplied.)

Thus, we find no reason to disturb the abovementioned findings of the RTC. Since,
petitioner and her siblings are not compulsory heirs of the decedent under Article 887 [15] of the
Civil Code and as the decedent validly disposed of her properties in a will duly executed and
probated, petitioner has no legal right to claim any part of the decedents estate.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated October 13, 2000 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 41756 is AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioner.