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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. L-68053 May 7, 1990 LAURA ALVAREZ, FLORA ALVAREZ and RAYMUNDO ALVAREZ, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APELLATE COURT and JESUS YANES, ESTELITA YANES, ANTONIO YANES, ROSARIO YANES, and ILUMINADO YANES, respondents. Francisco G. Banzon for petitioner. Renecio R. Espiritu for private respondents.

FERNAN, C.J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of: (a) the decision of the Fourth Civil Cases Division of the Intermediate Appellate Court dated August 31, 1983 in AC-G.R. CV No. 56626 entitled "Jesus Yanes et al. v. Dr. Rodolfo Siason et al." affirming the decision dated July 8, 1974 of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental insofar as it ordered the petitioners to pay jointly and severally the private respondents the sum of P20,000.00 representing the actual value of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of the cadastral survey of Murcia, Negros Occidental and reversing the subject decision insofar as it awarded the sums of P2,000.00, P5,000.00 and P2,000.00 as actual damages, moral damages and attorney's fees, respectively and (b) the resolution of said appellate court dated May 30, 1984, denying the motion for reconsideration of its decision. The real properties involved are two parcels of land identified as Lot 773-A and Lot 773-B which were originally known as Lot 773 of the cadastral survey of Murcia, Negros Occidental. Lot 773, with an area of 156,549 square meters, was registered in the name of the heirs of Aniceto Yanes under Original Certificate of Title No. RO-4858 (8804) issued on October 9, 1917 by the Register of Deeds of Occidental Negros (Exh. A). Aniceto Yanes was survived by his children, Rufino, Felipe and Teodora. Herein private respondents, Estelita, Iluminado and Jesus, are the children of Rufino who died in 1962 while the other private respondents, Antonio and Rosario Yanes, are children of Felipe. Teodora was survived by her child, Jovita (Jovito) Alib. 1 It is not clear why the latter is not included as a party in this case. Aniceto left his children Lots 773 and 823. Teodora cultivated only three hectares of Lot 823 as she could not attend to the other portions of the two lots which had a total area of around twenty-four hectares. The record does not show whether the children of Felipe also cultivated some portions of the lots but it is established that Rufino and his children left the province to settle in other places as a result of the outbreak of World War II. According to Estelita, from the "Japanese time up to peace time", they did not visit the parcels of land in question but "after liberation", when her brother went there to get their share of the sugar produced therein, he was informed that Fortunato Santiago, Fuentebella (Puentevella) and Alvarez were in possession of Lot 773. 2 It is on record that on May 19, 1938, Fortunato D. Santiago was issued Transfer Certificate of Title No. RF 2694 (29797) covering Lot 773-A with an area of 37,818 square meters. 3 TCT No. RF 2694 describes Lot 773-A as a portion of Lot 773 of the cadastral survey of Murcia and as originally registered under OCT No. 8804.

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The bigger portion of Lot 773 with an area of 118,831 square meters was also registered in the name of Fortunato D. Santiago on September 6, 1938 Under TCT No. RT-2695 (28192 ). 4 Said transfer certificate of title also contains a certification to the effect that Lot 773-B was originally registered under OCT No. 8804. On May 30, 1955, Santiago sold Lots 773-A and 773-B to Monico B. Fuentebella, Jr. in consideration of the sum of P7,000.00. 5 Consequently, on February 20, 1956, TCT Nos. T-19291 and T-19292 were issued in Fuentebella's name. 6 After Fuentebella's death and during the settlement of his estate, the administratrix thereof (Arsenia R. Vda. de Fuentebella, his wife) filed in Special Proceedings No. 4373 in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, a motion requesting authority to sell Lots 773-A and 773-B. 7 By virtue of a court order granting said motion, 8 on March 24, 1958, Arsenia Vda. de Fuentebella sold said lots for P6,000.00 to Rosendo Alvarez. 9 Hence, on April 1, 1958 TCT Nos. T-23165 and T23166 covering Lots 773-A and 773-B were respectively issued to Rosendo Alvarez. 10 Two years later or on May 26, 1960, Teodora Yanes and the children of her brother Rufino, namely, Estelita, Iluminado and Jesus, filed in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental a complaint against Fortunato Santiago, Arsenia Vda. de Fuentebella, Alvarez and the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental for the "return" of the ownership and possession of Lots 773 and 823. They also prayed that an accounting of the produce of the land from 1944 up to the filing of the complaint be made by the defendants, that after court approval of said accounting, the share or money equivalent due the plaintiffs be delivered to them, and that defendants be ordered to pay plaintiffs P500.00 as damages in the form of attorney's fees. 11 During the pendency in court of said case or on November 13, 1961, Alvarez sold Lots 773-A, 773-B and another lot for P25,000.00 to Dr. Rodolfo Siason. 12 Accordingly, TCT Nos. 30919 and 30920 were issued to Siason, 13 who thereafter, declared the two lots in his name for assessment purposes. 14 Meanwhile, on November 6, 1962, Jesus Yanes, in his own behalf and in behalf of the other plaintiffs, and assisted by their counsel, filed a manifestation in Civil Case No. 5022 stating that the therein plaintiffs "renounce, forfeit and quitclaims (sic) any claim, monetary or otherwise, against the defendant Arsenia Vda. de Fuentebella in connection with the aboveentitled case." 15 On October 11, 1963, a decision was rendered by the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental in Civil Case No. 5022, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered, ordering the defendant Rosendo Alvarez to reconvey to the plaintiffs lots Nos. 773 and 823 of the Cadastral Survey of Murcia, Negros Occidental, now covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-23165 and T-23166 in the name of said defendant, and thereafter to deliver the possession of said lots to the plaintiffs. No special pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. 16 It will be noted that the above-mentioned manifestation of Jesus Yanes was not mentioned in the aforesaid decision. However, execution of said decision proved unsuccessful with respect to Lot 773. In his return of service dated October 20, 1965, the sheriff stated that he discovered that Lot 773 had been subdivided into Lots 773-A and 773-B; that they were "in the name" of Rodolfo Siason who had purchased them from Alvarez, and that Lot 773 could not be delivered to the plaintiffs as Siason was "not a party per writ of execution." 17 The execution of the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 having met a hindrance, herein private respondents (the Yaneses) filed on July 31, 1965, in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental a petition for the issuance of a new certificate of title and for a declaration of nullity of TCT Nos. T-23165 and T-23166 issued to Rosendo Alvarez. 18 Thereafter, the court required Rodolfo Siason to produce the certificates of title covering Lots 773 and 823. Expectedly, Siason filed a manifestation stating that he purchased Lots 773-A, 773-B and 658, not Lots 773 and 823, "in good faith and for a valuable consideration without any knowledge of any lien or encumbrances against said properties"; that the decision in the cadastral proceeding 19 could not be enforced against him as he was not a party thereto; and that the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 could neither be enforced against him not only because he was not a party-litigant therein

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but also because it had long become final and executory. 20 Finding said manifestation to be well-founded, the cadastral court, in its order of September 4, 1965, nullified its previous order requiring Siason to surrender the certificates of title mentioned therein. 21 In 1968, the Yaneses filed an ex-parte motion for the issuance of an alias writ of execution in Civil Case No. 5022. Siason opposed it. 22 In its order of September 28, 1968 in Civil Case No. 5022, the lower court, noting that the Yaneses had instituted another action for the recovery of the land in question, ruled that at the judgment therein could not be enforced against Siason as he was not a party in the case. 23 The action filed by the Yaneses on February 21, 1968 was for recovery of real property with damages. 24 Named defendants therein were Dr. Rodolfo Siason, Laura Alvarez, Flora Alvarez, Raymundo Alvarez and the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental. The Yaneses prayed for the cancellation of TCT Nos. T-19291 and 19292 issued to Siason (sic) for being null and void; the issuance of a new certificate of title in the name of the Yaneses "in accordance with the sheriffs return of service dated October 20, 1965;" Siason's delivery of possession of Lot 773 to the Yaneses; and if, delivery thereof could not be effected, or, if the issuance of a new title could not be made, that the Alvarez and Siason jointly and severally pay the Yaneses the sum of P45,000.00. They also prayed that Siason render an accounting of the fruits of Lot 773 from November 13, 1961 until the filing of the complaint; and that the defendants jointly and severally pay the Yaneses moral damages of P20,000.00 and exemplary damages of P10,000.00 plus attorney's fees of P4, 000.00. 25 In his answer to the complaint, Siason alleged that the validity of his titles to Lots 773-A and 773-B, having been passed upon by the court in its order of September 4, 1965, had become res judicata and the Yaneses were estopped from questioning said order. 26 On their part, the Alvarez stated in their answer that the Yaneses' cause of action had been "barred by res judicata, statute of limitation and estoppel." 27 In its decision of July 8, 1974, the lower court found that Rodolfo Siason, who purchased the properties in question thru an agent as he was then in Mexico pursuing further medical studies, was a buyer in good faith for a valuable consideration. Although the Yaneses were negligent in their failure to place a notice of lis pendens "before the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental in order to protect their rights over the property in question" in Civil Case No. 5022, equity demanded that they recover the actual value of the land because the sale thereof executed between Alvarez and Siason was without court approval. 28 The dispositive portion of the decision states: IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATION, judgment is hereby rendered in the following manner: A. The case against the defendant Dr. Rodolfo Siason and the Register of Deeds are (sic) hereby dismmissed, B. The defendants, Laura, Flora and Raymundo, all surnamed Alvarez being the legitimate children of the deceased Rosendo Alvarez are hereby ordered to pay jointly and severally the plaintiffs the sum of P20,000.00 representing the actual value of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of Murcia Cadastre, Negros Occidental; the sum of P2,000.00 as actual damages suffered by the plaintiff; the sum of P5,000.00 representing moral damages and the sum of P2.000 as attorney's fees, all with legal rate of interest from date of the filing of this complaint up to final payment. C. The cross-claim filed by the defendant Dr. Rodolfo Siason against the defendants, Laura, Flora and Raymundo, all surnamed Alvarez is hereby dismissed. D. Defendants, Laura, Flora and Raymundo, all surnamed Alvarez are hereby ordered to pay the costs of this suit. SO ORDERED. 29 The Alvarez appealed to the then Intermediate Appellate Court which in its decision of August 31, 1983 30 affirmed the lower court's decision "insofar as it ordered defendants-appellants to pay jointly and severally the plaintiffs-appellees the sum of P20,000.00 representing the actual value of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of the cadastral survey of Murcia, Negros

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Occidental, and is reversed insofar as it awarded the sums of P2,000.00, P5,000.00 and P2,000.00 as actual damages, moral damages and attorney's fees, respectively." 31 The dispositive portion of said decision reads: WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is affirmed insofar as it ordered defendants-appellants to pay jointly and severally the plaintiffs- appellees the sum of P20,000.00 representing the actual value of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of the cadastral survey of Murcia, Negros Occidental, and is reversed insofar as it awarded the sums of P2,000.00, P5,000.00 and P2,000.00 as actual damages, moral damages and attorney's fees, respectively. No costs. SO ORDERED. 32 Finding no cogent reason to grant appellants motion for reconsideration, said appellate court denied the same. Hence, the instant petition. ln their memorandum petitioners raised the following issues: 1. Whethere or not the defense of prescription and estoppel had been timely and properly invoked and raised by the petitioners in the lower court. 2. Whether or not the cause and/or causes of action of the private respondents, if ever there are any, as alleged in their complaint dated February 21, 1968 which has been docketed in the trial court as Civil Case No. 8474 supra, are forever barred by statute of limitation and/or prescription of action and estoppel. 3. Whether or not the late Rosendo Alvarez, a defendant in Civil Case No. 5022, supra and father of the petitioners become a privy and/or party to the waiver (Exhibit 4-defendant Siason) in Civil Case No. 8474, supra where the private respondents had unqualifiedly and absolutely waived, renounced and quitclaimed all their alleged rights and interests, if ever there is any, on Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of Murcia Cadastre as appearing in their written manifestation dated November 6, 1962 (Exhibits "4" Siason) which had not been controverted or even impliedly or indirectly denied by them. 4. Whether or not the liability or liabilities of Rosendo Alvarez arising from the sale of Lots Nos. 773-A and 773-B of Murcia Cadastre to Dr. Rodolfo Siason, if ever there is any, could be legally passed or transmitted by operations (sic) of law to the petitioners without violation of law and due process . 33 The petition is devoid of merit. As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, it is powerless and for that matter so is the Supreme Court, to review the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 ordering Alvarez to reconvey the lots in dispute to herein private respondents. Said decision had long become final and executory and with the possible exception of Dr. Siason, who was not a party to said case, the decision in Civil Case No. 5022 is the law of the case between the parties thereto. It ended when Alvarez or his heirs failed to appeal the decision against them. 34 Thus, it is axiomatic that when a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, so long as it remains unreversed, it should be conclusive upon the parties and those in privity with them in law or estate. 35 As consistently ruled by this Court, every litigation must come to an end. Access to the court is guaranteed. But there must be a limit to it. Once a litigant's right has been adjudicated in a valid final judgment of a competent court, he should not be granted an unbridled license to return for another try. The prevailing party should not be harassed by subsequent suits. For, if endless litigation were to be allowed, unscrupulous litigations will multiply in number to the detriment of the administration of justice. 36 There is no dispute that the rights of the Yaneses to the properties in question have been finally adjudicated in Civil Case No. 5022. As found by the lower court, from the uncontroverted evidence presented, the Yaneses have been illegally deprived of ownership and possession of the lots in question. 37 In fact, Civil Case No. 8474 now under review, arose from the failure to execute Civil Case No. 5022, as subject lots can no longer be reconveyed to private respondents Yaneses, the same having been sold during the pendency of the case by the petitioners' father to Dr. Siason who did not know about the

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controversy, there being no lis pendens annotated on the titles. Hence, it was also settled beyond question that Dr. Siason is a purchaser in good faith. Under the circumstances, the trial court did not annul the sale executed by Alvarez in favor of Dr. Siason on November 11, 1961 but in fact sustained it. The trial court ordered the heirs of Rosendo Alvarez who lost in Civil Case No. 5022 to pay the plaintiffs (private respondents herein) the amount of P20,000.00 representing the actual value of the subdivided lots in dispute. It did not order defendant Siason to pay said amount. 38 As to the propriety of the present case, it has long been established that the sole remedy of the landowner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another's name is to bring an ordinary action in the ordinary court of justice for reconveyance or, if the property has passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value, for damages. 39 "It is one thing to protect an innocent third party; it is entirely a different matter and one devoid of justification if deceit would be rewarded by allowing the perpetrator to enjoy the fruits of his nefarious decided As clearly revealed by the undeviating line of decisions coming from this Court, such an undesirable eventuality is precisely sought to be guarded against." 40 The issue on the right to the properties in litigation having been finally adjudicated in Civil Case No. 5022 in favor of private respondents, it cannot now be reopened in the instant case on the pretext that the defenses of prescription and estoppel have not been properly considered by the lower court. Petitioners could have appealed in the former case but they did not. They have therefore foreclosed their rights, if any, and they cannot now be heard to complain in another case in order to defeat the enforcement of a judgment which has longing become final and executory. Petitioners further contend that the liability arising from the sale of Lots No. 773-A and 773-B made by Rosendo Alvarez to Dr. Rodolfo Siason should be the sole liability of the late Rosendo Alvarez or of his estate, after his death. Such contention is untenable for it overlooks the doctrine obtaining in this jurisdiction on the general transmissibility of the rights and obligations of the deceased to his legitimate children and heirs. Thus, the pertinent provisions of the Civil Code state: 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. Art. 1311. Contract stake effect only between the parties, their assigns and heirs except in case where the rights and obligations arising from the contract are not transmissible by their nature, or by stipulation or by provision of law. The heir is not liable beyond the value of the property received from the decedent. As explained by this Court through Associate Justice J.B.L. Reyes in the case of Estate of Hemady vs. Luzon Surety Co., Inc. 41 The binding effect of contracts upon the heirs of the deceased party is not altered by the provision of 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 state is ultimately a payment by the heirs or 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

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obligation is strictly personal, i.e., is contracted intuitu personae, in consideration of its performance by a specific person and by no other. xxx xxx xxx Petitioners being the heirs of the late Rosendo Alvarez, they cannot escape the legal consequences of their father's transaction, which gave rise to the present claim for damages. That petitioners did not inherit the property involved herein is of no moment because by legal fiction, the monetary equivalent thereof devolved into the mass of their father's hereditary estate, and we have ruled that the hereditary assets are always liable in their totality for the payment of the debts of the estate. 42 It must, however, be made clear that petitioners are liable only to the extent of the value of their inheritance. With this clarification and considering petitioners' admission that there are other properties left by the deceased which are sufficient to cover the amount adjudged in favor of private respondents, we see no cogent reason to disturb the findings and conclusions of the Court of Appeals. WHEREFORE, subject to the clarification herein above stated, the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners. SO ORDERED. Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Cortes, JJ., concur. Bidin J., took no part. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-4963 January 29, 1953

MARIA USON, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MARIA DEL ROSARIO, CONCEPCION NEBREDA, CONRADO NEBREDA, DOMINADOR NEBREDA, AND FAUSTINO NEBREDA, Jr., defendants-appellants. Priscilo Evangelista for appellee. Brigido G. Estrada for appellant. BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.: This is an action for recovery of the ownership and possession of five (5) parcels of land situated in the Municipality of Labrador, Province of Pangasinan, filed by Maria Uson against Maria del Rosario and her four children named Concepcion, Conrado, Dominador, and Faustino, surnamed Nebreda, who are all of minor age, before the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan. Maria Uson was the lawful wife of Faustino Nebreda who upon his death in 1945 left the lands involved in this litigation. Faustino Nebreda left no other heir except his widow Maria Uson. However, plaintiff claims that when Faustino Nebreda died in 1945, his common-law wife Maria del Rosario took possession illegally of said lands thus depriving her of their possession and enjoyment. Defendants in their answer set up as special defense that on February 21, 1931, Maria Uson and her husband, the late Faustino Nebreda, executed a public document whereby they agreed to separate as husband and wife and, in consideration

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of their separation, Maria Uson was given a parcel of land by way of alimony and in return she renounced her right to inherit any other property that may be left by her husband upon his death (Exhibit 1). After trial, at which both parties presented their respective evidence, the court rendered decision ordering the defendants to restore to the plaintiff the ownership and possession of the lands in dispute without special pronouncement as to costs. Defendants interposed the present appeal. There is no dispute that Maria Uson, plaintiff-appellee, is the lawful wife of Faustino Nebreda, former owner of the five parcels of lands litigated in the present case. There is likewise no dispute that Maria del Rosario, one of the defendantsappellants, was merely a common-law wife of the late Faustino Nebreda with whom she had four illegitimate children, her now co-defendants. It likewise appears that Faustino Nebreda died in 1945 much prior to the effectivity of the new Civil Code. With this background, it is evident that when Faustino Nebreda died in 1945 the five parcels of land he was seized of at the time passed from the moment of his death to his only heir, his widow Maria Uson (Article 657, old Civil Code).As this Court aptly said, "The property belongs to the heirs at the moment of the death of the ancestor as completely as if the ancestor had executed and delivered to them a deed for the same before his death" (Ilustre vs. Alaras Frondosa, 17 Phil., 321). From that moment, therefore, the rights of inheritance of Maria Uson over the lands in question became vested. The claim of the defendants that Maria Uson had relinquished her right over the lands in question because she expressly renounced to inherit any future property that her husband may acquire and leave upon his death in the deed of separation they had entered into on February 21, 1931, cannot be entertained for the simple reason that future inheritance cannot be the subject of a contract nor can it be renounced (1 Manresa, 123, sixth edition; Tolentino on Civil Code, p. 12; Osorio vs. Osorio and Ynchausti Steamship Co., 41 Phil., 531). But defendants contend that, while it is true that the four minor defendants are illegitimate children of the late Faustino Nebreda and under the old Civil Code are not entitled to any successional rights, however, under the new Civil Code which became in force in June, 1950, they are given the status and rights of natural children and are entitled to the successional rights which the law accords to the latter (article 2264 and article 287, new Civil Code), and because these successional rights were declared for the first time in the new code, they shall be given retroactive effect even though the event which gave rise to them may have occurred under the prior legislation (Article 2253, new Civil Code). There is no merit in this claim. Article 2253 above referred to provides indeed that rights which are declared for the first time shall have retroactive effect even though the event which gave rise to them may have occurred under the former legislation, but this is so only when the new rights do not prejudice any vested or acquired right of the same origin. Thus, said article provides that "if a right should be declared for the first time in this Code, it shall be effective at once, even though the act or event which gives rise thereto may have been done or may have occurred under the prior legislation, provided said new right does not prejudice or impair any vested or acquired right, of the same origin." As already stated in the early part of this decision, the right of ownership of Maria Uson over the lands in question became vested in 1945 upon the death of her late husband and this is so because of the imperative provision of the law which commands that the rights to succession are transmitted from the moment of death (Article 657, old Civil Code). The new right recognized by the new Civil Code in favor of the illegitimate children of the deceased cannot, therefore, be asserted to the impairment of the vested right of Maria Uson over the lands in dispute. As regards the claim that Maria Uson, while her deceased husband was lying in state, in a gesture of pity or compassion, agreed to assign the lands in question to the minor children for the reason that they were acquired while the deceased was living with their mother and Maria Uson wanted to assuage somewhat the wrong she has done to them, this much can be said; apart from the fact that this claim is disputed, we are of the opinion that said assignment, if any, partakes of the nature of a donation of real property, inasmuch as it involves no material consideration, and in order that it may be valid it shall be made in a public document and must be accepted either in the same document or in a separate one (Article 633, old Civil Code). Inasmuch as this essential formality has not been followed, it results that the alleged assignment or donation has no valid effect. WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is affirmed, without costs. Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor, Reyes, Jugo and Labrador, JJ., concur.

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

G.R. No. L-28040 August 18, 1972 TESTATE ESTATE OF JOSEFA TANGCO, JOSE DE BORJA, administrator-appellee; JOSE DE BORJA, as administrator, CAYETANO DE BORJA, MATILDE DE BORJA and CRISANTO DE BORJA (deceased) as Children of Josefa Tangco, appellees, vs. TASIANA VDA. DE DE BORJA, Special Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Francisco de Borja, appellant. . G.R. No L-28568 August 18, 1972 TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE FRANCISCO DE BORJA, TASIANA O. VDA. DE DE BORJA, special Administratrix appellee, vs. JOSE DE BORJA, oppositor-appellant. G.R. No. L-28611 August 18, 1972 TASIANA 0. VDA. DE BORJA, as Administratrix of the Testate Estate of the late Francisco de Borja, plaintiffappellee, vs. JOSE DE BORJA, as Administrator of the Testate Estate of the late Josefa Tangco, defendant-appellant. L-28040 Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir for administrator-appellee. Quiogue & Quiogue for appellee Matilde de Borja. Andres Matias for appellee Cayetano de Borja. Sevilla & Aquino for appellant. L-28568 Sevilla & Aquino for special administratrix-appellee. Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir for oppositor-appellant. L-28611 Sevilla & Aquino for plaintiff-appellee. Pelaez, Jalandoni & Jamir and David Gueverra for defendant-appellant.

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REYES, J.B.L., J.:p Of these cases, the first, numbered L-28040 is an appeal by Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, special administratrix of the testate estate of Francisco de Borja, 1 from the approval of a compromise agreement by the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch I, in its Special Proceeding No. R-7866, entitled, "Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco, Jose de Borja, Administrator". Case No. L-28568 is an appeal by administrator Jose Borja from the disapproval of the same compromise agreement by the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch II, in its Special Proceeding No. 832, entitled, "Testate Estate of Francisco de Borja, Tasiana O. Vda. de de Borja, Special Administratrix". And Case No. L-28611 is an appeal by administrator Jose de Borja from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch X, in its Civil Case No. 7452, declaring the Hacienda Jalajala Poblacion, which is the main object of the aforesaid compromise agreement, as the separate and exclusive property of the late Francisco de Borja and not a conjugal asset of the community with his first wife, Josefa Tangco, and that said hacienda pertains exclusively to his testate estate, which is under administrator in Special Proceeding No. 832 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch II. It is uncontested that Francisco de Borja, upon the death of his wife Josefa Tangco on 6 October 1940, filed a petition for the probate of her will which was docketed as Special Proceeding No. R-7866 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch I. The will was probated on 2 April 1941. In 1946, Francisco de Borja was appointed executor and administrator: in 1952, their son, Jose de Borja, was appointed co-administrator. When Francisco died, on 14 April 1954, Jose became the sole administrator of the testate estate of his mother, Josefa Tangco. While a widower Francisco de Borja allegedly took unto himself a second wife, Tasiana Ongsingco. Upon Francisco's death, Tasiana instituted testate proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, where, in 1955, she was appointed special administratrix. The validity of Tasiana's marriage to Francisco was questioned in said proceeding. The relationship between the children of the first marriage and Tasiana Ongsingco has been plagued with several court suits and counter-suits; including the three cases at bar, some eighteen (18) cases remain pending determination in the courts. The testate estate of Josefa Tangco alone has been unsettled for more than a quarter of a century. In order to put an end to all these litigations, a compromise agreement was entered into on 12 October 1963, 2 by and between "[T]he heir and son of Francisco de Borja by his first marriage, namely, Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco," and "[T]he heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, assisted by her lawyer, Atty. Luis Panaguiton Jr." The terms and conditions of the compromise agreement are as follows: AGREEMENT THIS AGREEMENT made and entered into by and between The heir and son of Francisco de Borja by his first marriage, namely, Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco, AND The heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, assisted by her lawyer, Atty. Luis Panaguiton Jr. WITNESSETH THAT it is the mutual desire of all the parties herein terminate and settle, with finality, the various court litigations, controversies, claims, counterclaims, etc., between them in connection with the administration, settlement, partition, adjudication and distribution of the assets as well as liabilities of the estates of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco, first spouse of Francisco de Borja. THAT with this end in view, the parties herein have agreed voluntarily and without any reservations to enter into and execute this agreement under the following terms and conditions:

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1. That the parties agree to sell the Poblacion portion of the Jalajala properties situated in Jalajala, Rizal, presently under administration in the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco (Sp. Proc. No. 7866, Rizal), more specifically described as follows: Linda al Norte con el Rio Puwang que la separa de la jurisdiccion del Municipio de Pililla de la Provincia de Rizal, y con el pico del Monte Zambrano; al Oeste con Laguna de Bay; por el Sur con los herederos de Marcelo de Borja; y por el Este con los terrenos de la Familia Maronilla with a segregated area of approximately 1,313 hectares at the amount of P0.30 per square meter. 2. That Jose de Borja agrees and obligates himself to pay Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja the total amount of Eight Hundred Thousand Pesos (P800,000) Philippine Currency, in cash, which represent P200,000 as his share in the payment and P600,000 as pro-rata shares of the heirs Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde, all surnamed de Borja and this shall be considered as full and complete payment and settlement of her hereditary share in the estate of the late Francisco de Borja as well as the estate of Josefa Tangco, Sp. Proc. No. 832-Nueva Ecija and Sp. Proc. No. 7866-Rizal, respectively, and to any properties bequeathed or devised in her favor by the late Francisco de Borja by Last Will and Testament or by Donation Inter Vivos or Mortis Causa or purportedly conveyed to her for consideration or otherwise. The funds for this payment shall be taken from and shall depend upon the receipt of full payment of the proceeds of the sale of Jalajala, "Poblacion." 3. That Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja hereby assumes payment of that particular obligation incurred by the late Francisco de Borja in favor of the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation, now Development Bank of the Philippines, amounting to approximately P30,000.00 and also assumes payment of her 1/5 share of the Estate and Inheritance taxes on the Estate of the late Francisco de Borja or the sum of P3,500.00, more or less, which shall be deducted by the buyer of Jalajala, "Poblacion" from the payment to be made to Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja under paragraph 2 of this Agreement and paid directly to the Development Bank of the Philippines and the heirs-children of Francisco de Borja. 4. Thereafter, the buyer of Jalajala "Poblacion" is hereby authorized to pay directly to Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja the balance of the payment due her under paragraph 2 of this Agreement (approximately P766,500.00) and issue in the name of Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, corresponding certified checks/treasury warrants, who, in turn, will issue the corresponding receipt to Jose de Borja. 5. In consideration of above payment to Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco, and Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, for themselves and for their heirs, successors, executors, administrators, and assigns, hereby forever mutually renounce, withdraw, waive, remise, release and discharge any and all manner of action or actions, cause or causes of action, suits, debts, sum or sums of money, accounts, damages, claims and demands whatsoever, in law or in equity, which they ever had, or now have or may have against each other, more specifically Sp. Proceedings Nos. 7866 and 1955, CFI-Rizal, and Sp. Proc. No. 832-Nueva Ecija, Civil Case No. 3033, CFI Nueva Ecija and Civil Case No. 7452-CFI, Rizal, as well as the case filed against Manuel Quijal for perjury with the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, the intention being to completely, absolutely and finally release each other, their heirs, successors, and assigns, from any and all liability, arising wholly or partially, directly or indirectly, from the administration, settlement, and distribution of the assets as well as liabilities of the estates of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco, first spouse of Francisco de Borja, and lastly, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja expressly and specifically renounce absolutely her rights as heir over any hereditary share in the estate of Francisco de Borja. 6. That Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja, upon receipt of the payment under paragraph 4 hereof, shall deliver to the heir Jose de Borja all the papers, titles and documents belonging to Francisco de Borja which are in her possession and said heir Jose de Borja shall issue in turn the corresponding receive thereof. 7. That this agreement shall take effect only upon the fulfillment of the sale of the properties mentioned under paragraph 1 of this agreement and upon receipt of the total and full payment of the proceeds of the

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sale of the Jalajala property "Poblacion", otherwise, the non-fulfillment of the said sale will render this instrument NULL AND VOID AND WITHOUT EFFECT THEREAFTER. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have her unto set their hands in the City of Manila, Philippines, the 12th of October, 1963. On 16 May 1966, Jose de Borja submitted for Court approval the agreement of 12 October 1963 to the Court of First Instance of Rizal, in Special Proceeding No. R-7866; and again, on 8 August 1966, to the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, in Special Proceeding No. 832. Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja opposed in both instances. The Rizal court approved the compromise agreement, but the Nueva Ecija court declared it void and unenforceable. Special administratrix Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja appealed the Rizal Court's order of approval (now Supreme Court G.R. case No. L28040), while administrator Jose de Borja appealed the order of disapproval (G.R. case No. L-28568) by the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija. The genuineness and due execution of the compromised agreement of 12 October 1963 is not disputed, but its validity is, nevertheless, attacked by Tasiana Ongsingco on the ground that: (1) the heirs cannot enter into such kind of agreement without first probating the will of Francisco de Borja; (2) that the same involves a compromise on the validity of the marriage between Francisco de Borja and Tasiana Ongsingco; and (3) that even if it were valid, it has ceased to have force and effect. In assailing the validity of the agreement of 12 October 1963, Tasiana Ongsingco and the Probate Court of Nueva Ecija rely on this Court's decision in Guevara vs. Guevara. 74 Phil. 479, wherein the Court's majority held the view that the presentation of a will for probate is mandatory and that the settlement and distribution of an estate on the basis of intestacy when the decedent left a will, is against the law and public policy. It is likewise pointed out by appellant Tasiana Ongsingco that Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Revised Rules explicitly conditions the validity of an extrajudicial settlement of a decedent's estate by agreement between heirs, upon the facts that "(if) the decedent left no will and no debts, and the heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by their judicial and legal representatives ..." The will of Francisco de Borja having been submitted to the Nueva Ecija Court and still pending probate when the 1963 agreement was made, those circumstances, it is argued, bar the validity of the agreement. Upon the other hand, in claiming the validity of the compromise agreement, Jose de Borja stresses that at the time it was entered into, on 12 October 1963, the governing provision was Section 1, Rule 74 of the original Rules of Court of 1940, which allowed the extrajudicial settlement of the estate of a deceased person regardless of whether he left a will or not. He also relies on the dissenting opinion of Justice Moran, in Guevara vs. Guevara, 74 Phil. 479, wherein was expressed the view that if the parties have already divided the estate in accordance with a decedent's will, the probate of the will is a useless ceremony; and if they have divided the estate in a different manner, the probate of the will is worse than useless. The doctrine of Guevara vs. Guevara, ante, is not applicable to the case at bar. This is apparent from an examination of the terms of the agreement between Jose de Borja and Tasiana Ongsingco. Paragraph 2 of said agreement specifically stipulates that the sum of P800,000 payable to Tasiana Ongsingco shall be considered as full complete payment settlement of her hereditary share in the estate of the late Francisco de Borja as well as the estate of Josefa Tangco, ... and to any properties bequeathed or devised in her favor by the late Francisco de Borja by Last Will and Testament or by Donation Inter Vivos or Mortis Causa or purportedly conveyed to her for consideration or otherwise. This provision evidences beyond doubt that the ruling in the Guevara case is not applicable to the cases at bar. There was here no attempt to settle or distribute the estate of Francisco de Borja among the heirs thereto before the probate of his will. The clear object of the contract was merely the conveyance by Tasiana Ongsingco of any and all her individual share and interest, actual or eventual in the estate of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco. There is no stipulation as to any other claimant, creditor or legatee. And as a hereditary share in a decedent's estate is transmitted or vested immediately from the moment of the death of such causante or predecessor in interest (Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 777) 3 there is no legal bar to a successor (with requisite contracting capacity) disposing of her or his hereditary share immediately after such death, even if the actual extent of such share is not determined until the subsequent liquidation of the estate. 4 Of course, the effect of such alienation is to be deemed limited to what is ultimately adjudicated to the vendor heir. However, the aleatory character of the contract does not affect the validity of the transaction; neither does the coetaneous agreement that the numerous litigations between the parties (the approving order of the Rizal Court enumerates fourteen of them, Rec. App.

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pp. 79-82) are to be considered settled and should be dismissed, although such stipulation, as noted by the Rizal Court, gives the contract the character of a compromise that the law favors, for obvious reasons, if only because it serves to avoid a multiplicity of suits. It is likewise worthy of note in this connection that as the surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja, Tasiana Ongsingco was his compulsory heir under article 995 et seq. of the present Civil Code. Wherefore, barring unworthiness or valid disinheritance, her successional interest existed independent of Francisco de Borja's last will and testament and would exist even if such will were not probated at all. Thus, the prerequisite of a previous probate of the will, as established in the Guevara and analogous cases, can not apply to the case of Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja. Since the compromise contract Annex A was entered into by and between "Jose de Borja personally and as administrator of the Testate Estate of Josefa Tangco" on the one hand, and on the other, "the heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja", it is clear that the transaction was binding on both in their individual capacities, upon the perfection of the contract, even without previous authority of the Court to enter into the same. The only difference between an extrajudicial compromise and one that is submitted and approved by the Court, is that the latter can be enforced by execution proceedings. Art. 2037 of the Civil Code is explicit on the point: 8. Art. 2037. A compromise has upon the parties the effect and authority of res judicata; but there shall be no execution except in compliance with a judicial compromise. It is argued by Tasiana Ongsingco that while the agreement Annex A expressed no definite period for its performance, the same was intended to have a resolutory period of 60 days for its effectiveness. In support of such contention, it is averred that such a limit was expressly stipulated in an agreement in similar terms entered into by said Ongsingco with the brothers and sister of Jose de Borja, to wit, Crisanto, Matilde and Cayetano, all surnamed de Borja, except that the consideration was fixed at P600,000 (Opposition, Annex/Rec. of Appeal, L-28040, pp. 39- 46) and which contained the following clause: III. That this agreement shall take effect only upon the consummation of the sale of the property mentioned herein and upon receipt of the total and full payment of the proceeds of the sale by the herein owner heirs-children of Francisco de Borja, namely, Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde, all surnamed de Borja; Provided that if no sale of the said property mentioned herein is consummated, or the non-receipt of the purchase price thereof by the said owners within the period of sixty (60) days from the date hereof, this agreement will become null and void and of no further effect. Ongsingco's argument loses validity when it is considered that Jose de Borja was not a party to this particular contract (Annex 1), and that the same appears not to have been finalized, since it bears no date, the day being left blank "this day of October 1963"; and while signed by the parties, it was not notarized, although plainly intended to be so done, since it carries a proposed notarial ratification clause. Furthermore, the compromise contract with Jose de Borja (Annex A), provides in its par. 2 heretofore transcribed that of the total consideration of P800, 000 to be paid to Ongsingco, P600,000 represent the "prorata share of the heirs Crisanto, Cayetano and Matilde all surnamed de Borja" which corresponds to the consideration of P600,000 recited in Annex 1, and that circumstance is proof that the duly notarized contract entered into wit Jose de Borja under date 12 October 1963 (Annex A), was designed to absorb and supersede the separate unformalize agreement with the other three Borja heirs. Hence, the 60 days resolutory term in the contract with the latter (Annex 1) not being repeated in Annex A, can not apply to the formal compromise with Jose de Borja. It is moreover manifest that the stipulation that the sale of the Hacienda de Jalajala was to be made within sixty days from the date of the agreement with Jose de Borja's co-heirs (Annex 1) was plainly omitted in Annex A as improper and ineffective, since the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) that was to be sold to raise the P800,000 to be paid to Ongsingco for her share formed part of the estate of Francisco de Borja and could not be sold until authorized by the Probate Court. The Court of First Instance of Rizal so understood it, and in approving the compromise it fixed a term of 120 days counted from the finality of the order now under appeal, for the carrying out by the parties for the terms of the contract. This brings us to the plea that the Court of First Instance of Rizal had no jurisdiction to approve the compromise with Jose de Borja (Annex A) because Tasiana Ongsingco was not an heir in the estate of Josefa Tangco pending settlement in the Rizal Court, but she was an heir of Francisco de Borja, whose estate was the object of Special Proceeding No. 832 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija. This circumstance is irrelevant, since what was sold by Tasiana Ongsingco was only her eventual share in the estate of her late husband, not the estate itself; and as already shown, that eventual share she

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owned from the time of Francisco's death and the Court of Nueva Ecija could not bar her selling it. As owner of her undivided hereditary share, Tasiana could dispose of it in favor of whomsoever she chose. Such alienation is expressly recognized and provided for by article 1088 of the present Civil Code: Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger before the partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him for the price of the sale, provided they do so within the period of one month from the time they were notified in writing of the sale of the vendor. If a sale of a hereditary right can be made to a stranger, then a fortiori sale thereof to a coheir could not be forbidden. Tasiana Ongsingco further argues that her contract with Jose de Borja (Annex "A") is void because it amounts to a compromise as to her status and marriage with the late Francisco de Borja. The point is without merit, for the very opening paragraph of the agreement with Jose de Borja (Annex "A") describes her as "the heir and surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja by his second marriage, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de de Borja", which is in itself definite admission of her civil status. There is nothing in the text of the agreement that would show that this recognition of Ongsingco's status as the surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja was only made in consideration of the cession of her hereditary rights. It is finally charged by appellant Ongsingco, as well as by the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija in its order of 21 September 1964, in Special Proceedings No. 832 (Amended Record on Appeal in L-28568, page 157), that the compromise agreement of 13 October 1963 (Annex "A") had been abandoned, as shown by the fact that, after its execution, the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, in its order of 21 September 1964, had declared that "no amicable settlement had been arrived at by the parties", and that Jose de Borja himself, in a motion of 17 June 1964, had stated that the proposed amicable settlement "had failed to materialize". It is difficult to believe, however, that the amicable settlement referred to in the order and motion above-mentioned was the compromise agreement of 13 October 1963, which already had been formally signed and executed by the parties and duly notarized. What the record discloses is that some time after its formalization, Ongsingco had unilaterally attempted to back out from the compromise agreement, pleading various reasons restated in the opposition to the Court's approval of Annex "A" (Record on Appeal, L-20840, page 23): that the same was invalid because of the lapse of the allegedly intended resolutory period of 60 days and because the contract was not preceded by the probate of Francisco de Borja's will, as required by this Court's Guevarra vs. Guevara ruling; that Annex "A" involved a compromise affecting Ongsingco's status as wife and widow of Francisco de Borja, etc., all of which objections have been already discussed. It was natural that in view of the widow's attitude, Jose de Borja should attempt to reach a new settlement or novatory agreement before seeking judicial sanction and enforcement of Annex "A", since the latter step might ultimately entail a longer delay in attaining final remedy. That the attempt to reach another settlement failed is apparent from the letter of Ongsingco's counsel to Jose de Borja quoted in pages 35-36 of the brief for appellant Ongsingco in G.R. No. 28040; and it is more than probable that the order of 21 September 1964 and the motion of 17 June 1964 referred to the failure of the parties' quest for a more satisfactory compromise. But the inability to reach a novatory accord can not invalidate the original compromise (Annex "A") and justifies the act of Jose de Borja in finally seeking a court order for its approval and enforcement from the Court of First Instance of Rizal, which, as heretofore described, decreed that the agreement be ultimately performed within 120 days from the finality of the order, now under appeal. We conclude that in so doing, the Rizal court acted in accordance with law, and, therefore, its order should be upheld, while the contrary resolution of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija should be, and is, reversed. In her brief, Tasiana Ongsingco also pleads that the time elapsed in the appeal has affected her unfavorably, in that while the purchasing power of the agreed price of P800,000 has diminished, the value of the Jalajala property has increased. But the fact is that her delay in receiving the payment of the agreed price for her hereditary interest was primarily due to her attempts to nullify the agreement (Annex "A") she had formally entered into with the advice of her counsel, Attorney Panaguiton. And as to the devaluation de facto of our currency, what We said in Dizon Rivera vs. Dizon, L-24561, 30 June 1970, 33 SCRA 554, that "estates would never be settled if there were to be a revaluation with every subsequent fluctuation in the values of currency and properties of the estate", is particularly opposite in the present case. Coming now to Case G.R. No. L-28611, the issue is whether the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion), concededly acquired by Francisco de Borja during his marriage to his first wife, Josefa Tangco, is the husband's private property (as contended by his second spouse, Tasiana Ongsingco), or whether it forms part of the conjugal (ganancial) partnership with Josefa

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Tangco. The Court of First Instance of Rizal (Judge Herminio Mariano, presiding) declared that there was adequate evidence to overcome the presumption in favor of its conjugal character established by Article 160 of the Civil Code. We are of the opinion that this question as between Tasiana Ongsingco and Jose de Borja has become moot and academic, in view of the conclusion reached by this Court in the two preceding cases (G.R. No. L-28568), upholding as valid the cession of Tasiana Ongsingco's eventual share in the estate of her late husband, Francisco de Borja, for the sum of P800,000 with the accompanying reciprocal quit-claims between the parties. But as the question may affect the rights of possible creditors and legatees, its resolution is still imperative. It is undisputed that the Hacienda Jalajala, of around 4,363 hectares, had been originally acquired jointly by Francisco de Borja, Bernardo de Borja and Marcelo de Borja and their title thereto was duly registered in their names as co-owners in Land Registration Case No. 528 of the province of Rizal, G.L.R.O. Rec. No. 26403 (De Barjo vs. Jugo, 54 Phil. 465). Subsequently, in 1931, the Hacienda was partitioned among the co-owners: the Punta section went to Marcelo de Borja; the Bagombong section to Bernardo de Borja, and the part in Jalajala proper (Poblacion) corresponded to Francisco de Borja (V. De Borja vs. De Borja 101 Phil. 911, 932). The lot allotted to Francisco was described as Una Parcela de terreno en Poblacion, Jalajala: N. Puang River; E. Hermogena Romero; S. Heirs of Marcelo de Borja O. Laguna de Bay; containing an area of 13,488,870 sq. m. more or less, assessed at P297,410. (Record on Appeal, pages 7 and 105) On 20 November 1962, Tasiana O. Vda. de Borja, as Administratrix of the Testate Estate of Francisco de Borja, instituted a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Civil Case No. 7452) against Jose de Borja, in his capacity as Administrator of Josefa Tangco (Francisco de Borja's first wife), seeking to have the Hacienda above described declared exclusive private property of Francisco, while in his answer defendant (now appellant) Jose de Borja claimed that it was conjugal property of his parents (Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco), conformably to the presumption established by Article 160 of the Philippine Civil Code (reproducing Article 1407 of the Civil Code of 1889), to the effect that: Art. 160. All property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife. Defendant Jose de Borja further counterclaimed for damages, compensatory, moral and exemplary, as well as for attorney's fees. After trial, the Court of First Instance of Rizal, per Judge Herminio Mariano, held that the plaintiff had adduced sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption, and declared the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) to be the exclusive private property of the late Francisco de Borja, and his Administratrix, Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja, to be entitled to its possession. Defendant Jose de Borja then appealed to this Court. The evidence reveals, and the appealed order admits, that the character of the Hacienda in question as owned by the conjugal partnership De Borja-Tangco was solemnly admitted by the late Francisco de Borja no less than two times: first, in the Reamended Inventory that, as executor of the estate of his deceased wife Josefa Tangco, he filed in the Special Proceedings No. 7866 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal on 23 July 1953 (Exhibit "2"); and again, in the Reamended Accounting of the same date, also filed in the proceedings aforesaid (Exhibit "7"). Similarly, the plaintiff Tasiana O. Vda. de Borja, herself, as oppositor in the Estate of Josefa Tangco, submitted therein an inventory dated 7 September 1954 (Exhibit "3") listing the Jalajala property among the "Conjugal Properties of the Spouses Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco". And once more, Tasiana Ongsingco, as administratrix of the Estate of Francisco de Borja, in Special Proceedings No. 832 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, submitted therein in December, 1955, an inventory wherein she listed the Jalajala Hacienda under the heading "Conjugal Property of the Deceased Spouses Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco, which are in the possession of the Administrator of the Testate Estate of the Deceased Josefa Tangco in Special Proceedings No. 7866 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal" (Exhibit "4"). Notwithstanding the four statements aforesaid, and the fact that they are plain admissions against interest made by both Francisco de Borja and the Administratrix of his estate, in the course of judicial proceedings in the Rizal and Nueva Ecija Courts, supporting the legal presumption in favor of the conjugal community, the Court below declared that the Hacienda

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de Jalajala (Poblacion) was not conjugal property, but the private exclusive property of the late Francisco de Borja. It did so on the strength of the following evidences: (a) the sworn statement by Francis de Borja on 6 August 1951 (Exhibit "F") that He tomado possession del pedazo de terreno ya delimitado (equivalente a 1/4 parte, 337 hectareas) adjunto a mi terreno personal y exclusivo (Poblacion de Jalajala, Rizal). and (b) the testimony of Gregorio de Borja, son of Bernardo de Borja, that the entire Hacienda had been bought at a foreclosure sale for P40,100.00, of which amount P25,100 was contributed by Bernardo de Borja and P15,000. by Marcelo de Borja; that upon receipt of a subsequent demand from the provincial treasurer for realty taxes the sum of P17,000, Marcelo told his brother Bernardo that Francisco (son of Marcelo) wanted also to be a co-owner, and upon Bernardo's assent to the proposal, Marcelo issue a check for P17,000.00 to pay the back taxes and said that the amount would represent Francisco's contribution in the purchase of the Hacienda. The witness further testified that Marcelo de Borja said that that money was entrusted to him by Francisco de Borja when he was still a bachelor and which he derived from his business transactions. (Hearing, 2 February 1965, t.s.n., pages 13-15) (Emphasis supplied) The Court below, reasoning that not only Francisco's sworn statement overweighed the admissions in the inventories relied upon by defendant-appellant Jose de Borja since probate courts can not finally determine questions of ownership of inventoried property, but that the testimony of Gregorio de Borja showed that Francisco de Borja acquired his share of the original Hacienda with his private funds, for which reason that share can not be regarded as conjugal partnership property, but as exclusive property of the buyer, pursuant to Article 1396(4) of Civil Code of 1889 and Article 148(4) of the Civil Code of the Philippines. The following shall be the exclusive property of each spouse: xxx xxx xxx (4) That which is purchased with exclusive money of the wife or of the husband. We find the conclusions of the lower court to be untenable. In the first place, witness Gregorio de Borja's testimony as to the source of the money paid by Francisco for his share was plain hearsay, hence inadmissible and of no probative value, since he was merely repeating what Marcelo de Borja had told him (Gregorio). There is no way of ascertaining the truth of the statement, since both Marcelo and Francisco de Borja were already dead when Gregorio testified. In addition, the statement itself is improbable, since there was no need or occasion for Marcelo de Borja to explain to Gregorio how and when Francisco de Borja had earned the P17,000.00 entrusted to Marcelo. A ring of artificiality is clearly discernible in this portion of Gregorio's testimony. As to Francisco de Borja's affidavit, Exhibit "F", the quoted portion thereof (ante, page 14) does not clearly demonstrate that the "mi terreno personal y exclusivo (Poblacion de Jalajala, Rizal) " refers precisely to the Hacienda in question. The inventories (Exhibits 3 and 4) disclose that there were two real properties in Jalajala owned by Francisco de Borja, one of 72.038 sq. m., assessed at P44,600, and a much bigger one of 1,357.260.70 sq. m., which is evidently the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion). To which of these lands did the affidavit of Francisco de Borja (Exhibit "F") refer to? In addition, Francisco's characterization of the land as "mi terreno personal y exclusivo" is plainly self-serving, and not admissible in the absence of cross examination. It may be true that the inventories relied upon by defendant-appellant (Exhibits "2", "3", "4" and "7") are not conclusive on the conjugal character of the property in question; but as already noted, they are clear admissions against the pecuniary interest of the declarants, Francisco de Borja and his executor-widow, Tasiana Ongsingco, and as such of much greater probative weight than the self-serving statement of Francisco (Exhibit "F"). Plainly, the legal presumption in favor of the conjugal character of the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) now in dispute has not been rebutted but actually confirmed by proof. Hence, the appealed order should be reversed and the Hacienda de Jalajala (Poblacion) declared property of the conjugal partnership of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco.

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No error having been assigned against the ruling of the lower court that claims for damages should be ventilated in the corresponding special proceedings for the settlement of the estates of the deceased, the same requires no pro announcement from this Court. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appealed order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal in Case No. L-28040 is hereby affirmed; while those involved in Cases Nos. L-28568 and L-28611 are reversed and set aside. Costs against the appellant Tasiana Ongsingco Vda. de Borja in all three (3) cases. Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur. Fernando, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. L-41715 June 18, 1976 ROSALIO BONILLA (a minor) SALVACION BONILLA (a minor) and PONCIANO BONILLA (their father) who represents the minors, petitioners, vs. LEON BARCENA, MAXIMA ARIAS BALLENA, ESPERANZA BARCENA, MANUEL BARCENA, AGUSTINA NERI, widow of JULIAN TAMAYO and HON. LEOPOLDO GIRONELLA of the Court of First Instance of Abra, respondents. Federico Paredes for petitioners. Demetrio V. Pre for private respondents.

MARTIN, J: This is a petition for review 1 of the Order of the Court of First Instance of Abra in Civil Case No. 856, entitled Fortunata Barcena vs. Leon Barcena, et al., denying the motions for reconsideration of its order dismissing the complaint in the aforementioned case. On March 31, 1975 Fortunata Barcena, mother of minors Rosalio Bonilla and Salvacion Bonilla and wife of Ponciano Bonilla, instituted a civil action in the Court of First Instance of Abra, to quiet title over certain parcels of land located in Abra. On May 9, 1975, defendants filed a written motion to dismiss the complaint, but before the hearing of the motion to dismiss, the counsel for the plaintiff moved to amend the complaint in order to include certain allegations therein. The motion to amend the complaint was granted and on July 17, 1975, plaintiffs filed their amended complaint. On August 4, 1975, the defendants filed another motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that Fortunata Barcena is dead and, therefore, has no legal capacity to sue. Said motion to dismiss was heard on August 14, 1975. In said hearing, counsel for the plaintiff confirmed the death of Fortunata Barcena, and asked for substitution by her minor children and her husband, the petitioners herein; but the court after the hearing immediately dismissed the case on the ground that a dead person cannot be a real party in interest and has no legal personality to sue.

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On August 19, 1975, counsel for the plaintiff received a copy of the order dismissing the complaint and on August 23, 1975, he moved to set aside the order of the dismissal pursuant to Sections 16 and 17 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. 2 On August 28, 1975, the court denied the motion for reconsideration filed by counsel for the plaintiff for lack of merit. On September 1, 1975, counsel for deceased plaintiff filed a written manifestation praying that the minors Rosalio Bonilla and Salvacion Bonilla be allowed to substitute their deceased mother, but the court denied the counsel's prayer for lack of merit. From the order, counsel for the deceased plaintiff filed a second motion for reconsideration of the order dismissing the complaint claiming that the same is in violation of Sections 16 and 17 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court but the same was denied. Hence, this petition for review. The Court reverses the respondent Court and sets aside its order dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 856 and its orders denying the motion for reconsideration of said order of dismissal. While it is true that a person who is dead cannot sue in court, yet he can be substituted by his heirs in pursuing the case up to its completion. The records of this case show that the death of Fortunata Barcena took place on July 9, 1975 while the complaint was filed on March 31, 1975. This means that when the complaint was filed on March 31, 1975, Fortunata Barcena was still alive, and therefore, the court had acquired jurisdiction over her person. If thereafter she died, the Rules of Court prescribes the procedure whereby a party who died during the pendency of the proceeding can be substituted. Under Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court "whenever a party to a pending case dies ... it shall be the duty of his attorney to inform the court promptly of such death ... and to give the name and residence of his executor, administrator, guardian or other legal representatives." This duty was complied with by the counsel for the deceased plaintiff when he manifested before the respondent Court that Fortunata Barcena died on July 9, 1975 and asked for the proper substitution of parties in the case. The respondent Court, however, instead of allowing the substitution, dismissed the complaint on the ground that a dead person has no legal personality to sue. This is a grave error. Article 777 of the Civil Code provides "that the rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent." From the moment of the death of the decedent, the heirs become the absolute owners of his property, subject to the rights and obligations of the decedent, and they cannot be deprived of their rights thereto except by the methods provided for by law. 3 The moment of death is the determining factor when the heirs acquire a definite right to the inheritance whether such right be pure or contingent. 4 The right of the heirs to the property of the deceased vests in them even before judicial declaration of their being heirs in the testate or intestate proceedings. 5 When Fortunata Barcena, therefore, died her claim or right to the parcels of land in litigation in Civil Case No. 856, was not extinguished by her death but was transmitted to her heirs upon her death. Her heirs have thus acquired interest in the properties in litigation and became parties in interest in the case. There is, therefore, no reason for the respondent Court not to allow their substitution as parties in interest for the deceased plaintiff. Under Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court "after a party dies and the claim is not thereby extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of the deceased to appear and be substituted for the deceased, within such time as may be granted ... ." The question as to whether an action survives or not depends on the nature of the action and the damage sued for. 6 In the causes of action which survive the wrong complained affects primarily and principally property and property rights, the injuries to the person being merely incidental, while in the causes of action which do not survive the injury complained of is to the person, the property and rights of property affected being incidental. 7 Following the foregoing criterion the claim of the deceased plaintiff which is an action to quiet title over the parcels of land in litigation affects primarily and principally property and property rights and therefore is one that survives even after her death. It is, therefore, the duty of the respondent Court to order the legal representative of the deceased plaintiff to appear and to be substituted for her. But what the respondent Court did, upon being informed by the counsel for the deceased plaintiff that the latter was dead, was to dismiss the complaint. This should not have been done for under the same Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, it is even the duty of the court, if the legal representative fails to appear, to order the opposing party to procure the appointment of a legal representative of the deceased. In the instant case the respondent Court did not have to bother ordering the opposing party to procure the appointment of a legal representative of the deceased because her counsel has not only asked that the minor children be substituted for her but also suggested that their uncle be appointed as guardian ad litem for them because their father is busy in Manila earning a living for the family. But the respondent Court refused the request for substitution on the ground that the children were still minors and cannot sue in court. This is another grave error because the respondent Court ought to have known that under the same Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, the court is directed to appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor heirs. Precisely in the instant case, the counsel for the deceased plaintiff has suggested to the respondent Court that the uncle of the minors be appointed to act as guardian ad litem for them. Unquestionably, the respondent Court has gravely abused its discretion in not complying with the clear provision of the Rules of Court in dismissing the complaint of the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 856 and refusing the substitution of parties in the case.

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IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the order of the respondent Court dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 856 of the Court of First Instance of Abra and the motions for reconsideration of the order of dismissal of said complaint are set aside and the respondent Court is hereby directed to allow the substitution of the minor children, who are the petitioners therein for the deceased plaintiff and to appoint a qualified person as guardian ad litem for them. Without pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Esguerra and Muoz Palma, JJ., concur. Footnotes 1 Which this Court treats as special civil action as per its Resolution dated February 11, 1976. 2 Section 16. Duty of Attorney upon which death, incapacity or incompetency of party. - Whenever a party to a pending case dies, becomes incapacitated or incompetent, it shall be the duty of his attorney to inform the court promptly of such death, incapacity or incompetency, and to give the name and residence of his executor, administrator, guardian or other legal representative. Section 17. Death of party.After a party dies and the claim is not thereby extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of the deceased to appear and to be substituted for deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days, or within such time as may be granted. If the legal representative fails to appear within said time, the court may order the opposing party to procure the appointment of a legal representative of the within a time to be specified by the court, and the representative shall immediately appear for and on behalf of the interest of the deceased. The court charges involved in procuring such appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as costs. The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased, without requiring the appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint guardian ad litem for the minor heirs. 3 Buan vs. Heirs of Buan, 53 Phil. 654. 4 Ibarle vs. Po, 92 Phil. 721. 5 Morales, et al. vs. Ybanez, 98 Phil. 677. 6 Iron Gate Bank vs. Brady, 184 U.S. 665, 22 SCT 529, 46 L. ed. 739. 7 Wenber vs. St. Paul City Co., 97 Feb. 140 R. 39 C.C.A. 79.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 84032 August 29, 1989 ATTY. ELADIO CH. RUBIO, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. NICOLAS P. LAPENA JR., HON. FIDEL P. PURISIMA and HON.

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SEGUNDINO CHUA, all Court of Appeals Associate Justices; and HON. MARTIN P. BADONG of RTC Branch 15, Tabaco, Albay, respondents. Eladio Ch. Rubio for and in his own behalf. Nemesio R. Baclao for Dominga A. San Pablo and her nine children. RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM: The petitioner was found guilty of direct contempt and sentenced to five (5) days imprisonment and a fine of P 200.00 by Judge Martin B. Badong of the Regional Trial Court of Albay. He questioned this order in a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, which denied the same on the ground that certiorari was not the proper remedy and that, in any case, the record showed that the respondent judge had immediately rectified the errors imputed to him in his earlier impugned order. The petitioner has now come before us to protest this decision. We hold at the outset that the respondent Court of Appeals has committed no reversible error and that, on the contrary, the challenged decision is in accordance with law and jurisprudence. Accordingly, it must be, as it is hereby, affirmed. But the matter does not end here. There is still the questionable conduct of the petitioner in this case that has elicited the concern of the Court. Disagreeing with the choice of administrator made by Judge Badong in the estate proceedings, the petitioner filed in the trial court what he captioned an "Urgent Ex-Parte Motion Praying that Judge Martin P. Badong Himself motu proprio Reconsider and Set Aside Immediately His Own Order Dated July 9, 1987 Appointing Oppositor Eugenia Tabinas as the Regular Administrator in this Case Special Proceeding No. T105, Etc." In this motion, he accused Judge Badong of the crime of "FALSIFICATION for recognizing Eugenia Tabinas San Pablo as the legitimate wife of the decedent" and stressed that the judge was subject to the penalties imposed by the Revised Penal Code. He averred that the judge was "engaged in gross misconduct and serious misbehavior and in violating his lawyer's oath," and was "doing falsehood in his own court and violating his lawyer's oath" for which he should be "DISBARRED." In addition, he attached to his motion a copy of a petition for certiorari with a notation on the margin that it would be filed with the Court of Appeals unless the judge immediately rectified his order. When asked to show cause why he should not be cited for contempt, the petitioner filed a 16-page compliance in which he repeated substantially the same allegations in his motion in the same venomous language and without any sign of repentance or apology. The judge therefore imposed upon him the above-mentioned penalty. In his present petition, Atty. Rubio has turned his bile on the three members of the Court of Appeals who dismissed his petition and in effect sustained Judge Badong's questioned decision. The same obvious malice and disdain reveal all too tellingly the petitioner's contemptuous attitude toward the said justices whom he also accuses of "THE CRIME of FALSIFICATION intentionally maliciously, feloniously, and OPENLY being committed" by them. He claims that they have made "untruthful statements" and that they 'ALL ARE FULLY AWARE of the UNTRUTHFUL STATEMENTS IN THEIR OWN DECISION and that they are openly committing the crime of FALSIFICATION." Repeatedly, he insists that the said justices are "ALL FULLY AWARE of THEIR OWN FALSEHOODS IN THEIR OWN DECISION and that "they are doing FALSEHOODS RIGHT IN THEIR OWN COURT AND VIOLATING WITH IMPUNITY THEIR LAWYERS' OATH " He stresses that the said justices "are now actively ENGAGED IN VERY SERIOUS MISCONDUCT IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR JUDICIAL DUTIES and VERY MUCH WORSE than former Judge Dionisio N. Capistrano who was recently dishonorably dismissed from the judiciary." He concludes that the said justices "deserve NOW to be DISHONORABLY DISMISSED from the judiciary which they have intentionally dishonored and continue to OPENLY dishonor until now (a) with their own FALSEHOOD in court; (b) with their CRIME OF FALSIFICATION, and with their VERY, VERY SERIOUS MISCONDUCT." There are similar statements found elsewhere in the records of this case, most of them capitalized to stress the petitioner's arguments and also (although this was not intended) his malice and boorishness.

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The petition is worded in scurrilous and offensive language that clearly manifests the petitioner's gross disrespect for the trial judge and the members of the Court of Appeals who rendered the challenged decision. This conduct and attitude of the petitioner cannot be simply disregarded by this Court or excused as a mere eccentricity. While every lawyer is entitled to present his case before the courts of justice with vigor and courage, he is not permitted to manifest such enthusiasm through threatening and abusive language, as in the case before us. The insolence displayed by the petitioner all too clearly demonstrates not only his spiteful character but as well his lack of respect for the courts of justice. Intimidating judges and accusing them of personal wrongdoing, especially if such accusations are clearly unfounded, ill becomes a member of the bar who, as such, owes a fitting courtesy and respect to those who sit on the bench and before whom he pleads. While there is no doubt that counsel have every right to impute to judges honest mistakes in their decisions, ascribing to them personal shortcomings and vices and even deliberate attempts to falsify the truth, cannot be condoned under the Code of Professional Responsibility which every lawyer must observe. The damning evidence of the petitioner's own verified pleadings has indubitably established is grossly improper conduct without need of further proof or proceedings. The petitioner has clearly shown by his arrogant conduct that he does not deserve to remain in the Philippine Bar, which requires the highest standards of decorum and courtesy among its members. Lacking the proper spirit of respect for the courts of justice, which he has threatened and abused "with impunity," to use his own words, he must be excluded from the brotherhood he has dishonored until he has purged himself of his insolence. WHEREFORE, the Court holds as follows: 1. The petition is DENIED for lack of merit. 2. Atty. Eladio Ch. Rubio is hereby SUSPENDED as a member of the Philippine Bar and is prohibited from engaging in the practice of law until otherwise ordered by this Court. This resolution shall be spread in his personal record and is immediately executory. SO ORDERED. Fernan (C.J.), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Gri;o-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-46364 April 6, 1990 SULPICIA JIMENEZ and TORIBIO MATIAS, petitioners, vs. VICENTE FERNANDEZ alias HOSPICIO FERNANDEZ and TEODORA GRADO, respondents. Antonio E. Bengzon III for petitioners. Agustin U. Cruz for private respondents.

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PARAS, J.: Before Us is a petition for review on certiorari of the following Decision 1 and Resolution 2 of the Honorable Court of Appeals: (1) Decision, dated March 1, 1977 in C.A.-G.R. No. 49178-R entitled "Sulpicia Jimenez, et al., v. Vicente Fernandez, et al." affirming in toto the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Third Judicial District in Civil Case No. 14802-I between the same parties and (2) Resolution dated June 3, 1977 denying plaintiffs-appellants' motion for reconsideration. As gathered from the records, the factual background of this case is as follows: The land in question is the Eastern portion with an area of Four Hundred Thirty Six (436) square meters of that parcel of residential land situated in Barrio Dulig (now Magsaysay), Municipality of Labrador, Pangasinan actually covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 82275 (Exhibit A) issued in the name of Sulpicia Jimenez. The entire parcel of land with an area of 2,932 square meters, formerly belonged to Fermin Jimenez. Fermin Jimenez has two (2) sons named Fortunato and Carlos Jimenez. This Fortunato Jimenez who predeceased his father has only one child, the petitioner Sulpicia Jimenez. After the death of Fermin Jimenez, the entire parcel of land was registered under Act 496 in the name of Carlos Jimenez and Sulpicia Jimenez (uncle and niece) in equal shares pro-indiviso. As a result of the registration case Original Certificate of Title No. 50933 (Exhibit 8) was issued on February 28, 1933, in the names of Carlos Jimenez and Sulpicia Jimenez, in equal shares pro-indiviso. Carlos Jimenez died on July 9, 1936 and his illegitimate daughter, Melecia Cayabyab, also known as Melecia Jimenez, took possession of the eastern portion of the property consisting of 436 square meters. On January 20, 1944, Melecia Jimenez sold said 436 square meter-portion of the property to Edilberto Cagampan and defendant Teodora Grado executed a contract entitled "Exchange of Real Properties" whereby the former transferred said 436 square meter-portion to the latter, who has been in occupation since. On August 29, 1969, plaintiff Sulpicia Jimenez executed an affidavit adjudicating unto herself the other half of the property appertaining to Carlos Jimenez, upon manifestation that she is the only heir of her deceased uncle. Consequently Transfer Certificate of Title No. 82275 was issued on October 1, 1969 in petitioner's name alone over the entire 2,932 square meter property. On April 1, 1970, Sulpicia Jimenez, joined by her husband, instituted the present action for the recovery of the eastern portion of the property consisting of 436 square meters occupied by defendant Teodora Grado and her son. After trial on the merits, the lower court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, decision is hereby rendered dismissing the complaint and holding the defendant, Teodora Grado, the absolute owner of the land in question; ordering the plaintiffs to pay to the defendant the amount of P500.00 as damages, as attorney's fees, and to pay the costs of suit. SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 20) Petitioner appealed the above judgment to the respondent Court of Appeals and on March 1, 1977, respondent Court of Appeals rendered a decision affirming the same in toto. Said decision was rendered by a special division of five (5) justices, with the Hon. Lourdes San Diego, dissenting. Petitioners within the reglementary period granted by the Honorable Court of Appeals, filed therewith a motion for reconsideration. But said motion for reconsideration was denied by the Court of Appeals in its resolution dated June 3, 1977.

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In their appeal to the respondent Court of Appeals from the aforequoted decision of the trial court, herein petitioner raised the following assignments of error to wit: ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR I THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT MELECIA CAYABYAB, ALSO KNOWN AS MELECIA JIMENEZ, IS NOT THE DAUGHTER OF CARLOS JIMENEZ. II THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT MELECIA CAYABYAB, ALSO KNOWN AS MELECIA JIMENEZ, HAS NO RIGHT TO SELL THE LAND IN QUESTION TO EDILBERTO CAGAMPAN. III THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT EDILBERTO CAGAMPAN DID NOT BECOME THE OWNER OF THE LAND IN QUESTION BY VIRTUE OF THE DEED OF SALE (EXH. "1") EXECUTED BY MELECIA CAYABYAB, ALIAS MELECIA JIMENEZ, IN HIS FAVOR. IV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT TEODORA GRADO DID NOT BECOME THE OWNER OF THE LAND IN QUESTION BY VIRTUE OF THE DEED OF EXCHANGE (EXH. "7") EXECUTED BY HER AND EDILBERTO CAGAMPAN. V THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE TITLE OF APPELLANT SULPICIA JIMENEZ OVER THE LAND IN QUESTION CAN NOT BE DEFEATED BY THE ADVERSE OPEN AND NOTORIOUS POSSESSION OF APPELLEE TEODORA GRADO. VI THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE APPELLEE TEODORA GRADO IS THE ABSOLUTE OWNER OF THE LAND IN QUESTION IN THE LIGHT OF THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE CASE OF LOURDES ARCUINO, ET AL., V. RUFINA APARIS AND CASIANO PURAY, G.R. NO. L-23424, PROMULGATED JANUARY 31, 1968, WHICH CASE IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR. VII THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT AND ORDERING THE APPELLANTS TO PAY THE APPELLEES THE SUM OF P500.00 AS ATTORNEYS FEES PLUS THE COSTS. From the foregoing, this petition for review was filed. We find merit in the petition. From the start the respondent court erred in not declaring that Melecia Jimenez Cayabyab also known as Melecia Jimenez, is not the daughter of Carlos Jimenez and therefore, had no right over the property in question. Respondents failed to present concrete evidence to prove that Melecia Cayabyab was really the daughter of Carlos Jimenez. Nonetheless,

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assuming for the sake of argument that Melecia Cayabyab was the illegitimate daughter of Carlos Jimenez there can be no question that Melecia Cayabyab had no right to succeed to the estate of Carlos Jimenez and could not have validly acquired, nor legally transferred to Edilberto Cagampan that portion of the property subject of this petition. It is well-settled in this jurisdiction that the rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent (Art. 777, Civil Code). Moreover, Art. 2263 of the Civil Code provides as follows: Rights to the inheritance of a person who died with or without a will, before the effectivity of this Code, shall be governed by the Civil Code of 1889, by other previous laws, and by the Rules of Court . . . (Rollo, p. 17) Thus, since Carlos Jimenez, owner of one-half pro-indiviso portion of that parcel of land then covered by Original Certificate of title No. 50933, died on July 9, 1936 (Exhibit "F") way before the effectivity of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the successional rights pertaining to his estate must be determined in accordance with the Civil Code of 1889. Citing the case of Cid v. Burnaman (24 SCRA 434) wherein this Court categorically held that: To be an heir under the rules of Civil Code of 1889 (which was the law in force when Carlos Jimenez died and which should be the governing law in so far as the right to inherit from his estate was concerned), a child must be either a child legitimate, legitimated, or adopted, or else an acknowledged natural child for illegitimate not natural are disqualified to inherit. (Civil Code of 1889, Art. 807, 935) Even assuming that Melecia Cayabyab was born out of the common-law-relationship between her mother (Maria Cayabyab) and Carlos Jimenez, she could not even be considered an acknowledged natural child because Carlos Jimenez was then legally married to Susana Abalos and therefore not qualified to marry Maria Cayabyab and consequently Melecia Cayabyab was an illegitimate spurious child and not entitled to any successional rights in so far as the estate of Carlos Jimenez was concerned. Melecia Cayabyab in the absence of any voluntary conveyance to her by Carlos Jimenez or Sulpicia Jimenez of the litigated portion of the land could not even legally transfer the parcel of land to Edilberto Cagampan who accordingly, could not also legally transfer the same to herein private respondents. Analyzing the case before Us in this manner, We can immediately discern another error in the decision of the respondent court, which is that the said court sustained and made applicable to the case at bar the ruling in the case of Arcuino, et al., v. Aparis and Puray, No. L-23424, January 31, 1968, 22 SCRA 407, wherein We held that: . . . it is true that the lands registered under the Torrens System may not be acquired by prescription but plaintiffs herein are not the registered owners. They merely claim to have acquired by succession, their alleged title or interest in lot No. 355. At any rate plaintiffs herein are guilty of laches. The respondent court relying on the Arcuino case, concluded that respondents had acquired the property under litigation by prescription. We cannot agree with such conclusion, because there is one very marked and important difference between the case at bar and that of the Arcuino case, and that is, that since 1933 petitioner Sulpicia Jimenez was a title holder, the property then being registered in her and her uncle Carlos Jimenez' name. In the Arcuino case, this Supreme Court held. "(I)t is true that lands registered under the Torrens System may not be acquired by prescription but plaintiffs herein are not the registered owners." (Rollo, p. 38) Even in the said cited case the principle of imprescriptibility of Torrens Titles was respected. Melecia Cayabyab's possession or of her predecessors-in-interest would be unavailing against the petitioner Sulpicia Jimenez who was the holder pro-indiviso with Carlos Jimenez of the Torrens Certificate of Title covering a tract of land which includes the portion now in question, from February 28, 1933, when the Original Certificate of Title No. 50933 (Exhibit 8) was issued. No possession by any person of any portion of the land covered by said original certificate of titles, could defeat the title of the registered owner of the land covered by the certificate of title. (Benin v. Tuason, L-26127, June 28, 1974, 57 SCRA 531)

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Sulpicia's title over her one-half undivided property remained good and continued to be good when she segregated it into a new title (T.C.T No. 82275, Exhibit "A") in 1969. Sulpicia's ownership over her one-half of the land and which is the land in dispute was always covered by a Torrens title, and therefore, no amount of possession thereof by the respondents, could ever defeat her proprietary rights thereon. It is apparent, that the right of plaintiff (now petitioner) to institute this action to recover possession of the portion of the land in question based on the Torrens Title of Sulpicia Jimenez, T.C.T. No. 82275 (Exhibit "A") is imprescriptible and not barred under the doctrine of laches. (J.M. Tuason & Co. v. Macalindong, L-15398, December 29, 1962, Francisco v. Cruz, et al., 43 O.G. 5105) Rollo, p. 39) The respondent Court of Appeals declared the petitioner Sulpicia Jimenez guilty of laches and citing the ruling in the case of Heirs of Lacamen v. Heirs of Laruan (65 SCRA 605), held that, since petitioner Sulpicia Jimenez executed her Affidavit of Self-Adjudication only in 1969, she lost the right to recover possession of the parcel of land subject of the litigation. In this instance, again We rule for the petitioner. There is no absolute rule as to what constitutes laches or staleness of demand; each case is to be determined according to its particular circumstances. The question of laches is addressed to the sound discretion of the court and since laches is an equitable doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable considerations. It cannot be worked to defeat justice or to perpetrate fraud and injustice. It would be rank injustice and patently inequitous to deprive the lawful heirs of their rightful inheritance. Petitioner Sulpicia Jimenez is entitled to the relief prayed for, declaring her to be the sole and absolute owner of the land in question with right to its possession and enjoyment. Since her uncle Carlos Jimenez died in 1936, his pro-indiviso share in the properties then owned in co-ownership with his niece Sulpicia descended by intestacy to Sulpicia Jimenez alone because Carlos died without any issue or other heirs. After all, the professed objective of Act No. 496, otherwise known as the Land Registration Act or the law which established the Torrens System of Land Registration in the Philippines is that the stability of the landholding system in the Philippines depends on the confidence of the people in the titles covering the properties. And to this end, this Court has invariably upheld the indefeasibility of the Torrens Title and in, among others, J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. v. Macalindong (6 SCRA 938), held that "the right of the appellee to file an action to recover possession based on its Torrens Title is imprescriptible and not barred under the doctrine of laches. WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is hereby GRANTED. The Decision and Resolution dated March 1, 1977 and June 3, 1977 in CA G.R. No. L-49178-R are SET ASIDE. SO ORDERED. Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur. Melencio-Herrera, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 77029 August 30, 1990 BIENVENIDO, ESTELITA, MACARIO, LUIS, ADELAIDE, ENRIQUITA and CLAUDIO, all surnamed, GEVERO, petitioners, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and DEL MONTE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondents. Carlito B. Somido for petitioners.

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Benjamin N. Tabios for private respondent.

PARAS, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the March 20, 1988 decision 1 of the then Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) in AC-GR CV No. 69264, entitled Del Monte Development Corporation vs. Enrique Ababa, et al., etc. affirming the decision 2 of the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Misamis Oriental declaring the plaintiff corporation as the true and absolute owner of that portion of Lot 476 of the Cagayan Cadastre, particularly Lot No. 2476-D of the subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-80450, containing an area of Seven Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy Eight (7,878) square meters more or less. As found by the Appellate Court, the facts are as follows: The parcel of land under litigation is Lot No. 2476 of the Subdivision Plan Psd-37365 containing an area of 20,119 square meters and situated at Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City. Said lot was acquired by purchase from the late Luis Lancero on September 15, 1964 as per Deed of Absolute Sale executed in favor of plaintiff and by virtue of which Transfer Certificate of Title No. 4320 was issued to plaintiff (DELCOR for brevity). Luis Lancero, in turn acquired the same parcel from Ricardo Gevero on February 5, 1952 per deed of sale executed by Ricardo Gevero which was duly annotated as entry No. 1128 at the back of Original Certificate of Title No. 7610 covering the mother lot identified as Lot No. 2476 in the names of Teodorica Babangha 1/2 share and her children: Maria; Restituto, Elena, Ricardo, Eustaquio and Ursula, all surnamed surnamed Gevero, 1/2 undivided share of the whole area containing 48,122 square meters. Teodorica Babangha died long before World War II and was survived by her six children aforementioned. The heirs of Teodorica Babangha on October 17,1966 executed an Extra-Judicial Settlement and Partition of the estate of Teodorica Babangha, consisting of two lots, among them was lot 2476. By virtue of the extra-judicial settlement and partition executed by the said heirs of Teodorica Babangha, Lot 2476-A to Lot 2476-I, inclusive, under subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-80450 duly approved by the Land Registration Commission, Lot 2476-D, among others, was adjudicated to Ricardo Gevero who was then alive at the time of extra-judicial settlement and partition in 1966. Plaintiff (private respondent herein) filed an action with the CFI (now RTC) of Misamis Oriental to quiet title and/or annul the partition made by the heirs of Teodorica Babangha insofar as the same prejudices the land which it acquired a portion of lot 2476. Plaintiff now seeks to quiet title and/or annul the partition made by the heirs of Teodorica Babangha insofar as the same prejudices the land which it acquired, a portion of Lot 2476. Plaintiff proved that before purchasing Lot 2476-A it first investigated and checked the title of Luis Lancero and found the same to be intact in the office of the Register of Deeds of Cagayan de Oro City. The same with the subdivision plan (Exh. "B"), the corresponding technical description (Exh. "P") and the Deed of Sale executed by Ricardo Gevero all of which were found to be unquestionable. By reason of all these, plaintiff claims to have bought the land in good faith and for value, occupying the land since the sale and taking over from Lancero's possession until May 1969, when the defendants Abadas forcibly entered the property. (Rollo, p. 23) After trial the court a quo on July 18, 1977 rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the plaintiff corporation as the true and absolute owner of that portion of Lot No. 2476 of the Cagayan Cadastre, particularly Lot No. 2476-D of the subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-80450, containing an area of SEVEN THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT (7,878) square meters, more or less. The other portions of Lot No. 2476 are hereby adjudicated as follows: Lot No. 2476 B to the heirs of Elena Gevero;

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Lot No. 2476 C to the heirs of Restituto Gevero; Lot No. 2476 E to the defendant spouses Enrique C. Torres and Francisca Aquino; Lot No. 2476 F to the defendant spouses Eduard Rumohr and Emilia Merida Rumohf ; Lot Nos. 2476-H, 2476-I and 2476 G to defendant spouses Enrique Abada and Lilia Alvarez Abada. No adjudication can be made with respect to Lot No. 2476-A considering that the said lot is the subject of a civil case between the Heirs of Maria Gevero on one hand and the spouses Daniel Borkingkito and Ursula Gevero on the other hand, which case is now pending appeal before the Court of Appeals. No pronouncement as to costs, SO ORDERED. (Decision, Record on Appeal, p. 203; Rollo, pp. 21-22) From said decision, defendant heirs of Ricardo Gevero (petitioners herein) appealed to the IAC (now Court of Appeals) which subsequently, on March 20, 1986, affirmed the decision appealed from. Petitioners, on March 31, 1986, filed a motion for reconsideration (Rollo, p. 28) but was denied on April 21, 1986. Hence, the present petition. This petition is devoid of merit. Basically, the issues to be resolved in the instant case are: 1) whether or not the deed of sale executed by Ricardo Gevero to Luis Lancero is valid; 2) in the affirmative, whether or not the 1/2 share of interest of Teodorica Babangha in one of the litigated lots, lot no. 2476 under OCT No. 7610 is included in the deed of sale; and 3) whether or not the private respondents' action is barred by laches. Petitioners maintain that the deed of sale is entirely invalid citing alleged flaws thereto, such as that: 1) the signature of Ricardo was forged without his knowledge of such fact; 2) Lancero had recognized the fatal defect of the 1952 deed of sale when he signed the document in 1968 entitled "Settlement to Avoid the Litigation"; 3) Ricardo's children remained in the property notwithstanding the sale to Lancero; 4) the designated Lot No. is 2470 instead of the correct number being Lot No. 2476; 5) the deed of sale included the share of Eustaquio Gevero without his authority; 6) T.C.T. No. 1183 of Lancero segregated the area of 20,119 square meters from the bigger area (OCT No. 7616) without the consent of the other coowners; 7) Lancero caused the 1952 Subdivision survey without the consent of the Geveros' to bring about the segregation of the 20,119 square meters lot from the mother lot 2476 which brought about the issuance of his title T-1183 and to DELCOR's title T4320, both of which were illegally issued; and 8) the area sold as per document is 20,649 square meters whereas the segregated area covered by TCT No. T-1183 of Lancero turned out to be 20,119 square meters (Petitioners Memorandum, pp. 62-78). As to petitioners' claim that the signature of Ricardo in the 1952 deed of sale in favor of Lancero was forged without Ricardo's knowledge of such fact (Rollo, p. 71) it will be observed that the deed of sale in question was executed with all the legal formalities of a public document. The 1952 deed was duly acknowledged by both parties before the notary public, yet petitioners did not bother to rebut the legal presumption of the regularity of the notarized document (Dy v. Sacay, 165 SCRA 473 [1988]); Nuguid v. C.A., G.R. No. 77423, March 13, 1989). In fact it has long been settled that a public document executed and attested through the intervention of the notary public is evidence of the facts in clear, unequivocal manner therein expressed. It has the presumption of regularity and to contradict all these, evidence must be clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant (Rebuleda v. I.A.C., 155 SCRA 520-521 [1987]). Forgery cannot be presumed, it must be proven (Siasat v. IAC, No. 67889, October 10, 1985). Likewise, petitioners allegation of absence of consideration of the deed was not substantiated. Under Art. 1354 of the Civil Code, consideration is presumed unless the contrary is proven. As to petitioners' contention that Lancero had recognized the fatal defect of the 1952 deed when he signed the document in 1968 entitled "Settlement to Avoid Litigation" (Rollo, p. 71), it is a basic rule of evidence that the right of a party cannot be

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prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of another (Sec. 28. Rule 130, Rules of Court). This particular rule is embodied in the maxim "res inter alios acta alteri nocere non debet." Under Section 31, Rule 130, Rules of Court "where one derives title to property from another, the act, declaration, or omission of the latter, while holding the title, in relation to the property is evidence against the former." It is however stressed that the admission of the former owner of a property must have been made while he was the owner thereof in order that such admission may be binding upon the present owner (City of Manila v. del Rosario, 5 Phil. 227 [1905]; Medel v. Avecilla, 15 Phil. 465 [1910]). Hence, Lanceros' declaration or acts of executing the 1968 document have no binding effect on DELCOR, the ownership of the land having passed to DELCOR in 1964. Petitioners' claim that they remained in the property, notwithstanding the alleged sale by Ricardo to Lancero (Rollo, p. 71) involves a question of fact already raised and passed upon by both the trial and appellate courts. Said the Court of Appeals: Contrary to the allegations of the appellants, the trial court found that Luis Lancero had taken possession of the land upon proper investigation by plaintiff the latter learned that it was indeed Luis Lancero who was the owner and possessor of Lot 2476 D. . . . (Decision, C.A., p. 6). As a finding of fact, it is binding upon this Court (De Gola-Sison v. Manalo, 8 SCRA 595 [1963]; Gaduco vs. C.A., 14 SCRA 282 [1965]; Ramos v. Pepsi-Cola, 19 SCRA 289 [1967]; Tan v. C.A., 20 SCRA 54 [1967]; Ramirez Tel. Co. v. Bank of America, 33 SCRA 737 [1970]; Lucero v. Loot, 25 SCRA 687 [1968]; Guerrero v. C.A., 142 SCRA 130 [1986]). Suffice it to say that the other flaws claimed by the petitioners which allegedly invalidated the 1952 deed of sale have not been raised before the trial court nor before the appellate court. It is settled jurisprudence that an issue which was neither averred in the complaint nor raised during the trial in the court below cannot be raised for the first time on appeal as it would be offensive to the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process. (Matienzo v. Servidad, 107 SCRA 276 [1981]; Dela Santa v. C.A., 140 SCRA 44 [1985]; Dihiansan v. C.A., 157 SCRA 434 [1987]; Anchuelo v. IAC, 147 SCRA 434 [1987]; Dulos Realty and Development Corporation v. C.A., 157 SCRA [1988]; Kamos v. IAC, G.R. No. 78282, July 5, 1989). Petitioners aver that the 1/2 share of interest of Teodorica (mother of Ricardo) in Lot 2476 under OCT No. 7610 was not included in the deed of sale as it was intended to limit solely to Ricardos' proportionate share out of the undivided 1/2 of the area pertaining to the six (6) brothers and sisters listed in the Title and that the Deed did not include the share of Ricardo, as inheritance from Teodorica, because the Deed did not recite that she was deceased at the time it was executed (Rollo, pp. 67-68). The hereditary share in a decedents' estate is transmitted or vested immediately from the moment of the death of the "causante" or predecessor in interest (Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 777), and there is no legal bar to a successor (with requisite contracting capacity) disposing of his hereditary share immediately after such death, even if the actual extent of such share is not determined until the subsequent liquidation of the estate (De Borja v. Vda. de Borja, 46 SCRA 577 [1972]). Teodorica Babangha died long before World War II, hence, the rights to the succession were transmitted from the moment of her death. It is therefore incorrect to state that it was only in 1966, the date of extrajudicial partition, when Ricardo received his share in the lot as inheritance from his mother Teodorica. Thus, when Ricardo sold his share over lot 2476 that share which he inherited from Teodorica was also included unless expressly excluded in the deed of sale. Petitioners contend that Ricardo's share from Teodorica was excluded in the sale considering that a paragraph of the aforementioned deed refers merely to the shares of Ricardo and Eustaquio (Rollo, p. 67-68). It is well settled that laws and contracts shall be so construed as to harmonize and give effect to the different provisions thereof (Reparations Commission v. Northern Lines, Inc., 34 SCRA 203 [1970]), to ascertain the meaning of the provisions of a contract, its entirety must be taken into account (Ruiz v. Sheriff of Manila, 34 SCRA 83 [1970]). The interpretation insisted upon by the petitioners, by citing only one paragraph of the deed of sale, would not only create contradictions but also, render meaningless and set at naught the entire provisions thereof. Petitioners claim that DELCOR's action is barred by laches considering that the petitioners have remained in the actual, open, uninterrupted and adverse possession thereof until at present (Rollo, p. 17).

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An instrument notarized by a notary public as in the case at bar is a public instrument (Eacnio v. Baens, 5 Phil. 742). The execution of a public instrument is equivalent to the delivery of the thing (Art. 1498, 1st Par., Civil Code) and is deemed legal delivery. Hence, its execution was considered a sufficient delivery of the property (Buencamino v. Viceo, 13 Phil. 97; [1906]; Puato v. Mendoza, 64 Phil. 457 [1937]; Vda. de Sarmiento v. Lesaca, 108 Phil. 900 [1960]; Phil. Suburban Development Corp. v. Auditor Gen., 63 SCRA 397 (1975]). Besides, the property sold is a registered land. It is the act of registration that transfers the ownership of the land sold. (GSIS v. C.A., G.R. No. 42278, January 20, 1989). If the property is a registered land, the purchaser in good, faith has a right to rely on the certificate of title and is under no duty to go behind it to look for flaws (Mallorca v. De Ocampo, No. L26852, March 25, 1970; Unchuan v. C.A., 161 SCRA 710 [1988]; Nuguid v. CA-G.R. No. 77427, March 13, 1989). Under the established principles of land registration law, the person dealing with registered land may generally rely on the correctness of its certificate of title and the law will in no way oblige him to go behind the certificate to determine the condition of the property (Tiongco v. de la Merced, L-2446, July 25, 1974; Lopez vs. CA., G.R. No. 49739, January 20, 1989; Davao Grains Inc. vs. IAC, 171 SCRA 612 [1989]). This notwithstanding, DELCOR did more than that. It did not only rely on the certificate of title. The Court of Appeals found that it had first investigated and checked the title (T.C.T. No. T-1183) in the name of Luis Lancero. It likewise inquired into the Subdivision Plan, the corresponding technical description and the deed of sale executed by Ricardo Gevero in favor of Luis Lancero and found everything in order. It even went to the premises and found Luis Lancero to be in possession of the land to the exclusion of any other person. DELCOR had therefore acted in good faith in purchasing the land in question. Consequently, DELCOR's action is not barred by laches. The main issues having been disposed of, discussion of the other issues appear unnecessary. PREMISES CONSIDERED, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED and the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera (Chairman), Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur. Sarmiento, J., is on leave.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 125835 July 30, 1998 NATALIA CARPENA OPULENCIA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, ALADIN SIMUNDAC and MIGUEL OLIVAN, respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.:

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Is a contract to sell a real property involved in restate proceedings valid and binding without the approval of the probate court? Statement of the Case This is the main question raised in this petition for review before us, assailing the Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals 2 in CA-GR CV No. 41994 promulgated on February 6, 1996 and its Resolution 3 dated July 19, 1996. The challenged Decision disposed as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the order of the lower court dismissing the complaint is SET ASIDE and judgment is hereby rendered declaring the CONTRACT TO SELL executed by appellee in favor of appellants as valid and binding, subject to the result of the administration proceedings of the testate Estate of Demetrio Carpena. SO ORDERED. 4 Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration was denied in the challenged Resolution. 5 The Facts The antecedent facts, as succinctly narrated by Respondent Court of Appeals, are: In a complaint for specific performance filed with the court a quo [herein private respondents] Aladin Simundac and Miguel Oliven alleged that [herein petitioner] Natalia Carpena Opulencia executed in their favor a "CONTRACT TO SELL" Lot 2125 of the Sta. Rosa Estate, consisting of 23,766 square meters located in Sta. Rosa, Laguna at P150.00 per square meter; that plaintiffs paid a downpayment of P300,000.00 but defendant, despite demands, failed to comply with her obligations under the contract. [Private respondents] therefore prayed that [petitioner] be ordered to perform her contractual obligations and to further pay damages, attorney's fee and litigation expenses. In her traverse, [petitioner] admitted the execution of the contract in favor of plaintiffs and receipt of P300,000.00 as downpayment. However, she put forward the following affirmative defenses: that the property subject of the contract formed part of the Estate of Demetrio Carpena (petitioner's father), in respect of which a petition for probate was filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 24, Bian, Laguna; that at the time the contract was executed, the parties were aware of the pendency of the probate proceeding; that the contract to sell was not approved by the probate court; that realizing the nullity of the contract [petitioner] had offered to return the downpayment received from [private respondents], but the latter refused to accept it; that [private respondents] further failed to provide funds for the tenant who demanded P150,00.00 in payment of his tenancy rights on the land; that [petitioner] had chosen to rescind the contract. At the pre-trial conference the parties stipulated on [sic] the following facts: 1. That on February 3, 1989, [private respondents] and [petitioner] entered into a contract to sell involving a parcel of land situated in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, otherwise known as Lot No. 2125 of the Sta. Rosa Estate. 2. That the price or consideration of the said sell [sic] is P150.00 per square meters; 3. That the amount of P300,000.00 had already been received by [petitioner]; 4. That the parties have knowledge that the property subject of the contract to sell is subject of the probate proceedings;

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5. That [as] of this time, the probate Court has not yet issued an order either approving or denying the said sale. (p. 3, appealed Order of September 15, 1992, pp. 109-112, record). [Private respondents] submitted their evidence in support of the material allegations of the complaint. In addition to testimonies of witnesses, [private respondents] presented the following documentary evidences: (1) Contract to Sell (Exh A); (2) machine copy of the last will and testament of Demetrio Carpena (defendant's father) to show that the property sold by defendant was one of those devised to her in said will (Exh B); (3) receipts signed by defendant for the downpayment in the total amount of P300,000.00 (Exhs C, D & E); and (4) demand letters sent to defendant (Exhs F & G). It appears that [petitioner], instead of submitting her evidence, filed a Demurrer to Evidence. In essence, defendant maintained that the contract to sell was null and void for want of approval by the probate court. She further argued that the contract was subject to a suspensive condition, which was the probate of the will of defendant's father Demetrio Carpena. An Opposition was filed by [private respondents]. It appears further that in an Order dated December 15, 1992 the court a quo granted the demurrer to evidence and dismissed the complaint. It justified its action in dismissing the complaint in the following manner: It is noteworthy that when the contract to sell was consummated, no petition was filed in the Court with notice to the heirs of the time and place of hearing, to show that the sale is necessary and beneficial. A sale of properties of an estate as beneficial to the interested parties must comply with the requisites provided by law, (Sec. 7, Rule 89, Rules of Court) which are mandatory, and without them, the authority to sell, the sale itself, and the order approving it, would be null and void ab initio. (Arcilla vs. David, 77 Phil. 718, Gabriel, et al., vs. Encarnacion, et al., L-6736, May 4, 1954; Bonaga vs. Soler, 2 Phil. 755) Besides, it is axiomatic that where the estate of a deceased person is already the subject of a testate or intestate proceeding, the administrator cannot enter into any transaction involving it without prior approval of the probate Court. (Estate of Obave, vs. Reyes, 123 SCRA 767). As held by the Supreme Court, a decedent's representative (administrator) is not estopped from questioning the validity of his own void deed purporting to convey land. (Bona vs. Soler, 2 Phil, 755). In the case at bar, the [petitioner,] realizing the illegality of the transaction[,] has interposed the nullity of the contract as her defense, there being no approval from the probate Court, and, in good faith offers to return the money she received from the [private respondents]. Certainly, the administratrix is not estop[ped] from doing so and the action to declare the inexistence of contracts do not prescribe. This is what precipitated the filing of [petitioner's] demurrer to evidence. 6 The trial court's order of dismissal was elevated to the Court of Appeals by private respondents who alleged: 1. The lower court erred in concluding that the contract to sell is null and void, there being no approval of the probate court. 2. The lower court erred in concluding that [petitioner] in good faith offers to return the money to [private respondents]. 3. The lower court erred in concluding that [petitioner] is not under estoppel to question the validity of the contract to sell. 4. The lower court erred in not ruling on the consideration of the contract to sell which is tantamount to plain unjust enrichment of [petitioner] at the expense of [private respondents]. 7 Public Respondent's Ruling Declaring the Contract to Sell valid, subject to the outcome of the testate proceedings on Demetrio Carpena's estate, the appellate court set aside the trial court's dismissal of the complaint and correctly ruled as follows:

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It is apparent from the appealed order that the lower court treated the contract to sell executed by appellee as one made by the administratrix of the Estate of Demetrio Carpena for the benefit of the estate. Hence, its main reason for voiding the contract in question was the absence of the probate court's approval. Presumably, what the lower court had in mind was the sale of the estate or part thereof made by the administrator for the benefit of the estate, as authorized under Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court, which requires the approval of the probate court upon application therefor with notice to the heirs, devisees and legatees. However, as adverted to by appellants in their brief, the contract to sell in question is not covered by Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court since it was made by appellee in her capacity as an heir, of a property that was devised to her under the will sought to be probated. Thus, while the document inadvertently stated that appellee executed the contract in her capacity as "executrix and administratrix" of the estate, a cursory reading of the entire text of the contract would unerringly show that what she undertook to sell to appellants was one of the "other properties given to her by her late father," and more importantly, it was not made for the benefit of the estate but for her own needs. To illustrate this point, it is apropos to refer to the preambular or preliminary portion of the document, which reads: WHEREAS, the SELLER is the lawful owner of a certain parcel of land, which is more particularly described as follows: xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx WHEREAS, the SELLER suffers difficulties in her living and has forced to offer the sale of the above-described property, "which property was only one among the other properties given to her by her late father," to anyone who can wait for complete clearance of the court on the Last Will Testament of her father. WHEREAS, the SELLER in order to meet her need of cash, has offered for sale the said property at ONE HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (150.00) Philippine Currency, per square meter unto the BUYERS, and with this offer, the latter has accepted to buy and/or purchase the same, less the area for the road and other easements indicated at the back of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 2125 duly confirmed after the survey to be conducted by the BUYER's Licensed Geodetic Engineer, and whatever area [is] left. (Emphasis added). To emphasize, it is evident from the foregoing clauses of the contract that appellee sold Lot 2125 not in her capacity as executrix of the will or administratrix of the estate of her father, but as an heir and more importantly as owner of said lot which, along with other properties, was devised to her under the will sought to be probated. That being so, the requisites stipulated in Rule 89 of the Revised Rules of Court which refer to a sale made by the administrator for the benefit of the estate do not apply. xxx xxx xxx It is noteworthy that in a Manifestation filed with this court by appellants, which is not controverted by appellee, it is mentioned that the last will and testament of Demetrio Carpena was approved in a final judgment rendered in Special Proceeding No. B-979 by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 24 Bian, Laguna. But of course such approval does not terminate the proceeding[s] since the settlement of the estate will ensue. Such proceedings will consist, among others, in the issuance by the court of a notice to creditors (Rule 86), hearing of money claims and payment of taxes and estate debts (Rule 88) and distribution of the residue to the heirs or persons entitled thereto (Rule 90). In effect, the final execution of the deed of sale itself upon appellants' payment of the balance of the purchase price will have to wait for the settlement or termination of the administration proceedings of the Estate of Demetrio Carpena.

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Under the foregoing premises, what the trial court should have done with the complaint was not to dismiss it but to simply put on hold further proceedings until such time that the estate or its residue will be distributed in accordance with the approved will. The rule is that when a demurrer to the evidence is granted by the trial court but reversed on appeal, defendant loses the right to adduce his evidence. In such a case, the appellate court will decide the controversy on the basis of plaintiff's evidence. In the case at bench, while we find the contract to sell valid and binding between the parties, we cannot as yet order appellee to perform her obligations under the contract because the result of the administration proceedings of the testate Estate of Demetrio Carpena has to be awaited. Hence, we shall confine our adjudication to merely declaring the validity of the questioned Contract to Sell. Hence, this appeal. 8 The Issue Petitioner raises only one issue: Whether or not the Contract to Sell dated 03 February 1989 executed by the [p]etitioner and [p]rivate [r]espondent[s] without the requisite probate court approval is valid. The Court's Ruling The petition has no merit. Contract to Sell Valid In a nutshell, petitioner contends that "where the estate of the deceased person is already the subject of a testate or intestate proceeding, the administrator cannot enter into any transaction involving it without prior approval of the Probate Court." 9 She maintains that the Contract to Sell is void because it was not approved by the probate court, as required by Section 7, Rule 89 of the Rules of Court: Sec. 7. Regulations for granting authority to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber estate. The court having jurisdiction of the estate of the deceased may authorize the executor or administrator to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber real estate, in cases provided by these rules and when it appears necessary or beneficial, under the following regulations: xxx xxx xxx Insisting that the above rule should apply to this case, petitioner argues that the stipulations in the Contract to Sell require her to act in her capacity as an executrix or administratrix. She avers that her obligation to eject tenants pertains to the administratrix or executrix, the estate being the landlord of the said tenants. 10 Likewise demonstrating that she entered into the contract in her capacity as executor is the stipulation that she must effect the conversion of subject land from irrigated rice land to residential land and secure the necessary clearances from government offices. Petitioner alleges that these obligations can be undertaken only by an executor or administrator of an estate, and not by an heir. 11 The Court is not persuaded. As correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, Section 7 of Rule 89 of the Rules of Court is not applicable, because petitioner entered into the Contract to Sell in her capacity as an heiress, not as an executrix or administratrix of the estate. In the contract, she represented herself as the "lawful owner" and seller of the subject parcel of land. 12 She also explained the reason for the sale to be "difficulties in her living" conditions and consequent "need of cash." 13 These representations clearly evince that she was not acting on behalf of the estate under probate when she entered into the Contract to Sell. Accordingly, the jurisprudence cited by petitioners has no application to the instant case. We emphasize that hereditary rights are vested in the heir or heirs from the moment of the decedent's death. 14 Petitioner, therefore, became the owner of her hereditary share the moment her father died. Thus, the lack of judicial approval does not

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invalidate the Contract to Sell, because the petitioner has the substantive right to sell the whole or a part of her share in the estate of her late father. 15 Thus, in Jakosalem vs. Rafols, 16 the Court resolved an identical issue under the old Civil Code and held: Art. 440 of the Civil Code provides that "the possession of hereditary property is deemed to be transmitted to the heir without interruption from the instant of the death of the decedent, in case the inheritance be accepted." And Manresa with reason states that upon the death of a person, each of his heirs "becomes the undivided owner of the whole estate left with respect to the part or portion which might be adjudicated to him, a community of ownership being thus formed among the coowners of the estate while it remains undivided." . . . And according to article 399 of the Civil Code, every part owner may assign or mortgage his part in the common property, and the effect of such assignment or mortgage shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted him in the partition upon the dissolution of the community. Hence, where some of the heirs, without the concurrence of the others, sold a property left by their deceased father, this Court, speaking thru its then Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano, said that the sale was valid, but that the effect thereof was limited to the share which may be allotted to the vendors upon the partition of the estate. Administration of the Estate Not Prejudiced by the Contract to Sell Petitioner further contends that "[t]o sanction the sale at this stage would bring about a partial distribution of the decedent's estate pending the final termination of the testate proceedings." 17 This becomes all the more significant in the light of the trial court's finding, as stated in its Order dated August 20, 1997, that "the legitimate of one of the heirs has been impaired."
18

Petitioner's contention is not convincing. The Contract to Sell stipulates that petitioner's offer to sell is contingent on the "complete clearance of the court on the Last Will Testament of her father." 19 Consequently, although the Contract to Sell was perfected between the petitioner and private respondents during the pendency of the probate proceedings, the consummation of the sale or the transfer of ownership over the parcel of land to the private respondents is subject to the full payment of the purchase price and to the termination and outcome of the testate proceedings. Therefore, there is no basis for petitioner's apprehension that the Contract to Sell may result in a premature partition and distribution of the properties of the estate. Indeed, it is settled that "the sale made by an heir of his share in an inheritance, subject to the pending administration, in no wise stands in the way of such administration." 20 Estoppel Finally, petitioner is estopped from backing out of her representations in her valid Contract to Sell with private respondents, from whom she had already received P300,000 as initial payment of the purchase price. Petitioner may not renege on her own acts and representations, to the prejudice of the private respondents who have relied on them. 21 Jurisprudence teaches us that neither the law nor the courts will extricate a party from an unwise or undesirable contract he or she entered into with all the required formalities and with full awareness of its consequences. 22 WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Vitug and Quisumbing, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION

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G.R. No. 118248 April 5, 2000 DKC HOLDINGS CORPORATION,petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, VICTOR U. BARTOLOME and REGISTER OF DEEDS FOR METRO MANILA, DISTRICT III, respondents. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J. This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the December 5, 1994 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 40849 entitled "DKC Holdings Corporation vs. Victor U. Bartolome, et al.",1 affirming in toto the January 4, 1993 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Branch 172,2 which dismissed Civil Case No. 3337-V90 and ordered petitioner to pay P30,000.00 as attorney's fees. The subject of the controversy is a 14,021 square meter parcel of land located in Malinta, Valenzuela, Metro Manila which was originally owned by private respondent Victor U. Bartolome's deceased mother, Encarnacion Bartolome, under Transfer Certificate of Title No. B-37615 of the Register of Deeds of Metro Manila, District III. This lot was in front of one of the textile plants of petitioner and, as such, was seen by the latter as a potential warehouse site. On March 16, 1988, petitioner entered into a Contract of Lease with Option to Buy with Encarnacion Bartolome, whereby petitioner was given the option to lease or lease with purchase the subject land, which option must be exercised within a period of two years counted from the signing of the Contract. In turn, petitioner undertook to pay P3,000.00 a month as consideration for the reservation of its option. Within the two-year period, petitioner shall serve formal written notice upon the lessor Encarnacion Bartolome of its desire to exercise its option. The contract also provided that in case petitioner chose to lease the property, it may take actual possession of the premises. In such an event, the lease shall be for a period of six years, renewable for another six years, and the monthly rental fee shall be P15,000.00 for the first six years and P18,000.00 for the next six years, in case of renewal. Petitioner regularly paid the monthly P3,000.00 provided for by the Contract to Encarnacion until her death in January 1990. Thereafter, petitioner coursed its payment to private respondent Victor Bartolome, being the sole heir of Encarnacion. Victor, however, refused to accept these payments. Meanwhile, on January 10, 1990, Victor executed an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication over all the properties of Encarnacion, including the subject lot. Accordingly, respondent Register of Deeds cancelled Transfer Certificate of Title No. B-37615 and issued Transfer Certificate of Title No. V-14249 in the name of Victor Bartolome. On March 14, 1990, petitioner served upon Victor, via registered mail, notice that it was exercising its option to lease the property, tendering the amount of P15,000.00 as rent for the month of March. Again, Victor refused to accept the tendered rental fee and to surrender possession of the property to petitioner. Petitioner thus opened Savings Account No. 1-04-02558-I-1 with the China Banking Corporation, Cubao Branch, in the name of Victor Bartolome and deposited therein the P15,000.00 rental fee for March as well as P6,000.00 reservation fees for the months of February and March. Petitioner also tried to register and annotate the Contract on the title of Victor to the property. Although respondent Register of Deeds accepted the required fees, he nevertheless refused to register or annotate the same or even enter it in the day book or primary register.1wphi1.nt Thus, on April 23, 1990, petitioner filed a complaint for specific performance and damages against Victor and the Register of Deeds,3 docketed as Civil Case No. 3337-V-90 which was raffled off to Branch 171 of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela. Petitioner prayed for the surrender and delivery of possession of the subject land in accordance with the Contract terms; the surrender of title for registration and annotation thereon of the Contract; and the payment of P500,000.00 as actual damages, P500,000.00 as moral damages, P500,000.00 as exemplary damages and P300,000.00 as attorney's fees.

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Meanwhile, on May 8, 1990, a Motion for Intervention with Motion to Dismiss4 was filed by one Andres Lanozo, who claimed that he was and has been a tenant-tiller of the subject property, which was agricultural riceland, for forty-five years. He questioned the jurisdiction of the lower court over the property and invoked the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law to protect his rights that would be affected by the dispute between the original parties to the case. On May 18, 1990, the lower court issued an Order5 referring the case to the Department of Agrarian Reform for preliminary determination and certification as to whether it was proper for trial by said court. On July 4, 1990, the lower court issued another Order6 referring the case to Branch 172 of the RTC of Valenzuela which was designated to hear cases involving agrarian land, after the Department of Agrarian Reform issued a letter-certification stating that referral to it for preliminary determination is no longer required. On July 16, 1990, the lower court issued an Order denying the Motion to Intervene, 7 holding that Lanozo's rights may well be ventilated in another proceeding in due time. After trial on the merits, the RTC of Valenzuela, Branch 172 rendered its Decision on January 4, 1993, dismissing the Complaint and ordering petitioner to pay Victor P30,000.00 as attorney's fees. On appeal to the CA, the Decision was affirmed in toto. Hence, the instant Petition assigning the following errors: (A) FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE PROVISION ON THE NOTICE TO EXERCISE OPTION WAS NOT TRANSMISSIBLE. (B) SECOND ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE NOTICE OF OPTION MUST BE SERVED BY DKC UPON ENCARNACION BARTOLOME PERSONALLY. (C) THIRD ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CONTRACT WAS ONE-SIDED AND ONEROUS IN FAVOR OF DKC. (D) FOURTH ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE EXISTENCE OF A REGISTERED TENANCY WAS FATAL TO THE VALIDITY OF THE CONTRACT. (E) FIFTH ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

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THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT WAS LIABLE TO DEFENDANT-APPELLEE FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES.8 The issue to be resolved in this case is whether or not the Contract of Lease with Option to Buy entered into by the late Encarnacion Bartolome with petitioner was terminated upon her death or whether it binds her sole heir, Victor, even after her demise. Both the lower court and the Court of Appeals held that the said contract was terminated upon the death of Encarnacion Bartolome and did not bind Victor because he was not a party thereto. Art. 1311 of the Civil Code provides, as follows Art. 1311. Contracts take effect only between the parties, their assigns and heirs, except in case where the rights and obligations arising from the contract are not transmissible by their nature, or by stipulation or by provision of law. The heir is not liable beyond the value of the property he received from the decedent. xxx xxx xxx The general rule, therefore, is that heirs are bound by contracts entered into by their predecessors-in-interest except when the rights and obligations arising therefrom are not transmissible by (1) their nature, (2) stipulation or (3) provision of law. In the case at bar, there is neither contractual stipulation nor legal provision making the rights and obligations under the contract intransmissible. More importantly, the nature of the rights and obligations therein are, by their nature, transmissible. The nature of intransmissible rights as explained by Arturo Tolentino, an eminent civilist, is as follows: Among contracts which are intransmissible are those which are purely personal, either by provision of law, such as in cases of partnerships and agency, or by the very nature of the obligations arising therefrom, such as those requiring special personal qualifications of the obligor. It may also be stated that contracts for the payment of money debts are not transmitted to the heirs of a party, but constitute a charge against his estate. Thus, where the client in a contract for professional services of a lawyer died, leaving minor heirs, and the lawyer, instead of presenting his claim for professional services under the contract to the probate court, substituted the minors as parties for his client, it was held that the contract could not be enforced against the minors; the lawyer was limited to a recovery on the basis of quantum meruit.9 In American jurisprudence, "(W)here acts stipulated in a contract require the exercise of special knowledge, genius, skill, taste, ability, experience, judgment, discretion, integrity, or other personal qualification of one or both parties, the agreement is of a personal nature, and terminates on the death of the party who is required to render such service." 10 It has also been held that a good measure for determining whether a contract terminates upon the death of one of the parties is whether it is of such a character that it may be performed by the promissor's personal representative. Contracts to perform personal acts which cannot be as well performed by others are discharged by the death of the promissor. Conversely, where the service or act is of such a character that it may as well be performed by another, or where the contract, by its terms, shows that performance by others was contemplated, death does not terminate the contract or excuse nonperformance. 11 In the case at bar, there is no personal act required from the late Encarnacion Bartolome. Rather, the obligation of Encarnacion in the contract to deliver possession of the subject property to petitioner upon the exercise by the latter of its option to lease the same may very well be performed by her heir Victor. As early as 1903, it was held that "(H)e who contracts does so for himself and his heirs." 12 In 1952, it was ruled that if the predecessor was duty-bound to reconvey land to another, and at his death the reconveyance had not been made, the heirs can be compelled to execute the proper deed for reconveyance. This was grounded upon the principle that heirs cannot escape the legal consequence of a transaction entered into by their predecessor-in-interest because they have inherited the property subject to the liability affecting their common ancestor. 13

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It is futile for Victor to insist that he is not a party to the contract because of the clear provision of Article 1311 of the Civil Code. Indeed, being an heir of Encarnacion, there is privity of interest between him and his deceased mother. He only succeeds to what rights his mother had and what is valid and binding against her is also valid and binding as against him. 14 This is clear from Paraaque Kings Enterprises vs. Court of Appeals, 15 where this Court rejected a similar defense With respect to the contention of respondent Raymundo that he is not privy to the lease contract, not being the lessor nor the lessee referred to therein, he could thus not have violated its provisions, but he is nevertheless a proper party. Clearly, he stepped into the shoes of the owner-lessor of the land as, by virtue of his purchase, he assumed all the obligations of the lessor under the lease contract. Moreover, he received benefits in the form of rental payments. Furthermore, the complaint, as well as the petition, prayed for the annulment of the sale of the properties to him. Both pleadings also alleged collusion between him and respondent Santos which defeated the exercise by petitioner of its right of first refusal. In order then to accord complete relief to petitioner, respondent Raymundo was a necessary, if not indispensable, party to the case. A favorable judgment for the petitioner will necessarily affect the rights of respondent Raymundo as the buyer of the property over which petitioner would like to assert its right of first option to buy. In the case at bar, the subject matter of the contract is likewise a lease, which is a property right. The death of a party does not excuse nonperformance of a contract which involves a property right, and the rights and obligations thereunder pass to the personal representatives of the deceased. Similarly, nonperformance is not excused by the death of the party when the other party has a property interest in the subject matter of the contract. 16 Under both Article 1311 of the Civil Code and jurisprudence, therefore, Victor is bound by the subject Contract of Lease with Option to Buy. That being resolved, we now rule on the issue of whether petitioner had complied with its obligations under the contract and with the requisites to exercise its option. The payment by petitioner of the reservation fees during the two-year period within which it had the option to lease or purchase the property is not disputed. In fact, the payment of such reservation fees, except those for February and March, 1990 were admitted by Victor. 17 This is clear from the transcripts, to wit ATTY. MOJADO: One request, Your Honor. The last payment which was allegedly made in January 1990 just indicate in that stipulation that it was issued November of 1989 and postdated January 1990 and then we will admit all. COURT: All reservation fee? ATTY. MOJADO: Yes, Your Honor. COURT: All as part of the lease? ATTY. MOJADO: Reservation fee, Your Honor. There was no payment with respect to payment of rentals.
18

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Petitioner also paid the P15,000.00 monthly rental fee on the subject property by depositing the same in China Bank Savings Account No. 1-04-02558-I-1, in the name of Victor as the sole heir of Encarnacion Bartolome, 19 for the months of March to July 30, 1990, or a total of five (5) months, despite the refusal of Victor to turn over the subject property. 20 Likewise, petitioner complied with its duty to inform the other party of its intention to exercise its option to lease through its letter dated Match 12, 1990, 21 well within the two-year period for it to exercise its option. Considering that at that time Encarnacion Bartolome had already passed away, it was legitimate for petitioner to have addressed its letter to her heir. It appears, therefore, that the exercise by petitioner of its option to lease the subject property was made in accordance with the contractual provisions. Concomitantly, private respondent Victor Bartolome has the obligation to surrender possession of and lease the premises to petitioner for a period of six (6) years, pursuant to the Contract of Lease with Option to Buy. Coming now to the issue of tenancy, we find that this is not for this Court to pass upon in the present petition. We note that the Motion to Intervene and to Dismiss of the alleged tenant, Andres Lanozo, was denied by the lower court and that such denial was never made the subject of an appeal. As the lower court stated in its Order, the alleged right of the tenant may well be ventilated in another proceeding in due time. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant Petition for Review is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 40849 and that of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela in Civil Case No. 3337-V-90 are both SET ASIDE and a new one rendered ordering private respondent Victor Bartolome to: (a) surrender and deliver possession of that parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. V-14249 by way of lease to petitioner and to perform all obligations of his predecessor-in-interest, Encarnacion Bartolome, under the subject Contract of Lease with Option to Buy; (b) surrender and deliver his copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. V-14249 to respondent Register of Deeds for registration and annotation thereon of the subject Contract of Lease with Option to Buy; (c) pay costs of suit. Respondent Register of Deeds is, accordingly, ordered to register and annotate the subject Contract of Lease with Option to Buy at the back of Transfer Certificate of Title No. V-14249 upon submission by petitioner of a copy thereof to his office. SO ORDERED.1wphi1.nt Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Kapunan and Pardo, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 113725 June 29, 2000

JOHNNY S. RABADILLA,1 petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND MARIA MARLENA2 COSCOLUELLA Y BELLEZA VILLACARLOS, respondents. DECISION PURISIMA, J.:

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

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Dr. Jorge Rabadilla died in 1983 and was survived by his wife Rufina and children Johnny (petitioner), Aurora, Ofelia and Zenaida, all surnamed Rabadilla. On August 21, 1989, Maria Marlena Coscolluela y Belleza Villacarlos brought a complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 5588, before Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City, against the above-mentioned heirs of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, to enforce the provisions of subject Codicil. The Complaint alleged that the defendant-heirs violated the conditions of the Codicil, in that: 1. Lot No. 1392 was mortgaged to the Philippine National Bank and the Republic Planters Bank in disregard of the testatrix's specific instruction to sell, lease, or mortgage only to the near descendants and sister of the testatrix. 2. Defendant-heirs failed to comply with their obligation to deliver one hundred (100) piculs of sugar (75 piculs export sugar and 25 piculs domestic sugar) to plaintiff Maria Marlena Coscolluela y Belleza from sugar crop years 1985 up to the filing of the complaint as mandated by the Codicil, despite repeated demands for compliance. 3. The banks failed to comply with the 6th paragraph of the Codicil which provided that in case of the sale, lease, or mortgage of the property, the buyer, lessee, or mortgagee shall likewise have the obligation to deliver 100 piculs of sugar per crop year to herein private respondent. The plaintiff then prayed that judgment be rendered ordering defendant-heirs to reconvey/return-Lot No. 1392 to the surviving heirs of the late Aleja Belleza, the cancellation of TCT No. 44498 in the name of the deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, and the issuance of a new certificate of title in the names of the surviving heirs of the late Aleja Belleza. On February 26, 1990, the defendant-heirs were declared in default but on March 28, 1990 the Order of Default was lifted, with respect to defendant Johnny S. Rabadilla, who filed his Answer, accordingly. During the pre-trial, the parties admitted that: On November 15, 1998, the plaintiff (private respondent) and a certain Alan Azurin, son-in-law of the herein petitioner who was lessee of the property and acting as attorney-in-fact of defendant-heirs, arrived at an amicable settlement and entered into a Memorandum of Agreement on the obligation to deliver one hundred piculs of sugar, to the following effect: "That for crop year 1988-89, the annuity mentioned in Entry No. 49074 of TCT No. 44489 will be delivered not later than January of 1989, more specifically, to wit: 75 piculs of 'A' sugar, and 25 piculs of 'B' sugar, or then existing in any of our names, Mary Rose Rabadilla y Azurin or Alan Azurin, during December of each sugar crop year, in Azucar Sugar Central; and, this is considered compliance of the annuity as mentioned, and in the same manner will compliance of the annuity be in the next succeeding crop years. That the annuity above stated for crop year 1985-86, 1986-87, and 1987-88, will be complied in cash equivalent of the number of piculs as mentioned therein and which is as herein agreed upon, taking into consideration the composite price of sugar during each sugar crop year, which is in the total amount of ONE HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P105,000.00). That the above-mentioned amount will be paid or delivered on a staggered cash installment, payable on or before the end of December of every sugar crop year, to wit: For 1985-86, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1988-89; For 1986-87, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1989-90; For 1987-88, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1990-91; and

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For 1988-89, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00) Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1991-92."5 However, there was no compliance with the aforesaid Memorandum of Agreement except for a partial delivery of 50.80 piculs of sugar corresponding to sugar crop year 1988 -1989. On July 22, 1991, the Regional Trial Court came out with a decision, dismissing the complaint and disposing as follows: "WHEREFORE, in the light of the aforegoing findings, the Court finds that the action is prematurely filed as no cause of action against the defendants has as yet arose in favor of plaintiff. While there maybe the non-performance of the command as mandated exaction from them simply because they are the children of Jorge Rabadilla, the title holder/owner of the lot in question, does not warrant the filing of the present complaint. The remedy at bar must fall. Incidentally, being in the category as creditor of the left estate, it is opined that plaintiff may initiate the intestate proceedings, if only to establish the heirs of Jorge Rabadilla and in order to give full meaning and semblance to her claim under the Codicil. In the light of the aforegoing findings, the Complaint being prematurely filed is DISMISSED without prejudice. SO ORDERED."6 On appeal by plaintiff, the First Division of the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court; ratiocinating and ordering thus: "Therefore, the evidence on record having established plaintiff-appellant's right to receive 100 piculs of sugar annually out of the produce of Lot No. 1392; defendants-appellee's obligation under Aleja Belleza's codicil, as heirs of the modal heir, Jorge Rabadilla, to deliver such amount of sugar to plaintiff-appellant; defendants-appellee's admitted non-compliance with said obligation since 1985; and, the punitive consequences enjoined by both the codicil and the Civil Code, of seizure of Lot No. 1392 and its reversion to the estate of Aleja Belleza in case of such non-compliance, this Court deems it proper to order the reconveyance of title over Lot No. 1392 from the estates of Jorge Rabadilla to the estate of Aleja Belleza. However, plaintiff-appellant must institute separate proceedings to re-open Aleja Belleza's estate, secure the appointment of an administrator, and distribute Lot No. 1392 to Aleja Belleza's legal heirs in order to enforce her right, reserved to her by the codicil, to receive her legacy of 100 piculs of sugar per year out of the produce of Lot No. 1392 until she dies. Accordingly, the decision appealed from is SET ASIDE and another one entered ordering defendants-appellees, as heirs of Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey title over Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza. SO ORDERED."7 Dissatisfied with the aforesaid disposition by the Court of Appeals, petitioner found his way to this Court via the present petition, contending that the Court of Appeals erred in ordering the reversion of Lot 1392 to the estate of the testatrix Aleja Belleza on the basis of paragraph 6 of the Codicil, and in ruling that the testamentary institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla is a modal institution within the purview of Article 882 of the New Civil Code. The petition is not impressed with merit. Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in resolving the appeal in accordance with Article 882 of the New Civil Code on modal institutions and in deviating from the sole issue raised which is the absence or prematurity of the cause of action. Petitioner maintains that Article 882 does not find application as there was no modal institution and the testatrix intended a mere simple substitution - i.e. the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, was to be substituted by the testatrix's "near descendants" should the obligation to deliver the fruits to herein private respondent be not complied with. And since the testatrix died single and without issue, there can be no valid substitution and such testamentary provision cannot be given any effect. The petitioner theorizes further that there can be no valid substitution for the reason that the substituted heirs are not definite, as the substituted heirs are merely referred to as "near descendants" without a definite identity or reference as to who are the "near descendants" and therefore, under Articles 8438 and 8459 of the New Civil Code, the substitution should be deemed as not written.

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The contentions of petitioner are untenable. Contrary to his supposition that the Court of Appeals deviated from the issue posed before it, which was the propriety of the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of prematurity of cause of action, there was no such deviation. The Court of Appeals found that the private respondent had a cause of action against the petitioner. The disquisition made on modal institution was, precisely, to stress that the private respondent had a legally demandable right against the petitioner pursuant to subject Codicil; on which issue the Court of Appeals ruled in accordance with law. It is a general rule under the law on succession that successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent 10 and compulsory heirs are called to succeed by operation of law. The legitimate children and descendants, in relation to their legitimate parents, and the widow or widower, are compulsory heirs.11 Thus, the petitioner, his mother and sisters, as compulsory heirs of the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, succeeded the latter by operation of law, without need of further proceedings, and the successional rights were transmitted to them from the moment of death of the decedent, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. Under Article 776 of the New Civil Code, inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a person, not extinguished by his death. Conformably, whatever rights Dr. Jorge Rabadilla had by virtue of subject Codicil were transmitted to his forced heirs, at the time of his death. And since obligations not extinguished by death also form part of the estate of the decedent; corollarily, the obligations imposed by the Codicil on the deceased Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, were likewise transmitted to his compulsory heirs upon his death. In the said Codicil, testatrix Aleja Belleza devised Lot No. 1392 to Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, subject to the condition that the usufruct thereof would be delivered to the herein private respondent every year. Upon the death of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, his compulsory heirs succeeded to his rights and title over the said property, and they also assumed his (decedent's) obligation to deliver the fruits of the lot involved to herein private respondent. Such obligation of the instituted heir reciprocally corresponds to the right of private respondent over the usufruct, the fulfillment or performance of which is now being demanded by the latter through the institution of the case at bar. Therefore, private respondent has a cause of action against petitioner and the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint below. Petitioner also theorizes that Article 882 of the New Civil Code on modal institutions is not applicable because what the testatrix intended was a substitution - Dr. Jorge Rabadilla was to be substituted by the testatrix's near descendants should there be noncompliance with the obligation to deliver the piculs of sugar to private respondent. Again, the contention is without merit. Substitution is the designation by the testator of a person or persons to take the place of the heir or heirs first instituted. Under substitutions in general, the testator may either (1) provide for the designation of another heir to whom the property shall pass in case the original heir should die before him/her, renounce the inheritance or be incapacitated to inherit, as in a simple substitution, 12 or (2) leave his/her property to one person with the express charge that it be transmitted subsequently to another or others, as in a fideicommissary substitution. 13 The Codicil sued upon contemplates neither of the two. In simple substitutions, the second heir takes the inheritance in default of the first heir by reason of incapacity, predecease or renunciation. 14 In the case under consideration, the provisions of subject Codicil do not provide that should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla default due to predecease, incapacity or renunciation, the testatrix's near descendants would substitute him. What the Codicil provides is that, should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the conditions imposed in the Codicil, the property referred to shall be seized and turned over to the testatrix's near descendants. Neither is there a fideicommissary substitution here and on this point, petitioner is correct. In a fideicommissary substitution, the first heir is strictly mandated to preserve the property and to transmit the same later to the second heir.15 In the case under consideration, the instituted heir is in fact allowed under the Codicil to alienate the property provided the negotiation is with the near descendants or the sister of the testatrix. Thus, a very important element of a fideicommissary substitution is lacking; the obligation clearly imposing upon the first heir the preservation of the property and its transmission to the second heir. "Without this obligation to preserve clearly imposed by the testator in his will, there is no fideicommissary substitution."16 Also, the near descendants' right to inherit from the testatrix is not definite. The property will only pass to them should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the obligation to deliver part of the usufruct to private respondent.

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Another important element of a fideicommissary substitution is also missing here. Under Article 863, the second heir or the fideicommissary to whom the property is transmitted must not be beyond one degree from the first heir or the fiduciary. A fideicommissary substitution is therefore, void if the first heir is not related by first degree to the second heir.17 In the case under scrutiny, the near descendants are not at all related to the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. The Court of Appeals erred not in ruling that the institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is in the nature of a modal institution and therefore, Article 882 of the New Civil Code is the provision of law in point. Articles 882 and 883 of the New Civil Code provide: Art. 882. The statement of the object of the institution or the application of the property left by the testator, or the charge imposed on him, shall not be considered as a condition unless it appears that such was his intention. That which has been left in this manner may be claimed at once provided that the instituted heir or his heirs give security for compliance with the wishes of the testator and for the return of anything he or they may receive, together with its fruits and interests, if he or they should disregard this obligation. Art. 883. When without the fault of the heir, an institution referred to in the preceding article cannot take effect in the exact manner stated by the testator, it shall be complied with in a manner most analogous to and in conformity with his wishes. The institution of an heir in the manner prescribed in Article 882 is what is known in the law of succession as an institucion sub modo or a modal institution. In a modal institution, the testator states (1) the object of the institution, (2) the purpose or application of the property left by the testator, or (3) the charge imposed by the testator upon the heir.18 A "mode" imposes an obligation upon the heir or legatee but it does not affect the efficacy of his rights to the succession. 19 On the other hand, in a conditional testamentary disposition, the condition must happen or be fulfilled in order for the heir to be entitled to succeed the testator. The condition suspends but does not obligate; and the mode obligates but does not suspend. 20 To some extent, it is similar to a resolutory condition. 21 From the provisions of the Codicil litigated upon, it can be gleaned unerringly that the testatrix intended that subject property be inherited by Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. It is likewise clearly worded that the testatrix imposed an obligation on the said instituted heir and his successors-in-interest to deliver one hundred piculs of sugar to the herein private respondent, Marlena Coscolluela Belleza, during the lifetime of the latter. However, the testatrix did not make Dr. Jorge Rabadilla's inheritance and the effectivity of his institution as a devisee, dependent on the performance of the said obligation. It is clear, though, that should the obligation be not complied with, the property shall be turned over to the testatrix's near descendants. The manner of institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is evidently modal in nature because it imposes a charge upon the instituted heir without, however, affecting the efficacy of such institution. Then too, since testamentary dispositions are generally acts of liberality, an obligation imposed upon the heir should not be considered a condition unless it clearly appears from the Will itself that such was the intention of the testator. In case of doubt, the institution should be considered as modal and not conditional. 22 Neither is there tenability in the other contention of petitioner that the private respondent has only a right of usufruct but not the right to seize the property itself from the instituted heir because the right to seize was expressly limited to violations by the buyer, lessee or mortgagee. In the interpretation of Wills, when an uncertainty arises on the face of the Will, as to the application of any of its provisions, the testator's intention is to be ascertained from the words of the Will, taking into consideration the circumstances under which it was made.23 Such construction as will sustain and uphold the Will in all its parts must be adopted.24 Subject Codicil provides that the instituted heir is under obligation to deliver One Hundred (100) piculs of sugar yearly to Marlena Belleza Coscuella. Such obligation is imposed on the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, his heirs, and their buyer, lessee, or mortgagee should they sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise negotiate the property involved. The Codicil further provides that in the event that the obligation to deliver the sugar is not respected, Marlena Belleza Coscuella shall seize the property and turn it over to the testatrix's near descendants. The non-performance of the said obligation is thus with the sanction of seizure of the property and reversion thereof to the testatrix's near descendants. Since the said obligation is clearly imposed by the testatrix, not only on the instituted heir but also on his successors-in-interest, the sanction imposed

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by the testatrix in case of non-fulfillment of said obligation should equally apply to the instituted heir and his successors-ininterest. Similarly unsustainable is petitioner's submission that by virtue of the amicable settlement, the said obligation imposed by the Codicil has been assumed by the lessee, and whatever obligation petitioner had become the obligation of the lessee; that petitioner is deemed to have made a substantial and constructive compliance of his obligation through the consummated settlement between the lessee and the private respondent, and having consummated a settlement with the petitioner, the recourse of the private respondent is the fulfillment of the obligation under the amicable settlement and not the seizure of subject property. Suffice it to state that a Will is a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a person disposes of his property, to take effect after his death.25 Since the Will expresses the manner in which a person intends how his properties be disposed, the wishes and desires of the testator must be strictly followed. Thus, a Will cannot be the subject of a compromise agreement which would thereby defeat the very purpose of making a Will. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated December 23, 1993, in CA-G.R. No. CV-35555 AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs SO ORDERED. Melo, J., (Chairman), concur in the separate opinion of Justice Vitug. Vitug, J., see separate opinion. Panganiban, J., join the separate opinion of Justice Vitug. Gonzaga-Reyes, J., no part. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-33157 June 29, 1982 BENITO H. LOPEZ, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS and THE PHILIPPINE AMERICAN GENERAL INSURANCE CO., INC., respondents.

GUERRERO, J.: On June 2, 1959, petitioner Benito H. Lopez obtained a loan in the amount of P20,000.00 from the Prudential Bank and Trust Company. On the same date, he executed a promissory note for the same amount, in favor of the said Bank, binding himself to repay the said sum one (1) year after the said date, with interest at the rate of 10% per annum. In addition to said promissory note, he executed Surety Bond No. 14164 in which he, as principal, and Philippine American General Insurance Co., Inc. (PHILAMGEN) as surety, bound themselves jointly and severally in favor of Prudential Bank for the payment of the sum of P20,000.00. On the same occasion, Lopez also executed in favor of Philamgen an indemnity agreement whereby he agreed "to indemnify the Company and keep it indemnified and hold the same harmless from and against any and all damages, losses, costs, stamps, taxes, penalties, charges and expenses of whatever kind and nature which the Company shall or may at any time sustain or incur in consequence of having become surety upon the bond." 1 At the same time, Lopez executed a deed of assignment of 4,000 shares of the Baguio Military Institution entitled "Stock Assignment Separate from Certificate", which reads:

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This deed of assignment executed by BENITO H. LOPEZ, Filipino, of legal age, married and with residence and postal address at Baguio City, Philippines, now and hereinafter called the "ASSIGNOR", in favor of the PHILIPPINE AMERICAN GENERAL INSURANCE CO., INC., a corporation duly organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the Philippines, with principal offices at Wilson Building, Juan Luna, Manila, Philippines, now and hereinafter called the "ASSIGNEE-SURETY COMPANY" WITNESSETH That for and in consideration of the obligations undertaken by the ASSIGNEE-SURETY COMPANY under the terms and conditions of SURETY BOND NO. 14164, issued on behalf of said BENITO H. LOPEZ and in favor of the PRUDENTIAL BANK & TRUST COMPANY, Manila, Philippines, in the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS ONLY (P20,000.00), Philippine Currency, and for value received, the ASSIGNOR hereby sells, assigns, and transfers unto THE PHILIPPINE AMERICAN GENERAL INSURANCE CO., INC., Four Thousand (4,000) shares of the Baguio military Institute, Inc. standing in the name of said Assignor on the books of said Baguio Military Institute, Inc. represented by Certificate No. 44 herewith and do hereby irrevocably constitutes and appoints THE PHILIPPINE AMERICAN GENERAL INSURANCE CO., INC. as attorney to transfer the said stock on the books of the within named military institute with full power of substitution in the premises. 2 With the execution of this deed of assignment, Lopez endorsed the stock certificate and delivered it to Philamgen. It appears from the evidence on record that the loan of P20,000.00 was approved conditioned upon the posting of a surety bond of a bonding company acceptable to the bank. Thus, Lopez persuaded Emilio Abello, Assistant Executive VicePresident of Philamgen and member of the Bond Under writing Committee to request Atty. Timoteo J. Sumawang, Assistant Vice- President and Manager of the Bonding Department, to accommodate him in putting up the bond against the security of his shares of stock with the Baguio Military Institute, Inc. It was their understanding that if he could not pay the loan, Vice-President Abello and Pio Pedrosa of the Prudential Bank would buy the shares of stocks and out of the proceeds thereof, the loan would be paid to the Prudential Bank. On June 2, 1960, Lopez' obligation matured without it being settled. Thus, the Prudential Bank made demands for payment both upon Lopez and Philamgen. In turn, Philamgen sent Lopez several written demands for the latter to pay his note (Exhibit H, H-1 & H-2), but Lopez did not comply with said demands. Hence, the Prudential Bank sometime in August, 1961 filed a case against them to enforce payment on the promissory note plus interest. Upon receipt of the copies of complaint, Atty. Sumawang confronted Emilio Abello and Pio Pedrosa regarding their commitment to buy the shares of stock of Lopez in the event that the latter failed to pay his obligations to the Prudential Bank. Vice-President Abello then instructed Atty. Sumawang to transfer the shares of stock to Philamgen and made a commitment that thereafter he (Abello) and Pio Pedrosa will buy the shares of stock from it so that the proceeds could be paid to the bank, and in the meantime Philamgen will not pay the bank because it did not want payment under the terms of the bank. 3 Due to said commitment and instruction of Vice-President Abello, Assistant Treasurer Marcial C. Cruz requested the transfer of Stock Certificate No. 44 for 4,000 shares to Philamgen in a letter dated October 31, 1961. Stock Certificate No. 44 in the name of Lopez was accordingly cancelled and in lieu thereof Stock Certificate No. 171 was issued by the Baguio Military Institute in the name of Philamgen on November 17, 1961. The complaint was thereafter dismissed. But when no payment was still made by the principal debtor or by the surety, the Prudential Bank filed on November 8, 1963 another complaint for the recovery of the P20,000.00. On November 18, 1963, after being informed of said complaint, Lopez addressed the following letter to Philamgen: Dear Mr. Sumawang: This is with reference to yours of the 13th instant advising me of a complaint filed against us by Prudential Bank & Trust Co. regarding my loan of P20,000.00. In this connection, I would like to know what happened to my shares of stocks of Baguio Military Academy which were pledged to your

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goodselves to secure said obligation. These shares of stock I think are more than enough to answer for said obligation. 4 On December 9, 1963, Philamgen was forced to pay the Prudential Bank the sum of P27,785.89 which included the principal loan and accumulated interest and the Prudential Bank executed a subrogation receipt on the same date. On March 18, 1965, Philamgen brought an action in the Court of First Instance of Manila (Civil Case No. 60272, "The Philippine American General Insurance Co., Inc. vs. Benito H. Lopez") for reimbursement of the said amount. After hearing, the said court rendered judgment dismissing the complaint holding: The contention of the plaintiff that the stock of the defendant were merely pledged to it by the defendant is not borne out by the evidence. On the contrary, it appears to be contradicted by the facts of the case. The shares of stock of the defendant were actually transferred to the plaintiff when it became clear after the plaintiff and the defendant had been sued by the Prudential Bank that plaintiff would be compelled to make the payment to the Prudential Bank, in view of the inability of the defendant Benito H. Lopez to pay his said obligation. The certificate bearing No. 44 was cancelled and upon request of the plaintiff to the Baguio Military Institute a new certificate of stock was issued in the name of the plaintiff bearing No. 171, by means of which plaintiff became the registered owner of the 4,000 shares originally belonging to the defendant. It is noteworthy that the transfer of the stocks of the defendant in the name of the plaintiff company was made at the instance of Messrs. Abello and Pedrosa, who promised to buy the same from the plaintiff. Now that these shares of stock of the defendant had already been transferred in the name of the plaintiff, the defendant has already divested himself of the said stocks, and it would seem that the remedy of the plaintiff is to go after Messrs. Abello and Pedrosa on their promise to pay for the said stocks. To go after the defendant after the plaintiff had already become the owner of his shares of stock and compel him to pay his obligation to the Prudential Bank would be most unfair, unjust and illogical for it would amount to double payment on his part. After the plaintiff had already appropriated the said shares of stock, it has already lost its right to recover anything from the defendant, for the reason that the transfer of the said stocks was made without qualification. This transfer takes the form of a reimbursement of what plaintiff had paid to the Prudential Bank, thereby depriving the plaintiff of its right to go after the defendant herein. 5 Philamgen appealed to the Court of Appeals raising these assignments of errors: I The lower court erred in finding that the evidence does not bear out the contention of plaintiff that the shares of stock belonging to defendant were transferred by him to plaintiff by way of pledge. II The lower court erred in finding that plaintiff company appropriated unto itself the shares of stock pledged to it by defendant Benito Lopez and in finding that, with the transfer of the stock in the name of plaintiff company, the latter has already been paid or reimbursed what it paid to Prudential Bank. III The lower court erred in not finding that the instant case is one where the pledge has abandoned the security and elected instead to enforce his claim against the pledgor by ordinary action. 6 On December 17, 1970, the Court of Appeals promulgated a decision in favor of the Philamgen, thereby upholding the foregoing assignments of errors. It declared that the stock assignment was a mere pledge that the transfer of the stocks in the name of Philamgen was not intended to make it the owner thereof; that assuming that Philamgen had appropriated the stocks, this appropriation is null and void as a stipulation authorizing it is a pactum commissorium; and that pending

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payment, Philamgen is merely holding the stock as a security for the payment of Lopez' obligation. The dispositive portion of the said decision states: WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court is hereby reversed, and another one is hereby entered ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P27,785.89 with interest at the rate of 12% per annum from December 9, 1963, 10% of the P27,785.89 as attorney's fees and the costs of the suit. 7 The motion for reconsideration with prayer to set the same for oral argument having been denied, Lopez brought this petition for review on certiorari presenting for resolution these questions: a) Where, as in this case, a party "sells, assigns and transfers" and delivers shares of stock to another, duly endorsed in blank, in consideration of a contingent obligation of the former to the latter, and, the obligations having arisen, the latter causes the shares of stock to be transferred in its name, what is the juridical nature of the transaction-a dation in payment or a pledge? b) Where, as in this case, the debtor assigns the shares of stock to the creditor under an agreement between the latter and determinate third persons that the latter would buy the shares of stock so that the obligations could be paid out of the proceeds, was there a novation of the obligation by substitution of debtor? 8 Philamgen failed to file its comment on the petition for review on certiorari within the extended period which expired on March 19, 1971. This Court thereby resolved to require Lopez to file his brief. 9 Under the first assignment of error, Lopez argues in his brief: That the Court of Appeals erred in holding that when petitioner "sold, assigned, transferred" and delivered shares of stock, duly endorsed in blank, to private respondent in consideration of a contingent obligation of the former to the latter and the obligation having thereafter arisen, the latter caused the shares of stock to be transferred to it, taking a new certificate of stock in its name, the transaction was a pledge, and in not holding instead that it was a dation in payment. 10 Considering the explicit terms of the deed denominated "Stock Assignment Separate from Certificate", hereinbefore copied verbatim, Lopez sold, assigned and transferred unto Philamgen the stocks involved "for and in consideration of the obligations undertaken" by Philamgen "under the terms and conditions of the surety bond executed by it in favor of the Prudential Bank" and "for value received". On its face, it is neither pledge nor dation in payment. The document speaks of an outright sale as there is a complete and unconditional divestiture of the incorporeal property consisting of stocks from Lopez to Philamgen. The transfer appears to have been an absolute conveyance of the stocks to Philamgen whether or not Lopez defaults in the payment of P20,000.00 to Prudential Bank. While it is a conveyance in consideration of a contingent obligation, it is not itself a conditional conveyance. It is true that if Lopez should "well and truly perform and fulfill all the undertakings, covenants, terms, conditions, and agreements stipulated" in his promissory note to Prudential Bank, the obligation of Philamgen under the surety bond would become null and void. Corollarily, the stock assignment, which is predicated on the obligation of Philamgen under the surety bond, would necessarily become null and void likewise, for want of cause or consideration under Article 1352 of the New Civil Code. But this is not the case here because aside from the obligations undertaken by Philamgen under the surety bond, the stock assignment had other considerations referred to therein as "value received". Hence, based on the manifest terms thereof, it is an absolute transfer. Notwithstanding the express terms of the "Stock Assignment Separate from Certificate", however, We hold and rule that the transaction should not be regarded as an absolute conveyance in view of the circumstances obtaining at the time of the execution thereof. It should be remembered that on June 2, 1959, the day Lopez obtained a loan of P20,000.00 from Prudential Bank, Lopez executed a promissory note for ?20,000.00, plus interest at the rate of ten (10%) per cent per annum, in favor of said Bank. He likewise posted a surety bond to secure his full and faithful performance of his obligation under the promissory note with Philamgen as his surety. In return for the undertaking of Philamgen under the surety bond, Lopez executed on the same day not only an indemnity agreement but also a stock assignment.

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The indemnity agreement and the stock assignment must be considered together as related transactions because in order to judge the intention of the contracting parties, their contemporaneous and subsequent acts shall be principally considered. (Article 1371, New Civil Code). Thus, considering that the indemnity agreement connotes a continuing obligation of Lopez towards Philamgen while the stock assignment indicates a complete discharge of the same obligation, the existence of the indemnity agreement whereby Lopez had to pay a premium of P1,000.00 for a period of one year and agreed at all times to indemnify Philamgen of any and all kinds of losses which the latter might sustain by reason of it becoming a surety, is inconsistent with the theory of an absolute sale for and in consideration of the same undertaking of Philamgen. There would have been no necessity for the execution of the indemnity agreement if the stock assignment was really intended as an absolute conveyance. Hence, there are strong and cogent reasons to conclude that the parties intended said stock assignment to complement the indemnity agreement and thereby sufficiently guarantee the indemnification of Philamgen should it be required to pay Lopez' loan to Prudential Bank. The character of the transaction between the parties is to be determined by their intention, regardless of what language was used or what the form of the transfer was. If it was intended to secure the payment of money, it must be construed as a pledge; but if there was some other intention, it is not a pledge. However, even though a transfer, if regarded by itself, appears to have been absolute, its object and character might still be qualified and explained by a contemporaneous writing declaring it to have been a deposit of the property as collateral security. It has been said that a transfer of property by the debtor to a creditor, even if sufficient on its face to make an absolute conveyance, should be treated as a pledge if the debt continues in existence and is not discharged by the transfer, and that accordingly, the use of the terms ordinarily importing conveyance, of absolute ownership will not be given that effect in such a transaction if they are also commonly used in pledges and mortgages and therefore do not unqualifiedly indicate a transfer of absolute ownership, in the absence of clear and unambiguous language or other circumstances excluding an intent to pledge. 11 We agree with the holding of the respondent Court of Appeals that the stock assignment, Exhibit C, is in truth and in fact, a pledge. Indeed, the facts and circumstances leading to the execution of the stock assignment, Exhibit C, and the admission of Lopez prove that it is in fact a pledge. The appellate court is correct in ruling that the following requirements of a contract of pledge have been satisfied: (1) that it be constituted to secure the fulfillment of a principal obligation; (2) that the pledgor be the absolute owner of the thing pledged; and (3) that the person constituting the pledge has the free disposal of the property, and in the absence thereof, that he be legally authorized for the purpose. (Article 2085, New Civil Code). Article 2087 of the New Civil Code providing that it is also the essence of these contracts (pledge, mortgage, and antichresis) that when the principal obligation becomes due, the things in which the pledge or mortgage consists may be alienated for the payment to the creditor, further supports the appellate court's ruling, which We also affirm. On this point further, the Court of Appeals correctly ruled: In addition to the requisites prescribed in article 2085, it is necessary, in order to constitute the contract of pledge, that the thing pledged be placed in the possession of the creditor, or of a third person by common agreement. (Art. 2093, N.C.C.) Incorporeal rights, including shares of stock may also be pledged (Art. 2095, N.C.C.) All these requisites are found in the transaction between the parties leading to the execution of the Stock Assignment, Exhibit C. And that it is a pledge was admitted by the defendant in his letter of November 18, 1963, Exhibit G, already quoted above, where he asked what had happened to his shares of stock "which were pledged to your goodselves to secure the said obligation". The testimony of the defendant-appellee that it was their agreement or understanding that if he would be unable to pay the loan to the Prudential Bank, plaintiff could sell the shares of stock or appropriate the same in full payment of its debt is a mere after-thought, conceived after he learned of the transfer of his stock to the plaintiff in the books of the Baguio Military Institute. We also do not agree with the contention of petitioner that "petitioner's 'sale assignment and transfer' unto private respondent of the shares of stock, coupled with their endorsement in blank and delivery, comes exactly under the Civil Code's definition of dation in payment, a long recognized and deeply rooted concept in Civil Law denominated by Spanish commentators as 'adjudicacion en pago'". According to Article 1245 of the New Civil Code, dation in payment, whereby property is alienated to the creditor in satisfaction of a debt in money, shall be governed by the law of sales.

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Speaking of the concept of dation in payment, it is well to cite that: Dation in payment is the delivery and transmission of ownership of a thing by the debtor to the creditor as an accepted equivalent of the performance of the obligation. (2 Castan 525; 8 Manresa, 324) The property given may consist, not only of a thing, but also of a real right (such as a usufruct) or of a credit against a third person. (Perez Gonzales & Alguer :2-I Enneccerus, Kipp & Wolff 317). Thus, it has been held that the assignment to the creditor of the interest of the debtor in an inheritance in payment of his debt, is valid and extinguishes the debt. (Ignacio vs. Martinez, 33 Phil. 576) The modern concept of dation in payment considers it as a novation by change of the object, and this is to our mind the more juridically correct view. Our Civil Code, however, provides in this article that, where the debt is in money, the law on sales shall govern; in this case, the act is deemed to be a sale, with the amount of the obligation to the extent that it is extinguished being considered as the price. Does this mean that there can be no dation in payment if the debt is not in money? We do not think so. It is precisely in obligations which are not money debts, in which the true juridical nature of dation in payment becomes manifest. There is a real novation with immediate performance of the new obligation. The fact that there must be a prior agreement of the parties on the delivery of the thing in lieu of the original prestation shows that there is a novation which, extinguishes the original obligation, and the delivery is a mere performance of the new obligation. The dation in payment extinguishes the obligation to the extent of the value of the thing delivered, either as agreed upon by the parties or as may be proved, unless the parties by agreement, express or implied, or by their silence, consider the thing as equivalent to the obligation, in which case the obligation is totally extinguished. (8 Manresa 324; 3 Valverde 174 fn Assignment of property by the debtor to his creditors, provided for in article 1255, is similar to dation in payment in that both are substitute forms of performance of an obligation. Unlike the assignment for the benefit of creditors, however, dation in payment does not involve plurality of creditors, nor the whole of the property of the debtor. It does not suppose a situation of financial difficulties, for it may be made even by a person who is completely solvent. It merely involves a change of the object of the obligation by agreement of the parties and at the same time fulfilling the same voluntarily. (8 Manresa 324). 12 Considering the above jurisprudence, We find that the debt or obligation at bar has not matured on June 2, 1959 when Lopez "alienated" his 4,000 shares of stock to Philamgen. Lopez' obligation would arise only when he would default in the payment of the principal obligation (the loan) to the bank and Philamgen had to pay for it. Such fact being adverse to the nature and concept of dation in payment, the same could not have been constituted when the stock assignment was executed. Moreover, there is no express provision in the terms of the stock assignment between Philamgen and Lopez that the principal obligation (which is the loan) is immediately extinguished by reason of such assignment. In case of doubt as to whether a transaction is a pledge or a dation in payment, the presumption is in favor of pledge, the latter being the lesser transmission of rights and interests. Under American jurisprudence, A distinction might also be made between delivery of property in payment of debt and delivery of such property as collateral security for the debt. Generally, such a transfer was presumed to be made for collateral security, in the absence of evidence tending to show an intention on the part of the parties that the transfer was in satisfaction of the debt. This presumption of a transfer for collateral security arose particularly where the property given was commercial paper, or some other 'specialty' chose of action, that conferred rights upon transfer by delivery of a different nature from the debt, whose value was neither intrinsic nor apparent and was not agreed upon by the parties. 13 Petitioner's argument that even assuming, arguendo that the transaction was at its inception a pledge, it gave way to a dation in payment when the obligation secured came into existence and private respondent had the stocks transferred to it in the corporate books and took a stock certificate in its name, is without merit. The fact that the execution of the stock assignment is accompanied by the delivery of the shares of stock, duly endorsed in blank to Philamgen is no proof that the transaction is a dation in payment. Likewise, the fact that Philamgen had the shares of stock transferred to it in the books of the corporation and took a certificate in its name in lieu of Lopez which was cancelled does not amount to conversion of the

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stock to one's own use. The transfer of title to incorporeal property is generally an essential part of the delivery of the same in pledge. It merely constitutes evidence of the pledgee's right of property in the thing pledged. By the contract of pledge, the pledgor does not part with his general right of property in the collateral. The general property therein remains in him, and only a special property vests in the pledgee. The pledgee does not acquire an interest in the property, except as a security for his debt. Thus, the pledgee holds possession of the security subject to the rights of the pledgor; he cannot acquire any interest therein that is adverse to the pledgor's title. Moreover, even where the legal title to incorporeal property which may be pledged is transferred to a pledgee as collateral security, he takes only a special property therein Such transfer merely performs the office that the delivery of possession does in case of a pledge of corporeal property. xxx xxx xxx The pledgee has been considered as having a lien on the pledged property. The extent of such lien is measured by the amount of the debt or the obligation that is secured by the collateral, and the lien continues to exist as long as the pledgee retains actual or symbolic possession of the property, and the debt or obligation remains unpaid. Payment of the debt extinguishes the lien. Though a pledgee of corporation stock does not become personally liable as a stockholder of the company, he may have the shares transferred to him on the books of the corporation if he has been authorized to do so. The general property in the pledge remains in the pledgor after default as well as prior thereto. The failure of the pledgor to pay his debt at maturity in no way affects the nature of the pledgee's rights concerning the property pledged, except that he then becomes entitled to proceed to make the security available in the manner prescribed by law or by the terms of the contract, ... . 14 In his second assignment of error, petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in not holding that since private respondent entered into an agreement with determinate third persons whereby the latter would buy the said shares so sold, assigned and transferred to the former by the petitioner for the purpose of paying petitioner's obligation out of the proceeds, there was a novation of the obligation by substitution of debtor. We do not agree. Under Article 1291 of the New Civil Code, obligations may be modified by: (1) changing their object or principal condition; (2) substituting the person of the debtor; (3) subrogating a third person in the rights of the creditor. And in order that an obligation may be extinguished by another which substitute the same, it is imperative that it be so declared in unequivocal terms, or that the old and the new obligations be on every point incompatible with each other. (Article 1292, N.C.C.) Novation which consists in substituting a new debtor in the place of the original one, may be made even without the knowledge or against the will of the latter, but not without the consent of the creditor. Payment by the new debtor gives him the rights mentioned in Articles 1236 and 1237. (Article 1293, N.C.C.) Commenting on the second concept of novation, that is, substituting the person of the debtor, Manresa opines, thus: In this kind of novation it is pot enough to extend the juridical relation to a third person; it is necessary that the old debtor be released from the obligation, and the third person or new debtor take his place in the relation. Without such release, there is no novation; the third person who has assumed the obligation of the debtor merely becomes a co-debtor or a surety. If there is no agreement as to solidarity, the first and the new debtor are considered obligated jointly. (8 Manresa 435, cited in Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. IV, p. 360) In the case at bar, the undertaking of Messrs. Emilio Abello and Pio Pedrosa that they would buy the shares of stock so that Philamgen could be reimbursed from the proceeds that it paid to Prudential Bank does not necessarily imply the extinguishment of the liability of petitioner Lopez. Since it was not established nor shown that Lopez would be released from responsibility, the same does not constitute novation and hence, Philamgen may still enforce the obligation. As the

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Court of Appeals correctly held that "(t)he representation of Mr. Abello to Atty. Sumawang that he and Mr. Pedrosa would buy the stocks was a purely private arrangement between them, not an agreement between (Philamgen) and (Lopez)" and which We hereby affirm, petitioner's second assignment of error must be rejected. In fine, We hold and rule that the transaction entered into by and between petitioner and respondent under the Stock Assignment Separate From Certificate in relation to the Surety Bond No. 14164 and the Indemnity Agreement, all executed and dated June 2, 1959, constitutes a pledge of the 40,000 shares of stock by the petitioner-pledgor in favor of the private respondent-pledgee, and not a dacion en pago. It is also Our ruling that upon the facts established, there was no novation of the obligation by substitution of debtor. The promise of Abello and Pedrosa to buy the shares from private respondent not having materialized (which promise was given to said respondent only and not to petitioner) and no action was taken against the two by said respondent who chose instead to sue the petitioner on the Indemnity Agreement, it is quite clear that this respondent has abandoned its right and interest over the pledged properties and must, therefore, release or return the same to the petitioner-pledgor upon the latter's satisfaction of his obligation under the Indemnity Agreement. It must also be made clear that there is no double payment nor unjust enrichment in this case because We have ruled that the shares of stock were merely pledged. As the Court of Appeals said: The appellant (Philam) is not enriching himself at the expense of the appellee. True, the stock certificate of the appellee had been in the name of the appellant but the transfer was merely nominal, and was not intended to make the plaintiff the owner thereof. No offer had been made for the return of the stocks to the defendant. As the appellant had stated, the appellee could have the stocks transferred to him anytime as long as he reimburses the plaintiff the amount it had paid to the Prudential Bank. Pending payment, plaintiff is merely holding the certificates as a pledge or security for the payment of defendant's obligation. The above holding of the appellate court is correct and We affirm the same. As to the third assignment of error which is merely the consequence of the first two assignments of errors, the same is also devoid of merit. WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED in toto, with costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED. Barredo (Chairman), Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Abad Santos, De Castro and Escolin, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 176807 : December 09, 2009] RESTITUTO RAMOS V. FELIPE RAMOS Sirs/Mesdames:

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Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated 09 December 2009: G.R. No. 176807 (Restituto Ramos v. Felipe Ramos).This is a-case for annulment of title and reconveyance of property which was wrongfully registered in the name of another person. The Facts and the Case On October 31, 1995 respondent Felipe Ramos (Felipe) filed a complaint for annulment of title and reconveyance of property with damages against his brother, petitioner Restituto Ramos (Restituto), before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cagayan de Oro City. Respondent Felipe alleged[1] that on January 15, 1974 petitioner Restituto sold a 141-square meter lot in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental to a certain Felixberto Gutierrez (Felixberto). In turn, 20 years later on August 22, 1994 Felixberto sold the Alubijid lot to Felipe. Felipe discovered, however, that when Restituto caused the titling of his properties in Alubijid, he fraudulently included the lot that he already sold to Felixberto. The Office of the Register of 'Deeds of Misamis Oriental issue.d to Restituto Original Certificate of Title (OCT) 0-661 that covered the lot in question. Petitioner Restituto countered,[2] on the other hand, that the 1974 deed of absolute sale that he executed in Felixberto's favor was simulated. Restituto merely accommodated Felixberto to help him secure a bank loan, using the property as collateral. Although, the loan application did not push through, Restituto did not bother to get back the document because he regarded Felixberto a close friend. When their relationship soured, Felixberto used the simulated deed of sale to convey the property to Restituto's brother, respondent Felipe. At the trial, respondent Felipe presented Felixberto who testified about petitioner Restituto's sale to him in 1974 of the subject Alubijid lot and the house built on it[3] under a notarized deed of absolute sale dated January 15, 1974.[4] After the government demolished the house in a road widening project, Felixberto built a small motor vehicle repair shop on it [5] and allowed Patricio Fabre to set up his a la carte business on the property for free.[6] Never did Restitute claim ownership of the property or seek to oust Fabre or him from it from 1974 when Felixberto bought it. [7] In 1994, Felixberto sold the property to Felipe and moved out of it.[8] Alejandro Akut also testified for respondent Felipe. He knew petitioner Restituto because they were distant relatives and neighbors. [9] He and Felixberto were also cousins and neighbors. [10] Felixberto began residing on the disputed lot starting in 1974. Felixberto moved out in 1994 after selling the lot to Felipe.[11] Respondent Felipe affirmed Felixberto's sale of the subject lot to him on August 22, 1994.[12] When he told petitioner Restituto about it, the latter got angry, saying that he should have been informed of it beforehand because he had already acquired title over the lot.[13] In his defense, petitioner Restituto testified that in 1971 he acquired the Alubijid lot from respondent Felipe for P10,O00.00.[14] Felipe had earlier offered the property to others and approached his brother Restituto last. The latter bought the property even for a steep price because it was an inheritance from their father.[15] Restituto never sold the land to Felixberto; he merely accommodated the latter's request for a deed of sale that Felixberto needed for his bank loan application. [16] On April 1, 1998 the RTC rendered judgment, dismissing respondent Felipe's complaint. [17] It ruled that when petitioner Restituto succeeded in titling the lot in his name on April 27, 1977, it was Felixberto who owned the property. Consequently, when Felipe bought it from Felixberto on August 22, 1994, Felipe could not be the kind of owner that Section 53 of Presidential Decree 1529 contemplated as having the right to file an action for recovery of property fraudulently titled by other persons. Further, said the RTC, even assuming that respondent Felipe had the right to claim ownership of the lot, still reconveyance was no longer possible because he filed his action more than IS years after the registration court issued OCT 0-661 to petitioner Restituto. The prescriptive period for reconveyance of fraudulently registered real property is 10 years, reckoned from the date of the issuance of the certificate of title.[18]

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On appeal by respondent Felipe,[19] the Court of Appeals (CA) rendered judgment, reversing the RTC decision. [20] The CA ruled that the RTC misapplied the Caro case [21] when it ruled that the 10-year prescriptive period for reconveyance of fraudulently registered property, reckoned from the date of issuance of the certificate of title, barred Felipe's action. The CA reasoned out that after petitioner Restituto fraudulently deprived Felixberto of title to the property, Restituto became, by force of law, the implied trustee of the property for Felixberto's benefit.[22] And when Felixberto sold the same to Felipe in 1994, the latter was subrogated to Felixberto's rights, including his actual possession of the lot. Felipe's 1995 suit is an action for reconveyance based on implied or constructive trust. It does not prescribe in 10 years from date of issuance of decree of registration when the plaintiff has been in actual possession of the land.[23] Questions Presented The petition presents the following questions: 1. Whether or not respondent Felipe has a right of action to recover the property from petitioner Restituto, given that the latter acquired registered title over it long before Felixberto sold the same to Felipe; and 2. In the affirmative, whether or not prescription bars Felipe's action for reconveyance of property against Restituto. The Court's Ruling One. The Court finds no compelling reason to review the CA's finding that petitioner Restituto sold the subject lot to Felixberto. This finding is supported by a 1974 notarized deed of absolute sale that Restituto executed in Felixberto's favor. Respondent Felipe, in turn, acquired the property from Felixberto in 1994, also under a notarized deed of sale. The legal effect of notarized deeds of sale cannot be so easily overlooked. Notarization transforms a written act into a public one, making it admissible in evidence without further proof of the document's due execution and authenticity.[24] Notarized deeds of sale enjoy a presumption of regularity that can be rebutted only by clear, strong, and convincing evidence.[25] Petitioner Restituto's bare claim that the 1974 notarized deed that he executed in Felixberto's favor was sham and simulated cannot overcome the presumption of regularity that attaches to it. Since petitioner Restituto sold the subject lot to Felixberto in 1974, he had no right to have it included in the decree of registration that he caused to be issued to him in 1976 or in OCT 0-661 that the Office of the Register of Deeds issued in his name in 1977. The CA correctly invoked in this case the rule that, when a person wrongfully registers a property in his name, he becomes by force of law an implied trustee of such property for the benefit of its real owner. [26] Consequently, Felixberto or petitioner Felipe, his successor-in-interest, can avail himself of the action for reconveyance against Restituto covering the land.[27] Two. But does prescription bar respondent Felipe's action against petitioner Restituto for reconveyance of the property? In Waga v. Sacabin,[28] the Court had occasion to rule that, although the prescriptive period for the reconveyance of registered property is 10 years reckoned from the date of the issuance of the certificate of title, such period does not apply when the plaintiff has been in possession of the land he wants to be reconveyed to him. In the latter case, the right to seek reconveyance does not prescribe. The reason is that one in actual possession of the land may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right. Here, Felixberto was in possession of the lot from 1974, having bought it from petitioner Restituto. He was in possession when Restituto caused it to be titled in his name in 1977 and remained in undisturbed possession until 1994 when he sold the lot to respondent Felipe. Having wrongfully registered the title to the property in his name, Restituto held such title in trust for Felixberto who remained in possession. When Felipe bought the land from Felixberto in 1994, the latter's actual past possession was tacked to his own.[29] As soon as Felipe learned m 1995 that Restituto had secured a title on the property, Felipe immediately filed the present action. Prescription, therefore, has not barred his action. This decision does not undermine the Torrens system of land registration nor defeat the indefeasibility of OCT 0-661

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because it does not review the decree or re-open the registration proceedings. It merely enforces a trust. An action of reconveyance of property respects the decree of registration as incontrovertible, and merely seeks the transfer of the property wrongfully or erroneously registered in another's name to its rightful owner.[30] WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petition and AFFIRMS the Court of Appeals' decision dated October 17, 2006 in CA-G.R. CY 60279. SO ORDERED. WITNESS the Honorable Antonio T. Carpio, Chairperson, Honorable Conchita Carpio Morales (designated additional member per S.O. No. 807 in lieu of Brion, J., on leave), Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro (designated additional member per S.O. No. 776), Mariano C. Del Castillo and Roberto A. Abad, Members, Second Division, this 9th day of December, 2009. Very truly yours, (Sgd.) MA. LUISA L. LAUREA Clerk of C

CIVIL CODE ARTICLE 805

EN BANC G.R. No. L-10907 June 29, 1957

AUREA MATIAS, Petitioner, vs. HON. PRIMITIVO L. GONZALEZ, ETC., ET AL., Respondents. CONCEPCION, J.: chanrobles virtual law library Petitioner Aurea Matias seeks a writ of certiorari to annul certain orders of Hon. Primitivo L. Gonzales, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Cavite, in connection with Special Proceedings No. 5213 of said court, entitled "Testate Estate of the Deceased Gabina Raquel." chanrobles virtual law library On May 15, 1952, Aurea Matias initiated said special proceedings with a petition for the probate of a document purporting to be the last will and testament of her aunt, Gabina Raquel, who died single on May 8, 1952, at the age of 92 years. The heir to the entire estate of the deceased - except the properties bequeathed to her other niece and nephews, namely, Victorina Salud, Santiago Salud, Policarpio Salud, Santos Matias and Rafael Matias - is, pursuant to said instrument, Aurea Matias, likewise, appointed therein as executrix thereof, without bond. Basilia Salud, a first cousin of the deceased, opposed the probate of her alleged will, and, after appropriate proceedings, the court, presided over by respondent Judge, issued an order, dated February 8, 1956, sustaining said opposition and denying the petition for probate. Subsequently, Aurea Matias brought the matter on appeal to this Court (G.R. No. L-10751), where it is now pending decision.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library Meanwhile, or on February 17, 1956, Basilia Salud moved for the dismissal of Horacio Rodriguez, as special administrator of the estate of the deceased, and the appointment, in his stead of Ramon Plata. The motion was set for hearing on February 23, 1956, on which date the court postponed the hearing to February 27, 1956. Although notified of this order, Rodriguez did not appear on the date last mentioned. Instead, he filed an urgent motion praying for additional time within which to

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answer the charges preferred against him by Basilia Salud and for another postponement of said hearing. This motion was not granted, and Basilia Salud introduced evidence in support of said charges, whereupon respondent Judge by an order, dated February 27, 1956, found Rodriguez guilty of abuse of authority and gross negligence, and, accordingly, relieved him as special administrator of the estate of the deceased and appointed Basilia Salud as special administratrix thereof, to "be assisted and advised by her niece, Miss Victorina Salud," who "shall always act as aide, interpreter and adviser of Basilia Salud." Said order, likewise, provided that "Basilia Salud shall be helped by Mr. Ramon Plata . . . who is hereby appointed as co-administrator." chanrobles virtual law library On March 8, 1956, Aurea Matins asked that said order of February 27, 1956, be set aside and that she be appointed special co-administratrix, jointly with Horacio Rodriguez, upon the ground that Basilia Salud is over eighty (80) years of age, totally blind and physically incapacitated to perform the duties of said office, and that said movant is the universal heiress of the deceased and the person appointed by the latter as executrix of her alleged will. This motion was denied in an order dated March 10, 1956, which maintained "the appointment of the three above named persons" - Basilia Salud, Ramon Plata and Victorina Salud - "for the management of the estate of the late Gabina Raquel pending final decision on the probate of the alleged will of said decedent." However, on March 17, 1956, Basilia Salud tendered her resignation as special administratrix by reason of physical disability, due to old age, and recommended the appointment, in her place, of Victorina Salud. Before any action could be taken thereon, or on March 21, 1956, Aurea Matias sought a reconsideration of said order of March 10, 1956. Moreover, on March 24, 1956, she expressed her conformity to said resignation, but objected to the appointment, in lieu of Basilia Salud, of Victorina Salud, on account of her antagonism to said Aurea Matias - she (Victorina Salud) having been the principal and most interested witness for the opposition to the probate of the alleged will of the deceased - and proposed that the administration of her estate be entrusted to the Philippine National Bank, the Monte de Piedad, the Bank of the Philippine Islands, or any other similar institution authorized by law therefor, should the court be reluctant to appoint the movant as special administratrix of said estate. This motion for reconsideration was denied on March 26, 1956.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library Shortly afterwards, or on June 18, 1956, respondents Ramon Plata and Victorina Salud requested authority to collect the rents due, or which may be due, to the estate of the deceased and to collect all the produce of her lands, which was granted on June 23, 1956. On June 27, 1956, said respondents filed another motion praying for permission to sell the palay of the deceased then deposited in different rice mills in the province of Cavite, which respondent judge granted on June 10, 1956. Later on, or on July 10, 1956, petitioner instituted the present action against Judge Gonzales, and Victorina Salud and Ramon Plata, for the purpose of annulling the above mentioned orders of respondent Judge, upon the ground that the same had been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library In support of this pretense, it is argued that petitioner should have preference in the choice of special administratrix of the estate of the decedent, she (petitioner) being the universal heiress to said estate and, the executrix appointed in the alleged will of the deceased, that until its final disallowance - which has not, as yet, taken place she has a special interest in said estate, which must be protected by giving representation thereto in the management of said estate; that, apart from denying her any such representation, the management was given to persons partial to her main opponent, namely, Basilia Salud, inasmuch as Victorina Salud is allied to her and Ramon Plata is a very close friend of one of her (Basilia Salud's) attorneys; that Basilia Salud was made special administratrix despite her obvious unfitness for said office, she being over eighty (80) years of age and blind; that said disability is borne out by the fact that on March 17, 1956, Basilia Salud resigned as special administratrix upon such ground; that the Rules of Court do not permit the appointment of more than one special administrator; that Horacio Rodriguez was removed without giving petitioner a chance to be heard in connection therewith; and that Ramon Plata and Victorina Salud were authorized to collect the rents due to the deceased and the produce of her lands, as well to sell her palay, without previous notice to the petitioner herein.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library Upon the other hand, respondents maintain that respondent Judge acted with the scope of his jurisdiction and without any abuse of discretion; that petitioner can not validly claim any special interest in the estate of the deceased, because the probate of the alleged will and testament of the latter - upon which petitioner relies - has been denied; that Horacio Rodriguez was duly notified of the proceedings for his removal; and that Victorina Salud and Ramon Plata have not done anything that would warrant their removal.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library Upon a review of the record, we find ourselves unable to sanction fully the acts of respondent Judge, for the following reasons: chanrobles virtual law library

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1. Although Horacio Rodriguez had notice of the hearing of the motion for his removal, dated February 17, 1956, the record shows that petitioner herein received copy of said motion of February 24, 1956, or the date after that set for the hearing thereof. Again, notice of the order of respondent Judge, dated February 23, 1956, postponing said hearing to February 27, 1956, was not served on petitioner herein.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library 2. In her motion of February 17, 1956, Basilia Salud prayed for the dismissal of Horacio Rodriguez, and the appointment of Ramon Plata, as special administrator of said estate. Petitioner had, therefore, no notice that her main opponent, Basilia Salud, and the latter's principal witness, Victorina Salud, would be considered for the management of said. As a consequence, said petitioner had no opportunity to object to the appointment of Basilia Salud as special administratrix, and of Victorina Salud, as her assistant and adviser, and the order of February 27, 1956, to this effect, denied due process to said petitioner.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library 3. Said order was issued with evident knowledge of the physical disability of Basilia Salud. Otherwise respondent Judge would not have directed that she "be assisted and advised by her niece Victorina Salud," and that the latter "shall always act as aide, interpreter and adviser of Basilia Salud." chanrobles virtual law library 4. Thus, respondent Judge, in effect, appointed three (3) special administrators - Basilia Salud, Victorina Salud and Ramon Plata. Indeed, in the order of March 10, 1956, respondent Judge maintained "the appointment of the three (3) above-named persons for the management of the estate of the late Gabina Raquel." chanrobles virtual law library 5. Soon after the institution of said Special Proceedings No. 5213, an issue arose between Aurea Matias and Basilia Salud regarding the person to be appointed special administrator of the estate of the deceased. The former proposed Horacio Rodriguez, whereas the latter urged the appointment of Victorina Salud. By an order dated August 11, 1952, the Court, then presided over by Hon. Jose Bernabe, Judge, decided the matter in favor of Horacio Rodriguez and against Victorina Salud, upon the ground that, unlike the latter, who, as a pharmacist and employee in the Santa Isabel Hospital, resides In the City of Manila, the former, a practicing lawyer and a former public prosecutor, and later, mayor of the City of Cavite, is a resident thereof. In other words, the order of resident thereof. In other words, the order of respondent Judge of February 27, 1956, removing Rodriguez and appointing Victorina Salud to the management of the estate, amounted to a reversal of the aforementioned order of Judge Bernabe of August 11, 1952.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library 6. Although the probate of the alleged will and testament of Gabina Raquel was denied by respondent Judge, the order to this effect is not, as yet, final and executory. It is pending review on appeal taken by Aurea Matias. The probate of said alleged will being still within realm of legal possibility, Aurea Matias has - as the universal heir and executrix designated in said instrument - a special interest to protect during the pendency of said appeal. Thus, in the case of Roxas vs. Pecson* (46 Off. Gaz., 2058), this Court held that a widow, designated as executrix in the alleged will and testament of her deceased husband, the probate of which had denied in an order pending appeal, "has . . . the same beneficial interest after the decision of the court disapproving the will, which is now pending appeal, because the decision is not yet final and may be reversed by the appellate court." chanrobles virtual law library 7. The record shows that there are, at least two (2) factions among the heirs of the deceased, namely, one, represented by the petitioner, and another, to which Basilia Salud and Victorina Salud belong. Inasmuch as the lower court had deemed it best to appoint more than one special administrator, justice and equity demands that both factions be represented in the management of the estate of the deceased.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library The rule, laid down in Roxas vs. Pecson (supra), to the effect that "only one special administrator may be appointed to administrator temporarily" the estate of the deceased, must be considered in the light of the facts obtaining in said case. The lower court appointed therein one special administrator for some properties forming part of said estate, and a special administratrix for other properties thereof. Thus, there were two (2) separate and independent special administrators. In the case at bar there is only one (1) special administration, the powers of which shall be exercised jointly by two special coadministrators. In short, the Roxas case is not squarely in point. Moreover, there are authorities in support of the power of courts to appoint several special co-administrators (Lewis vs. Logdan, 87 A. 750; Harrison vs. Clark, 52 A. 514; In re Wilson's Estate, 61 N.Y.S. 2d., 49; Davenport vs. Davenport, 60 A. 379).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library Wherefore, the orders complained of are hereby annulled and set aside. The lower court should re-hear the matter of removal of Horacio Rodriguez and appointment of special administrators, after due notice to all parties concerned, for

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action in conformity with the views expressed herein, with costs against respondents Victorina Salud and Ramon Plata. It is so ordered.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes, J.B.L. and Felix, JJ., concur.

EN BANC G.R. No. L-4067 November 29, 1951

In the Matter of the will of ANTERO MERCADO, deceased. ROSARIO GARCIA, Petitioner, vs. JULIANA LACUESTA, ET AL., Respondents. PARAS, C.J.: chanrobles virtual law library This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals disallowing the will of Antero Mercado dated January 3, 1943. The will is written in the Ilocano dialect and contains the following attestation clause: We, the undersigned, by these presents to declare that the foregoing testament of Antero Mercado was signed by himself and also by us below his name and of this attestation clause and that of the left margin of the three pages thereof. Page three the continuation of this attestation clause; this will is written in Ilocano dialect which is spoken and understood by the testator, and it bears the corresponding number in letter which compose of three pages and all them were signed in the presence of the testator and witnesses, and the witnesses in the presence of the testator and all and each and every one of us witnesses.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library In testimony, whereof, we sign this statement, this the third day of January, one thousand nine hundred forty three, (1943) A.D. (Sgd.) NUMERIANO EVANGELISTA (Sgd.) BIBIANA ILLEGIBLE The will appears to have been signed by Atty. Florentino Javier who wrote the name of Antero Mercado, followed below by "A reugo del testator" and the name of Florentino Javier. Antero Mercado is alleged to have written a cross immediately after his name. The Court of Appeals, reversing the judgement of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte, ruled that the attestation clause failed (1) to certify that the will was signed on all the left margins of the three pages and at the end of the will by Atty. Florentino Javier at the express request of the testator in the presence of the testator and each and every one of the witnesses; (2) to certify that after the signing of the name of the testator by Atty. Javier at the former's request said testator has written a cross at the end of his name and on the left margin of the three pages of which the will consists and at the end thereof; (3) to certify that the three witnesses signed the will in all the pages thereon in the presence of the testator and of each other.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library (Sgd.) "ROSENDA CORTES

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In our opinion, the attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Antero Mercado caused Atty. Florentino Javier to write the testator's name under his express direction, as required by section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The herein petitioner (who is appealing by way of certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals) argues, however, that there is no need for such recital because the cross written by the testator after his name is a sufficient signature and the signature of Atty. Florentino Javier is a surplusage. Petitioner's theory is that the cross is as much a signature as a thumbmark, the latter having been held sufficient by this Court in the cases of De Gala vs. Gonzales and Ona, 53 Phil., 104; Dolar vs. Diancin, 55 Phil., 479; Payad vs. Tolentino, 62 Phil., 848; Neyra vs. Neyra, 76 Phil., 296 and Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil., 429.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library It is not here pretended that the cross appearing on the will is the usual signature of Antero Mercado or even one of the ways by which he signed his name. After mature reflection, we are not prepared to liken the mere sign of the cross to a thumbmark, and the reason is obvious. The cross cannot and does not have the trustworthiness of a thumbmark.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library What has been said makes it unnecessary for us to determine there is a sufficient recital in the attestation clause as to the signing of the will by the testator in the presence of the witnesses, and by the latter in the presence of the testator and of each other.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library Wherefore, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed, with against the petitioner. So ordered.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-15153 August 31, 1960

In the Matter of the summary settlement of the Estate of the deceased ANACLETA ABELLANA. LUCIO BALONAN, petitioner-appellee, vs. EUSEBIA ABELLANA, et al., oppositors-appellants. T. de los Santos for appellee. Climaco and Climaco for appellants. LABARADOR, J.: Appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga City admitting to probate the will of one Anacleta Abellana. The case was originally appealed to the Court of Appeals where the following assignment of error is made: The appellants respectfully submit that the Trial Court erred in holding that the supposed testament, Exh. "A", was signed in accordance with law; and in admitting the will to probate. In view of the fact that the appeal involves a question of law the said court has certified the case to us. The facts as found by the trial court are as follows: It appears on record that the last Will and Testament (Exhibit "A"), which is sought to be probated, is written in the Spanish language and consists of two (2) typewritten pages (pages 4 and 5 of the record) double space. The first page is signed by Juan Bello and under his name appears typewritten "Por la testadora Anacleta Abellana, residence Certificate A-1167629, Enero 20, 1951, Ciudad de Zamboanga', and on the second page appears the

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signature of three (3) instrumental witnesses Blas Sebastian, Faustino Macaso and Rafael Ignacio, at the bottom of which appears the signature of T. de los Santos and below his signature is his official designation as the notary public who notarized the said testament. On the first page on the left margin of the said instrument also appear the signatures of the instrumental witnesses. On the second page, which is the last page of said last Will and Testament, also appears the signature of the three (3) instrumental witnesses and on that second page on the left margin appears the signature of Juan Bello under whose name appears handwritten the following phrase, "Por la Testadora Anacleta Abellana'. The will is duly acknowledged before Notary Public Attorney Timoteo de los Santos. (Emphasis supplied) The appeal squarely presents the following issue: Does the signature of Dr. Juan A. Abello above the typewritten statement "Por la Testadora Anacleta Abellana . . ., Ciudad de Zamboanga," comply with the requirements of law prescribing the manner in which a will shall be executed? The present law, Article 805 of the Civil Code, in part provides as follows: 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 witness in the presence of the testator and of one another. (Emphasis supplied.) The clause "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," is practically the same as the provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Act No. 190) which reads as follows: No will, except as provided in the preceding section shall be valid to pass any estate, real or personal, nor charge or affect the same, unless it be in writing and signed by the testator, 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 each other. . . . (Emphasis supplied). Note that the old law as well as the new require that the testator himself sign the will, or if he cannot do so, the testator's name must be written by some other person in his presence and by his express direction. Applying this provision this Court said in the case of Ex Parte Pedro Arcenas, et al., Phil., 700: It will be noticed from the above-quoted section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure that where the testator does not know how, or is unable, to sign, it will not be sufficient that one of the attesting witnesses signs the will at the testator's request, the notary certifying thereto as provided in Article 695 of the Civil Code, which, in this respect, was modified by section 618 above referred to, but it is necessary that the testator's name be written by the person signing in his stead in the place where he could have signed if he knew how or was able to do so, and this in the testator's presence and by his express direction; so that a will signed in a manner different than that prescribed by law shall not be valid and will not be allowed to be probated. Where a testator does not know how, or is unable for any reason, to sign the will himself, it shall be signed in the following manner: John Doe by the testator, Richard Doe; or in this form: "By the testator, John Doe, Richard Doe." All this must be written by the witness signing at the request of the testator. Therefore, under the law now in force, the witness Naval A. Vidal should have written at the bottom of the will the full name of the testator and his own name in one forms given above. He did not do so, however, and this is failure to comply with the law is a substantial defect which affects the validity of the will and precludes its allowance, notwithstanding the fact that no one appeared to oppose it. The same ruling was laid down in the case of Cuison vs. Concepcion, 5 Phil., 552. In the case of Barut vs. Cabacungan, 21 Phil., 461, we held that the important thing is that it clearly appears that the name of the testatrix was signed at her express direction; it is unimportant whether the person who writes the name of the testatrix signs his own or not. Cases of the same

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import areas follows: (Ex Parte Juan Ondevilla, 13 Phil., 479, Caluya vs. Domingo, 27 Phil., 330; Garcia vs. Lacuesta, 90 Phil., 489). In the case at bar the name of the testatrix, Anacleta Abellana, does not appear written under the will by said Abellana herself, or by Dr. Juan Abello. There is, therefore, a failure to comply with the express requirement in the law that the testator must himself sign the will, or that his name be affixed thereto by some other person in his presence and by his express direction. It appearing that the above provision of the law has not been complied with, we are constrained to declare that the said will of the deceased Anacleta Abellana may not be admitted to probate. WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby set aside and the petition for the probate of the will denied. With costs against petitioner. Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Gutierrez David and Dizon, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-5971 February 27, 1911

BEATRIZ NERA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellees, vs. NARCISA RIMANDO, defendant-appellant. Valerio Fontanilla and Andres Asprer for appellant. Anacleto Diaz for appellees. CARSON, J.: The only question raised by the evidence in this case as to the due execution of the instrument propounded as a will in the court below, is whether one of the subscribing witnesses was present in the small room where it was executed at the time when the testator and the other subscribing witnesses attached their signatures; or whether at that time he was outside, some eight or ten feet away, in a large room connecting with the smaller room by a doorway, across which was hung a curtain which made it impossible for one in the outside room to see the testator and the other subscribing witnesses in the act of attaching their signatures to the instrument. A majority of the members of the court is of opinion that this subscribing witness was in the small room with the testator and the other subscribing witnesses at the time when they attached their signatures to the instrument, and this finding, of course, disposes of the appeal and necessitates the affirmance of the decree admitting the document to probate as the last will and testament of the deceased. The trial judge does not appear to have considered the determination of this question of fact of vital importance in the determination of this case, as he was of opinion that under the doctrine laid down in the case of Jaboneta vs. Gustilo (5 Phil. Rep., 541) the alleged fact that one of the subscribing witnesses was in the outer room when the testator and the other describing witnesses signed the instrument in the inner room, had it been proven, would not be sufficient in itself to invalidate the execution of the will. But we are unanimously of opinion that had this subscribing witness been proven to have been in the outer room at the time when the testator and the other subscribing witnesses attached their signatures to the instrument in the inner room, it would have been invalid as a will, the attaching of those signatures under circumstances not being done "in the presence" of the witness in the outer room. This because the line of vision from this witness to the testator and the other subscribing witnesses would necessarily have been impeded by the curtain separating the inner from the outer one "at the moment of inscription of each signature."

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In the case just cited, on which the trial court relied, we held that: The true test of presence of the testator and the witnesses in the execution of a will is not whether they actually saw each other sign, but whether they might have been seen each other sign, had they chosen to do so, considering their mental and physical condition and position with relation to each other at the moment of inscription of each signature. But it is especially to be noted that the position of the parties with relation to each other at the moment of the subscription of each signature, must be such that they may see each other sign if they choose to do so. This, of course, does not mean that the testator and the subscribing witnesses may be held to have executed the instrument in the presence of each other if it appears that they would not have been able to see each other sign at that moment, without changing their relative positions or existing conditions. The evidence in the case relied upon by the trial judge discloses that "at the moment when the witness Javellana signed the document he was actually and physically present and in such position with relation to Jaboneta that he could see everything that took place by merely casting his eyes in the proper direction and without any physical obstruction to prevent his doing so." And the decision merely laid down the doctrine that the question whether the testator and the subscribing witnesses to an alleged will sign the instrument in the presence of each other does not depend upon proof of the fact that their eyes were actually cast upon the paper at the moment of its subscription by each of them, but that at that moment existing conditions and their position with relation to each other were such that by merely casting the eyes in the proper direction they could have seen each other sign. To extend the doctrine further would open the door to the possibility of all manner of fraud, substitution, and the like, and would defeat the purpose for which this particular condition is prescribed in the code as one of the requisites in the execution of a will. The decree entered by the court below admitting the instrument propounded therein to probate as the last will and testament of Pedro Rimando, deceased, is affirmed with costs of this instance against the appellant. Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Moreland and Trent, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-18979 June 30, 1964

IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE JOSEFA VILLACORTE. CELSO ICASIANO, petitioner-appellee, vs. NATIVIDAD ICASIANO and ENRIQUE ICASIANO, oppositors-appellants. Jose W. Diokno for petitioner-appellee. Rosendo J. Tansinin for oppositor-appellant Natividad Icasiano. Jaime R. Nuevas for oppositor-appellant Enrique Icasiano. REYES, J.B.L., J.: Appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila admitting to probate the document and its duplicate, marked as Exhibits "A" and "A-1", as the true last will and testament of Josefa Villacorte, deceased, and appointing as executor Celso Icasiano, the person named therein as such. This special proceeding was begun on October 2, 1958 by a petition for the allowance and admission to probate of the original, Exhibit "A" as the alleged will of Josefa Villacorte, deceased, and for the appointment of petitioner Celso Icasiano as executor thereof.

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The court set the proving of the alleged will for November 8, 1958, and caused notice thereof to be published for three (3) successive weeks, previous to the time appointed, in the newspaper "Manila chronicle", and also caused personal service of copies thereof upon the known heirs. On October 31, 1958, Natividad Icasiano, a daughter of the testatrix, filed her opposition; and on November 10, 1958, she petitioned to have herself appointed as a special administrator, to which proponent objected. Hence, on November 18, 1958, the court issued an order appointing the Philippine Trust Company as special administrator. 1wph1.t On February 18, 1959, Enrique Icasiano, a son of the testatrix, also filed a manifestation adopting as his own Natividad's opposition to the probate of the alleged will. On March 19, 1959, the petitioner proponent commenced the introduction of his evidence; but on June 1, 1959, he filed a motion for the admission of an amended and supplemental petition, alleging that the decedent left a will executed in duplicate with all the legal requirements, and that he was, on that date, submitting the signed duplicate (Exhibit "A-1"), which he allegedly found only on or about May 26, 1959. On June 17, 1959, oppositors Natividad Icasiano de Gomez and Enrique Icasiano filed their joint opposition to the admission of the amended and supplemental petition, but by order of July 20, 1959, the court admitted said petition, and on July 30, 1959, oppositor Natividad Icasiano filed her amended opposition. Thereafter, the parties presented their respective evidence, and after several hearings the court issued the order admitting the will and its duplicate to probate. From this order, the oppositors appealed directly to this Court, the amount involved being over P200,000.00, on the ground that the same is contrary to law and the evidence. The evidence presented for the petitioner is to the effect that Josefa Villacorte died in the City of Manila on September 12, 1958; that on June 2, 1956, the late Josefa Villacorte executed a last will and testament in duplicate at the house of her daughter Mrs. Felisa Icasiano at Pedro Guevara Street, Manila, published before and attested by three instrumental witnesses, namely: attorneys Justo P. Torres, Jr. and Jose V. Natividad, and Mr. Vinicio B. Diy; that the will was acknowledged by the testatrix and by the said three instrumental witnesses on the same date before attorney Jose Oyengco Ong, Notary Public in and for the City of Manila; and that the will was actually prepared by attorney Fermin Samson, who was also present during the execution and signing of the decedent's last will and testament, together with former Governor Emilio Rustia of Bulacan, Judge Ramon Icasiano and a little girl. Of the said three instrumental witnesses to the execution of the decedent's last will and testament, attorneys Torres and Natividad were in the Philippines at the time of the hearing, and both testified as to the due execution and authenticity of the said will. So did the Notary Public before whom the will was acknowledged by the testatrix and attesting witnesses, and also attorneys Fermin Samson, who actually prepared the document. The latter also testified upon cross examination that he prepared one original and two copies of Josefa Villacorte last will and testament at his house in Baliuag, Bulacan, but he brought only one original and one signed copy to Manila, retaining one unsigned copy in Bulacan. The records show that the original of the will, which was surrendered simultaneously with the filing of the petition and marked as Exhibit "A" consists of five pages, and while signed at the end and in every page, it does not contain the signature of one of the attesting witnesses, Atty. Jose V. Natividad, on page three (3) thereof; but the duplicate copy attached to the amended and supplemental petition and marked as Exhibit "A-1" is signed by the testatrix and her three attesting witnesses in each and every page. The testimony presented by the proponents of the will tends to show that the original of the will and its duplicate were subscribed at the end and on the left margin of each and every page thereof by the testatrix herself and attested and subscribed by the three mentioned witnesses in the testatrix's presence and in that of one another as witnesses (except for the missing signature of attorney Natividad on page three (3) of the original); that pages of the original and duplicate of said will were duly numbered; that the attestation clause thereof contains all the facts required by law to be recited therein and is signed by the aforesaid attesting witnesses; that the will is written in the language known to and spoken by the testatrix that the attestation clause is in a language also known to and spoken by the witnesses; that the will was executed on one single occasion in duplicate copies; and that both the original and the duplicate copies were duly acknowledged before Notary Public Jose Oyengco of Manila on the same date June 2, 1956. Witness Natividad who testified on his failure to sign page three (3) of the original, admits that he may have lifted two pages instead of one when he signed the same, but affirmed that page three (3) was signed in his presence. Oppositors-appellants in turn introduced expert testimony to the effect that the signatures of the testatrix in the duplicate (Exhibit "A-1") are not genuine nor were they written or affixed on the same occasion as the original, and further aver that

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granting that the documents were genuine, they were executed through mistake and with undue influence and pressure because the testatrix was deceived into adopting as her last will and testament the wishes of those who will stand to benefit from the provisions of the will, as may be inferred from the facts and circumstances surrounding the execution of the will and the provisions and dispositions thereof, whereby proponents-appellees stand to profit from properties held by them as attorneys-in-fact of the deceased and not enumerated or mentioned therein, while oppositors-appellants are enjoined not to look for other properties not mentioned in the will, and not to oppose the probate of it, on penalty of forfeiting their share in the portion of free disposal. We have examined the record and are satisfied, as the trial court was, that the testatrix signed both original and duplicate copies (Exhibits "A" and "A-1", respectively) of the will spontaneously, on the same in the presence of the three attesting witnesses, the notary public who acknowledged the will; and Atty. Samson, who actually prepared the documents; that the will and its duplicate were executed in Tagalog, a language known to and spoken by both the testator and the witnesses, and read to and by the testatrix and Atty. Fermin Samson, together before they were actually signed; that the attestation clause is also in a language known to and spoken by the testatrix and the witnesses. The opinion of expert for oppositors, Mr. Felipe Logan, that the signatures of the testatrix appearing in the duplicate original were not written by the same had which wrote the signatures in the original will leaves us unconvinced, not merely because it is directly contradicted by expert Martin Ramos for the proponents, but principally because of the paucity of the standards used by him to support the conclusion that the differences between the standard and questioned signatures are beyond the writer's range of normal scriptural variation. The expert has, in fact, used as standards only three other signatures of the testatrix besides those affixed to the original of the testament (Exh. A); and we feel that with so few standards the expert's opinion and the signatures in the duplicate could not be those of the testatrix becomes extremely hazardous. This is particularly so since the comparison charts Nos. 3 and 4 fail to show convincingly that the are radical differences that would justify the charge of forgery, taking into account the advanced age of the testatrix, the evident variability of her signatures, and the effect of writing fatigue, the duplicate being signed right the original. These, factors were not discussed by the expert. Similarly, the alleged slight variance in blueness of the ink in the admitted and questioned signatures does not appear reliable, considering the standard and challenged writings were affixed to different kinds of paper, with different surfaces and reflecting power. On the whole, therefore, we do not find the testimony of the oppositor's expert sufficient to overcome that of the notary and the two instrumental witnesses, Torres and Natividad (Dr. Diy being in the United States during the trial, did not testify). Nor do we find adequate evidence of fraud or undue influence. The fact that some heirs are more favored than others is proof of neither (see In re Butalid, 10 Phil. 27; Bugnao vs. Ubag, 14 Phil. 163; Pecson vs. Coronal, 45 Phil. 216). Diversity of apportionment is the usual reason for making a testament; otherwise, the decedent might as well die intestate. The testamentary dispositions that the heirs should not inquire into other property and that they should respect the distribution made in the will, under penalty of forfeiture of their shares in the free part do not suffice to prove fraud or undue influence. They appear motivated by the desire to prevent prolonged litigation which, as shown by ordinary experience, often results in a sizeable portion of the estate being diverted into the hands of non-heirs and speculators. Whether these clauses are valid or not is a matter to be litigated on another occassion. It is also well to note that, as remarked by the Court of Appeals in Sideco vs. Sideco, 45 Off. Gaz. 168, fraud and undue influence are mutually repugnant and exclude each other; their joining as grounds for opposing probate shows absence of definite evidence against the validity of the will. On the question of law, we hold that the inadvertent failure of one witness to affix his signature to one page of a testament, due to the simultaneous lifting of two pages in the course of signing, is not per se sufficient to justify denial of probate. Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only the fact that the testatrix and two other witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the seal of the notary public before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses. The law should not be so strictly and literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of the inadvertence of a single witness over whose conduct she had no control, where the purpose of the law to guarantee the identity of the testament and its component pages is sufficiently attained, no intentional or deliberate deviation existed, and the evidence on record attests to the full observance of the statutory requisites. Otherwise, as stated in Vda. de Gil. vs. Murciano, 49 Off. Gaz. 1459, at 1479 (decision on reconsideration) "witnesses may sabotage the will by muddling or bungling it or the attestation clause". That the failure of witness Natividad to sign page three (3) was entirely through pure oversight is shown by his own testimony as well as by the duplicate copy of the will, which bears a complete set of signatures in every page. The text of the attestation clause and the acknowledgment before the Notary Public likewise evidence that no one was aware of the defect at the time.

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This would not be the first time that this Court departs from a strict and literal application of the statutory requirements, where the purposes of the law are otherwise satisfied. Thus, despite the literal tenor of the law, this Court has held that a testament, with the only page signed at its foot by testator and witnesses, but not in the left margin, could nevertheless be probated (Abangan vs. Abangan, 41 Phil. 476); and that despite the requirement for the correlative lettering of the pages of a will, the failure to make the first page either by letters or numbers is not a fatal defect (Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil. 429). These precedents exemplify the Court's policy to require satisfaction of the legal requirements in order to guard against fraud and bid faith but without undue or unnecessary curtailment of the testamentary privilege. The appellants also argue that since the original of the will is in existence and available, the duplicate (Exh. A-1) is not entitled to probate. Since they opposed probate of original because it lacked one signature in its third page, it is easily discerned that oppositors-appellants run here into a dilemma; if the original is defective and invalid, then in law there is no other will but the duly signed carbon duplicate (Exh. A-1), and the same is probatable. If the original is valid and can be probated, then the objection to the signed duplicate need not be considered, being superfluous and irrelevant. At any rate, said duplicate, Exhibit A-1, serves to prove that the omission of one signature in the third page of the original testament was inadvertent and not intentional. That the carbon duplicate, Exhibit A-1, was produced and admitted without a new publication does not affect the jurisdiction of the probate court, already conferred by the original publication of the petition for probate. The amended petition did not substantially alter the one first filed, but merely supplemented it by disclosing the existence of the duplicate, and no showing is made that new interests were involved (the contents of Exhibit A and A-1 are admittedly identical); and appellants were duly notified of the proposed amendment. It is nowhere proved or claimed that the amendment deprived the appellants of any substantial right, and we see no error in admitting the amended petition. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from is affirmed, with costs against appellants. Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Paredes, Regala and Makalintal, JJ., concur. Barrera and Dizon, JJ., took no part. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-5826 April 29, 1953

Testate estate of the late VICENTE CAGRO. JESUSA CAGRO, petitioner-appellee, vs. PELAGIO CAGRO, ET AL., oppositors-appellants. Clouduallo Lucero and Vicente C. Santos for appellants. Marciano Chitongco and Zosimo B. Echanova for appellee. PARAS, C.J.: This is an appeal interposed by the oppositors from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Samar, admitting to probate the will allegedly executed by Vicente Cagro who died in Laoangan, Pambujan, Samar, on February 14, 1949. The main objection insisted upon by the appellant in that the will is fatally defective, because its attestation clause is not signed by the attesting witnesses. There is no question that the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause, although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin. We are of the opinion that the position taken by the appellant is correct. The attestation clause is 'a memorandum of the facts attending the execution of the will' required by law to be made by the attesting witnesses, and it must necessarily bear

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their signatures. An unsigned attestation clause cannot be considered as an act of the witnesses, since the omission of their signatures at the bottom thereof negatives their participation. The petitioner and appellee contends that signatures of the three witnesses on the left-hand margin conform substantially to the law and may be deemed as their signatures to the attestation clause. This is untenable, because said signatures are in compliance with the legal mandate that the will be signed on the left-hand margin of all its pages. If an attestation clause not signed by the three witnesses at the bottom thereof, be admitted as sufficient, it would be easy to add such clause to a will on a subsequent occasion and in the absence of the testator and any or all of the witnesses. Wherefore, the appealed decision is reversed and the probate of the will in question denied. So ordered with costs against the petitioner and appellee. Pablo, Bengzon, Montemayor, Jugo and Labrador, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions BAUTISTA ANGELO, J., dissenting: I dissent. In my opinion the will in question has substantially complied with the formalities of the law and, therefore, should be admitted to probate . It appears that the will was signed by the testator and was attested by three instrumental witnesses, not only at the bottom, but also on the left-hand margin. The witnesses testified not only that the will was signed by the testator in their presence and in the presence of each other but also that when they did so, the attestation clause was already written thereon. Their testimony has not been contradicted. The only objection set up by the oppositors to the validity of the will is the fact that the signatures of the instrumental witnesses do not appear immediately after the attestation clause. This objection is too technical to be entertained. In the case of Abangan vs. Abangan, (40 Phil., 476), this court said that when the testamentary dispositions "are wholly written on only one sheet signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses (as the instant case),their signatures on the left margin of said sheet would be completely purposeless." In such a case, the court said, the requirement of the signatures on the left hand margin was not necessary because the purpose of the law which is to avoid the substitution of any of the sheets of the will, thereby changing the testator's dispositions has already been accomplished. We may say the same thing in connection with the will under consideration because while the three instrumental witnesses did not sign immediately by the majority that it may have been only added on a subsequent occasion and not at the uncontradicted testimony of said witnesses to the effect that such attestation clause was already written in the will when the same was signed. The following observation made by this court in the Abangan case is very fitting: 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 i 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 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. (supra) We should not also overlook the liberal trend of the New Civil Code in the matter of interpretation of wills, the purpose of which, in case of doubt, is to give such interpretation that would have the effect of preventing intestacy (article 788 and 791, New Civil Code) I am therefore of the opinion that the will in question should be admitted to probate. Feria, J., concurs.

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TUASON, J., dissenting: I cuncur in Mr. Justice Bautista's dissenting opinion and may add that the majority decision erroneously sets down as a fact that the attestation clause was no signed when the witnesses signatures appear on the left margin and the real and only question is whether such signatures are legally sufficient. The only answers, in our humble opinion, is yes. The law on wills does not provide that the attesting witness should sign the clause at the bottom. In the absence of such provision, there is no reason why signatures on the margin are not good. A letter is not any the less the writter's simply because it was signed, not at the conventional place but on the side or on top. Feria, J., concurs. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. L-32213 November 26, 1973 AGAPITA N. CRUZ, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE GUILLERMO P. VILLASOR, Presiding Judge of Branch I, Court of First Instance of Cebu, and MANUEL B. LUGAY, respondents. Paul G. Gorrez for petitioner. Mario D. Ortiz for respondent Manuel B. Lugay.

ESGUERRA, J.: Petition to review on certiorari the judgment of the Court First Instance of Cebu allowing the probate of the last will a testament of the late Valente Z. Cruz. Petitioner-appellant Agapita N. Cruz, the surviving spouse of the said decease opposed the allowance of the will (Exhibit "E"), alleging the will was executed through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and undue influence; that the said instrument was execute without the testator having been fully informed of the content thereof, particularly as to what properties he was disposing and that the supposed last will and testament was not executed in accordance with law. Notwithstanding her objection, the Court allowed the probate of the said last will and testament Hence this appeal by certiorari which was given due course. The only question presented for determination, on which the decision of the case hinges, is whether the supposed last will and testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit "E") was executed in accordance with law, particularly Articles 805 and 806 of the new Civil Code, the first requiring at least three credible witnesses to attest and subscribe to the will, and the second requiring the testator and the witnesses to acknowledge the will before a notary public. Of the three instrumental witnesses thereto, namely Deogracias T. Jamaloas Jr., Dr. Francisco Paares and Atty. Angel H. Teves, Jr., one of them, the last named, is at the same time the Notary Public before whom the will was supposed to have been acknowledged. Reduced to simpler terms, the question was attested and subscribed by at least three credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other, considering that the three attesting witnesses must appear before the notary public to acknowledge the same. As the third witness is the notary public himself, petitioner argues that the result is that

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only two witnesses appeared before the notary public to acknowledge the will. On the other hand, private respondentappellee, Manuel B. Lugay, who is the supposed executor of the will, following the reasoning of the trial court, maintains that there is substantial compliance with the legal requirement of having at least three attesting witnesses even if the notary public acted as one of them, bolstering up his stand with 57 American Jurisprudence, p. 227 which, insofar as pertinent, reads as follows: It is said that there are, practical reasons for upholding a will as against the purely technical reason that one of the witnesses required by law signed as certifying to an acknowledgment of the testator's signature under oath rather than as attesting the execution of the instrument. After weighing the merits of the conflicting claims of the parties, We are inclined to sustain that of the appellant that the last will and testament in question was not executed in accordance with law. The notary public before whom the will was acknowledged cannot be considered as the third instrumental witness since he cannot acknowledge before himself his having signed the will. To acknowledge before means to avow (Javellana v. Ledesma, 97 Phil. 258, 262; Castro v. Castro, 100 Phil. 239, 247); to own as genuine, to assent, to admit; and "before" means in front or preceding in space or ahead of. (The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, p. 72; Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language, p. 252; Webster's New International Dictionary 2d. p. 245.) Consequently, if the third witness were the notary public himself, he would have to avow assent, or admit his having signed the will in front of himself. This cannot be done because he cannot split his personality into two so that one will appear before the other to acknowledge his participation in the making of the will. To permit such a situation to obtain would be sanctioning a sheer absurdity. Furthermore, the function of a notary public is, among others, to guard against any illegal or immoral arrangement Balinon v. De Leon, 50 0. G. 583.) That function would defeated if the notary public were one of the attesting instrumental witnesses. For them he would be interested sustaining the validity of the will as it directly involves him and the validity of his own act. It would place him in inconsistent position and the very purpose of acknowledgment, which is to minimize fraud (Report of Code Commission p. 106-107), would be thwarted. Admittedly, there are American precedents holding that notary public may, in addition, act as a witness to the executive of the document he has notarized. (Mahilum v. Court Appeals, 64 0. G. 4017; 17 SCRA 482; Sawyer v. Cox, 43 Ill. 130). There are others holding that his signing merely as notary in a will nonetheless makes him a witness thereon (Ferguson v. Ferguson, 47 S. E. 2d. 346; In Re Douglas Will, N. Y. S. 2d. 641; Ragsdal v. Hill, 269 S. W. 2d. 911, Tyson Utterback, 122 So. 496; In Re Baybee's Estate 160 N. 900; W. Merill v. Boal, 132 A. 721; See also Trenwith v. Smallwood, 15 So. 1030). But these authorities do not serve the purpose of the law in this jurisdiction or are not decisive of the issue herein because the notaries public and witnesses referred to aforecited cases merely acted as instrumental, subscribing attesting witnesses, and not as acknowledging witnesses. He the notary public acted not only as attesting witness but also acknowledging witness, a situation not envisaged by Article 805 of the Civil Code which reads: 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. [Emphasis supplied] To allow the notary public to act as third witness, or one the attesting and acknowledging witnesses, would have the effect of having only two attesting witnesses to the will which would be in contravention of the provisions of Article 80 be requiring at least three credible witnesses to act as such and of Article 806 which requires that the testator and the required number of witnesses must appear before the notary public to acknowledge the will. The result would be, as has been said, that only two witnesses appeared before the notary public for or that purpose. In the circumstances, the law would not be duly in observed. FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed and the probate of the last will and testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit "E") is declared not valid and hereby set aside. Cost against the appellee. Makalintal, C.J., Castro, Teehankee, Makasiar and Muoz Palma, JJ., concur.

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-51546 January 28, 1980 JOSE ANTONIO GABUCAN, petitioner-appellant, vs. HON. JUDGE LUIS D. MANTA JOSEFA G. VDA. DE YSALINA and NELDA G. ENCLONAR, respondentsappellees. Ignacio A. Calingin for appellant.

AQUINO, J.: This case is about the dismissal of a petition for the probate of a notarial will on the ground that it does not bear a thirtycentavo documentary stamp. The Court of First Instance of Camiguin in its "decision" of December 28, 1977 in Special Proceeding No. 41 for the probate of the will of the late Rogaciano Gabucan, dismissed the proceeding (erroneously characterizes as an "action") The proceeding was dismissed because the requisite documentary stamp was not affixed to the notarial acknowledgment in the will and, hence, according to respondent Judge, it was not admissible in evidence, citing section 238 of the Tax Code, now section 250 of the 1977 Tax Code, which reads: SEC. 238. Effect of failure to stamp taxable document. An instrument, document, or paper which is required by law to be stamped and which has been signed, issued, accepted, or transferred without being duly stamped, shall not be recorded, nor shall it or any copy thereof or any record of transfer of the same be admitted or used in evidence in any court until the requisite stamp or stamps shall have been affixed thereto and cancelled. No notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths shall add his jurat or acknowledgment to any document subject to documentary stamp tax unless the proper documentary stamps are affixed thereto and cancelled. The probate court assumed that the notarial acknowledgment of the said will is subject to the thirty-centavo documentary stamp tax fixed in section 225 of the Tax Code, now section 237 of the 1977 Tax Code. Respondent Judge refused to reconsider the dismissal in spite of petitioner's manifestation that he had already attached the documentary stamp to the original of the will. (See Mahilum vs. Court of Appeals, 64 O. G. 4017, 17 SCRA 482, 486.) The case was brought to this Court by means of a petition for mandamus to compel the lower court to allow petitioner's appeal from its decision. In this Court's resolution of January 21, 1980 the petition for mandamus was treated in the interest of substantial and speedy justice as an appeal under Republic Act No. 5440 as well as a special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

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We hold that the lower court manifestly erred in declaring that, because no documentary stamp was affixed to the will, there was "no will and testament to probate" and, consequently, the alleged "action must of necessity be dismissed". What the probate court should have done was to require the petitioner or proponent to affix the requisite thirty-centavo documentary stamp to the notarial acknowledgment of the will which is the taxable portion of that document. That procedure may be implied from the provision of section 238 that the non-admissibility of the document, which does not bear the requisite documentary stamp, subsists only "until the requisite stamp or stamps shall have been affixed thereto and cancelled." Thus, it was held that the documentary stamp may be affixed at the time the taxable document is presented in evidence (Del Castillo vs. Madrilena 49 Phil. 749). If the promissory note does not bear a documentary stamp, the court should have allowed plaintiff's tender of a stamp to supply the deficiency. (Rodriguez vs. Martinez, 5 Phil. 67, 71. Note the holding in Azarraga vs. Rodriguez, 9 Phil. 637, that the lack of the documentary stamp on a document does not invalidate such document. See Cia. General de Tabacos vs. Jeanjaquet 12 Phil. 195, 201-2 and Delgado and Figueroa vs. Amenabar 16 Phil. 403, 405-6.) WHEREFORE, the lower court's dismissal of the petition for probate is reversed and set aside. It is directed to decide the case on the merits in the light of the parties' evidence. No costs. SO ORDERED. Barredo, Antonio, Concepcion, Jr., and Abad Santos, JJ. concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-7179 June 30, 1955

Testate Estate of the Late Apolinaria Ledesma. FELICIDAD JAVELLANA, petitioner-appellee, vs. DOA MATEA LEDESMA, oppositor-appellant. Fulgencio Vega and Felix D. Bacabac for appellant. Benjamin H. Tirot for appellee. REYES, J.B.L., J.: By order of July 23, 1953, the Court of First Instance of Iloilo admitted to probate the documents in the Visayan dialect, marked Exhibits D and E, as the testament and codicil duly executed by the deceased Da. Apolinaria Ledesma Vda. de Javellana, on March 30, 1950, and May 29, 1952, respectively, with Ramon Tabiana, Gloria Montinola de Tabiana and Vicente Yap as witnesses. The contestant, Da. Matea Ledesma, sister and nearest surviving relative of said deceased, appealed from the decision, insisting that the said exhibits were not executed in conformity with law. The appeal was made directly to this Court because the value of the properties involved exceeded two hundred thousand pesos. Originally the opposition to the probate also charged that the testatrix lacked testamentary capacity and that the dispositions were procured through undue influence. These grounds were abandoned at the hearing in the court below, where the issue was concentrated into three specific questions: (1) whether the testament of 1950 was executed by the testatrix in the presence of the instrumental witnesses; (2) whether the acknowledgment clause was signed and the notarial seal affixed by the notary without the presence of the testatrix and the witnesses; and (3) if so, whether the codicil was thereby rendered invalid and ineffective. These questions are the same ones presented to us for resolution.

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The contestant argues that the Court below erred in refusing credence to her witnesses Maria Paderogao and Vidal Allado, cook and driver, respectively, of the deceased Apolinaria Ledesma. Both testified that on March 30, 1950, they saw and heard Vicente Yap (one of the witnesses to the will) inform the deceased that he had brought the "testamento" and urge her to go to attorney Tabiana's office to sign it; that Da. Apolinaria manifested that she could not go, because she was not feeling well; and that upon Yap's insistence that the will had to be signed in the attorney's office and not elsewhere, the deceased took the paper and signed it in the presence of Yap alone, and returned it with the statement that no one would question it because the property involved was exclusively hers. Our examination of the testimony on record discloses no grounds for reversing the trial Court's rejection of the improbable story of the witnesses. It is squarely contradicted by the concordant testimony of the instrumental witnesses, Vicente Yap, Atty. Ramon Tabiana, and his wife Gloria Montinola, who asserted under oath that the testament was executed by testatrix and witnesses in the presence of each other, at the house of the decedent on General Hughes St., Iloilo City, on March 30, 1950. And it is highly unlikely, and contrary to usage, that either Tabiana or Yap should have insisted that Da. Apolinaria, an infirm lady then over 80 years old, should leave her own house in order to execute her will, when all three witnesses could have easily repaired thither for the purpose. Moreover, the cross-examination has revealed fatal flaws in the testimony of Contestant's witnesses. Both claim to have heard the word "testamento" for the first time when Yap used it; and they claimed ability to recall that word four years later, despite the fact that the term meant nothing to either. It is well known that what is to be remembered must first be rationally conceived and assimilated (II Moore on Facts, p. 884). Likewise, Maria Paderogao was positive that Yap brought the will, and that the deceased alone signed it, precisely on March 30, 1950; but she could remember no other date, nor give satisfactory explanation why that particular day stuck in her mind. Worse still, Allado claimed to have heard what allegedly transpired between Yap and Da. Apolinaria from the kitchen of the house, that was later proved to have been separated from the deceased's quarters, and standing at a much lower level, so that conversations in the main building could not be distinctly heard from the kitchen. Later, on redirect examination, Allado sought to cure his testimony by claiming that he was upstairs in a room where the servants used to eat when he heard Yap converse with his mistress; but this correction is unavailing, since it was plainly induced by two highly leading questions from contestant's counsel that had been previously ruled out by the trial Court. Besides, the contradiction is hardly consonant with this witness' 18 years of service to the deceased. Upon the other hand, the discrepancies in the testimony of the instrumental witnesses urged upon us by the contestantappellant, concerning the presence or absence of Aurelio Montinola at the signing of the testament or of the codicil, and the identity of the person who inserted the date therein, are not material and are largely imaginary, since the witness Mrs. Tabiana confessed inability to remember all the details of the transaction. Neither are we impressed by the argument that the use of some Spanish terms in the codicil and testament (like legado, partes iguales, plena propiedad) is proof that its contents were not understood by the testatrix, it appearing in evidence that those terms are of common use even in the vernacular, and that the deceased was a woman of wide business interests. The most important variation noted by the contestants concerns that signing of the certificate of acknowledgment (in Spanish) appended to the Codicil in Visayan, Exhibit E. Unlike the testament, this codicil was executed after the enactment of the new Civil Code, and, therefore, had to be acknowledged before a notary public (Art. 806). Now, the instrumental witnesses (who happen to be the same ones who attested the will of 1950) asserted that after the codicil had been signed by the testatrix and the witnesses at the San Pablo Hospital, the same was signed and sealed by notary public Gimotea on the same occasion. On the other hand, Gimotea affirmed that he did not do so, but brought the codicil to his office, and signed and sealed it there. The variance does not necessarily imply conscious perversion of truth on the part of the witnesses, but appears rather due to a well-established phenomenon, the tendency of the mind, in recalling past events, to substitute the usual and habitual for what differs slightly from it (II Moore on Facts, p. 878; The Ellen McGovern, 27 Fed. 868, 870). At any rate, as observed by the Court below, whether or not the notary signed the certification of acknowledgment in the presence of the testatrix and the witnesses, does not affect the validity of the codicil. Unlike the Code of 1889 (Art. 699), the new Civil Code does not require that the signing of the testator, witnesses and notary should be accomplished in one single act. A comparison of Articles 805 and 806 of the new Civil Code reveals that while testator and witnesses sign in the presence of each other, all that is thereafter required is that "every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses" (Art. 806); i.e., that the latter should avow to the certifying officer the authenticity of their signatures and the voluntariness of their actions in executing the testamentary disposition. This was done in the case before us. The subsequent signing and sealing by the notary of his certification that the testament was duly acknowledged by the participants therein is no part of the acknowledgment itself nor of the testamentary act. Hence their separate execution out of the presence of the testatrix and her witnesses can not be said to violate the rule that testaments should be completed without interruption (Andalis vs. Pulgueras, 59 Phil. 643), or, as the Roman maxim puts it, "uno codem die ac tempore in eadem loco", and no reversible error was committed by the Court in so holding. It is noteworthy that Article 806 of the new

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Civil Code does not contain words requiring that the testator and the witnesses should acknowledge the testament on the same day or occasion that it was executed. The decision admitting the will to probate is affirmed, with costs against appellant. Bengzon, Acting C.J., Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Jugo, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, and Concepcion, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. L-36033 November 5, 1982 IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE PROBATE OF THE WILL OF DOROTEA PEREZ, (deceased): APOLONIO TABOADA, petitioner, vs. HON. AVELINO S. ROSAL, as Judge of Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte, (Branch III, Maasin), respondent. Erasmo M. Diola counsel for petition. Hon. Avelino S. Rosal in his own behalf.

GUTIERREZ, JR. J.: This is a petition for review of the orders issued by the Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte, Branch III, in Special Proceedings No. R-1713, entitled "In the Matter of the Petition for Probate of the Will of Dorotea Perez, Deceased; Apolonio Taboada, Petitioner", which denied the probate of the will, the motion for reconsideration and the motion for appointment of a special administrator. In the petition for probate filed with the respondent court, the petitioner attached the alleged last will and testament of the late Dorotea Perez. Written in the Cebuano-Visayan dialect, the will consists of two pages. The first page contains the entire testamentary dispositions and is signed at the end or bottom of the page by the testatrix alone and at the left hand margin by the three (3) instrumental witnesses. The second page which contains the attestation clause and the acknowledgment is signed at the end of the attestation clause by the three (3) attesting witnesses and at the left hand margin by the testatrix. Since no opposition was filed after the petitioner's compliance with the requirement of publication, the trial court commissioned the branch clerk of court to receive the petitioner's evidence. Accordingly, the petitioner submitted his evidence and presented Vicente Timkang, one of the subscribing witnesses to the will, who testified on its genuineness and due execution. The trial court, thru then Presiding Judge Ramon C. Pamatian issued the questioned order denying the probate of the will of Dorotea Perez for want of a formality in its execution. In the same order, the petitioner was also required to submit the names of the intestate heirs with their corresponding addresses so that they could be properly notified and could intervene in the summary settlement of the estate. Instead of complying with the order of the trial court, the petitioner filed a manifestation and/or motion, ex parte praying for a thirty-day period within which to deliberate on any step to be taken as a result of the disallowance of the will. He also asked that the ten-day period required by the court to submit the names of intestate heirs with their addresses be held in abeyance.

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The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the order denying the probate of the will. However, the motion together with the previous manifestation and/or motion could not be acted upon by the Honorable Ramon C. Pamatian due to his transfer to his new station at Pasig, Rizal. The said motions or incidents were still pending resolution when respondent Judge Avelino S. Rosal assumed the position of presiding judge of the respondent court. Meanwhile, the petitioner filed a motion for the appointment of special administrator. Subsequently, the new Judge denied the motion for reconsideration as well as the manifestation and/or motion filed ex parte. In the same order of denial, the motion for the appointment of special administrator was likewise denied because of the petitioner's failure to comply with the order requiring him to submit the names of' the intestate heirs and their addresses. The petitioner decided to file the present petition. For the validity of a formal notarial will, does Article 805 of the Civil Code require that the testatrix and all the three instrumental and attesting witnesses sign at the end of the will and in the presence of the testatrix and of one another? Article 805 of the Civil Code provides: Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page. The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the lacier witnesses and signed the will and the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to them. The respondent Judge interprets the above-quoted provision of law to require that, for a notarial will to be valid, it is not enough that only the testatrix signs at the "end" but an the three subscribing witnesses must also sign at the same place or at the end, in the presence of the testatrix and of one another because the attesting witnesses to a will attest not merely the will itself but also the signature of the testator. It is not sufficient compliance to sign the page, where the end of the will is found, at the left hand margin of that page. On the other hand, the petitioner maintains that Article 805 of the Civil Code does not make it a condition precedent or a matter of absolute necessity for the extrinsic validity of the wig that the signatures of the subscribing witnesses should be specifically located at the end of the wig after the signature of the testatrix. He contends that it would be absurd that the legislature intended to place so heavy an import on the space or particular location where the signatures are to be found as long as this space or particular location wherein the signatures are found is consistent with good faith and the honest frailties of human nature. We find the petition meritorious. Undoubtedly, under Article 805 of the Civil Code, the will must be subscribed or signed at its end by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by another person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

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It must be noted that the law uses the terms attested and subscribed Attestation consists in witnessing the testator's execution of the will in order to see and take note mentally that those things are, done which the statute requires for the execution of a will and that the signature of the testator exists as a fact. On the other hand, subscription is the signing of the witnesses' names upon the same paper for the purpose of Identification of such paper as the will which was executed by the testator. (Ragsdale v. Hill, 269 SW 2d 911). Insofar as the requirement of subscription is concerned, it is our considered view that the will in this case was subscribed in a manner which fully satisfies the purpose of Identification. The signatures of the instrumental witnesses on the left margin of the first page of the will attested not only to the genuineness of the signature of the testatrix but also the due execution of the will as embodied in the attestation clause. While perfection in the drafting of a will may be desirable, unsubstantial departure from the usual forms should be ignored, especially where the authenticity of the will is not assailed. (Gonzales v. Gonzales, 90 Phil. 444, 449). The law is to be liberally construed, "the underlying and fundamental objective permeating the provisions on the law on wills in this project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. This objective is in accord with the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will" (Report of the Code commission, p. 103). Parenthetically, Judge Ramon C. Pamatian stated in his questioned order that were not for the defect in the place of signatures of the witnesses, he would have found the testimony sufficient to establish the validity of the will. The objects of attestation and of subscription were fully met and satisfied in the present case when the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin of the sole page which contains all the testamentary dispositions, especially so when the will was properly Identified by subscribing witness Vicente Timkang to be the same will executed by the testatrix. There was no question of fraud or substitution behind the questioned order. We have examined the will in question and noticed that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in writing the will. This would have been a fatal defect were it not for the fact that, in this case, it is discernible from the entire wig that it is really and actually composed of only two pages duly signed by the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses. As earlier stated, the first page which contains the entirety of the testamentary dispositions is signed by the testatrix at the end or at the bottom while the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin. The other page which is marked as "Pagina dos" comprises the attestation clause and the acknowledgment. The acknowledgment itself states that "This Last Will and Testament consists of two pages including this page". In Singson v. Florentino, et al. (92 Phil. 161, 164), this Court made the following observations with respect to the purpose of the requirement that the attestation clause must state the number of pages used: The law referred to is article 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645, which requires that the attestation clause shall state the number of pages or sheets upon which the win is written, which requirement has been held to be mandatory as an effective safeguard against the possibility of interpolation or omission of some of the pages of the will to the prejudice of the heirs to whom the property is intended to be bequeathed (In re will of Andrada, 42 Phil., 180; Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405; Gumban vs. Gorecho, 50 Phil. 30; Quinto vs. Morata, 54 Phil. 481; Echevarria vs. Sarmiento, 66 Phil. 611). The ratio decidendi of these cases seems to be that the attestation clause must contain a statement of the number of sheets or pages composing the will and that if this is missing or is omitted, it will have the effect of invalidating the will if the deficiency cannot be supplied, not by evidence aliunde, but by a consideration or examination of the will itself. But here the situation is different. While the attestation clause does not state the number of sheets or pages upon which the will is written, however, the last part of the body of the will contains a statement that it is composed of eight pages, which circumstance in our opinion takes this case out of the rigid rule of construction and places it within the realm of similar cases where a broad and more liberal view has been adopted to prevent the will of the testator from being defeated by purely technical considerations.

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Icasiano v. Icasiano (11 SCRA 422, 429) has the following ruling which applies a similar liberal approach: ... Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only (sic) the fact that the testatrix and two other witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the seal of the notary public before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses. The law should not be so strictly and literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of the inadvertence of a single witness over whose conduct she had no control where the purpose of the law to guarantee the Identity of the testament and its component pages is sufficiently attained, no intentional or deliberate deviation existed, and the evidence on record attests to the fun observance of the statutory requisites. Otherwise, as stated in Vda. de Gil. Vs. Murciano, 49 Off. Gaz. 1459, at 1479 (decision on reconsideration) 'witnesses may sabotage the will by muddling or bungling it or the attestation clause. WHEREFORE, the present petition is hereby granted. The orders of the respondent court which denied the probate of tile will, the motion for reconsideration of the denial of probate, and the motion for appointment of a special administrator are set aside. The respondent court is ordered to allow the probate of the wig and to conduct further proceedings in accordance with this decision. No pronouncement on costs. SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera (Acting Chairperson), Plana, Vasquez and Relova, JJ., concur. Teehankee, J, is on leave. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 123968 April 24, 2003

URSULINA GANUELAS, METODIO GANUELAS and ANTONIO GANUELAS, petitioners, vs. HON. ROBERT T. CAWED, Judge of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, La Union (Branch 29), LEOCADIA G. FLORES, FELICITACION G. AGTARAP, CORAZON G. SIPALAY and ESTATE OF ROMANA GANUELAS DE LA ROSA, represented by GREGORIO DELA ROSA, Administrator, respondents. CARPIO MORALES, J.: The present petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assails, on a question of law, the February 22, 1996 decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, La Union, Branch 29, in Civil Case No. 3947, an action for declaration of nullity of a deed of donation. The facts, as culled from the records of the case, are as follows: On April 11, 1958, Celestina Ganuelas Vda. de Valin (Celestina) executed a Deed of Donation of Real Property 2 covering seven parcels of land in favor of her niece Ursulina Ganuelas (Ursulina), one of herein petitioners. The pertinent provision of the deed of donation reads, quoted verbatim: xxx xxx xxx

That, for and in consideration of the love and affection which the DONOR has for the DONEE, and of the faithful services the latter has rendered in the past to the former, the said DONOR does by these presents transfer and convey, by way of DONATION, unto the DONEE the property above, described, to become effective upon the

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death of the DONOR; but in the event that the DONEE should die before the DONOR, the present donation shall be deemed rescinded and of no further force and effect. xxx xxx xxx.3

On June 10, 1967, Celestina executed a document denominated as Revocation of Donation 4 purporting to set aside the deed of donation. More than a month later or on August 18, 1967, Celestina died without issue and any surviving ascendants and siblings. After Celestina's death, Ursulina had been sharing the produce of the donated properties with private respondents Leocadia G. Flores, et al., nieces of Celestina. In 1982, or twenty-four years after the execution of the Deed of Donation, Ursulina secured the corresponding tax declarations, in her name, over the donated properties, to wit: Tax Declarations Nos. 18108, 18109, 18110, 18111, 18112, 18113 and 18114, and since then, she refused to give private respondents any share in the produce of the properties despite repeated demands. Private respondents were thus prompted to file on May 26, 1986 with the RTC of San Fernando, La Union a complaint 5 against Ursulina, along with Metodio Ganuelas and Antonio Ganuelas who were alleged to be unwilling plaintiffs. The complaint alleged that the Deed of Donation executed by Celestina in favor of Ursulina was void for lack of acknowledgment by the attesting witnesses thereto before notary public Atty. Henry Valmonte, and the donation was a disposition mortis causa which failed to comply with the provisions of the Civil Code regarding formalities of wills and testaments, hence, it was void. The plaintiffs-herein private respondents thus prayed that judgment be rendered ordering Ursulina to return to them as intestate heirs the possession and ownership of the properties. They likewise prayed for the cancellation of the tax declarations secured in the name of Ursulina, the partition of the properties among the intestate heirs of Celestina, and the rendering by Ursulina of an accounting of all the fruits of the properties since 1982 and for her to return or pay the value of their shares. The defendants-herein petitioners alleged in their Answer6 that the donation in favor of Ursulina was inter vivos as contemplated under Article 729 of the Civil Code,7 hence, the deed did not have to comply with the requirements for the execution of a valid will; the Revocation of Donation is null and void as the ground mentioned therein is not among those provided by law to be the basis thereof; and at any rate, the revocation could only be legally enforced upon filing of the appropriate complaint in court within the prescriptive period provided by law, which period had, at the time the complaint was filed, already lapsed. By Decision of February 22, 1996, the trial court, holding that the provision in the Deed of Donation that in the event that the DONEE should predecease the DONOR, the "donation shall be deemed rescinded and of no further force and effect" is an explicit indication that the deed is a donation mortis causa,8 found for the plaintiffs-herein private respondents, thus: WHEREFORE the Court renders judgment declaring null and void the Deed of Donation of Real Property executed by Celestina Ganuelas, and orders the partition of the estate of Celestina among the intestate heirs. SO ORDERED. 9 The trial court also held that the absence of a reservation clause in the deed implied that Celestina retained complete dominion over her properties, thus supporting the conclusion that the donation is mortis causa,10 and that while the deed contained an attestation clause and an acknowledgment showing the intent of the donor to effect a postmortem disposition, the acknowledgment was defective as only the donor and donee appear to have acknowledged the deed before the notary public, thereby rendering the entire document void.11 Lastly, the trial court held that the subsequent execution by Celestina of the Revocation of Donation showed that the donor intended the revocability of the donation ad nutum, thus sustaining its finding that the conveyance was mortis causa.12 On herein petitioners' argument that the Revocation of Donation was void as the ground mentioned therein is not one of those allowed by law to be a basis for revocation, the trial court held that the legal grounds for such revocation as provided under the Civil Code arise only in cases of donations inter vivos, but not in donations mortis causa which are revocable at

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will during the lifetime of the donor. The trial court held, in any event, that given the nullity of the disposition mortis causa in view of a failure to comply with the formalities required therefor, the Deed of Revocation was a superfluity.13 Hence, the instant petition for review, petitioners contending that the trial court erred: I. . . . WHEN IT DECLARED NULL AND VOID THE DONATION EXECUTED BY CELESTINA GANUELAS; II. . . . WHEN IT UPHELD THE REVOCATION OF DONATION; III. . . . IN RENDERING ITS DECISION ADVERSE TO PETITIONER URSULINA GANUELAS. 14 Petitioners argue that the donation contained in the deed is inter vivos as the main consideration for its execution was the donor's affection for the donee rather than the donor's death;15 that the provision on the effectivity of the donation after the donor's death simply meant that absolute ownership would pertain to the donee on the donor's death;16 and that since the donation is inter vivos, it may be revoked only for the reasons provided in Articles 760,17 76418 and 76519 of the Civil Code. In a letter of March 16, 1998,20 private respondent Corazon Sipalay, reacting to this Court's January 28, 1998 Resolution requiring private respondents "to SHOW CAUSE why they should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt" for failure to submit the name and address of their new counsel, explains that they are no longer interested in pursuing the case and are "willing and ready to waive whatever rights" they have over the properties subject of the donation. Petitioners, who were required to comment on the letter, by Comment of October 28, 1998,21 welcome private respondents' gesture but pray that "for the sake of enriching jurisprudence, their [p]etition be given due course and resolved." The issue is thus whether the donation is inter vivos or mortis causa. Crucial in the resolution of the issue is the determination of whether the donor intended to transfer the ownership over the properties upon the execution of the deed.22 Donation inter vivos differs from donation mortis causa in that in the former, the act is immediately operative even if the actual execution may be deferred until the death of the donor, while in the latter, nothing is conveyed to or acquired by the donee until the death of the donor-testator.23 The following ruling of this Court in Alejandro v. Geraldez is illuminating: 24 If the donation is made in contemplation of the donor's death, meaning that the full or naked ownership of the donated properties will pass to the donee only because of the donor's death, then it is at that time that the donation takes effect, and it is a donation mortis causa which should be embodied in a last will and testament. But if the donation takes effect during the donor's lifetime or independently of the donor's death, meaning that the full or naked ownership (nuda proprietas) of the donated properties passes to the donee during the donor's lifetime, not by reason of his death but because of the deed of donation, then the donation is inter vivos. The distinction between a transfer inter vivos and mortis causa is important as the validity or revocation of the donation depends upon its nature. If the donation is inter vivos, it must be executed and accepted with the formalities prescribed by Articles 74825 and 74926 of the Civil Code, except when it is onerous in which case the rules on contracts will apply. If it is mortis causa, the donation must be in the form of a will, with all the formalities for the validity of wills, otherwise it is void and cannot transfer ownership.27 The distinguishing characteristics of a donation mortis causa are the following: 1. It conveys no title or ownership to the transferee before the death of the transferor; or, what amounts to the same thing, that the transferor should retain the ownership (full or naked) and control of the property while alive; 2. That before his death, the transfer should be revocable by the transferor at will, ad nutum; but revocability may be provided for indirectly by means of a reserved power in the donor to dispose of the properties conveyed;

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3. That the transfer should be void if the transferor should survive the transferee.28 In the donation subject of the present case, there is nothing therein which indicates that any right, title or interest in the donated properties was to be transferred to Ursulina prior to the death of Celestina. The phrase "to become effective upon the death of the DONOR" admits of no other interpretation but that Celestina intended to transfer the ownership of the properties to Ursulina on her death, not during her lifetime. 29 More importantly, the provision in the deed stating that if the donee should die before the donor, the donation shall be deemed rescinded and of no further force and effect shows that the donation is a postmortem disposition. As stated in a long line of cases, one of the decisive characteristics of a donation mortis causa is that the transfer should be considered void if the donor should survive the donee.30 More. The deed contains an attestation clause expressly confirming the donation as mortis causa: SIGNED by the above-named donor, Celestina Ganuelas, at the foot of this deed of donation mortis causa, consisting of two (2) pages and on the left margin of each and every page thereof in the joint presence of all of us who at her request and in her presence and that of each other have in like manner subscribed our names as witnesses. 31 (Emphasis supplied) To classify the donation as inter vivos simply because it is founded on considerations of love and affection is erroneous. That the donation was prompted by the affection of the donor for the donee and the services rendered by the latter is of no particular significance in determining whether the deed constitutes a transfer inter vivos or not, because a legacy may have an identical motivation.32 In other words, love and affection may also underline transfers mortis causa.33 In Maglasang v. Heirs of Cabatingan,34 the deeds of donation contained provisions almost identical to those found in the deed subject of the present case: That for and in consideration of the love and affection of the DONOR for the DONEE, x x x. the DONOR does hereby, by these presents, transfer, convey, by way of donation, unto the DONEE the above-described property, together with the buildings and all improvements existing thereon, to become effective upon the death of the DONOR; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that in the event that the DONEE should die before the DONOR, the present donation shall be deemed automatically rescinded and of no further force and effect. (Emphasis supplied) In that case, this Court held that the donations were mortis causa, for the above-quoted provision conclusively establishes the donor's intention to transfer the ownership and possession of the donated property to the donee only after the former's death. Like in the present case, the deeds therein did not contain any clear provision that purports to pass proprietary rights to the donee prior to the donor's death. As the subject deed then is in the nature of a mortis causa disposition, the formalities of a will under Article 728 of the Civil Code should have been complied with, failing which the donation is void and produces no effect.35 As noted by the trial court, the attesting witnesses failed to acknowledge the deed before the notary public, thus violating Article 806 of the Civil Code which provides: Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. (Emphasis supplied) The trial court did not thus commit any reversible error in declaring the Deed of Donation to be mortis causa. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.

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Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Corona, JJ ., concur. Puno, J ., took no part. Knows one of the parties. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION A.C. No. 5281 February 12, 2008

MANUEL L. LEE, petitioner, vs. ATTY. REGINO B. TAMBAGO, respondent. RESOLUTION CORONA, J.: In a letter-complaint dated April 10, 2000, complainant Manuel L. Lee charged respondent Atty. Regino B. Tambago with violation of the Notarial Law and the ethics of the legal profession for notarizing a spurious last will and testament. In his complaint, complainant averred that his father, the decedent Vicente Lee, Sr., never executed the contested will. Furthermore, the spurious will contained the forged signatures of Cayetano Noynay and Loreto Grajo, the purported witnesses to its execution. In the said will, the decedent supposedly bequeathed his entire estate to his wife Lim Hock Lee, save for a parcel of land which he devised to Vicente Lee, Jr. and Elena Lee, half-siblings of complainant. The will was purportedly executed and acknowledged before respondent on June 30, 1965.1 Complainant, however, pointed out that the residence certificate2 of the testator noted in the acknowledgment of the will was dated January 5, 1962.3 Furthermore, the signature of the testator was not the same as his signature as donor in a deed of donation 4 (containing his purported genuine signature). Complainant averred that the signatures of his deceased father in the will and in the deed of donation were "in any way (sic) entirely and diametrically opposed from (sic) one another in all angle[s]."5 Complainant also questioned the absence of notation of the residence certificates of the purported witnesses Noynay and Grajo. He alleged that their signatures had likewise been forged and merely copied from their respective voters affidavits. Complainant further asserted that no copy of such purported will was on file in the archives division of the Records Management and Archives Office of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). In this connection, the certification of the chief of the archives division dated September 19, 1999 stated: Doc. 14, Page No. 4, Book No. 1, Series of 1965 refers to an AFFIDAVIT executed by BARTOLOME RAMIREZ on June 30, 1965 and is available in this Office[s] files.6 Respondent in his comment dated July 6, 2001 claimed that the complaint against him contained false allegations: (1) that complainant was a son of the decedent Vicente Lee, Sr. and (2) that the will in question was fake and spurious. He alleged that complainant was "not a legitimate son of Vicente Lee, Sr. and the last will and testament was validly executed and actually notarized by respondent per affidavit7 of Gloria Nebato, common-law wife of Vicente Lee, Sr. and corroborated by the joint affidavit8 of the children of Vicente Lee, Sr., namely Elena N. Lee and Vicente N. Lee, Jr. xxx."9 Respondent further stated that the complaint was filed simply to harass him because the criminal case filed by complainant against him in the Office of the Ombudsman "did not prosper."

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Respondent did not dispute complainants contention that no copy of the will was on file in the archives division of the NCCA. He claimed that no copy of the contested will could be found there because none was filed. Lastly, respondent pointed out that complainant had no valid cause of action against him as he (complainant) did not first file an action for the declaration of nullity of the will and demand his share in the inheritance. In a resolution dated October 17, 2001, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. 10 In his report, the investigating commissioner found respondent guilty of violation of pertinent provisions of the old Notarial Law as found in the Revised Administrative Code. The violation constituted an infringement of legal ethics, particularly Canon 111 and Rule 1.0112 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).13 Thus, the investigating commissioner of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline recommended the suspension of respondent for a period of three months. The IBP Board of Governors, in its Resolution No. XVII-2006-285 dated May 26, 2006, resolved: [T]o ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondents failure to comply with the laws in the discharge of his function as a notary public, Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby suspended from the practice of law for one year and Respondents notarial commission is Revoked and Disqualified from reappointment as Notary Public for two (2) years.14 We affirm with modification. A will is an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate, to take effect after his death.15 A will may either be notarial or holographic. The law provides for certain formalities that must be followed in the execution of wills. The object of solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door on bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guarantee their truth and authenticity.16 A notarial will, as the contested will in this case, is required by law to be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself. In addition, it should be attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.17 The will in question was attested by only two witnesses, Noynay and Grajo. On this circumstance alone, the will must be considered void.18 This is in consonance with the rule that acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity. The Civil Code likewise requires that a will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses.19 The importance of this requirement is highlighted by the fact that it was segregated from the other requirements under Article 805 and embodied in a distinct and separate provision. 20 An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed. It involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signatory actually declares to the notary public that the same is his or her own free act and deed.21 The acknowledgment in a notarial will has a two-fold purpose: (1) to safeguard the testators wishes long after his demise and (2) to assure that his estate is administered in the manner that he intends it to be done. A cursory examination of the acknowledgment of the will in question shows that this particular requirement was neither strictly nor substantially complied with. For one, there was the conspicuous absence of a notation of the residence certificates of the notarial witnesses Noynay and Grajo in the acknowledgment. Similarly, the notation of the testators old residence certificate in the same acknowledgment was a clear breach of the law. These omissions by respondent invalidated the will.

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As the acknowledging officer of the contested will, respondent was required to faithfully observe the formalities of a will and those of notarization. As we held in Santiago v. Rafanan:22 The Notarial Law is explicit on the obligations and duties of notaries public. They are required to certify that the party to every document acknowledged before him had presented the proper residence certificate (or exemption from the residence tax); and to enter its number, place of issue and date as part of such certification. These formalities are mandatory and cannot be disregarded, considering the degree of importance and evidentiary weight attached to notarized documents.23 A notary public, especially a lawyer,24 is bound to strictly observe these elementary requirements. The Notarial Law then in force required the exhibition of the residence certificate upon notarization of a document or instrument: Section 251. Requirement as to notation of payment of [cedula] residence tax. Every contract, deed, or other document acknowledged before a notary public shall have certified thereon that the parties thereto have presented their proper [cedula] residence certificate or are exempt from the [cedula] residence tax, and there shall be entered by the notary public as a part of such certificate the number, place of issue, and date of each [cedula] residence certificate as aforesaid.25 The importance of such act was further reiterated by Section 6 of the Residence Tax Act26 which stated: When a person liable to the taxes prescribed in this Act acknowledges any document before a notary public xxx it shall be the duty of such person xxx with whom such transaction is had or business done, to require the exhibition of the residence certificate showing payment of the residence taxes by such person xxx. In the issuance of a residence certificate, the law seeks to establish the true and correct identity of the person to whom it is issued, as well as the payment of residence taxes for the current year. By having allowed decedent to exhibit an expired residence certificate, respondent failed to comply with the requirements of both the old Notarial Law and the Residence Tax Act. As much could be said of his failure to demand the exhibition of the residence certificates of Noynay and Grajo. On the issue of whether respondent was under the legal obligation to furnish a copy of the notarized will to the archives division, Article 806 provides: Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witness. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. (emphasis supplied) Respondents failure, inadvertent or not, to file in the archives division a copy of the notarized will was therefore not a cause for disciplinary action. Nevertheless, respondent should be faulted for having failed to make the necessary entries pertaining to the will in his notarial register. The old Notarial Law required the entry of the following matters in the notarial register, in chronological order: 1. nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him; 2. person executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument; 3. witnesses, if any, to the signature; 4. date of execution, oath, or acknowledgment of the instrument; 5. fees collected by him for his services as notary;

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6. give each entry a consecutive number; and 7. if the instrument is a contract, a brief description of the substance of the instrument. 27 In an effort to prove that he had complied with the abovementioned rule, respondent contended that he had crossed out a prior entry and entered instead the will of the decedent. As proof, he presented a photocopy of his notarial register. To reinforce his claim, he presented a photocopy of a certification 28 stating that the archives division had no copy of the affidavit of Bartolome Ramirez. A photocopy is a mere secondary evidence. It is not admissible unless it is shown that the original is unavailable. The proponent must first prove the existence and cause of the unavailability of the original, 29 otherwise, the evidence presented will not be admitted. Thus, the photocopy of respondents notarial register was not admissible as evidence of the entry of the execution of the will because it failed to comply with the requirements for the admissibility of secondary evidence. In the same vein, respondents attempt to controvert the certification dated September 21, 199930 must fail. Not only did he present a mere photocopy of the certification dated March 15, 2000;31 its contents did not squarely prove the fact of entry of the contested will in his notarial register. Notaries public must observe with utmost care32 and utmost fidelity the basic requirements in the performance of their duties, otherwise, the confidence of the public in the integrity of notarized deeds will be undermined. 33 Defects in the observance of the solemnities prescribed by law render the entire will invalid. This carelessness cannot be taken lightly in view of the importance and delicate nature of a will, considering that the testator and the witnesses, as in this case, are no longer alive to identify the instrument and to confirm its contents. 34 Accordingly, respondent must be held accountable for his acts. The validity of the will was seriously compromised as a consequence of his breach of duty.35 In this connection, Section 249 of the old Notarial Law provided: Grounds for revocation of commission. The following derelictions of duty on the part of a notary public shall, in the discretion of the proper judge of first instance, be sufficient ground for the revocation of his commission: xxx xxx xxx

(b) The failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his notarial register touching his notarial acts in the manner required by law. xxx xxx xxx

(f) The failure of the notary to make the proper notation regarding cedula certificates. 36 These gross violations of the law also made respondent liable for violation of his oath as a lawyer and constituted transgressions of Section 20 (a), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court37 and Canon 138 and Rule 1.0139 of the CPR. The first and foremost duty of a lawyer is to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, uphold the Constitution and obey the laws of the land.40 For a lawyer is the servant of the law and belongs to a profession to which society has entrusted the administration of law and the dispensation of justice.41 While the duty to uphold the Constitution and obey the law is an obligation imposed on every citizen, a lawyer assumes responsibilities well beyond the basic requirements of good citizenship. As a servant of the law, a lawyer should moreover make himself an example for others to emulate.42 Being a lawyer, he is supposed to be a model in the community in so far as respect for the law is concerned.43 The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. 44 A breach of these conditions justifies disciplinary action against the erring lawyer. A disciplinary sanction is imposed on a lawyer upon a finding or acknowledgment that he has

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engaged in professional misconduct.45 These sanctions meted out to errant lawyers include disbarment, suspension and reprimand. Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction. 46 We have held in a number of cases that the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution47 and should not be decreed if any punishment less severe such as reprimand, suspension, or fine will accomplish the end desired.48 The rule then is that disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court.49 Respondent, as notary public, evidently failed in the performance of the elementary duties of his office. Contrary to his claims that he "exercised his duties as Notary Public with due care and with due regard to the provision of existing law and had complied with the elementary formalities in the performance of his duties xxx," we find that he acted very irresponsibly in notarizing the will in question. Such recklessness warrants the less severe punishment of suspension from the practice of law. It is, as well, a sufficient basis for the revocation of his commission 50 and his perpetual disqualification to be commissioned as a notary public.51 WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby found guilty of professional misconduct. He violated (1) the Lawyers Oath; (2) Rule 138 of the Rules of Court; (3) Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility; (4) Art. 806 of the Civil Code and (5) the provisions of the old Notarial Law. Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one year and his notarial commission REVOKED. Because he has not lived up to the trustworthiness expected of him as a notary public and as an officer of the court, he is PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED from reappointment as a notary public. Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to all the courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Bar Confidant, as well as made part of the personal records of respondent. SO ORDERED.

CIVIL CODE ARTICLE 808 Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-26808 May 23, 1969

REV. FATHER LUCIO V. GARCIA, petitioner, vs. HON. CONRADO M. VASQUEZ, respondent. R E S O L U T I O N* FERNANDO, J.: This is a motion for the reconsideration of our decision of March 28, 1969, filed by petitioner. In the opinion rendered in that case, we stated: "Petitioner should have been aware that there is no escape from the payment of the corresponding docket fee, otherwise, the Court is not called upon to act on a complaint or petition. Nor does it suffice to vary the rule simply because there is only one decedent whose estate is thus to be disposed of by will that must first be probated. It is not farfetched or implausible that a decedent could have left various wills. Under such circumstances, there is nothing inherently objectionable in thus exacting the payment of a docket fee, every time a will is sought to be probated.

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Petitioner here could have sought the probate of the will presented by him in the same proceeding. He did not; he filed instead a separate action." While not disputing the correctness of the above principle announced, petitioner, in this motion for reconsideration, would assert that he did not file a separate action "but instead elected to file the probate of the decedent's 1956 Will in the same Sp. Proc. 62618, then pending before the respondent Court." Petitioner's statement of fact is correct. Under the circumstances then, while the doctrine to the effect that a court of justice is not called upon to act on a complaint will petition in the absence of a payment of the corresponding docket fee every time a will is sought to be probated must be considered as subsisting, it finds no application to the present case, as petitioner did not file a separate action but instead sought to have the other will probated in the same special proceedings then pending before respondent Court. He is therefore entitled to have our decision reconsidered. WHEREFORE, the decision of March 28, 1969 is set aside and the petition for certiorari granted, with petitioner being thus entitled to the refund of the second docket fee of P940.00 paid under Receipt No. J-1459986 issued on December 2, 1965, and the order of respondent Court of November 6, 1965 ordering such payment of the second docket fee annulled. Without pronouncement as to costs.lawphi1.et Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez and Capistrano, JJ., concur. Teehankee and Barredo, JJ., took no part. Concepcion, C.J., and Castro, J., are on leave. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 74695 September 14, 1993 In the Matter of the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of the Deceased Brigido Alvarado, CESAR ALVARADO, petitioner, vs. HON. RAMON G. GAVIOLA, JR., Presiding Justice, HON. MA. ROSARIO QUETULIO LOSA and HON. LEONOR INES LUCIANO, Associate Justices, Intermediate Appellate Court, First Division (Civil Cases), and BAYANI MA. RINO, respondents. Vicente R. Redor for petitioner. Bayani Ma. Rino for and in his own behalf.

BELLOSILLO, J.: Before us is an appeal from the Decision dated 11 April 1986 1 of the First Civil Cases Division of the then Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, which affirmed the Order dated 27 June 1983 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Sta. Cruz, Laguna, admitting to probate the last will and testament 3 with codicil 4 of the late Brigido Alvarado. On 5 November 1977, the 79-year old Brigido Alvarado executed a notarial will entitled "Huling Habilin" wherein he disinherited an illegitimate son (petitioner) and expressly revoked a previously executed holographic will at the time awaiting probate before Branch 4 of the Regional Trial Court of sta. Cruz, Laguna.

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As testified to by the three instrumental witnesses, the notary public and by private respondent who were present at the execution, the testator did not read the final draft of the will himself. Instead, private respondent, as the lawyer who drafted the eight-paged document, read the same aloud in the presence of the testator, the three instrumental witnesses and the notary public. The latter four followed the reading with their own respective copies previously furnished them. Meanwhile, Brigido's holographic will was subsequently admitted to probate on 9 December 1977. On the 29th day of the same month, a codicil entitled "Kasulatan ng Pagbabago sa Ilang Pagpapasiya na Nasasaad sa Huling Habilin na may Petsa Nobiembre 5, 1977 ni Brigido Alvarado" was executed changing some dispositions in the notarial will to generate cash for the testator's eye operation. Brigido was then suffering from glaucoma. But the disinheritance and revocatory clauses were unchanged. As in the case of the notarial will, the testator did not personally read the final draft of the codicil. Instead, it was private respondent who read it aloud in his presence and in the presence of the three instrumental witnesses (same as those of the notarial will) and the notary public who followed the reading using their own copies. A petition for the probate of the notarial will and codicil was filed upon the testator's death on 3 January 1979 by private respondent as executor with the Court of First Instance, now Regional Trial Court, of Siniloan, Laguna. 5 Petitioner, in turn, filed an Opposition on the following grounds: that the will sought to be probated was not executed and attested as required by law; that the testator was insane or otherwise mentally incapacitated to make a will at the time of its execution due to senility and old age; that the will was executed under duress, or influence of fear and threats; that it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiary who stands to get the lion's share of the testator's estate; and lastly, that the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick. When the oppositor (petitioner) failed to substantiate the grounds relied upon in the Opposition, a Probate Order was issued on 27 June 1983 from which an appeal was made to respondent court. The main thrust of the appeal was that the deceased was blind within the meaning of the law at the time his "Huling Habilin" and the codicil attached thereto was executed; that since the reading required by Art. 808 of the Civil Code was admittedly not complied with, probate of the deceased's last will and codicil should have been denied. On 11 April 1986, the Court of Appeals rendered the decision under review with the following findings: that Brigido Alvarado was not blind at the time his last will and codicil were executed; that assuming his blindness, the reading requirement of Art. 808 was substantially complied with when both documents were read aloud to the testator with each of the three instrumental witnesses and the notary public following the reading with their respective copies of the instruments. The appellate court then concluded that although Art. 808 was not followed to the letter, there was substantial compliance since its purpose of making known to the testator the contents of the drafted will was served. The issues now before us can be stated thus: Was Brigido Alvarado blind for purpose of Art, 808 at the time his "Huling Habilin" and its codicil were executed? If so, was the double-reading requirement of said article complied with? Regarding the first issue, there is no dispute on the following facts: Brigido Alvarado was not totally blind at the time the will and codicil were executed. However, his vision on both eyes was only of "counting fingers at three (3) feet" by reason of the glaucoma which he had been suffering from for several years and even prior to his first consultation with an eye specialist on 14 December 1977. The point of dispute is whether the foregoing circumstances would qualify Brigido as a "blind" testator under Art. 808 which reads: Art. 808. If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him twice; once, by one of the subscribing witnesses, and again, by the notary public before whom the will is acknowledged. Petitioner contends that although his father was not totally blind when the will and codicil were executed, he can be so considered within the scope of the term as it is used in Art. 808. To support his stand, petitioner presented before the trial court a medical certificate issued by Dr. Salvador R. Salceda, Director of the Institute of Opthalmology (Philippine Eye Research Institute), 6 the contents of which were interpreted in layman's terms by Dr. Ruperto Roasa, whose expertise was admitted by private respondent. 7 Dr. Roasa explained that although the testator could visualize fingers at three (3) feet, he could no longer read either printed or handwritten matters as of 14 December 1977, the day of his first consultation. 8

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On the other hand, the Court of Appeals, contrary to the medical testimony, held that the testator could still read on the day the will and the codicil were executed but chose not to do so because of "poor eyesight." 9 Since the testator was still capable of reading at that time, the court a quo concluded that Art. 808 need not be complied with. We agree with petitioner in this respect. Regardless of respondent's staunch contention that the testator was still capable of reading at the time his will and codicil were prepared, the fact remains and this was testified to by his witnesses, that Brigido did not do so because of his "poor," 10 "defective," 11 or "blurred" 12 vision making it necessary for private respondent to do the actual reading for him. The following pronouncement in Garcia vs. Vasquez 13 provides an insight into the scope of the term "blindness" as used in Art. 808, to wit: The rationale behind the requirement of reading the will to the testator if he is blind or incapable of reading the will himself (as when he is illiterate), is to make the provisions thereof known to him, so that he may be able to object if they are not in accordance with his wishes . . . Clear from the foregoing is that Art. 808 applies not only to blind testators but also to those who, for one reason or another, are "incapable of reading the(ir) will(s)." Since Brigido Alvarado was incapable of reading the final drafts of his will and codicil on the separate occasions of their execution due to his "poor," "defective," or "blurred" vision, there can be no other course for us but to conclude that Brigido Alvarado comes within the scope of the term "blind" as it is used in Art. 808. Unless the contents were read to him, he had no way of ascertaining whether or not the lawyer who drafted the will and codicil did so confortably with his instructions. Hence, to consider his will as validly executed and entitled to probate, it is essential that we ascertain whether Art. 808 had been complied with. Article 808 requires that in case of testators like Brigido Alvarado, the will shall be read twice; once, by one of the instrumental witnesses and, again, by the notary public before whom the will was acknowledged. The purpose is to make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the document before signing and to give him an opportunity to object if anything is contrary to his instructions. That Art. 808 was not followed strictly is beyond cavil. Instead of the notary public and an instrumental witness, it was the lawyer (private respondent) who drafted the eight-paged will and the five-paged codicil who read the same aloud to the testator, and read them only once, not twice as Art. 808 requires. Private respondent however insists that there was substantial compliance and that the single reading suffices for purposes of the law. On the other hand, petitioner maintains that the only valid compliance or compliance to the letter and since it is admitted that neither the notary public nor an instrumental witness read the contents of the will and codicil to Brigido, probate of the latter's will and codicil should have been disallowed. We sustain private respondent's stand and necessarily, the petition must be denied. This Court has held in a number of occasions that substantial compliance is acceptable where the purpose of the law has been satisfied, the reason being that the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills are intended to protect the testator from all kinds of fraud and trickery but are never intended to be so rigid and inflexible as to destroy the testamentary privilege. 14 In the case at bar, private respondent read the testator's will and codicil aloud in the presence of the testator, his three instrumental witnesses, and the notary public. Prior and subsequent thereto, the testator affirmed, upon being asked, that the contents read corresponded with his instructions. Only then did the signing and acknowledgement take place. There is no evidence, and petitioner does not so allege, that the contents of the will and codicil were not sufficiently made known and communicated to the testator. On the contrary, with respect to the "Huling Habilin," the day of the execution was not the first time that Brigido had affirmed the truth and authenticity of the contents of the draft. The uncontradicted testimony of Atty. Rino is that Brigido Alvarado already acknowledged that the will was drafted in accordance with his expressed wishes even prior to 5 November 1977 when Atty. Rino went to the testator's residence precisely for the purpose of securing his conformity to the draft. 15

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Moreover, it was not only Atty. Rino who read the documents on 5 November and 29 December 1977. The notary public and the three instrumental witnesses likewise read the will and codicil, albeit silently. Afterwards, Atty. Nonia de la Pena (the notary public) and Dr. Crescente O. Evidente (one of the three instrumental witnesses and the testator's physician) asked the testator whether the contents of the document were of his own free will. Brigido answered in the affirmative. 16 With four persons following the reading word for word with their own copies, it can be safely concluded that the testator was reasonably assured that what was read to him (those which he affirmed were in accordance with his instructions), were the terms actually appearing on the typewritten documents. This is especially true when we consider the fact that the three instrumental witnesses were persons known to the testator, one being his physician (Dr. Evidente) and another (Potenciano C. Ranieses) being known to him since childhood. The spirit behind the law was served though the letter was not. Although there should be strict compliance with the substantial requirements of the law in order to insure the authenticity of the will, the formal imperfections should be brushed aside when they do not affect its purpose and which, when taken into account, may only defeat the testator's will. 17 As a final word to convince petitioner of the propriety of the trial court's Probate Order and its affirmance by the Court of Appeals, we quote the following pronouncement in Abangan v. Abangan, 18 to wit: The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid the substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on the subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's will, must be disregarded (emphasis supplied). Brigido Alvarado had expressed his last wishes in clear and unmistakable terms in his "Huling Habilin" and the codicil attached thereto. We are unwilling to cast these aside fro the mere reason that a legal requirement intended for his protection was not followed strictly when such compliance had been rendered unnecessary by the fact that the purpose of the law, i.e., to make known to the incapacitated testator the contents of the draft of his will, had already been accomplished. To reiterate, substantial compliance suffices where the purpose has been served. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of respondent Court of Appeals dated 11 April 1986 is AFFIRMED. Considering the length of time that this case has remained pending, this decision is immediately executory. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. Cruz, Grio-Aquino, Davide, Jr. and Quiason, JJ., concur.

CIVIL CODE ARTICLE 809 Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila

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EN BANC G.R. No. L-3497 May 18, 1951

THE MATTER OF THE PROBATE OF THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF JOSE VENZON. VALENTINA CUEVAS, petitioner-appellee, vs. PILAR ACHACOSO, oppositor-appellant. Juan R. Arbizo and Antonio Gonzales for petitioner-appellee. Mariano Trinidad and Luis J. Nepomuceno for oppositor-appellant. BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.: This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Zambales admitting to probate the last will and testament of the late Jose Venzon. On January 19, 1946, Jose Venzon died in Iba, Zambales, leaving a will. In said will the deceased instituted as his heirs, Valentina Cuevas, his widow and Rosario Asera Venzon, his daughter. He named therein his widow as executrix of the will. On February 1, 1946, Valentina Cuevas filed a petition for the probate of said will. On May 10, 1946, one Pilar Achacoso filed an alternative petition for the probate of a previous will executed by the deceased praying therein that, if the will submitted by the widow be rejected, the other will be admitted to probate in lieu thereof. In the previous will there are other heirs instituted, among them petitioner Pilar Achacoso. Pilar Achacoso objected to the probate of the second will executed by the deceased on October 10, 1945. After due hearing, the court found that the latter will was executed in accordance with law and ordered that it be admitted to probate. Pilar Achacoso took the case to the Court of Appeals, but the latter certified it to this Court on the ground that it involves purely questions of law. The main error assigned refers to the alleged lack of attestation clause in the will under consideration, or to the fact that, if there is such attestation clause, the same has not been signed by the instrumental witnesses, but by the testator himself, and it is claimed that this defect has the effect of invalidating the will. The will in question, after reciting in separate paragraphs, and under correlative numbers, the provisions of the will, winds up with the following clause: IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I sign this testament or last will in the municipality of Iba, Zambales, Philippines, this 10th day of October, 1945, in the presence of the three witnesses, namely Dr. Nestorio Trinidad, Don Baldomero Achacoso, and Mr. Proceso Cabal as instrumental witnesses to my signing; this testament is written in three (3) sheets marked by letter "A", "B" and "C" consecutively on top of each sheet and upon my request and in my presence and also in the presence of each of the aforesaid instrumental witnesses, they also signed this testament already reffered to. I hereby manifest that every sheet of the aforesaid testament, on the left-hand margin as well as the testament itself have been signed by me as also each of the witnesses has also signed in my presence and in the presence of each other. (Sgd.) JOSE VENZON Witnesses: (Sgd.) NESTORIO TRINIDAD (Sgd.) BALDOMERO L. ACHACOSO (Sgd.) PROCESO CABAL.

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The clause above quoted is the attestation clause reffered to in the law which, in our opinion, substantially complies with its requirements. The only apparent anomaly we find is that it appears to be an attestation made by the testator himself more than by the instrumental witnesses. This apparent anomaly, as to affect the validity of the will, it appearing that right under the signature of the testator, there appear the signatures of the three instrumental witnesses. "Instrumental witness, as define by Escriche in his Diccionario Razonado de Legislacion y Jurisprudencia, Vol. 4, p. 1115, is one who takes part in the execution of an instrument or writing" (In re will of Tan Diuco, 45 Phil., 807, 809). An instrumental witness, therefore, does not merely attest to the signature of the testator but also to the proper execution of the will. The fact that the three instrumental witnesses have signed the will immediately under the signature of the testator, shows that they have in fact attested not only to the genuineness of his signature but also to the due execution of the will as embodied in the attestation clause. The attestation clause in question bears close similarity with the attestation clause in the will involved in Aldaba vs. Roque, (43 Phil., 378). In that case, the attestation claused formed part of the body of the will and its recital was made by the testratrix himself and was signed by her and by the three instrumental witnesses. In upholding the validity of the will, the court said: In reality it appears that it is the testratrix who makes the declaration about the points in the last paragraph of the will; however as the witnesses together with the testratrix, have signed the said declaration, we are of the opinion and so hold that the words above quoted of the testament constitute a sufficient compliance with the requirements of Act No. 2645. As was said in one case, "the object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of the wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guarantee their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on this subject should be intrepreted in such a way as to attain this premordial ends. But on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's will, must be disregarded." (In re will of Tan Diuco, supra, p. 811.) (Emphasis supplied.) Expressive of this liberal view of interpretation, are also the following rules embodied in the new Civil Code. These provisions, although not directly applicable, are however, significant because they project the point of view of our legislature when it adopted them having in view the existing law and jurisprudence on the matter. . 788. If a testamentary disposition admits of different interpretations, in case of doubt, that interpretation by which the disposition is to be operative shall be preferred. Art. 791. The words of a will are to receive an interpretation which will give to every expressions inoperative; and of two modes of interpreting a will, that is to be preferred which will prevent intestacy. Wherefore, the order appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against the appellant. Paras, C.J., Feria and Tuason, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions JUGO, J., concurring: I concur in the result.

MONTEMAYOR, J., dissenting:

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Bengzon and Padilla, JJ., concurring and dissenting:. The facts in this case are correctly related in the learned majority decision penned by Mr. Justice Bautista Angelo. The main issue involved is well stated in that portion of the majority decision which for purposes of reference quote below: The main error assigned refers to the alleged lack of attestation clause in the will under consideration, or to the fact that, If there is such attestation clause, the same has not been signed by the testator himself, and it is claimed that this defect has the effect of invalidating the will. The will in question, after reciting in seperate paragraphs, and under correlative numbers, the provisions of the will, winds up with the following clause: In witness whereof, I sign this testament or last will in the municipality of Iba, Zambales, Philippines, the 10th day of October, 1945, in the presence of the three witnesses, namely Dr. Nestorio Trinidad, Don Baldomero Achacoso, and Mr. Proceso Cabal as instrumental witnesses to my signing; this testament is written in three (3) sheets marked by letter "A", "B" and "C" consecutively on top of each sheet and upon my request and in my presence and also in the presence of each of the afforesaid instrumental witnesses, they also signed this testament already referred to. I hereby manifest that every sheet of the aforesaid testament, on the left-hand margin as well as the testament itself have been signed by me as also each of the witnesses has also signed in my presence and in the presence of each other. (Sgd.) JOSE VENZON Witnesses: (Sgd) NESTOR TRINIDAD (Sgd) BALDOMERO L. ACHACOSO (Sgd) PROCESO CABAL The majority opinion correctly states that the clause of the will above-quoted "appears to be an attestation made by the testator himself more than by the instrumental witnesses." I go further and say that it is an attestation by the only, and not by the witnesses. The three witnesses Trinidad, Achacoso and Cabal signed under the signature of Jose Venzon under the word "witnesses." Nothing can be more clear than that they merely witnessed the signature of the testator, nothing more. In an ordinary attestation clause to a will, as may be seen or verified from any legal form, the attestation clause invariably contains a certification, affirmation or solemn statement made by the witnesses and signed by them, to the effect that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, in their presence, and that they also signed in the same manner and in the presence of each other. In other words, it is they (witnesses) who speak and certify and attest. They are the ones who assures all persons interested, including the probate court that the attestation clause signed by them contains a true and faithful certificate or guarantee of the signing of the will by the testator and by themselves as required by law, and that they were in a position to do so because they signed last. Now, let us examined the clause of the will above-quoted. As the majority opinion states, it is the testator that speak and not the attesting witnesses He certifies that not only he signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of three witnesses, but that said three witness also signed in his presence and in the presence of each other. Then he signed said clause and the will, and thereafter, the three witnesses signed under the word "witnesses", evidently giving us to understand that they saw him sign, nothing more. From our everyday experience and observation, in ordinary written contracts or deeds, the witnesses who signed at the foot of the instrument and after the signatures of the parties to the contract or deed merely witness the signatures of said parties, nothing beyond that. The law does not require, and they do not certify that they signed in the presence of each other much less, that the instrument or deed has been executed according to legal requirements. They have nothing to do or to say about

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the truth or falsity of the statements contained in the body of the document. For all they know the vendor may not be the owner of the land he is selling, and the vendee may not in fact have paid the amount stated as received by the vendor. All that they know and impliedly affirm and attest is that they saw the parties sign the deed. And that is exactly what took place in the execution of the will in question. The witnesses signed merely as witnesses to the signature of the testator. They neither expressly nor the impliedly affirmed or certified that the assertions about the signing of the will and every page thereof, contained in the so-called attestation clause, are true for the obvious reason that said clause is not their own, neither have they signed it. Let us apply a simple a simple test. Supposing that the statements contained in the so-called attestation clause in this case contained a false narration of facts. Can and may said three witnesses or anyone of them be properly and justly accused of falsification? I seriously doubt it. They can truthfully and correctly say in their defense that they made no certificate, statement or narration, Whether false or true. The certificate and attestation was made only by the testator himself and not by them (witnesses). As admitted and stated in the majority opinion, it was he (testator) who spoke, not they(witnesses). It may be that the testator, as it were took the very words out of their mouths, but the utterance and the affirmation were his not theirs. He erroneously assumed their role as attesting witnesses. But that is far from from fulfilling the requisites of the law that demands such utterance, assurance and affirmation from three witness and from no one else. Incidentally, it may be stated that what the testator states in said clause could not have been all true. He says and certifies that the three witnesses signed the will in his presence and in the presence of each other. Then he signed said certificate or statement or clause. How could he truthfully and correctly say all this when at the time that he was making the statement or certificate and at the very instant that he signed the same the three witnesses had not yet signed (in his presence and in the presence of each other), for the simple reason that they signed last, and, naturally, after the testator had made and signed his premature and untrue statement and affirmation. The sequence is obviously wrong. In other words, the testator was basing his statement and certificate upon a mere future presumption and expectation. The majority bolster its stand by citing the case of Aldaba vs. Roque, 43 Phil., 378, where a similar attestation clause was signed by the testatrix herself and this Court held that inasmuch as the witnesses signed with the testatrix, it was a sufficient compliance with the requirements of the law on wills. I am afraid of the doctrine laid down in that case of Aldaba vs. Roque, supra, constitutes a wide departure from the well established rule about due execution of wills and, for the guidance of prospective testators the bench and the bar, it is about time that we revised said doctrine. We should strictly comply with requirements of the law about the execution of wills so as to effectively close the door to fraud, deceit, and duress. When the law requires that the attesting witnesses make the attestation and formal declaration, we should insist that they and not someone else, even the testator, assume that role. Of what value can the statement or attestation or certificate about the signatures on the will, made by the testator be? Absolutely none. It will be remembered in the sense that it comes to life and goes into effect only after the death of the testator, not before. Naturally, in the probate of a will, the testator can never be a witness to established and support the truth of the statement contained in his certificate or attestation. In other words, in a contested will where evidence is required to prove the due execution of the statement, a certificate or affirmation made by the testator himself, besides being unnecessary and not required by law, becomes an empty and ineffective attestation because the attestator himself is no longer available to support it by his declaration under oath in court. That is why the law requires as attesting witnesses, three other persons who might be expected to be yet alive and available when the will is presented for probate. And when the will is contested the law further requires all the said three witnesses to appear in court and testify and ratify the statement clause. So in the case of In Re Will of Tan Diuco, 45 Phil. 807, this court speaking attesting witnesses said that the three witnesses should sign the attestation clause "inasmuch as they alone can certify the facts to be stated in said clause, for having taken a direct part therein, as they saw the testator sign the will, or the person requested by him to sign all the will, or the person requested by him to sign all the sheets of the will, that is, the document constituting his last will and testament, and affirmed that it was signed under his express direction in the presence said witnesses and that all the sheets thereof had also been signed by them in the presence of said testator and of each of them, . . . ." To consider the words and statements contained in the so-called attestation clause in the presence case, as made and uttered by the three witnesses just because they signed their names under the testators signature, as witnesses to his signing the document, is to ascribed and impute to them as their act and declaration an act clearly not their own, and to put into their mouth's words and statements never uttered or spoken by them; it is to give to the clause and the signatures under it, a significance and meaning and effect not warranted by normal and reasonable understanding and interpretation.

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Under the interpretation given to the clause in question by the majority opinion as well as the interpretation given by this Court to a similar clause in the case of Aldaba vs. Roque, supra, in a case where a testator makes and signs a similar attestation clause, any three persons who may happen to have been in the same room where the testator was, and have seen him or where in a position to have seen him affix his signature to his intended last will and testament, may afterwards leave the room and go to their respective homes, towns and provinces; and subsequently, indeed, even after the death of the testator, when the persons or persons who prepared the will came to realize the necessity of attesting witnesses, they could send the document to said witnesses, in the places where they may be found, one after the other and request said three persons to sign as attesting witnesses; and each of said three persons may honestly, truthfully and without any mental reservation, sign his name to the document as a witness for the reason that he had actually witnesses the signature of the testator, for after all, that is all that he impliedly certifies by his signature as a witness, and, yet, such signatures of the witnesses under such circumstances would not only be without the contemplation of law but would also expressly and openly violate its requirements, for the law provides that the attesting witnesses must certify and attest that they signed as witnesses in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other, facts which are absolutely and completely wanting in the example given. The foregoing are the reasons why i am of the opinion that the interpretation given by the majority to the called attestation clause in the present case, as well as the interpretation given by the majority to the so-called attestation clause in the case, as well the interpretation given by this Court to a similar attestation clause in the case of Aldaba vs. Roque, supra, are not exactly correct and warranted. In the possibility that the testator in the present case, or the person or persons who prepared the will had relied upon the ruling laid down in the case of Aldaba vs. Roque, supra, and that it would now be unfair to reject the present will when in its preparation a ruling by this Court has been followed, I am willing to admit said will to probate and I concur in the result of the majority opinion; but I dissent insofar as it holds out and regards the interpretation given by it of the clause in question, as a doctrine that may be followed in future cases, especially from now on. I also believe and hold that for the reasons stated in this occurring and dissenting opinion, the doctrine laid down in the case of Aldaba vs. Roque, supra, should be abandoned. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-35586 October 31, 1932

Estate of the deceased Caridad Alcantara de Gorostiza. CONSORCIA DICHOSO DE TICSON, petitioner-appellant, vs. MARINO DE GOROSTIZA, oppositor-appellee. Ramon Diokno for appellant. Guevara, Francisco and Recto for appellee.

MALCOLM, J.: The will of the deceased Caridad Alcantara de Gorostiza was denied probate in the trial court, for the reason that the attestation clause failed to state that the testatrix signed every page of the will as required by section 618, as amended, of the Code of Civil Procedure. The attestation clause in question reads: "We the undersigned attesting witnesses, whose residences are stated opposite our respective names, do hereby certify that the testatrix, whose name is signed hereinabove, has publish unto us the foregoing will consisting of two pages as her Last Will and Testament and has signed the same in our presence, and in witness whereof we have each signed the same and each page thereof in the presence of said testatrix and in the presence of each other." The single question is, if the

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attestation clause above quoted is fatally defective and so annuls the will, or if the said attestation clause conforms to the law and so permits the court to respect the wishes of the deceased and to sustain the will. The theses of the appellant and the appellee are as far apart as the poles. Appellant says that when the attestation clause mentions "the testratrix, whose name is signed hereinabove", the word "hereinabove" should be taken as not only referring to the signature at the end of the will but to the signatures on the margin of its two pages, and that when later the attestation clause mentions "the foregoing will consisting of two pages as her Last Will and Testament, and has signed the same", the word "same" refers to the two pages of the will and not to the will itself. Appellee on the other hand maintains that in the attestation clause, all that has been said about the testatrix, "whose name is signed hereinabove" is that "she has signed the same (will) in our (witnesses) presence", and that the attestation clause does not set forth that the testatrix has signed every page of the will in the presence of the attesting witnesses. Placing the attestation clause under the judicial microscope, we observe, after analytical study, that it shows compliance with statutory provisions. We must reject as untenable the interpretation of the appellant relative to the word "hereinabove", for this simply has reference to the signature of the testatrix at the end of the will. We must reject also as untenable the interpretation of the appellant that the word "same" refers back to "pages" and not to "will", for such an interpretation would be inconsistent with the language used further on in the attestation clause where mention is made of the signing by the witnesses of "the same and each page thereof", meaning the will and each page thereof. We are, however, clear that when the attestation clause states that the testatrix "has publish unto us the foregoing will consisting of two pages as her Last Will and Testament, and has signed the same", the word "same" signifies the foregoing will consisting of two pages, which necessarily implies the signature by the testatrix of the will and every page thereof. In our judgment, an interpretation sustaining the validity of the attestation clause is neither forced nor illogical. Precision of language in the drafting of an attestation clause is desirable. However, it is not imperative that a parrotlike copy of the words of the statute be made. It is sufficient if from the language employed it can reasonably de deduced that the attestation clause fulfills what the law expects of it. There is another aspect to the case. Evidence of course may not be admitted to supply omissions in an attestation clause. The attestation clause must show on its face a compliance with the law. But this does not preclude an examination of the will, and here the will itself shows that the testatrix and the witnesses signed on the left-hand margin of the two pages; that the testatrix signed at the end of the will, and that the witnesses signed at the end of the attestation clause. The attestation clause is a part of the instrument which so closely, if not literally, adheres to the law of wills. It has been observed during our deliberations that a decision upholding the will before us would run counter to a uniform line of authorities to the contrary. That is hardly an exact statement. The truth is that there have been noticeable in the Philippines two divergent tendencies in the law of wills the one being planted on strict construction and the other on liberal construction. A late example of the former views may be found in the decision in Rodriguez vs. Alcala ([1930], 55 Phil., 150), sanctioning a literal enforcement of the law. The basic case in the other direction, predicated on reason, is Abangan vs. Abangan ([1919], 40 Phil., 476), oft-cited approvingly in later decisions. The attestation clause here is an exact transcription of the form found in former Justice Fisher's New Encyclopedia of Philippine Legal Forms, third edition, page 495, except that, by typographical error, the word "published" has been written "publish". So it would be a safe assumption that there are other wills in this jurisdiction having similar attestation clauses. A decision against the will in this case might accordingly have far-reaching and disastrous results. Legalistic formalities should not be permitted to obscure the use of good sound common sense in the consideration of wills and to frustrate the wishes of deceased persons solemnly expressed in testaments, regarding the execution of which there is not even a hint of bad faith or fraud. We find the attestation clause legally sufficient, and order that the will of the deceased Caridad Alcantara de Gorostiza be admitted to probate. Judgment reversed, the costs of both instances to be paid by the appellee. Villamor, Abad Santos, Hull and Imperial, JJ., concur. Ostrand, J., reserves his vote. Butte, J., concurs in the result.

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Separate Opinions

STREET, J., dissenting: The attesting clause in this case is, in our opinion, defective in that it fails to show that every page of the will was signed by the testator in the presence of the attesting witnesses. In section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended, it is declared, among other things, that the attestation shall state that the testator signed "the will and every page thereof" in the presence of the witnesses, also that the attesting witnesses signed the will "and all pages thereof" in the presence of the testator and of each other. In the attestation before us it is stated that the witnesses has signed the will "and each page thereof" in the presence of the testatrix and of each other, but with respect to the signing by the testatrix it is merely stated that she signed "the same" in our presence. The question here presented really resolves itself into the question, What is the proper and real antecedent of "the same" as first used in the attestation clause? It will be noted that this expression is used twice in the attestation, and it is obvious that it must have the same meaning in both places. Now, in the second place where the phrase is used, it evidently means the will merely and not "the will and every page thereof". It follows that, as this expression is used in the first place in the attestation clause, it should be understood to refer merely to the will. In our opinion the certification that a will "consisting of two pages" was signed by the testator is not a certification of the fact that it was signed on "every page thereof." What appears to have occurred in this case, if we may be permitted so to say, is that the court has inadvertently permitted a mere inference to usurp the place of the plain fact which the law requires to be stated in the attestation. If this decision is correct, it might in time be logically followed by another to the effect that an attesting clause is good if it certifies merely that the will was "signed in the manner prescribed by law", a proposition which we think would be generally recognized as unsound.1awphil.net Consistently with this attestation the signature of the testatrix in the margin of the first page might have been signed by her at a time when the attesting witnesses were not present. The clause is therefore defective, and no error was committed by the trial court in rejecting the will. Villa-Real and Vickers, JJ., concur.

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-4888 May 25, 1953

JOSE MERZA, petitioner, vs. PEDRO LOPEZ PORRAS, respondent. Primicias, Abad, Mencies & Castillo for petitioner. Moises Ma. Buhain for respondent. TUAZON , J.: This is an appeal from the Court of Appeals which affirmed an order of the Court of First Instance of Zambales denying the probate of the last will and testament and so-called codicil, identified as Exhibits A and B, of Pilar Montealegre, deceased. The testatrix was survived by the husband and collateral relatives, some of whom, along with the husband, were disinherited in Exhibit B for the reasons set forth therein. The opposition to Exhibit A was predicated on alleged defects of the attestation clause. Written in the local dialect known to the testatrix, the attestation clause, as translated into English in the record on appeal, reads: The foregoing instrument consisting of three pages, on the date above-mentioned, was executed, signed and published by testatrix Pilar Montealegre and she declared that the said instrument is her last will and testament; that in our presence and also in the very presence of the said testatrix as likewise in the presence of two witnesses and the testatrix each of us three witnesses signed this a testament. The opponent objected that this clause did not estate that the tetratrix and the witnesses had signed each and every page of the will or that she had signed the instrument in the presence of the witnesses. The Appellate Court dismissed the first objection, finding that "failure to estate in the attestation clause in question that the testatrix and/or the witnesses had signed each and every page of Exhibit A were cured by the fact that each one of the page of the instrument appears to be signed by the testatrix and the three attesting witnesses (Nayve vs. Mojal, 47 Phil., 152, (1924); Ticson vs. Gorostiza, 57 Phil., (1932); Leynes vs. Leynes, 40 Off. Gaz., 3rd Suppl. (October 18, 1939), 510, 528; Rallos vs. Rallos, 44 Off. Gaz., 4938, 4940)." But granting the correctness of the premise, the court held the second objection well taken and thus concluded: "The question whether the testatrix had signed in the presence of said witnesses can not be verified upon physical examination of the instrument. Hence, the absence of the require statement in said clause may not, pursuant to the decisions of the Supreme Court, be offset by proof aliunde even if admitted without any objection." The premise of the conclusion is, in our opinion, incorrect. It must be admitted that the attestation clause was very poor drawn, its language exceedingly ungrammatical to the point of being difficult to understand; but from a close examination of the whole context in relation to its purpose the implication seems clear that the testatrix signed in the presence of the witnesses. Considering that the witnesses' only business at hand was to sign and attest to the testatrix's signing of the document, and that the only actors of the proceeding were the maker and the witnesses acting and speaking collectively and in the first person, the phrase "in our presence," used as it was in connection with the process of signing, can not imply anything but the testatrix signed before them. No other inference is possible. The prepositional phrase "in our presence" denotes an active verb and the verb a subject. The verb could not be other than signed and the subject no other than the testatrix. The use of the word "also" is no less enlightening. It denotes that, as each of the witnesses sign in the presence of the testatrix and of one another, so the testatrix sign in similar or like manner in their presence.

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In consonance with the principle of the liberal interpretation, adhered to in numerous later decision of this Court and affirmed and translated into inactment in the new Civil Code (Article 827), we are constrained to hold the attestation clause under consideration sufficient and valid. "Precision of language in the drafting of the attestation clause is desirable. However, it is not imperative that a parrot-like copy of the word of the statue be made. It is sufficient if from the language employed it can reasonably be deduced that the attestation clause fulfills what the law expects of it." (Ticson vs. Gorostiza, supra.) "It could have been the intention of the legislature in providing for the essential safeguards in the execution of a will to shackle the very right of the testamentary disposition which the law recognizes and holds sacred." (Leynes vs. Leynes, supra.) With reference of Exhibit B the Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that the document having been executed one day before Exhibit A could not be considered as a codicil "because a codicil, as the word implies, is only an addition to, or modification of, the will." The Court of Appeals added that "the content of Exhibit B are couched in the language of ordinarily used in a simple affidavit and as such, may not have the legal effect and force to a testamentary disposition." Furthermore, the Court of Appeals observed, disinheritance "may not be made in any instrument other than the will of Exhibit A, as expressly provided for in article 849 of the Civil Code," and, "there being no disposition as to the disinheritance of the oppositor, Pedro Lopez Porras (the surviving spouse), in the said Exhibit A, it is quite clear that he can not be disinherited in any other instrument including Exhibit B, which is, as above stated, a simple affidavit." Exhibit B does partake of the nature of a will. A will is defined in article 667 of the Civil code of Spain as "the act by which a persons dispose of all his property or a portion of it," and in article 783 of the new Civil Code as "an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate, to take effect after his death. Exhibit B comes within this definition. Being of testamentary character and having been made with all the formalities of law, Exhibit B is entitled to probate as an independent testementary desposition. In the absence of any legal provision to the contrary and there is none in this jurisdiction it is the general, well-established rule that two separate and distinct wills may be probated if one does not revoke the other (68 C.J., 885) and provided that the statutory requirements relative to the execution of wills have been complied with (Id. 881). As seen, Exhibit B embodied all the requisites of a will, even free of such formal of literary imperfections as are found in Exhibit A. It also follows that Exhibit B is a legal and effective vehicle for excluding lawful heirs from testate or intestate succession. Article 849 of the Civil Code of Spain does not, as the appealed decision seems to insinuate, require that the disinheritance should be accomplished in the same instrument by which the maker provides the disposition of his or her property after his or death. This article merely provides that "disinheritance can be affected only by a will (any will) in which the legal cause upon which it is based is expressly stated." It is our judgment therefore that the instruments Exhibit A and B admitted to probate, subject of courts to the right of the disinherited person under particle 850 to contest the disinheritance, and it is so ordered, with costs against the appellee. Paras, C.J., Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Bautista Angelo and Labrador, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-18076 August 31, 1962

ELEUTERIO CANEDA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. GREGORIO S. NARVASA, and/or the Presiding Judge of the Fifth Branch and/or Court of First Instance of Manila, PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF CEBU, PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF BOHOL,

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PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN GENERAL INSURANCE CO., INC., CELERINO DELGADO and PEDRO LABRA, respondents. V. L. Lecaspi for petitioner. Emilio Abello and Manuel Y. Macias for respondent Philippine-American General Insurance Co., Inc. Castillo, Wabe and Associates for respondent Celerino Delgado. LABRADOR, J.: This is an appeal by certiorari filed by the petitioner against an order of the respondent Court dismissing petition filed by the herein petitioner in CA-G.R. No 28667-R, Eleuterio Caneda vs. Hon. Gregorio S. Narvasa et al., on the ground of lack of merits. In the petition Caneda alleged as a first cause of action that in Civil Case No. 25376 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, filed by Philamgen against him (Eleuterio Caneda) and Celerino Delgado, judgment was rendered sentencing the defendants to pay to plaintiff P2,986.50, notwithstanding the fact that no summons was served upon petitioner Eleuterio Caneda, but that a certain lawyer representing him self to be petitioner's attorney signed the summons for his (defendant); as a second cause of action, that in Civil Case No. 26428, also of the Court of First Instance of Manila Philamgen as plaintiff and the herein petitioner Eleutrio Caneda, Celerino Delgado and Pedro Labra as defendants, the latter were sentenced to pay the sum of P4,597.50 in spite of the fact that Eleuterio Caneda was again not served summons, said summons having been received in petitioner's behalf by his co-defendant Celerino Delgado; and as third cause of action, that in Civil Case No. 26429, also of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled Philamgen vs. Eleuterio Caneda and Celerino Delgado, judgment was rendered against said defendants including petitioner, sentencing them to pay P3,000.00 notwithstanding the fact that no summons was served upon the petitioner herein, the summons having been received for him by his co-defendant Celerino Delgado. It is further alleged as a cause for complaint that in the first suit, Civil Case No. 25376 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, one Ross V. Pangilinan, with office and/or residence at Enad Building, Juan Luna St., Cebu City, represented himself as counsel for petitioner in violation of the Rules, petitioner herein not having a residence or place of business at Enad Building, Juan Luna St., Cebu City; that in the second and third actions, hearing proceeded without summons having been served upon petitioner herein; that in none of the above actions has the petitioner ever engaged the services of Celerino Delgado, or authorized him to receive summons for him, or to appear for him as counsel; that the petitioner has been deprived of his day in court, respondent Philamgen having without his knowledge and with malice and bad faith filed and/or proceeded with the proceedings and/or delayed application for issuance of writ of execution of the judgment rendered, etc.; that respondent Philamgen in the civil cases above mentioned pretended good faith in accepting forged signatures of the herein petitioner as genuine, etc.; and that the petitioner has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the decisions in said civil cases having become final by lapse of time and the same are pending execution. The prayer asked for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction restraining the respondent judge, the sheriffs of Cebu and Bohol, and their agents or representatives, from executing the judgments rendered in said civil cases; and after trial to declare the decisions or the judgments in the above entitled cases null and void, as entered without jurisdiction, and thereafter declare the preliminary injunction issued as permanent. The resolution of the Court of Appeals dismissing the petition reads thus: Acting upon the verified petition filed by counsel for petitioner in case CA-G.R. No. 28667-R, Eleuterio Caneda vs. Hon. Gregorio S. Narvasa, et al., praying, on the grounds there stated, that upon petitioner's filing of a bond fixed by the Court, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued enjoining the respondents, Hon. Gregorio S. Narvasa or any presiding judge of the Fifth Branch of the Court of First Instance of Manila, the Provincial Sheriff of Cebu and the Provincial Sheriff Bohol or any of their duly authorized representatives from enforcing the decision and writs of execution issued in Civil Cases No. 26376, Philippine-American General Insurance Co. Inc. vs. Celerino Delgado, et al., No. 26428, Philippine-Americ General Insurance Co., Inc. vs. Celerino Delgado, et al., and 26429, Philippine-American General Insurance Co., Inc. vs. Celerino Delgado, et al., of the Court of First Instance of Manila and after hearing, the decisions rendered by the respondent Judge in the above-entitled civil cases insofar as it affects the petitioner be annulled and be declared null and void and the aforesaid cases against him be dismissed; and considering allegation in the petition itself that the decisions in the afore-entitled civil cases have already become final and hence no longer be appealed, for which reason the remedy sought herein is not in aid of the Court's appellate jurisdiction; and considering further that the question of whether or not to respondent court acquired jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner in the aforementioned civil cases is one of fact requiring presentation of evidence, which can only be done in to appropriate civil action; the Court RESOLVED to DENY the petition for lack of merits, and consequently to DISMISS the case, as the same hereby is DISMISSED without pronouncement as to costs.

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We find merit in the petition. Section 30 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 defines the pertinent jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals thus: Sec. 30. Original jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals shall have original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, injunction, certiorari, habeas corpus, and all other auxiliary writs and process in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. The authority of the Court of Appeals to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, injunction, certiorari and habeas corpus in aid of its appellate jurisdiction has held to be based on the existence of a right to appeal to it from the judgment on the merits. (Tuason & Co., etc. vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-18128, December 26, 1961; Republic vs. Tuason, et al., G.R. No. L-18672, December 26, 1961; Tuason & Co., Inc., etc. vs. Sanvictores, G.R. No. L-16836, January 30, 1962.) For the Court of Appeals to have jurisdiction in said special civil cases it is not necessary that a party has actually appealed or will take an appeal against decisions or resolutions of the Court of First Instance; it is enough if it appears from the plaintiff's petition that the petitioner has a right to appeal according to law from the order or decision of the Court of First Instance to the Court of Appeals. (Breslin, et al. v. Luzon Stevedoring Co., et al., CA-G.R. No. 3121-R, Sept. 29, 1949; Valero vs. Ysip, et al., CA-G.R. No. 4896-R, June 30, 1950).1wph1.t There is no doubt in the case at bar that had petitioner been notified of the proceeding taken against him in the manner provided by the Rules, he could have brought timely appeal against the judgments subject of his petition for annulment, it appearing that the amounts involved in the actions fall within the appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. In that case of Salva vs. Palacio, et al., G.R. No. L-4247, Jan. 30, 1952, this Court in denying a petition filed before it, held: This petition should have been filed in the Court of Appeals because it is a special civil remedy in aid of the appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. Had the record on appeal been allowed it would have come under the appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals has what may be known as a supervisory power over the courts of first instance, because ordinarily decisions or orders of these lower courts are appealable thereto. The case at bar is an example where the supervisory power should be exercised by the Court of Appeals to correct apparent errors affecting the validity of the proceedings before the lower court. It is not, as stated in the resolution of the Court of Appeals appealed from, the fact that evidence would be taken that determines whether or not the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to entertain the petition for injunction. Were we to follow the ruling enunciated in the order appealed from, petitioner here would never have any remedy at all. Besides, the certified copies of the summonses and the service thereof to petitioner herein in the three cases subject of his petition for annulment are enough to prove the validity of his assertions that there was no service of summons upon him or that it had been irregular. Copies of the summonses have been furnished to this Court in the record and we are satisfied that the claim of petitioner stated in his petition, that he has not been summoned in accordance with the rules, is well-founded. FOR THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the petition is hereby granted, the decisions or judgments rendered against the petitioner are hereby declared null and void in so far as they affect the petitioner, and the preliminary injunction issued upon the filing of the petition is hereby made permanent. With costs against respondents Philippine-American General Insurance Co., Inc., Celerino Delgado and Pedro Labra. So ordered. Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Barrera, Paredes, Dizon, Regala and Makalintal, JJ., concur. Bengzon, C.J. and Reyes, J.B.L., J., took no part. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 147145 January 31, 2005

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TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE ALIPIO ABADA, BELINDA CAPONONG-NOBLE, petitioner, vs. ALIPIO ABAJA and NOEL ABELLAR, respondents. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Case Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the Decision 2 of the Court of Appeals of 12 January 2001 in CA-G.R. CV No. 47644. The Court of Appeals sustained the Resolution3 of the Regional Trial Court of Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, Branch 61 ("RTC-Kabankalan"), admitting to probate the last will and testament of Alipio Abada ("Abada"). The Antecedent Facts Abada died sometime in May 1940.4 His widow Paula Toray ("Toray") died sometime in September 1943. Both died without legitimate children. On 13 September 1968, Alipio C. Abaja ("Alipio") filed with the then Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental (now RTC-Kabankalan) a petition, 5 docketed as SP No. 070 (313-8668), for the probate of the last will and testament ("will") of Abada. Abada allegedly named as his testamentary heirs his natural children Eulogio Abaja ("Eulogio") and Rosario Cordova. Alipio is the son of Eulogio. Nicanor Caponong ("Caponong") opposed the petition on the ground that Abada left no will when he died in 1940. Caponong further alleged that the will, if Abada really executed it, should be disallowed for the following reasons: (1) it was not executed and attested as required by law; (2) it was not intended as the last will of the testator; and (3) it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiaries. Citing the same grounds invoked by Caponong, the alleged intestate heirs of Abada, namely, Joel, Julian, Paz, Evangeline, Geronimo, Humberto, Teodora and Elena Abada ("Joel Abada, et al."), and Levi, Leandro, Antonio, Florian, Hernani and Carmela Tronco ("Levi Tronco, et al."), also opposed the petition. The oppositors are the nephews, nieces and grandchildren of Abada and Toray. On 13 September 1968, Alipio filed another petition 6 before the RTC-Kabankalan, docketed as SP No. 071 (312-8669), for the probate of the last will and testament of Toray. Caponong, Joel Abada, et al., and Levi Tronco, et al. opposed the petition on the same grounds they cited in SP No. 070 (313-8668). On 20 September 1968, Caponong filed a petition7 before the RTC-Kabankalan, docketed as SP No. 069 (309), praying for the issuance in his name of letters of administration of the intestate estate of Abada and Toray. In an Order dated 14 August 1981, the RTC-Kabankalan admitted to probate the will of Toray. Since the oppositors did not file any motion for reconsideration, the order allowing the probate of Torays will became final and executory.8 In an order dated 23 November 1990, the RTC-Kabankalan designated Belinda Caponong-Noble ("Caponong-Noble") Special Administratrix of the estate of Abada and Toray.9 Caponong-Noble moved for the dismissal of the petition for probate of the will of Abada. The RTC-Kabankalan denied the motion in an Order dated 20 August 1991.10 Sometime in 1993, during the proceedings, Presiding Judge Rodolfo S. Layumas discovered that in an Order dated 16 March 1992, former Presiding Judge Edgardo Catilo had already submitted the case for decision. Thus, the RTCKabankalan rendered a Resolution dated 22 June 1994, as follows: There having been sufficient notice to the heirs as required by law; that there is substantial compliance with the formalities of a Will as the law directs and that the petitioner through his testimony and the deposition of Felix Gallinero was able to establish the regularity of the execution of the said Will and further, there being no evidence of bad faith and fraud, or substitution of the said Will, the Last Will and Testament of Alipio Abada dated June 4, 1932 is admitted and allowed probate.

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As prayed for by counsel, Noel Abbellar11 is appointed administrator of the estate of Paula Toray who shall discharge his duties as such after letters of administration shall have been issued in his favor and after taking his oath and filing a bond in the amount of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos. Mrs. Belinda C. Noble, the present administratrix of the estate of Alipio Abada shall continue discharging her duties as such until further orders from this Court. SO ORDERED. 12 The RTC-Kabankalan ruled on the only issue raised by the oppositors in their motions to dismiss the petition for probate, that is, whether the will of Abada has an attestation clause as required by law. The RTC-Kabankalan further held that the failure of the oppositors to raise any other matter forecloses all other issues. Not satisfied with the Resolution, Caponong-Noble filed a notice of appeal. In a Decision promulgated on 12 January 2001, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Resolution of the RTC-Kabankalan. The appellate court found that the RTC-Kabankalan properly admitted to probate the will of Abada. Hence, the present recourse by Caponong-Noble. The Issues The petition raises the following issues: 1. What laws apply to the probate of the last will of Abada; 2. Whether the will of Abada requires acknowledgment before a notary public;13 3. Whether the will must expressly state that it is written in a language or dialect known to the testator; 4. Whether the will of Abada has an attestation clause, and if so, whether the attestation clause complies with the requirements of the applicable laws; 5. Whether Caponong-Noble is precluded from raising the issue of whether the will of Abada is written in a language known to Abada; 6. Whether evidence aliunde may be resorted to in the probate of the will of Abada. The Ruling of the Court The Court of Appeals did not err in sustaining the RTC-Kabankalan in admitting to probate the will of Abada. The Applicable Law Abada executed his will on 4 June 1932. The laws in force at that time are the Civil Code of 1889 or the Old Civil Code, and Act No. 190 or the Code of Civil Procedure14 which governed the execution of wills before the enactment of the New Civil Code. The matter in dispute in the present case is the attestation clause in the will of Abada. Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645,15 governs the form of the attestation clause of Abadas will.16 Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides: SEC. 618. Requisites of will. No will, except as provided in the preceding section, 17 shall be valid to pass any estate, real or personal, nor charge or affect the same, unless it be written in the language or dialect known by the testator and signed

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by him, or by the testators 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 each other. 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, on the left margin, and said pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each sheet. The attestation shall state the number of sheets or pages used, upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of three witnesses, and the latter witnessed and signed the will and all pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other. Requisites of a Will under the Code of Civil Procedure Under Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the requisites of a will are the following: (1) The will must be written in the language or dialect known by the testator; (2) The will must be signed by the testator, or by the testators name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction; (3) The will must be attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other; (4) The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will must sign each and every page of the will on the left margin; (5) The pages of the will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each sheet; (6) The attestation shall state the number of sheets or pages used, upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page of the will, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of three witnesses, and the witnesses witnessed and signed the will and all pages of the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. Caponong-Noble asserts that the will of Abada does not indicate that it is written in a language or dialect known to the testator. Further, she maintains that the will is not acknowledged before a notary public. She cites in particular Articles 804 and 805 of the Old Civil Code, thus: Art. 804. Every will must be in writing and executed in [a] language or dialect known to the testator. Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. xxx18 Caponong-Noble actually cited Articles 804 and 806 of the New Civil Code.19 Article 804 of the Old Civil Code is about the rights and obligations of administrators of the property of an absentee, while Article 806 of the Old Civil Code defines a legitime. Articles 804 and 806 of the New Civil Code are new provisions. Article 804 of the New Civil Code is taken from Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure.20 Article 806 of the New Civil Code is taken from Article 685 of the Old Civil Code21 which provides: Art. 685. The notary and two of the witnesses who authenticate the will must be acquainted with the testator, or, should they not know him, he shall be identified by two witnesses who are acquainted with him and are known to the notary and to the attesting witnesses. The notary and the witnesses shall also endeavor to assure themselves that the testator has, in their judgment, the legal capacity required to make a will. Witnesses authenticating a will without the attendance of a notary, in cases falling under Articles 700 and 701, are also required to know the testator.

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However, the Code of Civil Procedure22 repealed Article 685 of the Old Civil Code. Under the Code of Civil Procedure, the intervention of a notary is not necessary in the execution of any will.23 Therefore, Abadas will does not require acknowledgment before a notary public.1awphi1.nt Caponong-Noble points out that nowhere in the will can one discern that Abada knew the Spanish language. She alleges that such defect is fatal and must result in the disallowance of the will. On this issue, the Court of Appeals held that the matter was not raised in the motion to dismiss, and that it is now too late to raise the issue on appeal. We agree with Caponong-Noble that the doctrine of estoppel does not apply in probate proceedings.24 In addition, the language used in the will is part of the requisites under Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure and the Court deems it proper to pass upon this issue. Nevertheless, Caponong-Nobles contention must still fail. There is no statutory requirement to state in the will itself that the testator knew the language or dialect used in the will.25 This is a matter that a party may establish by proof aliunde.26 Caponong-Noble further argues that Alipio, in his testimony, has failed, among others, to show that Abada knew or understood the contents of the will and the Spanish language used in the will. However, Alipio testified that Abada used to gather Spanish-speaking people in their place. In these gatherings, Abada and his companions would talk in the Spanish language.27 This sufficiently proves that Abada speaks the Spanish language. The Attestation Clause of Abadas Will A scrutiny of Abadas will shows that it has an attestation clause. The attestation clause of Abadas will reads: Suscrito y declarado por el testador Alipio Abada como su ultima voluntad y testamento en presencia de nosotros, habiendo tambien el testador firmado en nuestra presencia en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las hojas del mismo. Y en testimonio de ello, cada uno de nosotros lo firmamos en presencia de nosotros y del testador al pie de este documento y en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las dos hojas de que esta compuesto el mismo, las cuales estan paginadas correlativamente con las letras "UNO" y "DOS en la parte superior de la carrilla. 28 Caponong-Noble proceeds to point out several defects in the attestation clause. Caponong-Noble alleges that the attestation clause fails to state the number of pages on which the will is written. The allegation has no merit. The phrase "en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las dos hojas de que esta compuesto el mismo" which means "in the left margin of each and every one of the two pages consisting of the same" shows that the will consists of two pages. The pages are numbered correlatively with the letters "ONE" and "TWO" as can be gleaned from the phrase "las cuales estan paginadas correlativamente con las letras "UNO" y "DOS." Caponong-Noble further alleges that the attestation clause fails to state expressly that the testator signed the will and its every page in the presence of three witnesses. She then faults the Court of Appeals for applying to the present case the rule on substantial compliance found in Article 809 of the New Civil Code.29 The first sentence of the attestation clause reads: "Suscrito y declarado por el testador Alipio Abada como su ultima voluntad y testamento en presencia de nosotros, habiendo tambien el testador firmado en nuestra presencia en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las hojas del mismo." The English translation is: "Subscribed and professed by the testator Alipio Abada as his last will and testament in our presence, the testator having also signed it in our presence on the left margin of each and every one of the pages of the same." The attestation clause clearly states that Abada signed the will and its every page in the presence of the witnesses. However, Caponong-Noble is correct in saying that the attestation clause does not indicate the number of witnesses. On this point, the Court agrees with the appellate court in applying the rule on substantial compliance in determining the number of witnesses. While the attestation clause does not state the number of witnesses, a close inspection of the will shows that three witnesses signed it. This Court has applied the rule on substantial compliance even before the effectivity of the New Civil Code. In Dichoso de Ticson v. De Gorostiza,30 the Court recognized that there are two divergent tendencies in the law on wills, one being based on strict construction and the other on liberal construction. In Dichoso, the Court noted that Abangan v. Abangan,31 the basic case on the liberal construction, is cited with approval in later decisions of the Court.

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In Adeva vda. De Leynez v. Leynez,32 the petitioner, arguing for liberal construction of applicable laws, enumerated a long line of cases to support her argument while the respondent, contending that the rule on strict construction should apply, also cited a long series of cases to support his view. The Court, after examining the cases invoked by the parties, held: x x x It is, of course, not possible to lay down a general rule, rigid and inflexible, which would be applicable to all cases. More than anything else, the facts and circumstances of record are to be considered in the application of any given rule. If the surrounding circumstances point to a regular execution of the will, and the instrument appears to have been executed substantially in accordance with the requirements of the law, the inclination should, in the absence of any suggestion of bad faith, forgery or fraud, lean towards its admission to probate, although the document may suffer from some imperfection of language, or other non-essential defect. x x x. An attestation clause is made for the purpose of preserving, in permanent form, a record of the facts attending the execution of the will, so that in case of failure of the memory of the subscribing witnesses, or other casualty, they may still be proved. (Thompson on Wills, 2d ed., sec. 132.) A will, therefore, should not be rejected where its attestation clause serves the purpose of the law. x x x 331a\^/phi1.net We rule to apply the liberal construction in the probate of Abadas will. Abadas will clearly shows four signatures: that of Abada and of three other persons. It is reasonable to conclude that there are three witnesses to the will. The question on the number of the witnesses is answered by an examination of the will itself and without the need for presentation of evidence aliunde. The Court explained the extent and limits of the rule on liberal construction, thus: [T]he so-called liberal rule does not offer any puzzle or difficulty, nor does it open the door to serious consequences. The later decisions do tell us when and where to stop; they draw the dividing line with precision. They do not allow evidence aliunde to fill a void in any part of the document or supply missing details that should appear in the will itself.l^vvphi1.net They only permit a probe into the will, an exploration within its confines, to ascertain its meaning or to determine the existence or absence of the requisite formalities of law. This clear, sharp limitation eliminates uncertainty and ought to banish any fear of dire results.34 (Emphasis supplied) The phrase "en presencia de nosotros" or "in our presence" coupled with the signatures appearing on the will itself and after the attestation clause could only mean that: (1) Abada subscribed to and professed before the three witnesses that the document was his last will, and (2) Abada signed the will and the left margin of each page of the will in the presence of these three witnesses. Finally, Caponong-Noble alleges that the attestation clause does not expressly state the circumstances that the witnesses witnessed and signed the will and all its pages in the presence of the testator and of each other. This Court has ruled: Precision of language in the drafting of an attestation clause is desirable. However, it is not imperative that a parrot-like copy of the words of the statute be made. It is sufficient if from the language employed it can reasonably be deduced that the attestation clause fulfills what the law expects of it.35 The last part of the attestation clause states "en testimonio de ello, cada uno de nosotros lo firmamos en presencia de nosotros y del testador." In English, this means "in its witness, every one of us also signed in our presence and of the testator." This clearly shows that the attesting witnesses witnessed the signing of the will of the testator, and that each witness signed the will in the presence of one another and of the testator. WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the Court of Appeals of 12 January 2001 in CA-G.R. CV No. 47644. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

CIVIL CODE ARTICLE 810

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. L-38338 January 28, 1985 IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF ANDRES G. DE JESUS AND BIBIANA ROXAS DE JESUS, SIMEON R. ROXAS & PEDRO ROXAS DE JESUS, petitioners, vs. ANDRES R. DE JESUS, JR., respondent. Raul S. Sison Law Office for petitioners. Rafael Dinglasan, Jr. for heir M. Roxas. Ledesma, Guytingco Velasco and Associates for Ledesa and A. R. de Jesus.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition for certiorari to set aside the order of respondent Hon. Jose C. Colayco, Presiding Judge Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXI disallowing the probate of the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. The antecedent facts which led to the filing of this petition are undisputed. After the death of spouses Andres G. de Jesus and Bibiana Roxas de Jesus, Special Proceeding No. 81503 entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Andres G. de Jesus and Bibiana Roxas de Jesus" was filed by petitioner Simeon R. Roxas, the brother of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. On March 26, 1973, petitioner Simeon R. Roxas was appointed administrator. After Letters of Administration had been granted to the petitioner, he delivered to the lower court a document purporting to be the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus. On May 26, 1973, respondent Judge Jose Colayco set the hearing of the probate of the holographic Win on July 21, 1973. Petitioner Simeon R. Roxas testified that after his appointment as administrator, he found a notebook belonging to the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus and that on pages 21, 22, 23 and 24 thereof, a letter-win addressed to her children and entirely written and signed in the handwriting of the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus was found. The will is dated "FEB./61 " and states: "This is my win which I want to be respected although it is not written by a lawyer. ... The testimony of Simeon R. Roxas was corroborated by the testimonies of Pedro Roxas de Jesus and Manuel Roxas de Jesus who likewise testified that the letter dated "FEB./61 " is the holographic Will of their deceased mother, Bibiana R. de Jesus. Both recognized the handwriting of their mother and positively Identified her signature. They further testified that their deceased mother understood English, the language in which the holographic Will is written, and that the date "FEB./61 " was the date when said Will was executed by their mother. Respondent Luz R. Henson, another compulsory heir filed an "opposition to probate" assailing the purported holographic Will of Bibiana R. de Jesus because a it was not executed in accordance with law, (b) it was executed through force, intimidation and/or under duress, undue influence and improper pressure, and (c) the alleged testatrix acted by mistake and/or did not intend, nor could have intended the said Will to be her last Will and testament at the time of its execution. On August 24, 1973, respondent Judge Jose C. Colayco issued an order allowing the probate of the holographic Will which he found to have been duly executed in accordance with law.

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Respondent Luz Roxas de Jesus filed a motion for reconsideration alleging inter alia that the alleged holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana R. de Jesus was not dated as required by Article 810 of the Civil Code. She contends that the law requires that the Will should contain the day, month and year of its execution and that this should be strictly complied with. On December 10, 1973, respondent Judge Colayco reconsidered his earlier order and disallowed the probate of the holographic Will on the ground that the word "dated" has generally been held to include the month, day, and year. The dispositive portion of the order reads: WHEREFORE, the document purporting to be the holographic Will of Bibiana Roxas de Jesus, is hereby disallowed for not having been executed as required by the law. The order of August 24, 1973 is hereby set aside. The only issue is whether or not the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is a valid compliance with the Article 810 of the Civil Code which reads: ART. 810. 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. The petitioners contend that while Article 685 of the Spanish Civil Code and Article 688 of the Old Civil Code require the testator to state in his holographic Win the "year, month, and day of its execution," the present Civil Code omitted the phrase Ao mes y dia and simply requires that the holographic Will should be dated. The petitioners submit that the liberal construction of the holographic Will should prevail. Respondent Luz Henson on the other hand submits that the purported holographic Will is void for non-compliance with Article 810 of the New Civil Code in that the date must contain the year, month, and day of its execution. The respondent contends that Article 810 of the Civil Code was patterned after Section 1277 of the California Code and Section 1588 of the Louisiana Code whose Supreme Courts had consistently ruled that the required date includes the year, month, and day, and that if any of these is wanting, the holographic Will is invalid. The respondent further contends that the petitioner cannot plead liberal construction of Article 810 of the Civil Code because statutes prescribing the formalities to be observed in the execution of holographic Wills are strictly construed. We agree with the petitioner. This will not be the first time that this Court departs from a strict and literal application of the statutory requirements regarding the due execution of Wills. We should not overlook the liberal trend of the Civil Code in the manner of execution of Wills, the purpose of which, in case of doubt is to prevent intestacy The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the provisions of the law on wigs in this Project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, but with sufficien safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. This objective is in accord with the modem tendency with respect to the formalities in the execution of wills. (Report of the Code Commission, p. 103) In Justice Capistrano's concurring opinion in Heirs of Raymundo Castro v. Bustos (27 SCRA 327) he emphasized that: xxx xxx xxx ... The law has a tender regard for the will of the testator expressed in his last will and testament on the ground that any disposition made by the testator is better than that which the law can make. For this reason, intestate succession is nothing more than a disposition based upon the presumed will of the decedent.

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Thus, the prevailing policy is to require satisfaction of the legal requirements in order to guard against fraud and bad faith but without undue or unnecessary curtailment of testamentary privilege Icasiano v. Icasiano, 11 SCRA 422). If a Will has been executed in substantial compliance with the formalities of the law, and the possibility of bad faith and fraud in the exercise thereof is obviated, said Win should be admitted to probate (Rey v. Cartagena 56 Phil. 282). Thus, xxx xxx xxx ... More than anything else, the facts and circumstances of record are to be considered in the application of any given rule. If the surrounding circumstances point to a regular execution of the wilt and the instrument appears to have been executed substantially in accordance with the requirements of the law, the inclination should, in the absence of any suggestion of bad faith, forgery or fraud, lean towards its admission to probate, although the document may suffer from some imperfection of language, or other non-essential defect. ... (Leynez v. Leynez 68 Phil. 745). If the testator, in executing his Will, attempts to comply with all the requisites, although compliance is not literal, it is sufficient if the objective or purpose sought to be accomplished by such requisite is actually attained by the form followed by the testator. The purpose of the solemnities surrounding the execution of Wills has been expounded by this Court in Abangan v. Abanga 40 Phil. 476, where we ruled 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. ... In particular, a complete date is required to provide against such contingencies as that of two competing Wills executed on the same day, or of a testator becoming insane on the day on which a Will was executed (Velasco v. Lopez, 1 Phil. 720). There is no such contingency in this case. We have carefully reviewed the records of this case and found no evidence of bad faith and fraud in its execution nor was there any substitution of Wins and Testaments. There is no question that the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus was entirely written, dated, and signed by the testatrix herself and in a language known to her. There is also no question as to its genuineness and due execution. All the children of the testatrix agree on the genuineness of the holographic Will of their mother and that she had the testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of said Will. The objection interposed by the oppositor-respondent Luz Henson is that the holographic Will is fatally defective because the date "FEB./61 " appearing on the holographic Will is not sufficient compliance with Article 810 of the Civil Code. This objection is too technical to be entertained. As a general rule, the "date" in a holographic Will should include the day, month, and year of its execution. However, when as in the case at bar, there is no appearance of fraud, bad faith, undue influence and pressure and the authenticity of the Will is established and the only issue is whether or not the date "FEB./61" appearing on the holographic Will is a valid compliance with Article 810 of the Civil Code, probate of the holographic Will should be allowed under the principle of substantial compliance. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The order appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the order allowing the probate of the holographic Will of the deceased Bibiana Roxas de Jesus is reinstated. SO ORDERED. Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova and De la Fuente, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION

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G.R. No. 58168 December 19, 1989 CONCEPCION MAGSAYSAY-LABRADOR, SOLEDAD MAGSAYSAY-CABRERA, LUISA MAGSAYSAYCORPUZ, assisted be her husband, Dr. Jose Corpuz, FELICIDAD P. MAGSAYSAY, and MERCEDES MAGSAYSAY-DIAZ, petitioners, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS and ADELAIDA RODRIGUEZ-MAGSAYSAY, Special Administratrix of the Estate of the late Genaro F. Magsaysay respondents.

FERNAN, C.J.: In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioners seek to reverse and set aside [1] the decision of the Court of Appeals dated July l3, 1981, 1 affirming that of the Court of First Instance of Zambales and Olongapo City which denied petitioners' motion to intervene in an annulment suit filed by herein private respondent, and [2] its resolution dated September 7, 1981, denying their motion for reconsideration. Petitioners are raising a purely legal question; whether or not respondent Court of Appeals correctly denied their motion for intervention. The facts are not controverted. On February 9, 1979, Adelaida Rodriguez-Magsaysay, widow and special administratix of the estate of the late Senator Genaro Magsaysay, brought before the then Court of First Instance of Olongapo an action against Artemio Panganiban, Subic Land Corporation (SUBIC), Filipinas Manufacturer's Bank (FILMANBANK) and the Register of Deeds of Zambales. In her complaint, she alleged that in 1958, she and her husband acquired, thru conjugal funds, a parcel of land with improvements, known as "Pequena Island", covered by TCT No. 3258; that after the death of her husband, she discovered [a] an annotation at the back of TCT No. 3258 that "the land was acquired by her husband from his separate capital;" [b] the registration of a Deed of Assignment dated June 25, 1976 purportedly executed by the late Senator in favor of SUBIC, as a result of which TCT No. 3258 was cancelled and TCT No. 22431 issued in the name of SUBIC; and [c] the registration of Deed of Mortgage dated April 28, 1977 in the amount of P 2,700,000.00 executed by SUBIC in favor of FILMANBANK; that the foregoing acts were void and done in an attempt to defraud the conjugal partnership considering that the land is conjugal, her marital consent to the annotation on TCT No. 3258 was not obtained, the change made by the Register of Deeds of the titleholders was effected without the approval of the Commissioner of Land Registration and that the late Senator did not execute the purported Deed of Assignment or his consent thereto, if obtained, was secured by mistake, violence and intimidation. She further alleged that the assignment in favor of SUBIC was without consideration and consequently null and void. She prayed that the Deed of Assignment and the Deed of Mortgage be annulled and that the Register of Deeds be ordered to cancel TCT No. 22431 and to issue a new title in her favor. On March 7, 1979, herein petitioners, sisters of the late senator, filed a motion for intervention on the ground that on June 20, 1978, their brother conveyed to them one-half (1/2 ) of his shareholdings in SUBIC or a total of 416,566.6 shares and as assignees of around 41 % of the total outstanding shares of such stocks of SUBIC, they have a substantial and legal interest in the subject matter of litigation and that they have a legal interest in the success of the suit with respect to SUBIC. On July 26, 1979, the court denied the motion for intervention, and ruled that petitioners have no legal interest whatsoever in the matter in litigation and their being alleged assignees or transferees of certain shares in SUBIC cannot legally entitle them to intervene because SUBIC has a personality separate and distinct from its stockholders. On appeal, respondent Court of Appeals found no factual or legal justification to disturb the findings of the lower court. The appellate court further stated that whatever claims the petitioners have against the late Senator or against SUBIC for that matter can be ventilated in a separate proceeding, such that with the denial of the motion for intervention, they are not left without any remedy or judicial relief under existing law. Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, the instant recourse.

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Petitioners anchor their right to intervene on the purported assignment made by the late Senator of a certain portion of his shareholdings to them as evidenced by a Deed of Sale dated June 20, 1978. 2 Such transfer, petitioners posit, clothes them with an interest, protected by law, in the matter of litigation. Invoking the principle enunciated in the case of PNB v. Phil. Veg. Oil Co., 49 Phil. 857,862 & 853 (1927), 3 petitioners strongly argue that their ownership of 41.66% of the entire outstanding capital stock of SUBIC entitles them to a significant vote in the corporate affairs; that they are affected by the action of the widow of their late brother for it concerns the only tangible asset of the corporation and that it appears that they are more vitally interested in the outcome of the case than SUBIC. Viewed in the light of Section 2, Rule 12 of the Revised Rules of Court, this Court affirms the respondent court's holding that petitioners herein have no legal interest in the subject matter in litigation so as to entitle them to intervene in the proceedings below. In the case of Batama Farmers' Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. v. Rosal, 4 we held: "As clearly stated in Section 2 of Rule 12 of the Rules of Court, to be permitted to intervene in a pending action, the party must have a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties or an interest against both, or he must be so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of the property in the custody of the court or an officer thereof ." To allow intervention, [a] it must be shown that the movant has legal interest in the matter in litigation, or otherwise qualified; and [b] consideration must be given as to whether the adjudication of the rights of the original parties may be delayed or prejudiced, or whether the intervenor's rights may be protected in a separate proceeding or not. Both requirements must concur as the first is not more important than the second. 5 The interest which entitles a person to intervene in a suit between other parties must be in the matter in litigation and of such direct and immediate character that the intervenor will either gain or lose by the direct legal operation and effect of the judgment. Otherwise, if persons not parties of the action could be allowed to intervene, proceedings will become unnecessarily complicated, expensive and interminable. And this is not the policy of the law. 6 The words "an interest in the subject" mean a direct interest in the cause of action as pleaded, and which would put the intervenor in a legal position to litigate a fact alleged in the complaint, without the establishment of which plaintiff could not recover. 7 Here, the interest, if it exists at all, of petitioners-movants is indirect, contingent, remote, conjectural, consequential and collateral. At the very least, their interest is purely inchoate, or in sheer expectancy of a right in the management of the corporation and to share in the profits thereof and in the properties and assets thereof on dissolution, after payment of the corporate debts and obligations. While a share of stock represents a proportionate or aliquot interest in the property of the corporation, it does not vest the owner thereof with any legal right or title to any of the property, his interest in the corporate property being equitable or beneficial in nature. Shareholders are in no legal sense the owners of corporate property, which is owned by the corporation as a distinct legal person. 8 Petitioners further contend that the availability of other remedies, as declared by the Court of appeals, is totally immaterial to the availability of the remedy of intervention. We cannot give credit to such averment. As earlier stated, that the movant's interest may be protected in a separate proceeding is a factor to be considered in allowing or disallowing a motion for intervention. It is significant to note at this juncture that as per records, there are four pending cases involving the parties herein, enumerated as follows: [1] Special Proceedings No. 122122 before the CFI of Manila, Branch XXII, entitled "Concepcion Magsaysay-Labrador, et al. v. Subic Land Corp., et al.", involving the validity of the transfer by the late Genaro Magsaysay of one-half of his shareholdings in Subic Land Corporation; [2] Civil Case No. 2577-0 before the CFI of Zambales, Branch III, "Adelaida RodriguezMagsaysay v. Panganiban, etc.; Concepcion Labrador, et al. Intervenors", seeking to annul the purported Deed of Assignment in favor of SUBIC and its annotation at the back of TCT No. 3258 in the name of respondent's deceased husband; [3] SEC Case No. 001770, filed by respondent praying, among other things that she be declared in her capacity as the surviving spouse and administratrix of the estate of Genaro Magsaysay as the sole subscriber and stockholder of SUBIC. There, petitioners, by motion, sought to intervene. Their motion to reconsider the denial of their motion to

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intervene was granted; [4] SP No. Q-26739 before the CFI of Rizal, Branch IV, petitioners herein filing a contingent claim pursuant to Section 5, Rule 86, Revised Rules of Court. 9 Petitioners' interests are no doubt amply protected in these cases. Neither do we lend credence to petitioners' argument that they are more interested in the outcome of the case than the corporation-assignee, owing to the fact that the latter is willing to compromise with widow-respondent and since a compromise involves the giving of reciprocal concessions, the only conceivable concession the corporation may give is a total or partial relinquishment of the corporate assets. 10 Such claim all the more bolsters the contingent nature of petitioners' interest in the subject of litigation. The factual findings of the trial court are clear on this point. The petitioners cannot claim the right to intervene on the strength of the transfer of shares allegedly executed by the late Senator. The corporation did not keep books and records. 11 Perforce, no transfer was ever recorded, much less effected as to prejudice third parties. The transfer must be registered in the books of the corporation to affect third persons. The law on corporations is explicit. Section 63 of the Corporation Code provides, thus: "No transfer, however, shall be valid, except as between the parties, until the transfer is recorded in the books of the corporation showing the names of the parties to the transaction, the date of the transfer, the number of the certificate or certificates and the number of shares transferred." And even assuming arguendo that there was a valid transfer, petitioners are nonetheless barred from intervening inasmuch as their rights can be ventilated and amply protected in another proceeding. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. Costs against petitioners. SO ORDERED. Gutierrez, Jr., Bidin and Corte's, JJ., concur. Feliciano, J., is on leave.

Footnotes 1 Penned by Associate Justice Porfirio V. Sison and concurred in by Associate Justices Elias B. Asuncion and Juan A. Sison. 2 Rollo, p. 14. 3 In this case, the appellee challenged the right of Phil. C. Whitaker as intervenor to ask that the mortgage contract executed by the Vegetable Oil Company be declared null and void. The court held: Appellee is right as to the premises. The Veg. Oil Co. is the defendant. The corporation has not appealed. At the same time, it is evident that Phil. C. Whitaker was one of the largest individual stockholders of the Veg. Oil Co., and was until the inauguration of the receivership, exercising control over and dictating the policy of the company. Out of twenty-eight thousand shares of the Veg. Oil Co., Mr. Whitaker was the owner of 5,893 fully paid shares of the par value of P100 each. It was he who asked for the appointment of the receiver. It was he who was the leading figure in the negotiations between the Veg. Oil Co., the Philippine National Bank, and the other creditors. It was he who pledged his own property to the extent of over P 4,000,000 in an endeavor to assist in the rehabilitation of the Veg. Oil Co. He is injuriously affected by the mortgage. In truth, Mr. Whitaker is more vitally interested in the outcome of this case than is the Veg. Oil Company. Conceivably if the mortgage had been the free act of the Veg. Oil Co., it could not be heard to allege its own fraud, and only a creditor could take advantage of the fraud to intervene to avoid the conveyance. 4 42 SCRA 408.

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5 Gibson v. Hon. Revilla, G.R. No. L-41432, 30 July 1979,92 SCRA 219. 6 Garcia v. David, 67 Phil. 279; Hacienda Sapang Tayal Tenant's League v. Yatco, G.R. No. L-14651, Feb. 29, 1960. 7 Bulova v. E.L. Barrett, Inc., 194 App. Div. 418,185 NYS 424. 8 Ballantine, 288-289, Pascual v. Del Sanz Orozco, 19 Phil. 82, 86. 9 Rollo, pp. 112-120. 10 Rollo, pp. 119-120. 11 Rollo, p. 39.

CIVIL CODE ARTICLE 811 Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 74249 January 20, 1989 ATTY. CORNELIO T. RIVERA and AUGUSTO PALOMAR, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and LA VISTA ASSOCIATION, INC., respondents. Beltran, Beltran & Beltran for petitioners. Alentajan, Aguirre & Monsanto for private respondent.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition for review of the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court setting aside the orders issued by the then Court of First Instance (CFI) on November 15, 1982 and October 25, 1983 which granted a writ of preliminary injunction in favor of the petitioners. The antecedent facts are as follows: On July 9, 1982, the petitioners filed an amended complaint for damages and injunction with the then Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City, Branch IX alleging among others that: 1) they are the owners of a parcel of land located at Diliman, Quezon City described in TCT No. 273733 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City in their names; 2) they purchased the said property from Maryknoll College Foundation, Inc. as evidenced by the deed of sale (Annex A' of the amended complaint);

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3) Maryknoll College granted a road right of way over one half (1/2) portion of the Mangyan Road which is owned by it; 4) On October 15, 1968, the City Mayor of Quezon City approved Ordinance No. 7613-S-68 prohibiting the closing, obstruction, preventing or otherwise refusing to the public or vehicular traffic, the use or free access to any subdivision or community street within the jurisdiction of Quezon City; 5) On January 20, 1982, the private respondents, its agents and representatives wilfully closed, obstructed, prevented and refused to the petitioners and to the general public or vehicular traffic the use of or free access to Mangyan Road, a 15-meter wide road located in the La Vista Subdivision, one half (1/2) of which is owned by Maryknoll College in violation of the said ordinance. ... (Rollo, p. 6) On November 15, 1982, the Court of First Instance of Rizal presided by Judge Jose P. Castro issued an order granting the writ of preliminary injunction to prohibit La Vista Association from preventing the petitioners and the general public from the use of the Mangyan Road. The trial court stated that the petitioners are entitled to the relief sought in the light of Ordinance No. 7613 and that the closure of the Mangyan Road has caused great and irreparable damage to the petitioners and the public. La Vista Association filed a motion for reconsideration of the order granting the writ of preliminary injunction which was denied on June 14, 1983. Consequently, the private respondent filed a petition to dissolve the writ of preliminary injunction on June 23, 1983. On October 25, 1983, the CFI in denying the petition reiterated its previous Order issued on November 15, 1982. Thereafter, on March 13, 1984, La Vista Association filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction with this Court docketed as G.R. No. L-66626. We remanded the petition to the Intermediate Appellate Court because of the factual issues involved. On January 6, 1986, the Intermediate Appellate Court rendered a decision with the following dispositive portion: WHEREFORE, the writ of certiorari is hereby granted and the orders complained of are hereby annulled and set aside. The writ of preliminary injunction issued by this Court is hereby made permanent. (Rollo, p. 61) The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied on April 16, 1986. Hence, this petition for review. The petitioners raise the following assignment of errors, to wit: I. The Honorable Respondent Court committed a serious error in holding that the petitioners have not shown unquestioned right to the use of the Mangyan Road; II. The Honorable Respondent Court committed serious errors of law in granting the Petition for Certiorari, because; (a) A Petition for certiorari is not the proper remedy as the defunct Court of First Instance had jurisdiction to entertain the Complaint filed by the petitioners; (b) Certiorari does not lie to correct interlocutory orders; (c) There are many factual matters that are controverted by the petitioners, hence, certiorari does not lie. (Rollo, p. 8)

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We agree with the appellate court that there is no legal justification for the issuance of the extraordinary writ of preliminary injunction enforceable against the private respondent. The petitioners, do not have a cause of action for the relief sought. To be entitled to the injunctive writ, one must show an unquestionable right over the premises and that such right has been violated. (See Cootuaco v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 56565, June 16, 1988). The petitioners claim that they have a right of way over a one-half portion of the Mangyan Road owned by Maryknoll College on the basis of the deed of sale with mortgage executed between the petitioners and Maryknoll College. The pertinent provisions of the deed of sale read: D-2). The VENDOR-MORTGAGEE grants to VENDEE- MORTGAGOR the right of way for utilities particularly electric, telephone, water, sewerage and drainage over the one half (1/2) portion of the Mangyan Road owned by VENDOR- MORTGAGEE. D-3) The VENDOR- MORTGAGEE further grants and extends a road right of way inside the Maryknoll College Campus in the event the La Vista Subdivision Association refuses VENDEES-MORTGAGORS access to the other half portion of the road owned by the said association." (Rollo, p. 35) It is the phrase inside Maryknoll College Campus' which according to the petitioners suffers from ambiguity. To clarify such ambiguity, the petitioners deemed it necessary to relate the historical background of the Mangyan Road, to wit: Brief historical background of Mangyan Road The Tuasons used to own a vast tract of land in Quezon City. The Tuasons sold portions of this land to the Philippine Builders Corporation, which in turn sold them to Ateneo de Manila. Ateneo de Manila then sold portions of this property to Maryknoll College. The petitioners acquired a parcel of land from the Maryknoll College. The Deed of Sale between the Tuasons and the Philippine Builders Corporation stipulates: 3. That the boundary line between the property herein sold and the adjoining property of the VENDORS shall be a road fifteen (15) meters wide, one-half of which shall be taken from the property herein sold to the VENDEE and the other half from the portion adjoining to the VENDOR; When Maryknoll College bought portions of the property from Ateneo de Manila it constructed a wall at the middle of the 15 meter wide boundary. Thus one-half of the 15 meter wide boundary road became part of its school campus. However, a Complaint was filed by the Tuasons before the defunct Court of First Instance of Rizal for the demolition of the said wall. Maryknoll College agreed to set back the wall to restore the original area of a 15-meter wide boundary road. This 15 meter wide boundary road is what is now called the Mangyan Road. The Tuasons converted the portions of the original vast tract of land not sold to the Philippine Builders Corporation into what is now known as the La Vista Subdivision, the subdivided lots of which are now owned by the members of the private respondent.' (Rollo, pp. 1011) The petitioners further argue: This explains why it is provided in the Deed of Sale between Maryknoll College and the petitioners that: (D-3) The VENDOR-MORTGAGEE further grants and extends a road right of way inside Maryknoll College Campus in the event the La Vista Subdivision Association refuses VENDEE- MORTGAGORS access to the other half portion of the road owned by said association.

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The phrase inside Maryknoll College Campus' refers to the one-half (1/2) portion of Mangyan Road which was part of the College Campus when Maryknoll College built a wall at the middle of the 15 wide boundary road between La Vista Subdivision and the Maryknoll College. (Rollo, p. 11) The petitioners' position is not impressed with merit. The deed of sale was executed on September 6, 1979, many years after the wall built in the middle of the Mangyan Road had been drawn back to its present position. Undoubtedly, Dr. Lourdes R. Quisumbing the then president of the Maryknoll College Foundation, Inc. who entered into the contract of sale with the petitioners could not have considered the one-half (1/ 2) portion of the Mangyan Road as part of the Maryknoll College Campus. And to construe the one-half (1/2) portion of the Mangyan Road as "inside the Maryknoll College Campus" would be odd and whimsical. The provisions of the deed of sale with mortgage are clear. It is the well-settled rule in the interpretation of a contract that if its terms are clear, the literal meaning of the stipulations shall control (Government Service Insurance System v. Court of Appeals, 145 SCRA 311 [19861). Maryknoll College granted a right of way over the one-half (1/2) portion of the Mangyan Road only for utilities particularly electric, telephone, water, sewerage, and drainage. It was a grant for specific purposes only. It did not grant a road right of way over that particular portion of the road. Maryknoll however provided a road right of way inside the Maryknoll College Campus, "in the event the La Vista Subdivision Association refuses VENDEEMORTGAGORS (the petitioners) access to the other half portion of the road owned by said association." And with regard to this provision, Maryknoll did not fail in its obligation to provide a road right of way inside its campus. To support this point, the private respondent submitted a manifestation showing that there are two (2) roads located within the Maryknoll College Campus leading from the petitioners' lot to Katipunan Avenue. This, petitioners did not refute. If indeed the petitioners have been granted a road right of way, such right should have been asserted against Maryknoll College and not La Vista which is actually not a party to the contract. Notwithstanding the existence of a city ordinance, the petitioners do not have an unquestioned right over the one-half portion of the Mangyan Road. In the case of Ramos, Sr. V. Gatchalian Realty, Inc. (154 SCRA 703 [1987]), this Court had the occasion to explain: ... To allow the petitioner access to Sucat Road through Gatchalian Avenue inspire of a road right of way provided by the petitioner's subdivision for its buyers simply because Gatchalian Avenue allows petitioner a much greater ease in going to and coming from the main thoroughfare is to completely ignore what jurisprudence has consistently maintained through the years regarding an easement of a right of way, that 'mere convenience for the dominant estate is not enough to serve as its basis. To justify the imposition of this servitude, there must be a real, not a fictitious or artificial, necessity for it. (See Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. II, 2nd Ed., 1972, p. 371) Considering that the petitioners do not have a clear right over the one-half portion of the Mangyan Road, then the issuance of the questioned writ of preliminary injunction was improper. The facts and circumstances of the case do not warrant the issuance of the writ in which case certiorari will lie to correct the Maguan v. Court of Appeals, abuse of discretion committed by the Court of First Instance. As held in the case of (146 SCRA 107 [1986]): All these notwithstanding, the trial court nonetheless issued the writ of preliminary injunction which under the circumstances should be denied. For failure to determine first the validity of the patents before aforesaid issuance of the writ, the trial court failed to satisfy the two requisites necessary if an injunction is to issue, namely: the existence of the right to be protected and the violation of said right. (Buayan Cattle Co., Inc. v. Quintillan, 128 SCRA 276). Under the above established principles, it appears obvious that the trial court committed a grave abuse of discretion which makes certiorari the appropriate remedy. (Italics supplied) WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. The questioned decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.

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Fernan, C.J., Feliciano, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-12190 August 30, 1958

TESTATE ESTATE OF FELICIDAD ESGUERRA ALTO-YAP deceased. FAUSTO E. GAN, petitioner-appellant, vs. ILDEFONSO YAP, oppositor-appellee. Benedicto C. Belran, Crispin D. Baizas and Roberto H. Benitez for appellant. Arturo M. Tolentino for appellee. BENGZON, J.: On November 20, 1951, Felicidad Esguerra Alto Yap died of heart failure in the University of Santo Tomas Hospital, leaving properties in Pulilan, Bulacan, and in the City of Manila. On March 17, 1952, Fausto E. Gan initiated them proceedings in the Manila court of first instance with a petition for the probate of a holographic will allegedly executed by the deceased, substantially in these words: Nobyembre 5, 1951. Ako, si Felicidad E. Alto-Yap, may asawa, at ganap na pag-iisip, ay nagsasalaysay na ang aking kayamanan sa bayan ng Pulilan, Bulacan ay aking ipinamamana sa aking mga kamag-anakang sumusunod: Vicente Esguerra, Sr. ............................................. 5 Bahagi

Fausto E. Gan ......................................................... 2 Bahagi Rosario E. Gan ......................................................... 2 Bahagi Filomena Alto .......................................................... 1 Bahagi Beatriz Alto .............................................................. 1 Bahagi

At ang aking lahat ng ibang kayamanan sa Maynila at iba panglugar ay aking ipinamamana sa aking asawang si Idelfonso D. Yap sa kondisyong siya'y magpapagawa ng isang Health Center na nagkakahalaga ng di kukulangin sa halagang P60,000.00 sa bayan ng Pulilan, Bulacan, na nakaukit ang aking pangalang Felicidad Esguerra-Alto. At kung ito ay may kakulangan man ay bahala na ang aking asawa ang magpuno upang matupad ang aking kagustuhan. (Lagda) Felicidad E. Alto-Yap. Opposing the petition, her surviving husband Ildefonso Yap asserted that the deceased had not left any will, nor executed any testament during her lifetime. After hearing the parties and considering their evidence, the Hon. Ramon R. San Jose, Judge,1 refused to probate the alleged will. A seventy-page motion for reconsideration failed. Hence this appeal.

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The will itself was not presented. Petitioner tried to establish its contents and due execution by the statements in open court of Felina Esguerra, Primitivo Reyes, Socorro Olarte and Rosario Gan Jimenez, whose testimonies may be summarized as follows: Sometime in 1950 after her last trip abroad, Felicidad Esguerra mentioned to her first cousin, Vicente Esguerra, her desire to make a will. She confided however that it would be useless if her husband discovered or knew about it. Vicente consulted with Fausto E. Gan, nephew of Felicidad, who was then preparing for the bar examinations. The latter replied it could be done without any witness, provided the document was entirely in her handwriting, signed and dated by her. Vicente Esguerra lost no time in transmitting the information, and on the strength of it, in the morning of November 5, 1951, in her residence at Juan Luna Street, Manila, Felicidad wrote, signed and dated a holographic will substantially of the tenor above transcribed, in the presence of her niece, Felina Esguerra (daughter of Vicente), who was invited to read it. In the afternoon of that day, Felicidad was visited by a distant relative, Primitivo Reyes, and she allowed him to read the will in the presence of Felina Esguerra, who again read it. Nine days later, he had other visitors: Socorro Olarte a cousin, and Rosario Gan Jimenez, a niece. To these she showed the will, again in the presence of Felina Esguerra, who read it for the third time. When on November 19, 1951, Felicidad was confined at the U.S.T. Hospital for her last illness, she entrusted the said will, which was contained in a purse, to Felina Esguerra. But a few hours later, Ildefonso Yap, her husband, asked Felina for the purse: and being afraid of him by reason of his well-known violent temper, she delivered it to him. Thereafter, in the same day, Ildefonso Yap returned the purse to Felina, only to demand it the next day shortly before the death of Felicidad. Again, Felina handed it to him but not before she had taken the purse to the toilet, opened it and read the will for the last time.2 From the oppositor's proof it appears that Felicidad Esguerra had been suffering from heart disease for several years before her death; that she had been treated by prominent physicians, Dr. Agerico Sison, Dr. Agustin Liboro and others; that in May 1950 husband and wife journeyed to the United States wherein for several weeks she was treated for the disease; that thereafter she felt well and after visiting interesting places, the couple returned to this country in August 1950. However, her ailment recurred, she suffered several attacks, the most serious of which happened in the early morning of the first Monday of November 1951 (Nov. 5). The whole household was surprised and alarmed, even the teachers of the Harvardian Colleges occupying the lower floors and of by the Yap spouses. Physician's help was hurriedly called, and Dr. Tanjuaquio arrived at about 8:00 a.m., found the patient hardly breathing, lying in bed, her head held high by her husband. Injections and oxygen were administered. Following the doctor's advice the patient stayed in bed, and did nothing the whole day, her husband and her personal attendant, Mrs. Bantique, constantly at her side. These two persons swore that Mrs. Felicidad Esguerra Yap made no will, and could have made no will on that day. The trial judge refused to credit the petitioner's evidence for several reasons, the most important of which were these: (a) if according to his evidence, the decedent wanted to keep her will a secret, so that her husband would not know it, it is strange she executed it in the presence of Felina Esguerra, knowing as she did that witnesses were unnecessary; (b) in the absence of a showing that Felina was a confidant of the decedent it is hard to believe that the latter would have allowed the former to see and read the will several times; (c) it is improbable that the decedent would have permitted Primitivo Reyes, Rosario Gan Jimenez and Socorro Olarte to read her will, when she precisely wanted its contents to remain a secret during her lifetime; (d) it is also improbable that her purpose being to conceal the will from her husband she would carry it around, even to the hospital, in her purse which could for one reason or another be opened by her husband; (e) if it is true that the husband demanded the purse from Felina in the U.S.T. Hospital and that the will was there, it is hard to believe that he returned it without destroying the will, the theory of the petitioner being precisely that the will was executed behind his back for fear he will destroy it. In the face of these improbabilities, the trial judge had to accept the oppositor's evidence that Felicidad did not and could not have executed such holographic will. In this appeal, the major portion of appellant's brief discussed the testimony of the oppositor and of his witnesses in a vigorous effort to discredit them. It appears that the same arguments, or most of them, were presented in the motion to reconsider; but they failed to induce the court a quo to change its mind. The oppositor's brief, on the other hand, aptly answers the criticisms. We deem it unnecessary to go over the same matters, because in our opinion the case should be decided not on the weakness of the opposition but on the strength of the evidence of the petitioner, who has the burden of proof.

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The Spanish Civil Code permitted the execution of holographic wills along with other forms. The Code of Civil Procedure (Act 190) approved August 7, 1901, adopted only one form, thereby repealing the other forms, including holographic wills. The New Civil Code effective in 1950 revived holographic wills in its arts. 810-814. "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." This is indeed a radical departure from the form and solemnities provided for wills under Act 190, which for fifty years (from 1901 to 1950) required wills to be subscribed by the testator and three credible witnesses in each and every page; such witnesses to attest to the number of sheets used and to the fact that the testator signed in their presence and that they signed in the presence of the testator and of each other. The object of such requirements it has been said, is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to prevent substitution of wills, to guarantee their truth and authencity (Abangan vs. Abangan, 40 Phil., 476) and to avoid those who have no right to succeed the testator would succeed him and be benefited with the probate of same. (Mendoza vs. Pilapil, 40 Off. Gaz., 1855). However, formal imperfections may be brushed aside when authenticity of the instrument is duly proved. (Rodriguez vs Yap, 40 Off. Gaz. 1st Supp. No. 3 p. 194.) Authenticity and due execution is the dominant requirements to be fulfilled when such will is submitted to the courts for allowance. For that purpose the testimony of one of the subscribing witnesses would be sufficient if there is no opposition (Sec. 5, Rule 77). If there is, the three must testify, if available. (Cabang vs. Delfinado, 34 Phil., 291; Tolentino vs. Francisco, 57 Phil., 742). From the testimony of such witnesses (and of other additional witnesses) the court may form its opinion as to the genuineness and authenticity of the testament, and the circumstances its due execution. Now, in the matter of holographic wills, no such guaranties of truth and veracity are demanded, since as stated, they need no witnesses; provided however, that they are "entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself." The law, it is reasonable to suppose, regards the document itself as material proof of authenticity, and as its own safeguard, since it could at any time, be demonstrated to be or not to be in the hands of the testator himself. "In the probate of a holographic will" says the New Civil Code, "it shall be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three such witnesses shall be required. In the absence of any such witnesses, (familiar with decedent's handwriting) and if the court deem it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to." The witnesses so presented do not need to have seen the execution of the holographic will. They may be mistaken in their opinion of the handwriting, or they may deliberately lie in affirming it is in the testator's hand. However, the oppositor may present other witnesses who also know the testator's handwriting, or some expert witnesses, who after comparing the will with other writings or letters of the deceased, have come to the conclusion that such will has not been written by the hand of the deceased. (Sec. 50, Rule 123). And the court, in view of such contradictory testimony may use its own visual sense, and decide in the face of the document, whether the will submitted to it has indeed been written by the testator. Obviously, when the will itself is not submitted, these means of opposition, and of assessing the evidence are not available. And then the only guaranty of authenticity3 the testator's handwriting has disappeared. Therefore, the question presents itself, may a holographic will be probated upon the testimony of witnesses who have allegedly seen it and who declare that it was in the handwriting of the testator? How can the oppositor prove that such document was not in the testator's handwriting? His witnesses who know testator's handwriting have not examined it. His experts can not testify, because there is no way to compare the alleged testament with other documents admittedly, or proven to be, in the testator's hand. The oppositor will, therefore, be caught between the upper millstone of his lack of knowledge of the will or the form thereof, and the nether millstone of his inability to prove its falsity. Again the proponent's witnesses may be honest and truthful; but they may have been shown a faked document, and having no interest to check the authenticity thereof have taken no pains to examine and compare. Or they may be perjurers boldly testifying, in the knowledge that none could convict them of perjury, because no one could prove that they have not "been shown" a document which they believed was in the handwriting of the deceased. Of course, the competency of such perjured witnesses to testify as to the handwriting could be tested by exhibiting to them other writings sufficiently similar to those written by the deceased; but what witness or lawyer would not foresee such a move and prepare for it? His knowledge of the handwriting established, the witness (or witnesses) could simply stick to his statement: he has seen and read a document which he believed was in the deceased's handwriting. And the court and the oppositor would practically be at the mercy of

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such witness (or witnesses) not only as to the execution, but also as to the contents of the will. Does the law permit such a situation? The Rules of Court, (Rule 77) approved in 1940 allow proof (and probate) of a lost or destroyed will by secondary evidence the testimony of witnesses, in lieu of the original document. Yet such Rules could not have contemplated holographic wills which could not then be validly made here. (See also Sec. 46, Rule 123; Art. 830-New Civil Code.) Could Rule 77 be extended, by analogy, to holographic wills? Spanish commentators agree that one of the greatest objections to the holographic will is that it may be lost or stolen4 an implied admission that such loss or theft renders it useless.. This must be so, because the Civil Code requires it to be protocoled and presented to the judge, (Art. 689) who shall subscribe it and require its identity to be established by the three witnesses who depose that they have no reasonable doubt that the will was written by the testator (Art. 691). And if the judge considers that the identity of the will has been proven he shall order that it be filed (Art. 693). All these, imply presentation of the will itself. Art. 692 bears the same implication, to a greater degree. It requires that the surviving spouse and the legitimate ascendants and descendants be summoned so that they may make "any statement they may desire to submit with respect to the authenticity of the will." As it is universally admitted that the holographic will is usually done by the testator and by himself alone, to prevent others from knowing either its execution or its contents, the above article 692 could not have the idea of simply permitting such relatives to state whether they know of the will, but whether in the face of the document itself they think the testator wrote it. Obviously, this they can't do unless the will itself is presented to the Court and to them. Undoubtedly, the intention of the law is to give the near relatives the choice of either complying with the will if they think it authentic, or to oppose it, if they think it spurious.5 Such purpose is frustrated when the document is not presented for their examination. If it be argued that such choice is not essential, because anyway the relatives may oppose, the answer is that their opposition will be at a distinct disadvantage, and they have the right and privilege to comply with the will, if genuine, a right which they should not be denied by withholding inspection thereof from them. We find confirmation of these ideas--about exhibition of the document itself--in the decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of June 5, 1925, which denied protocolization or probate to a document containing testamentary dispositions in the handwriting of the deceased, but apparently mutilated, the signature and some words having been torn from it. Even in the face of allegations and testimonial evidence (which was controverted), ascribing the mutilation to the opponents of the will. The aforesaid tribunal declared that, in accordance with the provision of the Civil Code (Spanish) the will itself, whole and unmutilated, must be presented; otherwise, it shall produce no effect. Considerando que sentado lo anterior, y estableciendose en el parrafo segundo del articulo 688 del Codigo civil, que para que sea valido el testamento olografo debera estar escrito todo el y firmado por testador, con expression del ao, mes y dia en que se otorque, resulta evidente que para la validez y eficacia de esos testamentos, no basta la demostracion mas o menos cumplida de que cuando se otorgaron se Ilenaron todos esos requisitos, sino que de la expresada redaccion el precepto legal, y por el tiempo en que el verbo se emplea, se desprende la necesidad de que el documento se encuentre en dichas condiciones en el momento de ser presentado a la Autoridad competente, para au adveracion y protocolizacion; y como consecuencia ineludible de ello, forzoso es affirmar que el de autos carece de validez y aficacia, por no estarfirmado por el testador, cualquiera que sea la causa de la falta de firma, y sin perjuicio de las acciones que puedan ejercitar los perjudicados, bien para pedir indemnizacion por el perjuicio a la persona culpable, si la hubiere, o su castigo en via criminal si procediere, por constituir dicha omision un defecto insubsanable . . . . This holding aligns with the ideas on holographic wills in the Fuero Juzgo, admittedly the basis of the Spanish Civil Code provisions on the matter.6 PRECEDENTES LEGALES--Fuero Juzgo, libro segundo, titulo V, ley 15--E depues que los herederos e sus fijos ovieren esta manda, fasta ... annos muestrenla al obispo de la tierra, o al juez fasta VI meses y el obispo o el juez tomen otros tales tres escritos, que fuesen fechos por su mano daquel que fizo la manda; e por aquellos escriptos, si semjara la letra de la manda, sea confirmada la manda. E depues que todo esto fuere connoscido, el obispo o el juez, o otras testimonios confirmen el escripto de la manda otra vez, y en esta manera vala la manda. (Art. 689, Scaevola--Codigo Civil.)

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(According to the Fuero above, the will itself must be compared with specimens of the testators handwriting.) All of which can only mean: the courts will not distribute the property of the deceased in accordance with his holographic will, unless they are shown his handwriting and signature.7 Parenthetically, it may be added that even the French Civil Law considers the loss of the holographic will to be fatal. (Planiol y Ripert, Derecho Civil Frances, traduccion por Diaz Cruz, 1946, Tomo V, page 555). Taking all the above circumstances together, we reach the conclusion that the execution and the contents of a lost or destroyed holographic will may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have seen and/or read such will.8 Under the provisions of Art. 838 of the New Civil Code, we are empowered to adopt this opinion as a Rule of Court for the allowance of such holographic wills. We hesitate, however, to make this Rule decisive of this controversy, simultaneously with its promulgation. Anyway, decision of the appeal may rest on the sufficiency, rather the insufficiency, of the evidence presented by petitioner Fausto E. Gan. At this point, before proceeding further, it might be convenient to explain why, unlike holographic wills, ordinary wills may be proved by testimonial evidence when lost or destroyed. The difference lies in the nature of the wills. In the first, the only guarantee of authenticity is the handwriting itself; in the second, the testimony of the subscribing or instrumental witnesses (and of the notary, now). The loss of the holographic will entails the loss of the only medium of proof; if the ordinary will is lost, the subscribing witnesses are available to authenticate. In the case of ordinary wills, it is quite hard to convince three witnesses (four with the notary) deliberately to lie. And then their lies could be checked and exposed, their whereabouts and acts on the particular day, the likelihood that they would be called by the testator, their intimacy with the testator, etc. And if they were intimates or trusted friends of the testator they are not likely to end themselves to any fraudulent scheme to distort his wishes. Last but not least, they can not receive anything on account of the will. Whereas in the case of holographic wills, if oral testimony were admissible9 only one man could engineer the fraud this way: after making a clever or passable imitation of the handwriting and signature of the deceased, he may contrive to let three honest and credible witnesses see and read the forgery; and the latter, having no interest, could easily fall for it, and in court they would in all good faith affirm its genuineness and authenticity. The will having been lost the forger may have purposely destroyed it in an "accident" the oppositors have no way to expose the trick and the error, because the document itself is not at hand. And considering that the holographic will may consist of two or three pages, and only one of them need be signed, the substitution of the unsigned pages, which may be the most important ones, may go undetected. If testimonial evidence of holographic wills be permitted, one more objectionable feature feasibility of forgery would be added to the several objections to this kind of wills listed by Castan, Sanchez Roman and Valverde and other wellknown Spanish Commentators and teachers of Civil Law.10 One more fundamental difference: in the case of a lost will, the three subscribing witnesses would be testifying to a fact which they saw, namely the act of the testator of subscribing the will; whereas in the case of a lost holographic will, the witnesses would testify as to their opinion of the handwriting which they allegedly saw, an opinion which can not be tested in court, nor directly contradicted by the oppositors, because the handwriting itself is not at hand. Turning now to the evidence presented by the petitioner, we find ourselves sharing the trial judge's disbelief. In addition to the dubious circumstances described in the appealed decision, we find it hard to believe that the deceased should show her will precisely to relatives who had received nothing from it: Socorro Olarte and Primitivo Reyes. These could pester her into amending her will to give them a share, or threaten to reveal its execution to her husband Ildefonso Yap. And this leads to another point: if she wanted so much to conceal the will from her husband, why did she not entrust it to her beneficiaries? Opportunity to do so was not lacking: for instance, her husband's trip to Davao, a few days after the alleged execution of the will. In fine, even if oral testimony were admissible to establish and probate a lost holographic will, we think the evidence submitted by herein petitioner is so tainted with improbabilities and inconsistencies that it fails to measure up to that "clear and distinct" proof required by Rule 77, sec. 6.11

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Wherefore, the rejection of the alleged will must be sustained. Judgment affirmed, with costs against petitioner. Paras, C. J., Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J. B. L., Endencia and Felix, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1

Now a member of the Court of Appeals. The contents of the alleged will are for the purposes of this decision, immaterial.

"Una forma de testamento" (holographic will) "en la que toda la garantia consiste en la letra del testador." (Scaevola, Codigo Civil, Tomo 12, p. 348.)
4

V. Sanchez Roam, Derecho Civil (2nd Ed.) (1910) Vol. 6 pp. 343, 350; Castan, Derecho Civil Espaol (1944) Tomo 4 p. 337; Valverde, Derecho Civil (1939) Vol. 5, p. 77.
5

V. Sanchez Roman Op. Cit. Vol. 6, p. 357. Manresa, Codigo Civil, 1932, Vol. 5, p. 481.

We have no doubt that this concept and these doctrines concerning the Spanish Civil Code apply to our New Civil Code, since the Commission in its Report (p. 52) merely "revived" holographic wills, i.e., those known to the Spanish Civil Law, before Act 190.
8

Perhaps it may be proved by a photographic or photostatic copy. Evena mimeographed or carbon copy; or by other similar means, if any, whereby the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased may be exhibited and tested before the probate court.
9

We are aware of some American cases that admitted lost holographic wills, upon verbal testimony. (Sec. 41, American Law Reports, 2d. pp. 413, 414.) But the point here raised was not discussed. Anyway it is safer to follow, in this matter, the theories of the Spanish law.
10

Justice Jose B. L. Reyes, professor of Civil Law, makes this Comment:

"Holographic wills are peculiarly dangerous kin case of persons who have written very title. The validity of these wills depends, exclusively on the authenticity of handwriting, and if writing standards are not procurable, or not contemporaneous, the courts are left to the mercy of the mendacity of witnesses. It is questionable whether the recreation of the holographic testament will prove wise." (Lawyer's Journal, Nov. 30, 1950, pp. 556-557.)
11

Intestate of Suntay, 50 Off. Gaz., 5321. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

G.R. No. L-14003

August 5, 1960

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FEDERICO AZAOLA, petitioner-appellant, vs. CESARIO SINGSON, oppositor-appellee. F. Lavides and L.B. Alcuaz for appellant. Vicente J. Cuna and P.S. Singson for appellee. REYES, J.B.L., J.: This appeal, taken on points of law from a decision rendered on 15 January 1958 by the Court of First Instance of Quezon City in its Special Proceedings No. Q-2640, involves the determination of the quantity of evidence required for the probate of a holographic will. The established facts are thus summarized in the decision appealed from (Rec. App. pp. 22-24): "Briefly speaking, the following facts were established by the petitioner; that on September 9, 1957, Fortunata S. Vda. de Yance died at 13 Luskot, Quezon City, known to be the last residence of said testatrix; that Francisco Azaola, petitioner herein for probate of the holographic will, submitted the said holographic will (Exh. C) whereby Maria Milagros Azaola was made the sole heir as against the nephew of deceased Cesario Singson; that witness Francisco Azaola testified that he saw the holographic will (Exh. C) one month, more or less, before the death of the testatrix, as the same was handed to him and his wife; that the witness testified also that he recognized all the signatures appearing in the holographic will (Exh. C) as the handwriting of the testatrix and to reinforce said statement, witness presented the mortgage (Exh. E), the special power of the attorney (Exh. F), and the general power of attorney (Exh. F-1), besides the deeds of sale (Exhs. G and G-1) including an affidavit (Exh. G-2), and that there were further exhibited in court two residence certificates (Exhs. H and H-1) to show the signatures of the testatrix, for comparison purposes; that said witness, Azaola, testified that the penmanship appearing in the aforesaid documentary evidence is in the handwriting of the testatrix as well as the signatures appearing in the aforesaid documentary evidence is in the handwriting of the testatrix as well as the signatures appearing therein are the signatures of the testatrix; that said witness, in answer to a question of his counsel admitted that the holographic will was handed to him by the testatrix. "apparently it must have been written by her" (t.s.n., p. 11). However, on page 16 on the same transcript of the stenographic notes, when the same witness was asked by counsel if he was familiar with the penmanship and handwriting of the deceased Fortunata Vda. de Yance, he answered positively in the affirmative and when he was asked again whether the penmanship referred to in the previous answer as appearing in the holographic will (Exh. C) was hers (testatrix'), he answered, "I would definitely say it is hers"; that it was also established in the proceedings that the assessed value of the property of the deceased in Luskot, Quezon City, is in the amount of P7,000.00. The opposition to the probate was on the ground that (1) the execution of the will was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the petitioner and his wife, and (2) that the testatrix did not seriously intend the instrument to be her last will, and that the same was actually written either on the 5th or 6th day of August 1957 and not on November 20, 1956 as appears on the will. The probate was denied on the ground that under Article 811 of the Civil Code, the proponent must present three witnesses who could declare that the will and the signature are in the writing of the testatrix, the probate being contested; and because the lone witness presented by the proponent "did not prove sufficiently that the body of the will was written in the handwriting of the testatrix." The proponent appealed, urging: first, that he was not bound to produce more than one witness because the will's authenticity was not questioned; and second, that Article 811 does not mandatorily require the production of three witnesses to identify the handwriting and signature of a holographic will, even if its authenticity should be denied by the adverse party. Article 811 of the Civil Code of the Philippines is to the following effect:

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ART. 811. In the probate of a holographic will, it shall be necessary that at least one witness who knows the handwriting and signature of the testator explicitly declare that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator. If the will is contested, at least three of such witnesses shall be required. In the absence of any competent witnesses referred to in the preceding paragraph, and if the court deems it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to. (691a). We agree with the appellant that since the authenticity of the will was not contested, he was not required to produce more than one witness; but even if the genuineness of the holographic will were contested, we are of the opinion that Article 811 of our present Civil Code can not be interpreted as to require the compulsory presentation of three witnesses to identify the handwriting of the testator, under penalty of having the probate denied. Since no witness may have been present at the execution of a holographic will, none being required by law (Art. 810, new Civil Code), it becomes obvious that the existence of witness possessing the requisite qualifications is a matter beyond the control of the proponent. For it is not merely a question of finding and producing any three witnesses; they must be witnesses "who know the handwriting and signature of the testator" and who can declare (truthfully, of course, even if the law does not so express) "that the will and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator". There may be no available witness of the testator's hand; or even if so familiarized, the witnesses may be unwilling to give a positive opinion. Compliance with the rule of paragraph 1 of Article 811 may thus become an impossibility. That is evidently the reason why the second paragraph of Article 811 prescribes that in the absence of any competent witness referred to in the preceding paragraph, and if the court deems it necessary, expert testimony may be resorted to. As can be seen, the law foresees the possibility that no qualified witness may be found (or what amounts to the same thing, that no competent witness may be willing to testify to the authenticity of the will), and provides for resort to expert evidence to supply the deficiency. It may be true that the rule of this article (requiring that three witnesses be presented if the will is contested and only one if no contest is had) was derived from the rule established for ordinary testaments (cf. Cabang vs. Delfinado, 45 Phil., 291; Tolentino vs. Francisco, 57 Phil., 742). But it can not be ignored that the requirement can be considered mandatory only in the case of ordinary testaments, precisely because the presence of at least three witnesses at the execution of ordinary wills is made by law essential to their validity (Art. 805). Where the will is holographic, no witness need be present (Art. 10), and the rule requiring production of three witnesses must be deemed merely permissive if absurd results are to be avoided. Again, under Article 811, the resort to expert evidence is conditioned by the words "if the Court deem it necessary", which reveal that what the law deems essential is that the Court should be convinced of the will's authenticity. Where the prescribed number of witnesses is produced and the court is convinced by their testimony that the ill is genuine, it may consider it unnecessary to call for expert evidence. On the other hand, if no competent witness is available, or none of those produced is convincing, the Court may still, and in fact it should, resort to handwriting experts. The duty of the Court, in fine, is to exhaust all available lines of inquiry, for the state is as much interested as the proponent that the true intention of the testator be carried into effect. Commenting on analogous provisions of Article 691 of the Spanish Civil Code of 1889, the noted Commentator, Mucuis Scaevola (Vol. 12, 2nd Ed., p.421), sagely remarks: La manera como esta concebida la redaccion del ultimo apartado de dicho precepto induce la conclusion de que siempre o por lo menos, en la mayor parte de los casos, el Juez debe acudir al criterio pericial para que le ilustre acerca de la autenticidad del testamento olografo, aunque ya esten insertas en los autos del expediente las declaraciones testificales. La prudencia con que el Juez debe de proceder en resoluciones de transcendencia asi lo exige, y la indole delicada y peligrosa del testamento olografo lo hace necesario para mayor garantia de todos los interes comprometidos en aquel. En efecto, el cotejo pericial de letras puede ser una confirmacion facultativa del dicho profano de los testigos y un modo de desvanecer las ultimas dudas que pudieran ocurrir al Juez acerca de la autenticidad que trata de averigaur y declarar. Para eso se ha escrito la frase del citado ultimo apartado, (siempre que el Juez lo estime conveniente), haya habido o no testigos y dudaran o no estos respecto de los extremos por que son preguntados.

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El arbitrio judicial en este caso debe formarse con independencia de los sucesos y de su significacion, para responder debidamente de las resoluciones que haya de dictar. And because the law leaves it to the trial court if experts are still needed, no unfavourable inference can be drawn from a party's failure to offer expert evidence, until and unless the court expresses dissatisfaction with the testimony of the lay witnesses. Our conclusion is that the rule of the first paragraph of Article 811 of the Civil Code is merely directory and is not mandatory. Considering, however, that this is the first occasion in which this Court has been called upon to construe the import of said article, the interest of justice would be better served, in our opinion, by giving the parties ample opportunity to adduce additional evidence, including expert witnesses, should the Court deem them necessary. In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is set aside, and the records ordered remanded to the Court of origin, with instructions to hold a new trial in conformity with this opinion. But evidence already on record shall not be retaken. No costs. Bengzon, Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Barrera and Gutierrez David, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. L-58509 December 7, 1982 IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO APPROVE THE WILL OF RICARDO B. BONILLA deceased, MARCELA RODELAS, petitioner-appellant, vs. AMPARO ARANZA, ET AL., oppositors-appellees, ATTY. LORENZO SUMULONG, intervenor. Luciano A. Joson for petitioner-appellant. Cesar Paralejo for oppositor-appellee. RELOVA, J.: This case was certified to this Tribunal by the Court of Appeals for final determination pursuant to Section 3, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court. As found by the Court of Appeals: ... On January 11, 1977, appellant filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal for the probate of the holographic will of Ricardo B. Bonilla and the issuance of letters testamentary in her favor. The

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petition, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 8432, was opposed by the appellees Amparo Aranza Bonilla, Wilferine Bonilla Treyes Expedita Bonilla Frias and Ephraim Bonilla on the following grounds: (1) Appellant was estopped from claiming that the deceased left a will by failing to produce the will within twenty days of the death of the testator as required by Rule 75, section 2 of the Rules of Court; (2) The alleged copy of the alleged holographic will did not contain a disposition of property after death and was not intended to take effect after death, and therefore it was not a will (3) The alleged hollographic will itself,and not an alleged copy thereof, must be produced, otherwise it would produce no effect, as held in Gam v. Yap, 104 Phil. 509; and (4 ) The deceased did not leave any will, holographic or otherwise, executed and attested as required by law. The appellees likewise moved for the consolidation of the case with another case Sp. Proc. No, 8275). Their motion was granted by the court in an order dated April 4, 1977. On November 13, 1978, following the consolidation of the cases, the appellees moved again to dismiss the petition for the probate of the will. They argued that: (1) The alleged holographic was not a last will but merely an instruction as to the management and improvement of the schools and colleges founded by decedent Ricardo B. Bonilla; and (2) Lost or destroyed holographic wills cannot be proved by secondary evidence unlike ordinary wills. Upon opposition of the appellant, the motion to dismiss was denied by the court in its order of February 23, 1979. The appellees then filed a motion for reconsideration on the ground that the order was contrary to law and settled pronouncements and rulings of the Supreme Court, to which the appellant in turn filed an opposition. On July 23, 1979, the court set aside its order of February 23, 1979 and dismissed the petition for the probate of the will of Ricardo B. Bonilla. The court said: ... It is our considered opinion that once the original copy of the holographic will is lost, a copy thereof cannot stand in lieu of the original. In the case of Gam vs. Yap, 104 Phil. 509, 522, the Supreme Court held that 'in the matter of holographic wills the law, it is reasonable to suppose, regards the document itself as the material proof of authenticity of said wills. MOREOVER, this Court notes that the alleged holographic will was executed on January 25, 1962 while Ricardo B. Bonilla died on May 13, 1976. In view of the lapse of more than 14 years from the time of the execution of the will to the death of the decedent, the fact that the original of the will could not be located shows to our mind that the decedent had discarded before his death his allegedly missing Holographic Will. Appellant's motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, an appeal to the Court of Appeals in which it is contended that the dismissal of appellant's petition is contrary to law and well-settled jurisprudence. On July 7, 1980, appellees moved to forward the case to this Court on the ground that the appeal does not involve question of fact and alleged that the trial court committed the following assigned errors: I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT A LOST HOLOGRAPHIC WILL MAY NOT BE PROVED BY A COPY THEREOF;

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II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE DECEDENT HAS DISCARDED BEFORE HIS DEATH THE MISSING HOLOGRAPHIC WILL; III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING APPELLANT'S WILL. The only question here is whether a holographic will which was lost or cannot be found can be proved by means of a photostatic copy. Pursuant to Article 811 of the Civil Code, probate of holographic wills is the allowance of the will by the court after its due execution has been proved. The probate may be uncontested or not. If uncontested, at least one Identifying witness is required and, if no witness is available, experts may be resorted to. If contested, at least three Identifying witnesses are required. However, if the holographic will has been lost or destroyed and no other copy is available, the will can not be probated because the best and only evidence is the handwriting of the testator in said will. It is necessary that there be a comparison between sample handwritten statements of the testator and the handwritten will. But, a photostatic copy or xerox copy of the holographic will may be allowed because comparison can be made with the standard writings of the testator. In the case of Gam vs. Yap, 104 PHIL. 509, the Court ruled that "the execution and the contents of a lost or destroyed holographic will may not be proved by the bare testimony of witnesses who have seen and/or read such will. The will itself must be presented; otherwise, it shall produce no effect. The law regards the document itself as material proof of authenticity." But, in Footnote 8 of said decision, it says that "Perhaps it may be proved by a photographic or photostatic copy. Even a mimeographed or carbon copy; or by other similar means, if any, whereby the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased may be exhibited and tested before the probate court," Evidently, the photostatic or xerox copy of the lost or destroyed holographic will may be admitted because then the authenticity of the handwriting of the deceased can be determined by the probate court. WHEREFORE, the order of the lower court dated October 3, 1979, denying appellant's motion for reconsideration dated August 9, 1979, of the Order dated July 23, 1979, dismissing her petition to approve the will of the late Ricardo B. Bonilla, is hereby SET ASIDE. SO ORDERED. Teehankee, Actg. C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Vasquez and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.

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